EDITORIAL| ISLAND VOICES
Hawaii food threat is real, so start planning now
By Kioni Dudley
July 10, 2018
What is Hawaii’s very best-kept secret? No one is telling that our million people will be starving by 2050 if we aren’t growing all of our food locally by then.
While our attention is focused on problems of the world today, we really need to focus on the world’s population explosion and the devastating effect it will soon begin having on Hawaii.
The world’s population took 2½ million years to reach 2 billion people in 1940. Forty years later, that had doubled to 4 billion people. Now 40 years later, it has almost doubled again.
As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue: “Today, we need to feed some 7 billion people (worldwide). By the year 2050, that population will swell to 9.5 billion. To put the demand for food into perspective, we are going to have to double our (worldwide) production between now and 2050.”
That’s a pretty big order. Too big. The United Nations predicts that by 2050, we will have 371 million people with insufficient food. That’s more people than the entire population of the United States.
But mainland America will provide for us, right? Wrong. America is struggling. In the 1990s, it went from a large exporter of food to a net importer today. America also has the world’s seventh-fastest growing population.
Each year, America uses more water to grow more food. All three of America’s largest aquifers are being depleted beyond possible replenishing. The Ogallala Aquifer which runs under our entire central bread basket — from North Dakota to Texas — dropped another foot last year alone. It has lost 60 percent of its water in 60 years. Do the math. In 40 years, it will be dry. America won’t be able to take care of mainlanders, let alone take care of us.
Much of the world is in far worse shape. No one is pointing out that almost every current war in the world is about food for starving people.
Clearly, by mid-century there will be little food anywhere for Hawaii to import, and what is available will be too costly for us to afford. Today Hawaii imports roughly 90 percent of our food.
But our need to produce that 90 percent of our food locally in just 30 years, drastically understates the far greater problem we really face. Our state Department of Business and Economic Development and Tourism recently stated that by 2045 our 1.1 million people will grow to 1.65 million. For every two mouths to feed today, there will be three.
Since we grow 10 percent of our food today, we have thought that we need to produce nine times that by 2050. But with the new DBEDT population projection, in just 25 years we must produce 15 times what we grow now — an absolutely gargantuan task.
If we don’t create a true agricultural revolution NOW, by mid-century, hundreds of thousands of us and our descendants will be desperately hungry, and warring among ourselves for food.
We must wake up and start moving, refocusing our society,
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