Fall 2015

The Future of Food, Health & the Environment of a Full Earth

Within two or three generations, the world’s population – currently seven billion people – will level off between ten and eleven billion people. Already our population growth rate, though still positive, is steadily declining as we approach our maximum Earth density; in short, the world is about to be full.

What will that planet look like? Can we provide eleven billion people with a secure supply of nutritious food? Is it possible for so many people to occupy Earth without destroying its remaining ecosystems or doing irreparable damage to its climate? And what are the implications of increasing global incomes, urbanization, and subsequent changes in diet on the physical health of humankind?

These are some of the questions addressed in the Fall 2015 issue of Dædalus, entitled “The Future of Food, Health & the Environment of a Full Earth.” Guest editor David Tilman has organized the issue’s eight essays around the themes of agricultural growth and development, dietary changes, human health (including obesity and undernourishment), and the sustainability of our environment. The issue also examines the ethics and value systems needed to ensure equity and well-being across future generations.

Image:
A high-diversity tropical rainforest represents the type of ecosystem that Earth will lose if diets and agricultural practices continue on their current paths. Photograph by Rhett A. Butler for Mongabay.
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Image:
A high-diversity tropical rainforest represents the type of ecosystem that Earth will lose if diets and agricultural practices continue on their current paths. Photograph by Rhett A. Butler for Mongabay.