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Author Smil, Vaclav.

Title Enriching the earth : Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the transformation of world food production / Vaclav Smil.

Published Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [2001]


Location Call No. Status
 UniM Bail  631.84 SMIL    AVAILABLE
Physical description xvii, 338 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index.
Contents 1 Reasons for Concern 1 -- Demographic Imperatives 6 -- Dietary Transitions 8 -- End of an Era? 11 -- 2 Appraising the Basics 23 -- Photosynthesis and Crop Productivity 25 -- Land, Water, and Nutrients 30 -- Agroecosystems and Biodiversity 52 -- 3 Environmental Change and Agroecosystems 65 -- Changing Soils 67 -- Environmental Pollution 80 -- What Could Climate Change Do 90 -- 4 Toward Higher Cropping Efficiencies 105 -- More Efficient Fertilization 108 -- Better Use of Water 125 -- Precision Farming 135 -- 5 Rationalizing Animal Food Production 141 -- Feeding Efficiencies and Resource Claims 145 -- Opportunities in Milk and Meat Production 163 -- Aquacultural Possibilities 171 -- 6 Consuming the Harvests 181 -- Harvests and Postharvest Losses 182 -- How Much Food Do We Have? 188 -- How Much Food Do We Eat? 196 -- 7 How Much Food Do We Need? 211 -- Human Energetics 215 -- Protein Needs 227 -- Comparisons and Implications 235 -- 8 Searching for Optimum Diets 249 -- Nutritional Transitions 250 -- Nutrition, Health, and Disease 264 -- Optimized Diets 276 -- 9 If China Could Do It ... 291 -- China's Predicament 292 -- Available Resources and Existing Inefficiencies 299 -- Realistic Solutions 309.
Summary This book addresses the question of how we can best feed the ten billion or so people who will likely inhabit the Earth by the middle of the twenty-first century. Vaclav Smil asks whether human ingenuity can produce enough food to support healthy and vigorous lives for all these people without irreparably damaging the integrity of the biosphere.
This book differs from other books on the world food situation in its consideration of the complete food cycle, from agriculture to post-harvest losses and processing to eating and discarding. Taking a scientific approach, Smil espouses neither the catastrophic view that widespread starvation is imminent nor the cornucopian view that welcomes large population increases as the source of endless human inventiveness. He shows how we can make more effective use of current resources and suggests that if we increase farming efficiency, reduce waste, and transform our diets, future needs may not be as great as we anticipate.
Smil's message is that the prospects may not be as bright as we would like, but the outlook is hardly disheartening. Although inaction, late action, or misplaced emphasis may bring serious future troubles, we have the tools to steer a more efficient course. There are no insurmountable biophysical reasons we cannot feed humanity in the decades to come while easing the burden that modern agriculture puts on the biosphere.
Subject Nitrogen fertilizers.
Ammonia as fertilizer.
ISBN 026219449X (hc : alk. paper)
0262194325 (hc : alk. paper)