Monday, August 27, 2012

Food shortages may force world into vegetarianism, claim "experts"

We grow weary and suspicious when leading experts claim
that food supplies are near catastrophic shortages, and that the world's population will have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years.

Humans get about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050, according to research by some of the world's leading water scientists.

"There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations," so say Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said.

"There will be just enough water if the proportion of animal-based foods is limited to 5% of total calories and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a … reliable system of food trade."

Accepting a vegetarian diet will increase the amount of water available to grow more food in an increasingly climate-erratic world, the scientists said. Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet. One third of the world's arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals. Other options to feed people include eliminating waste and increasing trade between countries in food surplus and those in deficit.

"Nine hundred million people already go hungry and 2 billion people are malnourished in spite of the fact that per capita food production continues to increase," they said. "With 70% of all available water being in agriculture, growing more food to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 will place greater pressure on available water and land."

The report will be featured at the annual world water conference in Stockholm, Sweden, where 2,500 politicians, UN people and researchers from 120 countries get together to discuss global water and the world becoming vegetarians.

Wait, here it comes, the discussion about overeating  and waste is at fever pitch, and the threat of food production may face future constraints because of the lack of water.

"We will need a new recipe to feed the world in the future," said one of these guys.

"We've witnessed again and again what happens to the world's poor – the majority of whom depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and already suffer from water scarcity – when they are at the mercy of our fragile global food system," said Dr Colin Chartres, the director general.

Fine, we consider ourselves warned.

Chicken Little would be proud.