Without major changes to global policies, society could catastrophically collapse as soon as 2040 due to food shortages and ensuing "unprecedented epidemic of food riots," according to a new scientific model supported by Lloyds of London and the United Kingdom's Foreign Office.
Developed by a team at Anglia Ruskin University's Global Sustainability Institute, the model uses system dynamics modeling to reach a conclusion that civilizations' current trajectory is simply unsustainable, reported The Independent.
"We ran the model forward to the year 2040, along a business-as-usual trajectory based on 'do-nothing' trends - that is, without any feedback loops that would change the underlying trend," Aled Jones, director of the Global Sustainability Institute, told Insurge Intelligence.
"The results show that based on plausible climate trends, and a total failure to change course, the global food supply system would face catastrophic losses, and an unprecedented epidemic of food riots. In this scenario, global society essentially collapses as food production falls permanently short of consumption."
The model follows a Lloyds of London "Emerging Risk Report," which concludes, "The global food system is under chronic pressure to meet an ever-rising demand, and its vulnerability to acute disruptions is compounded by factors such as climate change, water stress, ongoing globalization and heightening political instability."
Lloyds laid out a scenario in which a combination of three catastrophic weather events could significantly hamper world food production, resulting in production shortfalls and price spikes.
Wheat, maize and soybean prices could easily "increase to quadruple the levels seen around 200," while the price of rice could increase by 500 percent. "Food riots break out in urban areas across the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America. The euro weakens and the main European stock markets lose 10 percent of their value; U.S. stock markets follow and lose 5 percent of their value."
The report noted, "What is striking about the scenario is that the probability of occurrence is estimated as significantly higher than the benchmark return period of 1:200 years applied for assessing insurers' ability to pay claims against extreme events."
It continues: "A global production shock of the kind set out in this scenario would be expected to generate major economic and political impacts that could affect clients across a very wide spectrum of insurance classes."
To relieve the stress and close the gap between food supply and demand, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that global agricultural production will need to more than double by 2050, according to Lloyds.
In another warning from the United Nations last year, its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released what scientific critics say is a highly conservative report warning that humanity risks a "breakdown of food systems linked to warming, drought, flooding and precipitation variability and extremes," The Washington Post reported.