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I am a microbiologist/ecologist by training, and for 27 years I conducted laboratory-based research on molecular aspects of intracellular parasitism funded by NIH. I also teach courses in the medical[…]

No longer able to rely on the countryside for food, people all over the world are moving to cities, says Despommier.

Question: What is the Third Green Revolution?

Dickson Despommier:
When horizontal soil-based farming fails on a mega-scale, it hasn’t
done that yet. It’s failing in pieces around the world, but it hasn’t
yet failed to the point of creating such food shortages that entire
populations of countries go starving. Now I think anybody who’s paid
attention to Africa will disagree with that statement, so I will
qualify that by saying there are some areas of the world where farming
could have never occurred, and then we’ve forced that square peg into
that round hole so rigorously that those countries will be the first to
suffer. And I’m talking about Niger and all of these central African
countries and some Saharan. But for the most part for the rest of the
world we’re still doing okay. It looks like we’re doing okay, and it
doesn’t matter if crops fail here, we’ll get another crop from over
here. Chile and South America in general throughout Southeast Asia I’ve
done a lot of traveling there just on vacations, and the abundance of
food and the varieties of food are incredible. You go down to Thailand
or Cambodia or Laos or Vietnam you’re just amazed at the variety of
stuff that people have available to them. By the way that can’t
continue. There’s another trend to pay attention to, and that is
urbanization. If you now look at the trend of where people choose to
live rather than where they have to live, they choose to live in the
cities. And by the year 2030, so I’m told, that’s not my figures but
the World Population Council and WHO and other places like that make
these predictions based on current trends, and about 80 percent of us
will live in a city by the time the year 2030 comes around and that’s
not that far in the future. Okay, so the third green revolution in my
view needs to occur by learning how to grow our food in those urban

Recorded on: 6/10/09