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

Feeding the World

A Challenge for the Twenty-First Century

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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. Vaclav Smil 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.

Industry Reviews

"Feeding the World is a refreshing addition to the substantial body of literature on the future of the world's food supply." - Michael B. Cohen, American Scientist

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. ix
Reasons for Concernp. 1
Demographic Imperativesp. 6
Dietary Transitionsp. 8
End of an Era?p. 11
Appraising the Basicsp. 23
Photosynthesis and Crop Productivityp. 25
Land, Water, and Nutrientsp. 30
Agroecosystems and Biodiversityp. 52
Environmental Change and Agroecosystemsp. 65
Changing Soilsp. 67
Environmental Pollutionp. 80
What Could Climate Change Dop. 90
Toward Higher Cropping Efficienciesp. 105
More Efficient Fertilizationp. 108
Better Use of Waterp. 125
Precision Farmingp. 135
Rationalizing Animal Food Productionp. 141
Feeding Efficiencies and Resource Claimsp. 145
Opportunities in Milk and Meat Productionp. 163
Aquacultural Possibilitiesp. 171
Consuming the Harvestsp. 181
Harvests and Postharvest Lossesp. 182
How Much Food Do We Have?p. 188
How Much Food Do We Eat?p. 196
How Much Food Do We Need?p. 211
Human Energeticsp. 215
Protein Needsp. 227
Comparisons and Implicationsp. 235
Searching for Optimum Dietsp. 249
Nutritional Transitionsp. 250
Nutrition, Health, and Diseasep. 264
Optimized Dietsp. 276
If China Could Do It...p. 291
China's Predicamentp. 292
Available Resources and Existing Inefficienciesp. 299
Realistic Solutionsp. 309
Referencesp. 317
Indexp. 353
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780262692717
ISBN-10: 0262692716
Series: Mit Press
Audience: Professional
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 392
Published: 24th August 2001
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.8 x 15.5  x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.52