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posted by martyb on Tuesday January 11, @04:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the Betteridge-says-"No" dept.

Can We Feed Billions of Ourselves Without Wrecking the Planet?

We are now producing more food more efficiently than ever, and there is plenty to go around for a human population of 7 billion. But it is coming at a drastic cost in environmental degradation, and the bounty is not reaching many people.

Sustainable Food Production, a new Earth Institute primer from Columbia University Press, explores how modern agriculture can be made more environmentally benign, and economically just. With population going to maybe 10 billion within 30 years, the time to start is now, the authors say.

The lead author is ecologist Shahid Naeem, director of the Earth Institute for Environmental Sustainability. He coauthored the book with former Columbia colleagues Suzanne Lipton and Tiff van Huysen.

This is an interesting interview with the author. Do you agree (or disagree) with his conclusions?

Columbia Climate School

[Also Covered By]: Phys.org


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @05:11PM (57 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @05:11PM (#1211815)

    Don't want to go vegetarian?
    You should have supported overpopulation initiatives 50 years ago, and it's not like you weren't warned.

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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @05:14PM (21 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @05:14PM (#1211818)

    The population growth is already slowing. Many, many large countries are below replacement level or soon will be. This is not a problem, except maybe in black Africa. Don't worry about the overpopulation problem because it is solving itself.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @07:36PM (12 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @07:36PM (#1211871)

      Why is this modded flamebait? Because I mentioned the taboo topic of black Africa? Facts are facts, and these are easily checked:

      Growth in population (not population itself, mind you):
      https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/population-growth-by-world-region-the-annual-change-of-the-population?time=1950..2085&country=OWID_WRL~Africa~Asia~Europe~Northern+America~Latin+America+and+the+Caribbean~Oceania [ourworldindata.org]

      Look for when a region's growth curve falls to zero and becomes zero. (Projections, except for Europe!)

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @07:39PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @07:39PM (#1211872)

        Edit: "becomes negative"

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by FatPhil on Tuesday January 11, @07:43PM (9 children)

        Your link makes no mention of "black Africa", so does not support your initial claim. I know a white missionary (inlaws of a friend, yes, I'm trying to distance myself) in Africa who has 7 children, so from my perspective, white Africa looks worse!
        --
        I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
        • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:39PM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:39PM (#1211909)

          I knew somebody like you would grasp at any straw he could to try to "debunk me", so I tediously had to find some links that you won't read because they just back up what is common knowledge:

          https://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/7-facts-about-population-in-sub-saharan-africa [worldbank.org]
          https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12264271/ [nih.gov]

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @10:04PM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @10:04PM (#1211941)

            You just have to say Africa, adding black makes you look racist and given the topic doubly so. You can rage about the standards of polite society or be flexible and adapt to changing standards. If you refuse to change then don't whine when people say you sound racist.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @05:15PM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @05:15PM (#1212163)

              N. African groups are not predominately black. MENA is a real, separate demographic.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 17, @06:28AM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @06:28AM (#1213343) Journal
                North African groups are another high population growth rate population.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @11:21PM (4 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @11:21PM (#1211962)

          Different AC, but "Black Africa" is a common geographical term, although falling in usage, used to refer to slightly differing regions located on the continent of Africa. White Africa is an uncommonly used geographical term referring to slightly differing regions on the northern part of the continent of Africa. It doesn't refer to the actual races of direct subpopulations located across Africa. It is both possible and common to be a white, Black African and to be a black, White African. However, confusion such as this is one of the reasons why it is falling out of common usage.

          • (Score: 2) by gawdonblue on Wednesday January 12, @02:23AM (3 children)

            by gawdonblue (412) on Wednesday January 12, @02:23AM (#1211999)

            So "White Africa" is where the Sahara is? More of a light-yellow Africa from my experience.
            And "Black Africa" is the jungly bit? Maybe dark-green Africa. Or is it the savannah part? Then light-green Africa.
            Racists aren't really racist, they just see colour as black-and-white.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @04:01AM (2 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @04:01AM (#1212022)

              "Black Africa" and "White Africa" originally came from an explored/unexplored (dark/light) dichotomy, mostly limited by the distance from Europe. That historical definition rooted in exploration is why places like Sudan and the Nile's tributaries are commonly excluded from Black Africa but colonized areas on the southern coast are usually not. It wasn't until later that the usage became more coarse and vulgar to a more racial division instead of a geographical one. Such racial loading (including usage out of South Africa and counter usage in the Middle East) leading to confusion is why the terms have been replaced, but even their replacements carry some historical baggage in use.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @04:36AM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @04:36AM (#1212031)

                Had that parenthetical backwards. Unexplored is dark or black and explored is light or white. That is where phrases like "darkest Africa" or "Dark Continent" come from in contrast to "light of civilization" or "bring/shed light" for the opposite.

                • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday January 17, @08:10AM

                  So, during which century did this term decay into referring to absolutely nothing? Were you trying to support the original AC's use of the term, or taking another swipe at it, it's not clear?
                  --
                  I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @01:43AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @01:43AM (#1211988) Journal
        For starters, overpopulation in Africa is not just a black thing. The Muslim north also has high population growth.

        As an aside, I think overpopulation will exhibit a strong racial component in the latter half of this century when Africa becomes pretty much the only source of population growth. My take as I've said before is that everyone can make it to a developed world society, including the entirety of Africa. They're just starting from further behind.
    • (Score: 2) by legont on Tuesday January 11, @11:41PM (7 children)

      by legont (4179) on Tuesday January 11, @11:41PM (#1211965)

      The problem here is that modern capitalism can't survive without exponential population grows. That's why we have "our precious children" mantra drilled in day and night and countless laws that support population grows such as local school taxes.
      No matter how much everybody wants to avoid this, population question comes down to economy model question. Do we want communism? Any other *ism? It can't be capitalism, sorry.
      So, stop avoiding the issue and discuss economy instead of stupid green planet crap which just makes the argument weaker.

      Back to the question, we sure can feed a few orders of magnitude more people. Using feed, not food. There is not enough food already even for 10% of the population. No, chicken nuggets is not food. 90% of shit sold in supermarkets is not food. Veggie burger is not food. It's all just feed.

      Now, if you ask me I'd say that we should go with socialism and reduce the population by 90% in the process. Not that I care as I am old and have no children.

      --
      "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
      • (Score: 2, Touché) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @02:02AM (2 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @02:02AM (#1211990) Journal

        The problem here is that modern capitalism can't survive without exponential population grows. That's why we have "our precious children" mantra drilled in day and night and countless laws that support population grows such as local school taxes.

        The problem is merely that you think that is so. What does the "our precious children" or those "countless laws" have to do with private ownership of capital? Nothing.

        The non sequituring continues. Local school taxes have nothing to do with exponential population growth. It's just a straight forward funding of education by taxes which works under a great variety of scenarios. It works just as well in a declining population model as in an exponentially growing one.

        I would suggest as an example of non-capitalist policies that depend on exponential population growth are pension funds (and similar) that can only be supported with a high number of people paying into the system for the people taking out of the system. It's common that these pension funds get into trouble because they promise too much and can't be fully funded by newer participants. The classic US examples would be US Social Security, CalPERS, various company pensions that were drained or underfunded, and Medicare). Some have such unhealthy funding that they really aren't viable as presently constituted without insane levels of population growth (Medicare).

        But in all those cases, the simple solution to bring them in line with funding and real world lack of population growth, is to cut benefits (or in some of the private cases, get the businesses to pony up the amounts that the fund is due).

        None of that is a capitalism problem.

        No matter how much everybody wants to avoid this, population question comes down to economy model question. Do we want communism? Any other *ism? It can't be capitalism, sorry. So, stop avoiding the issue and discuss economy instead of stupid green planet crap which just makes the argument weaker.

        Of course, we don't want communism. The last half century proved that. And sorry, you don't have anything other than capitalism. Capitalism works even in a negative population growth situation.

        Back to the question, we sure can feed a few orders of magnitude more people. Using feed, not food. There is not enough food already even for 10% of the population. No, chicken nuggets is not food. 90% of shit sold in supermarkets is not food. Veggie burger is not food. It's all just feed.

        Sorry no. 100% of the population is fed with food. Chicken nuggets amd veggie burgers are indeed food. Semantics doesn't change that.

        Now, if you ask me I'd say that we should go with socialism and reduce the population by 90% in the process. Not that I care as I am old and have no children.

        I say we go with capitalism instead and just not have the need to reduce anything!

        • (Score: 2) by legont on Thursday January 13, @11:56PM (1 child)

          by legont (4179) on Thursday January 13, @11:56PM (#1212545)

          Oh, come on, the whole point of precious children policies is to generate free labor for the capital. Anybody who has a child in the US simply gives $500,000 donation to the capital. However, it's not enough so local authorities force everybody - child free or not - pay more.

          I do give a large credit to liberals here though as any women liberation reduces population. Girls are not stupid and don't want this burden. They do however want security of male's income stream. Once this dependence is broken, no free children for you, my dear business owners.

          --
          "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 17, @03:40PM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @03:40PM (#1213396) Journal

            Oh, come on, the whole point of precious children policies is to generate free labor for the capital.

            I think rather it's a standard FUD tactic to scare voters. There's this scary danger to your kids, so we have to do this politically advantageous (for me) thing. I doubt "free labor for the capital" (whatever that is supposed to mean) even registers in these decisions.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @02:22AM (3 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @02:22AM (#1211998) Journal
        On the feed versus food issue, it's worth remembering that this is a classist viewpoint: the elite eat food, the hoi polloi eat feed. But if we look at the history of food, we see evolution of this division over time with what was previously considered "feed" to food and vice versa. For example, meat, especially of the exotic sort, was considered to be elite food, even some weird and very gamey stuff that we wouldn't touch today. Those chicken nuggets would be considered very fancy meat. It's only their cheapness and widespread availability that has reduced them to your category of "feed".

        For another example, lobster [knowledgenuts.com] at one time was considered a poverty food. Now, it's a luxury food. All due to marketing - and not eating it every day.

        For a final example, dishes with considerable starches (pasta, maize, rice, bread, etc) were formerly considered poverty food. But they moved to the elite side with better seasoning and cooking techniques.

        The problem here is that food versus feed really is a matter of presentation/marketing and perhaps preparation/seasoning not of nutrition.
        • (Score: 2) by legont on Thursday January 13, @11:45PM (2 children)

          by legont (4179) on Thursday January 13, @11:45PM (#1212544)

          I beg to differ.

          Chicken nuggets have no chicken inside so they are definitely feed.
          Lobster is junk as it's a bottom feeder and therefore dangerous. Similarly tuna is feed as well as salmon. There were revolts during the Great Depression when people wanted steaks but were fed salmon and tuna. The propaganda changed it but it did not change the nature of the food. After all, Bill Gates eats greasy burgers with Buffet.
          Don't even start me on American Italian. It's pretty much all feed. The reason is that American starches are very bad ever since they invented hands free bread.

          So my point is that while feed moves up and down the hype ladder, the nature does not change much. Also, while some feed becomes expensive, no food ever became cheap. Anyway, one is still better off with a steak, oven baked bread and fresh garden veggies. They, however, are not available for 90% of the population and never will be unless we reduce the pressure.

          --
          "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 14, @05:36AM (1 child)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14, @05:36AM (#1212616) Journal

            Also, while some feed becomes expensive, no food ever became cheap.

            Counterexample: meat.

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11, @05:18PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @05:18PM (#1211820) Journal

    You should have supported overpopulation initiatives 50 years ago,

    Like democracy, capitalism, and women's emancipation? That box is checked.

    It's time to wake up and see the past 50 years, not merely push stale narratives that haven't been scrutinized in a half century or more.

  • (Score: 3, Touché) by srobert on Tuesday January 11, @05:31PM (2 children)

    by srobert (4803) on Tuesday January 11, @05:31PM (#1211823)

    "You should have supported overpopulation initiatives 50 years ago, and it's not like you weren't warned."

    No, but it is like I was 8 years old and had no control over anything.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @07:20PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @07:20PM (#1211865)

      No, but it is like I was 8 years old and had no control over anything.

      You had control over last 50 years to

      1. choose how many children you have
      2. elect officials that either empower women with birth control or treat them as incubators without choice -- this is actually quite literal choice in many nations

      • (Score: 1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:42PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:42PM (#1211911)

        Having children is neither oppression nor abnormal.
        It is a warped mind that thinks it is normal to not have children. Your kind are winning the Darwin Award. You will be replaced by the breeders.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @05:43PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @05:43PM (#1211828)

    Covid can fix that.

    • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:26PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:26PM (#1211899)

      It's pretty clear to all except mindless slaves that it's the "vaccines" doing the killing.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @09:14PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @09:14PM (#1211921)

        You mean, killing earth?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @11:07PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @11:07PM (#1211958)

          No no the other slave activity! You know, getting vaccinated against a pandemic! Loooooooool

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @02:01AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @02:01AM (#1211989)

        Is that your best shot?

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @03:44AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @03:44AM (#1212017)

    Vegetarianism is less energy efficient than being an omnivore. All those vegetables are heavy and not that much easier to ship than meat products. 10 or 15% of your calories coming from meat is both healthy and the environmental responsible thing to do.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @03:39PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @03:39PM (#1212130)

      Why is this marked troll? It's factually accurate. We already have a situation where there just isn't enough suitable land to plant enough suitable plants to feed the human population a protein-free diet in a sustainable fashion. I mean, sure, if we fossil fuel it up we can (just about) scrape by with enough, by flattening every rainforest in sight, but sustainably? Forget it.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @08:26PM (23 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @08:26PM (#1212202)

    Vegetarian is not the answer, assuming you want humans to survive. Growing crops is effectively mining the soil for its nutrients. You can put the nutrients back into the soil in two ways. The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer. That is not sustainable. The 2nd option is to either graze herds across the crop fields or manually spread natural fertilizer (animal poop). If you are able to get some of the population to give up meat, you reduce your source of eco-friendly fertilizer and increase your use of non-renewal sources.

    Look at your anti-leather campaigns. Those didn't save any animals. The leather came from animals already being killed for meat and we're still killing them for food. However those skins are now simply being thrown away instead of being turned into durable products. The need for those products hasn't gone away, so what are we using to make them now? Answer: plastics, aka oil products. Your "lets save everyone" attitude moved us from a renewable, eco-friendly product to a non-renewable, bio-harmful product. The push for vegetarian is doing similar things to the food supply. If you want to go vegan for ethical reasons than fine, but it's not a diet that will save the environment.

    Please go back to first grade and re-learn the circle of life. Our modern sanitation and burial customs take humans out of the natural circle of life. You can't grow crops in isolation for humans and expect the environment to survive since the things we extract for food aren't consistently added back into the system where it was extracted from. Eating animals which regenerate the soil during their life is the only answer unless we take over every aspect of nature and that's something we can't do.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 14, @06:01AM (22 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14, @06:01AM (#1212621) Journal

      You can put the nutrients back into the soil in two ways. The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer. That is not sustainable. The 2nd option is to either graze herds across the crop fields or manually spread natural fertilizer (animal poop).

      You're just discussing nitrogen. Green manure is a third way, using a nitrogen-fixing plant or microbe to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and then till that into the soil. Legumes, for example, are a great nitrogen-fixing group of plants and often generate a lot of economic value in addition to the nitrogen-fixing.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @05:38PM (21 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @05:38PM (#1212707)

        There is no green manure, no legume that remotely keeps pace with the kind of nitrogen delivery that fossil fuels give us. The best case seems to be interseeding of legumes in pastures, but then they're not being ploughed back in, rather than just being active for their full growing cycle, and pastures usually aren't boosted with nitrogen to the degree that, say, cornfields are.

        This isn't to say that green manures are bad; far from it. It's just that they're not really a replacement.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 14, @07:23PM (20 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14, @07:23PM (#1212741) Journal
          No legume has to keep up. They grow and fix nitrogen all season. I'm on a cellphone right now, but when I get back to a real computer I'll look this up. My take is you will be surprised how much green manure does now.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @09:05PM (19 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @09:05PM (#1212764)

            "No legume has to keep up."

            If they want to be a commercially viable alternative to bulk urea, then yes, they have to keep up. By definition. Otherwise, urea wins. And by the way, the fact that you need to grow your legume all season and then turn it back into the soil just to get it all in there for the next year's corn planting means that you can't even use it for fodder - you need the whole plant to get into the soil for available nitrogen or you're back at square 1, minus the other nutrients sucked up by your clover, pea, or whatever.

            "They grow and fix nitrogen all season."

            No, they don't. They have growing cycles same as any other plants. A quick search yielded https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2016/nitrogen-fixation-oversold-legume-cover-crops [unl.edu] which points out that "It is important to note it can take up to six weeks after planting before N fixation begins." not to mention the other caveats in that article about growing conditions, scavenging of available N in the soil and so on.

            "My take is you will be surprised how much green manure does now."

            Maybe I will be surprised. I mean, I just studied and use this knowledge in the real world, what do I know?

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday January 15, @05:38AM (18 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 15, @05:38AM (#1212867) Journal
              For example [frontiersin.org]:

              Chemical synthesis provides 118 million metric tons of fertilizer N each year (Joseph et al., 2016). In comparison, it is estimated that symbiosis between nitrogen-fixing rhizobia and plants provides 50–70 million tons of N for agricultural systems each year (Herridge et al., 2008). As one of the most important legume crops, soybean fixes 16.4 million tons of N annually, which represents 77% of the total N fixed by legume crops (Herridge et al., 2008). In modern agricultural systems, soybean is typically considered to have the most potential for sustaining green agricultural systems. For example, in Brazil, over 70% of the N required for soybean growth is derived primarily from BNF [biological nitrogen fixation] (Peoples et al., 2009). Therefore, breeding elite soybean cultivars with high BNF capacities and high yields could be an efficient way to maintain agriculture sustainability.

              So right there we have roughly half as much nitrogen provided by nitrogen fixing plants as we do by nitrogen chemical fertilizer worldwide. And for some soybean crops, 30% of its nitrogen needs (possibly less if those "elite cultivars" can deliver) are met with fertilizer or animal manure.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15, @04:15PM (17 children)

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15, @04:15PM (#1212944)

                Uh, great.

                So what?

                First: as you say yourself, half. That's a log of pig and chicken shit to make up the gap.

                Second: you do know that they actually fertilise soy fields with nitrogen, right? because until those nodules start their fixing magic, soy seedlings are nitrogen-hungry little bastards.

                Third: The soybean doesn't actually leave a whole lot of nitrogen in the soil unless you don't harvest, and turn it back in. Why? Because we like to eat the nitrogen-rich seeds, thereby removing that nitrogen from the cycle. The fact that the soybean happened to fix the nitrogen from the atmosphere is irrelevant to the broader nitrogen cycle if the first thing that we do is to yoink it from that exact same cycle.

                Everything that you typed there can be utterly unimpeachably true, and still not help in our vision of sustainably feeding the world.

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday January 16, @02:07AM (16 children)

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 16, @02:07AM (#1213056) Journal

                  First: as you say yourself, half.

                  I sense those goalposts amoving because the other big number here is three. That is, increase that amount supplied by green manure by a mere factor of three, and you've replaced the nitrogen supplied by fertilizer.

                  Third: The soybean doesn't actually leave a whole lot of nitrogen in the soil unless you don't harvest, and turn it back in. Why? Because we like to eat the nitrogen-rich seeds, thereby removing that nitrogen from the cycle. The fact that the soybean happened to fix the nitrogen from the atmosphere is irrelevant to the broader nitrogen cycle if the first thing that we do is to yoink it from that exact same cycle.

                  The usual approach is to plow in the plants (usually not soybeans) before they seed. I was just pointing out that these soybeans were so self-contained that they supplied most of their own nitrogen through to harvest. That's pretty good.

                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @02:12AM (15 children)

                    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @02:12AM (#1213299)

                    "That is, increase that amount supplied by green manure by a mere factor of three, and you've replaced the nitrogen supplied by fertilizer."

                    That means that you're not paying attention.

                    Let's take this from the top:

                    Today, I can ride up to a field with sacks of NPK plus various other amendments depending on things such as soil acidity, knife them in (or otherwise incorporate them), in quantities that no legume would possibly provide in a whole season by itself, and then be ready for a full season of growing *insert row crop of choice here*.

                    Clear? One season, row crop at maximum yield.

                    If I want to do the green manure thing, I have to go to the field, plant the green manure of choice, wait a whole season during which I get no useful crop off that field, turn that into the soil, and then only the following season do I get any crop back for sale.

                    Clear? Two years, one crop harvested at sub-maximum yield, even assuming that magic happened to provide all the P and K nutrients (because the legumes don't fix those from the atmosphere the way that they do N). Utter best case, you can maybe fit an early green manure in before a late cash crop in the same year, but even then you're hoping that the weather's friendly enough to give you what amounts to two growing seasons in one year, hugely increasing your risk. So that's great.

                    How do we get more nitrogen per field, per green manure crop? More green manure years piled on each other? Not so fast. Even if we ignore the reduced number of crops per year delivery (kind of hard to ignore, but whatever), they don't do any other kind of supplementation beyond what was already in the soil, plus some putative benefits around soil texture and fibre. If we want to supercharge our green manures for nitrogen (and what the hell, increasing bioavailability of other nutrients, up to a point), we want to supplement to feed the green manure crop, and if we're trying to squeeze it into an early season or use a winter planting, they'll need some extra nutrients themselves, or watering, or other care depending on the local climate.

                    No goalposts need to shift here: green manures have well-known, well-publicised downsides including their limitations, allelopathy, and the limitations on time. Just multiplying green manure by a factor of 3 doesn't get you all of what you want, when and where you want it.

                    As for soybeans, you might want to look again. Just hitting the top of search results, check out https://agfax.com/2014/01/02/adding-nitrogen-soybeans-can-improve-yields/ [agfax.com] and feast your eyes on the bad news. High yield soy requires lots of surplus nitrogen, precisely because soybeans only fix so much, and that much is not enough for the top bushel/acre count.

                    Don't get me wrong. I use green manures myself. But usually in combination with their other benefits, and as part of a differentiated rotation strategy with weed and pest control in mind. But in terms of net agricultural production per acre they are an unambiguous loss compared to mineral supplements.

                    "The usual approach is to plow in the plants (usually not soybeans) before they seed."

                    Well, yes. We know. But if you're harvesting the seeds, you're not doing that. The soybean crop does minimal nitrogen benefit for the field.

                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 17, @06:34AM (14 children)

                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @06:34AM (#1213345) Journal
                      So what you're saying is that yes, it can be done, it's just somewhat suboptimal. My point though is from way back when. An AC claimed that there was only two ways to introduce nitrogen into agricultural crops:

                      Vegetarian is not the answer, assuming you want humans to survive. Growing crops is effectively mining the soil for its nutrients. You can put the nutrients back into the soil in two ways. The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer. That is not sustainable. The 2nd option is to either graze herds across the crop fields or manually spread natural fertilizer (animal poop). If you are able to get some of the population to give up meat, you reduce your source of eco-friendly fertilizer and increase your use of non-renewal sources.

                      Turns out green manure is indeed a third way as demonstrated in this thread.

                      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 18, @04:33PM (13 children)

                        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 18, @04:33PM (#1213595)

                        This is disingenuous.

                        The thread started with the rather oversimplified:

                        "Don't want to go vegetarian? You should have supported overpopulation initiatives 50 years ago, and it's not like you weren't warned."

                        This elicited the response from which you quoted, which reached far beyond merely nitrogen. This also came up later in the thread (for example, pointing out that legumes don't fix K and P from the atmosphere). Green manure does not solve the general nutrient problem at all, and in fact doesn't even really solve the nitrogen problem by itself, which actually supports the respondent's statement that:

                        "If you are able to get some of the population to give up meat, you reduce your source of eco-friendly fertilizer and increase your use of non-renewal sources."

                        It's important that green manures do not increase output, because in the context of vegetarianism, with its limited means of accelerating nutrient cycles we end up taking huge strides back in productivity, which quite simply means mass starvation.

                        If your only point is "Well, yeah, but legumes can fix nitrogen to boost your soil nitrogen levels without fossil fuels, even though you won't get the same returns, and you won't feed the world, and you won't even boost the soil if you harvest the legumes, and won't do much of anything for other nutrients at all, but they can totally fix the nitrogen!" then congratulations, you have a point that is as technically true as it is functionally pointless. If you were trying to position green manures as a way of actually feeding the world, you are demonstrably wrong about that.

                        In fact, I'd go further and say that you're even wrong about "green manure is indeed a third way" unless your criteria for success are at the laboratory curiosity level of relevance. A third way of technically introducing some bioavailable nutrients into the soil, sometimes, allelopathy notwithstanding? Sure. But in terms of sustainably feeding the world (the whole point of the original article) they're about as useful as urinating on a forest fire. Technically, it doesn't hurt, but practically it's not a solution. You choose to phrase it as "somewhat suboptimal" but in the real world in which people will be dying of starvation, that's rather like describing mediaeval approaches to cancer treatment as "somewhat suboptimal". They basically didn't meet the need. Green manures don't meet the need. They definitely don't solve the general case, and for sustainably feeding the world they don't even meet the nitrogen need.

                        But they do fix nitrogen. Woo. Sometimes. Under certain conditions. To limited extents. Break out the party hats.

                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 18, @05:25PM (12 children)

                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 18, @05:25PM (#1213612) Journal

                          This elicited the response from which you quoted, which reached far beyond merely nitrogen. This also came up later in the thread (for example, pointing out that legumes don't fix K and P from the atmosphere). Green manure does not solve the general nutrient problem at all, and in fact doesn't even really solve the nitrogen problem by itself, which actually supports the respondent's statement that:

                          Sorry, when someone writes

                          The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer.

                          In fact, I'd go further and say that you're even wrong about "green manure is indeed a third way" unless your criteria for success are at the laboratory curiosity level of relevance.

                          We've already established it's providing half as much nitrogen as the leading way via fossil fuel-derived fertilizer. If that's lab curiosity level of relevance, then all nitrogen fertilizer is at the lab curiosity level of relevance.

                          But they do fix nitrogen. Woo. Sometimes. Under certain conditions. To limited extents. Break out the party hats.

                          It's interesting how even alleged experts often know little about their alleged areas of expertise isn't it?

                          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, @02:20AM (11 children)

                            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, @02:20AM (#1213750)

                            What part of green manure taking longer, fixing less, and either increasing risk by taking big bites out of the growing season or requiring extended fallow periods passed you by? It's not a laboratory curiosity because it doesn't work. It's a laboratory curiosity because on the scale of the original question (Can we feed billions without wrecking the planet?) it's a failure. It does not fix as much nitrogen as we would need, it does little or nothing for other nutrients, and you have provided precisely zero evidence to the contrary.

                            But you know what? You're the boss. You're king genius! You're about to prove us all wrong with your secret vetch/alfalfa mix that will do all the things, and you're going to absolutely clean house both agriculturally and financially.

                            Go on, genius, show us all how it's done.

                            "It's interesting how even alleged experts often know little about their alleged areas of expertise isn't it?"

                            Do tell.

                            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 19, @03:21AM (10 children)

                              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 19, @03:21AM (#1213771) Journal

                              What part of green manure taking longer, fixing less, and either increasing risk by taking big bites out of the growing season or requiring extended fallow periods passed you by?

                              Nothing at all. What passed you by was its relevance.

                              But you know what? You're the boss. You're king genius! You're about to prove us all wrong with your secret vetch/alfalfa mix that will do all the things, and you're going to absolutely clean house both agriculturally and financially.

                              Perhaps someday you'll learn to use sarcasm well.

                              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @04:32PM (9 children)

                                by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @04:32PM (#1214210)

                                "Nothing at all. What passed you by was its relevance."

                                ... to .... what? "Can we feed billions without wrecking the planet?"

                                No, the relevance to that did not pass me by. In fact, I reviewed it in that light. In fact, I did the sums and the answer came back dead in line with Betteridge: No. Feeding the world's population with green manure rather than other supplementation isn't a realistic prospect. If we drop to pre-supplementation technologies only, (no guano, no manure other than that of our livestock or ourselves, no potash or limestone mines, no calciferous sources other than bone meal) then we will have mass deaths to starvations counted in the billions and the authors of the original article are missing a good chunk of what made the Green Revolution even possible in the first place. Green manure doesn't change this, doesn't fix it, and at best could be considered a reasonably efficient take on fallowing strategies. Technically better than just letting weeds grow and deer graze? A little, sure. Enough to replace industrial supplement supplies? No, by a wide margin, and with a strong upper bound to the capability of the plants precisely because of the growing cycle and limited scope of broad plant nutrition supplementation, rather than a narrow band approach to nitrogen and fibre.

                                But maybe there's some other relevant factor that's in mind. Your abstract claim that green manure, specifically, is one way, technically, of fixing nitrogen, specifically, regardless of whether it is limited in its application (it is), insufficient for feeding the world absent other supplementation (it is), and has other significant downsides inhibiting its use (it does) such as constraining available growing seasons (it does), increasing weather/climate related risks in agronomic planning (it does) and places additional demands on supporting the green manure crop itself (it does).

                                This is a bit like trying to explain to freshly-minted marxists that Marx's ideas were founded in a world that doesn't exist any more, mostly existed as an oversimplified caricature even in his time, and consequently it's all a curate's egg. Even if they could conceptually work on some level, modern cooperatives don't prove their viability as such because they're too far removed from what he was talking about.

                                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday January 23, @06:36PM (8 children)

                                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 23, @06:36PM (#1215055) Journal

                                  ... to .... what? "Can we feed billions without wrecking the planet?"

                                  Yes.

                                  Feeding the world's population with green manure rather than other supplementation isn't a realistic prospect.

                                  You moved the goalposts. Originally, you claimed

                                  You can put the nutrients back into the soil in two ways. The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer. That is not sustainable. The 2nd option is to either graze herds across the crop fields or manually spread natural fertilizer (animal poop).

                                  When I mentioned green manure, you claimed

                                  There is no green manure, no legume that remotely keeps pace with the kind of nitrogen delivery that fossil fuels give us.

                                  At that point, I noted that green manure already covers half the nitrogen delivery of "fossil fuels". That's pretty close already. At this point, I don't consider your protests interesting.

                                  Moving on, there are two interesting emerging green manure technologies that I think will weaken your argument even further. First, microbe augmentation in soil. Basically, it involves finding microbes that will fix nitrogen for plants that aren't normally nitrogen fixing. For example: [futureofag.com]

                                  The same is true for plants. Companies like Indigo Ag are taking this advanced understanding of microbiology and applying it to crop performance with some impressive results. I had the chance to chat with David Perry, CEO and Director of Indigo Ag for the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

                                  [...]

                                  Currently, Indigo delivers their beneficial microbes via a seed treatment. The microbes then grow as their “host” (the plant) grows. In cotton, for example, trials demonstrated a 14% yield increase over cotton not treated with Indigo’s microbial technology.

                                  Notice that this would also help cover your six week gap in legume nitrogen fixing, when it is applied to legume seeds!

                                  Moving on, I think the other big technology will be cyanobacteria farming. A variety of cyanobacteria species can fix nitrogen. So in a sunny part of the world, turn sea water, air, and CO2 into nitrogen-rich bacteria ready to fertilize those fields, pretty much as a replacement for ammonia-based fertilizers.

                                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 23, @11:31PM (7 children)

                                    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 23, @11:31PM (#1215142)

                                    Feeding the world's population with green manure rather than other supplementation isn't a realistic prospect.
                                                  You moved the goalposts. Originally, you claimed
                                                      You can put the nutrients back into the soil in two ways. The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer. That is not sustainable. The 2nd option is to either graze herds across the crop fields or manually spread natural fertilizer (animal poop).

                                    Wrong AC, Bubba. I made no such claim. Nor would I; I'm well aware of a number of other strategies, including (but not limited to) green manure.

                                    When I mentioned green manure, you claimed

                                              There is no green manure, no legume that remotely keeps pace with the kind of nitrogen delivery that fossil fuels give us.
                                                  At that point, I noted that green manure already covers half the nitrogen delivery of "fossil fuels". That's pretty close already. At this point, I don't consider your protests interesting.
                                                  Moving on, there are two interesting emerging green manure technologies that I think will weaken your argument even further. First, microbe augmentation in soil. Basically, it involves finding microbes that will fix
                                                  nitrogen for plants that aren't normally nitrogen fixing. For example: [futureofag.com]

                                    See, this is where the crazy comes in. "half" is not "remotely keeping pace". It's a runner being lapped twice on every lap they run. It's not "pretty close already". For a strategy that has been in place, with progressive refinements, before BP or Shell ever existed, it's firmly off the pace and there is no current prospect of a catchup with respect to turning a field to maximum yield. I don't care whether you consider my, or anybody's protests "interesting" or not; the world of production doesn't care either. You have a case to make? Go prove the big boys wrong, collect your Nobel Prize, and masturbate on CNN for all I care. Green manure ain't feeding the world, and even if you somehow magicked a fuckton of nitrogen out of it that ain't appearing now, without the growing season or other downsides that we currently know already exist in it because of fucking magic (good luck with that one!) you still haven't solved another damn thing, whether it's potassium or calcium or something less famous, such as selenium. Green manures do nothing worth writing home about for any of that, and have no prospect of doing so because you don't fix phosphorus from the air, nor potassium, nor calcum, nor iron, nor selenium, nor a whole bunch of other nutrients. As far as additional microbes, they won't fix any of the other nutrients I'd mentioned either because ... again, the air will basically give you carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen and teeny-tiny bits of other stuff such as some occasional sulphur. Those microbes, by the way, had better fix nitrogen like turbocharged bunnyfuckers if they are to deliver maximum yield rates (and if you'd read some of the links I'd sent earlier you'd know that no green manure on earth does that right now).

                                    The same is true for plants. Companies like Indigo Ag are taking this advanced understanding of microbiology and applying it to crop performance with some impressive results. I had the chance to chat with David Perry, CEO
                                              and Director of Indigo Ag for the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
                                              [...]
                                              Currently, Indigo delivers their beneficial microbes via a seed treatment. The microbes then grow as their “host” (the plant) grows. In cotton, for example, trials demonstrated a 14% yield increase over cotton not treated
                                              with Indigo’s microbial technology.
                                                  Notice that this would also help cover your six week gap in legume nitrogen fixing, when it is applied to legume seeds!
                                                  Moving on, I think the other big technology will be cyanobacteria farming. A variety of cyanobacteria species can fix nitrogen. So in a sunny part of the world, turn sea water, air, and CO2 into nitrogen-rich bacteria
                                                  ready to fertilize those fields, pretty much as a replacement for ammonia-based fertilizers.

                                    Now I know you're not doing the homework. 14% on cotton over untreated is not impressive. Just check (because I googled this for you; it's fun and easy!) https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/cotton-yield-goal-nitrogen-rate-recommendation.html [okstate.edu] where the maximum yield rate is over 300% from a base level. Moreover they explicitly call out P and K nutrients as key elements. If 14% is their headline heartthrob number, they have a lot of work to do before I'd even roll out of bed for their stuff, let alone pay money.

                                    Now I get that you're fixated on the holy grail of Nitrogen, and you're studiously ignoring all the other everything that the original story's author would call unsustainable and/or wrecking the planet, but your green manure fantasies aren't fixing that, and regardless of your miraculous fairyfart variety of clover that will suddenly give you abundant nitrogen a week after planting, or whatever, you're still mining like a demented kobold for other minerals - and we have no fix for that on the horizon. None. Doesn't exist.

                                    Now, I breathlessly await your detailed description of a lichen that will miraculously transport potash across the Great Plains to fill our larders ...

                                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 24, @03:39PM (6 children)

                                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 24, @03:39PM (#1215265) Journal

                                      Wrong AC, Bubba.

                                      Maybe you're the wrong AC, maybe not. I didn't see any "I'm a different AC" warnings in there. But if you really are a different AC, then keep up by reading previous posts. I'm not here to argue different straw men arguments every time a new AC decides to pipe up. Here, the straw man argument is that I'm somehow advocating for replacing all fertilizer, including non-nitrogen supplements by green manure. Didn't happen.

                                      "half" is not "remotely keeping pace".

                                      It's only a factor of three to keeping pace, remotely or otherwise. I'm not claiming that this is going to be just as perfect as using fertilizer, I'm pointing out how close it was in the first place.

                                      Moreover they explicitly call out P and K nutrients as key elements.

                                      Again. You're not going to get those elements from fossil fuels. Nobody made any claims about those nutrients and I explicitly noted earlier in the thread that I was looking at nitrogen only. The goalposts have been moved.

                                      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, @03:07PM (5 children)

                                        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, @03:07PM (#1215583)

                                        The only goalposts shifting here are yours. The original (incorrect) statement was: "You can put the nutrients back into the soil in two ways. The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer. That is not sustainable. The 2nd option is to either graze herds across the crop fields or manually spread natural fertilizer (animal poop)." and this wasn't limited to nitrogen. Your response was: "You're just discussing nitrogen. Green manure is a third way, using a nitrogen-fixing plant or microbe to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and then till that into the soil. Legumes, for example, are a great nitrogen-fixing group of plants and often generate a lot of economic value in addition to the nitrogen-fixing." which is a straightforward misconstrual of the original statement, and even within itself limited to the capabilities of nitrogen-fixers (which aren't up to what we can do with fossil fuels - again, check the mathematics) and in no way addresses all the other nutrients stripped by what the original poster called "effectively mining the soil for its nutrients".

                                        Even if you want to try to retcon this as only being about nitrogen in your head because that's all that green manures will do for you, you're not solving the big problem, but in reality you're missing the point that it doesn't all have to be from fossil fuels as such if we're using fossil fuels to mine for things like limestone and phosphate deposits, making up for natural nutrient cycles that we have far outstripped. None of those massive mines constitute sustainable agriculture, most definitely not as the original article's author would have it.

                                        Summary: if it's not just about nitrogen (as per the original poster, and the original article), then you're monumentally wrong. If it is just about nitrogen (as per your particular beef, which nobody else seems to follow), then the sums still don't work for you.

                                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 25, @10:00PM (4 children)

                                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 25, @10:00PM (#1215686) Journal

                                          Even if you want to try to retcon this as only being about nitrogen in your head because that's all that green manures will do for you

                                          What part of "You're just discussing nitrogen. Green manure is a third way, using a nitrogen-fixing plant or microbe to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and then till that into the soil." is wrong?

                                          you're not solving the big problem, but in reality you're missing the point that it doesn't all have to be from fossil fuels as such if we're using fossil fuels to mine for things like limestone and phosphate deposits, making up for natural nutrient cycles that we have far outstripped. None of those massive mines constitute sustainable agriculture, most definitely not as the original article's author would have it.

                                          We don't have to use fossil fuels as such for things like limestone and phosphate. Just saying.

                                          Summary: if it's not just about nitrogen (as per the original poster, and the original article), then you're monumentally wrong. If it is just about nitrogen (as per your particular beef, which nobody else seems to follow), then the sums still don't work for you.

                                          The problem word: "if". And the "sums" do work for me. I already said how.

                                          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 26, @03:43PM (3 children)

                                            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 26, @03:43PM (#1215843)

                                            "What part of "You're just discussing nitrogen. Green manure is a third way, using a nitrogen-fixing plant or microbe to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and then till that into the soil." is wrong?"

                                            The original poster did not say nitrogen, but "Growing crops is effectively mining the soil for its nutrients." Nutrients. In fact, not even merely bulk nutrients (which might have been a reduced reference to NPK) but also includes others from sulphur to selenium. That is what is wrong, moreso because even if you had a magic legume that fixed all the nitrogen you'd need without a growing period of its own (spoiler: not even close), it wouldn't do diddly for the other nutrients on the list. It's like saying your car only needs gasoline, when in fact it also needs air, lubricant, coolant and so on - and everyone else is talking about fluid needs while you keep thumping a jerrycan.

                                            "We don't have to use fossil fuels as such for things like limestone and phosphate. Just saying."

                                            No, we don't. We can go back to pickaxes and pit ponies. You're right about that, but the prospect of doing so is minute, the cost would be exorbitant, and even if we mine it with cuddly bunnies and happy thoughts we're still exhausting mines rather than using a sustainable cycle. This seems to fall under what the original author would have called "wrecking the planet", because it becomes less welcoming as a place to feed ourselves.

                                            "The problem word: "if". And the "sums" do work for me. I already said how."

                                            Yeah, we already covered your problems there, whistling past the graveyard of why farmers aren't saving bank on urea because of all the problems with green manure.

                                            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 26, @04:04PM (2 children)

                                              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 26, @04:04PM (#1215851) Journal

                                              The original poster did not say nitrogen

                                              Hence, my correction. You're welcome.

                                              We can go back to pickaxes and pit ponies.

                                              Or electricity from non-fossil fuel sources. I bet that would go further. Funny how you missed that one. Looks to me like you're too busy moving the goal posts to rationally think about this.

                                              Yeah, we already covered your problems there, whistling past the graveyard of why farmers aren't saving bank on urea because of all the problems with green manure.

                                              And we already covered how you acknowledged I was right in a backhanded way. I consider this finished.

                                              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31, @02:57AM (1 child)

                                                by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31, @02:57AM (#1217118)

                                                "Hence, my correction. You're welcome."

                                                If only it were a correction. Instead, many other nutrients, untouched by green manure as a strategy, are of major concern. This is why your focus on nitrogen is so misleading; the green manure strategy does precious little for the larger problem, and depending on factors such as soil acidity can make it actually worse.

                                                If that's your idea of help, please go help the Taliban. I understand they need all the help that they can get.

                                                "Or electricity from non-fossil fuel sources. I bet that would go further. Funny how you missed that one. Looks to me like you're too busy moving the goal posts to rationally think about this."

                                                Thus ignoring this part: "...even if we mine it with cuddly bunnies and happy thoughts we're still exhausting mines rather than using a sustainable cycle. This seems to fall under what the original author would have called "wrecking the planet", because it becomes less welcoming as a place to feed ourselves."

                                                Funny how you mention moving goalposts in this context. I like 'em just where they are, so would you care to address the point at issue: the exhaustion of mineral resources and the damage involved in doing so?

                                                "And we already covered how you acknowledged I was right in a backhanded way. I consider this finished."

                                                ... self-delusion aside, apparently the answer would be not. I mean, please, do feel free to farm all with green manure all the time and show us how to do it. Go on. Be famous.

                                                But please do it for the Taliban, because we don't deserve your kind of help.

                                                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday February 02, @02:05AM

                                                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 02, @02:05AM (#1217883) Journal

                                                  This is why your focus on nitrogen is so misleading; the green manure strategy does precious little for the larger problem

                                                  Same goes for fossil fuels. You're not going anywhere with this.

                                                  "...even if we mine it with cuddly bunnies and happy thoughts we're still exhausting mines rather than using a sustainable cycle.

                                                  Or open up new mines. Not seeing the point of your concern about sustainability since such exhaustion is a lot slower than the problems of population growth.