Growing Food for Nine Billion by Year 2050
AAs the world’s population increases from 6.9 million people today to 9.1 billion by the year 2050, demands on agricultural production will increase. With both land and water resources being depleted on an ongoing basis, the need to increase our food supplies is a real challenge that can be met only through more productive and sustainable agriculture. Food insecurity is directly connected to the earth’s land and water resources.
Land distribution: “The global land area is 13.2 billion hectares. Of this, 12 percent (1.6 billion ha) is currently in use for cultivation of agricultural crops, 28 percent (3.7 billion ha) is under forest, and 35 percent (4.6 billion ha) comprises grasslands and woodland ecosystems” (The State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture, FAO 2011).
Water resources: The world’s total water supply is about 332.5 million cubic miles of water; 97% is saline (96.5% oceans, 0.07% saline lakes & 0.93% saline groundwater) while only the remaining 2.5% is freshwater. Over 68% out of the 2.5% freshwater is locked up in ice and glaciers while 30.1% is in the ground. The balance is the fresh surface-water sources, such as rivers and lakes, which constitute only about 1/150th of one percent of total water. Yet, rivers and lakes are the sources of most of the water people use every day http://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycle.html.
Climate changes & atmospheric CO2
ACarbon dioxide has increased by about 24% since 1958 (Source: NOAA, http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html). The global concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere – the primary driver of recent climate change – has reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in recorded history. There are three ways in which the CO2 effect may be important for agriculture. First, increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations can have a direct effect on the growth of crop plants and weeds. Secondly, CO2-induced changes of climate may alter levels of temperature, rainfall and sunshine that can influence plant productivity. Finally, rises in sea level may lead to loss of farmland by increasing salinity of groundwater in coastal areas http://climate.nasa.gov/400ppmquotes/.