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« Diary dates, divestment edition | Main | Humanitarianism versus environmentalism »

Diary dates, hunger games edition

Word reaches me of an event in Aberdeen next week:

How To Feed The World
19 May 2015, 18:00 – 19:30 New King’s 6, Old Aberdeen

A panel of experts will discuss the challenge of feeding the ever-growing population.

The world will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than we have consumed in all of human history; an even more daunting challenge considering this increased production has to come from a finite amount of agricultural land amid a changing climate. As a result, business as usual will not do it and novel strategies are required.

Join us for a public lecture where researchers from the University of Minnesota and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) will contribute to this debate by highlighting important insights based on their world-leading research. Paul West and Jamie Gerber, both University of Minnesota, will identify several key “global leverage points” that offer the best opportunities to improve both global food security and environmental sustainability, while Mario Herrero (CSIRO), a world renowned expert on livestock systems, will discuss the role of livestock systems in the larger challenges of climate change mitigation and improving global food security.

This public lecture originates from a major international research collaboration project between scientists at the University of Aberdeen and several global leaders in food security research. A number of international researchers from all over the globe will visit Aberdeen for several days in May as part of the research project “Delivering Food Security on Limited Land (DEVIL)”, which includes the Scottish research institutions the University of Aberdeen, the James Hutton Institute and the University of Dundee. The project is coordinated by Professor Pete Smith (University of Aberdeen) and Professor Deb Roberts (James Hutton Institute).

Contact: Henri de Ruiter 

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Reader Comments (29)

I hope they discuss the immorality of "organic" food, and of opposition to GM, and of opposition to pesticides, and of the "war against farmers", and of opposition to water management for irrigation purposes, and of the "battle against climate change".

Sheesh, how do Green consciences cope with all that guilt?

May 12, 2015 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

By attending, all delegates will receive automatic Membership into the Malthusian Euthanasia Programme, for the betterment of humanity.

Membership is for life, however short the Committee decide that should be.

May 12, 2015 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I read on a US website 3-4 years ago now an articlce on this very subject. It was in defence of population also. It claimed amongst other things that we produced enough food to feed a global population of around 9 billion people, the point being that it was not an issue of production, but rather one of distribution. It also maintained that we do so now on less land than ever before, & the writer was confident that as a race we would amply be able to sustain that production, provided that global temperatures did not significnatly fall, citing the benefits of a warmer world. I will try & hunt it down. I also think golf charlie has it about right!

May 12, 2015 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

I got an idea - how 'bout scrapping E10 fuel, and feed the resulting extra crops to the starving masses?

BTW, would anyone like to point out to the assembled experts in Aberdeen that the world's population is not 'ever-growing' - most reputable forecasts put max population at between 9bn - 10bn at some point between 2050 - 2075, after which it declines...

May 12, 2015 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavidsb

They're...... too sexy for Milan. Where Expo 2015 is showing how the world is being and will be fed.

Malthusians never accept that, despite regional hunger, malnutrition and occasional starvation, if we weren't being fed we would already be dead. Fossil fuels are still a non-optional part of producing food for the haves and improving the lot of the have-nots.

How many of these conferees, I wonder, will be promoting nuclear power as the technology to satisfy the legitimate energy needs of the human race?

May 12, 2015 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Has a panel of experts ever fed anyone? They're more likely to stunt the world's food output.

What does feed people are farmers, scientists, and agricultural companies working in their own best interests.

May 12, 2015 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterrabbit

And do not forget the EU programme generally known as CAP, which stops farmers, ours, growing as much as they could.

May 12, 2015 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

rabbit, don't use common sense in front of Malthusians, they get very annoyed and need to destroy thousands of lives. It is their solution to every problem.

May 12, 2015 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"novel strategies are required"

I'd bet that World Government will end up being the "novel strategy".

May 12, 2015 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

The world will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than we have consumed in all of human history;

Not a problem. That's been the case before.

an even more daunting challenge considering this increased production has to come from a finite amount of agricultural land amid a changing climate.

A relatively small proportion of agricultural land is being used. Farmers have adapted to changing climate since, like, forever. They don't panic about it like academics and urbanistas do.
As a result, business as usual will not do it and novel strategies are required.

50 years behind the times again. How about you tell Greenies to stop blocking GM, dams and modern agricultural development , machinery and business methods in third world countries?

May 12, 2015 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

And stop covering Hampshire with bloody sun farms.

May 12, 2015 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

When will the world of academia realize that no matter how much they may pontificate it is market forces that will dictate the structure of the food chain.

May 12, 2015 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

Not just Hampshire Alan, they are everywhere you go.

Food cannot be scarce or marginal land would be brought into production, just as it was during the war. What we are actually seeing is the opposite, turning fine, productive, south facing farming land into solar farms.

May 12, 2015 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBuck

All that extra CO2 greening the planet is very inconvenient.

May 12, 2015 at 5:42 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Alan Reed Sun Farms. A sunshine tax is soon to be added to overseas holidays. This will trigger climate taxation refugees to invade Glasgow.

May 12, 2015 at 6:03 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Studied this intensively for the first book. Under the basic assumptions that intensification (yields) increase at rates of the last decade (varying greatly by crop, and requiring GMO), no increase in meat consumption, a slight decrease in average calories/ person, unlimited 'virtual water' (food imports), and no corn ethanol, then the world can just adequately feed about 9.2 billion in 2050. Not much more. Constraints include arable land, irrigation water, and pest evolution (like Roundup resistant weeds). What pinches in the real world are meat consumption (e.g. rising in China with wealth) and unlimited virual water--too much needed into regions with too little ability to pay in the future, like Egypt and India.

May 12, 2015 at 8:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

Academics are always behind the curve. I recall that when I was a graduating senior (BS ChE) I was advised to stay away from the oil and gas there was only fifty years of proved reserves. That was in1952.

May 12, 2015 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimbrock

I can imagine a lot of sessions talking about local food and cutting down on transport miles, etc, and sharing all sorts of things, but no discussion about the infrastructure that makes all the sharing possible (i.e., western industrialized fossil fueled transport equipment), or about how fragile the local food systems will be without those interconnections. And there will certinaly not be any talk about how things like coffee, tea, pepper, and even salt, in some places, will become unobtainable. But those issues are also considered to be features, not bugs, because the ultimate solution will, of course, be depopulation of the planet, to get us back to their idea of what its carrying capacity should be.

May 12, 2015 at 8:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterrxc

The world will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than we have consumed in all of human history;

A lovely "factoid" that is doubtfully true.

We have a population currently of 7 billion. In the next 50 years population will likely reach 9 billion. So an average of 8 billion. Over 50 years that is 400 billion man-years. About 100 years ago it was about 2 billion. That averages out at 4.5 billion . Over 100 years is 450 billion man-years, more than the next 50 years, and without adding 100 billion man-years for the 19th century and more still for previous centuries.

If we produce more food in the next 50 years than we ever have, then it will necessarily mean that people are eating a lot better. Which I would have thought was a good thing.

May 12, 2015 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

I doubt we'll be living on local food in Aberdeen throughout the winter.
Pickled herring and preserved neeps? OK, there's Brew Dog and Glen Garioch. Let's not ask where the hops come from.

May 12, 2015 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

<B><A HREF="">Let the games begin !

May 12, 2015 at 10:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Mooloo, your maths seems ok to me, but for Champagne Socialists the problem is that the extent of land area able to produce Champagne, is now protected under EU law.

The Law of Unintended Consequences, strikes again.

If Lewandowsky could work on changing the Champagne Socialist's perception of what is Socially acceptable for those who enjoy ShamPain in others, he could finally do something useful

May 12, 2015 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

kellydown, but what would the pickled herrings be preserved in?

Could "Herrings in finest Malt Whisky" be the newest taste sensation, marketed on the basis of its rarity (and price) with the added bonus of drinking the Whisky aswell?

May 12, 2015 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

@ golf charlie

Careful or you'll be the initial taste tester. And I am not sure you aren't a trojan horse for the ShamPain Socialists cunning plan to wipe out all whisky connoisseurs.

May 13, 2015 at 12:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

Some say to reduce the number of people.
Some say to increase the quantity/quality of food.

Deceptively, stupidly summarised.

You can have huge wars these days. Sometimes, the losing side then gets help to breed faster than before.
You can have a huge burst of corn crop production, but much is used to power oversized cars and some for the manufacture of aggressve military arms.

These outcomes and more like them are not driven by simple economic efficiency theory.
The are instead, cold blooded murderous plans by bureaucrats whose power bases need a clean out with a few modest A bombs, metaphorically. Is there a 666 connection when you mix UN with A and get 'bomber'?

Such is the ignorance of many of these unelected, supremacist mobs that many of them think they are doing immense altruism for the great mass of people of the world.

Is the world still bonkers, or is it just me again?

There remains much in favour of a good day of pay for a hard day of work. I wonder if these giant social engineering mobs, like parts of the UN, and like some wealthy churches, have ever thought of Life that way.

May 13, 2015 at 1:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

What's @Michael Hart on about ? Ah Milan Expo 2015 got a slagging off in the Gdn today
It runs from May until the end of October

The Expo theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" is highly relevant for agriculture and the Common Agricultural Policy.
... Both in the animation proposed to the Expo visitors as via an elaborated programme of workshops and seminars addressed at stakeholders *, agriculture and the CAP will be at the core of the debates at Expo Milano 2015.
* (Their bad translation : they mean 'there will be visitor activities and workshops for stakeholders'... )
more .....programme

May 13, 2015 at 8:41 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

How To Feed The World - well we might consider boosting photosynthesis as it appears plants crave more carbon dioxide for growth than currently available in the atmosphere. This evidently suggests plant adaptation to a previous age of plentiful carbon dioxide, in which life on earth flourished.

WUWT john robertson May 10, 2015 at 5:29 pm wrote:
"...the insanity of condemning carbon-dioxide, and all carbon based life with it is beyond parody.
But as the body of knowledge has grown, it is down right astounding that we, by choosing to release the energy bound up in ancient biomass, have done exactly the right thing to allow the plants to prosper."

May 13, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterEForster

I couldn't get my hands on Paul West's paper, which identifies 'several key “global leverage points,”' but I found articles about it.

It is nonsense. Billions will die. The three leverage points are fertilizer use, water use, and crop selection. He suggests that if the southeastern U.S. quit using so much water, it would be available for use in Africa. Duh.

West conspicuously does not propose actions. However, he advocates the formation of expert committees formed to establish agricultural best practices, which presumably would incorporate his recommendations on restrictions.

As farmers would naturally ignore Central Control, government would surely be empowered to enforce academia's Best Practices. Control of farming is to be taken away from farmers and given to academics, because they understand the big picture of fertilizer, water, and crop selection.

"You vill grow arugula, because that's vhat the volks should be eating."

Billions will die.

May 13, 2015 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

The world will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than we have consumed in all of human history;

I agree with Mooloo above.

From UN numbers, ( "World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision" (XLS). Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. June 2013. Retrieved August 7, 2013) we can expect around 447 billion person years of feeding in the next 50 years.

Looking back and adding person years of world population we reach 449 billion person years in the period 2015 back to 1850. Total person years back to 10,000 BC sums to 1,389 billion. So in the next 50 years we may have to produce a third of the food ever produced from the beginning. Not quite as eye-catching a figure as 'as much as' but I expect a 'consensus' will be formed to support the grant applications and to persuade those learned, wise politicians.

However, it is still a lot of food, as well as a lot of people.

May 13, 2015 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterCPSJ

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