Feeding the World: A Challenge for the Twenty-First Century

Front Cover
MIT Press, 2001 - Business & Economics - 392 pages
1 Review

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.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: Feeding the World

User Review  - Harper - Goodreads

Technical but if you're an agriculture geek like me you'll like it. Talks about world hunger from a land use perspective. Technical in terms of things like soils, political in terms of things like misuse of resources. Read full review

Contents

Reasons for Concern
1
Demographic Imperatives
6
Dietary Transitions
8
End of an Era?
11
Appraising the Basics
23
Photosynthesis and Crop Productivity
25
Land Water and Nutrients
30
Agroecosystems and Biodiversity
52
Consuming the Harvests
181
Harvests and Postharvest Losses
182
How Much Food Do We Have?
188
How Much Food Do We Eat?
196
How Much Food Do We Need?
211
Human Energetics
215
Protein Needs
227
Comparisons and Implications
235

Environmental Change and Agroecosystems
65
Changing Soils
67
Environmental Pollution
80
What Could Climate Change Do?
90
Opportunities for Higher Cropping Efficiencies
105
More Efficient Fertilization
108
Better Use of Water
125
Precision Farming
135
Rationalizing Animal Food Production
141
Feeding Efficiencies and Resource Claims
145
Opportunities in Milk and Meat Production
163
Aquacultural Possibilities
171
Searching for Optimum Diets
249
Nutritional Transitions
250
Nutrition Health and Disease
264
Optimized Diets
276
If China Could Do It
291
Chinas Predicament
292
Available Resources and Existing Inefficiencies
299
Realistic Solutions
309
References
317
Index
353
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 319 - Critical evaluation of energy intake data using fundamental principles of energy physiology: 1. Derivation of cut-off limits to identify under-recording.
Page 318 - Nutritional situation and seasonal variations for pastoralist populations of the Sahel (Senegalese Ferlo).
Page 323 - Acock B (1986) Crop responses to carbon dioxide doubling: A literature survey.
Page 320 - Kaufman. DD ( 1996). Microbial diversity in the rhizosphere of corn grown under conventional and low-input systems. Appl. Soil Ecol. 5:21-27.

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2001)

Vaclav Smil is the author of more than thirty books on energy, environment, food, and historyof technical advances, including Prime Movers of Globalization: The History and Impact ofDiesel Engines and Gas Turbines and Harvesting the Biosphere: What We Have Takenfrom Nature, both published by the MIT Press. He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus atthe University of Manitoba. In 2010 he was named by Foreign Policy as one of theTop 100 Global Thinkers.

Bibliographic information