By Joern Fischer
Just a few days ago, I posted something on how different kinds of framing change what you believe ought to be done in a given setting. I’ve just stumbled into a nice example of this, and I thought I’d share this with the readers of this blog. Do we need to double agricultural production by 2050 or not?
Citing Tilman (2002, Nature), many papers start by stating the “need” to double production by 2050. Alternatively, authors could cite Tilman & Clark (2014, Nature) – who state that if we changed our diets to less or no meat consumption, we would have a much lower environmental impact. And we’d need less land for agriculture.
Which shall we assume? That demand will inevitably double, by a larger, more carnivorous human population? Or that demand will less than double, because diets can be altered? Our policy advice will differ, depending on which world we assume: we will either recommend producing more, or eating less meat.
So next time you cite one of the many great Tilman papers — check your assumptions, and perhaps cite the other one!