This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

You can download an iPhone app for the 13th edition from the App Store (search for Weeks Population).

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at:

Thursday, September 19, 2019

How to Avoid Hunger and Environmental Catastrophe

A new report has just been issued on the threats to our food supply and environment. ABC News has the story about the report, which comes from the Food and Land Use Coalition. I had not heard of them until today, but I see that two of the partners in the coalition are IIASA and the World Resources Institute--both of which are very high quality organizations to whom we should pay attention.

The report comes out now to coincide with the United Nations Climate Action Summit, which will be held in New York beginning next week, and here are two key background notes:
The world’s food supply largely relies on just five countries – the United States, Argentina, Brazil, China and India – for 60% of its calories. Additionally, much of the world’s food supply depends mostly on four crops – rice, wheat, potatoes and maize, a concentration that leaves the food supply vulnerable to risk.
Food and land use systems are currently responsible for up to 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report. The emissions from the agricultural system alone will heat the environment beyond the level that scientists have warned about.
And here are two things that are important for the world to do:
The report outlines ways in which money can be better spent to reforest land, and promote biodiversity, and how land can be used more efficiently at local levels to produce a greater diversity of food crops.
Diversifying crops would mean a change in diet for many people in the developed world. To remain sustainable, the world will have to look to more diverse sources of protein and sharply reduce meat consumption. Experts say these changes will lead to healthier, more varied diets.
The important thing here is that we have to act now. We are spending a lot of money on agricultural subsidies and on growing food for animals rather than people. We need to change how we think about agriculture, the environment, and our diet. Not an easy project, but it beats the alternative. 

No comments:

Post a Comment