It's a conundrum... should we intensify farming to get more food per acre, and thereby hope to spare wild lands for nature? Or should we focus on extensive 'wildlife-friendly' farming that's less productive per acre but not so hard on biodiversity?
However, we might feel about this debate, many agronomists believe that intensifying agriculture is the only realistic way we're going to feed up to 11 billion people this century.
In a new essay in Yale Environment 360, ALERT director Bill Laurance summarizes some of the pithy realities and tough choices ahead, especially for the tropics.
The tropics are likely to be the epicenter of future agricultural expansion, because that's where crops grow the fastest, where land is the cheapest, and where human populations and food demand are increasing the fastest.
Of course, the tropics are also the epicenter of biodiversity--of life on Earth.
The 21st century is going to bring truly remarkable changes. The pressing question is: can we feed billions more people while also protecting the natural world?