Global greenhouse emissions, pollution, and abrupt climate change influence the amount of food we produce globally and lead to a drastic shortfall in the amount of food needed to sustain an estimated world population of 10 billion people in 2050 if humans do nothing to fix the situation.
A World Resources Institute white paper titled How to Sustainably Feed 10 Billion People by 2050 reveals there will be a dramatic reduction in the total amount of global crop calories needed to sustain the world’s population in less than three decades. According to the paper’s authors, three significant gaps will need to be closed to accommodate 10 billion appetites globally. These gaps include on the number of calories required to sustain the growing world population, the land necessary to adjust the increased required amount of food to supply 10 billion people, and the right balance of global agricultural emissions. Meaning that there will be a 56% food gap between the number of crop calories produced in 2010 versus the amount needed in 2050.
Making matters worse, we will need a landmass twice the size of India in 2050 to handle the expected 1.46 million acres agricultural expansion. With the vast growth, we will also need to see consistent and stabilized global temperature levels. “An 11-gigaton GHG mitigation gap between expected agricultural emissions in 2050 and the target level” will be “needed to hold global warming below 3.6°F, the level necessary for preventing the worst climate impacts.” In other words, the future of global food sustainability is looking pretty grim.
Global food waste is also a significant concern and could lead to a big problem. Food is not making it to the plate of the consumer in many cases.
“Approximately one-quarter of food produced for human consumption goes uneaten,” states the paper. “Loss and waste occurs all along the food chain, from field to fork.”
Furthermore, one of the major concerns is that competitors stifle food production from the bioenergy sector. On top of that, farmers are also growing crops for biofuel, which reduces the amount of landmass needed to provide enough food globally. The increased demand for bioenergy will also affect food crop production. Not to mention, farmers will be struggling to find the land needed to do both, resulting in an undesired outcome.
The staunch reality
Pulling no punches, the authors of the paper mention the need for depopulation in a roundabout way. The piece describes carefully how “most of the world is close to achieving replacement-level fertility by 2050,” indicating a population reduction, which means 2.1 children per woman. The contributors then continue to write that a reduced birth rate in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2050 “would close the land gap by one quarter and the GHG mitigation gap by 17 percent while reducing hunger.” (i.e., the report infers that population reduction is a solution)
The report concludes in theory that by decreasing global birth rates, the population will dwindle, and the overall planetary food supply will increase.
“Actions to take include achieving the three forms of social progress that have led all others to voluntarily reduce fertility rates: increasing educational opportunities for girls, expanding access to reproductive health services, and reducing infant and child mortality so that parents do not need to have as many children to ensure the survival of their desired number,” reads an excerpt from the report.
The future of our food and agriculture
Overall food requirements will increase over 50% as the global population grows to a projected 10 billion people in 2050. As the global population grows, so will the demand for food and farmland.
To no surprise, the world’s most prosperous and populous countries are the most significant contributors to the food sustainability crisis. Statistics show that the United States, China, Brazil, and India contribute 40% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are exacerbating the crisis. As a result, one thousand three hundred twenty acres of forest are destroyed per hour globally, which adds up to 30 million acres annually.
The unfortunate loss has prompted the Biden Administration to act on viable food sustainability strategies, including research and development of more plant-based meats, highly regeneratable plants, and agricultural methods. The Administration seeks to meet the food sustainability challenge with a series of actions that will bring together elements of the private and public sectors.
A Council on Foreign Relations report titled America’s New Challenge: Confronting the Crisis in Food Security highlights that the United States suffers from acute national challenges.
According to the report: “Estimates suggest 23 million people live in so-called “food deserts“—low-income areas with poor access to healthy food. The pandemic, which has led to over 50 million Americans facing food insecurity, has illustrated the weakness in our food system and supply chain resiliency. Americans in lower-income segments spend 30-40 percent of their income on food.” So this is why meeting the challenge of food sustainability is tough.
At the same time, China is expanding its Belt and Road Initiative plan globally, which connects China’s modern coastal cities to the country’s undeveloped interior and to Asian neighbors to help solidify China’s sustainability as a whole.
“The initiative has since outgrown its original regional corridors, expanding to all corners of the globe,” reports the CFR. “Its scope now includes a Digital Silk Road intended to improve recipients’ telecommunications networks, artificial intelligence capabilities, cloud computing, e-commerce, and mobile payment systems, surveillance technology, and other high-tech areas, along with a Health Silk Road designed to operationalize China’s vision of global health governance. Hundreds of projects around the world now fall under the BRI umbrella.”
With all that, we can see the direction things are heading when it comes to food sustainability. Food shortages will be a common theme over the next three decades or more as countries struggle to balance, which is all the more reason to be prepared for what’s to come.
Having the right attitude for survival is a must and having your survival priorities in order is critical. Learning to prep on a tight budget is an excellent way to build a decent food and water stockpile that can save your life and the lives of your loved ones in a time of crisis.