Abstract

Can we feed the world? Although the rate of increase is falling, the world’s population continues to grow at an explosive rate, doubling since the early 1960s. Fortunately, the quantity of food has increased even faster. The average human being in 2010 has 25 percent more food than in 1960 despite the huge increase in population. Although that’s an average figure, the proportion of humanity that is undernourished has also fallen. Extending and intensifying has improved our fate. But we have reached a point where not much more nature can be converted into farmland without serious negative impacts on other vital environmental services such as water catchments, carbon sequestrations, and conservation of biodiversity. A quarter of the world’s ice-free surface is already used for farming. So how can we increase food production to feed the increasing number of people as well as improve the nutrition of the millions who are still malnourished, especially in Africa? Pessimists regularly predict catastrophic food shortages. The specter of starvation can be traced back to the ideas of the English parson Thomas Malthus, who fretted about the population explosion he witnessed toward the end of the eighteenth century. A typical couple at the time had four children and sixteen grandchildren, which meant the population was growing exponentially. Malthus anxiously predicted a shortage of food, as he didn’t believe new farmland could be cleared fast enough to keep feeding all those extra mouths. Linear growth in the area under cultivation—an...

Concepts
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Ice-free Surface
Food Supply
Genocidal War
Question Of Politics
Explosive Rate
Average Figure
Conservation Of Biodiversity
Massive Scale
Quantity Of Food
Water Catchments

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