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The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It Hardcover – August 10, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520260716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520260719
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.4 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The sheer number of terrifying facts make the book gripping.”
(Mark Bittman New York Times Book Review 2010-08-24)

“All of us interested in a sustainable food system should read this book and become part of the conversation to determine how we can best redesign the global food system to meet the challenges ahead.”
(Audubon Magazine 2011-03-16)

“Makes clear just how intertwined global warming is with food security.”
(Chronicle Of Higher Education 2010-11-28)

“Cribb . . . advocates making much better use of our brains and investing much more in improving both small and large-scale agriculture.”
(Stephen Booth Law Society Journal 2012-03-01)

“Presents a smart and compelling description of the challenges our children will likely face as the world’s growing population and our shrinking resources collide. “
(National Catholic Reporter 2010-12-10)

"Cribb writes both eloquently and accessibly. . . . The book is well structured for its target audience of a general public."
(Oscar A. Forero Human Ecology 2012-04-01)

From the Inside Flap

"Julian Cribb warns with a well synthesized evidence base about a potential famine in the making. The food crisis is already daily reality for one billion people. The book is not just a warning but offers sound guidance for the needed actions; easily understandable but suitably comprehensive, leaving no excuse for inaction."—Joachim von Braun, Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute

"The Coming Famine is an erudite and learned analysis of humanity's greatest challenge. At this very minute we are jeopardizing the rights to food for a billion people, and the effects will be felt by us all through migration, dietary changes and increased health risks, whether we believe it or not. This is a book all thinking people should read."— Lindsay Falvey, University of Cambridge

More About the Author

Julian Cribb is an author, journalist, editor and science communicator and principal of Julian Cribb & Associates who provide specialist consultancy in the communication of science, agriculture, mining, energy and the environment. His career includes appointments as newspaper editor, scientific correspondent for The Australian newspaper, director of national awareness for Australia's science agency CSIRO,and president of national professional bodies for agricultural journalism and science communication. His published work includes over 8000 media articles and seven books. He has received more than thirty awards for journalism.

His books include: The Forgotten Country (AFP 1986), Australian Agriculture (Morescope 1990), The White Death (Angus & Roberston 1996), Sharing Knowledge (CSIRO Publishing 2002), Dry Times (CSIRO Publishing 2009), Open Science (CSIRO Publishing 2010), The Coming Famine (UCP 2010) and Poisoned Planet (Allen&Unwin 2014).

Customer Reviews

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I am skeptical of doomsayers but Cribb just isn't one.
Benjamin Reid Lodmell
In The Coming Famine, science writer Julian Cribb has made abundantly clear what has to be done to change our current headlong course into a planetary food crisis.
Kath Kovac
Mankind will have to responsibly use the world's resources and develop better agricultural policies.
Ernest Williams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Susan on August 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"This book is a wake-up call. It deals with the most urgent issue facing humanity in the twenty-first century, perhaps in all of history: the planetary emergency over whether or not we can sustain our food supply through the midcentury peak in human numbers, demand, and needs. It reflects on the likely consequences of our failure to do so."--Julian Cribb, Preface, The Coming Famine

This book brings us a message that we all need to hear: that resource depletions, climate change challenges, and growth in human numbers and appetites pose a dire threat to our food supply. An Australian journalist and Director of National Awareness for Australia's national science agency, Julian Cribb joins a growing chorus of other writers who have looked at food issues from a variety of angles. There are three major differences between this book and most of the other "end of food" books, however.

1) "The Coming Famine" deals systematically with all the major threats to the food supply: water shortages; soil depletions; nutrient loss and waste; fishery collapse; the Green Revolution and private ownership of genetic material; war and mass migrations; peak oil; climate change; uncontrolled human population growth; and unfair trade practices.

2) It focuses attention on the twin demand pressures of population growth and increased human appetites--the twin "elephants in the kitchen."

3) It offers practical suggestions in every chapter that encourage the reader to commit to positive actions. For example, in his chapter on climate change, Cribb suggests rebalancing our diets toward foods with a smaller carbon footprint; reducing consumption of meat, oils, and dairy products; selecting seasonal, locally-grown foods. (Losing hope? Plant a garden.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A. colbert on September 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished "The Coming Famine" and thought it was a smart, well written, interesting and compelling description of the challenges my children will likely face as the world's growing population and our shrinking resources collide. The author writes with authority, cites credible research, and finds a measured path between sounding a wake up bell and offering hope for the human race. There is urgency behind every word, and this is an important book. Like many people, I have had a complacent belief that science/research will find ways for us to produce superfoods that will largely (magically?) keep up with humankind's demand, and his chapters on agro R and D were sobering. Living in the northeast US with its abundant H20 has made it hard to pay close attention to the water woes of China and Africa, and i had under-appreciated the connection between famine and ethnic strife.

This book should be widely read. It will make you take a better look at the source of your larder, view your green, sprinklered lawn with an eye toward permaculture and food plants, and become thriftier with water and less wasteful generally. There are action plans here at the macro and micro level that might just save the planet.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Reid Lodmell on August 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I am skeptical of doomsayers but Cribb just isn't one. The "The era of cheap, abundant food is over." is his punching punchline. One reads this and hopes that there must be breakthroughs before supply and demand meet at this books point. The consumer staples sector just got more attractive.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kath Kovac on November 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Shortages in land, water, energy, knowledge and technology, combined with population growth and demand for higher-protein diets, will make mid-century food security the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. In The Coming Famine, science writer Julian Cribb has made abundantly clear what has to be done to change our current headlong course into a planetary food crisis.

The comprehensive, well-researched backgrounds to each topic - including the relationship between food security and war, the waste of nutrients vital to agriculture, the problems that climate change and water, oil and land shortages will cause, and the dearth of agricultural research funding - give the reader a good grounding into what is going wrong, and why. The potential technological and governmental solutions to these problems, of which there are many, are also clearly explained.

For this reviewer, the most powerful aspect of the book is the plea straight to the reader to shoulder some of the responsibility and make a difference - rather than hoping naively that governments and scientists will sort it all out for us. The achievable solutions that Cribb provides at the end of each chapter were inspiring in their simplicity, and spell hope for humanity. Basic, simple acts such as eating less meat and dairy, reducing waste and educating our children about the value of food are things that everyone can and should do - whether they live in a rural area or a high-rise city apartment - but, they will help to solve our future food crises only if we all take action.

Can we put aside national pride and greed, accept that we are global citizens of planet Earth, and ensure our future food security? Let's hope that we can - in time to avert the worst imaginable food crisis known to humanity.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Joseph S. Maresca HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Coming Famine by Julian Cribb is a reminder of the worst
things to come unless humankind embarks on a different
trajectory. Cribb warns against painful food shortages,
water scarcity, displaced populations, collapsed stocks of fish
and the unilateral failure of mega-cities by mid-century.

Initially, there will be regional failures due to increased
population, greater demand for resources, a dwindling
supply of fresh water, land scarcity, over-extraction of
minerals, soil erosion, ocean acidity and the coming climate
change.

Essentially, Cribb believes that there can be no peace
in the world until people address the food shortage
problem forthrightly. Food First by Lappe has a series
of strategies aimed at doing just that. The solution,
according to Lappe' is to de-corporatize food production
and place the function and the technology back into the
hands of millions of local farmers and neighborhood food
growers.

Cribb provides another solution for dealing with food
shortages. He points out that a kilogram of beef depletes
3900 gallons of water; whereas, a single tomato can be
grown utilizing only 3 gallons of water. Vegetable
production yields more food per acre than legumes,
cereals and beef. In short, vegetables have the power
to feed the hungry worldwide, reduce poverty and
conserve water production.

The Coming Famine by Julian Cribb teaches an important
lesson about conserving scarce resources on earth
before growing populations are harmed irreparably by the
upcoming scarcities.

Article first published as <a href='[...]>Book Review: The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It by Julian Cribb</a> on Blogcritics.
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