Source

Abstract

Mass human starvation is currently likely if global agricultural production is dramatically reduced for several years following a global catastrophe: e.g. super volcanic eruption, asteroid or comet impact, nuclear winter, abrupt climate change, super weed, extirpating crop pathogen, super bacterium, or super crop pest. This study summarizes the severity and probabilities of such scenarios, and provides an order of magnitude technical analysis comparing caloric requirements of all humans for five years with conversion of existing vegetation and fossil fuels to edible food. Here we present mechanisms for global-scale conversion including: natural gas-digesting bacteria, extracting food from leaves, and conversion of fiber by enzymes, mushroom or bacteria growth, or a two-step process involving partial decomposition of fiber by fungi and/or bacteria and feeding them to animals such as beetles, ruminants (cattle, sheep, etc), rats and chickens. We perform an analysis to determine the ramp rates for each option and the results show that careful planning and global cooperation could maintain humanity and the bulk of biodiversity.

Keywords[edit | edit source]

Risk; Moral hazard; Chemosynthetic bacteria; Fishing; Extinction; Cellulosic biofuels


See also[edit | edit source]

Feeding Everyone No Matter What
Foodweb.png

Additional Information[edit source]

Davos IDRC Conference[edit source]

Page data
Authors Joshua M. Pearce
Published 2014
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
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