This thinning road-cum-field II

This is an update of the last-but-one post.

It turns out that Lester Brown, the former president of Washington DC’s Worldwatch Institute, wrote about China’s agriculture and food requirements in a book titled ‘Who Will Feed China – Wake Up Call for a Small Planet’ (available here). The amazing thing is that he wrote the book in 1995 – maybe not so prescient when one thinks about the work of those before him, such as that of Donella Meadows from the 1970s… but still. The book’s dramatic-sounding blurb says,

Brown shows that cropland losses are heavy in countries that are densely populated before industrialization, and that these countries quickly become net grain importers. We can see that process now in newspaper accounts from China as the government struggles with this problem. In an integrated world economy, China’s rising food prices will become the world’s rising food prices. China’s land scarcity will become everyone’s land scarcity. And water scarcity in China will affect the entire world. China’s dependence on massive imports, like the collapse of the world’s fisheries, will be a wake-up call that we are colliding with the earth’s capacity to feed us. It could well lead us to redefine national security away from military preparedness and toward maintaining adequate food supplies.

Nice to learn from their website that the Worldwatch Institute has China-based partner organisations with whom they work.

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2 Responses to “This thinning road-cum-field II”

  1. Cass Says:

    The arguments for a vegetarian diet are unassailable

  2. drfrank Says:

    This, coincidentally, appeared today from the blog, No Impact Man:

    “According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s November, 2006 report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow–Environmental Issues and Options”:
    * 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock (more than from transportation).
    * 70 percent of previously forested land in the Amazon was cleared to pasture cattle.
    * Two-thirds (64 percent) of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems, come from cattle.
    * The livestock sector accounts for over 8 percent of global human water use, while 64 percent of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas by 2025.
    * The world’s largest source of water pollution is believed to be the livestock sector.
    * In the United States, livestock are responsible for a third of the loads of nitrogen and phosphorus into freshwater resources.
    * Livestock account for about 20 percent of the total terrestrial animal biomass, and the 30 percent of the earth’s land surface that they now pre-empt was once habitat for wildlife, in an era of unprecedented threats to biodiversity.
    * These problems will only get worse as meat production is expected to double by 2050.”

    And the BBC published a story about how being vegetarian leads to a higher IQ: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6180753.stm

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