Harvesting the Biosphere

Harvesting the Biosphere (Vaclav Smil, 2012) examines a single question in great detail: "what is the carrying capacity of the planet?" How many of us can it support?

Photosynthesis is nature's great freebie. Earth is a closed system and sunshine is our only input (besides a bit of tidal energy). This means everything in the food chain traces back to plants. So, to answer the question of carrying capacity, the book quantifies 2 things:

  1. How much phytomass (photosynthetically-created biomass... i.e. "plants") can the planet produce?
  2. How much phytomass do we consume?

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