17 Dec 2012:
‘Peak Farmland’ Reached, as
Yields Rise and Growth Slows, Report Says
The amount of agricultural land needed to feed the world’s population has reached its peak as a result of improved crop yields
and slower population growth, and as much as 10 percent of the land currently used for farming could be “restored to Nature” within 50 years, a team of experts says. In an analysis published in the journal Population and Development Review
, three researchers from Rockefeller University’s Program for the Human Environment
(PHE) predict that the 1.53 billion hectares (3.78 billion) acres of arable land and farming areas that existed in 2009 could drop to 1.38 billion hectares (3.41 billion acres) by 2060. That would allow an area the size of 2 ½ Frances to be restored to natural conditions. “Happily, the cause is not exhaustion of arable land, as many have feared, but rather moderation of population and tastes and ingenuity of farmers,” said Jesse Ausubel
, director of the PHE and lead author of the report. The PHE study stands in stark contrast to a recent UN report, which predicted that by 2050 another 70 million hectares of land would have to be cultivated to feed a growing population. The new report does not account for several factors that could undermine its projections, including major disruptions from climate change and the rate of development of agricultural land for biofuels.
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A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
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An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
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Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.