Friday, June 05, 2015

World Environment Day - We can feed the world

We’re faced with feeding some 10 billion people by 2050 – we’re challenged to produce more food, put more pressure on water, land, oceans and entire ecosystems. If the current population and consumption trends continue, humanity will need the equivalent of two earths to support us all by 2030. By 2050 we’ll be using three planets worth of natural resources to maintain our ways of living. This mean it will take three years for the earth to regenerate the resources we use in one year.

By 2050 humanity could be devouring 140 billion tonnes of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year – three times its current rate – unless economic growth is decoupled from the rate of natural resources.

Our efforts to feed ourselves are a very clear example of this dysfunctional relationship between production and consumption. The fact of the matter is, the reason that some 800 million people go to bed hungry each night, is not because we do not produce enough food. Hunger's root cause is not the scarcity of food but poverty, itself linked to a spectrum of inequalities and revolving around questions of access – access to water, land and other productive resources, access to resources, income and markets as well as access to adequate social protection, FAODirector-General Jose Graziano da Silva said.

The UN Environment Program and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had both pointed out that at least one third, or 1.3 billion tonnes, of food produced is wasted each year. That corresponds to over 1.4 billion hectares of crop land. By way of comparison to provide perspective, Australia’s total crop land was 32 million hectares.

Most areas of the United States could feed between 80 to 100 percent of the local population with food grown or raised within 50 miles, says a study by the University of California, Merced. Researchers, who looked at farms near every major population center in the U.S. from 1850 to 2000, compared the potential calorie production to the city’s population to determine the percentage of regional population that could be fed, Ibarra wrote. Researchers, who said they expect data from 2000 to 2015 to yield similar results, said that large agricultural areas such as Merced, Fresno, and Sacramento have the farmland to feed 100 percent of their population, while a metro area like New York City could feed 5 percent of the population within 50 miles and 30 percent within 100 miles.

San Diego can support 35 percent of the people based on the U.S. diet. This jumps to 51 percent of the population if people switched to plant-based diets, the study showed.

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