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wealhtheow

wealhtheow

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The Theory of the Leisure Class (Modern Library Classics)
Thorstein Veblen, Alan Wolfe
One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World? - Gordon Conway, Rajiv Shah In this ambitious work, Conway sets up the current issues of hunger, displacement and water insecurity that face the world, then takes the reader through a step-by-step process of how to fix these problems. His main points concern the following: most agriculture in the developing world is conducted by smallholders, who weather all of the risk of farming but can't respond quickly to market forces. He recommends that insurance be set up for these farmers, and also that they're linked more directly to information about prices and weather. Water is being unsustainably used for irrigating crops, and he has compiled a set of tools to reduce water use (the most obvious recourse being to increase maintenance of existing irrigation infrastructure). Industrial methods of fertilizer and pest control are expensive and bad for the environment and biome, so he recommends crop rotation, interleaving crops together, and using either natural pest control or gene modification (making crops exude Bt, for instance). And international donors need to actually follow up on their promises and work within a larger organization, so that efforts can be coordinated.

Conway has been president of the Rockefeller Foundation, chief scientific adviser to the UK Department for International Development, and is now working as a professor while running an advocacy grant from the Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation. He writes dense prose, packed with citations and real world examples, but also rife with quotable sections. For anyone worried about sustainability, hunger, or agriculture, I highly recommend this book. It's far less angry and less radical than Paul Farmer's writing, but it's nevertheless a good companion to it.