With a population approaching 9 billion,* the world now requires over 50% more food than it did at the beginning of the century.* At the same time, however, many regions are faced with peak phosphorous* and the effects of climate change which are beginning to accelerate.*
Africa's Sahel region – which transitions between the Sahara in the north and Sudanian Savannas in the south – is threatened by ever-worsening droughts and desertification. Indian and Southeast Asian crop yields, meanwhile, are being hit by increasingly violent and irregular monsoons. Pakistan is experiencing shortfalls of water due to receding snowcaps that are the main source of its rivers. Farms in South America, too, are being badly affected by ice loss. The once fertile plains of the American Midwest have been ravaged by dust-bowlification, while European nations in the Mediterranean are struggling with chronic drought.
A number of regions, however, are actually prospering at this time – these include Canada, Russia and Scandinavia. Melting permafrost and a retreating polar icecap have opened up vast tracts of land in the north. Russia is benefiting the most of all, now that seemingly endless stretches of arable land are appearing in Siberia. The country is taking full advantage of this, with areas being quickly bought up and divided for farms.
2030-2039 climate change global warming
Credit: University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
In previous decades, genetic engineering was viewed with suspicion. In today's world of increasing food stress, nations are readily adopting this and other methods. Russia is no exception, with GM crops being widely used throughout the country. Vertical farms, too, are being deployed more rapidly in response to the warmer climate. Third-generation biofuels – such as genetically-engineered algae and halophyte plants – have also emerged. Aquaculture is being expanded all along Russia's northern coast, due to rapid warming and melting of the Arctic. Climate change is having another benefit here, since it is increasing the stock of herring, cod, capelin, and mackerel in the region, allowing the expansion of traditional wild-catch fishing. Changing currents and warming seas have resulted in a more north-eastward distribution of the fish stock located in the Barents Sea, at great benefit to the Russian exclusive economic zone. With the Barents Sea largely free of ice for many months,* production of cod alone has jumped by over 50%.*
Besides food, Russia is now also secure in terms of fresh water. With much of Brazil affected by chronic droughts, Russia along with Canada holds an increasingly large percentage of the world's available fresh water. Now that it is able to support itself, Russian food is in great demand, especially in Europe and Central Asia. Russia's influence on the world stage grows considerably during the 2030s.*
In light of the unfolding crisis in Europe, this constitutes a significant shift in power and resources, which inevitably results in friction with the other superpowers. One side effect of this, however, is the increasing flow of immigrants and refugees attracted by Russia's new-found abundance and wealth. Many are fleeing resource conflicts throughout Eurasia. Due to its sheer size, it is virtually impossible for Russia to fully close its borders. This is a particular issue with those fleeing the drought-stricken Tibetan Plateau of Western China.
As a result of all this, Russia's population has begun to stabilise, having recently undergone a decline. This trend is due to both domestic food security and the growing numbers of immigrants fleeing disasters at lower latitudes.
2035-2040 Russia is a global food superpower
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