Growing Signs of a Global Food Shortage - With the third world's population expected to grow by 2 billion people in the next few years, developing countries will need at least 75% more food than they are currently producing. Yet, food production globally is growing at its slowest rate in four decades and is on the decline in 90 countries. Grain stocks, in fact, are at their lowest levels in 35 years.
By the year 2030, China alone will require all of the world's current exports of grain. Modern agricultural techniques are also putting a severe strain on the world's water resources. Water tables are being depleted at alarming rates, even in the US. Irrigation is also leaving millions upon millions of acres of productive farmland desolate from salinization and erosion.
In the past, these kinds of problems have destroyed entire civilizations. Water scarcity is a spreading global problem and, some say, will be the central source of tension among nations that could lead to war.
Salinization - Occurs in warm and dry locations where soluble salts precipitate from water and accumulate in the soil. Saline soils are common in desert and steppe climate. Salt may also accumulate in soils from sea spray. The rapid evaporation of salt-rich water irrigation has devastated thousands of acres of land.
On 5/15/02, I went to the Yahoo search engine and searched for "FOOD SHORTAGE PROBLEMS". - 180,000 responses came up. Checking again on 7/3/07, there were 9,650,000 results on the same search engine.
Global Weather Changes and the Loss of Farm Land - Another contributing problem is the striking change in global weather patterns observed by scientists during the last generation. The unpredictable and sometimes deadly weather of recent years has many climate researchers convinced global warming is a reality.
"After the mid 70's, suddenly everything started looking really erratic," explains Nick Graham, a climate researcher at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, Cal. "Everything changed here. We had dry falls. We had winters that were wetter. And it wasn't just here, it was climate changes all over the world."
Imagine what a sustained worldwide drought, lasting several years, would mean to the planet in its current state. Or, what would an increase in world temperatures of a degree or two mean? Those prospects appear very possible, perhaps even likely, in the next few years. (written in 2002)
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