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Analysis: Pessimism on the Food Front

Legendary scientists weigh in on converging crises threatening future food security

Virtually all trends, biophysical and socioeconomic, suggest that levels of hunger, already high, will only increase as the human population grows and its life-support systems are degraded. Steps that might ameliorate the situation are, unhappily, nowhere in sight.

Is it likely humanity will satisfactorily feed 11 billion people around the end of this century? A quick response would be "of course not—after 60 years of assurances that the food problem would be solved, we're not feeding 7.5 billion today."

Indeed, the number of undernourished people in the world has been rising since 2014, reaching an estimated 815 million in 2016, and several billion suffer levels of serious micronutrient malnourishment.

A more refined answer would consider first, the odds on there being 11 billion people in 2100 as projected by United Nations demographers, and then the biophysical and sociopolitical problems of nourishing such a mob.

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