Monday, January 19, 2015

The Challenge for Humanity

By 2050, the world would need 60 per cent more food, 50 per cent more energy and 40 per cent more water stated by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) director-general Jose Graziano da Silva. The increasing competition for natural resources and emerging resource bottlenecks mean that global agriculture can no longer operate using a business as usual approach. The input-intensive agricultural development model used for the past 40 years is no longer sustainable, and a shift in food production is needed.

Graziano da Silva said, “Business as usual would mean a huge and simultaneous increase in the need for food, energy and water in the coming decades. The estimates point to the need to increase food production by 60 per cent by 2050 to feed a population that will top the nine-billion mark.” He added, “To address the challenge of feeding more people while using less land, water and energy, concerted efforts and investments are needed to support a widespread, globe-spanning transition to sustainable farming systems and land management practices.”

“Climate change and increasing competition between food and non-food agricultural products such as bioenergy have made the challenges of feeding the future more complex,” stated the FAO chief. “We need to move from the food versus fuel debate to a food and fuel debate. There is no question - food comes first.”

Some facts
1.      Solid waste generation will likely reach and exceed 11 million tonnes per day by 2100, says urban specialist Dan Hoornweg.
2.      Such growth eventually will peak and decline in different regions. This is because over 6 billion people are expected to live in cities by then.
3.      Until such time, the vastly rising amount of waste and the cost of this impact – means escalating costs for governments and environmental pressures. These costs ultimately will be spread to consumers as tax payers.
4.      Half of all food produced annually ends up as waste. This is about 2 billion tonnes that through efficient and innovation repackaging and distribution, can be delivered safely to the needy.
5.      This in turn means that half of all water, manpower, energy, capital and costs of distribution have been wasted. What is amazing about this particular statistic that ranges between 30 – 50 percent is that this food never reaches the plate.
6.      In the UK up to 30 percent of vegetable crops are not harvested due to their failure to meet retailers’ exacting standards on physical appearance. Half of all food that is bought in Europe and the US is thrown away by consumers.
7.      If we are to average this statistic across the world, (which may not be far off) – then up to 75 percent of all global food production is wasted.
8.      Up to 550bn cubic metres of water globally is wasted on growing crops that never reach the consumer.
9.      A carnivorous diet exerts additional pressure as it takes 20-50 times the amount of water to produce 1 kilogramme of meat than 1kg of vegetables.
10.  Demand for water in food production is likely to reach 10–13 trillion cubic metres a year by 2050.

Food security is one of the world's most pressing long-term social challenges. Mankind has been challenged before but this time we are challenged by our actions. The possibility to find solutions still exist but it means ending the system, not reform of it.

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