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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: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @04:27PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @04:27PM (#1212151) Journal
    I find it bizarre how you transitioned from the concern of your earlier post "We need to come up with more efficient ways of distributing edibles" to the present complaints about Canadians not needing bananas and the global impact of climate change. My take is that we need that distribution of edibles, we don't need to perfectly freeze climate change.

    There are other things missing from your considerations. Even if Canadians don't need bananas and Costa Ricans don't need maple syrup, they do need food. So these wants, you described, displace needs. Second, people really do need a varied diet even if they don't need these particular things - it remains far easier to deliver a varied diet by shipping it from overseas with different growing seasons than to grow everything locally. Third, the inefficiencies in the edibles supply chain aren't the shipping to and from Canada. That's really efficient.

    Fourth, you're proposing various ideas that would lower the efficiency of international transport of food. If we don't ship food that is merely wanted instead of needed, for example, then we greatly increase the cost of the needed food since the cost of edible-specialized transportation systems are distributed over far less goods than before. If we surcharge for some imaginary high cost of CO2 emissions, we also lower the efficiency of transportation systems that depend on fossil fuel burning.

    This thread is the usual weird stuff, Joe. You said something was important earlier on. But now you're throwing that away for something else more nebulous. And we have yet to see a problem in the things you're complaining about. So what if Canadians and Costa Ricans get exotic food for a small amount of CO2 emissions? Stopping that won't make distributing edibles more efficient and have no detectable effect on greenhouse gases emissions.