Lester Brown vs. Broken Watch

It’s no contest.  A broken watch is correct twice a day.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese have been lifted out of abject poverty in the last several decades but trust Lester Brown to see the downside (Brown, of course, is sadly joined by Paul Krugman and neo-cons itching for another cold-war).  In his latest book, Brown argues that the Chinese will soon be eating little children.  Well, not exactly, but he does think that Chinese eating will cause little children to die.  Writing in the Washington Post, Bill McKibben summarizes the Brown argument (which he endorses):

The Chinese, in particular, are constantly converting farmland to
factory sites (even as they learn to eat more meat), and they have
plenty of American cash stored up to pay for any shortfall. But if they
do so, the first casualties will be the world’s really poor nations,
already reeling from increases in the price of fuel.

Of course this is an old story for Lester Brown who in 1973 said:

The soaring demand for food, spurred by continued population
growth and rising affluence, has begun to outrun the productive
capacity of the world’s farmers and fishermen.  The result has been
declining food reserves, skyrocketing food prices, food rationing in
three of the world’s most populous countries, intense international
competition for exportable food supplies, and export controls on major
foodstuffs by the world’s principal food supplier.

Isn’t it amazing how rising affluence leads directly to mass starvation?  Some people just can’t be happy. 

To be clear, I do think that issues of food production and demography are important  (although what is most important is regional poverty – I have few worries about global food production per se), it’s just Lester Brown who should not be taken seriously.

Daily Ablution has some good links on these issues.  Comments are open.


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