Hope for a hungry planet A four-fold strategy to combat world hunger and environmental degradation
By Deane Morrison
We all like to eat. But it's an expensive habit.
Agriculture has already consumed nearly 40 percent of the world's land (not counting Greenland or Antarctica), and still a billion people--one-seventh of the world's population--suffer chronic hunger.
With more than 2 billion more on the way by 2050, rising demands for biofuels and a meat-rich diet, and virtually no arable land left, our planet faces an unprecedented challenge, according to a University of Minnesota-led research team's analysis in the current issue of the journal Nature.
Drawing on all available data, the researchers put forth four core strategies that, taken together, would go a long way toward feeding today's population, meeting the growing demands for food coming from population growth and higher per-capita consumption, and halting the environmental degradation that has gone hand in hand with expanding agriculture.
"Addressing this triple challenge will be one of the most important tests humanity has ever faced," says Jonathan Foley, director of the University's Institute on the Environment and first author on the Nature paper. "And it is fair to say that how we face this test will determine the fate of our civilization.