Peak Food

This is from yesterday’s i, by Tom Bawden Environment Editor:

“The world has entered an era of “peak food” production, with a vast array of staples … slowing in growth.
Research published in the journal Ecology and Society finds that the supply of 21 staples such as eggs, eat, vegetables and soybeans, is already beginnign to run out of momentum, while the global population soars.

Peak chicken production occured in 2006, whilne milk and what peaked in 1988, according to the research from Yale University, Michigan State University and Helmholts Centre for Environmental Research in Germany. Whatmakes this report particularly alarming is that so many crucial sources of food have peaked in a relatively short period, the researchers say.

“People often talk of substitution. If we run out of one substance we just substitute another. But if multiple resources are running out, we’ve got a problem,” said Jianguo Liu, of Michigan State.

Peak production refers to the point at which the growth in a food source begins to slow down, rather than the point at which production actually declines. However, it is regarded as a key signal that the momentum is being lost and it is typically only a matter oftime before production plateaus and, insome cases, begins to fall.

The peaking of crops and livestock comes against a background of a growing population, which is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, requiring the food to produce twice as much food as now, according to a study by the California academy of Sciences.”

This is pretty terrifying stuff, but pretty obvious really. There is only so much land for agriculture, and people keep having big families. What annoys me is that, as usual, the soaring population is seen as inevitable, whereas it is one of the few things that we as humans can control. In a rare glimmer of change, the pope recently said people should not breed like rabbits, that a family size of 3 is enough. No mention by him of how people should do this, as his church still condemns contraception, but it is a good start.

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