Is there enough water and land on Earth to meet global food demands?

May 21, 2018 by  
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According to the United Nations, there are 7.6 billion people living on Earth today. Of those 7.6 billion, 815 million people are already going hungry . And, on top of that, the UN expects the global population to jump to 9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. These figures raise a troubling question: will it be physically possible to feed the world’s population as it continues to grow? Do We Have Enough Resources? Currently, we already produce more food than we need to feed the existing global population. According to Gordon Conway, author of One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?, an equal division of all the food on earth would provide every person with 2,800 calories a day , which is more than enough for a healthy diet. In fact, recent analysis by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations indicated that it would be technically feasible to feed the 2050 population with available land and water. However, that prediction comes with significant caveats. Having enough food doesn’t mean no one will go hungry, as evidenced by the current global situation. And it certainly doesn’t mean we can feed the world sustainably. So, while it may be technically feasible, what needs to happen to truly meet global demand for food without destroying the planet? Overall, there are three main changes we should focus on. 1. Increasing Efficiency While we could potentially clear more land to use for agriculture, it would be better to avoid doing so. The tactics we’ve used to increase yields and farmland in the past have caused severe environmental damage, such as increased erosion and pollution. However, we now know more about farming practices’ environmental impacts and have developed new, high-tech ways to increase farm productivity without damaging the environment. For example, precision farming delivers water and fertilizer to plants much more efficiently. Advanced sensors, automated tractors and more can also help reduce crop loss and increase yield. Organic farming plays a vital role as well, as it reduces the use of harmful fertilizers and pesticides. Related: Less fertilizer, greater crop yields, and more money: China’s agricultural breakthrough These changes will likely have to be implemented in developed countries, since farmers in poorer countries typically have fewer resources and, as a result, focus primarily on their own operations. 2. Changing Diets Different diets require vastly different amounts of land, water and other resources. The most resource-intensive are those of wealthy nations, which tend to eat more animal products. For example, if the entire world followed the same diet as the United States, we would need 138 percent of the world’s habitable land to feed the global population. In other words, it would be impossible. We also tend to waste food by feeding livestock. Livestock consume 36 percent o f crops grown around the world, and their caloric intake far outstrips the calories that humans receive from the resulting animal products. For every 100 calories of grain that we feed to livestock, we can get 40 calories of milk, 12 calories of chicken or just three of beef. If developed countries around the world committed to reducing the amount of food they consume, or if more people removed meat and animal products from their diets, these actions could help save both food and resources. 3. Reducing Waste Reducing food waste is a simple yet crucial way to help feed the world. At present, approximately 25 percent of all of the food calories we produce  – enough to feed every hungry person in the world – is lost or wasted. Surprisingly, one of the most effective strategies for reducing food waste doesn’t have to do with food directly. Instead, it involves societal changes such as reducing poverty, improving access to education and promoting equal rights. In general, quantity of food isn’t the problem, but rather access to the food itself. When people can escape poverty, society as a whole can afford to pay farmers more for their crops, meaning farms can sell their produce domestically rather than export it. Increasing small farms’ profits also enables them to access the resources they need to farm sustainably and further increase yields. So, as it turns out, the earth likely does have enough natural resources to meet our growing demand for food, but it’s not quite as simple as just growing more food. We need to start making some fundamental changes in the way we think about food, agriculture, poverty and hunger to make sure everyone has enough to eat. Images via Unsplash and Pixabay (1) , (2) ,  (3)

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Is there enough water and land on Earth to meet global food demands?

Parsons School of Design unveils sustainable public seating in New York City

May 21, 2018 by  
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Leave it to the creative minds at the Parsons School of Design to renovate public seating for a more eco-friendly world. The school recently unveiled Street Seats, a sustainably-designed public seating area made from repurposed and biodegradable products for New Yorkers to find respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The public space, which the school unveiled this week, was inspired by the need to create more seating areas for people to relax and take a load off. In a place like New York City , public seating can be quite limited. Students from the school’s architecture, interior design, product design, and food studies departments envisioned and built Street Seats over two parking spaces on the corner of 13th street and 5th Avenue in Greenwich Village. The students crafted the space with a variety of reclaimed materials . They used rot-resistant western red cedar to build tables and stools, which were then covered in repurposed fishing nets . Related: DIY Softwalks Kits Let You Turn Ugly Scaffolding into Fun Pop-Up Parks! The lighting system in the installation is completely off-grid and operates on solar energy . After sunset, a daylight sensor activates LED lights to provide a well-lit atmosphere. The seating area is surrounded by planters to reduce traffic noise and create a pleasant environment. The planters are made with biodegradable coconut fibers and jet webbing  and house herbs and native plants. The Greenbelt Native Plant Center donated seeds for the project. + Parsons New School of Design Images by Rafael Flaksburg via Parsons New School of Design

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Parsons School of Design unveils sustainable public seating in New York City

Readers’ Rescue Animal Photos (Slideshow)

December 16, 2009 by  
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A soon-to-be-saved Eastern Grey Kangaroo in a sediment pond. Credit: Joe Purcell From a female Eastern Grey Kangaroo trapped in a sediment pond saved by a reader in Australia to a giraffe adopted at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, readers sent in photos of their rescue animals. Click through for photos of a cat found in a grocery store; dogs brought home from rescue shelters, and read the stories that make hearts melt in our cute and cuddly slideshow: Readers’ Rescue Animal Photos .

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Readers’ Rescue Animal Photos (Slideshow)

My Recent Interaction with a Green Peace Campaigner

December 2, 2009 by  
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Last week as I emerged from a grocery store I was met by a young GREENPEACE campaigner.  He asked me if I would like to sign a petition to  ”help save the whales.”  I told him that as much as I like whales, I could not in good conscience support GREENPEACE as an organization.  He looked genuinely stunned and asked why?

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My Recent Interaction with a Green Peace Campaigner

The Author Who Stood the Heat

December 2, 2009 by  
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Bill Buford’s best-selling book, Heat, was a case of an author deciding to stand the heat and stay in the kitchen until he learned first-hand what Italian food culture, the “reality of the kitchen,” and he process of becoming a chef was all about. He learned the reality of the kitchen,the truth about real-not Americanized – Italian food, and his purpose for taking food journeys as an author.

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The Author Who Stood the Heat

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