Tuesday, January 22nd 2013, 5:56 PM EST
Today, Sir David Attenborough remarkably said that "humans are a plague on the earth" (http://bit.ly/10NotMj). He should have done a bit of fact checking first.
Sounding like this is the year 1800 and he just picked up a copy of Malthus, he predicts we're going to run out of resources, starvation will increase and we're simply running out of space.
Well, most of our resources are getting more plentiful, not less because of innovation (see my Foreign Affairs piece http://fam.ag/LfIoMl).
Starvation, though still a huge issues, has actually declined dramatically: in 1950, 53% of all people in the developing world starved, whereas it has dropped to about 13% today. (Remember, a significant part of the reason for higher food prices and more hunger is that we grow biofuels on an area one-quarter of France.)
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And no, we are not running out of "places to grow food for this enormous horde." Actually, FAO estimates that globally we will not need much more space to grow our food -- less than 5% by 2050 (http://bit.ly/4ChrEt), because of our dramatic increase in productivity. And the graph above here shows that we may already have reached the peak farming area, as innovation and conservation will work to feed the world ever better, while setting more and more space off for nature (http://bit.ly/UhjwoD). Also, notice that the total land area usable for agriculture is about 4.8 billion ha, so there is still some 2.7 billion ha in reserve.
Worrying is fine, but let's worry about the real issues, please.
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