As the world continues to face a myriad of environmental crises, it is important to frequently reassess one important question: how are climate change and human factors affecting our global food supply?
Sadly, however, more often than not, we tend to throw the topic of food scarcity high on the shelf of irrelevance, branding it as an issue that hardly applies to most of us, or that will somehow magically disappear as technological and engineering advancements shape our world.
Nonetheless, the harsh reality paints a strikingly different picture; one that we hope will call us to act by engraving in the canvas of our minds a coat of the staggering yet undeniable facts surrounding the issue.
As consumers, it is important to be well informed and understand how food scarcity and other issues such as poverty and energy demands are interconnected on a global scale. In addition, it is equally important to understand how they often contradict each other is noticeable ways.
In the UK, for example, governments have introduced a special feed-in tariff which essentially discourages citizens from growing crops and pursuing sustainable farming of their own, thus encouraging them to grow non-food crops to be used for biofuels. This precisely outlines why the food scarcity issue is so complex: As our global population continues to grow at staggering rates, rural areas are being increasingly transformed into industrial or urban landscapes, and the propensity of available, arable land is becoming increasingly limited.
Moreover, the long-standing institution of ‘the business of food’ appears to be at a tipping point in its history, as rising food prices threaten to put countless more lives below the global poverty line within coming years.
In fact, the global food crisis is more of a vertex for many smaller yet equally vital problems in the way we do agriculture today. Firstly, the diminishing nutritional content of food in an industrialized society is now often unable to meet the essential nutritional requirements of the global community. Secondly, intensive farming and water shortages are compromising the integrity and productivity of long-fertile soils. Thirdly, global climactic changes are expected to bring even drier periods and increased sanitation woes.
Indeed, the way we do agriculture needs to change, and here’s how: we must begin to see a paradigm shift towards more natural and local methods of farming, taking into account the specific farming practises of the land and introducing changes slowly so as not to risk loss of crops through experimentation.
Moreover, we must put increased emphasis on the protection of natural resources. In the USA for example, there was a six-fold increase in water consumption for only a two-fold increase in population. It is clear that with facts such as these, food and water scarcity are truly global issues.
Global movements have already begun, such as the UN’s Global Water Conservation Initiative, which has attracted massively influential corporations such as Coca Cola and Levi Strauss to commit to water conservation in all aspects of their operations.
Though some of these problems may seem overwhelming, we must be confident that the human spirit is stronger yet, and remember to do more with less as we move ahead to make the world a better place for all.