One of the biggest challenges facing this planet isn’t simply feeding a growing population — perhaps as many as 10 billion by the year 2100. The challenge is feeding all those people as the climate changes in ways we can barely project. A new report called “Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change” illustrates the complexity of the problem and makes clear that action must be taken soon to address it.
Commissioned by Cgiar — a research alliance financed by the United Nations and the World Bank — it recommends essential changes in the way we think about farming, food and equitable access to it, and the way these things affect climate change. It is tempting to assume that expanding agricultural acreage and using new technology, like genetically engineered crops, will somehow save the day.
The report says that efficiency and sustainability will also require fundamental changes in how we grow and consume food: reducing waste in production and distribution and finding ways to farm that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and other “negative environmental impacts of agriculture,” like soil loss and water pollution.
The report also calls for better dietary habits in wealthy countries, which have a disproportionately and unsustainably high calorie intake, and targeted aid to populations whose farming is most at risk. These are complex goals that require a new vision of how we farm and how we eat, a vision of how to take better care of this planet’s biological resources and live equitably within our planetary means.
(Text from the New York Times Editorial, Andrew Rosenthal)