Today’s global food system is highly complex and interconnected–small, seemingly unremarkable developments can be the fuse that result in cataclysmic change around the world. Our global food chain can link seemingly disparate events–such as a drought in a food exporting region to political unrest in another–thousands of miles away. Over the next few weeks, we’ll dive into a series of powerful charts and graphs to convey the causes of food insecurity and the need for proactive solutions.
Food and the Planet
In the first of a series of charts about the global food system, we’ll explore the relationship between natural resources, climate, and food security.
Climate change and the growing human population are working against global food security. Climate change is warming and acidifying our oceans, causing droughts and other extreme weather events, and degrading the quality of arable land. At the same time, our growing population demands more resources than the planet can provide. Ironically, our quest to produce more food is exacerbating climate change and resource scarcity today and could ultimately contribute to food insecurity tomorrow.
The world population continues to grow…
The UN estimates that our planet will have to support 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. We have a finite amount of resources on the planet, and we’re already depleting those resources at a rapid pace. The global footprint of the average European or American is 10-20 acres per person. At those rates, those resources become unsustainable when coupled with expected population growth.
Feeding a growing planet has a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions…
In order to feed our growing planet, we’re producing significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. In the aggregate, human activity is boosting greenhouse gas emissions—and agriculture is the second largest contributor.
And, the increase in greenhouse gas emissions has impacts for food production.
The increase in greenhouse gas emissions has caused the planet to heat up. The global surface temperature has been steadily climbing since 1880, with strong repercussions for our ability to grow food.
Our next series of charts will explore the impacts of climate change on the global food system and our ability to feed our planet well into the future.