Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grain production falls short of demand nine years in a row

We can't seem to grow enough food. For nine years in a row, global grain production has fallen short of demand. (Scientific American) This is part of what Pound360 referred to last year as an "emerging nightmare" where population, climate and the food supply intersect.

Part of the problem is biofuel demand. One quarter of the US grain crop goes to biofuel (enough grain to feed 125 million Americans or 500 million Indians for a year). "The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV tank with ethanol could feed one person for a year."

Water is a problem, too. China hit peak wheat production in 1997. It's declined 8 percent since then "as water tables have fallen and irrigation wells have gone dry." Rice yield is down 4 percent, too. "The world's most populous nation may soon be importing massive quantities of grain."

In India, "Millions of irrigation wells have dropped water tables… 175 million Indians consume grain produced with water from irrigation wells that will soon be exhausted."

The Scientific American article also blames diminishing soil quality.
More on that here.

Oh, global warming ain't helping either. For every rise of 1.8 degrees, grain yields fall 10 percent.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.