The 9-billion people question? It’s not space we need.

Last week, The Economist Magazine published an extensive series of articles with the summary title of “The 9-billion people question: A special report on feeding the world.” The articles examine what is going to be required to feed more than two billion additional people by 2050, a question being looked at by more than just the people in agriculture producing the food.

The Beyond the Rows blog pulled a few selected quotes from the report’s introduction:

  • “At the start of 2011 the food industry is in crisis. World food prices have risen above the peak they reached in early 2008.”
  • “The end of the era of cheap food has coincided with growing concern about the prospects of feeding the world. Around the turn of 2011-12 the global population is forecast to rise to 7 billion, stirring Malthusian fears. The price rises have once again plunged into poverty millions of people who spend more than half their income on food.”
  • “Because food is so important, agriculture—more than any other form of economic activity—is expected to achieve a series of competing and overlapping goals that change over time and from place to place. The world looks to farmers to do more than just produce food. Agriculture is also central to reducing hunger (which is not quite the same thing) and provides many people’s main route out of poverty.”
  • “It (this report) points out that although the concerns of the critics of modern agriculture may be understandable, the reaction against intensive farming is a luxury of the rich. Traditional and organic farming could feed Europeans and Americans well. It cannot feed the world.”

The article also includes some great reports and sources (that you can view without a subscription to the Economist) on meeting calories and nutrients for people, how much is enough food, how simply using more of everything to produce more food will not work, and more. Check out here for more on this topic.

Also, National Geographic looked at this topic as well, but it’s interesting to see it from a non-ag view. We don’t take up as much space as you’d think….If all 7 billion people in the world stood shoulder-to-shoulder, we’d take up the space of the city of Los Angeles.
So it’s not space we need…it’s food, clean water, resources, energy….balance.

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