Vegetarianism will likely be the only option for most of the world’s population by the year 2050, due to dwindling water and land resources, according to a recent report published by Swedish water scientists.
As the world’s population burgeons to around 9 billion in the next 40 years, there will not be enough resources or space to raise livestock to produce meat and dairy products. The current production and eating habits would end up creating a disastrous food shortage for the world, the Stockholm International Water Institute, or SIWI, said in its report.
The report said that currently “nearly one billion people still suffer from hunger and malnourishment” even though there is more food than ever before, highlighting the waste and inefficiency of current modes of production.
It stressed that with severe agricultural challenges and water management issues, the world’s leaders need to “think differently” and focus on innovative ways to handle the problem.
The scientists noted that addressing hunger and feeding the world’s people is an immensely complicated situation, but said it boils down mainly to energy and water, which as they noted, need to be regarded as finite and not as free resources for the world’s food production.
Droughts in northern Africa have created a food shortage for millions of people in the region, while droughts in the United States are also set to drive the world’s food prices up by the end of the end of the year and next year.
“The analysis showed that there will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in Western nations,” which have populations that eat high quantities of meat, SIWI’s report said.
“There will, however, be just enough water” for people to comprise 5 percent of their diet with animal-based foods, including meat and dairy, the report’s authors added. Currently, humans get around 20 percent of their calories from animal-based protein.
Even if the world switches over to a primarily plant-based diet, it is still unclear if that will be enough to avert a catastrophic food shortage.
SIWI stressed that governments must deal with the waste of food and improve upon the food-production system that is currently implemented.
The U.N. released a report in June that said agriculture consumes 70 percent of the world’s freshwater supply, most of which is from meat and dairy production, which also consumes 38 percent of the world’s land use, and produces 19 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases.
The SIWI’s report was released ahead of the annual conference held in Stockholm this week, where over 2,500 delegates, NGO groups, scientists, and others converge to discuss matters related to water scarcity and management.
In a recent report, aid agency Oxfam said that the world’s poorest people will face an unmitigated disaster over skyrocketing food prices because the food system is flawed.
“Policy-makers have taken cheap food for granted for nearly 30 years. Those days are gone,” it said and added that governments must end “the obscene waste of food including burning it as biodiesel in our trucks and cars.”
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