Forecasting agriculturally driven global environmental change

Tilman, D. and Fargione, J. and Wolff, B. and D'Antonio, C. and Dobson, A. and Howarth, R. and Schindler, D. and Schlesinger, W.H. and Simberloff, D. and Swackhamer, D. (2001) Forecasting agriculturally driven global environmental change. Science (Washington), 292 (5515). pp. 281-284.

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Past global trends and their dependence on global population and gross domestic product was utilized to empirically forecast the potential global environmental impact of agricultural expansion within the next 20 to 50 years. Regression analysis was used to forecast future global trends for each of 7 environmental variables related to agriculture (nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) fertilizers, produced and imported pesticides, irrigated, crop and pasture lands). Mean forecast for global fertilization was 1.6 (N) and 1.4 (P) times more than the present amounts by 2020; 2.7 (N) and 2.4 (P) times more by 2050. Irrigated area was forecast to be 1.3 times the current area in 2020 and 1.9 times as great in 2050. Global pesticide production would be 1.7 times the present amount by 2020 and 2.7 times more by 2050. World trade in pesticides would be 1.6 times present levels by 2020 and 2.7 times present levels by 2050. Global trends for pasture land suggest a net increase of 2.0×108 hectares by 2020 and of 3.5×108 hectares by 2050. In conclusion, the next 50 years may be the final episode of rapid global agricultural expansion if global population will stabilize at 8.5 to 10 billion people. However, during this period, agriculture has potential massive, irreversible environmental impacts. Although there will be mechanisms to reduce or even reverse many of the trends identified, the solutions will not be achieved unless more resources are dedicated to their discovery and implementation.

Item Type: Article
Author Affiliation: Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, 1987 Upper Buford Circle, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA
Subjects: Social Sciences > Agricultural Economics
Environmental Science > Environment
Divisions: Other Crops
Depositing User: Sandhya Gir
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2010 06:25
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2010 06:25
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