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Feed or Feedback Agriculture

Feed or Feedback

Agriculture, Population Dynamics and the State of the Planet

With the advent of agriculture the dynamic relation between the human population and its food supply changed in such a way as to become ultimately self-destructive. Why? A vicious circle.

A natural ecosystem is controlled by negative feedback in which overconsumption of plants will lead to death or starvation by relevant animal species. This situation changed with the advent of human agriculture. From that time onwards the interaction between the human population and its food supply moved from negative to positive feedback.

Each time the human population increased beyond the point at which it could be supported »naturally«, the response was to produce more food and hence sustain a larger population which could, in turn, produce more food. This is a vicious circle. Endangered environmentThese changes were accompanied by an astonishing range of technical and technological achievements. In some ways those achievements might be included among the most ecologically dangerous components of human activity, not simply because of their direct environmental impact, but also because of the complacency and over-confidence that they generate.

As a result, human impact on the natural environment reduced the number of species of both plants and animals, thereby simplifying ecosystems, reducing resilience and increasing the vulnerability of those systems to a range of threats. And, of course, human activities have been directly responsible for widespread soil degradation and erosion, depletion and pollution of water supplies, and air pollution. CollapseA positive feedback system will destroy itself, unless a limit is placed on the flow of energy through that system. There are no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ about that. The positive feedback interaction between population and food supply is leading us to a collapse. All other environmental problems are, in a way, symptoms of this interaction.

The book FEED OR FEEDBACK is divided into three parts. The first deals with the birth and subsequent evolution of agriculture, and its interaction with urban sanitation. Part two discusses major dimensions of human impact on the planet, an impact which could conceivably lead to human extinction. This capacity is a direct consequence of the size of the human population and its technological sophistication, neither of which would have been possible without agriculture.

The two final chapters [part three] outline some basic responses needed to avoid the most serious components of that impact and some barriers in the way of those responses. The most fundamental of those barriers is to be found in aspects of human behaviour.
A. Duncan Brown
agriculture - environment
15 x 22 cm
432 pages
isbn 905727048X
Jan van Arkel
prijsindicatie € 24,95

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