Saturday, December 5, 2015

Population, farms and wildlife

In the next 40 or so years we'll be adding another 2.5 billion people to the world.  That population growth won't happen around here - most developed nations are either just barely at replacement levels or are actually going to shrink in population, like Japan.
combining the corn while thinking about this.  gotta fix that windshield wiper
Our current agricultural system produces a surplus of everything that we need; we don't think about surplus or shortage in america because we're very used to every kind of food available at all times from all over the world, but in a very real sense even though we have a surplus now, there's some hints that the surplus might be getting smaller as time goes by.

Take the decline in global rice stocks as an example.  over the last 3 years we've had a deficit in rice production.  More rice has been consumed than produced.  Now rice, and corn, and beans and every other type of crop, has good seasons and bad -- we had a record corn harvest in the USA this year, for instance, so there's no worries that your corn chips will dissapear -- in fact, they might even get cheaper, but we have no where near the amount of food being produced today that will be required to feed another 2.5 billion mouths.

We'll need either crops that are much better than current varieties, or we'll need more acreage, or we'll need both.  The expected growth in standard-of-living of very large countries like china or india also will probably change their eating habits.  Meat is a popular food for people who can afford it, and more and more people can afford it.  A pound of pork is at least 5lbs of feed, and when people start moving up the dietary scale, the amount of grain required also increases.

I'd rather see us get more efficient per-acre than to choose to add more acres, to the detriment of what wildlife remains on the earth.  And that's a choice that we're going to have to conciously make worldwide, because I think that any arable land will be put into use in the next few decades, that being the easiest way to increase our production.

There's currently a debate about GMO and herbicides and pesticides and very large corporations that control things like seeds and fertilizers -- and while those issues are important, I think that they are a distraction from the real effort that must be made to be able to handle the people who are coming.

1 comment:

ellie k said...

Here in Florida the citrus trees are in great danger, fruit and juice will go up a lot this year. A small insect boring in to the trees are slowing killing the trees, it's called greening. My kids run a large grove and have lost about 5000 trees this year. It is a great loss
Not only money but emotional some of the trees were 20years or so.