You can stop worrying so much about global warming as it turns our we’re all probably going to starve to death first. Wonkblog informs us that population growth is outstripping crop yields and by 2050 we cross the line. This alert comes with the usual nifty graphs which neatly extrapolate required crop yields with projected demand, and you will be shocked to learn that the farmers let us down, we fall short of producing the food we are going to need.
We’ve been down this road before. Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford professor, made quite a splash with his book The Population Bomb published in 1968. He had a Malthusian vision of the world and predicated on a population explosion followed by mass starvation. It was published around the time that we were all assured we were going to freeze to death. Since the publication of his book, the number of humans has grown immensely, however, technology applied to farming produced a revolution in food production.
I don’t think it’s necessarily unwise to ponder things like future food requirements and the Wonkblog article does include some recommendations for remedial actions which are refreshing in their modesty, a virtue rarely glimpsed among the climate doomsayers. Nonetheless, experience would certainly seem to indicate that modern agriculture has been proven to be remarkably adept at staying ahead of the demand curve. This is one potential problem which probably doesn’t deserve a lot of hand wringing. Agriculture is a business with a pretty stellar record of modernization and I’m inclined to believe that continued improvements in crop yields, genetic modification, advanced irrigation and even new methods of mass producing crops are going to allow all of us to eat well.
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