Competition over natural resources: A global perspective shows that agriculture has become more efficient, but competition for natural resources has increased over the past five decades as population growth, shifting eating habits, industrial growth, urbanization, and climate change have affected consumption patterns. These unsustainable rivalries have resulted in the degradation of land, deforestation, and scarcity of water. Some efforts to minimize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have inadvertently exacerbated the competition for land and water. As a result of this shift, resource-intensive bioenergy production has become a priority over the production of alternative, more sustainable energy sources.
Future challenges include whether today’s agriculture and food systems can meet the demand for food of a population that is expected to exceed nine billion by mid-century and reach more than 11 billion in the next few decades. Despite already scarce land and water resources and climate change, will we be able to meet output increases as our demands increase? The general consensus is that current systems are capable of providing adequate nutrition, but that large-scale, sustainable changes will be necessary to accomplish this.