Knowledge for better food systems

Is the Planet Full? Oxford Martin School book investigates impacts of population growth

In this book Ian Goldin brings together colleagues from the Oxford Martin School to discuss issues related to population growth. Each colleague contributes with a chapter on a range of issues such as population ethics, economics, demographic and environmental change, resource management, human health, and governance.

Some of the paradoxes that the book seeks to investigate include discussion of how obesity can coexist with malnourishment and hunger, and increasing resource consumption with increasing scarcity. The book argues that focusing on population size alone is too narrow a view of whether or not the planet is full; we also need to consider where and how people live. It argues that our planet might be far from ‘full’ if we better managed our resources, reduced environmental degradation, and improved economic and technological development.         


What are the impacts of population growth? Can our planet support the demands of the ten billion people anticipated to be the world's population by the middle of this century? While it is common to hear about the problems of overpopulation, might there be unexplored benefits of increasing numbers of people in the world? How can we both consider and harness the potential benefits brought by a healthier, wealthier and larger population? May more people mean more scientists to discover how our world works, more inventors and thinkers to help solve the world's problems, more skilled people to put these ideas into practice? In this book, leading academics with a wide range of expertise in demography, philosophy, biology, climate science, economics and environmental sustainability explore the contexts, costs and benefits of a burgeoning population on our economic, social and environmental systems.


Is the Planet Full? Ian Goldin (ed.). Oxford University Press

Find the book on Amazon here and read a book review from London School of Economics here

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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