Earth Economist: The food bubble is about to burst

March 18, 2011 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Farming Practices, Water, Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Ben Zuckerman for this article from New Scientist.  See http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20927986.400-earth-economist-the-food-bubble-is-about-to-burst.html

Earth economist: The food bubble is about to burst

10 February, 2011

By Alison George

We’re fast draining the fresh water resources our farms rely on, warns Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute

What is a food bubble?

That’s when food production is inflated through the unsustainable use of water and land. It’s the water bubble we need to worry about now. The World Bank says that 15 per cent of Indians (175 million people) are fed by grain produced through overpumping – when water is pumped out of aquifers faster than they can be replenished. In China, the figure could be 130 million.

Has this bubble already burst anywhere?

Saudi Arabia made itself self-sufficient in wheat by using water from a fossil aquifer, which doesn’t refill. It has harvested close to 3 million tonnes a year, but in 2008 the Saudi authorities said the aquifer was largely depleted. Next year could be the last harvest. This is extreme, but about half the world’s people live in countries with falling water tables. India and China will lose grain production capacity through aquifer depletion. We don’t know when or how abruptly the bubble will burst.

With population rising, a fall in grain production would spell big trouble.

Yes. Tonight at the dinner table there will be 219,000 people who weren’t there last night. But that’s not all: we also have maybe 3 billion people moving up the food chain, consuming more grain-intensive livestock products.

To read the full article, click here: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20927986.400-earth-economist-the-food-bubble-is-about-to-burst.html


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