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It's actually more than a few decades of unsustainable tricks, it's a couple of centuries of them. A much-quoted article from 2002 by Gigi Richard summarizes the problem: Industrial farming is fundamentally unsustainable, and while it has held off the predictions of Malthus for quite some time, the best estimate of the carrying capacity of the planet is about four billion people. We have six billion. We are past the tipping point.

http://www.iere.org/ILEA/leaf/richard2002.html

by asdf on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 09:16:21 PM EST
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This is just wrong. And I keep running into it, over and over. Farming is not going to collapse due to peak oil, energy constraints or soil destruction or what have you.

Since the discussion is currently about north africa I am going to point out an interesting company currently building things there:
http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/
What this does is turn a patch of desert, which has extremely low biomass, into an extremely high yield agricultural production area. The inputs are steel, glass, and labour and modest amounts of electricity, and if it becomes nessesary, this will scale to feed any number of humans the planet will ever see, forever.

by Thomas on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 06:08:30 PM EST
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