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Balancing on a PlanetThe Future of Food and Agriculture$
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David A. Cleveland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780520277410

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520277410.001.0001

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Eating Stardust

Eating Stardust

Population, Food, and Agriculture on Planet Earth

(p.13) One Eating Stardust
Balancing on a Planet

David A. Cleveland

University of California Press

There is an inherent tension between human impact (the product of the size of the human population, people's level of food consumption, and the technology used to produce food) and the ability of the environment to supply food (the human carrying capacity). The “zone” is the place where human impact overlaps carrying capacity, either for a given location or for the whole planet. The way in which we understand and respond to the zone depends on basic assumptions about natural resources and human nature, and it is at the core of defining and solving the food crisis. This is illustrated using a calculation of human carrying capacity based on water needed to grow rice to provide calories for the human population.

Keywords:   population, consumption, technology, human impact, natural resources, human carrying capacity, human nature, calories, water, rice

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