Impending Crisis: Earth to Run Out of Food by 2050?

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Activist in Cancun

REUTERS/Gerardo Garcia

Is the earth running out of food? That’s what scientists warned if the world leaders don’t act now and negotiate food security policies at this week’s Climate Change talks in Cancun, reports the New Zealand Herald.

In a new book, The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It, Professor Julian Cribb argues a catastrophic global food shortage will hit by mid-century. His predictions paint a glum picture of the perfect storm that could threaten the lives of hundreds of millions of people: Populations will grow to 9.2 billion by 2050 and in turn double today’s global food requirement and outstrip growth in food output.  Combined with unpredictable extreme weather patterns, droughts will haunt those most vulnerable and lead to crop failures, food riots and war.  Food prices will inevitably spike with a rising demand for protein foods such as meat, milk, fish and eggs. Growing shortages of water and less productive land to yield crops will further hinder the world’s future food production.

(See the World’s Top 10 Endangered Exports)

“The world has ignored the ominous constellation of factors that now make feeding humanity sustainably our most pressing task – even in times of economic and climatic crisis,” writes Professor Cribb. But Professor Cribb  isn’t the only scientist clamoring for politicians to take climate change seriously. In a recent study by the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, it warned of a potential mass extinction as the number of ocean dead zones – waters starved of oxygen – increase at an accelerating pace.  The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research also put out a study that shows the increasing likelihood of frightening changes to rainfall, water supplies, weather systems, sea levels and crop harvests by the end of the century.

(Read the World’s Growing Food Price Crisis)

With little chance world leaders from 193 countries gathering in Cancun this week will come to any legal agreement, scientists like Cribb warn that the stakes are high, time is running out and it will be both rich and poor countries who will suffer from the long term impact of climate change leaving millions to go hungry by 2050.

(See Photos of Southern Africa’s Harsh Climate)