Water scarcity's effect on food production means radical steps will be needed to feed a population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, warns Stockholm International Water Institute
by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Leading water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying that the world's population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.
Humans derive about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050, according to research by some of the world's leading water scientists.
According to the scientists there will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations.
There will be just enough water if the proportion of animal-based foods is limited to 5% of total calories and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a … reliable system of food trade, say the scientists.
My comment to that must also be, I should think, that also the production of vegetables takes a great amount of water as does, and especially, the production of crops for bio-fuels and for crops such as cotton.
Adopting a vegetarian diet is one option to increase the amount of water available to grow more food in an increasingly climate-erratic world, the scientists said. Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet. One third of the world's arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals. Other options to feed people include eliminating waste and increasing trade between countries in food surplus and those in deficit.
However, if we are really that concerned about the water and the possible food shortages then we must get away from the notion and idea of growing crops for fuel production and reduce our motor vehicle use. But the powers that be in government and industry have no intention of doing and promoting that.
Vegetarianism is being tauted again and again as the savior of mankind but is it really? The answer is no. Humans do need, and yes, it is need, some animal materials and especially animal fats. The latter can be gotten from dairy products such as butter, of that I am aware, but there are also some vitamins and trace elements needed for proper development that can predominately only be found in animal products.
However, when I was growing up meat was reserved for, maybe, Sundays, if the money was there for it to be bought or if we had gotten hold of a rabbit or a pheasant or such. Otherwise it was very much reserved, as far as roast was concerned, as sausages and rashers of bacon came more often, for high holy days, and vegetables were the general order of the day.
People were healthier and fitter then but then again most people also did not have a television and McDonald's has not, as yet, arrived in England. Not all that many people did have cars then either and the bicycle was king as was walking (and buses and trains). Children played outside and did not sit in front of a TV, a computer or X-box, or such. But the diet too played a great part here, and much of it was vegetables but we were not, and that goes for most people, vegetarians.
It is also not agriculture that is the greatest, not even animal husbandry, user of water. It is us with our flush toilets and it is industry. Time to look at those issues a little closer.