Julian Cribb & Associates Discussion Paper
A Discussion Paper on the constraints to global food production in an overpopulated, affluent and resource-scarce world: the scientific challenge of the era, by Professor Julian Cribb. (Note that this paper was written nearly four years ago – in Jan. 2008).
Barring nuclear wars, pandemics and cosmic accidents, there will be about 9.3 billion people living in the world of 2050 – but they will eat as much food as 13 billion people at today’s nutritional levels.
However key indicators affecting global food security now point downhill:
· surface water availability to agriculture is contracting due to city demand
· groundwater is in decline everywhere
· the arable land area is shrinking
· soil loss is increasing
· applied nutrients are far exceeded by losses
· agricultural research is in decline worldwide
· marine harvests are dwindling
· biofuels are replacing food crops
Worldwide, groundwater is running out at an alarming rate, especially in regions using it to grow food. Examples include:
• China: water tables falling by >3 metres /yr
• India: 26 million wells = 200 cu kms/year, levels falling by 2-3 metres/year
• USA: 70 cu kms/year – levels fallen by 100-200m in Arizona
• Libya: “Great Man-Made River” already falling
• Australia: groundwater levels falling / water is ‘double allocated’.
The Coming Famine