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Measuring the planet to fill terrestrial data gaps

Grainger, A. (2009) Measuring the planet to fill terrestrial data gaps. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106 (49). pp. 20557-20558. ISSN 0027-8424

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[first paragraph] How a growing world population can sustain itself on Planet Earth has been the focus of much research. Norman Borlaug (1), the ‘‘father of the Green Revolution,’’ argued that one answer is to intensify agriculture to produce more food on the same area of land. But what he promoted as a policy strategy, others have called the ‘‘Borlaug hypothesis,’’ aiming to add it to sustainability science theory and test it empirically. In this issue of PNAS Rudel et al. (2) follow earlier national studies (3) by testing the hypothesis at global scale. They demonstrate the existence of the general phenomenon of ‘‘land sparing,’’ by showing that cropland area has increased more slowly than population since 1970. However, they find relatively little evidence that intensification has gone further, by shrinking cropland and generating surplus ‘‘spared land,’’ and much of this evidence is linked to changes in trade patterns. Yet their article will prove important for introducing the concept of spared land into the literature, inspiring more research, and stimulating debate about how land sparing relates to existing theory. This commentary focuses on a key challenge they identify (the measurement of land sparing) and wider monitoring issues raised by it. It refers mainly to developing countries.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2009 16:16
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2015 17:31
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0912298107
Status: Published
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1073/pnas.0912298107
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10234

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