I’m grateful to my contacts and others who share their views of the critical importance of water and arable land in our lives. Most Westerners take food for granted because they have never wondered where their next meal would be found. European and American “Super” markets stocked with seemingly infinite amounts of food seem to be the norm for us, yet our fortunate existance is but a brief instant in evolutionary terms. Is a fully stocked supermarket something that we can always expect, or is it an unsustainable marvel?
I’d previously mentioned my meeting with “a client who used to head the United Nation’s World Food Programme, [he] indicated to me that we are likely to be facing a global food crisis in the near future.” Already in the United States we are seeing an increase in farmland prices. Just last night Rock Center with Brian Williams did an expose on the dramatic increase in farmland prices in Iowa. Since 2005 prices have doubled and most recently have exceeded $13,000 an acre, in some instances increasing 32% during 2011. What’s of such value in Iowa? “Good dirt” per Brian Williams.
I didn’t catch mention of water in the Rock Center program, but I suppose in Iowa that water is not a problem. This is not the case in the rest of the world though. “Good water”, as I’ll call it only means one thing, rainfall. Here in New Mexico we depend on our acquifers, but without rainfall to offset the drawdown there’s a depletion model somewhere I’m sure.
There are many factors in alignment to create a real problem for humanity in the not too distant future. Ironically some of the most serious are designs to raise living standards in emerging and developed markets, that turn a blind eye to the importance of social and ecological balance. That balance with the environment must be maintained, is probably going to seem like a natural law, not a just theory or an afterthought as it is today.
The rise of farmland prices in Iowa is just the beginning, as global populations rise, we test the elasticity of demand for food and water, and indirectly land.