Feeding the World: A Challenge for the Twenty-First Century / Edition 1

Feeding the World: A Challenge for the Twenty-First Century / Edition 1

by Vaclav Smil
     
 

ISBN-10: 0262692716

ISBN-13: 9780262692717

Pub. Date: 10/01/2001

Publisher: MIT Press

This book addresses the question of how we can best feed the ten billion or so people who will likely inhabit the Earth by the middle of the twenty-first century. He asks whether human ingenuity can produce enough food to support healthy and vigorous lives for all these people without irreparably damaging the integrity of the biosphere.

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Overview

This book addresses the question of how we can best feed the ten billion or so people who will likely inhabit the Earth by the middle of the twenty-first century. He asks whether human ingenuity can produce enough food to support healthy and vigorous lives for all these people without irreparably damaging the integrity of the biosphere.

What makes this book different from other books on the world food situation is its consideration of the complete food cycle, from agriculture to post-harvest losses and processing to eating and discarding. Taking a scientific approach, Smil espouses neither the catastrophic view that widespread starvation is imminent nor the cornucopian view that welcomes large population increases as the source of endless human inventiveness. He shows how we can make more effective use of current resources and suggests that if we increase farming efficiency, reduce waste, and transform our diets, future needs may not be as great as we anticipate.

Smil's message is that the prospects may not be as bright as we would like, but the outlook is hardly disheartening. Although inaction, late action, or misplaced emphasis may bring future troubles, we have the tools to steer a more efficient course. There are no insurmountable biophysical reasons we cannot feed humanity in the decades to come while easing the burden that modern agriculture puts on the biosphere.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262692717
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
10/01/2001
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
390
Sales rank:
1,240,797
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsvii
Introductionix
1Reasons for Concern1
Demographic Imperatives6
Dietary Transitions8
End of an Era?11
2Appraising the Basics23
Photosynthesis and Crop Productivity25
Land, Water, and Nutrients30
Agroecosystems and Biodiversity52
3Environmental Change and Agroecosystems65
Changing Soils67
Environmental Pollution80
What Could Climate Change Do90
4Toward Higher Cropping Efficiencies105
More Efficient Fertilization108
Better Use of Water125
Precision Farming135
5Rationalizing Animal Food Production141
Feeding Efficiencies and Resource Claims145
Opportunities in Milk and Meat Production163
Aquacultural Possibilities171
6Consuming the Harvests181
Harvests and Postharvest Losses182
How Much Food Do We Have?188
How Much Food Do We Eat?196
7How Much Food Do We Need?211
Human Energetics215
Protein Needs227
Comparisons and Implications235
8Searching for Optimum Diets249
Nutritional Transitions250
Nutrition, Health, and Disease264
Optimized Diets276
9If China Could Do It...291
China's Predicament292
Available Resources and Existing Inefficiencies299
Realistic Solutions309
References317
Index353

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