With reports that the arctic ice cap could be gone by summer, it is sometimes tempting to focus all of our attention on the crisis of climate change. However, according to Professor John Beddington, the UK's new chief scientist, food security and the rising cost of food is an issue at least as important when it comes to human well-being, and one that is becoming rapidly more critical. Read on for a taste of his speech [in true TreeHugger fashion, we've also included some humble suggestions of potential solutions too]:"He predicted that price rises in staples such as rice, maize and wheat would continue because of increased demand caused by population growth and increasing wealth in developing nations. He also said that climate change would lead to pressure on food supplies because of decreased rainfall in many areas and crop failures related to climate. "The agriculture industry needs to double its food production, using less water than today," he said. The food crisis would bite more quickly than climate change, he added.
But he reserved some of his most scathing comments for the biofuel industry, which he said had delivered a "major shock" to world food prices. "In terms of biofuels there has been, quite properly, a reaction against it," he said. "There are real problems with unsustainability."
So what's to be done? We're pretty sure that many farmers will continue their calls to "stand by your ham", while others will argue that reducing meat and dairy consumption is the way to go. Of course high-tech solutions like vertical farming or underground agriculture and aquaponics may be useful in reducing pressures on land, and distances from farm to plate. Meanwhile low tech DIY approaches like premaculture, food not lawns, DIY hydroponics and community gardens are ways that we can all make a difference. One thing is for certain, we'll have much more chance of feeding the world the sooner we get started on figuring out solutions, so hats off to Professor Beddington for setting this on his agenda.
::The Guardian::via site visit::