Friday, December 14, 2018

Eating the World

If everyone in the world had the same diet as an average American then the Earth would soon run out of food. What we eat is extremely important in determining the amount of land required to produce our food. Livestock takes up nearly 80% of global agricultural land, yet produces less than 20% of the world's supply of calories. If every country in the world adopted the US's meat based diet then we would need 138% of the world's current habitable land area. In other words we would be incapable of feeding ourselves.

Our World in Data has created an interactive map which shows the share of global habitable land needed for agriculture if everyone had the diet of each country. The countries colored red on the map all have diets which would be completely unsustainable if the whole world adopted the same diet.

Currently around 50% of the world's habitable land is used for agriculture (77% livestock & 23% crops). The countries colored green on the map are those with diets which if adopted worldwide would allow the world to continue using 50% (or less) of habitable land for agriculture. The countries colored yellow have diets which if copied across the globe would mean we had to increase the percentage of habitable land devoted to agriculture. This could be feasible as none of these country's diets would require more than 100% of habitable land being used for producing the world's food requirement.

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