04
Apr
12

Malthus is ever with us

Here’s Lester Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute and obviously an impartial observer with no incentive to stoke ecological panic:

Grain yields are beginning to hit a “glass ceiling” in many countries, Brown said, where farmers have already taken advantage of what science has to offer for improving yield. As more and more countries hit an upper limit on productivity, the world grain harvest will begin to plateau, even as demand for food continues to rise, causing a rise in prices.

That’s right: We’re all tapped out for scientific discovery in agriculture.  Science has nothing more to offer farmers who want to improve their crop yields; there will be no more Norman Borlaugs.  Brown has a Master’s degree — in Public Administration, but focus on the “Master’s degree” part — so you know he knows whereof he speaks.  He even appropriates the term “glass ceiling” for what we math nerds would call a ceiling (or, if we’re feeling especially math-nerdy, an asymptote) because, you know, Social Justice and stuff.

Oh yeah, and grain is apparently all that matters when it comes to feeding people.  Consumers couldn’t possibly substitute into other staple foods; that would imply change in response to incentives, which is too complex a thought for even someone with a Master’s in Public Administration to hold in his knowledge-swollen head.

Someone had better tell these bioscientists that they were focusing on the wrong plant.  Or not; after all, we’ve been informed that Science is all out of ideas.  By a very smart bureaucrat.  Maybe they should seek Master’s degrees in Public Administration instead.

Special message to Lester Brown:

It’s high in protein!

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1 Response to “Malthus is ever with us”


  1. 1 Chris C.
    April 8, 2012 at 18:11

    Odd, getting a Masters degree in economics informed me that I knew slightly more than nothing about economics, and pretty much nothing about a host of other fields of study. I am often amused by people who apparently reach the opposite conclusions from completing a Masters degree. BTW, very nice fisking of Mr. Brown, who was kind enough to display such an inviting target for your weapons-grade snark.


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