Farming For Our Future November 29, 2012Posted by acroanmph in Global Health, Public Health.
Tags: Agriculture, Climate change, Farming, Food, Global health, Public health, Renewable resources, Sustainability, Transitional Farming, Water
We’re on track to deplete the earth of it’s ability to produce food.
Global crop land increased by 12% but agricultural production by 150% over the last 50 years. We’ve managed to keep barely ahead of the curve for overall food production. But not sustainably. The projected world population growth will pass 9 billion by 2050, and that means an increase in food production by 70% and better methods of distribution to meet the food security demand.
Agriculture’s continued dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels for production/fertilizer/irrigation, machinery, processing, transportation, packaging and marketing has direct and unsustainable consequences for farmlands. A recent United Nations study indicates that “all continents are experiencing land degradation, with particularly high incidence along the west coast of the Americas, across the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe and North Africa, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, and throughout Asia. The greatest threat is the loss of soil quality, followed by biodiversity loss and depletion of water resources.”
Farmed animals consume 70% of the grains produced on U.S. farms. Droughts have already caused food riots and war in recent years. Irrigation currently accounts for 70% of all water use and 19% of farm energy use in the U.S. Once groundwater sources are depleted, the amount of land available for cultivation will diminish substantially. Groundwater levels of the North China plains have declined to the point where rice production, which accounts for 90% of water usage there, are overexploited and now scarce.
Maintaining and improving ecosystems, including coastal habitats and oceans is also critical, as TIME reports
“The world has ignored the ominous constellation of factors that now make feeding humanity sustainably our most pressing task – even in times of economic and climatic crisis,” writes Professor Cribb. But Professor Cribb isn’t the only scientist clamoring for politicians to take climate change seriously. In a recent study by the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, it warned of a potential mass extinction as the number of ocean dead zones – waters starved of oxygen – increase at an accelerating pace. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research also put out a study that shows the increasing likelihood of frightening changes to rainfall, water supplies, weather systems, sea levels and crop harvests by the end of the century.
Progress exists somewhat in alternative forms of energy– nuclear, coal, wind and solar–but none produce liquid fuels. Countries gather regularly to discuss these impending changes, but have yet to enact solutions on the largest crop lands.
Pickards Mountain Eco-Institute, a Chapel Hill, NC educational farm and sustainability living center, was established by Tim Toben, an eco-revolutionary who believes sustainability will require more personal responsibility and that farms will be plentiful in rural areas by 2050 as Americans minimize their grandiose lifestyles out of necessity. This transitional farming is self-sustaining and, he believes, is likely to become the new American Dream.
What kind of connection do you want to have with your food? Will you make any changes to help ensure our planet is able to produce enough food for us in the next decades? Would you live in a cob cottage or stop eating industrial meat in order to preserve the land?
The Future of Farming: Eight Solutions For a Hungry World (www.popsci.com)
The Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (www.peakoil.net)
Regreening Africa (www.thenation.com)
Children of Our Fields (www.acroan.com)
Hidden Hunger in the Heartland (www.acroan.com)