By Wayne Roberts
Citywatch: Whether it’s action or traction in the food world, cities are stepping up to the plate. The world is fast going urban, as are challenges of social, economic and environmental well-being. Citywatch is crucial to Worldwatch. Wayne Roberts, retired manager of the world-renowned Toronto Food Policy Council, has his eye out for the future of food in the city.
Last week, the flashbulb explosion met the population explosion, as news cameras clicked at several newborns identified as the seventh billion humans in the world. Now that the global birthday party is over, it’s time for new thinking about preparing food for a party of seven billion.
As our population continues to grow, improving urban policies are key to ensure food security in cities. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)
Any amount of food multiplied by seven billion is going to be a big number. Resources required will be almost seven times higher than when Thomas Malthus wrote his famous essay on human population, with its doomsday prediction that food production could never expand as rapidly as population growth, thereby condemning large numbers to hunger and want. And there’s little doubt the number will get larger, likely nine billion by 2050.
Human numbers have climbed from about 200 million in Christ’s time, to about a billion at the time of the American and French Revolutions, to some 3.5 billion during the 1960s era of birth control pills and “sexual revolution”—the term “population bomb” was coined in that decade—and then started hitting new growth plateaus every decade, not every other century or millennia. Nine billion people are expected for the birthday party in 2050.