lecture note 18 for BGYB50

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19 Jul 2010
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LECTURE 18:
- The ecological footprint analysis reveals that at least three planets Earth would required
to sustain the present human population at the resource consumption rates of North
Americans; a similar result emerges when food consumption habits alone are examined
(see below)
- Present world grain production: ~2 x 109 t/yr, enough to feed the world’s people (but:
inequitable distribution!); most important crops: rice, wheat, corn, potato
- Grain production has tripled since 1950, due to two “Green Revolutions (new crop
varieties, fertilizer use, pesticides, irrigation, additional cropland)
- However, per capita grain production has flattened out in recent years, and the human
population is presently consuming more grain than it is producing
- Present annual grain yield increases are less than 1/3 of the global population increase
- The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that ~1.2 x 109 people are
chronically hungry, and some 40 x 106 die each year from hunger (equivalent to some
300 jumbo jets crashing, with no survivors)
- Each food item in North America has travelled an average of 2,100 km prior to being
consumed (the indirect costs of agriculture are enormous, in many cases requiring a
higher input of energy than is released in food consumption)
- Livestock presently consume ~38% of the world’s grain (more than 70% in North
America; there are ~1.3 x 109 cows, 1.7 x 109 sheep, 12 x 109 chickens globally)
- In addition to the problem of indirect crop consumption by consumption of livestock,
the conversion of crop lands to the production of biofuels aggravates the supply problem
significantly
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Document Summary

The ecological footprint analysis reveals that at least three planets earth would required to sustain the present human population at the resource consumption rates of north. Americans; a similar result emerges when food consumption habits alone are examined (see below) Present world grain production: ~2 x 109 t/yr, enough to feed the world"s people (but: inequitable distribution! ); most important crops: rice, wheat, corn, potato. Grain production has tripled since 1950, due to two green revolutions (new crop varieties, fertilizer use, pesticides, irrigation, additional cropland) However, per capita grain production has flattened out in recent years, and the human population is presently consuming more grain than it is producing. Present annual grain yield increases are less than 1/3 of the global population increase. The who (world health organization) estimates that ~1. 2 x 109 people are chronically hungry, and some 40 x 106 die each year from hunger (equivalent to some.

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