Although the world does not seem to be taking the problem seriously enough, traditional food production sources (i.e., farming, raising cattle, chicken, and pigs, etc.) will not be able to feed the world, which is why we need right now to be working on alternative food production sources. Why won’t traditional food sources be able to feed the world? Actually, we do not produce enough food to feed the world right now (and the famines that kill thousands each year help to support this assertion); is it not reasonable, then, to expect that things will get worse as the world’s population will double in the next 50 years? Even if we improved global food distribution networks and made food more affordable, the reality is that our global food production capacity will be greatly reduced or compromised in the future by a number of serious problems, including these ten:
1. Depletion of the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere. Actually, were it not for the ozone layer, it is likely that radiation from the sun and space (mostly in the form of high concentration ultraviolet rays) would probably wipe out all life on this planet. As this layer gets more and more compromised (by pollutants known to destroy ozone particles), it is reasonable to assert that many of the plants we grow for food may not yield the quantity, variety, and hardiness of crops we will need.
2. Acid rain. Acid-forming chemicals and pollutants from coal smoke, chemical manufacturing, and smelting, spread through and in rain, snow, and sleet have been known to have devastating effects on a variety of plants and trees. Since this problem is expected to get worse (especially if spread by large countries like China and India, which have very few environmental protection laws, but whose industrial capacity have greatly expanded), it is reasonable to expect that acid rain will have a devastating effect on many of the crops the world depends on at present.
3. Tritiated (mostly from nuclear power plants) and other forms of radioactive water. Although nuclear power plants proponents insist that the tritium being released into the atmosphere and into our water is of a manageable amount, the reality is that water that becomes radioactive cannot be fixed or cleaned up, depending on the severity and type of radiation involved. It is also reasonable to assert that, as more of the world’s water supply becomes radiation-compromised (usually in the form of tritiated water), this will have a major impact on global crop production. The best scenario that we can hope for is that crops will be reduced but another possibility is that some crops will not grow at all or yield genetically-altered, inedible fruits and vegetables, after radioactive water is sprayed upon them (or is allowed to come into contact with them).
4. Slow but steady extinction of much of earth’s flora and fauna because of a steady increase in human population
and the commercial/residential development of land. Some people just don’t realize why the extinction of any animal or plant is crucially important to human survival. The fact is that we are all part of a delicate ecosystem; furthermore, we share a symbiotic relationship with many of the plants and animals on this earth. As more and more of them die out each year, we may find that their disappearance will probably have a negative effect on many of the animals and plants we need for food.
5. Changing (for the worse) global weather and climate patterns: global warming and more frequent natural disasters. Since many of the things we are doing (like greatly increasing the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere'”not to mention the other hundreds of pollutants we are unleashing every year) threaten to change the earth’s climate and weather patterns, we may see more natural disasters interfere with our capacity to properly and consistently feed an ever-growing global population. Already, we are seeing more tsunamis hit some areas of the world; heat indices continue to rise each year; polar ice caps continue to melt (thus raising ocean levels around the world); and every year more and more erratic weather patterns are being observed. These cannot but have a negative effect on food production processes and facilities.
6. Excessive use of pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Like it or not, many of these deadly (to both the pests for which they are intended, as well as to humans) chemicals are finding their way into our water table and into our food supply. Although they may help (in the short run) to protect us and our crops against some pests, they pose a long-range threat to our food supply, as over-all water and soil becomes increasingly toxic.
7. Excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics for livestock. Too many animals being raised for food have been injected with these anti-bacterial agents, to the point of compromising their natural immune systems, thus actually making them more prone to disease (this time brought on by drug-resistant strains) in the future. Ironically, the practice may also be compromising our own immune systems and making us more vulnerable to autoimmune diseases.
8. Excessive and inappropriate use of hormones for livestock. Starting with sex and growth hormones, these substances may help animals to grow fatter and faster, but, unfortunately, there are also long-term side-effects that the irresponsible people who use these have not taken into account. As in the case of antibiotics, use of these hormones will likely make animals more prone to disease in the long run'”thus ensuring less quantity of meat being available for future generations.
9. Less and less arable land available and fewer and fewer people devoting their time to producing food (as professional farmers). Especially in developed countries, fewer young people are choosing farming as a profession; additionally, older persons (unable to make a suitable profit from farming) are abandoning the craft. Each year in the US, for example, many farms apply for bankruptcy. When this is paired with the huge amounts of formerly or potentially arable land that is being devoted to commercial and residential uses, this is a trend that can only have disastrous consequences for the global food production industry.
10. Growing threat of bioterrorism (possibly involving the deliberate destruction of crops and stored seed); medicine-resistant agricultural pests and diseases (affecting livestock and the world’s staple crops). Those microorganisms and insects that have always plagued crops and livestock have not gone away because of all the chemicals we have been irresponsibly injecting into the environment'”if anything, some of them have been genetically (either by us or by Mother Nature) altered into stronger strains. These strains will surely prove to be a much bigger, more complicated threat to food production than we have experienced thus far.
1. Smith, Nicolette. “New Commission Established to Investigate Problems with Food Supplies as a Result of Environmental Disasters, Climate Change and the Current Economic Situation.” Earthtimes. (2011).
2. Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “Livestock a Major Threat to the Environment.” (2006).
3. Environmental Protection Agency. “Agriculture and Food Supply.” (2011).
4. ThinkQuest. “What Effect Does Acid Rain Have on the Environment?” (2011).
5. Banetrjee, Tirtho. “Dealing with Pesticides.” (2008).
6. World Health Organization. “Tackling Antibiotic Resistance from a Food Safety Perspective in Europe.” (2011).
7. Nuclear Information Resource and Service. “Tritium: Health Consequences.” (20000)