Today, a child was born somewhere (one article I saw cited the Philipines) as the 7 billionth member of the world’s population. The largest group of people I have ever been around at one time is when I have attended Husker football games in Memorial Stadium – my husband would say that there are some 86,000 people in a space built for about 75,000. No, he is not a fan, but yes, he loves me so he has gone with me a couple of times (oh, don’t worry, I’m sure I earned the blessing of his company by helping him with some not-so-fun task for me).
So, with that Memorial Stadium picture in mind – 86,000 people, I am trying to envision 7 billion…that is one crazy big number, and with current trends, we are well on our way to 9 billion in just a few more decades!
Someone with much more time on their hands that I, figured out that if you start with 1 grain of rice and work towards one cup of rice, it takes 5 cups of rice to make 1 kilogram of rice. 7 billion grains of rice is equal to 200,000 kilograms or 1,000,000 cups of rice. Someone else decided to calculate what walking 7 billion steps would look like. I am energetic, but to take 7 billion steps, you would travel around the earth 133 times and it would take 152 years to get it done!
What does all of this mean for me and my farm? Constant demand for product for one thing. The more mouths there are to feed, the more food we need to keep everyone fed. So now the big question – how does that get accomplished? Statistics out there show that we need to double our current production by the year 2050 in order to meet global food demand. In addition, we have to be careful to utilize methods of production that are sustainable both environmentally and economically. I see job security for many, many scientists and analysts for a good number of years!
All of this seems like an almost insurmountable task – it is extremely overwhelming to think of every bit of information and risk and opportunity that lies ahead of us. But, think about the generations who lived before us. My Grandma Emma was born in 1915 and spent every day of her entire life living on a farm.
Just think about what she saw in her lifetime. She went from farming with horses to farming with tractors. She and grandpa went from picking ear corn to harvesting with a combine and storing in modern grain bins. They went from driving cattle to hauling cattle in trucks that would only hold 10 head to using semi trucks that will carry 45 head of mature cattle. If we embrace technology, be considerate of the environment, and can be half as innovative as the generations before us, we will accomplish growing enough food to take care of everyone. What we have to accomplish in the next 30 years is a very, very complex situation, but I am extremely encouraged by what agriculturists have done so far – for example, we have created and eliminated the use of some very dangerous pesticides by breeding plants that are resistant to harmful pests & now we no longer have to use those pesticides. We have bred hybrids of grain to increase production while decreasing inputs of fertilizer and water. (Refer back to my blog about GMO’s; I really appreciated a comment that included this link.) We have bred animals to consume less food while still growing and staying healthy. All of this demonstrates the willingness and desire of farmers to continue to do better.
Our entire time on earth as humans is spent learning and improving(or at least it should be!), regardless or our occupation. We have done well in agriculture & food production, and now we need to do more and better. There is a lot of job security in working toward achieving food security. While there are still some farmers participating in #occupycombine this fall, I will head home from work and #occupycattlepen and then #occupykitchen.
Tomorrow check back for the start of a several-part series I am writing on “the dash”.