Thursday, October 29, 2009

spitting into the food superpower wind...,

NYTimes | The “cautiously optimistic” authors of the United Nations food report believe that humanity will somehow be able to produce more food while still honoring the value of other species by protecting their habitat. And it’s true that this is not a zero-sum game. A 70 percent increase in food production doesn’t necessarily mean a 70 percent reduction in habitat.

But the Food and Agriculture Organization also warns that agricultural acreage will have to grow by some 297 million acres, a little less than three times the size of California. Add to this the ongoing rate of habitat destruction — including deforestation, often for fuel but usually for producing more food — and other threats like the growing production of biofuels, and it is hard to argue that there isn’t a profound conflict between what our species will need to survive by 2050 and the needs of nearly every other species on this planet.

The question isn’t whether we can feed 9.1 billion people in 2050 — they must be fed — or whether we can find the energy they will surely need. The question is whether we can find a way to make food and energy production sustainable in the broadest possible sense — and whether we can act on the principle that our interest includes that of every other species on the planet.