Should the human race be listed as an endangered species? According to a new scientific model, that may be the case—particularly if we don’t get a better grip on our food supply. The research suggests massive food shortages could collapse society within the next three decades.
The model comes from a research team out of Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute in the UK, and follows a report from Lloyds of London.
According to the research, if humanity stays on its current course with regards to food and agricultural policies, worldwide consequences could be devastating. Dr. Aled Jones, the Director of the Global Sustainability Institute, told Insurge Intelligence: "We ran the model forward to the year 2040, along a business-as-usual trajectory based on ‘do-nothing’ trends — that is, without any feedback loops that would change the underlying trend.
"The results show that based on plausible climate trends, and a total failure to change course, the global food supply system would face catastrophic losses, and an unprecedented epidemic of food riots.
"In this scenario, global society essentially collapses as food production falls permanently short of consumption."
The Lloyds of London report also found that the global food supply system is immensely stressed: "The global food system is under chronic pressure to meet an ever-rising demand, and its vulnerability to acute disruptions is compounded by factors such as climate change, water stress, ongoing globalisation and heightening political instability.
"A global production shock of the kind set out in this scenario would be expected to generate major economic and political impacts that could affect clients across a very wide spectrum of insurance classes. This analysis has presented the initial findings for some of the key risk exposures.
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"Global demand for food is on the rise, driven by unprecedented growth in the world’s population and widespread shifts in consumption patterns as countries develop."
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, global agricultural production will need to more than double by 2050 to meet global demand. Currently, more than five percent of populations in 79 countries are considered undernourished.
Increasing food production isn’t the only recourse; food waste is an immense problem around the globe, with an estimated one-third of food going to waste. Efforts to reduce food waste are becoming a major global concern. The Consumer Goods Forum just announced plans to halve food waste in the next decade.
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Rural Indian farmers image via Shutterstock