Charles Mann on the Challenge of Feeding 10 Billion People

An excerpt in the Atlantic from Charles Mann’s new book, The Wizard and The Prophet: Can Planet Earth Feed 10 Billion People?

What the C4 Rice Consortium is trying to do with rice bears the same resemblance to typical genetically modified crops as a Boeing 787 does to a paper airplane. Rather than tinker with individual genes in order to monetize seeds, the scientists are trying to refashion photosynthesis, on the most fundamental processes of life.

David S. Han writes about whether we need to restrict 1st Amendment protections in light of recent terrorist activity.

But as our history has shown, any protection—a decision that may not easily be reversible—calls for epistemic humility and cautious incrementalism. Adhering to narrow strict scrutiny analysis as an intermediate step to more far-reaching doctrinal revision helps to ensure that any such broad revision is the product of substantial deliberation and made at a sober distance, rather than a knee-jerk response driven by the often distorted perceptions of the present moment.

I only recently discovered Dan Wang’s blog, but I’ve bookmarked it as a new favorite. I particularly enjoyed this post, Violence and the Sacred: College as an incubator of Girardian terror.

Yeah, I didn’t know what that meant either until I read the post. But the gist is that it’s a bad idea to put similarly situated people in the same place and make them compete over the same things.