Get cranky when hungry? 

Now imagine a lot, I mean a LOT, of constantly cranky people. You have to paint a mental picture today, because you can’t see it yet.

The problems of agriculture are still invisible to us. At best some of us get to hear that somewhere else there are more people spawning. Actually, a big, fat, hamburger-gobbling equivalent of Egypt is added to us every year.  That comes without the Nile, of course.  The Nile, along with the meek band of fertile green along its shores, is actually on quite the opposite trajectory: it is getting thinner.

The rapidly rising demand for food puts extra pressure on weakened systems all over the world.

Topping the list are water shortages, soil and pollinator crisis, as well as climate-caused crop failures. Next are the rapidly dwindling supplies of fertilizers and energy.

That is not some movie script, but a reality facing our tightly interdependent, world economy. You don’t have to stretch your imagination much to see what it means to the political systems around us either.

But still, the chances of avoiding a collapse can be quite improved if there is a coordinated within any given community to:

1. Focus on soil conservation;

2. Begin serious investment in, and completely change the direction of, agricultural research and development.

3. Increase yields where possible but using intelligent, not destructive methods this time.

4. Revamp industrial agricultural methods to make them biologically and ecologically sound;

5. Limit the expanding of land under agriculture (to preserve ecosystem services); reduce food waste instead.

6. Progress from the present gargantuan waste towards the efficiency of fertilizer, water, and energy use;

… Globally, it would be also nice to stop overfishing and try to restore natural fisheries.  This may be slightly more difficult as greenhouse gas emissions are changing the temperature and chemistry (causing acidification) of the oceans, but it would be worthwhile to give it a try because without the fish proteins, even more people can be seriously annoyed.

Those of us fortunate to be in the richer countries could – and should – be informed and encouraged by our governments to reduce our consumption of animal products, including fish.

For those who have a say, or those who live in the USA, Brazil, Germany, France, should seriously ask your governments to revisit reasons for the diversion of crops to biofuels.

It would be helpful to educate people about how today’s food system works, and move appropriate nutrition and food security to the top of each county’s policy agenda.

In any case the last thing you want to see in this somber life-and-death reality is a pesticide company that uses it as a tag line to promote its dubious products and meet its PR needs.

 

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