Hugh D. Wilson

Economic Botany of the Future

1.  Human populatin growth curve - est.  10,000 BCE to 2,000 (oil vs. people) vs. CO2

    U.S. Census Data:   US    World  World/Rate

2.  Green Revolution  (“miracle seeds", lethal chemistry (pesticides), and energy inputs)

3.  Peak Oil

4.  Thomas Malthus  

Malthusian notions (1798):

"I think I may fairly make two postulata. First, That food is necessary to the existence of man. Secondly, That the passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state. These two laws, ever since we have had any knowledge of mankind, appear to have been fixed laws of our nature, and, as we have not hitherto seen any alteration in them, we have no right to conclude that they will ever cease to be what they now are, without an immediate act of power in that Being who first arranged the system of the universe, and for the advantage of his creatures, still executes, according to fixed laws, all its various operations.
Assuming then my postulata as granted, I say, that the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio.

  Malthusian Catastrophe  (carrying capacity)

6. "World ‘Dangerously Close’ to Food Crisis, U.N. Says" (NYT, 24 Nov 2010), 
Tighter food supplies, high prices to persist (Reuters, 1 Dec 2010)

Return to Course syllabus
1 Dec 2010 - Mistletoe, Phoradendron