Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by martyb on Tuesday January 11, @04:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the Betteridge-says-"No" dept.

Can We Feed Billions of Ourselves Without Wrecking the Planet?

We are now producing more food more efficiently than ever, and there is plenty to go around for a human population of 7 billion. But it is coming at a drastic cost in environmental degradation, and the bounty is not reaching many people.

Sustainable Food Production, a new Earth Institute primer from Columbia University Press, explores how modern agriculture can be made more environmentally benign, and economically just. With population going to maybe 10 billion within 30 years, the time to start is now, the authors say.

The lead author is ecologist Shahid Naeem, director of the Earth Institute for Environmental Sustainability. He coauthored the book with former Columbia colleagues Suzanne Lipton and Tiff van Huysen.

This is an interesting interview with the author. Do you agree (or disagree) with his conclusions?

Columbia Climate School

[Also Covered By]: Phys.org


Original Submission

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 2) by Michael on Tuesday January 11, @06:52PM (3 children)

    by Michael (7157) on Tuesday January 11, @06:52PM (#1211856)

    You don't mention money or societal change among your speculated costs. Is your basic assumption that only possibilities which don't disrupt economics and politics are in the running? Is it preference or prediction?

    There are an enormous amount of physical resources being outright wasted to avoid wasting symbolic resources. When looking for something to change, I suggest it should be things we've made up in our imaginations rather than the laws of physics. Reality should take precedence over public relations.You mentioned air conditioning as an example of why black countries want to be like you, but you didn't mention insulation, home layout, ventilation heat exchangers, efficiency regulations, advertising standards, subsidies etc.

    Which part do you think the third world are most keen to emulate, the physical consequences of a first world lifestyle on their health and comfort, or how much of their allocation they end up wasting to line a ceo's pockets or prop up declining industries?

    Products are available right now which make many of the major energy consumers much more physically efficient (for either the same or a modestly increased cost) compared to the brute force and ignorance approach.

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 2) by Michael on Tuesday January 11, @06:57PM

    by Michael (7157) on Tuesday January 11, @06:57PM (#1211857)

    are enormous amounts / is an enormous amount. Should have picked just one.

  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday January 11, @09:19PM (1 child)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @09:19PM (#1211923) Homepage Journal

    I didn't mention money because all we have is meaningless fiat money. Real things like the nature outside my door can't be assigned a monetary value. "The economy" means little to nothing when clean water in the rivers is gone, and there are no more bunnies, no more deer, no more birds in the yard. Real costs - we've pretty seriously fucked up huge swaths of the world feeding the billions we have already. What are the real costs of producing a few more billions?

    The rest of your post is on point, and reasonable. But, surely you know that people aren't reasonable. Right here in the US, people are still lining up to buy McMansions, shoddily built of cheap material, and piss poor thermal efficiency. Maybe we're slowly improving. Maybe. Mostly, I see the same old shoddy construction that American have grown used to.

    So, introduce enough wealth into the poorest of African countries that half or more of the population can afford the stupid McMansions, what do you think they'll buy? You really think they'll hold out for real quality, real thermal efficiency, real durability? Nahhh, I don't think so. They're people after all, and hardly any different that the average dumb American who falls for marketing hype.

    Given equal wealth, I think they'll prove to be just like us, squandering that wealth on useless shiny disposable crap.

    --
    Our first six presidents were educated men. Then, along came a Democrat.
    • (Score: 2) by Michael on Wednesday January 12, @08:57AM

      by Michael (7157) on Wednesday January 12, @08:57AM (#1212055)

      The shoddy nonsense popular in the usa is cultural. It seems narrow minded to assume that third worlders with access to first world options would automatically become as dumb as many Americans. Who is to say they won't become as parsimonious as many Swedes? (Apart from, say, anthropologists in 1890.) Taking the most extreme example of how far you can propagandise a population into an obsession with expressing status through wastefulness as the baseline seems like a mistake.

      And lets say 'giving them wealth' was literally that - rather than the systemic changes to international finance and foreign relations it would probably be achieved by - there's no reason that wealth has to be currency. It might just as well be materiel and training to start up a factory making foamed glass insulation bricks or heat pumps.

      Human beings, as you alluded to, do share common drives. What they don't all share is common expressions of those drives, and even when they do it is amenable to change (or decays away on its own if only you stop putting immense effort indoctrinating everyone to conform). Humans want whatever gives them physical safety and comfort, social status, emotional freedom etc. That can look a lot of different ways, and doesn't have to be a carbon copy of the fictionalised golden days of any specific culture.

      If having the highest energy efficiency on the block is seen as the thing to squabble over, instead of the car with the highest BHP or lawn with the neatest monoculture, that's what a society will automatically organise to pursue. It can't not, because that's what it fundamentally is. It may be quite true that anyone lifted from grinding poverty would immediately resort to pointless greed and gloating. Probably not to the extent you seem to think, but lets say they come from a culture where that's seen as acceptable without having to propagandise it into them.

      People are capable of making anything into an excuse for that sort of behaviour. Look at specialised subcultures from your own country if you're not familiar with foreign places. Compare the affect, tone and whatever emotional state proxies you favour between a drag racer and an eco-nut when lording their one over the other people who are nuts about that thing. As examples of primate social behaviour they're near indistinguishable, just different styles of the same thing.