Leading water scientists from the The Stockholm International Water Institute are issuing a stern warning that food shortages in the future will dictate a global transition to vegetarian diets by 2050.
"There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations," the report by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said.Their warning comes at a time when information about the massive contribution (pdf) of livestock production to climate change has become known. In fact, reducing livestock production is one of the most necessary components in mitigating the worst effects of climate change. And although the water scientists are saying the reduction must be done by 2050 that will be too late to mitigate the most devastating effects of a warming planet. We must begin the transition now.
Dire warnings of water scarcity limiting food production come as Oxfam and the UN prepare for a possible second global food crisis in five years. Prices for staples such as corn and wheat have risen nearly 50% on international markets since June, triggered by severe droughts in the US and Russia, and weak monsoon rains in Asia. More than 18 million people are already facing serious food shortages across the Sahel.
Adopting a vegetarian diet is one option to increase the amount of water available to grow more food in an increasingly climate-erratic world, the scientists said. Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet. One third of the world's arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals.The benefits and opportunities of a rapid transition to a global plant based diet can not be over stated. It offers the only rapid reduction of dangerous green-house gases in the atmosphere and also helps to conserve our precious water and land resources.