Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The price of food.

As much as I've been put out by the increases in food prices over the past few years, I'm not particularly surprised. Feeding the growing population of the globe doesn't appear to something that's on the mind or even in the general consciousness of a lot of people I know. Fair enough that most people aren't thinking about on a day to day basis, the world currently has enough food, though not as much as some people think we do. I do think more people should be aware that it's going to be an ever increasing problem over the next forty years or so.

Nobel Intent has a nice review of the panel from the UK's Government Office of Science: Future of Food and Farming: Challenges and Choices for Global Sustainability. It covered a few basic facts that I'm sure people are aware of in a peripheral sort of way, but don't seem to connect with things that are actually happening in their lives. Like the rising population. We're currently at roughly 7 billion people. Sometime round 2050 we are going to hit 9 billion. The amount of food that we produce is going to have to increase by 40-50% to be able to cope with that. And it's not all a matter of distribution. There are a variety of factors that interplay here. Yes, we've been able to increase food production over the last 40 years or so, but large amounts of that has been due to the use of methods that aren't necessarily sustainable. We can't really keep on pumping on more fertilizers and expect further increases in food supply. There have to be technological changes just to be able to produce sufficient quantities. There will have to be political changes to even out the distribution so that we don't get mass-famine. Global warming will have to be tackled, if we don't know roughly what the climate is going throw at farmers, production get even more difficult. Population control is going to have to be implemented somehow so that we don't go whooshing on past 9 billion and head on up to 10 or 11.

It's going to be a tricky next 50 years or so. Especially if people continue to not make the connection between what's happening globally and what's happening in their supermarket.

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