(NaturalNews) Food shortages are the biggest threat to global security today, and will soon lead to the collapse of more and more states, according to a warning published in Scientific American by Lester Brown, founder the Worldwatch Institute and founder and head of the Earth Policy Institute.
"For many years I have studied global agricultural, population, environmental and economic trends and their interactions," Brown writes. "The combined effects of those trends and the political tensions they generate point to the breakdown of governments and societies."
The consequences of the growing worldwide food crisis are so severe, Brown warns, that it could "bring down not only individual governments but also our global civilization. ... Our continuing failure to deal with the environmental declines that are undermining the world food economy -- most important, falling water tables, eroding soils and rising temperatures -- forces me to conclude that such a collapse is possible."
Brown notes that demand for food has been growing at a pace that far outstrips growth in supplies. Global grain consumption has exceeded production in six of the past nine years, leading to record shortages in grain stores. At the start of the 2008 harvest, these stores were at one of their lowest levels ever, with only 62 days worth of grain. This situation contributed to a universal surge in food prices, which resulted in riots around the world.
If this situation is not remedied, Brown warns, riots will be only the beginning.
"If the food situation continues to deteriorate, entire nations will break down at an ever increasing rate. ... States fail when national governments can no longer provide personal security, food security and basic social services such as education and health care," he writes.
Because food shortages are driven in large part by environmental degradation, however, Brown warns that there can be no "quick fix" to the problem. Only a radically new way of looking at things -- addressing, at a minimum, the problems of soil degradation, water shortage and global warming -- can save the entire global system from collapse.