Humanity faces major challenges in feeding the world – but we should not underestimate our capacity to innovate to deal with crises, according to the keynote speaker broadcaster and author Fareed Zakaria.
“The point I am trying to make is not that we haven’t gone through terrible crises, but that we always somehow find a way to recover,” he said.
Zakaria said that there had been many economic papers over the centuries predicting an imminent shortfall in food supply, even in highly developed nations, but often these have failed to take humanity’s capacity for innovation into account. He pointed in particular to the 18th century scholar Robert Malthus’s prediction that Britain’s population growth would outpace its ability to produce food.
“What Malthus didn’t appreciate was that, far from starving, people respond, and Britain ended up exporting food,” he said.