Cover image for Feed or feedback : agriculture, population dynamics and the state of the planet
Feed or feedback : agriculture, population dynamics and the state of the planet
Brown, A. D.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Utrecht : International Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
431 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GF75 .B76 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Placing agriculture at the forefront of environmental issues, this book argues that every major impact the human species has had on the natural environment has been a result of the change from a hunting-and-gathering method of food supply to a farming one. Historical information is presented about ecological, environmental, and demographic changes in human society from the advent of agriculture to today. The rates of deforestation, soil erosion, and water consumption as they relate to agriculture are assessed.

Author Notes

A. Duncan Brown is a professor emeritus in the department of biological sciences at the University of Wollongong in Australia. He has previously taught at the University of Manchester, the University of California, Cambridge University, Yale University, the Norwegian Institute of Technology, and the University of Tuebingen, Germany. He is the author of Microbial Water Stress Physiology .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This book has been described as a historical reading of humanity's relationship with its most essential life support system, the food supply and the ecology that maintains it. Brown (emer., biology, Univ. of Wallongong) stresses that everybody concerned about the future of humanity needs to know the basic relationship between biochemistry of food production and population growth. Chapters include the "Nine 'Laws' of Ecological Bloodymindedness," "The Beginning," "An Ecological Detour," "The Transition," "Town and Country," "The Sanity Imperative," "The Road to the Sea," Water," "People and the Soil," "Two Related Matters," "The Contemporary Farm," "Where Do We Go from Here?" and "The Real World." Even though many may disagree with the author's perspective, his discussion of this topic is helpful because it causes us to take a new look at the way we produce food and the increasing number of human and individuals the system must sustain. This book should be in all general libraries where people are concerned about food, environmental protection and population growth. Appendix, notes, biography, author information. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels. H. W. Ockerman Ohio State University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. 9
Symbols and Abbreviationsp. 10
Nine 'Laws' of Ecological Bloodymindednessp. 11
Prefacep. 13
Part I
1 The Beginningp. 17
The First Farmersp. 21
Feedback Systemsp. 23
The Transitionp. 27
2 An Ecological Detour--and Some Ground Rulesp. 33
Successionp. 33
Biogeochemical Cyclesp. 39
A Brief Discourse on Dungp. 42
3 The Transitionp. 49
4 Town and Countryp. 57
5 Town and Country - Part 2p. 69
6 The Sanitary Imperativep. 83
Europep. 87
The Antipodesp. 95
The 'East'p. 99
7 The Road to the Seap. 103
The Old Worldp. 103
The New Worldp. 114
Part II
8 Watep. 127
Sewers and Sewagep. 129
Some Examplesp. 133
9 Water - Part 2p. 143
A Broader Viewp. 156
Some More Examplesp. 160
10 People and the Soil Part 1 - Erosion and Organic Matterp. 167
Peoplep. 167
Soil Erosionp. 175
Organic Matterp. 184
11 People and the Soil Part 2 - Nitrogen and Phosphorusp. 189
Nitrogenp. 189
Phosphorusp. 195
12 Two Related Mattersp. 207
Forestsp. 209
Pesticidesp. 214
13 The Contemporary Farmp. 221
Industrial Agriculturep. 221
Cultivationp. 224
Livestockp. 229
The 'Third World'p. 239
Part III
14 Where To From Here?p. 249
The Vicious Circlep. 252
The Exhaustion of Phosphorus Depositsp. 257
Some Responses--In A Theoretical Worldp. 258
15 The Real World?p. 273
Appendixp. 299
Notesp. 331
Bibliographyp. 399
About the Authorp. 425
Indexp. 427