Paul Cereghino wrote:
Hemenway points to european famine as evidence that Ag did not produce enought to feed. My understanding of the Irish potato famine is that it was socially derived... the Irish were exporting crops to their English overlords under the authority of the yeomans rifle straight through. This is not to say that annual Ag is not prone to instability (perhaps climate shift combined with use of marginal land is the bigger issue), but rather that the problems of Ag are not just ecological.
very true. the political and mean policies that led to the potato famine are outlined prety well on the wikipedia entry. saem thing for many of the african famine situations--its genocide or angry warlords that **** things up. The Rennasance flowered in no small part because of warmer temperatures making crops easier and more plentiful--people didn't have to work or starve so much so had more energy for creative thinking.
This is the most prevalent reason behind famine, as pointed out above - often or usually there is plenty of food but people are unable to get it because of poverty or other political reasons.