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Something to think about

Every minute, about 240 babies are born on the planet with only 100 deaths. In total, about 128 million babies are born per year. With only about 56M deaths per year (2.3 births for each death), world is growing by about 72M people per year. The following shows what happens on the planet EVERY TWO MINUTES. These new people need about 150 new acres (60 hectares) of farmland to produce enough food to eat (average world diet which is less than 1/2 a typical American's). Replay

Let's look at some charts to see trends over the last 50 years

Overview: The following charts come from the World Bank and separate countries by region. Although, when it comes to food insecurity, each country and region is affected differently, it is illustrative to see how different regions are changing.

World population: As we all know, there are more people on the planet than ever. While much of this growth has come from East Asia (e.g., China) and South Asia (e.g., India), Sub-Saharan Africa is catching up.

Population growth rates: While most regions have slowed their growth rates, all regions are still growing. Only Sub-Saharan Africa hasn't slowed down. Growth rates are most affected by the number of children an average woman has. While, this number has gone down worldwide, growth rates take longer to go down as they are time-offset by 15-20 years.

Farmland: Except for the doubling of arable land in Sub-Saharan Africa, the amount of farmland hasn't changed in the last 50 years (note: Europe's data appears faulty). Europe and North America has seen farmland reduced due to urban sprawl. Cities are typically started in the most fertile places when then get paved over.

Farmland per person: The scary trend here is that across the planet, we have less farmland per person. On average, there is 1/2 as much land per person as 50 years ago. How can this be while we are eating more food than ever? See the next chart. Note: a hectare is about 2.5 acres. An acre is about the size of an American football field (excluding end zones). The next time you watch football, that's about an average amount of farmland there is per person. Think how efficient that land must be to be able to feed you and all the animals you eat.

Farmland productivity: OK, the good news is that more efficient crops and the increase use of irrigation and fertilizer has increased how much food can be produced on the same amount of land. In the last 50 years, productivity has tripled in many regions although not nearly as much in Africa. As shown above, Africa's increased food production is mostly from cultivating more land.

Fertilizer/Land: First, this chart only shows data for the last 10 years but shows an increase use of fertilizer. Other sources show that this number has gone up 5 fold in the last 50 years. Fertilizer is made from oil, potassium and phosphorus with the later being the most finite.

Water/Person: In general, it's going down. Many regions compensate by drilling deeper wells of fossil aquifers.

Malnourishment: The good news is that the last 50 years has seen a big drop in the percent of people who go hungry. The big question is will this trend continue... especially in this century and beyond.

Where do we go from here?

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