Thursday, May 30, 2002


Okay, there's been a suggestion that I factor the amount of food-producing versus barren land the world over into my calculations.

I was unable to find any agreement among the multiplicitous web sources out there on how much land was necessary to feed a single person (sites with either pro-or anti-vegetarian agendas abound, and seldom do sites with the same agenda even agree), but I was able to get some information on the amount of biologically productive versus biologically unproductive land that exists:

The Earth has a surface area of 51 billion hectares, of which 36.3 billion are sea and 14.7 billion are land. Only 8.3 billion hectares of the land area are biologically productive. The remaining 6.4 billion hectares are marginally productive or unproductive for human use, as they are covered by ice, find themselves with unsuitable soil condition or lack water. [link]
So if we take the ratio of 8.3 billion bio-productive hectares versus 14.7 billion ha total, we get 56.5%. So by this measure 56.5% of the world's land surface is useful for food production (I'm not going to use terms like 'arable,' because then I'll get a million references from sites like et al claiming that only 4% of the world's land is 'arable,' measuring only currently-cultivated, irrigated land or something), and so 56.5% of 214.42 leaves us with only 121 times the area of Texas for us to grow food on.

And I like seafood, too. ;-)

I think we're OK.


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