A crisis in world food security is being precipitated by decades of an "environmental bubble economy", with falling crop yields and predictions from experts that global warming is set to do far worse damage to food production than "even the gloomiest of previous forecasts," according to an Institute of Science and Society report by Dr Mae-Wan Ho.
The bubble economy, built on the over-exploitation of natural resources, has accelerated global warming, environmental degradation and depletion of water and oil and there are no prospects for improvement under the business as usual scenario, the report says.
Dr Ho says that 5.3 to 7.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission disappear with every tonne of nitrogen fertilizer phased out and that 625 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions are prevented each year in Nepal through harvesting biogas from agricultural wastes. In Ethiopia, compost outperforms conventional fertilizers by producing a two or three fold increase in crop yields, while in the US, yields are comparable to or better than those achieved by conventional industrial farming, especially during drought.
European organic farms support more birds, insects and other wildlife than conventional farms, and he cites reports that organic foods are indeed better for you.
Buying food in local farmers’ markets generates twice as much for the local economy than buying food in supermarkets chains, he says.
"There is a wealth of existing knowledge that could provide food security and health for all and significantly mitigate global warming."
Global warming reduced crop yields by 10 per cent for each deg. C rise in night-time temperature during the growing season, an international team of crop scientists from China, India, the Philippines and the United States reported.
The Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change has predicted the earth’s average temperature would rise by 1.4 to 5.8 deg. C, although others says it could happen within decades or years.
"It may sound like a dream, but it is possible to produce a super-abundance of food with no fertilizers or pesticides and with little or no greenhouse gas emission. The key is to treat farm wastes properly to mine the rich nutrients that can be returned to the farm, to support the production of fish, crops, livestock and more; get biogas energy as by-product, and perhaps most importantly, conserve and release pure potable water back to the aquifers."
Professor George Chan has spent years perfecting such a system; and refers to it as the Integrated Food and Waste Management System (IFWMS), Dr Ho said.
For more on Dr Ho's report, including references and figures, visit the Institute of Science in Society website.