Fixing World Hunger and Rising Ocean Levels

A lot of people around the world go hungry every day while ocean levels rise, threatening island nations and coastal cities. What if I told you there’s a way to fix both of these problems at once?

According the the World Health Organization (WHO), world hunger affects 815 million people in 2016, which is over 10% of the population. To make matters worse, this number is increasing. WHO points to climate change as one of the factors causing the increase. Today, I offer a solution: why not feed all the hungry people food made from the teeming wildlife occupying the vast ocean, removing all of them from the seas and lowering ocean levels via displacement?

First, let’s look at how much food we could actually get from all of the organisms living in the oceans. There is an estimated 6 billion tonnes (metric tons) of carbon in the ocean biomass. The average American eats 905 kilograms (1,996 pounds) of food each year (in 2011 numbers). Let’s round that down to 900 kilos/person/year, which is 0.9 tonnes, and round the world’s population up to 9 million people going hungry. That comes out to

0.9 tonnes/person/year × 9.0×106 persons = 8.1×106 tonnes/year of food for all of the world’s hungry people.

And we get 6.0×109 tonnes of food from all of the sea carbon wet biomass. Which means we have

6.0×109 tonnes / 8.1×106 tonnes/year = ~740 years

Meaning we can feed 9 million hungry people for 740 years from stores made of all of the ocean’s wildlife. Boom, world hunger solved.

And the other benefit is that this will reduce ocean water levels.

We’re going based on the carbon weight of the planet’s wet biomass. Carbon has a density of 2.26 kg/m3. There is 1000 kg in a tonne, so that comes out to 0.00226 tonnes/m3 for carbon. So we can use our 6.0×109 tonnes from the carbon in earth’s wet biomass to get

6.0×109 tonnes / 0.00226 tonnes/m3 = 2.7×1012 m3 of water displacement.

If we take earth’s oceans to have 3.6×1014 m2 of surface area, we will lower the ocean’s water level by

2.7×1012 m3 / 3.6×1014 m2 = 0.007 m

Or, in other words, by 7 millimeters.

But hey, at least I’m offering ideas. And you never know, maybe they’ll need more water to wash down all that fish, which will bring ocean levels down even more and…and…ah, screw it, I don’t see you doing any better!