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World Population Day 2015

World Population Day 2015

Did You Know That Newborn Babies Weigh 35 Tons? Of food.

On average, every person will eat 35 tons of food over the course of their lifetime. Doesn’t sound likely? Let’s do some math: One pound per meal, three meals per day, 365 days per year, with an average lifespan of 71 years brings us to an estimated 35 tons of food. By the time you finish reading this paragraph, a baby representing 35 tons of future food consumption will be born. There is another imminent reason for grasping the implications of every new birth—by the time you reach the end of this paragraph the need to feed this new baby wholesome and affordable food (and the billions more that will be born by 2050) will grow, but the agricultural land resources we currently have will not, causing a trend of diminishing per-capita land resources until at least the year 2050.

By 2050, the earth’s current resources will need to support a staggering 9.6 billion people.[1] This is equivalent to eight United States, two Indias or 14 more Nigerias into a world that is already facing major global nutrition challenges.[2] According to the United Nations (UN), there are currently 795 million undernourished people worldwide.[3] In addition to distributing food resources more efficiently, and consuming less food, the UN predicts we will need to increase our total food production by 70% by 2050 in order to meet future nutrition needs.[4]

Much of this necessary future food production increase must come from existing agricultural land. The land that currently isn’t being used for agriculture has other ecological, social or environmental roles. “More than four-fifths of production gains will have to occur largely on existing agricultural land through sustainable intensification that makes effective use of land and water resources while not causing them harm,” the UN warned in the State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture Report (SOLAW) in 2011.

Not only are there very minimal options for expanding current farmlands, but UN reported in SOLAW “for the first time ever a global assessment of the state of the planet’s land resources. Fully one quarter are highly degraded” and at risk of collapse.[5] Degraded land resources further increase the necessity for finding solutions through innovation, rather than land expansion.

It’s a reality -- humanity may face cataclysmic disaster if we don’t commit to planning to sustainably feed the entire world. Every unmet percent of needed food production translates into millions of people chronically undernourished.

July 11 is World Population Day, a celebration of greatly increased worldwide life expectancy's but also an urgent reminder that every new human birth increases the already strained demand we put on the earth’s limited resources. Agricultural land isn’t only used for growing vegetables. The livestock sector is the world’s largest user of agricultural land through grazing and the use of feed crops. Without a global endeavor to sustainably increase farmland usage while causing no harm, the future food security of the entire human race faces uncertainty.

Every time a new baby is born, and a beaming parent tells you how much he or she weighed at birth, understand that it’s not just seven pounds, five ounces—it’s 35 tons of future food consumption. This awareness is crucial in ensuring that that baby will be born into a world where we will be able to feed everybody affordable, wholesome food and continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

Help make newborn’s true weight something that everybody is aware of. Share on your own with social media channels, or by word of mouth.

1 http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/03/10-projections-for-the-global-population-in-2050/
2 http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/
3 http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4646e.pdf
4 http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/35571/icode/
5 http://www.fao.org/nr/water/news/solaw_launch.html