Big Problems Require Big Thinking … Our Growing Population And How To Feed It

We have addressed, and will continue  to  address, the issues surrounding how we provide safe drinking water to people locally and nationally.  One of the issues that has caused our water problems has been the expansion of our population that has led  to pollution, loss of  clean water supplies and over use of  chemicals to treat an aging  infrastructure to deliver clean water.   The sheer size of the world’s population is posing  yet another problem, how to feed us  all.

In an exceptional  article in the  Washington  Post, Joel Achenbach says that one of the solutions to feeding the masses involves less reliance on meat  and the adoption of more fruits and vegetables (just  like your mom told you).  Looks like the vegan  lifestyle was more  practical than many of us thought … it is the future.  According to a report published in the journal Nature:

The food system is a major driver of climate change, changes in land use, depletion of freshwater resources, and pollution of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems through excessive nitrogen and phosphorus inputs. Here we show that between   2010 and 2050, as a result of expected changes in population and income levels, the environmental effects of the food  system could increase by 50–90% in the absence of technological changes and dedicated mitigation measures, reaching  levels that are beyond the planetary boundaries that define a safe operating space for humanity. We analyse several options for reducing the environmental effects of the food system, including dietary changes towards healthier, more  plant-based diets, improvements in technologies and management, and reductions in food loss and waste. We find that  no single measure is enough to keep these effects within all planetary boundaries simultaneously, and that a synergistic  combination of measures will be needed to sufficiently mitigate the projected increase in environmental pressures.
One driving factor of the pollution of the earth (and there are many) is the consumption of meat (poultry, beef and pork).  Achenbach’s assessment is that “… efforts to keep climate change at an acceptable level won’t be successful without a huge reduction in meat consumption.”  Eat your veggies.
Here are some other facts you  might find interesting (shocking):
  • Half the planet’s ice-free land surface is devoted to livestock or the growing of feed for those animals, Richardson said. That’s an area equal to North and South America combined
  • Some 70 percent of the world’s fresh water is already used in agriculture
  • Rising income in China and many other formerly impoverished countries brings with it a higher demand for meat and other forms of animal protein
  • The current food system is incredibly wasteful, with about a third of the food produced eventually being discarded because of spoilage
  • About 3 billion people are malnourished today and 1 billion of them suffer from food scarcity

Changes in how we treat our planet will come about by either careful planning or necessity.   I think we know which one is preferred.