Hunger in the world: will the next crisis be food? Episode I – EconomyMorning

The coronavirus crisis succeeded in slowing down very sharply the entire world economy, causing an unprecedented recession since the 1930s … However, we had seen nothing coming, which is a little humiliating for all those who tried to scrutinizing the future, but also today induces real intellectual stimulation to imagine what will happen next.

In my opinion, what follows is first of all the extremely disturbing effects that our collective inability to reduce, and if possible stop, global warming will provoke.

In the first place, with global warming, will we be able to feed the nearly 10 billion earthlings who are announced for the middle of the century? The situation will obviously be very different in the different countries and regions of the world, and overall the French have no reason to be worried: We will be hungry in many capitals before this phenomenon hits Paris, and it is highly unlikely that this will happen … if we take care of it seriously. But elsewhere, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and the Indo-Pakistani peninsula, it will not be obvious.

Let’s add a few things to the file.

1. The agrarian revolutions of the 20th century made it possible to increase agricultural production considerably, but it is not certain that this upward movement can continue.

We eat much better on the planet of 2021 than on that of 1960, despite the fact that the population has multiplied by 2.5! Indeed, the new intensive agricultural techniques that were put in place from the 1950s made it possible to increase agricultural production faster than the population, in particular for the productions which are the basis of food: the 3 large cereals rice, wheat and corn ; but this is also true for vegetables and for meat and many other products, as the FAO figures shown in these figures show.

A country like China, which experienced terrible famines, now manages to feed itself, despite the doubling of its population and the scarce natural resources at its disposal (especially little land and little water).

France, which is clearly better endowed, had however known 11 famines in the 17th century, 16 in the 18th, and 10 again in the 19th; in the 20th century, it had maintained its ration tickets until 1948, more than 3 years after the end of the war! Now, it has become a great agricultural exporting power; in particular, it produces 3 times more wheat than it eats!

We must absolutely continue to increase world agricultural production, by around 70%, for 3 reasons.

The population will continue to increase, at least until the middle of the century, when demographers announce that we will be close to 10 billion earthlings; afterwards, it is more uncertain and it is not excluded that we go towards a decrease in the world population, passing however perhaps by a peak to 11 or 12 billion before the end of the century … we are currently 7.6 billion, if we add a little more than 2 billion over the next 30 years, that will make 30% more mouths to feed.
Within the new population, the percentage of people from the middle classes, who will have some means to buy food, will increase sharply. And, whatever your culture, as soon as you have the means, you add animal products to vegetable products in your eating habits: meat, dairy products, fish and eggs. ; However, animal products are in a way concentrates of plant products, because the animals that we eat themselves eat much more than they produce! It will therefore be necessary to increase by about a 2 nd third the world production of plants to feed these additional animals (hoping that in countries where we eat too much meat and milk as in North America and Europe we are decreasing in a way. this type of consumption). The food waste is absolutely huge and currently affects about a third of world agricultural production, in the order of 1.3 billion tonnes, mainly to production in poor countries, for lack of good food storage equipment, and to consumption in rich countries, given the prevailing mismanagement; on the whole, the rich waste more than the poor; as there will be more rich people, we will not be able to significantly limit this waste, and it is likely that production will have to be increased by another 10% because of this chronic inefficiency.

We could be optimistic and say that given the progress made over the past 50 years, it will be relatively easy to further increase world agricultural production by 70%. But we can just as well be pessimistic because it is precisely in countries whose agriculture will be severely disrupted by global warming that production should be increased, particularly in Africa and tropical Asia … Increase agricultural production at the same time. time that the frequency and severity of droughts, floods, hurricanes, diseases, epidemics, fires, etc. will sharply increase. will become much more difficult. On this subject, see my video: Agriculture victim of global warming – in tropical countries

And above all, we cannot redo the blow of the agrarian revolution of the 1950s “all chemistry all oil”, precisely because the drawbacks of this intensive agriculture have now largely overtaken its advantages: erosion, decrease in soil fertility and biodiversity. , various types of pollution, lower efficiency of pesticides, inadequate irrigation systems, low social approval, etc.

Let us be aware of the fact that this so-called “modern” agriculture succeeded in producing quite impressive results in France in the 60s to the 90s, during which wheat yields tripled, from 20 to 70 quintals per hectare; but for 30 years they have not increased and stagnated around 70 quintals, with strong variations due to climatic phenomena ! And, from this point of view, there is nothing to hope for from organic farming where, there too, wheat yields have stagnated for 30 years, but at a level twice lower!

Evolution of wheat yields in France, conventional and organic

More information on my video: The end of chemical-petroleum agriculture

The challenge is therefore immense: to sharply increase agricultural production in tropical countries which have not succeeded in doing so until now, at the very moment when it is necessary to reinvent new agricultural techniques because the old ones are marking time, and by compensating at the same time the extremely deleterious effects of global warming! In addition, we also count on agriculture not only to produce despite global warming. but also to stop warming the planet and even to cool it by fixing much more carbon in the soil! Fortunately, this is possible as I developed in my video Agriculture SOLUTION to warming, but it will still be extremely difficult; success is not assured and the threat of insufficient production leading to very real famines.

To read episode II, it’s here …