A Growing World Without the Resources to Sustain It

November 30, 2017
By Anonymous

The global population is continuing to grow but our agricultural resources are in danger of not being able to keep up.  It is the responsibility of those living in wealthy countries, who have access to the technology and machinery that can be of use to us, to address this problem.  The citizens of the United States of America, one of the world’s most industrialized countries, often burn more fossil fuels than needed and use fertilizers and pesticides that have potentially harmful effects on our environment.  Over the next thirty years, our planet’s population is expected to grow by about two and one half billion people.  This population growth will create an unbelievable challenge for food producers.  It is estimated that we will need to produce more food in the next forty years than all the world’s farmers have produced combined over the past eight thousand years.  The idea of producing significantly more food without using more of the earth’s limited resources seems nearly impossible.  We are at the risk of excessive pollution and climate endangerment that could negatively impact the future generations of our world.  The population will continue to grow but our current ability to produce food will not be able to keep up.

Currently, the people of the Netherlands are in the process of changing and inventing new methods of agriculture and farming.  This relatively small country, only one thousand miles from the Arctic Circle, is making optimal use of their limited land by farming twenty-four hours a day and using greenhouses to grow crops all year around.  Amazingly, the small nation that is the Netherlands is the world’s leading exporter of potatoes and onions.  The people of the Netherlands, also called the Dutch, are reducing the use of their resources while still producing larger amounts of food than they were before.  The Dutch are making use of technology and farming in a manner that makes the most of their limited land resources.  Nearly twenty years ago, Dutch farmers, with the support of their government, set a goal of producing twice as much food while using half the resources that would traditionally be used.  These Dutch farmers have made incredible breakthroughs in agriculture and food production.  In the National Geographic, there is an example of a farmer producing twenty tons of potatoes per acre, while the worldwide average is only nine tons per acre.  These people are having incredible successes while using ninety percent less water than traditional farming and nearly eliminating the need for potentially harmful pesticides by using greenhouses.  In addition to pest control, greenhouses allow farmers to produce crops all year.  In order for us Americans to avoid future food shortages, we should embrace practices that are successful around the world.  We can sustain a reliable food source for the future and also limit pollution and global impact by embracing some of the methods that the Dutch use. 

If the United States were to embrace the systems that the Dutch have had success with, we would be able to make more than we do today and have less of our resources go to waste.  We would also be able to depend on the usage of fossil fuels less and have fewer harmful chemicals run off into groundwater, rivers, and lakes.  In addition, the United States could use its influence as a world leader to encourage other industrialized nations to farm more effectively while consuming fewer resources.  If the majority of the countries in the world will embrace the Netherlands’ approach to agriculture, we will be able to begin to solve one of the planet’s largest challenges.  The willingness of Dutch farmers to use the latest technology and science has allowed a nation that is more than two hundred times smaller than the United States to be a world leader in agricultural production.  If we do not act soon, up to one billion people may be without enough food in the very near future.

The author's comments:

Works Cited:
Viviano, Frank. “A Tiny Country Feeds the World.” National Geographic, September 2017, pp.82-109

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