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04 mei 2009

Kan voedselschaarste de beschaving doen wankelen?

By Joe Romm, Climate Progress, May 1, 2009

It’s not news that Lester Brown is warning about our unsustainable approach to feeding the planet. But it is news that Scientific American has run a major article by him: 'Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?' (...)
Brown’s Key Concepts:
- Food scarcity and the resulting higher food prices are pushing poor countries into chaos.
- Such 'failed states' can export disease, terrorism, illicit drugs, weapons and refugees.
- Water shortages, soil losses and rising temperatures from global warming are placing severe limits on food production.
- Without massive and rapid intervention to address these three environmental factors, the author argues, a series of government collapses could threaten the world order.

(...) In China the water table under the North China Plain, an area that produces more than half of the country’s wheat and a third of its corn, is falling fast. Overpumping has used up most of the water in a shallow aquifer there, forcing well drillers to turn to the region’s deep aquifer, which is not replenishable. A report by the World Bank foresees “catastrophic consequences for future generations” unless water use and supply can quickly be brought back into balance.

(...) Half of India’s traditional hand-dug wells and millions of shallower tube wells have already dried up, bringing a spate of suicides among those who rely on them. Electricity blackouts are reaching epidemic proportions in states where half of the electricity is used to pump water from depths of up to a kilometer

(...) A study published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences has confirmed a rule of thumb among crop ecologists: for every rise of one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above the norm, wheat, rice and corn yields fall by 10 percent.
That’s an especially chilling statistic when you consider that we are facing warming of 4°C to 5°C or more this century on the business as usual emissions path.

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