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Agricultural Productivity Will Rise to the Challenge

We can feed a growing world for decades to come provided that we invest in research not only in the advanced countries, but everywhere

15 min read
Agricultural Productivity Will Rise to the Challenge
Image: Dan Saelinger; Stylist: Dominique Baynes; Food Stylist: Carol Ladd

“Despite the global food crisis of 2007–8, the coming famine hasn’t happened yet. It is a looming planetary emergency…it is arriving even faster than climate change.” That’s the vision of famine that awaits us, says Australian science writer Julian Cribb. And he’s far from alone. “The world is in transition from an era of food abundance to one of scarcity,” says the environmentalist Lester Brown.

They’re wrong, and their virulent strain of technopessimism—which is finding lots of resonance in the media these days—has been wrong for a long time. In his 1968 book The Population Bomb, Paul R. Ehrlich wrote: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.” Ehrlich himself rode the frayed coattails of Thomas Malthus, who two centuries ago warned that the combination of an arithmetic increase in food supply and a geometric increase in population would result in famine, pestilence, and war.

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Video Friday: ReachBot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

Robotics Summit & Expo: 10–11 May 2023, BOSTON
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON
RoboCup 2023: 4–10 July 2023, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
RSS 2023: 10–14 July 2023, DAEGU, KOREA
IEEE RO-MAN 2023: 28–31 August 2023, BUSAN, KOREA
CLAWAR 2023: 2–4 October 2023, FLORIANOPOLIS, BRAZIL

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Forecasting the Ice Loss of Greenland’s Glaciers With Viscoelastic Modeling

Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany are developing new models to simulate how glaciers behave

8 min read
Aerial view of Nioghalvfjerdsbræ showing the extensive patterns of the crevasses

This sponsored article is brought to you by COMSOL.

To someone standing near a glacier, it may seem as stable and permanent as anything on Earth can be. However, Earth’s great ice sheets are always moving and evolving. In recent decades, this ceaseless motion has accelerated. In fact, ice in polar regions is proving to be not just mobile, but alarmingly mortal.

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