National Geographic : 1975 Jul
1.2 calories for each one they require, and low-energy tomatoes create an actual deficit. "Even with his reliance on fossil energy, the U. S. farmer consumes only about 5 per cent of the nation's fuel budget," calculates Dr. David Pimentel of Cornell University. "Twice as much-some 10 percent-goes into food processing, distribution, and marketing." And in the final step, a consumer may drive a two-ton auto to the supermarket for 30 pounds of groceries. * Threatened ecosystems. "Granary of Rome" ... "Fertile Crescent" ... these names tell of the abundance that once blessed the North African coast and an arc of land stretching from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. Today, blighted by deforestation and over grazing, they have become part of a semi desert extending from Gibraltar to India. This same scenario now unfolds on the Indian subcontinent, says Lester R. Brown, President of Worldwatch Institute, a private agency that focuses on emerging global prob lems. There, rampant deforestation strips the Fish from the desert fill a net in an Israeli carp pond. To wrest food from their parched land, Israeli aquiculturists exploit the ability of fish to convert feed into human fare far more efficiently than do hogs or cattle. A one-acre pond can produce 5,000 pounds of protein-rich carp a year. Chinese and central European aquicul turists also raise carp, while Americans specialize in trout and catfish. Scots and Norwegians fence off estuaries to raise sea going salmon. Despite high yields, produc tion costs probably limit such aquiculture. Beyond a barrage of irrigation sprinklers, a crop duster sprays sugar beets. A pipe nine feet in diameter brings water from the Sea of Galilee for the computerized irrigation that makes farms bloom in Israel's desert. Can the World Feed Its People?