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Page added on September 25, 2012

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Global population is food for thought

PICK a number and forecast global growth population by 2060.You know that by 2050 it will be nine billon.

Exponentially that figure will increase to 10b by 2060, according to consultant Julian Cribb, author of The Coming Famine.

Mr Cribb told delegates at last week’s Global Agribusiness Conference the consequences of global population growth were dire considering the confluence of peak oil, peak water, peak fish, peak land and peak phosphorous.

“Major lakes are vanishing, rivers are drying up and it is forecast we will have serious water shortages in the 2030s,” he said.

“Each year more than 75 million tonnes of topsoil is being lost and the world will run out of good topsoil in 50 years.

“By 2050, 7.7b people will live in cities and the obvious question is who will feed them.

“Peak oil was in 2006 yet by 2030 there will be 1.2 billion vehicles on the planet and oil will be expensive.

“So what will fuel tractors?

“It will have to be alternative energy.

“We need to double food production with half the available land and no fossil fuels and with a downward trend in research and development spending.

“By the end of this century, grain won’t be the mainstay of food production.

“We will have to reinvent farming and a food system of low input eco-farming that also reinvents the global diet.

“Cities will have to be re-designed to recycle water, nutrients and energy.

“On the future farm there will be a major focus on soil biology and nutrient soil recycling and more farms will be developed in urban areas.

“Already buildings in some parts of the world are housing farms.”

According to Mr Cribb, fish farming, or aquaculture, will become bigger than the meat industry.

“Peak fish was reached in 2004 and what is being developed now are fish farms with fish feeding on algal blooms,” he said.

“Algae will become a big crop by 2050 supplying food, liquid fuels, plastics and chemicals in a $25b industry.

“There will be massive opportunities for farmers and in the next 40 years, agriculture can become the backbone of the country.

“There is a need to get the public fired up and a need to project agriculture as a positive.

“The challenge is for us to rethink food itself, how we produce it and the systems we use to process, distribute and deliver it and to create diets and foods for the future that are safe, healthy, nutritious and tread less heavily on the planet.”

Farm Weekly

7 Comments on "Global population is food for thought"

  1. BillT on Wed, 26th Sep 2012 1:20 am 

    Big Farm propaganda. They know there is no way to feed 7+ billion when oil goes. Maybe 1 billion if we are all back on family farms, raising our own.

  2. Wheeldog on Wed, 26th Sep 2012 1:49 am 

    Positive thinking does not guarantee positive results. In the case of feeding a population that reaches 9+ billion humans the likely solution will be massive die offs through hunger, disease and war. We are perched on the edge of a population cliff. That is reality – even if it is not positive thinking.

  3. ken Nohe on Wed, 26th Sep 2012 2:19 am 

    There will never be 9 bn+ people on the planet. Even if they are more and more crowded in cities, the footprint is growing and already well beyond sustainability. To allow this mindless expansion, we are destroying natural capital faster and faster. The result is that population will stabilize at a lower level than it could have with large scale human misery.

    Population control is a dirty word and policies which promote such ideas are condemned. Fine. We just have to wait then. It won’t be long. Two years in a row with lower yields for cereals will do wonders to focus our minds. Then it will take decades if we are reasonable, more likely years if we choose the war path but eventually the 22 century will be closer to a billion people than 10.

  4. kervennic on Wed, 26th Sep 2012 6:33 am 

    Eco farming, what a joke !

    Land prices are increasing like hell, farmers are driven off their lands. In europe banks loans only go to big farming.
    And big farms, to make profit need to pollute more and more.

    These people are like priests of the catholic church explaining to rich merchants that they should be poor to be like christ. But they will keep their money after the mass !

    We live in a real world, you do not change it by prayer, but by kicking out those companies. Political ways, activisms, pacifism, consulting,education, all this has failed big time.

    Like in 1789, hunger will be the problem solver,it usually wakes up agressivity in the most resignated people.

  5. Mike in Calif. on Wed, 26th Sep 2012 8:07 am 

    I can always rely on to cheer me up.

    But the commenters are right – the 21st Century will see a population collapse. It will play out differently in each country. It will not be a “fair” or proportional retraction.

    Contrary to what many believe, the US is ~materially~ well equiped for crisis. It is one of the world’s largest oil producers and enjoys a massive agricultural surplus. It has abundant coal reserves. With severe rationing the 5+ mbpd oil output could be directed to priority users. If kept supplied, US farmers could continue to grow plenty for domestic needs. Distribution could be emphasized and maintained if there were someone to direct it all. Of course, half the country would be unemployed, but at least they’d be fed.

    If only … a powerful central govt could coordinate it. Despite being massive, the tired, frail, corrupt and inflexible federal govt of the US will likely not survive a serious test to coordinate anything. Consequently, the US will probably experience a much larger contraction than its resources would suggest. I see no way out for the US.

    If the liberal cities are neglected they will riot and wreck what’s left of the fragile system. If draconian control is attempted, the conservative rural areas will rebel, shutdown distribution and cripple attempts to use those resources.

    It gets ugly in a place like Pakistan because it is primitive, resource poor, tribal and over-populated. It gets ugly in the US, not because of overall resource shortage, but because the govt is impotent, the people “multicultural”, the system complex and vulnerable, the ideologies split between city and countryside, and the “leaders” woefully corrupt.

  6. Science sans conscience on Wed, 26th Sep 2012 11:33 am 

    I would rather say that global population is food for population, because I believe that cannibalism could reappear in certain areas of the Third world. There will be no way to help countries like Niger in 2050.

  7. Kenz300 on Wed, 26th Sep 2012 1:54 pm 

    Over population is making every problem harder to solve and reducing population growth is the solution.

    Access to family planning services needs to be available to all that want it.

    The world adds 80 million more mouths to feed every year. This endless population growth is not sustainable.

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