Worldwide urbanization, salination and desertification (Google Alert – Peakfood)

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Google Alert for desertification


They don’t make Land anymore

July 20th, 2007 by JohnEven though there is still some relatively small areas of underused land in parts of the old Soviet Union and elsewhere, worldwide we are losing vast areas to desertification, salination and the paving over for new housing, industry roads and other transport infrastructure. Most unused land in the world is either too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry,  too steep or too rocky. With rapid urbanisation happening in most parts of the world, it’s mainly using up flat, fertile land on coastal plains or near rivers. Cities are rarely built in deserts or on mountain sides. China’s population is expected to stabilize at 1.6 billion by 2030 and by then the urban population will have increased by 350 million to 880 million. Analysts from Investec say that to house these people will need almost 50 cities the size of greater London It is hard to imagine the loss of good agricultural land this will cause, but similar urbanisation is taking place in India and the rest of the world.

Most land that has been brought in to farming recently is from rainforest. This is, of course, an ecological disaster and is being discouraged, but in any case much of the rainforest now being destroyed is going in to biofuel production, either palm oil for biodiesel or sugar cane for ethenol.

With world population expected to increase by 1.4 billion to 8 billion by 2025, and most wanting to move up the food chain by eating more meat, there will surely soon be a desperate shortage of good farmland.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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