Thursday, July 05, 2012

Available land

According to this 2005 article of the total of 13 billion hectares of land area on Earth, cropland accounts for 11 percent, pastureland 27 per cent, forested land 32 percent, and urban lands 9 per cent. Most of the remaining 21 percent is unsuitable for crops, pasture, and/or forests because the soil is too infertile or shallow to support plant growth, or the climate and region are too cold, dry, steep, stony, or wet.

These numbers are not static. Forested land is declining (deforestation still outstrips reforestation), unsuitable land is increasing (due to erosion, soil degradation and desertification), urban land is increasing and so, critically, cropland and pastureland is both declining and being forced to rely on more deforestation to prevent further decline. And that's all before we consider sea level rise.

We share one planet between seven billion of us and something like eight million other species. Does my way of life demand more than a fair share?