Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Julian Cribb's "The Coming Famine"

Julian Cribb is an award-winning journalist and science writer and the author of The White Death.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It, and reported the following:
On page 99 The Coming Famine says:
The role played by the oceans in our efforts to double the world’s food supply could thus be far below their potential – indeed, they could exacerbate the coming famine instead of helping to avert it.
Yup. We’re running out of fish. But were also running low on fresh water, good farming land, oil, mineral fertilisers, farming technology and stable climates. In short, everything the world is going to need to feed 10 billion people on richer diets sustainably by the 2060s will become more scarce.

Look at it this way: the world fish catch is currently 100mt a year – but it is stagnant due to overfishing (and ocean pollution). Marine scientists agree we’re very unlikely to get another 100mt of protein from the sea.

So we’ll have to get it from the land – from land animals or farmed fish. And that is going to take a billion tonnes of grain and 1000 cubic kilometres of water.

Add all this to the 185mt of extra meat which the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation thinks we’ll be eating by 2050 – and we’re going to have to discover three more North Americas to grow enough feed for these extra animals (or fish). A quick trip to Google Earth will tell you undiscovered continents are in short supply.

That’s the central contention of The Coming Famine – big demand for food, not enough resources to grow it using our present methods. So we need to change some things.

Is the problem insoluble (and famine inevitable)?

No way!

But we should take the necessary action, as individuals, as farmers and as governments, right now to avoid trouble and sustain our food supply. As to what the action is, you’ll have to read the other 200 pages.
Read an excerpt from The Coming Famine, and learn more about the book at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue