In the last century, large-scale agricultural production in Hawai'i has significantly diminished as rice, sugarcane, and pineapple production moved off-island because of rising labor and land costs. As a result, the Big Island of Hawai'i currently imports 85% of its food and its residents spend 22% of their income on imported food.
As Lester Brown details in his latest book, Full Planet, Empty Plates, by 2044, the world population is expected to top 10 billion, and 80 percent of this will be in cities. Increasing poverty and the rise of a global middle class are evolving contemporaneously. Thirty years from now, national security estimates are that the global middle class will grow from 1 billion to 4 billion, mainly in Asia. The middle classes are meat eaters, and meat eaters consume many more calories.
How can humanity manage someday to support more than 9 billion lives on one small planet -- an island floating in an ocean of space -- without destroying the environment? Can our energy systems operate solely on renewable energy and still be affordable? Can we truly feed ourselves from local agriculture and maintain the diets of developed countries?