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Solutions to the Global Food Crisis

Algae could become the world’s biggest cropping industry.

Algae could become the world’s biggest cropping industry.

By Julian Cribb

Julian Cribb continues last month’s review of global food security issues by looking at some of the big-picture solutions that can make the world’s food and energy more secure.

Julian Cribb is a science writer and author of The Coming Famine (University of California Press, 2010). This article is based on a paper presented to the Australian Academy of Science’s 2nd Earth System Outlook Conference.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The first task in solving the growing crisis of global food insecurity is to reinvent how we produce food. We need an entirely new agriculture founded on ecosystem thinking, which produces more food while using far less soil, water, energy and other inputs and is resilient to climate shocks.

The invention of this eco-agriculture has already begun among farmers and scientists worldwide, but to occur before dangerous tipping points are reached requires massive re­investment in knowledge, both in discovery and especially dissemination.

Food itself must change. A hot world of 10 billion people will not eat the same foods as a cooler world of 2.5 billion. Yet this future diet will be more diverse, interesting, tasty and healthy. It will kill far fewer consumers than our present diet does. It will contain more vegetables as well as novel and unfamiliar foods.

Driven by the intransigent economics of globalisation, much of this future world diet will come, not from farms, but from factories. And cities themselves will be completely redesigned to recycle their water, nutrients, carbon and energy back into food.i

It is probable that by 2100, less than half the world’s food will be grown on farms. The reason is simply that economic competition between giant supermarket chains and food firms will destroy most farmers and farm-based systems, favouring the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.