Feeding Everyone if Industry is Disabled

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Source[edit | edit source]

Abstract[edit | edit source]

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A number of risks could cause widespread electrical failure and temporary global electronics loss, including a series of high-altitude electromagnetic pulses (HEMPs) caused by nuclear weapons, an extreme solar storm, and a coordinated cyber attack. Since modern industry depends on electricity and electronics, it is likely there would be a collapse of the functioning of industry and machines in these scenarios. As our current high agricultural productivity depends on industry (e.g. for fertilizers) it is generally assumed that there would be mass starvation in these scenarios. We model the loss in current agricultural output due to losing industry. Then we analyze compensating strategies such as reducing edible food fed to animals and turned into biofuels, reducing food waste, burning wood in landfills for energy, phosphorus, and potassium, and planting a high fraction of legumes to fix nitrogen. We find that these techniques could feed everyone, but extracting calories from agricultural residues, fishing with wind-powered ships and the backup plan of expanding planted area could feed everyone several times over.

Keywords[edit | edit source]

solar storm, high-altitude electromagnetic pulse, computer virus, global catastrophic risk, existential risk, industry, food, electricity

See Also[edit | edit source]

Feeding Everyone No Matter What- Cambridge
Feeding Everyone No Matter What
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Davos IDRC Conference[edit source]