Planet could be 'unrecognizable' by 2050, experts say

Feb 20, 2011
Undated image of Earth's city lights released by NASA. A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an "unrecognizable" world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference Sunday.

A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an "unrecognizable" world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference Sunday.

The United Nations has predicted the will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, "with almost all of the growth occurring in , particularly Africa and South Asia," said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council.

To feed all those mouths, "we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000," said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

"By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable" if current trends continue, Clay said.

The swelling population will exacerbate problems, such as resource depletion, said John Casterline, director of the Initiative in Population Research at Ohio State University.

But incomes are also expected to rise over the next 40 years -- tripling globally and quintupling in developing nations -- and add more strain to global food supplies.

People tend to move up the food chain as their incomes rise, consuming more meat than they might have when they made less money, the experts said.

It takes around seven pounds (3.4 kilograms) of grain to produce a pound of meat, and around three to four pounds of grain to produce a pound of cheese or eggs, experts told AFP.

"More people, more money, more consumption, but the same planet," Clay told AFP, urging scientists and governments to start making changes now to how food is produced.

Population experts, meanwhile, called for more funding for programs to help control the growth in the number of humans, especially in developing nations.

"For 20 years, there's been very little investment in family planning, but there's a return of interest now, partly because of the like global warming and food prices," said Bongaarts.

"We want to minimize population growth, and the only viable way to do that is through more effective family planning," said Casterline.

Explore further: NOAA establishes 'tipping points' for sea level rise related flooding

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

World needs global food system overhaul: report

Jan 24, 2011

The world needs fundamental changes to the global food system to feed the expanding population, according to a British government report out Monday on how to feed the planet until 2050.

Global experts: Warming could double food prices

Dec 01, 2010

(AP) -- Even if we stopped spewing global warming gases today, the world would face a steady rise in food prices this century. But on our current emissions path, climate change becomes the "threat multiplier" ...

UN: Fight climate change with free condoms

Nov 18, 2009

(AP) -- The battle against global warming could be helped if the world slowed population growth by making free condoms and family planning advice more widely available, the U.N. Population Fund said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

New challenges for ocean acidification research

9 hours ago

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide ...

Compromises lead to climate change deal

10 hours ago

Earlier this month, delegates from the various states that make up the UN met in Lima, Peru, to agree on a framework for the Climate Change Conference that is scheduled to take place in Paris next year. For ...

User comments : 22

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Quantum_Conundrum
2.3 / 5 (15) Feb 20, 2011
LOL?

You think Africans care about future generations? They won't even wrap it up or restrain themselves to prevent getting AIDS. Some believe they will even get mystical powers if they ingest contaminated meats. I suppose if there is any bright side it's that AIDS has a critical limit which will eventually be reached which will cause the virus to mostly annihilate itself...if we can keep our own immoral people out of the pants of infectees.

Sadly, this culture of insanity cannot be helped, as people have been trying to help them for centuries.

Yes, we need better food production in the form of hydroponics and aeroponics. These things would make sense even if world population was not increasing.

I want the people to look at those pyramids on the image above this post. Recall, the first "population control" policy: Annihilation of Jewish children by Pharaoh in Egypt.

Now we're going to have a government who will want to tell you who can "breed" and when.
Quantum_Conundrum
2.1 / 5 (14) Feb 20, 2011
If not for consumerism and insane wastes in modern civilization, the pollution problems would almost be a non-issue.

The Solar Constant is over 10,000 times greater than the energy humans use for all of our technology and foods combined. The energy to both feed humans and recycle all resources is available, governments and greedy corporations are just too greedy to admit it, because they want control of everything. If resources are not artificially limited by governments and corporations, they would not be able to control and manipulate every aspect of our lives as they do now.
Quantum_Conundrum
1.5 / 5 (17) Feb 20, 2011
The devil has no new tricks.

It's back to infanticide:

Pharaoh of egypt
baal worship and other cannibals and human sacrificers
Herod and the massacre
Hitler
China and Russian communism
Modern Abortion (more than all others combined.)

Next, they'll want everyone to have a "parenting license" or fine anyone who has a child "illegally", or even confiscate and kill your child.

Is this the kind of power you fools want "governments" to have? Because that's where it's headed. Selective breeding and selective infanticide of human beings by self-appointed progressive "Tsars" and Pharaohs.
Quantum_Conundrum
1.3 / 5 (13) Feb 20, 2011
yeah well, when they show up at your door and tell you who you can fuck and how often, then you'll know what I'm talking about.
Loodt
1.8 / 5 (17) Feb 20, 2011
...By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable" if current trends continue, Clay said...

That is only 39 years hence.

What rubbish, will the planet be a cube?
Michael_Schlabig
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 20, 2011
"Population experts, meanwhile, called for more funding for family planning programs to help control the growth in the number of humans, especially in developing nations."

WRONG, in the US family planning is in the process of becoming illegal. As with all resources, the only family planning the Rethuglicans feel works is creating unnatural disasters that kills a huge population of people who are soaking up those resources to get them out of the way. IE Louisiana, first the lack of support for Katrina and now the Huge oil spill to help "move" the populous out of the area so that the fat bulbous energy companies (oil specifically) can get to the rich resources of Shale there under the whole area. They would love nothing more to have no one there when they drill.
FrankHerbert
3.3 / 5 (14) Feb 20, 2011
Quantum_Conundrum, last time I checked god killed a lot more infants than anyone in the bible.
kaasinees
2.4 / 5 (11) Feb 20, 2011
Yeah God is the evil one, not the devil. If God was so good and oh so mighty why would satan betray him?

Yet more hypocrosy in the bible to reveal.
stealthc
3 / 5 (6) Feb 20, 2011
give the eugenecists more money, they'll solve that population issue for you.
Burnerjack
3 / 5 (2) Feb 20, 2011
Why would a culture which views long term as the end of the month care about aids, population control or anything else?
When I promoted the idea of an aerosol contraceptive that would make it more difficult to conceive I was scoffed at. "James Bond type madman" I believe, or some such. Maybe it was a bad idea, but IMHO the root cause of most our ills is our unbridled success as a species.
Maybe, just offering cash payment for sterilization is the answer. Of course, many would argue that the poor would be unfairly targeted. Maybe so. Does it not make sense that the first to give up the power of procreation be those least able to care for their offspring? As long as its by free will without trickery, it may not be bad at all. Problem is, economists and capitalists view an ever increasing population as an ever larger market. The political leaders view it as more people equals more power. Less than unity gain for 2 generations may help in allowing the "problem solvers" to catch up.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.2 / 5 (10) Feb 20, 2011
Yeah God is the evil one, not the devil. If God was so good and oh so mighty why would satan betray him?

Yet more hypocrosy in the bible to reveal.
Satan did not betray god. They worked together. Satan asked permission to test Job for instance.

You're right, the god meme is 'evil' as are all the institutions it generates.
that_guy
1 / 5 (3) Feb 21, 2011
...By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable" if current trends continue, Clay said...

That is only 39 years hence.

What rubbish, will the planet be a cube?


Why's everyone blamming this comment? I think it's pretty clever. I give it a five star all you haters. :)
ODesign
not rated yet Feb 21, 2011
It sounds like a reasonable conclusion, but it would be interesting to speculate further what the planet might look like.

Simply saying it's unknown gives little guidance to how to cope with the changes. The problem is obviously more complex than weather prediction and more complex than predicting global warming, but should be understandable using the same systems modeling techniques. It would be most interesting to get rough magnitude of the complexity of modeling the system graphed against expectations of our computer and systems modeling technology advancement rate.

By 2050, we will understand the problem better and have better solutions.
NickFun
not rated yet Feb 21, 2011
Hey, in 2050 I'll be 90 years old. Time for me to go anyway! I just regret what may happen to my kids and grandkids...
Modernmystic
2 / 5 (4) Feb 22, 2011
If current trends continue we'll have mature nanotechnology by 2050 and the morons who write produce idiotic "research" like this will be jobless because no one will be able to cry wolf anymore with ANY level of credibility...

Food will be so cheap they'll be slapping an advertisement for a more expensive product on it and giving it away...kinda like they do with matchbooks now.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (4) Feb 22, 2011
give the eugenecists more money, they'll solve that population issue for you.


Either that or have people keep apologizing for fascist Islamic f***s and make sure they get a couple of nukes to toss at Israel. I guarantee you the population will be a LOT less the day after that...
GaryB
not rated yet Feb 26, 2011
yeah well, when they show up at your door and tell you who you can fuck and how often, then you'll know what I'm talking about.


I am one of the "they" of whom you speak and I'd like you to refrain from breeding. The species thanks you.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (3) Feb 27, 2011
yeah well, when they show up at your door and tell you who you can fuck and how often, then you'll know what I'm talking about.


WTF?! Who do you think is trying to tell people who they can fuck!? The goddamn christians! We already have laws that say homosexuality is illegal in some states. We have laws against their marriage. We have people like you trying to tell women they can't have an abortion; Effectively telling them what to do with their bodies. The catholics tell the Africans not to use condoms!This is the reason for rampant birth rates and AIDS! And the bible tells them to not suffer a witch, so they burn sorcerers! Who put this idea into their heads of supernatural danger and the "evils" of homosexuality? YOU DID! With all your Devil talk! And top it off with nearly half of Americans who don't give a shit about Earth because they think Jesus is coming back soon to fix it! Holy fuck, if that post wasn't the pot calling the kettle black! Religion FTL.
GuruShabu
1 / 5 (2) Feb 28, 2011
With the models they use one can say anything.
However, it is worth to remind everyone that not only a single model used in the world presently takes into account insignificant factor such as El Niño or have any clue on how clouds form...
GuruShabu
1 / 5 (2) Feb 28, 2011
Using their models one can say anything but I think it would worth reming everyone that the IPCC models (or in fact, any present model) take into account insignificant things such as El Niño or how clouds form. Not to mention aerosols, albedo, etc...
these models cannot predict a year ahead but they try to scare the people and spread all this rubbish through the media. Goebbels maximum apply: keep on repeating anything long enough and people will believe it!
GuruShabu
2 / 5 (4) Feb 28, 2011
pure rubbish...these models (IPCC ones and ALL present weather models) do not take into account insignificant factors such as El Nino, or how clouds form (to say the least!).
They cannot forecast next week weather but they keep on pressing the media and the media keep on spreading this nonsense so people end up believing it!
GuruShabu
1 / 5 (3) Feb 28, 2011
Sorry for the repetition but my browser was saying I had a problem so I have written 3 times...a little bit differently but with the same points.
The message is: Don't ever believe on pseudo science with agenda such as Global Warming.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.