Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Through A Glass Darkly

The future does not look bright. George Monbiot writes:

The trouble begins where everything begins: with soil. The UN’s famous projection that, at current rates of soil loss, the world has 60 years of harvests left, appears to be supported by a new set of figures. Partly as a result of soil degradation, yields are already declining on 20% of the world’s croplands.
Now consider water loss. In places such as the North China Plain, the central United States, California and north-western India – among the world’s critical growing regions – levels of the groundwater used to irrigate crops are already reaching crisis point. Water in the Upper Ganges aquifer, for example, is being withdrawn at 50 times its recharge rate. But, to keep pace with food demand, farmers in south Asia expect to use between 80 and 200% more water by the year 2050. Where will it come from? 
The next constraint is temperature. One study suggests that, all else being equal, with each degree celsius of warming the global yield of rice drops by 3%, wheat by 6% and maize by 7%. These predictions could be optimistic. Research published in the journal Agricultural & Environmental Letters finds that 4C of warming in the US corn belt could reduce maize yields by between 84 and 100%.

Now consider that by 2050 there will be 2 to 3 billion more people occupying the planet, and you begin to see that we're in deep trouble. The solution, Monbiot believes, lies in changing how we use the land -- and that means no longer using it to grow beef:

The greater the number of people, the greater the hunger meat eating will cause. From a baseline of 2010, the UN expects meat consumption to rise by 70% by 2030 (this is three times the rate of human population growth). Partly as a result, the global demand for crops could double (from the 2005 baseline) by 2050. The land required to grow them does not exist.

When all those mouths start asking, "Where's the beef?," try telling them no.

Image: Snell Valley Ranch


Steve said...

Printed meat will save the world. Imagine printing your own food for meat and growing it in a dishwasher sized appliance for vegetables. All powered by your own solar system.

I just have to say screw you Scheer, nice by-election performance that belies your phony polls.

Owen Gray said...

I'm sure Mr. Scheer and his party are not happy this morning, Steve.

Al said...

In Canada our politicians choose to flood the Peace River valley farmland in exchange for high priced electricity. There seems to be no consideration of a climate warmed future where we likely cannot import all our food.

Owen Gray said...

We are myopic, Al. And we'll pay a price for our shortsightedness.

the salamander said...

.. we'd best be paying careful attention to all those critcal issues, plus many more. Overpopulation for sure.. and neoliberal governments pimping for evergrowing economies & jobs jobs jobs - high paying jobs at that. But flipping burgers in fast food chains, retail chains fighting minimum wages aint getting us there. Extirpating wild salmon won't help, nor will stripping out the boreal forests of Canada.

But in this era, we'd be fools to trust captured political parties in bed with Big Energy, Big Finance, Big Pharma et al Inc LLP. I look more and more for Canada to start shrinking our cultures and society back to more locally based 'industry' and enterprise. The drive in fast food restaurant industry is to me, a culture killer, as are endless suburbs with drive in garages out front so you don't have to know your neighbors. You can get Jber to drop off your beef birgers too. Fostering and subsidizing of arms manufacturing does not make sense to me.. Yes, yes.. such a factory may provide jobs for 200 to 400 people in soithern Ontario.. but then so would a plant producing much needed irrigation equipment to manage re-use of water. North Korea & every other dehydrating country is desperate for such technology and know-how as well as greenhouse & hydroponic & solar etc. Soil management expertise is an exportable commodity, as is our Durham Wheat or soyabean. Desertification is a horrendous issue tied intrinsically to famine as well as drought, whether localized drought or changing climate patterns.

The world seems a total mess - helter skelter - faction & religious wars everywhere. The US of A is a disoriented decaying & distorted entity. Why Canada ahould follow suit is a mystery. Does Metro Toronto need to get any bigger? Or Mississauga? To a great extent they all connect right through Hamilton and now encroach on the fruit belt & vineyards of Niagara - going the other direction we find Pickering - Oshawa and to the north we are nearing Lake Simcoe.

There seems little hope our 'politicians' have the common sense or the will, or the foresight for the job. Certainly Stephen Harper Inc thought it advisable to muzzle and defund biology and science, not to mention trash Canada's inland waters & forests. Trudeau? It remains to be seen what vision he may have in his handsome noggin. The climate change deniers are loud and aggressive.. and too often, what those I describe as faux christians or evangelicals.. seemingly seeking the rapture. Oil & LNG are the new royalty.. all must bow to them.. and the lobbyists & vested interests - no matter the actual costs.. and degredation of the planet

Owen Gray said...

And we shamble along, salamander, believing that our time and our planet are both infinite. Folly always exacts a devastating price.