Feeding Everyone: Solving the Food Crisis in Event of Global Catastrophes that Kill Crops or Obscure the Sun

Futures, Vol. 72, September 2015, Pages 57-68

18 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2019

See all articles by David C. Denkenberger

David C. Denkenberger

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Joshua M. Pearce

Michigan Technological University; Aalto University

Date Written: September 8, 2015

Abstract

Mass human starvation is currently likely if global agricultural production is dramatically reduced for several years following a global catastrophe: e.g. super volcanic eruption, asteroid or comet impact, nuclear winter, abrupt climate change, super weed, extirpating crop pathogen, super bacterium, or super crop pest. This study summarizes the severity and probabilities of such scenarios, and provides an order of magnitude technical analysis comparing caloric requirements of all humans for five years with conversion of existing vegetation and fossil fuels to edible food. Here we present mechanisms for global-scale conversion including: natural gas-digesting bacteria, extracting food from leaves, and conversion of fiber by enzymes, mushroom or bacteria growth, or a two-step process involving partial decomposition of fiber by fungi and/or bacteria and feeding them to animals such as beetles, ruminants (cattle, sheep, etc), rats and chickens. We perform an analysis to determine the ramp rates for each option and the results show that careful planning and global cooperation could maintain humanity and the bulk of biodiversity.

Keywords: risk, moral hazard, chemosynthetic bacteria, fishing, extinction, cellulosic biofuels

Suggested Citation

Denkenberger, David C. and Pearce, Joshua M., Feeding Everyone: Solving the Food Crisis in Event of Global Catastrophes that Kill Crops or Obscure the Sun (September 8, 2015). Futures, Vol. 72, September 2015, Pages 57-68, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3331187 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3331187

David C. Denkenberger

University of Alaska Fairbanks ( email )

Fairbanks, AK 99775-6660
United States
907-474-5649 (Phone)

Joshua M. Pearce (Contact Author)

Michigan Technological University ( email )

Houghton, MI 49931
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.mse.mtu.edu/~pearce/Index.html

Aalto University ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
Helsinki, 00101
Finland

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