Agriculture

Peak Farmland?

The landscape of the future has more wilderness.

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“Humanity now stands at Peak Farmland, and the 21st century will see [the] release of vast areas of land, hundreds of millions of hectares, more than twice the area of France, for nature,” declared Jesse Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University, in a December lecture. Ausubel was outlining the findings of a study he and his collaborators had reported in the Population and Development Review Supplement that month. Unlike other alleged resource “peaks,” peak farmland reflects not the exhaustion of resources but the fruits of human intelligence and affluence.

The trend toward reducing farming’s impact on nature took off with the Green Revolution of the 1960s. That leap in agricultural productivity was sparked by plant breeder Norman Borlaug and his colleagues, who created high-yield varieties of wheat and rice, an effort so successful that Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

While Borlaug was working to avert famines, others were declaring them inevitable. “The battle to feed all of humanity is over,” Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich declared in his best-selling 1968 dystopian screed The Population Bomb. “In the 1970s the world will undergo faminesâ€"hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” The epicenter of Ehrlich’s alarm was impoverished India.

In 1960 India’s population was 450 million, and the average Indian subsisted on a diet of just over 2,000 calories per day. Indian farmers wrested those meager calories from 161 million hectares (400 million acres) of farmland, an area a bit more than twice the size of Texas. By 2010 the Indian population was more than two and half times as big, national income had risen 15-fold, and the average Indian ate one-sixth more calories. Yet the amount of land devoted to crops rose just 5 percent, to 170 million hectares. 

Had wheat productivity in India remained the same as it was in 1960, Ausubel and his colleagues calculate, farmers would have had to plow up an additional 65 million hectares of land, an area one and a half times the size of California. Instead, as people abandoned the land for cities, Indian forests expanded by 15 million hectaresâ€"bigger than the area of Iowa.

This trajectory of rising agricultural productivity has also been seen in post-Mao China. During that period, China’s population doubled, and its GDP rose 45-fold. While the amount of land harvested for corn also doubled, each acre produced 4.5 times as much as it did in 1960. Ausubel and his colleagues calculate that rising Chinese corn productivity spared 120 million hectares from the plow. 

In the United States, corn production grew 17-fold between 1860 and 2010, but more land was planted with corn in 1925 than in 2010. (The area planted in corn has started increasing again, thanks to the federal government’s biofuels mandates and subsidies.) Today U.S. forests cover about 72 percent of the area that was forested in 1630. Forest area stabilized in the early 20th century, and the extent of U.S. forests began increasing in the second half of the century.

If global crop yields had remained stuck at 1960 levels, Ausubel noted in his lecture, farmers around the world “would have needed about 3 billion more hectares, about the sum of the USA, Canada, and China or almost twice South America.” Plowing down this amount of the world’s remaining forests and grasslands would have produced what Ausubel calls “Skinhead Earth.”

So where are these trends heading? The researchers offer a 50-year forecast via their ImPACT equation, which calculates how much land will be used for crops (Im) by multiplying population trends (P), affluence (A) as measured by GDP per capita, consumption (C) as calories demanded per unit of GDP, and technology (T) as crop productivity per hectare. The U.N. expects population growth to continue slowing, global affluence to increase at around 1.5 percent per year, people to spend a smaller share of their incomes on food as their incomes rise (a phenomenon known as Engel’s Law), and the amount of crop per hectare to rise by 2 percent annually. (In aggregate, farmers today can produce nearly three times the food they did in 1960 on the same amount of land.) The authors also take into account the growing global desire for meat, which means growing more grains to feed animals, and the diversion of crops into nonfood products such as biofuels.

American corn farmers currently average about 180 bushels per acre, and the world average is around 82. Ausubel and his colleagues assume a modest 1.7 percent annual increase in corn yields between 2010 and 2060, which implies that “the average global yield in 2060 would resemble the average U.S. yield in 2010.”

One concern is that farmers may be approaching the biological limits of photosynthesis, which would constrain crop yields. But the authors note that the winners of the annual National Corn Yield Contest currently produce nonirrigated yields of around 300 bushels per acre, nearly double average U.S. yields. Ausubel suggests that the difference between the global average of 82 bushels and contest-winning 300 bushels per acre yields means that “much headroom remains.”

Cranking various population, economic growth, and yield trends through the ImPACT equation, the authors conservatively conclude that in 2060 “some 146 million hectares could be restored to Nature, an area equal to one and half times the size of Egypt, two and half times France, or ten times Iowa.” Under a slightly more optimistic scenarioâ€"one in which population growth slows a bit more, people choose to eat somewhat less meat, agricultural productivity is modestly higher, and there’s less demand for biofuelsâ€"an additional 256 million hectares would be spared from the plow. That would mean nearly 400 million hectares restored to nature by 2060, an area almost double the size of the United States east of the Mississippi River.

As Ausubel notes, sparing land usually also means sparing water, which would lessen pressure on the world’s fresh water supplies. Crops need nitrogen to grow, but excess nitrogen fertilizer runoff pollutes streams and is responsible for algae blooms that produce low-oxygen dead zones in many coastal regions. Researchers are hard at work producing biotech varieties that require far less nitrogen.

For example, researchers at Cornell University reported in January that efforts to dramatically boost the photosynthetic efficiency of staple grain crops are moving forward, prompting them to make the optimistic conjecture that “farmers could grow wheat and rice in hotter, dryer environments with less fertilizer, while possibly increasing yields by half.” Currently about 40 percent of the world’s grain is fed to livestock to produce meat. In the ultimate move toward what Ausubel calls “landless agriculture,” the biotech company Modern Meadow hopes to use tissue engineering and 3D printers to make meat. Obviously, such breakthroughs would free up even more land.

“Now we are confident,” the authors conclude, “that we stand on the peak of cropland use, gazing at a wide expanse of land that will be spared for nature.” Now that’s a real Green Revolution!  

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  1. Our use doesn’t count, since we are not part of nature. Somehow.

    1. what Charlotte said I’m impressed that anyone able to profit $5889 in 4 weeks on the internet. did you read this link… http://www.up444.com

  2. But all that food is nutionless frankenfood… lol…

  3. Assuming all of this is legit, how on Earth can anyone possibly hate GMO’s? Even if you think the ones around now might be bad, the potential for the future is simply too freaking fantastic.

    1. KORPORASUNSZ!!

    2. Same way they hate the Internet, Cloning, Stem Cells, etc.

      I believe it’s called “Technophobia.”

      Also, people are way too fucking dumb to -not- be scared by something that says “genetically modified.” Even if it’s “genetically modified” to be immune to cancer/aids/sleep/whatever.

      1. exactly

        in reality its impossible to find an organism that isnt a GMO-what the fuck does genetically modified mean? Isn’t every living thing genetically modified through millions of years of evolution? I mean isn’t that the whole point of it?

    3. Also, should’ve seen that article about the 3d food printer. Think “Star-Trek” replicator.

      If I live the next 10 years, I’m definitely getting me one.

      1. Until some jerk hacks it and it starts adding emetics to all the food it prints out.

        1. Aphrodisiacs.

          1. Aphrodisiacal emetics!

          2. Only Kirk, and only in the women’s quarters.

            1. “Ever see the episode where he fucks that green bitch? Not that I’m a racist but if the bitch is green there’s something wrong with the pussy”

    4. They are control freaks and want only to be in charge, where they can fantasize that their superior intellect guides humanity. Anything which shows otherwise is a threat. Thus their hatred of liberty in general, or guns to protect that liberty, or free speech to proclaim that the emperor has no clothes.

      1. GNOSIS

    5. Assuming all of this is legit, how on Earth can anyone possibly hate GMO’s?

      Because GMOs means more food to support more people, and these people are anti-people.

      1. just how the 30 million dead due to the DDT doesnt cause them any remorse either

    6. “Assuming all of this is legit”. That’s a pretty fricking big assumption right there. If GMOs aren’t dangerous to human health and our ecosystems, then maybe they could be useful. However, GMO foods are having a direct impact on people’s health and on ecosystems. I can’t imagine what damage GMO salmon might wreak.

      Also, there is no reason to assume that technology will benefit mankind. It might, and it might not. We shall see.

      1. “GMO foods are having a direct impact on people’s health and on ecosystems.”

        Objection: Assuming facts not in evidence.

        1. Actually, I shouldn’t have objected to that line specifically. GMOs are having a massive POSITIVE impact on people’s health and the environment. But I don’t think that is what you mean.

      2. “I can’t imagine what damage GMO salmon might wreak.”

        This statement is confusing. If they make Salmon that have genes to resist disease or grow bigger the impact would be if the salmon got loose…bigger salmon that are resistant to disease. What kind of dammage are you thinking of here?

        1. He’s talking about the inevitable salmon take over of our democracy…if you are not with us you are with the salmon, you filthy treasonous infidel

      3. I know I’m strange, but I really do prefer the concept of collecting data on the subject before judging them guilty (GMO’s, that is…)

        But most technophobes prefer hangings to a fair trial… data is SO messy… especially for science- and math-o-phobes.

        🙂

  4. Why would we need farm land when Soylent Green is available?

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      (Go to site and open “Home” for details)

      1. Please stop posting spam. Write about the article and stop wasting readers’ time and posting space.

        I wish Reason had a policy in place like other publications do and would edit spam out and deny zafina502 et al their access to this site.

  5. What would be nice is if all the crops could be grown hydroponically in skyscrapers and that farmland could go back to being wild and used for hunting and other recreational uses. I don’t know if all meat animals could be raised like that but maybe rabbits and such sized animals could.

    Imagine a vast forest stretching from the eastern seaboard to past the Mississippi, dotted by the cities, and most of it (depending on what the owners want to do) available for camping, hunting and so forth.

    1. Except, because of farming, there are many times the number of animals to hunt than there ever were before the coming of big ag.

      1. Really? That’s cool I guess. But I want a gigantic Goddam forest!

        1. But it never was a forest. That would be even more unnatural. Besides more animals live on the plains than in the forests, as there is more to eat (especially in the west).

          Go pick up a book on the Lewis and Clark expedition. They were astounded at the wildlife on the prairies (even grizzly bears and elk) and they nearly starved in the mountains/forest.

          1. Yup; forests choke out undergrowth, which is generally what critters eat. They’re good for cover and the animals that live in the upper stories, but there needs to be breaks where meadows and prairies can grow in order to provide big grazing animals with feed.

            1. It’s the oaks, they’re just too lofty, and they grab up all the light.

            2. Yep, the Indians burned the land twice a year, spring and fall. In Australia, the Aborigines still do. It creates forest/clearing edges where big game has both shelter and food.

            3. I believe that is the prevailing theory (until the anthropologists change their collective mind) on how the Great Planes were formed. Indians burning down forest to create/expand the edges where loads of yummy critters like to live.

              1. Finally, a conversation where White Indian’s expertise could be useful.

                1. …”White Indian’s expertise”….
                  Those words do not go together.

              2. Edges! I want edges!

                That asshole Snorlax guy who claimed to “speak for the trees” just outright lied to me.

                Also is there a book or other source that talks about the calorie generating power of forest edges?

                1. Found some stuff. So edges with more plant and size diversity generate more animal diversity.

                  They are a lot like reefs. Leafy reefs.

                  1. “Found some stuff. So edges with more plant and size diversity generate more animal diversity.”

                    But I’d bet plains generate more available calories/acre.
                    Ruminants turn grass into meat pretty efficiently.

  6. Good article that only would’ve been better with the inclusion of a discussion of the salutatory effects of more CO2 on crop yield.

    1. “wait, co2 promotes plant growth?”

      /laugh.

      1. See Idso’s work, especially on fruit trees.

  7. Firstoff, haven’t we already had this article?

    Secondly, I question some of the assumptions here. “The average global yield in 2060 would resemble the average U.S. yield in 2010.” Does anyone really believe 50 years is enough time for Africans to advance to the level of Americans? What about war and cannibalism and all that stuff?

    1. Cannibalism? In Africa? Are you serious?

      And yeah, 50 years is enough – Africa doesn’t have to follow the path we did – they can skip a whole bunch of intermediate technologies.

      1. Like the Sit ‘n Spin and Silly String?

        1. Well telecommunications tech had advanced so far by the time the Africans started using it en-masse they were able to skip the effort and expense of installing land-line infrastructure. They basically jumped past live operators and installing land-lines everywhere straight to cell-phones.

          Same thing is happening in other tech sectors as nations entering their industrial revolutions today can skip right past obsolete technologies and start building their industry right near the state of the art in the developed world without the legacy han-ups.

          1. The same thing happened with the steel industry.

            1. And pretty much every other industry that’s ever existed in human history.

              1. Precisely. So don’t tell the government about farming, or they will protection it into oblivion.

        2. and Beastmaster….TWO?

      2. I would argue even less than fifty IF-we stop with the foreign aid and subsidizing these afro marxist kleptocrat thugs

    2. At current growth rates, world per capita gdp should eclipse current US level by like 2040. I realize that’s not “Africa” per se, but African warlords can’t stop progress forever. There’s some good countries in Africa that are making headway. It’ll spread.

      1. “There’s some good countries in Africa that are making headway. It’ll spread.”

        Other than Namibia I can’t think of one, and they are getting ready to drive out the white population, we’ll see how that goes after that.

        1. diversity is strength

    3. Does anyone really believe 50 years is enough time for Africans to advance to the level of Americans?

      it doesnt have to, as long as America keeps advancing. The average only has to be the level of US yield in 2010.

      If the US yield is higher than that, Africa only needs to improve, not be at 2010 levels.

    4. he said AVERAGE global yield, not average African yield. 🙂

  8. There is nothing guaranteeing that technology will continue advancing at its current level, it may not even be possible. We currently live off of taking non-renewable resources from nature, mainly metals and fossil fuel energy. The market may come up with a solution, it may not, but it cannot override the laws of physics. In addition, we need to look at who is creating this technology, how they create it and why they create it.

    1. Nothing guaranteeing it except that the rate of change has been increasing on a pretty constant (*that’s* a tortured sentence) basis since before your grandfather was born.

      Also, why do we need to look at *who* is developing this tech, *how* they develop it, let alone *why* they do so?

      Should we put Apple under extensive scrutiny over its decision to create the Ipod?

      1. I’d probably ignore it, sounds like shriek.

      2. Should we put Apple under extensive scrutiny over its decision to create the Ipod?

        No, but their shareholders need to put the CFO under scrutiny for paying billions in corporate taxes while GE and others pay zilch.

        1. Oh, I’m sorry, did GE cheat on their taxes? I wasn’t aware. What prison are their executives and accountants being sent to?

          1. Who suggested either Apple or GE “cheated” on any taxes?

            1. I’m sorry, I thought you were giving GE shit for not paying their fair share in taxes.

              1. His handle is “Austrian Anarchy”…

                1. So, American’s handle is American.

              2. Here, let me make it more clear: PAYING TAXES IS STUPID! Especially when you can get away with legally not paying them.

                1. Sorry.

                2. Yeah, I thought it was clear that your post was a subtle dig at the fools lambasting Apple for avoiding excessive taxation by contrasting them with GE, who managed, if I remember correctly, to not only not pay ANY taxes, but to receive tax credits, i.e. payments, in the billions recently.

            2. Who suggested there is such a thing as “cheating” on taxes? I praise offshore accounts

        2. I don’t have much sympathy for people who use loopholes to avoid paying taxes, especially when they then turn around, like Apple has, and demand a bunch of shit from the taxpayers.

          1. So, can I assume you pay your taxes on a 1040 EZ form with no deductions (aka “loopholes”) whatsoever, even though that would be completely legal?

            If not, STFU.

            1. I pay more in taxes than many of these corporations, and I’m saying its hypocritical for these companies to turn around and demand that I pay for free shit for them. Apple has played a major part in this “STEM” panic, and the solution is always more money from the government, and more immigration, the costs of which they don’t want to pay for.

              1. Human Being| 5.27.13 @ 8:15PM |#
                “I pay more in taxes than many of these corporations,…”

                You’re full of shit.

              2. Oh, shit, I didn’t know Bill Gates posted here…

              3. And uh, what *exactly* is Apple demanding from the taxpayer?

                Apple’s problem right not is they *haven’t* been playing the crony capitalism game. Now they’re under fire by politicians who’ve found a weak spot – much like MS was a couple of decades ago.

            2. prolefeed| 5.27.13 @ 8:07PM |#

              So, can I assume you pay your taxes on a 1040 EZ form with no deductions (aka “loopholes”) whatsoever, even though that would be completely legal?

              If not, STFU.

              Well, you can’t of your taxable income is above a certain amount. However, you can use the long form and abstain from taking any deductions. Good advice for the William Jefferson Clintons, Barack Hussein Obamas, members of Congress, and others of the world who desperately wish to pay a higher rate bust just have not figured out how to yet.

          2. They’re not loopholes moron – they’re deliberate modifications to the base rule-set to encourage specific behaviors.

            Its not our fault the legislature didn’t actually expect everyone to actually obey the law as written.

        3. Your right, those shareholders need to pressure the company to spend more on lobbying to get special subsidies and tax breaks for themselves.

        4. Uh, I’m not aware of Apple paying an *excess* of tax in the US.

          As a matter of fact the PR fight they’re in now is because they have a feth-ton of money from their offshore operations that they’re refusing to re-patriate because of our ridiculously high corporate tax rate.

          1. GE paid $0 tax, remember? He’s saying that ANY tax paid by Apple is thus excessive, relative to what GE paid.

            1. GE also didn’t make any profit – something these “not paying any tax” idiots keep forgetting.

              We don’t tax corporations on how much money passes through them, only how much they have left over after expenses are paid.

          2. heroes

      3. Because it is a black box otherwise, and we won’t know that it will go on forever.

        1. So, what? because we don’t know it will go on forever we should just base our future actions on the assumption that it will end tomorrow?

          I’m sure you would have no problem picking out those who need to die just in case the rest can be saved.

          1. We need to start with the “GMO crops are TEH EVUL” folks.

    2. “In addition, we need to look at who is creating this technology, how they create it and why they create it.”

      I can only assume you’re talking about the Jew banker zionists?

      1. Jews are an important part of the process that does need to be discussed. They are about 1/3 of the billionaires in the country. And yet, why did our country not open our doors to Russian Jews right after the Soviet Union collapsed? Why did it think Mexicans to be preferable?

        1. Hey Muracun. Welcome back. Fuck off and die you racist pig.

          1. It’s a valid point. Jews do tend to excel economically. Is it racist to notice?

            1. “Human Being” is repeating lines from the commenter “American,” an admitted racist who used to post links to white nationalist groups like AmRen and the Jewish Task Force. Ignore him.

            2. Its not racist to notice, but why exactly is it “important to be aware of who’s developing technology”?

            3. no its not racist to notice jews excel economically, just how it is not racist to notice that that they completely suck when it comes to athletics…IT JUST IS and leave it at that

      2. You would say that wouldn’t you? With your dome like slopping, robust, Semitic brow?

    3. …”we need to look at who is creating this technology, how they create it and why they create it.”

      Is that a turd in your pocket?

    4. In addition, we need to look at who is creating this technology, how they create it and why they create it.

      Why? To destroy us all!

      Muwahahahaha!

    5. We don’t just currently live off non-renewable resources, we have always lived off non-renewable resources, and we’ve advanced whenever we ran out. And it’s not hard to guess where we’re going next: we live in a solar system full of floating chunks of raw materials.

  9. In this thread a ‘Human Being’ that’s really a proglodyte soft-pedals racism and Malthus. Ignores article and history.

    1. Strawman overreaction anyone? What’s wrong with the truth. History does not always predict the future. Technology has always advanced, but there is no guarantee it will continue advancing. Africa is a hellhole. That is called a fact.

      1. Technology has always advanced, but there is no guarantee it will continue advancing.

        I will personally guarantee that technology will advance for at least the next thousand years.

      2. The truth is that your first post is pretty racist – seriously cannibalism?

        And your second post ends with an almost word for word quote from the proglodyte meme-book.

        1. No, Human is right here.

          We cannot count on technology advancing as it has in the past. Technology relies upon innovation and growth from the private sector. With policies in place, such as wind/solar initiatives, immense social welfare programs, unprecedented federal regulation and spending, punishing wealth creation through class warfare…, that attempt to stunt growth in the name of gaia, technological growth could very well come to a standstill.

          1. What does cold, soulless technological advance matter in the face of humanity and social justice? Don’t you have a heart?

            1. Oh, I have a heart…it’s cold and made of stone! When technology fails to advance, at least we, the chosen, will be able to eat the children of the poor.

              Shit, my monocle fell into my Scotch. Oh, Hobson, fresh glass and eyepiece please.

            2. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

          2. With policies in place, such as wind/solar initiatives, immense social welfare programs, unprecedented federal regulation and spending, punishing wealth creation through class warfare…, that attempt to stunt growth in the name of gaia, technological growth could very well come to a standstill.

            Sure, in the US. Which is only 5% of the world’s population. The rest of the world only advancing to our current level of technology, even if we stagnated, would be an enormous increase in wealth for everyone, even the US.

          3. Peter thiel talks about this alot

        2. Is there not cannibalism occurring in Africa?

          1. Human Being| 5.27.13 @ 7:07PM |#
            “Is there not cannibalism occurring in Africa?”

            Dunno, is there?

            1. Cannibalism occurs on every continent, excluding Antarctica (maybe). Nowhere is it particularly widespread anymore, Africa included.

              1. Generic Stranger| 5.27.13 @ 9:04PM |#
                “Cannibalism occurs on every continent,”

                You use the present tense there; I’ll accept that somewhere in Africa someone might be driven to cannibalism now. Maybe.
                But that’s not what Murcan is proposing.

                1. I know, and that was my point. It’s technically right that cannibalism occurs in Africa, because it occurs everywhere (just like all other forms of murder), but to single Africa out as being special in this regard is fucking stupid.

          2. Not particularly – its not a cultural thing anywhere there, unlike the south pacific in the past.

            I’m sure there are people who eat people in Africa, just as there are right here in the USA – we just call them sick fucks.

          3. Cannibalism is occurring in Africa.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannibalism#Africa

            1. Cannibalism *is* occurring in the US.

              Fucked up people are fucked up.

              1. The only difference is that here and in Europe its *white* people who are doing it.

      3. It doesn’t even have to advance. Here, we’re just talking about the spread and maturation of existing technology.

        Who knows what benefits new technology might bring to the table.

        1. sexbots, just gimme the damn sexbots

  10. Efficiency sounds good, but do they consider that farmers have an interest in keeping overall efficiency low and politicians have an interest in keeping farmers happy? Remember that during the Great Depression, when Americans were literally starving to death, it was the government that paid farmers to destroy food in order to keep prices high. And the starving people applauded the government for caring so much about them. I’m sure government can find a way to screw this up as well.

    1. Efficiency sounds good, but do they consider that farmers have an interest in keeping overall efficiency low and politicians have an interest in keeping farmers happy?

      Yeah, it’s called farm subsidies. We do that. A lot. It’s a disgusting practice.

      Also, farmers have every bit of interest in selling as much product as they can grow. It’s called “profit.”

    2. Farmer’s do not have an interest in keeping the over-all efficiency low – they have an interest in not allowing others (other than themselves) to reap the benefits of increased productivity.

      Its why all commercial farms in the US are pretty damn efficient and why the farmers keep crying for price supports.

      1. Its why all commercial farms in the US are pretty damn efficient and why the farmers keep crying for price supports.

        Everyone that’s involved in competition always wants the government to impede their competition, which is why the government needs to ignore such cries to start with.

      2. Farmers don’t compete. They’re a single corporate mind that only cares about profits and screwing over consumers. Obviously.

        1. It’s perfectly fine for them only to care about profits and screwing consumers. The problem is that our government gives them our tax dollars and creates silly regulations and restrictions.

    3. Americans were literally starving to death

      Seriously? Yes, there was plenty of hunger, especially in the Dust Bowl area, but people migrated away from that in droves, but no famine.

      Yes, FDR had food shipped in from the East, like beef, while he had the starving cattle slaughtered in the West.

      We did not experience a famine like the Ukraine, primarily because FDR did not station troops around the affected area, steal the remaining food, and keep the victims from fleeing.

      No truer sign of socialist solidarity was there in the 1930s and 40s than when FDR was shipping grain to Stalin, while he knew full well what Stalin was doing to the Ukrainians.

      1. Sticking it to those rich people made it all worthwhile.

      2. Yes, FDR had food shipped in from the East, like beef, while he had the starving cattle slaughtered in the West.

        His administration also did things like force the slaughter of millions of hogs, leaving the carcasses to rot and dumping tens of millions of gallons of milk. As part of the NRA’s corporatism . It was complete insanity, base on the premise that abundance makes us poorer – a crappy idea that still resonates with proglodytes.

        1. Yes, loads of that. Did the federal food stockpiles begin then or was that Ike? The worst of both worlds, paying to store stuff with everybody’s money in order to keep it off the market and away from everybody.

          1. Then there was the bit about requiring fruit to be a certain size to be sold as fresh, or prohibiting a farmer from growing as much wheat as he wanted to on his own land — you know, things that resulted in less food being available, and at higher prices.

            1. When was that congressional panel berating food wholesalers and retailers for all of the variety in grocery stores? They were fit to be tied that consumers had so much choice forced upon them and, if I remember right, were going to standardize packaging. For some reason I thought Doherty wrote about it, but it could have been someone else.

          2. Austrian Anarchy| 5.27.13 @ 7:53PM |#
            “Yes, loads of that. Did the federal food stockpiles begin then or was that Ike?”

            Ike’s to blame for DoE and the interstates, but I’m pretty sure he inherited the food banks.

            1. Ike’s to blame for DoE and the interstates, but I’m pretty sure he inherited the food banks.

              So I guess Truman started government food ‘hording’, at least all I can remember FDR doing with food was destroying it, preventing it from being made, or giving it away to mass murderers.

              I remember those stayed around well into or past the 1970s. There was even a Barney Miller episode centered around them.

              1. “So I guess Truman started government food ‘hording’,”
                Good question. I presumed it was that asshole FDR, but it took a g-search to confirm it. ‘Unintended consequences’, like most everything the bastard did:
                …”The artificially high prices resulted in vast surpluses at government warehouses”…
                Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/a…..z2UXuEC4oP

            2. What exactly is wrong with interstates?

              1. “What exactly is wrong with interstates?”
                Good question.
                IMO, that sort of infrastructure is what a government should be charged with. And it seems to have been handled with minimal corruption.
                If eminent domain weren’t part of the process, I’d be all for it.

                1. While it doesn’t fall within my tenets, government spending on infrastructure is one of its least offending indiscretions. With a constitutional amendment allowing it, I wouldn’t protest too vehemently.

                  1. “While it doesn’t fall within my tenets…”
                    I’ll ask how do “we” avoid ED?
                    (uh, that’s “eminent domain”)

                    1. I have no idea. I don’t like it, but I cannot come up with another way. Had it not been forced upon us to begin with, perhaps the infrastructure would have developed using alternative methods, but since most all infrastructure is currently based upon it, I don’t even have a theory on how to remedy it.

                      How about you?

                    2. You can’t totally avoid using eminent domain for linear corridors like roads, railways, power lines and pipelines.

                    3. James J. Hill didn’t need them and the government has more money to pay the asking price than he did.

                    4. That’s true, but to accept that, one must accept that the collective rights of the many override the individual’s right to private property.

                      I’m not utilitarian enough to agree with the practice.

                    5. But do you have a workable alternative? It’s not enough to be against something, you need to provide options.

                    6. Why?

                      If you view an act as immoral, is your responsibility to give the people that have benefited from that act a way out?

                      If you are a free market proponent, it is of the utmost importance that you view property rights as sacrosanct. A free market relies upon voluntary transactions by definition, take those away and your system differs in degrees from a socialist one, not type. Not only that, but the interference by a group of people with someone’s property rights is an act of immorality that can only be accomplished with the overt and initialized use of force.

                      Are you willing to throw you neighbor in a cage so that you can get to work faster? How about killing him, would you do that?

                    7. I guess you feel so strongly you needed to say it twice.

                      No, I am not willing to throw my innocent neighbor in a cage. But you ignore reality. It is being done, whether you approve of it or not. Without a plan to fix it, all you are doing is bitching.

                      Or do you propose not having roads, pipelines, power lines…? How would that work?

                      I get the principle, and I agree with it. But how do we get from where we are now, to where we want to be? Simply bitching about it not being fair doesn’t give us credibility in the eyes of our would-be converts.

                    8. I see that as the trap of the statist. No matter what thing you propose, there are, in our complex society, an infinite number of “problems” the statist will want you to hypothetically solve without government. If someone wants you to promise them a solution, then they won’t be likely to embrace the theory that order emerges from a free market system.

                      Honestly, I don’t know what the free market alternative would be. I do know that people like cars, roads, and driving their cars on roads. I also know that when people like stuff they’re willing to pay for it voluntarily, and if they don’t like it that much they won’t pay.

                      If we could solve all the world’s problems so easily, then fuck libertarianism, they should just make us benevolent dictators.

                      Also, I didn’t say it wasn’t fair; I said it’s immoral.

                    9. Okay, GBN, I was kinda trying to make the following point.

                      While many who comment here are critical thinkers and can identify problems we face WRT our philosophy and our nation, very little time is devoted to how they would solve those problems.

                      I’m a problem solver Chuck. Feed the tuna mayonnaise.

                      I had a guy pull me aside early in my career and tell me that bitching about problems without offering a solution to the problem, just makes you a whiner.

                      I sometimes ask folks how they’d solve the problem and I usually get the cynical libertarian response…”can’t be done, we’re fucked”.

                      I don’t buy that. And to sell our philosophy, we gotta have real world solutions.

                      Sorry to go all Ken on you. I’ve had a few.

                    10. I’m not totally rigid in this thinking. If someone seemed like a likely convert, then by all means provide some examples to show that it can work.

                      But, if you are dealing with an unabashedly immoral statist that is merely trying to trip you up, then engaging won’t get you anywhere. Tell them that you think their philosophy is immoral, provide a rational explanation as to why it’s immoral and get the hell away from them. No reason dealing with people that would kill you because they want a library.

                      One argument that I’ve heard, is that when there was slavery people would argue with the abolitionists about what would be done after slavery.

                      Who would pick the crops? How would the economy recover? What would be done with all the freed slaves? etc etc…

                      It doesn’t fucking matter what will be done. Who cares? Just fucking stop enslaving people first, there’s no inconvenience that justifies it.

                    11. Honestly, I don’t know what the free market alternative would be. I do know that people like cars, roads, and driving their cars on roads. I also know that when people like stuff they’re willing to pay for it voluntarily, and if they don’t like it that much they won’t pay.

                      So, would it be safe to say that libertarianism is a religion to you, rather than a model? You have “faith” that it will work, even when you cannot articulate how?

                      I reject that notion. It is lazy.

                    12. I get the principle, and I agree with it. But how do we get from where we are now, to where we want to be? Simply bitching about it not being fair doesn’t give us credibility in the eyes of our would-be converts.

                      Nor in those who agree with the principle.

                      Part of the problem with libertarianism is that not enough of us are willing to entertain these types of questions. For some it’s also a case of not willing to concede that incrementalism is acceptable.

                    13. Why?

                      If you view an act as immoral, is your responsibility to give the people that have benefited from that act a way out?

                      If you are a free market proponent, it is of the utmost importance that you view property rights as sacrosanct. A free market relies upon voluntary transactions by definition, take those away and your system differs in degrees from a socialist one, not type. Not only that, but the interference by a group of people with someone’s property rights is an act of immorality that can only be accomplished with the overt and initialized use of force.

                      Are you willing to throw you neighbor in a cage so that you can get to work faster? How about killing him, would you do that?

                    14. If you are a free market proponent, it is of the utmost importance that you view property rights as sacrosanct.

                      I think David Friedman would like to have a word with you…

                      http://daviddfriedman.blogspot…..es-to.html

                    15. That an act violates a right is a strong argument against doing it, but not a conclusive argument.

                      The problem is who decides when an act is worth violating rights over. I used the word sacrosanct for a reason. We are living the consequences of Friedman’s philosophy right now. He should quit writing and realize he already lives in the society he wants.

                      He writes on:

                      If, to take an old example of mine, the only way of saving the human race from destruction by an approaching asteroid requires, by some bizarre set of facts, that I steal an object worth a nickle from its rightful owner, I should do it.

                      That’s fine and well, but we live in the real world where the greater good is seen as giving a rich guy a persons property so that he can build a basketball arena. What is the amount of people that must benefit from robbing an individual of his property? Can he answer that?

                      To reduce it to the absurd, the answer would be two.

                      And what if the individual is unwilling to part with their property? Is it then justifiable to murder them?

                    16. And what if the individual is unwilling to part with their property? Is it then justifiable to murder them?

                      Ok. Let’s flip this around (since I am not about to start speaking for David Friedman).

                      Let’s use the classic example of someone falling into your hot air balloon. They are there against your will and you would like them to leave. If your property rights are sacrosanct are you not justified in throwing them out of the balloon?

                    17. First of all, every situation that attempts to poke a hole in the balloon (harhar) of absolute property rights seems to be very improbable, to say the least.

                      I’d counter that if the guy that fell into your balloon wasn’t harming you, you could restrain him and when you landed have him charged with trespassing. If someone camped out on your land, it wouldn’t be moral to shoot them if they posed no danger to you. It would be okay to have your security, or the police(if they exist) remove them from you property. That doesn’t change the fact that your property rights are held without question.

                      Now if the guy that fell into your balloon was to hold a gun to your head and tell you to get out (a situation more akin to eminent domain)you would be morally justified in killing his ass.

                    18. You just summed most wars in the earth’s history. I want your shit and I have a better reason for having your shit than you have for keeping it.

                      But, you won’t change anything unless you have a plan to bring about the desired change, and can convince people of it.

                    19. “But do you have a workable alternative? It’s not enough to be against something, you need to provide options.”

                      Well in this case the alternative would to have just not built them. It would have meant that cargo and passengers would have continued on rail until the rise of cheap air travel – which would take the passengers off rail. Of course this also means that the rail lines would have to negotiate ROW without the government’s heavy hand.

                    20. Well in this case the alternative would to have just not built them.

                      While I agree, it would have been easier to never have gone there in the first place, we are there. So any solution must get us from where we are now to where we want to be, which is an infrastructure that supports property rights.

                  2. The interstate highway system was constitutionally justifiable. They were built as a defense logistics project. Used to be the government found real, constitutional reasons for doing things.

                    1. Seems a stretch to me, sorta like the conservative version of the commerce clause.


                    2. SIV| 5.27.13 @ 11:22PM |#

                      The interstate highway system was constitutionally justifiable. They were built as a defense logistics project. Used to be the government found real, constitutional reasons for doing things.

                      True, and as a Minarchist I can agree that a robust Defense is valid if a state is to continue to exist.

                      Where I disagree is on the method of obtaining the property by the government. If government is left to the same devices as its constituents, then every inch of property would be purchased in transactions freely entered by all sides.

                      Again I invoke the founder of the Great Northern Railroad as the most applicable example of my side, with droves of others behind him who created things both big, and long, without theft.

                      If you have one or two owners holding out for more money, so be it. Go around them. Our precious Interstate Highway System bypassed many a town for political reasons, the “first” Transcontinental Railroad route was selected for purely political concerns, as evidenced by its short life, and the list goes on.

                2. There is nothing built by any government in the USA that required an Eminent Domain taking. Not a single blessed thing.

                  No courthouse, jail, or road just had to be built on property that had to be wrestled from the deeded holder.

                  Short of a Constitutional Amendment to repeal the Takings Clause, and overtly apply it to all government, we are going to be stuck with the Tony Soprano method of civic infrastructure.

              2. They’re hideously expensive, were built by appropriating money from people – people who knew better what to do with that money than the government, and ultimately drove long-haul freight off the trains and onto the semi’s clogging the roads up today.

                Sigh, on the other hand they gave people a freedom of movement that wasn’t really possible before airline de-regulation. As much as I want to hate them, they’re really a rare (almost unique) example of a large government project that ended up being a net good for the nation.

                Damn technocrats – why can’t they be wrong all the time instead of just 99% of it.

                1. Seems a stretch to me, sorta like the conservative version of the commerce clause.

                  Good roads have been recognized as being a military necessity since Roman times, and maybe before. Without them, you’d have to keep a much larger defensive force, as you wouldn’t be able to get defenders in place quick enough to defend against a concerted attack otherwise.

                  1. Sure, if you assume that there’s an enemy willing to try to take America and its armed populace. And also assuming that no roads would be built without government.

                    Not to mention, assuming that after a nuclear attack followed by an invasion (for which, I assume, was the reason for the interstate system)the roads wouldn’t provide the same advantages to the invading army.

                  2. Good roads have been recognized as being a military necessity since Roman times, and maybe before. Without them, you’d have to keep a much larger defensive force, as you wouldn’t be able to get defenders in place quick enough to defend against a concerted attack otherwise.

                    Something that seems to be forgotten here is that Ike’s statement about wanting a road system suitable for national defense came from his Armies using the German road systems to defeat the Germans. (Looks like GBM noticed this independently too)

      3. “No truer sign of socialist solidarity was there in the 1930s and 40s than when FDR was shipping grain to Stalin, while he knew full well what Stalin was doing to the Ukrainians.”

        I’ll disagree.
        You presume an intelligence for FDR that simply hasn’t been shown.
        I don’t think those shipments had anything to do with solidarity. I think they had to do with electoral politics and stupidity.

        1. Perhaps the book of letters to and from Stalin might be helpful. “My Dear Stalin” by Susan Butler on what a fanboy FDR was of Stalin.

          And yes indeed, FDR knew about the Holodomor before it had a name. Stalin told Churchill in person about 10 million kulak deaths in his effort to collectivize their farms, and later at one of their in-person meetings FDR asked Stalin about it himself.

        2. Plenty of quotes here too,
          http://faminegenocide.com/resources/quotes.html

          “… On one side, millions of starving peasants, their bodies often swollen from lack of food; on the other, soldiers, members of the GPU carrying out the instructions of the dictatorship of the proletariat. They had gone over the country like a swarm of locusts and taken away everything edible; they had shot or exiled thousands of peasants, sometimes whole villages; they had reduced some of the most fertile land in the world to a melancholy desert.” Malcolm Muggeridge – British foreign correspondent, “War on the Peasants”, Fortnightly Review, 1 May, 1933

          Not sure when the first publishing of Arthur Koestler’s quote about Ukrainians the women lifting up to the compartment windows their starving brats, which, with drumstick limbs, big cadaverous heads and puffed bellies, looked like embryos out of alcohol bottles, from his 1932/33 eye-witness account was first published. It is contained in the 1949 “The God that Failed”, but he quit the Communist party in 1938 because of Stalin.

          Then again, many people chose to believe The Great Duranty instead.

          1. All things marxist interest me greatly, so I once took a class that was the history of russia that covered the soviet era. The professor was a goddamn commie and his proof that communism could work was that he lived for a few years in soviet russia and everything seemed peachy to him.

            I couldn’t tell whether he was a useful idiot, tricked by the potemkinesque tactics of the soviets or if he was deliberately misrepresenting his experience. Either way, I decided to drop the class.

            Your Duranty comment reminded me of that.

            Oh, and fuck Duranty in his corpse-ass, that motherfucker.

      4. Yeah and the Fact that the Stalinist Henry Wallace was white washing stalin probably didnt help either

    4. Remember that during the Great Depression, when Americans were literally starving to death,

      No. There was no widespread starvation in the US during the 1930s depression.

      it was the government that paid farmers to destroy food in order to keep prices high. And the starving people applauded the government for caring so much about them.

      Not all of them.

      My grandparents were poor people in rural IL during the depression, frequently had to hunt for food and hated FDR with a burning passion for his food destruction. Which has mostly been forgotten by his boosters.

    5. Remember that during the Great Depression, when Americans were literally starving to death,

      No. There was no widespread starvation in the US during the 1930s depression.

      it was the government that paid farmers to destroy food in order to keep prices high. And the starving people applauded the government for caring so much about them.

      Not all of them.

      My grandparents were poor people in rural IL during the depression, frequently had to hunt for food and hated FDR with a burning passion for his food destruction. Which has mostly been forgotten by his boosters.

  11. Hi, American!

  12. Wait, what?

    While the world plunges into crises, subsistence farming in Africa holds the key to sustainable agriculture production, not only for the region but also other parts of the world.

    1. I couldn’t read that bullshit past the 3rd sentence.

      1. Check out this paragraph:

        The time has come to learn from the wisdom and practical knowledge of the people whose continent gave birth to humanity. We will then be able to incorpo?rate the globally resynthesised industrial culture of its most im?petuous species, Homo sapiens, into a more healthy form of develop?ment that will sustain life robustly to the end of time.

        Yikes. Can you say “delusions of grandeur”?

        1. “Can you say “delusions of grandeur”?”

          I can, but how about “brain-dead ignoramus” instead?

        2. Hey, you know that continent that gave birth to humanity, yet only hosted one notably progressive civilization in all of human history? We have to look at what they’re doing!

          Of course, these people probably consider civilization a bad word, so that might very well be their point.

  13. And the Maoists rejoice!

    This trajectory of rising agricultural productivity has also been seen in post-Mao China. During that period, China’s population doubled, and its GDP rose 45-fold. While the amount of land harvested for corn also doubled, each acre produced 4.5 times as much as it did in 1960. Ausubel and his colleagues calculate that rising Chinese corn productivity spared 120 million hectares from the plow.

    The Great Leap Forward worked in the long run! Now it is time for the next Cultural Revolution.

    1. It says POST-Mao China. You know, the period when they (mostly) privatized agriculture?

      1. “worked in the long run”

        And do you need a burning sarcasm sign from the Anarcho-Capitalist?

  14. Arrested Development fans: Ann is in this video

    1. Really? Her?

      1. It’s as nose as the Ann on plain’s face.

      2. She’s Katara, damn it. Show some respect.

  15. Gawker hits goal of raising $200,000 needed to buy the cellphone video that allegedly shows Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack.

    1. Last I heard, they couldn’t find the guy with the video anymore. Granted, I don’t pay attention to gawker.

      200k might get him out, though. Wonder if it gets him in tax/other investigation trouble.

      1. The mayor had him “disappeared”.

        1. maybe the mayor bought the video first.
          I bet there’s more than one copy.

  16. I see American came back and people are still talking to him.

    We are the most easily trolled board in human history.

    1. Irish| 5.27.13 @ 10:38PM |#
      “I see American came back and people are still talking to him.”

      You seem quite certain, almost as certain as Epi claiming any poster who doesn’t match a profile must be a sock.
      Got evidence? Epi hasn’t yet offered any.

      1. There is nothing guaranteeing that technology will continue advancing at its current level, it may not even be possible. We currently live off of taking non-renewable resources from nature, mainly metals and fossil fuel energy. The market may come up with a solution, it may not, but it cannot override the laws of physics. In addition, we need to look at who is creating this technology, how they create it and why they create it.

        This is textbook American. In order to give his racist nonsense the illusion of scientific respectability, he’ll use bizarre arguments about how we’re going to run out of resources or the population bomb will cause mass starvation. He uses dipshit Malthusian and Marxist arguments to shore up the obvious holes in his racist arguments.

        Firstoff, haven’t we already had this article?

        Secondly, I question some of the assumptions here. “The average global yield in 2060 would resemble the average U.S. yield in 2010.” Does anyone really believe 50 years is enough time for Africans to advance to the level of Americans? What about war and cannibalism and all that stuff?

        Someone whose name I’ve never seen before shows up and starts claiming Africans are cannibals. There is no way this isn’t American.

        1. “There is no way this isn’t American.”
          I’m not nearly as confident regarding my inductive reasoning. There are uncounted fools who share such bleefs.

      2. Even if it isn’t American, he’s absolutely right that we do get trolled on a regular basis. The proper response is to point out out the troll laugh at him and ignore him.

        See also: Every post by Tony.

    2. Meh, he started off slow. Took a few comments to make him.

  17. But the real question is, when do we hit Peak Doomsaying?

    1. The end is always near.

    2. There is a more visible market for Doomsaying. The market for optimism is big too, but not as visible. I tend to believe the self-help and how-to sections of the bookstore play off of both.

  18. Lycra Spandex Zentai

    I see American came back and people are still talking to him.

  19. That cow looks liek he means business.

    http://www.GetYourAnon.tk

    1. Shit, pedobot can see the pics?

  20. “Ehrlich”

    People need to name drop this tool more often. He has all the intellectual credibility of Suki and OJ Simpson. Yet, people believed (and some still do).

    1. Yeah, I really don’t get that. The first time I heard of him was regarding “population bomb;” after which, I promptly dismissed him as a crackpot.

    2. Hey..Stanford is a good university, therefore Ehrlich is right and he’s tenured-see how it works?

  21. Don’t worry… politicians will turn this into a crisis: “Help! Farmland is disappearing! We are all going to starve!”

  22. Thank you for sharing! buyincoins, where you can buy good products from China directly without any shipping fee.

  23. release of vast areas of land, hundreds of millions of hectares, more than twice the area

  24. others were declaring them inevitable. “The battle to feed

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