Frequently Asked Questions

 

Here’s some of the questions we get asked more frequently about our work:

What is ALLFED’s mission?

To increase the preparedness, readiness (knowledge, resources, technology) of world bodies, governments, corporations, NGOs/people to be able to feed everyone in the event of a global catastrophe.

How likely is it that a global catastrophe will occur?

That depends on the type of catastrophe: based on current research there is an estimated 10% chance of a complete loss of food production capability this century. The UK Government also estimates that there is a 80% chance of floods and droughts on multiple continents causing a 10% global shortfall of food production capability this century. As of January 2017, the bulletin of Atomic Scientists doomsday clock is set at 2 ½ minutes to midnight and they estimate that “The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.”

Has a global catastrophe ever come close to wiping out humankind?

Yes, the eruption of the Toba supervolcano 74,000 years ago in what is today Indonesia is believed to have reduced the world’s human population down to as few as 2,000 adults. How do we know that? Because of what scientists call a genetic bottleneck. The genetic variation among humans is much smaller than would normally be expected.

If we have a backup plan, won’t we work less hard to prevent the catastrophes?

Prevention of these catastrophes is the best outcome. But not having a backup plan is like saying we shouldn’t have emergency medical technicians or the jaws of life because people might drive more recklessly.

If a catastrophe does not happen, wouldn’t all this work be wasted?

This is just like insurance. Do you consider home, health or car insurance to be wasted just because nothing bad has happened yet? No. You keep purchasing it every year because you want to be able to effectively deal with whatever life may throw at you. The work we’re doing is the same. We want to make sure as many people as possible can survive and thrive if a catastrophe strikes. Also, there is about a 9 in 10 chance this century of one of these catastrophes. Looking further out, it is almost guaranteed that we will have one of these catastrophes.

We are also looking into ways that this research could be beneficial in smaller disasters or refugee crises. Furthermore, turning waste into food is environmentally beneficial.

 

If we cannot feed people adequately today, how can you claim that we could feed everyone even if the sun is blocked?

Right now, we produce plenty enough food to feed everyone, but the problems include politics and economics. We claim that it is technically feasible to feed everyone even if the sun is blocked. In reality, we may not achieve that goal, but we will still save many more lives than without alternate foods and likely prevent the collapse of civilization.

Are you an Effective Altruist-aligned organisation?

Yes, we align with the principles of effective altruism, that is using reason and evidence to do the most good.

How do we feed everyone in the event of a global catastrophe that impacts food supply?

We have developed a number of innovative food solutions that do not depend on sunlight, and instead depend on dead plants or fossil fuels. Our current focus is on encouraging planning and preparedness and furthering research into food solutions.

Can we really make food from leaves?

When we talk about food from dead leaves the first thing most people often think of is leaves falling off trees in the autumn, but those leaves have little nutrition that can be easily extracted (though they can be fed to cows, sheep, goats, horses, and rabbits). Dead leaves from trees that have been killed by an event that blocks the sun are another matter entirely. Leaves can be ground up and squeezed out. The liquid is boiled and the residue that floats to top is removed and this has high food value for people.

 

Can’t we just store the food we need?

Storing some food for emergencies is always a good idea as long as we recognize that global catastrophes often involve time frames of years, not days and weeks or even months. However the more food you can store away the more time that gives for alternate foods to be scaled up. The key is to avoid panic which is essential if we want civilization to survive. It would cost tens of trillions of dollars to store up enough food for everyone for five years.

Can I be involved? If so, where do I start?

Part of our mission is to develop an alliance of people and organisations interested in this work. Please contact us and tell us about yourself or your organisation and how we could work together. We’d love to hear from you.

 

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