Arable lands - what should we grow?


The land surface of earth is 149,000,000 square kilometers or 14.9 billion hectares - this before the first expected sea level raise of 6-7 meters will become true when the ice shelf covering Greenland melts within the next 100 years or so. 

With 6.7 billion people each of us could have a parcel of 2.2 hectares (5.5 acres).  What would you do with this land?

About 40%of it would be wasteland (mountains, deserts and similar), one quarter would be forests from which one half you should actually protect as it consists of rainforest and the wildlife habitats that they need to survive. The rest or about 30% (0.66 hectares) are currently used for pastures, cereal production, orchards - i.e. all what we need to survive.  

What about the wasteland that adds up to 0.88 hectares.  If you would be young and have a spade and some tools you could make at least part of your your  wasteland usable - not a big deal.  It would require work, water, a thin layer of soil, perhaps some glass houses, a wind turbine, some solar cells, composting,  a waste boiler, a battery system, and some heating or cooling or both.  But if you would do just that you could grow  anything you would desire. 

In global scale the forested area today is about 4 billion hectares.  Unfortunately, this is decreasing at a rate of 30 million hectares per year cut for pastures and agriculture to fill the needs of the growing populations. We estimate that half plus, or 6 billion hectares from the remaining 10.9 billion hectares is undeveloped land, like the Saharan desert, Alaska, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, most of Siberia, central Australia, Antarctica, etc.  We are doing very little to utilize these lands as per today but don't count this to remain that way much longer.  

At the end we get everything we need to live  from a land area of about 5 billion hectares.  We have plenty of technology available to do much more but we seem to rather waste our strength in useless political muscle flexing and squabbles, and especially in climbing some ant hills in the middle of nowhere to yell to the world that this is ours now and we are the best and the strongest in the world - and what then?  No Nation has ever been able to hold their hilltops that long anyhow!

Now our lobbyists are telling to our leaders that we can replace all oil by making energy from our forests.  True, if we cut cut them out we can do this for few decades, but when the last tree is gone  we will turn to a huge Easter Island on the Southern Pacific.

The table below tells the reality form of our current ability to grow both food and wood.  Note that the numbers on biomass can be reached only in industrial environments and not done beyond large scale laboratory tests - all operational but nobody is interested to take the next step and move it all to a large scale even if it offers a real opportunity to utilize our vast sunny deserts like we have e.g. in  Sahara and Death Valley:

Food Production

Units (as harvested)

Growth in India

Best in the World

       

Rice

kg / hectare

1756

5475

Wheat

kg / hectare

2117

7716

Corn

kg /  hectare

1606

9091

Soybeans

kg /  hectare

804

3450

Peanuts

kg /  hectare

929

4600

Potatoes

kg /  hectare

15,817

45,349

Sugar Cane

kg /  hectare

65,382

135,448

       

Biomass Production

Units (as dry material)

Growth above 60th Latitude

Best in the World

       

Estimates for Wood

kg / hectare

1,750

15,000

Estimates for Algae

kg / hectare

15,000

200,000+

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