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Thursday, 07 July 2011 14:34

Articles in the regular newspapers and  on-line which I have read in the past few days are stirring some concerns in me. These articles are in three areas – climate change, threatened food security and growing world population. The more I  think about these topics the more convinced I am that they are all inter-related and inter-linked.

In his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” Al Gore was a very persuasive advocate for facing the reality of climate change, which will bring about global warming, ferociously strong and destructive weather phenomena  and  water shortage in many parts of the world. These in turn will radically affect production of food to feed the great population of the world.

Up to now there are groups which are still nay-sayers  to the phenomenon of climate change. Some of them question not only the science behind the projection but also  those who are trying very hard to propagate the warnings about climate change. The nay-sayers call the  second group  the doom-sayers.

Even if we don’t take all that the climate change advocates  say about the possible impact of climate change on our planet we do know that already severe weather phenomena are impacting on agricultural productivity. Too much water and too little water are creating havoc on food harvests. In one country in Africa  it has not rained in 60 months. On the other hand in the recent serious  flooding in Australia, the US and in our own Philippines crops have been destroyed. The UN is very much concerned about  food supplies, which even now is affecting the very poor in many places in the world.

Assuming that country populations stay the same, a diminished food supply will certainly result in negative impact on people who do not even meet the minimum food requirements  at present. What can we look forward to if the populations rise?

The article on population increase did not make a reference to the Philippines. However it said that the US, which had a population count of 308 million in 2010, will grow to 423 million by 2050. This means a 37% increase in 40 years, or simply something like 0.9% a year.

I don’t have the data but my guess is that our annual population increase is higher than that. What then are the plans of the Philippines to meet the food demands of the 2050 population? This is  of special concern because so many in our country do not have enough to eat. Even the staple of the country, rice, is not produced sufficiently to adequately  feed the majority of the 90 million Filipinos at present.  All those rice imports of the Arroyo administration are testaments of this situation. Of course Filipinos do not all have to eat rice; there are other crops that can become the staple , like corn, cassava, camote or bananas. But are we planting enough of these possible substitutes to rice in our diet?    Maintaining our present crop yields of rice and corn and the substitutes for these cereals (cassava, camote, etc.) will not be good enough because these are already short of our needs at present. We need to think ahead and plan for our needs and factor in such variables as climate change and population growth if we want to avoid the very serious possibility of food shortages in our country. --REMEDIOS F. MARMOLEÑO