Did you see last Friday’s cartoon? The statistic is startling. The United Nations confirms that 12 million hectares of land useful farming land is lost each year.[1] That’s an area almost one and a half times the size of Ireland.

There are only 150 million km2 of land area in the entire world. 34% of that is hostile to vegetation and therefore unusable.[2] A quick calculation tells us we only have 800 years…

The issues around land use disproportionately affect poorer nations. Desertification, where soil is washed or blown away and only dry sand left behind, happens primarily in dry regions. Land which was once vibrant and green becomes arid desert. 9 out of 10 people living in dry regions live in developing countries. High proportions of the population in these countries already live in poverty. Desertification robs them of hope as the land on which there families eek out an existence is gradually rendered useless. Imagine if you had to see your land, the means by which you scraped a living, year by year gradually turned into desert. Lives are ruined by the powerful force of desertification.

Meanwhile, Ireland wastes around one billion kilograms of food per year – enough to give a feast to the entire population of India. A third of food we buy in Ireland just ends up in the bin! Even more staggeringly, it has been suggested that one billion people living in hunger could be saved from malnourishment on less than one quarter of our food waste in the USA, UK and Europe. We feed our bins more each day than some would dream of eating in a week!

Any ideas on how to put this right?



[1] ‘Desertification: Environmental Degradation’, http://www.un.org/en/events/desertificationday/background.shtml, accessed 9 December 2014.

[2] ‘Human Appropriation of the World’s Food Supply’, http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/food_supply/food.htm, accessed 9 December 2014.