Blog Post #3 FOOD

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Meat Production

It is easy to overlook the impact meat production has on our environment. In order to feed an ever growing population, meat production is maximized in ways that are not beneficial to our planet.

One of the major environmental impacts of producing meat for human consumption is the amount of land that is required to raise the meat. Eating a meat diet uses seven times more land than a plant based diet. The reason for the huge difference is because of the large amount of food that livestock needs to eat. It takes on average 6.2 pounds of corn to produce a pound of beef. Pigs are worse, it takes 8.4 pounds of feed to produce a pound of pork, and chickens are better only taking 3.4 pounds of feed to produce a pound of meat. Livestock can be fed by grazing or by growing crops to feed the animals. The two methods of feeding livestock combined take up nearly seventy percent of earth’s ice free land. Much of the Amazon rain forest has been cleared out to allow for grazing land for livestock.

“The livestock sector is a major stress or on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gasses and one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity, while in developed and emerging countries it is perhaps the leading source of water pollution.”  – 2006 report Livestock’s Long Shadow

A great amount of livestock also means a great amount of greenhouse gasses.  The main gasses being released include methane and nitrous oxide. A lot of pesticides and fertilizers needed for agricultural growth that feeds meat sources are made from fossil fuels. Still, there are many farmers who choose to only grow their produce organically using only natural fertilizers therefore leaving a much smaller carbon footprint. Local farmers who care about the environment will often put a lot more effort towards organic growth, which is also a lot better for the health of the animal to be consuming natural products.

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In conclusion, a possible solution to the issues we have in meat production may be to eat less meat and replace meat with other things such as vegetables and foods with less negative environmental impact so long as we are finding a healthy balance and not substituting between food depravity and nutrition.  When buying meat it is good to look for organic labels. It would also be beneficial to continually monitor and look for ways to improve meat production.

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We can contribute to the efforts of the F.A.O. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) that make their goal ” the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.” to do our part in environmental sustainability concerning meat production.

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Read this interesting article for extra facts on meat production:

http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/env-howmeat.html

Video:

http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/meat-environment/

http://veg.ca/2007/02/01/meat-and-the-environment/

http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/ar591e/ar591e.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_meat_production#cite_note-fao2005-7

http://www.fao.org/about/en/

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/food-and-our-planet/food-and-climate-change/

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Blog Post #2 : POPULATION

 

EARTH’S CARRYING CAPACITY

 

Carrying Capacity: the maximum, equilibrium number of organisms of a particular species that can be supported indefinitely in a given environment. What is the earth’s carrying capacity? Considering the very many factors that would shape the answer to this question, it can only be estimated as of now. Some would say that we have already reached the over-populated state. The current total world population is said to be around 7.5 billion and it takes about 13 years to add another billion to that number. This number is divided amongst the continents very differently, Brazil holding approximately 204 million. The earth is 196.9 million square miles oceans being 70% of that as well as many areas with poor living conditions.  According to the facts, it looks as if that does not leave much room for human life. 

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There are many factors that affect the carrying capacity of the earth. Some factors are more obvious like food and water; without these resources, life would not exist on earth. However those are not the only factors, there are other factors like space to live and energy that also limit our carrying capacity. Economists are predicting that the earth will eventually run out of clean drinking water because the earth cannot renew the water supply fast enough. With the growing number of people on earth, more food needs to be produced, but to produce food, it uses much of our drinkable water, as well as takes up valuable living space. Earth only has enough productive land for about 2.2 acres per person, but Americans are exceeding the capacity and using about 24 acres per person. Another limiting factor to our carrying capacity is energy. The most common source of energy is coal, and at our current rate of consumption, we will run out of coal in approximately 55 years.

Here is an interesting video discussing the question, Can we expand Earth’s carrying capacity?:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lS_msYArtvY

While many of our resources remain the same over the years, we do find different usages and ways to sustain them. While the population growth may be exponential, our resources do not grow at the same rate. In order to be able to sustain a large and growing population, I think there are things we can do and there are things we are working on to be able to take control of our resources usage. With advancements in technology over the years we are better able to keep track and be aware of the situation of our resources. Along with resources, we also need to consider housing for a growing population. Many experts say that in the years to come cities will be growing up in high-rise cities to accommodate growth and increase carrying capacity. A factor in building ‘higher’ cities would be to consider the effect and what kind of carbon footprint this would leave on the environment.

To finish up, because of increment in population on earth, its conveying limit is getting lower step by step if this proceed, one day earth will be in threat and additionally species living on earth will confront such a large number of issues such as global warming. In order to get rid of this issue, several measures should be taken on individual level also like using birth control methods and many more to minimize the fast growing population.

Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess. What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victim.

– Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader and Nobel laureate

 

 

Sources used:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/earth-carrying-capacity.htm

http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/earth-carrying-capacity1.htm

http://www.rockefeller.edu/labheads/cohenje/PDFs/226CohenScience.pdf

http://www.alternet.org/story/147334/how_much_longer_until_we_run_out_of_enough_drinkable_water

What happens when we run out of oil?