Energy

Academic Says Growing Food Is Destroying Earth’s Topsoil

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

Saving the environment and topsoil from global warming inherently conflicts with the human need to eat, according to a speech at a science conference in New Zealand Thursday.

Julian Cribb, a newspaper editor who recently authored a book questioning humanity’s future survival, said every meal fed to a human destroys about 22 pounds of topsoil. That’s apparently triggering environmental devastation.

“The human jawbone is now by far the most destructive implement on the planet,” Cribb said at the Soil, A Balancing Act Downunder conference. “It’s wrecking soil and water, clearing forests, emptying oceans of fish and destroying wildlife as never before – but few people realise it because of long industrial food-chains that hide the damage from them.”

Cribb claims topsoil loss and global warming will cause massive water and food shortages. The only solution is for governments to seize power and take action, potentially by reducing the number of mouths to feed.

“Governments and consumers fail to grasp that scarcities of soil, water, oil, nutrients, technology, fish and finance are now acting in sync – and are being amplified by climate shocks,” Cribb said. “Together they pose a major threat to world food security – and to world peace.”

Cribb’s ideas are not new. Predictions that humanity will starve to death in mass famines caused by environmental disaster and overpopulation date to at least the early 1800s and have been consistently wrong throughout history.

Stanford professor Dr. Paul Ehrlich is largely responsible for the view that humanity would starve to death, having co-published “The Population Bomb” with The Sierra Club in 1968. The book made a number of claims, including that millions of humans would starve to death in the 1970s and 1980s, mass famines would sweep England leading to the country’s demise, and that ecological destruction would devastate the planet and cause the collapse of civilization.

None of these claims occurred, and Ehrlich was quickly proven wrong by a massive agricultural revolution that caused the world’s food supply to rapidly increase.

Ehrlich’s dire predictions failed to materialize as the number of people living in poverty has significantly declined and the amount of food per person has steadily increased, despite population growth. India, where Ehrlich predicted mass famines were supposed to begin, recently became one of the world’s largest exporters of agricultural products and food supply per person in the country has drastically increased in recent years. The world’s gross domestic product per person has immeasurably grown despite increases in population.

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