The study, “Peak Farmland and the Prospects for Sparing Nature,” is by Ausubel, Iddo K. Wernick and Paul E. Waggoner and will be published next year as part of a special supplement to the journal Population and Development Review, published by the Population Council.
Drawing on a host of data sets, the authors conclude that a combination of slowing population growth, moderated demand for land-intensive food (meat, for instance) and more efficient farming methods have resulted in a substantial “decoupling” of acreage and human appetites.
Here’s the optimistic opener:
Expecting that more and richer people will demand more from the land, cultivating wider fields, logging more forests, and pressing nature, comes naturally. The past half-century of disciplined and dematerializing demand and more intense and efficient land use encourage a rational hope that humanity’s pressure will not overwhelm nature.