The National Intelligence Council’s new Global Trend 2030 report, released on Monday, offers an expansive look at the issues the world may be grappling with in 18 years. The rise of Asian economies, climate change, energy, the future of radical Islam and nuclear proliferation are just a few of the topics broached. But TakePart took a look at the lengthy report with food-related concerns in mind. This is a summation of some of the key problems the future will likely hold—and how we might combat them.
Photo: Global Trend 2030 Report Cover
2030 by the Numbers
If 2012, with its historic droughts and concerns about rising food, seems like a lousy year, consider the projected facts for 2030: Demand for food is set to rise by 35 percent. No longer will we be talking about feeding seven billion people—there will be an astonishing eight billion mouths to feed. Demand for water will increase by an even greater factor, 40 percent, a spike that will dramatically impact food production, given that “agriculture uses 70 percent of global freshwater resources.”
Photo: Stuart McCall/Getty Images
This fall’s drought-affected corn harvest has caused some analysts to issue warnings about potential civil unrest or full-out riots caused by food scarcity and higher cost. Similar situations could plague the globe in 2030—and on a far grander scale. The report warns that “fragile states in Africa and the Middle east are most at risk of experiencing food and water shortages,” and suggests that countries coping with limited natural resources like water and arable land “that will have disproportionate levels of young men” will see “increased risk of intrastate conflict.”
Photo: Klass Lingbeek van Kranen/Getty Images
Solutions in the Field
The failure of Proposition 37 will be a distant memory in 2030, and regardless of what anti-GMO developments occur in the coming years, genetically modified crops will continue to be a significant factor in global agriculture. The report says that transgenic crops “hold the most promise for achieving food security in the next 15-20 years.”
Additionally, technological developments in farming implements are seen as a potential means of increasing crop yields by “reducing the use of inputs such as seed, fertilizer, and water; minimizing the negative environmental impacts of farming, and improving the quality of crops.”
Photo: Zomi/Getty Images
Vertical farms are mentioned twice in the report, are they are by far the most progressive food-related idea discussed (albeit briefly). Society is continuing to slouch toward cities, and 60 percent of the population could be living in urbanized areas by 2030. Growing food where the demand is highest—and where distribution doesn’t depend on rural infrastructure—will be increasingly compelling as the population rises and shifts.
Willy Blackmore is the food editor at TakePart. He has also written about food, art, and agriculture for such publications as Los Angeles Magazine, The Awl, GOOD, LA Weekly, The New Inquiry, and BlackBook. Email Willy | TakePart.com