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      Global food demand and the sustainable intensification of agriculture.

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

      Internationality, Gross Domestic Product, economics, Food Supply, Crops, Agricultural, Conservation of Natural Resources, Climate, methods, Agriculture

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          Abstract

          Global food demand is increasing rapidly, as are the environmental impacts of agricultural expansion. Here, we project global demand for crop production in 2050 and evaluate the environmental impacts of alternative ways that this demand might be met. We find that per capita demand for crops, when measured as caloric or protein content of all crops combined, has been a similarly increasing function of per capita real income since 1960. This relationship forecasts a 100-110% increase in global crop demand from 2005 to 2050. Quantitative assessments show that the environmental impacts of meeting this demand depend on how global agriculture expands. If current trends of greater agricultural intensification in richer nations and greater land clearing (extensification) in poorer nations were to continue, ~1 billion ha of land would be cleared globally by 2050, with CO(2)-C equivalent greenhouse gas emissions reaching ~3 Gt y(-1) and N use ~250 Mt y(-1) by then. In contrast, if 2050 crop demand was met by moderate intensification focused on existing croplands of underyielding nations, adaptation and transfer of high-yielding technologies to these croplands, and global technological improvements, our analyses forecast land clearing of only ~0.2 billion ha, greenhouse gas emissions of ~1 Gt y(-1), and global N use of ~225 Mt y(-1). Efficient management practices could substantially lower nitrogen use. Attainment of high yields on existing croplands of underyielding nations is of great importance if global crop demand is to be met with minimal environmental impacts.

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          Most cited references 17

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          Global scale climate–crop yield relationships and the impacts of recent warming

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            Global State of Biodiversity and Loss

            Biodiversity, a central component of Earth's life support systems, is directly relevant to human societies. We examine the dimensions and nature of the Earth's terrestrial biodiversity and review the scientific facts concerning the rate of loss of biodiversity and the drivers of this loss. The estimate for the total number of species of eukaryotic organisms possible lies in the 5�15 million range, with a best guess of ~7 million. Species diversity is unevenly distributed; the highest concentrations are in tropical ecosystems. Endemisms are concentrated in a few hotspots, which are in turn seriously threatened by habitat destruction�the most prominent driver of biodiversity loss. For the past 300 years, recorded extinctions for a few groups of organisms reveal rates of extinction at least several hundred times the rate expected on the basis of the geological record. The loss of biodiversity is the only truly irreversible global environmental change the Earth faces today.
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              Agriculture. Nutrient imbalances in agricultural development.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                22106295
                3250154
                10.1073/pnas.1116437108

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