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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @06:40AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @06:40AM (#1212349)

    I think you've ran astray of the point, friend. We're talking about a model of humanity that would've been far better suited to maintaining real independence while dually controlling the population expansion with a natural scarcity. That is to say reigning in the polity, offering equitable opportunity, and ultimately flattening the wealth distribution through better acculturation. Instead we've just enshrined a noveau aristocracy which pulls the strings of the masses of millions in plain sight, the masses of whom you are no doubt counted given your wont to argue for the sake of the supposed "elite". But do go fellate monsignor Musk I'm sure he'll appreciate your capacity for flagrant handwaving in the process.

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 17, @07:22AM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @07:22AM (#1213351) Journal
    Sorry, I forgot to reply earlier. So this is a bit late.

    I think you've ran astray of the point, friend. We're talking about a model of humanity that would've been far better suited to maintaining real independence while dually controlling the population expansion with a natural scarcity.

    A key scientific principle is that if a model doesn't describe a system very well, then you look for something better - you don't try to shoehorn reality into the model. It holds whether you're speaking of dark matter/energy or models of economics/politics.

    Here, my concern is not coming up with some ideal of human dynamics, but reducing overpopulation and the many harmful effects that come with that. The multi-generational family unit just doesn't explain human behavior well - particularly what is needed to reduce human fertility. A model of human behavior that correlates lower human fertility with empowerment of women and increasing wealth of individuals and families does. Further, that latter model has no need for this "natural scarcity" to control human population growth!

    That is to say reigning in the polity, offering equitable opportunity, and ultimately flattening the wealth distribution through better acculturation. Instead we've just enshrined a noveau aristocracy which pulls the strings of the masses of millions in plain sight, the masses of whom you are no doubt counted given your wont to argue for the sake of the supposed "elite".

    I'm not seeing the point of this part. First, we're just too populous to reign in the polity. Second, we already see that this approach doesn't offer equitable opportunity since the approach creates a stickiness that encourages people to stay in regions with less opportunity. Third, why should we desire to flatten wealth distribution. Sorry, because of that wealth inequality, Musk got to radically change humanity's development of space to the better. I doubt a slightly better wealth equality would have improved your contribution to society beyond this theory. Thus, it seems to me that wealth, while not distributed equally, is distributed better.

    Finally, the bit about "enshrined a noveau aristocracy" is a typically outcome of having a lot of people in a society, just like reigning in the polity. Mass media and elite control is a natural outcome.

    But do go fellate monsignor Musk I'm sure he'll appreciate your capacity for flagrant handwaving in the process.

    Funny how defending someone reasonably is "fellating". I see him instead as a huge proof of the negation of your model. Perhaps you ought to as well.