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Who Will Feed China?: Wake-Up Call for a Small Planet (The Worldwatch Environmental Alert Series) Paperback – September 17, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Brown, president of the Worldwatch Institute and recipient of numerous environmental awards, predicts that China's current breakneck industrialization will lead to massive world grain shortages early in the next century. He states that political leaders everywhere need to recognize that "the world is now on a demographic and economic path that is environmentally unsustainable." Using Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan as the only examples of countries that were densely populated when they embarked on rapid industrialization, similar to China's present situation, Brown points out that these countries developed in such a way that they were compelled to import the majority of the grain their populations consumed. He cites many reasons for the dependence on foreign grain, including growing land scarcity, migration to the city from farms, overpopulation, water scarcity, and unstable prices on the world market. Brown argues persuasively that the major world challenge in the future is not military aggression but, rather, food scarcity. No other book develops this theme in as straightforward a fashion. Highly recommended.?Peggy Spitzer Christoff, Oak Park, Ill.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Lester R. Brown is the founder of the Earth Policy and Worldwatch Institutes. He has been honored with numerous prizes, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the United Nations Environment Prize, and twenty-five honorary degrees. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Worldwatch Environmental Alert Series
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039331409X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393314090
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

LESTER R. BROWN, founder and President of Earth Policy Institute, has been described by the Washington Post as "one of the world's most influential thinkers" and as "the guru of the global environmental movement" by The Telegraph of Calcutta. The author of numerous books, including World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, chapters, articles, etc., he helped pioneer the concept of environmentally sustainable development. His principal research areas include food, population, water, climate change, and renewable energy. The recipient of scores of awards and honorary degrees, he is widely sought as a speaker. In 1974, he founded Worldwatch Institute, of which he was President for its first 26 years. As President, he launched the World Watch Papers, the Worldwatch/Norton books, the annual State of the World, World Watch magazine, the annual Vital Signs, and the Institute's News Briefs. For relaxation, Lester runs

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Igor on August 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
According to United Nations' World Food Program(WFP) 2005 annual report, China has become a food donor country from a donation receiving country. China has increased its food donation over 200% alone in year 2005, and is helping other developing countries to improve their agriculcure production.

"It was not all bad news, however. Last year was

the year in which WFP concluded its assistance

to China, having provided 30 million people with

food aid for the past 26 years. We are now

looking to China, which has lifted some

300 million of its own people out of poverty,

to help provide the expertise that will enable

other countries achieve such stunning progress."

Quite a different outcome from the author's prediction 12 years ago considering that during this period China has probably increased its population by at least 100 million (more people to feed), lifted hundreds of millions more out of poverty (more per capita food consumption) and lost some of its best land to industrialiation.
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Format: Paperback
Lester Brown is an environmental analyst, and founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and the Earth Policy Institute. His grand plan was to observe global trends, and produce objective information. Brown’s many books and reports have provided rational advice for the world’s irrational policymakers. He has not sold his soul to corporate interests.

In 1994, Brown wrote an essay, Who Will Feed China? It triggered an explosive response. Chinese leaders angrily denounced him. But behind the scenes, they realized that their nation was vulnerable, because they had not perceived the big picture clearly. Brown expanded his essay into a book with the same title, published in 1995. It became a classic. Reading it 20 years later is eerie, because many of his warnings now sound like the daily news.

Before they industrialized, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan were already densely populated. Then, the growth of industry gobbled up a lot of cropland, which reduced food production, and forced all three to become dependent on imported grain. In 1994, Japan imported 72 percent of its grain, South Korea 66 percent, and Taiwan 76 percent.

Brown saw that China was on a similar trajectory. Cropland was limited, and it was rapidly being lost to sprawl, industry, and highways. They were likely to lose half of their cropland by 2030. They were also likely to add another 500 million people by 2030. As incomes rose, people were eager to enjoy a richer diet, including more meat and beer. This required even more cropland per person.

Freshwater for agriculture was also limited, and much of it was being diverted to growing cities and factories. About 300 cities were already short of water. China’s capitol, Beijing, was among 100 cities with severe water shortages.
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A Kid's Review on July 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this book in the late 90's and didn't give much thought. Now with the USA being so much in debt to China this book is truly a "Wake Up Call."
If we the American people are unable to pay our debt to China and they need to foreclose, what do you think they will need the most..? It wont be an Army or land,it will be food! American food to feed their people. Happy reading and please wake up America!
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By Eduardo L A on March 20, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
very technical and outdated, but it's worth the read.. still a big issue for our planet
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 6, 1997
Format: Paperback
A disturbing analysis of the effect in the near future of China's population on world food requirements. Eminently readable. My only regret is that the writer did not even hint at possible solutions.
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