Author Topic: Interesting report on meeting global food needs  (Read 483 times)

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Offline fuzzyMarmot

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Interesting report on meeting global food needs
« on: January 12, 2019, 12:49:23 AM »
Here is an interesting report on science-based policies to meet global food demand:
https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/12/how-sustainably-feed-10-billion-people-2050-21-charts

Many of the action items listed have been discussed on the SGU; others haven't. Notably absent: anything to do with the "organic" movement. The graphs and maps are very useful for comparing different solutions/strategies. For more detail, you can download a large pdf report.

Offline bachfiend

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Re: Interesting report on meeting global food needs
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2019, 02:54:36 AM »
I’ve downloaded the full report, but haven’t had the time to read it in detail. 

For individuals, the actions required are:

Adopt a plant-based diet.

Eat what you buy.

Avoid ‘organic’ food.

Everything else are strategies that individuals can’t put into action.
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Offline 2397

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Re: Interesting report on meeting global food needs
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2019, 05:26:18 AM »
While we need to plan for 10 billion, we should be able to choose to increase the use of birth control just as easily as we can choose to change our diets. 10 billion people in 2050 would require that around 4 billion births that haven't happened yet happen. Because of the title I assumed they didn't mention that topic, but they have a section "Achieve replacement-level fertility rates".

They don't mention synthetic meat (edit: Not specifically, but there is a line "improving meat substitutes"). Does that mean they don't have high hopes for it taking off in the next 30 years? IMO, synthetic meat would allow us to ban animal meat production as being a far less efficient way of producing the same products. Whereas I don't see banning meat itself.

They do mention things like additives to reduce methane emissions from cows. And rice has a lot more potential for lower emissions than I thought.

Quote
Rice paddies contributed at least 10 percent of agricultural production emissions in 2010, primarily in the form of methane. But there are less emissions- and resource-intensive rice production methods. For example, shortening the duration of field flooding can reduce water levels to decrease the growth of methane-producing bacteria. This practice can reduce emissions by up to 90 percent while saving water and increasing rice yields on some farms.  Some rice varieties also generate less methane. Actions to take include conducting engineering analyses to identify promising opportunities for reducing water levels, rewarding farmers who practice water-efficient farming, investing in breeding programs that shift to lower-methane rice varieties and boosting rice yields.

You could take an optimistic look at this and see that there are all these changes we can make to avert catastrophe. On the other hand, we can do things right 10 ways and fail 1 way, and we don't avert it.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 05:44:54 AM by 2397 »

Offline Soldier of FORTRAN

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Re: Interesting report on meeting global food needs
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2019, 02:00:33 PM »
Excellent article!

That said, I'd like to see sustainable, cheap MRE-like options.

Sustainability requires decreasing consumption.  It also means pricing in externalities, so, food will become more expensive.  This means higher prices.  Assuming [Higher Prices → Public/Business Backlash → Higher Subsidies], I'd like the increase in subsidies to be focused on sustainable food. 

Price increases can decrease consumption across the board.  Via subsidy, we can exempt a limited set of sustainable items.  And because it's a limited set, colossal economies of scale could be achieved for these items.  In this way, we could steer billions toward more sustainable diets.

I have this on my mind because I drink Huel for breakfast -- a 'meal-replacement drink (MRD)'

MRD - You know how fitness people are always drinking shakes?  There's a recent fad toward shakes where 2,000 calories would cover all your RDAs.  Usually ~$10 per 2,000 Cal.
Huel - An oat-based MRD.  It's vegetarian.  It's mostly oats, flaxseed, pea protein, brown rice protein, sunflower oil, MCT oil (from coconuts).

I think this is a good template for one item like I'm suggesting.

But more generally, I think most meals for most people aren't important.  They eat because they have to. And they're fine if their food's pleasant enough and not the same thing every time.  One highly palatable meal per day covers most people.  I think the average person would acclimate quickly and happily to replacing one or two meals per day with something generic, cheap and healthy.

A couple comments on my MRD use-impact:
  • [Shifts Diet] Reduced intake of meat, dairy, eggs
  • [Shifts Diet] Reduced intake of calories overall
  • [Reduce Waste] Zero food waste - I use 100% of what I buy
Also, it's easy which eases adoption.  If you want someone to do something, make it easy.  That's one appeal of going for super generic options.  The larger the economy of scale, the cheaper processing becomes on a per unit basis, the easier it gets to make preparation/clean-up easier.
If global warming is real then how come I just felt this chill down my spine?

Offline fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Interesting report on meeting global food needs
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2019, 03:08:34 PM »
I was surprised by the emphasis on reducing biofuels. I knew this was a contentious issue, but I didn't realize that there was such a consensus that the environmental impact is more negative than positive. The impact of bioenergy on potential food production is greater than I imagined.

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: Interesting report on meeting global food needs
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2019, 03:29:10 PM »
I’ve downloaded the full report, but haven’t had the time to read it in detail. 

For individuals, the actions required are:

Adopt a plant-based diet.

Eat what you buy.

Avoid ‘organic’ food.

Everything else are strategies that individuals can’t put into action.

Thanks for that. Recognize all of it from SGU, except for eating what you buy, but that is common sense. That is not only beneficial for sustainability, but also for your private economy.
"I’m a member of no party. I have no ideology. I’m a rationalist. I do what I can in the international struggle between science and reason and the barbarism, superstition and stupidity that’s all around us." - Christopher Hitchens

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: Interesting report on meeting global food needs
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2019, 03:34:14 PM »
While we need to plan for 10 billion, we should be able to choose to increase the use of birth control just as easily as we can choose to change our diets. 10 billion people in 2050 would require that around 4 billion births that haven't happened yet happen. Because of the title I assumed they didn't mention that topic, but they have a section "Achieve replacement-level fertility rates".

I might be in the wrong here, but doesn't population growth by birth happen mostly in the third world, and in the developed world by immigration? Japan for example, which has miniscule immigration, has a decreasing population.

If that's the case, the problem should resolve itself, mostly anyways. Because living standards around the world are rising, women are getting more rights and becoming more educated, and so on. All of this contribute to lower birth rates.
"I’m a member of no party. I have no ideology. I’m a rationalist. I do what I can in the international struggle between science and reason and the barbarism, superstition and stupidity that’s all around us." - Christopher Hitchens

Offline 2397

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Re: Interesting report on meeting global food needs
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2019, 06:55:07 PM »
I might be in the wrong here, but doesn't population growth by birth happen mostly in the third world, and in the developed world by immigration? Japan for example, which has miniscule immigration, has a decreasing population.

If that's the case, the problem should resolve itself, mostly anyways. Because living standards around the world are rising, women are getting more rights and becoming more educated, and so on. All of this contribute to lower birth rates.

It can't resolve itself in a satisfactory way when we are already beyond where we should be. Any further growth worsens resource depletion, GHGs, other environmental pollution, and habitat destruction.

If we could peak at 9 billion instead of 10 billion, that's 10% less negative impact with the same lifestyles.

 

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