Can We Grow More Food in 50 Years Than in All of History?
Science Leader Says Population and Global Warming Make the Job Hard
By NED POTTER
Oct. 5, 2009 —
How dire is the world's situation? So bad, says a leading Australian scientist, that the world will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than we have in the thousands of years since civilization began.
There have been dark predictions -- mostly wrong -- of worldwide food shortages before.
But this one comes from Megan Clark, the head of Australia's national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or CSIRO. Clark is hardly a wild-eyed extremist; she is a former mining executive.
In a speech in Canberra last week, Clark said growing population will cause exponentially-rising demand, and a warming climate will make the challenge more difficult.
"It is hard for me to comprehend that in the next 50 years we will need to produce as much food as has been consumed over our entire human history," she said.
In her Canberra speech, Clark said the difficulty will grow as more and more people move to cities and as a warming climate makes it more difficult to grow more crops.
There are others who say such worries are overblown, and that because of genetic engineering and other advances, there will not be vast increases in the numbers of the world's hungry.
Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist" and "Cool It," has argued that there are really much more pressing priorities, such as disease. Read More
It’s not climate change, it’s not a lack of technology and it’s not too many people that will cause starvation in this world. The determining factor of whether or not we can grow enough food for everyone to eat is if society will give us the public license to utilize and develop the technology necessary to make it happen. If America’s farmers and ranchers are given the tools, we will be able to continue as the breadbasket of the world and keep hunger at bay. On the other hand, if our society chooses to abandon the use of livestock for food and refuse to accept new varieties of crops then starvation is something that we will have to learn to live with. It’s a rather simple choice. You can be for or against starvation.