Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, February 07, 2020

The fate of humanity: Part 2

Okay, we've run out of arable land and we've probably wrung most of what we're going to get out of the Green Revolution and increased crop yields. As a comment on the last post notes, meanwhile, we're running out of fresh water. Assuming predicted population growth, hotter temperatures, and increased agricultural and industrial demand, here's what's going to happen to fresh water demand in the coming decades:

Is there that much fresh water available? What do you think?

All those red areas are going to be running out. As you can see, that includes much of the agricultural land of the US., Europe and the Near and Middle East.  Actually the Syrian civil war started because of a prolonged drought that drove people off the land into cities, where there was no employment for them. So this is already becoming a problem. Are we going to starve? Not necessarily -- there's a way out.

Simple, right? People need to start eating a plant-based diet. Stop eating beef and the planet, and humanity, has a chance. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening: as people in the poorer countries get less poor, they are demanding more and more meat in their diets. So that's one very high priority. The reason the Amazon forest is being cut down is to create pasture for beef cattle, by the way. Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. is fed to cattle. Start feeding it to people instead, and we can actually reduce our agricultural land and return much of it to wilderness, while using less fossil fuel and putting less fertilizer and pesticide runoff into the rivers.

More to come.


Woody Peckerwood said...

I can agree with you on the need to move to a plant based diet. There are two ways this could happen.

1) An authoritarian move to force production or consumption.
2) "Selling" people on moving away from meat.

I think the knee-jerk of socialists would be to take the first route. However, there's a lesson to be learned from the anti-tobacco movement. No one outlawed tobacco highly effective in reducing tobacco use.

Which do you think would be effective and politically possible?

Cervantes said...

You obviously don't know what the word socialism means.

I never favored banning tobacco (or any other drug for that matter), nor do most "socialists." Yes, I think we need to persuade people. Offering more appetizing alternatives will help, the technology is making a difference.