Thursday, December 08, 2005

The New Malthusians

Kate Ravilious reports on new research that indicates that approximately 40% of the Earth's landcover is being used for agriculture.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison combined satellite land cover images with agricultural census data from every country in the world to create detailed maps of global land use. Each grid square was 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) across and showed the most prevalent land use in that square, such as forest, grassland or ice....

"The maps show, very strikingly, that a large part of our planet (roughly 40%) is being used for either growing crops or grazing cattle," said Dr Navin Ramankutty, a member of the Wisconsin-Madison team. By comparison, only 7% of the world's land was being used for agriculture in 1700. |Guardian|


With the human population continuing to expand at an exponential rate, where will we grow food for future generations? (Especially given that we now have more elderly members of the population than at any other time in human history.)

Perhaps we will be able to grow food on top of our buildings...

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