December 26, 2012

Global crop production stagnating in some areas

Washingon Post - After decades of rapidly growing global agricultural output, production of four of the world’s most important crops could be stagnating or even slowing in some regions, according to a new study published in Nature, a top scientific journal. The study, by the University of Minnesota’s Deepak Ray and four others, examined millions of census reports from the last half century to gather their data.

The authors are careful to point out that crop production is still increasing in parts of the world; it is by no means a categorical decline. The report’s abstract reads summarizes, “Although yields continue to increase in many areas, we find that across 24–39% of maize-, rice-, wheat- and soybean-growing areas, yields either never improve, stagnate or collapse.” That’s about a quarter to a third of global production of four of our most important crops.

This is potentially a very big deal. World populations are still growing. So is the global middle class, members of which tend to consume more meat and dairy per person, which means more crops per person. That’s been happening for a while, and it’s been fine as long as food production has kept pace. But the pace of crop production growth appears to be slowing in some really important regions, particularly in parts of India and China – and, yes, the U.S.


Anonymous said...

0.5 live birth per person followed by mandatory sterilisation. Any male impregnating 2 or more women at the same time, except by bona-fide accident, loses his dangly bits.

That plus replacing Capitalism with a global economy of open-handed sharing, a crash program of global reforestation, and a drastic increase in the efficiency of land, water, and energy use.

It's that or we all go under.

Anonymous said...

Sterilization surgery is invasive and has many problematic and sometimes dangerous side effects. Vasectomies can harden the arteries and tubal ligation can create obesity in some people. It also means that if the first child dies, then parents could not have a second, which is pretty harsh punishment if they lost the first child through no fault of their own.

Better success in lowering birthrates to .5 per person would be made by education, free and available birth control and abortions, and changing the tax code. Instead of giving a tax break for every child in a family, only give a tax break for the first born, or the results of the first live birth, like twins. After the first child tax break, that tax break goes away with the second child from a second live birth. After the second child an overpopulation tax kicks in and taxes increase with each child added to the family, the rates increasing with each additional child. So while the overpopulation tax on three kids might be somewhat unpleasant, the overpopulation tax on a family like the Duggards would be quite substantial. The only way to have a large family and still get first child tax deductions would be to adopt all but one of the children. Adopted children should come with a tax break to encourage adoption of children who need families.

A tax plan which leaves a choice of family size will be much more popular then forced sterilization, and get greater voluntary compliance. Voluntary compliance doesn't cost anything extra, while forced sterilization will be expensive to administer and require extreme and repressive measures to achieve.