Hawaii's Best Kept Secret
by Kioni Dudley
"What is Hawaii’s very best kept secret? No one is telling us that our million people will be starving by 2050 if we aren’t growing all of our food locally by then. That’s a fact.
While our attention is focused on problems of the world today, we really need to focus on the world’s population explosion and the devastating effect it will soon begin having on Hawaii.
The world’s population took 2 ½ million years to reach two billion people in 1940. Forty years later, that 2 had doubled to 4 billion people. Now 40 years later that 4 has almost doubled again. As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue: “Today, we need to feed some 7 billion people (worldwide). By the year 2050, that population will swell to 9.5 billion. To put the demand for food into perspective, we are going to have to double our (worldwide) production between now and 2050.” That is, “we will have to produce more food in the next 30 years than has been produced in the last 8,000 years combined.”
That’s a pretty big order. Too big. The United Nations predicts that by 2050, we will have 371 million people with insufficient food. That’s more people than the entire population of the United States.
But mainland America will provide for us, right? Wrong. America is struggling. In the 1990s, it went from a large exporter of food to a net importer today. America also has the world’s 7th fastest growing population.
Each year, America uses more water to grow more food. All three of America’s largest aquifers are being depleted beyond possible replenishing. The Ogallala Aquifer which runs under our entire central bread basket—from North Dakota to Texas—dropped another foot last year alone. It has lost 60% of its water in 60 years. Do the math. In forty years, it will be dry. America won’t be able to take care of mainlanders, let alone take care of us.
Much of the world is in far worse shape. No one is pointing out that almost every current war in the world is about food for starving people.
Clearly, by mid-century there will be little food anywhere for Hawaii to import, and what is available will be too costly for us to afford. Today Hawai’i imports roughly 90% of our food.
But our need to produce that 90% of our food locally in just thirty years, drastically understates the far greater problem we really face. Our State DBEDT recently stated that by 2045 our 1.1 million people will grow to 1.65 million. For every two mouths to feed today, there will be three.
Since we grow 10% of our food today, we have thought that we need to produce 9 times that by 2050. But with the new DBEDT population projection, in just 25 years we must produce 15 times what we grow now—an absolutely gargantuan task.
If we don’t create a true agricultural revolution NOW, by mid-century, hundreds of thousands of us and our descendants will be emaciated, desperately hungry, and warring among ourselves for food, with death everywhere.
We must wake up and start moving, refocusing our society, re-casting our goals. Food production must become our fastest growing industry. We need an explosion of farming. And it must start now.
What do we need to do? Everything. We need a major push to attract young people to farming, and to greatly expand high school and college programs to train them. We need to open up former sugar and pineapple lands for new farmers. We need to stop all housing development on currently active farmland. We need cattle ranches, dairies, piggeries, and chicken farms. And we need to raise the various foods for all those animals. We need farm equipment stores, and food processing plants. There is good money in farming, and good money in all these businesses.
We can starve, or we can have a great future. Let the revolution begin!
More information and documentation can be found at www.2050Hawaii.com.
DR. KIONI DUDLEY is a retired educator who lives in Makakilo.