Famine

Famine No More: The World of Plenty Lies Ahead

The prophets of overpopulation doom and imminent global famine will likely once again be disappointed.

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Farmer's Market
Public Domain

Four billion more people than the 7.2 billion now alive could be fed an adequate diet if current crop production devoted to nonfood uses, such as animal feed and biofuels, were switched to direct consumption. This is one the fascinating calculations made in a new article published in Science by a team of researchers led by Paul West, a researcher at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment. West and his colleagues are looking for "leverage points" in global agriculture that would reduce humanity's impact on the natural world while at the same time providing more than enough food for the 9 billion or so people who will be alive in 2050.

This analysis stands in stark counterpoint to the perennial apocalyptic prophecies of impending famine spawned by overpopulation. Last year, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the Population Bomber himself, Paul Ehrlich and his wife Anne asked yet again, "Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?" and answered that the "human predicament is driven by overpopulation" among other horrors. In his 2013 screed, Ten Billion, Cambridge University computer scientist Stephen Emmott argued that humanity's growing population constitutes "an unprecedented planetary emergency." In addition, Emmott claimed, "By 2050, 1 billion hectares of land is likely to be cleared to meet rising food demands from a growing population. This is an area greater than the U.S."

West and his colleagues focus their analysis on 17 major crops consisting of the 16 highest-caloric crops consumed as food and cotton. They occupy 58 percent of the world's croplands and produce 86 percent of world's crop calories. They are specifically looking to see if it will be possible to boost crop production on the current land base while at the same time cutting inputs like fertilizer and irrigation that sometimes generate deleterious side-effects on the natural world.

One particularly promising strategy is closing the "yield gap." The yield gap is the difference between current yields and those possible using modern farming techniques. For example, corn yield in the United States averages 162 bushels per acre.  In Africa, India, and Latin America, corn yields average 32, 41, and 48 bushels per acre respectively. The world average is 81 bushels per acre. West and his colleagues calculate that raising yields in low performing areas to 50 percent of the attainable level would produce enough calories to meet the basic need of about 850 million people. This may be too conservative a figure.

In 2012, Jesse Ausubel, director the Human Environment Program at Rockefeller University, and his colleagues suggested that the world was on the brink of "peak farmland." Future agricultural productivity will be so great that farmers will increasingly spare more land for nature. How much? Depending on how demand for biofuels develop farmers will return between 146 million and 400 million hectares to nature. The first is an area the size of France, Spain, Portugal, and Britain combined, and the second is about equal to all the land in the United States east of the Mississippi River. This is quite in contrast to Emmot's baleful auguries about future land use.

Current practices of using modern fertilizers also result in harmful side effects including enhanced man-made global warming and the creation of algal blooms and dead zones in the oceans. Nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers have been critical to boosting crop production over the past century. University of Manitoba environmental researcher Vaclav Smil reckons that 40 percent of the world's dietary protein now originates from synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. West and his colleagues calculate that the nutrients in harvested crops account for only 40 percent of the nitrogen fertilizer and 52 percent of the phosphorous spread by farmers, much of the rest runs off the fields into streams, lakes and the oceans. Given this excess, they estimate nitrogen and phosphorous applied to wheat, rice and corn could be cut by 14 to 29 percent and 13 to 33 percent respectively while maintaining current yields.  

Irrigation accounts for about 70 percent of all freshwater withdrawals and 90 percent of water consumption. The researchers looked only at croplands where evaporation rates exceed precipitation rates. Just raising the productivity of irrigated land currently languishing in the bottom 20th percentile to above that benchmark would decrease water consumption by 8 to 15 percent while keeping food production constant.

The "diet gap" is defined as those crop calories that people could eat that do not end up in the food supply. Most of these are crops grown for animal feed and biofuels. Between 1961 and 2009, the portion of crops consumed directly as food has dropped from 57 to 51 percent. As noted in the beginning, if people consumed food crops directly, 70 percent more calories would become available, which is enough to feed an additional 4 billion people. The researchers figure that corn production in the United States accounts for 19 percent of their diet gap, representing enough calories to feed 760 million people. With considerable understatement, the researchers observe, "Although the diet gap presents opportunities to improve food security, cultural preferences and political obstacles create large challenges to reducing meat as well as overconsumption." Translation: People love to eat meat.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that average global meat consumption per capita increased from 53 pounds in 1965 to 91 pounds today. The average American eats about 270 pounds of meat annually. Interestingly, the per capita consumption of beef on a global basis has been essentially flat while there are big gains in pork and chicken. Recent research suggests that switching from a high meat diet to a vegan diet would cut an individual's greenhouse emissions associated with food production in half.

A lot of food is wasted. West and his colleagues cite a report from the FAO that estimates that, for example, around 30 percent of cereal grains are lost between harvest and consumption. They calculate that curbing consumer waste of foods made from wheat, rice, vegetables, and meat in the United States, China, and India could feed 413 million people.

What makes this study noteworthy is that it assumes no new agricultural or food production technologies, instead its analysis concludes that more judiciously deploying what is already available would be more than enough feed the world's future population. Nevertheless, significant new food and agricultural technologies are in the pipeline. Consider the problem of excess nitrogen. Biotechnology researchers are hard at work at developing crops that use much less nitrogen fertilizer as they increase yields. For example, the biotech seed company Arcadia Biosciences announced in 2013 that nitrogen use efficient variety of rice out-produced conventional varieties while using 50 percent less nitrogen. Meanwhile researchers at the International Rice Research Institute are heading up a project to endow rice with the more efficient C4 form of photosynthesis found in corn. If successful, the new rice varieties would need less water and fertilizer and yield 50 percent more grain than the best current varieties.

Solutions to providing more food may also come from outside of traditional agriculture. The concept of a diet gap makes it clear that growing a pound of meat takes a lot of feed and water. A 2011 study in Environmental Science & Technology calculated that vat-grown meat could lower energy use by approximately 7–45 percent, shrink greenhouse gas emissions by 78-96 percent, cut land use by 99 percent and reduce water use by 82-96 percent. And in 2013 other researchers reported that they have figured out how to turn abundant cellulose locked up in trees and grass into edible starches and glucose suitable for fermenting into biofuels.

West and his colleagues acknowledge that more work is needed to figure out how to get best practices that they identified widely adopted. Nevertheless they conclude that "a relatively small set of places and actions could provide enough new calories to meet the basic needs for more than 3 billion [and simultaneously] address many environmental impacts with global consequences."

In other words, the prophets of overpopulation doom and imminent global famine will likely once again be disappointed.

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  1. The Jehovah’s Witnesses need to read this article immediately.

  2. crop production devoted to nonfood uses, such as animal feed and biofuels,

    Sorry, but feedstock for animals is a “food” use. Aside from being food for the animals, the animals are food for us.

    Put another way, those crops don’t exit the foodchain.

    1. Same goes for the corn that goes into ethanol that goes into my gas tank that powers the vehicle that hits the animal that makes the roadkill that winds up on my BBQ. OK, so maybe it left the food chain, but it came back around eventually.

      1. …and piggy climbed over the stile and the old woman got home that night. Probably to the house that Jack built.

      2. Haha great. You are right. People are just too lazy to realize how much harm they do just by eating the way they were taught to. But it is changing slowly. Evidence goes against them. Coronary diseases, cancer, and other illnesses weaken them. Vegans are stronger, healthier, and also smarter. This means that we will find the way how to protect our planet from a polluting, global warming, and overpopulation. Don’t worry.

        1. Please tell me you forgot the /sarc tag. Vegans stronger? You gest.

        2. what alternative dimension are you living in?

    2. Well, animal feed is an inefficient use of the calories in crops.

      I personally don’t care. Meat costs more than corn, etc., for a reason. I’ll continue to buy and eat it for as long as it makes economical sense for me to do so. Which I hope is until I die.

      1. animal feed is an inefficient use of the calories in crops

        Oh, sure. Just don’t roll it in with non-food uses of food crops, is all I’m saying.

        Its one thing to say “we’re going to change the fuel mix in your car, and by so doing feed lots of people”.

        Its another thing to say “we’re going to drastically limit or reduce the meat in your diet, and by so doing feed lots of other people.”

      2. Animal feed is actually a pretty efficient way to turn cellulose into protein.

        1. Probably. But legumes are even more efficient… we could play this game all day.

          In the end, I want my freaking meat.

        2. True, but I think the comment was about the straight calorie inefficiencies, regardless of the form.

      3. Except that not all calories are created equal – ounce-per-ounce, the nutrient density of meat is 10 to 100 times that of grains, because those nutrients are compounded from one organism to another as it is carried up the food chain from one trophic level to the next.

      4. “I personally don’t care.”

        Of all the factors mentioned in the article, I think the vegan diet has the potential to make the biggest difference. The objections you raise are frivolous, and that goes pretty much for any other objections to the vegan diet I’ve seen.

        1. how about the fact that vegans have the same odds of giving birth to a child with defects as a mother who smokes through her pregnancy?

          1. “how about the fact…”

            How about the fact that there is nothing in the vegan ethic to prevent an expectant vegan mother from smoking?

            1. mtrueman|7.19.14 @ 6:10PM|#
              “How about the fact that there is nothing in the vegan ethic to prevent an expectant vegan mother from smoking?”

              Now, there is one STUPID statement!

              1. “Now, there is one STUPID statement!”

                Keep reading. My stupidity is equal to that of the most gifted geniuses.

    3. Yeah, I read that sentence and immediately thought, “holy crap, you want me to give up eating meat?” Not going to happen.

  3. The Ghost of Norma Borlaug 35

    The Undead Paul Ehrlich 0

    “Looks like another trampling here at Malthus Field. Ehrlich really needs to revise that playbook – came on in the same old way, was driven off in the same old way. Well that is it for today’s broadcast of DOOM vs Human Ingenuity

    1. +1 CHICKEN LITTLE

  4. Sorry, Bailey, I saw Soylent Green. We’re all doomed.

  5. Ridley made roughly the same claims in The Rational Optimist, that peak farmland would be here if it weren’t biofuels (which are fucking immoral).

    Paul Ehrlich: Wrongest Man in the Galaxy

    1. “Paul Ehrlich: Wrongest Man in the Galaxy”

      And it the tragedy of tenure that the charlatan still gets paid.

      1. Al Gore will join him one day in the annals of Wrong.

        1. Not if their sycophants continue to write/teach the history.

    2. If you’ve ever heard Ehrlich speak, you’d come away with no idea that he’s been repeatedly shamed and demolished on the singular issue of his popular career–he’s an amazingly confident and charismatic speaker, which probably accounts for why he continues to be a prominent leftist rather than retreating into obscurity 30 years ago. He’s also example 1A of what happens when scientists abandon falsificationism and no longer feel any shame about making statements that aren’t even wrong.

      If he hadn’t become a professor, Ehrlich would’ve been a hugely successful televangelist or politician.

      1. FTFY: If he hadn’t become a professorbullshitter, Ehrlich would’ve been a hugely successful televangelistbullshitter or politicianbullshitter.

      2. You don’t already consider him a televangelist? I can’t believe he is still pounding the overpopulation drum. Just an older version of Tony, I guess.

      3. “He’s also example 1A of what happens when scientists abandon falsificationism…”

        Could you flesh this out for me? I’m not sure extactly what you are demanding of science.

        1. mtrueman|7.19.14 @ 1:31PM|#
          “He’s also example 1A of what happens when scientists abandon falsificationism…”

          Could you flesh this out for me? I’m not sure extactly what you are demanding of science.”

          Sorry, asshole, look it up.

          1. “Sorry, asshole, look it up.”

            You see, I wanna know his or her personal take on the question so as to ensure we are not talking at cross purposes. My question is best answered by going to the source, and that’s what I did. You have to do exactly this sort of thing if you ever want to move the discussion beyond the insults and bluster that is your forte.

    3. I wouldn’t necessarily say that biofuels, in general, are immoral, but rather than using farmland that could/should grow food to grow biofuel is what is immoral

  6. If everyone grew non-GMO artisanal vegetables in a small carbon neutral plot in their communal garden, everything would be utopia.

    /derp

    For the record, we need more GMO crops, and more pesticides.

    And bring back DDT, dammit.

    1. “Feeney: Do you believe that food should cost more?
      Waters: I do feel like food should cost more, because we aren’t paying farmers a living wage. It has to cost more.”…
      http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-t…..dren/4507/

      Alice Waters on how to starve the peasants.
      No, I’ve never eaten in her store and never will.

      1. *facepalm*

        thanksafuckinglot for introducing me to the term ‘Slow Food Movement’.

        Waters: Well that’s why I want to go to the public school system. I believe there should be breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack, all for free and for every child that goes to school. And all food that is good, clean and fair. It’s unfair to charge for food in schools, especially to charge for food that is making children sick.

        Paging Derpetologist. Paging Dr. Derpetologist. Free range derp ahead.

        1. The slow food movement aids the trendy rich in the identification of other members of their species.

          It helps the rest of us identify dullards who spend their days innovating new ways to sneer at the poor and who might benefit from learning something about the division of labor.

      2. Something tells me that she’s never met a farmer, and something else tells me that she has no idea what prices are.

    2. +1 for using the word “artisanal”

  7. I eagerly await hearing from the usual suspects about how THIS science is wrong and immoral and “Oh mah gawd! Teh Evullllll!”.

    1. You are either not a libertarian or not reading carefully. Most of these solutions are statist and non market. Example, “Just raising the productivity of irrigated land currently languishing in the bottom 20th percentile to above that benchmark would decrease water consumption by 8 to 15 percent while keeping food production constant.”

      The author’s soundest proposal, from a libertarian perspective, is the movement to veganism. It’s the only one among the author’s suggestions that has been condemned here.

      1. “The author’s soundest proposal, from a libertarian perspective, is the movement to veganism.”

        Lie.

        1. The move to veganism is actually seen throughout a lot of this text. Surprising, considering the other articles he has written — but the data he provides here suggests that reducing meat consumption and switching to a plant-based diet is what would lead to greater food resource allocation and efficiency.

  8. Hey: you want a solution to a pending population bomb? I have one: why not make people responsible for feeding, clothing, and housing themselves and any children they produce?

    Perhaps, if overpopulation and overconsumption is your biggest fear, then telling every single person who shows up that, not only will you provide them with food, clothing, and shelter just for being able to convert oxygen into carbon dioxide, but you’ll do the same for any children they happen to accidentally produce along the way, isn’t the best idea.

    If the goal is to make existence free for everyone, we shouldn’t turn around and act shocked that lots of people show up.

    1. Yeah, fuck people that don’t have any resources or opportunity. Why can’t they learn to do productive things like build credit default swaps alongside their water wells and mud houses?

      1. If you want to help out people without resources or opportunity, and you want that help to exclusively look like wealth transfers and handouts, then, go ahead.

        All I’m saying is, you shouldn’t be surprised when you turn around 20 years later and find approximately twice as many of them.

      2. The people you speak of cannot even dig a well or build a mud hut, so yes, fuck ’em. A failed culture is what it is

      3. american socialist|7.18.14 @ 4:03PM|#
        “Yeah, fuck people that don’t have any resources or opportunity. Why can’t they learn to do productive things like build credit default swaps alongside their water wells and mud houses?”

        You are a stupid shit; incapable of dealing with the post at hand.
        I hope you die the slow, painful death you deserve.

      4. american socialist|7.18.14 @ 4:03PM|#
        “Yeah, fuck people that don’t have any resources or opportunity.”

        BTW, shitbag, see your compatriot up thread who really wants food to cost more!
        Yes, the slimy lefties ‘care’ about the poor; they want to make sure there are a *ton* of them, right?

      5. Eat a bag of dicks AMSOC.

  9. tl;dr something something food progs taxes CHRISTFAG!!!1!!!ONE!1!

  10. I like George Carlin’s rant on overpopulation.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwVnVMXHH0E

  11. It’s pretty funny that an article that has the word “plenty” in the title neglects to mention that more than half of the 7 billion people that we can barely feed (in part because rich people are shovelling their food into the garbage) are essentially destitute. And thanks to the 35 years or so of governmental policy to encourage jobz creatorz lots of those destitute are right here in the fantastic Land of Opportunity*

    * does not apply to residents of Guatamala, El Salvador, and Honduras

    1. Because we all know the horrible, historic track record of free markets and famine, as opposed to centrally planned regimes.

      Derptastic.

      1. Think of amsec as a performance artist. You know, like Ehrlich.

        1. Think of amsoc as an asshole!

    2. Land of Opportunity…where the starving poor have a child obesity ‘epidemic’ that the First Lady must heroically combat.

      1. It’s all food deserts. Or is it all food desserts? I can’t keep track.

    3. american socialist|7.18.14 @ 3:52PM|#
      lots of those destitute are right here in the fantastic Land of Opportunity*

      Most of our poor and destitute are targets of the First Lady’s “War On Fat People”.

    4. We all know free markets kill people. What we need is a great leap forward!

    5. Are you speaking of the American poor who have a higher income than the middle class of Europe? Those poor?

    6. american socialist|7.18.14 @ 3:52PM|#
      “It’s pretty funny that an article that has the word “plenty” in the title neglects to mention that more than half of the 7 billion people that we can barely feed (in part because rich people are shovelling their food into the garbage) are essentially destitute.”

      Pretty funny that american asshole lies every time he posts.
      I hope you die the slow, painful death you deserve.

    7. According to the FAO, food production is at an all time high, AND the number of people suffering undernourishment is also greater now, about a billion, than at any other time in human history, or prehistory.

      The growth of the numbers of undernourished is especially startling in India under its recent economic liberalization. The numbers of undernourished children in India now rival those of Saharan Africa.

      1. mtrueman|7.19.14 @ 1:27PM|#
        “According to the FAO, food production is at an all time high, AND the number of people suffering undernourishment is also greater now, about a billion, than at any other time in human history, or prehistory.”

        Oh, yes! Let’s invent new meanings to support lefty causes.
        Fucking idjit; starvation has been dropping in numbers and percentages ever since communism died. Now you’re invent a new definition for ‘undernourishment’ to support your hair shit diet.
        Buzz off.

        1. “Oh, yes! Let’s invent new meanings to support lefty causes.”

          Undernourishment is exactly the word used in the FAO literature. Starvation is more severe than undernourishment, but don’t take undernourishment for a walk in the park. There are long term health effects to chronic undernourishment in children such as stunted growth etc.

          1. mtrueman|7.19.14 @ 11:51PM|#
            “Undernourishment is exactly the word used in the FAO literature”

            Cite, asshole, and cite the change over time.
            You’ve proven to be one truly ignorant asshole, sorta like your imbecilic pride about how you’re a hypocrite. And how you don’t seem to care about the fact that your chosen diet will be the direct cause of your death.
            And now you claim the diet that won’t kill you is causing harm.
            You’ll forgive my presumption that you’re floating one more lie to support the stupid choices you’ve made.
            Oh, and I’d be less than honest if I didn’t point out that I hope you die from your diet before you cause others harm.
            Please, die. I’ll piss on your grave if there isn’t a line.

            1. “Cite, asshole….”

              I will cite, I promise, but only if you retract your intention of pissing on my grave, even if there’s no line.

  12. I feel more awesome than an awesome possum
    Dip my body in chocolate frostin’
    Three years later, wash off the frostin’
    Smellin’ like a blossom, everything is awesome
    Stepped in mud, got new brown shoes
    It’s awesome to win, and it’s awesome to lose (it’s awesome to lose)

    Everything is better when we stick together
    Side by side, you and I, gonna win forever, let’s party forever
    We’re the same, I’m like you, you’re like me, we’re all working in harmony

    Everything is awesome
    Everything is cool when you’re part of a team
    Everything is awesome when we’re living our dream

    1. It’s only awesome as long as some benevolent overlord is controlling everything, like a big brother or something.

    2. Tony|7.18.14 @ 4:20PM|#
      “I feel more awesome than an awesome possum”

      You should feel like a brain-dead pile of shit.

  13. Hey Ron,

    I’m not sure about your enzyme link. I’m no chemist but my understanding is that cellulose is already pretty easy to process–it’s even used in some food products today. The real problem is the lignin and hemicellulose. And artificial enzymes have been promised for a long time…

    1. Why do we need artificial enzymes when we have cows pigs goats and chickens?

      They also taste better.

      1. “Why do we need artificial enzymes…”

        Can’t speak for all of us but I don’t feel I need artificial enzymes or any of the other high tech command economy solutions bruited about in the article. Libertarians should not forget the importance of consumer demand. I see no demand in the market place for artificial enzymes.

        1. mtrueman|7.19.14 @ 1:20PM|#
          “Can’t speak for all of us but I don’t feel I need artificial enzymes or any of the other high tech command economy solutions bruited about in the article”

          If you are a vegan, you’re a fucking liar (which you’ve already proven to be).
          Without animal protein in some form (enzymes for example) you will die from your diet.
          To be a vegan is to be a hypocrite.

          1. “To be a vegan is to be a hypocrite.”

            Of course are right but there are worse things to be than a hypocrite. A hypocrite at least knows right from wrong. Can you claim as much?

            1. mtrueman|7.19.14 @ 11:54PM|#
              …”there are worse things to be than a hypocrite”

              A murderer or child-molester, perhaps.

            2. Oh, and:
              “A hypocrite at least knows right from wrong. Can you claim as much?”

              Not only do I know the difference, unlike hypocrites, I choose to be right.

              1. “Not only do I know the difference, unlike hypocrites, I choose to be right.”

                I wish you’d choose somebody else to spam up the comments with. Give you your due tho, you are a brave straight man, in the comedy duo sense. You don’t mind me taking all the lines.

          2. I’m follow a vegan diet, and have done so quite healthily for some time now.

            I simply don’t know of compelling evidence for your claim that without animal protein in some form, you will die. I think that there are many, many other living examples of this around the globe, too.

            If you do some research about various diets, there is a lot of information about vegan diets and the nutrients that may be harder to come by. There’s also a lot of information on the lack of heart disease, etc.

            1. *I follow.

              That’s an excellent way to start any post, with an instant grammatical error. Hooray for proofreading.

      1. NAS. I was trying to find an older article I read about a lumber mill that took it’s sawdust, and converted it into ethanol, and animal feed using a simple sulfuric acid hydrolysis. The lignin and hemicellulose are what ended up in the animal feed.

        1. This is the board I found it on. http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/

          It’s morning, and the wiki was the closest I got. Apologies.

    1. Yes, it is, and the Malthusians don’t care about people; they care about control.
      American asshole and Tony are the most obvious examples here. With any luck, they will both contract some horrible disease and die a slow, drawn-out, painful death.

      1. I hope it’s a pernicious, contagious flesh-eating disease of the rectum, that way it’ll spread like wildfire among the leftist community – given they’re love of licking each others butts.

  14. *their

  15. Great article, as usually plagued by really bad discussion on the matter. Being myself vegan, I’m aware of the environmental problems connected to meat consumption. It has been also reported in the UN report called Livestock Long Shadow. The empirical evidence mounting behind claims of people like Vaclav Smil is getting bigger every day.

    The biggest problem that now lies in front of us as a species is to convince others that their steak means hunger for other human being. It is not even about not eating meat – you can just start with some days off. The popular trend is to establish meatless mondays. Try it, see if you can prepare yourself a meal that does not contain dead animals.

    1. “The biggest problem that now lies in front of us as a species is to convince others that their steak means hunger for other human being.”

      The biggest problem now is to keep ignoramuses from lying.

      1. “The biggest problem now…”

        Wait until there are 7.2 billion of us. You will really have your hands full.

        1. mtrueman|7.19.14 @ 1:04PM|#
          “Wait until there are 7.2 billion of us. You will really have your hands full.”

          Fucking Malthusians.
          Please tell us, oh idjit, when is the rapture?

          1. “Fucking Malthusians.”

            You are thinking in slogans and sound bites again. Usually you have something of substance to say before you fall into sound bite and bluster mode.

            1. mtrueman|7.19.14 @ 2:28PM|#
              “You are thinking in slogans and sound bites again”

              And you are posting in lies again, asshole.

    2. “convince others that their steak means hunger for other human being”

      I think this is wrong headed. Veganism’s best bet is to rely on the ethical argument of extending animal rights. It’s personal, direct and unassailable. The connection between your eating a steak and another going hungry is questionable at best.

      1. I see a business opportunity in this… If you are of a certain age, your mother probably said, “eat your dinner, there are starving children in (insert 3rd world country name here.)”. Here’s the idea… We keep buying steaks, grilling them to juicy perfection, at this point they are packed up in insulated containers and shipped via drone to starving children in Africa. Kids everywhere won’t have to eat dinner and staving children in Africa are fed. It’s a win-win. Now the toady snobs can brag about how many steaks they shipped to Africa, in flashy, blinded out drones to satisfy their conspicuous consumption.

        1. “It’s a win-win”

          You haven’t understood my point. It is certainly not win-win from the cow’s perspective. Remember, animals are people too.

          1. I don’t anthropormorphize animals, I eat them and they are delicious. It does not mean I want animals to be mistreated prior to being slaughtered and the slaughtering of animals must be done as humanely as possible.

            There are more and more vegans coming forward with horror stories about how the vegan diet ruined their health. Are you going to claim they were just doing it wrong? There has never been a culture that practiced veganism over multiple generations, while maintaining fertility rates and without diseases and degenerative conditions due to nutritional deficiencies. If there has been one (vegan, not vegetarian) please enlighten me.

            1. “and the slaughtering of animals must be done as humanely as possible”

              Why do you say this? Is it to curb suffering or do you have other reasons?

              You should look into the society of the Jains. I wouldn’t say they were “vegan,” they are Jains, after all, but they come as close to the vegan ethic as any culture I’m aware of. You can make yourself aware of them too thanks to Wikipedia.

              Sorry to hear of all the vegans coming forward claiming they’ve ruined their health. If they became vegans because someone promised them a life free of disease and suffering, more fool them.

              1. I say slaughtering of animals should be done humanely, because they do feel pain. I’m not under any delusion that animals don’t feel pain when slaughtered. Additionally, injury to the animal will reduce the value of the meat and some say stress hormones released by a stressed animal make the meat tough.

                Jains don’t count. They are not vegans. Close only counts in horseshoes and nuclear weapons. Different communities have sustained themselves on a vegan diet for short periods of time when forced to, but no culture has done so for multiple generations. We have evolved as omnivores, as such, from our teeth to our assholes, we are meant to eat a varied diet that includes meat.

                People are turning away from veganism, because it is making them sick. Their bodies are not getting the nutrients they need from a vegan diet. It’s not only the fat soluable vitamins they are missing, it’s that a diet that relies heavily on grains and legumes is causing diabetes and heart disease. Anyone who puts being a vegan (to prevent cruelty to animals) before their own health is either mentally ill or mentally deficient. Putting the comfort of animals before your own health for any reason is ludicrous.

                1. “Putting the comfort of animals before your own health for any reason is ludicrous”

                  Ludicrous or not, making the correct ethical choice does often involve making sacrifices. Libertarians once upon a time used to remind us that there was no such thing as a free lunch.

                  Why don’t Jains count? Does anyone? I’m not following your argument here.

                  1. So tell me, do you grow your own food? Do you know where every morsel comes from?

                    1. “So tell me, do you grow your own food?”

                      I try to grow some of it and thinking of growing more. I don’t know about those morsels.

                    2. So you are ok with the slaughter of animals as collateral damage to farming fruit, nuts, vegetables, grains, and legumes for your consumption? Or are you unaware that small animals, ground nesting birds, snakes and other reptiles are killed by farming, not to mention the distraction of habitat and damage done by fertilizers? If you truly cared about all animals, you would grow all of your food, without using any pesticides, organic or not, plant and harvest by hand…. But you would still be killing insects by tilling the earth. So how far are you willing to go? Breatharian? Making the correct ethical choice does often involve making sacrifices.

                    3. ” If you truly cared about all animals, you would grow all of your food”

                      I don’t truly care about all animals. But I still think growing your own food is a good thing to do, even if you eat animals.

                      “Making the correct ethical choice does often involve making sacrifices.”

                      True and you probably should know that the purity of the ethics is often the first thing to be sacrificed for any number of expediencies. How many christians really love their neighbours?

                  2. Jains don’t count because they aren’t VEGAN. we are talking about vegans here, right, or are we talking about golf balls?

                    1. “we are talking about vegans here”

                      You are talking about vegans here. I’m not really interested in that. They have their good points and bad points, not unlike anyone else. I’m more interested in veganism as an ethic or ideology. I think it has potential to make big changes in the way we live our lives and deal with each other.

                      Can I ask you a personal question? How much meat do you feel you need to keep healthy and fertile and whole? Presumably it’s less than the 270 lbs a year average.

                    2. “Can I ask you a personal question? How much meat do you feel you need to keep healthy and fertile and whole? Presumably it’s less than the 270 lbs a year average.’

                      Is that how much it takes so you don’t collapse?

                  3. mtrueman|7.19.14 @ 8:11PM|#
                    “Ludicrous or not, making the correct ethical choice does often involve making sacrifices”

                    Yes, it does. As does making stupid choices.

          2. “animals are people too.”

            Your words are no longer worth consideration

            1. I’d say there’s a very good chance you are over 50. And an even stronger chance that you are not under 20. In other words, your consideration will not play much of a role in the vegan movement which will grow or die with youthful enthusiasm and righteousness.

              1. Probably not. There are about 2 million vegans in the US, that’s less than 1% of the population. Tiny little “movement” that 75% of people involved keep leaving due to…. ILLNESS. Guess what, of the over 60,000 centarians, people over 100 years old in the US, NONE are vegans. Then there is the issue of fertility and veganism, seems you have trouble reproducing. Don’t count on youthful enthusiasm.

                You got the righteousness right… Self righteous.

                1. “Then there is the issue of fertility and veganism, seems you have trouble reproducing.”

                  If veganism is unsustainable, then perhaps a variant might be possible. What I think is the core idea is the value of life, and the value of live and let live. I think the idea of extending human rights to animals is intriguing and part of a long tradition of liberalism. You are perfectly right to scorn vegans. The early adopters of these movements are usually marginal or social outcasts as well as eccentric aristocrats, or celebrities in modern America.

                  1. mtrueman|7.20.14 @ 12:23AM|#
                    “If veganism is unsustainable, then perhaps a variant might be possible”

                    Yeah, ignoring assholes like you is a good start.

                    1. ” ignoring assholes like you is a good start.”

                      I’d be honoured to head up your list. You will no doubt have to add the author of the article and the scientists behind the quoted paper. Why not throw in the rest of the 7 billion while we’re at it. Gotta keep busy. Idle hands etc.

                2. “You got the righteousness right… Self righteous.”

                  Self righteousness is essential if this movement is going to get anywhere.

                  1. mtrueman|7.20.14 @ 12:51AM|#
                    “Self righteousness is essential if this movement is going to get anywhere.”

                    Yeah, and stupidity is the reason it won’t.
                    What a dolt!

              2. mtrueman|7.19.14 @ 6:36PM|#
                …”which will grow or die with youthful enthusiasm and righteousness.”

                Like glue sniffing.

                1. “Like glue sniffing.”

                  Exactly. Only this veganism craze has the power to hurt powerful interests in society. The threat posed by glue sniffers is minimal.

                  1. mtrueman|7.20.14 @ 12:09AM|#
                    “Exactly. Only this veganism craze has the power to hurt powerful interests in society.”

                    Oh, oh! Watch out! Hypocrites on the march!
                    Stuff it; you will die unless you eat animal protein and every vegan knows that an lies about it.
                    Fucking self-righteous hypocrites.

                    1. “Stuff it; you will die unless you eat animal protein”

                      Hope you are sitting down while you read this, coz I’ve got some bad news for you. You are going to die even if you eat animal protein. The universe is a cruel place, I know.

                    2. Oh, LOOK!
                      M-idjit-man comes up with one more stupid statement!
                      Hint, asshole; I’ll die sooner or later, but it won’t be the specific result of my diet. You sound like some brain-dead smoker; ‘We’ll all die sooner or later. Why not suck ’em up?’
                      Uh, maybe because most of us aren’t as stupid as that?

                    3. ” but it won’t be the specific result of my diet”

                      Not specific but you must acknowledge that in a broader way you can’t separate yourself from your diet. You are what you eat, to coin a phrase. Veganism is about rejecting the cruelty of the meat business as much as anything else, in my opinion. Maybe it’s stupid, but don’t underestimate the way stupidity can take control. Pick up a history book before you die, you’ll find it full of surprises.

  16. Libertarians need to get their story straight about natural resources, because Bailey’s cornucopianism conflicts with other libertarians’ advocacy of the gold standard; they make contradictory assumptions, in other words. Libertarians who advocate the gold standard would have a more coherent position if they argue that we live in a Malthusian reality where a finite supply of gold as the money supply constrains the economy’s sustainable output while maintaining stable prices. Cornucopians, by contrast, have to assume that gold acts like all the other natural resources we can increase the supplies of arbitrarily, so that it doesn’t impose Malthusian limits on human aspirations.

    1. advancedatheist|7.19.14 @ 12:31PM|#
      “Libertarians need to get their story straight about natural resources, because Bailey’s cornucopianism conflicts with other libertarians’ advocacy of the gold standard; they make contradictory assumptions, in other words.”

      You should learn to read before you end up looking even more retarded than you are.

    2. Well you see there’s this fucking thing called “Crypto Currency” Look it up.

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