Feeding the 9 Billion in Year 2050 Is a Great Challenge for Society

G&A's Sustainability Highlights (10.18.2019)
Oct 25, 2019 10:30 AM ET
Newsletter

The United Nations Population Prospects 2019 tells us that there will be nine billion souls to feed on this Good Earth by year 2050 (up from seven billion-plus of us today). The greatest growth will be in Asian nations (such as India, China) and on the African continent. 

There will be 4.7 billion people to feed in Asia and 4.3 billion in the nations of Africa. Latin America, North America and Europe combined will total but 1.8 billion. The 47 least-developed nations of the world are the fastest-growing (population) and the need to feed the world’s population bumps into the challenges as we work to reduce and eradicate poverty, promote more diversity, address the climate change crisis, improve healthcare and education, and find the money and political will to do all of this.

The numerous challenges implied in these projections include finding the available farmland & ranchland to grow the food that will be needed by the 9 billion; to do this even as cities expand and farmland shrinks as a result; to assure that the farmers, especially in less developed countries, are able to survive economically; to replace today’s farmers as the population of such workers ages; to increase protein sources as the middle classes continue to rise in many countries in Asia and Africa in rising the economies of local nations…and more!

Oh, and agriculture is a major factor in climate change with its carbon emissions, as well of use of (and often) degradation of ever-more land for growing crops.  Today’s example is burning the old growth Amazon forests (the “lungs of the Earth”) to make room for cattle ranches (more protein!) and palm oil plantations.

There have been encouraging developments related to farming -- some welcomed and some controversial.  Hydro-farming and rooftop farming in urban areas are considered a plus; advances in genetically-modified crops are both welcomed and condemned, depending on your geography or business interests or public policy point-of-view.  Fake meat is cheered in some quarters, condemned in others, even as leading meat companies and purveyors explore the breakthroughs to consider both risks and opportunities. 

The National Geographic Society has offered up a five-step plan to feed the world. Step One is to freeze agriculture’s footprint (ag is one of the major contributors to GhGs); Two, grow more on today’s farms; Three, use our resources more efficiently; Four, shift diets (meat in focus); Five, reduce waste.  NatGeo experts say these five steps could help to double the world’s food supplies while cutting the environmental impact of agriculture.  Click here to read more.

This issue we’ve aggregated food & agriculture-related content for your reading.  The three Top Stories are of interest, we think you’ll agree.

This is just the introduction of G&A's Sustainability Highlights newsletter this week. Click here to view the full issue.