The current global population is 7.2 billion (America’s now surpassing 300 million), and is predicted to reach 9.6 billion by 2050.
The demands that will be placed on farming and agriculture during that time will become too extreme, given that we’re already currently struggling to meet food demands. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2050 global agriculture production needs to increase by 60-110% to provide food security.
But new research from the University of Minnesota, published in PLOS ONE, has found that global crop yields are not increasing at a rate fast enough to meet the booming global food demand.
These findings support the UN’s prediction that there will be 250 million environmental refugees searching for food by 2050. And it’s the next generation who are going to get the full effects of it, unless we do something about it today.
The study looked at agriculture statistics from across the world, and found that yields of four key crops- maize, rice, wheat and soybean- will only increase by 38-67% by 2050.
“Clearly, the world faces a looming agricultural crisis, with yield increases insufficient to keep up with projected demands,” says Jon Foley, Institute on the Environment director and study co-author. Furthermore, the top three countries producing rice and wheat have the lowest increase in crop yields. And in some countries the crop yields are even declining.
Lead author Deepak Ray told PLOS ONE, “Particularly troubling are places where population and food production trajectories are at substantial odds. For example in Guatemala, where the corn-dependent population is growing at the same time corn production is declining.”
The Good News
Despite the current food forecast, we’re still pretty lucky because we’ve been given a head start. We’ve got the data. We’ve got the knowledge in the here and now. We know that unless we become more resourceful, the future we create for our children and our children’s children will be very dire.
And the good news is it’s never too late to make amends:
Spread the word to minimize food demand
We need to raise awareness about the food shortage issue. The aim is to boost current crop yields through better use of current arable lands and best management practices. We absolutely don’t want to clear more land for crops, given that the expansion of agriculture accounts for 90% of deforestation each year, worldwide.
Reduce food waste footprint
40% of food produced never makes it to anyone’s plate, despite America producing twice as much food necessary to feed each person each year. If we can better use this food, then less needs to be produced.
If you haven’t already, consider a diet that’s not high in red-meat. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization states livestock is currently “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”
In fact, consuming a protein rich diet from eating animals uses 20 times more water than a vegetarian diet does.
And let’s not forget the bad health impacts of eating red meat excessively.
Or why not give Meat-Free Mondays a try. It’s a growing movement that encourages us to go vegetarian on Mondays at least, and is supported by the likes of Paul McCartney (founder) and Gwyneth Paltrow.