perfect storm, food storage
The world's population is growing, food supplies are diminishing, water supplies are becoming more scarce, the ice caps are melting, prices are rising. Things one could argue, are looking bleak - and it looks like they'll be looking bleaker.
According to Sir John Beddington, the UK government's chief scientific adviser, all these factors will come together to form a 'perfect storm' disaster in the year 2030.
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In 21 years time, the world's population will have increased by a third, rising to 8 billion people. In response, demand for food will increase by 50 percent, water by 30 percent and energy by 50 percent.
All these factors will come together to create a problem much more serious than the sum of its parts.
Speaking at the GovNet SDUK09 event, Professor Sir John Beddington said,
"Can we cope with the demands in the future on water? Can we provide enough energy? Can we do all that, while mitigating and adapting to climate change? And can we do all that in 21 years' time?"
It's a sobering thought.
Countries like India and China are becoming increasingly developed and as such, the diet of their populations are changing. Whereas before their diets were rice and vegetable based, increased prosperity will lead to the population spending more on meat and dairy products, which will take more energy to produce than simple vegetable crops.
The increase in population will also mean that food supplies will be stretched, whilst more people move to the cities for work and housing. This will inevitably lead to more energy being needed, water supplies being stretched and less people working in the agriculture industry.
The University of Kassel in Germany have predicted with 'future water mapping' that large areas of the globe will suffer 'extreme stress' when it comes to supplying fresh water to people. North Africa, the mid-west of the USA, the Middle East and huge parts of China will all be unable to supply the water needed for the population as well as agriculture.
Water will also be needed to nurture bio-fuel crops. To combat the negative effects of fossil fuels, more and more governments are turning to bio-fuels. However, the problem with products such as ethanol is they need huge areas of land to grow the corn or bio-feed needed to make the fuel. This is often land that could be used for growing other crops.
The wild-card on whether this all comes to pass is 'climate change'.
Despite the efforts of many countries to reduce their emission output, the ice-caps are still melting, global temperatures are still rising and the ecology of the entire planet is changing.
This year saw temperamental monsoons all through Asia and this will get worse if the situation continues. Entire harvests could die from lack of rain, or even too much rain, and with the planet's population a few years away from hitting 7 billion, this is a major concern.
Sir John Beddington isn't alone in this presumption, Professor David Pink of Warwick University said, "All these things are coming together. There is some argument over population growth but the bottom line is that it's going up and food supply is going to be more of a problem. It is going to become a problem feeding the world, the question is how big a problem."
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