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Feeding ten billion people is possible within four terrestrial planetary boundaries
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Number of Authors: 112020 (English)In: Nature Sustainability, E-ISSN 2398-9629Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Global agriculture puts heavy pressure on planetary boundaries, posing the challenge to achieve future food security without compromising Earth system resilience. On the basis of process-detailed, spatially explicit representation of four interlinked planetary boundaries (biosphere integrity, land-system change, freshwater use, nitrogen flows) and agricultural systems in an internally consistent model framework, we here show that almost half of current global food production depends on planetary boundary transgressions. Hotspot regions, mainly in Asia, even face simultaneous transgression of multiple underlying local boundaries. If these boundaries were strictly respected, the present food system could provide a balanced diet (2,355 kcal per capita per day) for 3.4 billion people only. However, as we also demonstrate, transformation towards more sustainable production and consumption patterns could support 10.2 billion people within the planetary boundaries analysed. Key prerequisites are spatially redistributed cropland, improved water-nutrient management, food waste reduction and dietary changes. Agriculture transforms the Earth and risks crossing thresholds for a healthy planet. This study finds almost half of current food production crosses such boundaries, as for freshwater use, but that transformation towards more sustainable production and consumption could support 10.2 billion people.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020.
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Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178803DOI: 10.1038/s41893-019-0465-1ISI: 000508322400001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-178803DiVA, id: diva2:1393567
Available from: 2020-02-17 Created: 2020-02-17 Last updated: 2020-03-05

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Fetzer, IngoKummu, MattiRockström, Johan
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Stockholm Resilience Centre
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