Population Growth: The Other Inconvenient Truth
Larger than the threat of global warming is feeding humanity's ever-expanding population. Already, we use 40% of dry land on Earth to produce food. Are we simply running out of planet?
What's the Latest Development?
How to feed humanity's growing population is an environmental concern larger than global warming, says Jon Foley, head of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment. Global agriculture already puts more pressure on planetary resources than any other activity and is the single largest source of man-made greenhouse gasses. "We use 60 times more land to grow and raise food than we do to live on. Farming takes half the world's available freshwater, much of which is used for irrigation." With 6.2 million square miles dedicated to growing crops and another 11.6 million set aside for pasture lands, 40% of dry land on Earth is occupied by food production.
What's the Big Idea?
The most immediate action to be taken, says Foley, is to improve yields in places where infrastructure and design is lacking, such as in Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. Beyond that, things get tricky. Promoting Green Revolution techniques, i.e. irrigation and chemical fertilizers, which make American farm land so productive, carry environmental risks. Meat production is also highly inefficient, requiring 32 pounds of corn to produce a single steak. As global wealth rises and populations acquire a taste for diets more rich in meat, inefficient farming will be encouraged to grow. Foley says there is no one solution and that changes will be required of large corporations as well as individual consumers.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.
- When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
- Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
- Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.
- The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
- Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
- Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.