Modeling Shows Global Self Sufficiency by 2050 Possible.

As I have posted in the past, wecan possibly take the population of Earth itself all the way up to one hundredbillion.  This involves properlyutilizing the dry lands and the boreal forests which are both surprisinglysolvable with modest technology.  Ofcourse the figure I propose appears ridiculously high but it is not necessarilyunreasonable.  It works out that everysquare kilometer of land would need to support one thousand people.

That is no big trick in thetropics with a modest investment and as we start been a lot smarter, no bigtrick elsewhere.  After all a thousandpeople all fit into four to six high rise towers quite nicely on less than acouple of acres.

There may not be enough beef togo around, but we will never run out of tilapia, tra, basa and a few othertropical vegetarian fish.  In fact, aquaculturehas already given us the key tools that make sure we would never go hungry.

This article argues that ourpresent land resources are sufficient to take us up to nine billion withoutbreaking a sweat.  However, the existenceof tropical aquaculture today means it is even easier than all that.

JANUARY 12, 2011

Agrimonde describes the findings of a huge five-year modeling exercise by theFrench national agricultural and development research agencies, INRAand CIRAD

The French team began with a goal – 3000 calories per day for everyone,including 500 from animal sources – then ran a global food model repeatedly,with and without environmental limits on farming. The aim was to seehow the calorie goal could be achieved. The model suggested that realistic yield increases could feed everyone,even as farms take measures to protect the environment, suchas preserving forests or cutting down on the use of fossil fuels. The key willbe to tailor detailed solutions to different regions.

"We found three main conditions," says Hervé Guyomard of INRA."The biggest surprise was that some regions will depend even more onimports", even as their production rises. This, he says, means that wewill need to find ways to counter excessive fluctuations in world prices sothat imports are not hindered.

The Agrimonde study said that North Africa and the Middle East, Asiaand sub-Saharan Africa, all with fast-growingpopulations today, will be heavily dependent on imported food in 2050

Under a business-as-usual scenario, all regions in the world would enjoy strongeconomic growth, invest heavily in research, innovation, education, health andinfrastructure. But, under this scenario, there is not a high priority tothe environment, with resulting damage to ecosystems.

Under the second scenario, environmental integrity is a key factor.

To achieve this goal in sustainability, rich countries in particular would have toreduce excessive consumption that leads to obesity and tackle loss and waste infood distribution and use that today runs at around 25 percent of production.

Agriculture everywhere would have to be moreeconomical in fossil fuels and make less use of chemicals.

Genetic manipulation of plants to boost yields would be necessary. However,smarter ways of traditional cross-breeding are emerging as good alternativesto genetic engineering, which is a hot political issue inmany countries, he said.

There would have to be changes in trade rules so that the food supply line toimporting countries becomes stronger and more resilient, thus easing the priceshocks that hit producer or customer.

AGO supposes that yields will palpably increase by 2050, albeit atlower rates than those observed over the 1961-2000 period except in tworegions, the former USSR andsub-Saharan Africa. For the planet as a whole,yields should increase by 1.14% per year in the AGO scenario, or half as fastas in the 1961-2000 period (2.01%).Annual yield gains will be much more modestin the AG1 scenario, at a global average of 1.14%, and ranging from 0% in Asiaand the OECD countries to a maximum of 1.33% in the former Soviet Union

2. The UK's Institution of Mechanical Engineers has a report out thisweek shows how humanity already has at its disposal all the tools to make roomfor as many as 9 billion people.

There are "no insurmountable technical issues in meeting the needs of 9billion people... sustainable engineering solutions largely exist", theengineers write in Population: One Planet, Too Many People?

Energy, food, water, urbanisation and finance are the five areas which will besignificantly affected by the effects of population growth. These are dubbedEngineering Development Goals (EDG) and should be the next step for the UN’sMillennium Goals (MDG), the report says.

Switching the world to low-carbon energy, for instance, does not require moreresearch breakthroughs. We need instead to fix "market failures" thatprevent widespread adoption of extant technologies, like concentrated solarenergy and nuclear power.

The report even sidelines some traditional engineering solutions. Forget largedams, it says – increased water storage should come from recharging aquiferswith treated waste water and flood waters.

Slums need help to improve, not by demolition ball. The report says the worldshould adopt a series of engineering goals to sit alongside the United Nations'existing millennium development goals.

Four key areas in which population growth and expanding affluence willsignificantly challenge society are: food, water, urbanisation and energy.

Food: An increase in the number of mouths to feed and changes in dietaryhabits, including the increased consumption of meat, will double demand foragricultural production by 2050. This will place added pressures on alreadystretched resources coping with the uncertain impacts of climate change onglobal food production.

Water: Extra pressure will come not only from increased requirements for foodproduction, which uses 70% of water consumed globally, but also from a growthin demand for drinking water and industrial processing as we strive to satisfyconsumer aspirations. Worldwide demand for water is projected to rise 30% by2030, this in a world of shifting rainfall patterns due to globalwarming-induced climate changes that are difficult to predict.

Urbanisation: With cities in the developing world expanding at an unprecedentedrate, adding another three billion urban inhabitants by 2050, solutions areneeded to relieve the pressures of overcrowding, sanitation, waste handling andtransportation if we are to provide comfortable, resilient and efficient placesfor all to live and work.

Energy: Increased food production, water processing and urbanisation, combinedwith economic growth and expanding affluence, will by mid-century more thandouble the demand on the sourcing and distribution of energy. This at a timewhen the sector is already under increasing pressure to reduce greenhouse gasemissions (on average across the globe to 50% of 1990 levels), adapt touncertain future impacts of a changing climate and ensure security of futuresupply.

In meeting these needs and demands, the Institution of Mechanical Engineersrecommends the following:

1. The adoption by governments of five Engineering Development Goals alongsidethe UN Millennium Development Goals. In the key areas of food, water,urbanisation and energy, engineers have the knowledge and skills to help meetthe challenges that are projected to arise. There is no need to delay actionwhile waiting for the next great technical discovery or a breakthrough inthinking on population control. In this report we present five EngineeringDevelopment Goals for priority action and crisis prevention. Governments aroundthe world must adopt these goals and start working with the engineeringprofession on delivery targets if we are to build on The Millennium DevelopmentGoals. 

The Institution's Five Engineering Developing Goals are:

Energy: Use existing sustainable energy technologies and reduce energy waste.Don't wait for new technologies to be developed

Water: Replenish groundwater sources, improve storage of excess water andincrease energy efficiencies of desalination

Food: Reduce food waste and resolve the politics of hunger

Urbanisation: Meet the challenge of slums and defending against sea-level rises

Finance: Empower communities and enable implementation

2. Provide all nations and leaders with engineering expertise. Many governmentsaround the world lack high-quality engineering advice and guidance to makeinformed decisions for implementation of the Engineering Development Goals(recommendation 1). Many developed nations already provide assistance in areasof medical knowledge and primary/secondary education with great success – the UK does viaDepartment for International Development (DFID). The Institution recommendsthat the remit of DFID be expanded to train and second civil, mechanical,water, agricultural and electrical engineers to provide other governments withlow-cost, practical and up-to-date engineering expertise.

3. Help the developing world to ‘leapfrog’ the resource-hungry dirty phase ofindustrialisation. The majority of future economic and population growth isprojected to occur in the South. However, knowledge of potential sustainablesolutions, and experience of the failings from unsustainable dirty industrialactivity, are currently concentrated in the North. If economic market forcesare left to be the sole or major driver of intervention and action is delayed,then the same errors are likely to be made. Nations in the developed world,such as the UK, must help the developing world to leapfrog the high-emissionsresource-hungry phase of early industrialisation to reduce the environmentalimpact on us all.

Successfully Transforming Slums

The internationally renowned Favela-Bairro neighbourhood improvementprogramme in Rio de Janeirohas brought basic infrastructure and municipal and social services to the slumsof that city. The first phase in 1995 concentrated on infrastructureimprovement that included water, sewage and transportation improvements alongwith maintenance issues such as refuse collection. The second phaseconcentrated on more social aspects such as the construction of child-carecentres, the training of community members in hygiene along with action onproperty rights, highlighting the importance of security and tenure incommunity development.

One of the most proven routes to success in the redevelopment of slum areas isthe inclusion of the inhabitants in the decision-making and planning process.This approach has been taken in Thailandwith the national Baan Mankong (secure housing) programme aimed at targetingthe Millennium Development Goals. Instead of direct intervention by local orregional government, the programme channels infrastructure financing andhousing loans direct to poor communities, who plan and carry out improvements,thus handing the communities a central role. Programmes in this style also havethe benefit of altering the relationships between the community leaders and theadministration of the cities, instilling confidence in the urban poor groupsthat they can influence solutions.

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