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  • Need critical minds!



    I was going to respond to an interesting post. I'll link the post, then my response (which I haven't made yet). I thought it would be great to post my response here first and get critical feedback. I consider myself a neophyte on this debate, and appreciate all analysis.


    Here is the post:


    http://climatehealers.ning.com/profiles/blogs/consuming-differently


    And here is my proposed response:


    ----------------------------------------------------

    The development of cheap "food" (grains) led to our population explosion.

    That explosion is the problem. We in fact do need to engineer a population reduction to undo the problem. Then we need to take steps to ensure that the same mistake does not happen again, all while making sure that the world is in agreement on what constitutes proper nutrition for humans.


    Let's assume, however, that we instead went in a different direction. Let's say that all nations immediately outlawed consumption of animals. All livestock was freed; fishing ceased. Let's say even sport hunting became illegal.


    Then, the food economy will almost certainly become a grain/sugar production machine. The poor will consume a diet of 90%+ carbohydrates (rice, wheat, or corn and derivative sugars). We will have turned the majority of humans into something akin to the corn eating cows in existence today. They're meant to graze on grass, but they can live on corn - just make sure you give them healthy doses of antibiotics throughout their short, miserable lives. We will have soaring rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. As a result, the pharmaceutical companies will be the dominant force in the health industry.


    Having endless fields of uniformly grown wheat supplying an entire nation's food supply might sound like an elegant, utopian, solution. But if that diet wreaks havoc on our metabolism then the whole argument crumbles and we are left wondering if the real problem is not our consumption of animals, but something else (like overpopulation, or agriculture of grains).

    --------------------------------------------


  • #2
    1



    I second your response to an extent. I feel unfomfortable when people talk about population reduction though.


    My two cents on this issue is that speed up the migration to cities and increase our conservation of the open expanses. I think the only way to survive is in ubercities with a definite attempt to take care of the environment beyond those cities and the freedom and encouragement for people to go out and roam but leave no trace. In other words to start acting like true stewards. There are numerous advancements in greenhouse technology, ways for cities to grow the types of vegetables they need in limited spaces and shunning grains and other dangers.


    The most complex problem to solve will be the animal source of food. I don't claim to have answers, but I know for certain, and I'm not the only one who thinks this, but compact ubercities are the way for us to reduce our carbon footprint. megacities like New York and Tokyo have a smaller carbon footprint than smaller cities like my Houston and San Antonio. The problem is sprawl not population.


    But there has to be a way to feed everyone the meat they need without stripping the land bare. The technology exists for the vegetable issue if we can just take it out of the hands of big aggri.


    Sorry I went on a meaningless tangent.

    Comment


    • #3
      1



      Population reduction will come. Even the UN demographic experts have, I believe, said that somewhere around 2050, world population will start declining after peaking at 9 B B B B billion. I think that's based on economic advances, the best birth control there is. Oh, second to women's rights advances.


      As to the animal protein question, maybe Big Agra can redeem themselves with Synmeat. You know, petri dish protoplasm. Maybe they could even make it low fat or high fat? "Hey honey, pick up a disk of goose liver on the way home, OK?"


      I know this has been done on a very limited lab scale, we just need bigger Petri dishes!


      I'm joking in one way, but I am also sort of serious. It's the only way we can feed an animal based diet for 2-3 billion souls. But you can bet that Big Agra and the USDA will come up with Certified Organic Synmeat...........

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      • #4
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        Regarding Synmeat, I think PZ Meyers' objections are rather persuasive: Who needs a vat when you've got a chicken?

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        • #5
          1

          [quote]

          Let's say that all nations immediately outlawed consumption of animals. All livestock was freed; fishing ceased.
          </blockquote>


          Well, that&#39;s simply not got to happen, not in any nation let alone all at once. It won&#39;t because it would cause hunger - on a vast scale in some countries.


          Fishing needs to be scaled back (at least for some catches in some areas) for stocks to recover ... so that we can continue enjoying them. But if some crazy politician decided to advance a plan to ban it, thinking it was "inhumane" or some such nonsense, he&#39;d soon be put right by the rest of his party. Politicians, stupid and venal though they may be, are probably smart enough not to needlessly provoke hunger, and the attendant civil unrest.


          Similarly, why would any government release livestock to roam at large? The same factors as in the previous paragraph apply. Moreover, in the Third World, people would simply slaughter and eat these wandering animals. The vegetarian dictator wouldn&#39;t have "saved" or "freed" the animals. They&#39;d be dinner. And once the people had eaten the lot, they&#39;d be catastrophically short of meat > > food riots. In the First World, the public might be too squeamish to slaughter the wandering livestock. But politicians there aren&#39;t stupid enough to do that either. Can you imagine the road accidents? And in this 1984 nightmare-world where farmers wouldn&#39;t be allowed to farm livestock, I guess all the land that&#39;s suitable for arable farming would get pressed into service as agricultural land instead, so that we&#39;d at least have something to eat if not a balanced diet. This means land that&#39;s suitable for grazing and not for agriculture. And that means low crop yields (specially as there&#39;ll be no animal manure) and soil erosion and destruction. Hello dustbowls.


          Not going to happen. No politician is stupid enough and crazy enough. They might not care whether you and your children get enough meat or fish. They darn well do care whether they provoke hunger and ecological disaster, because the end result of that is civil unrest, in which said politicians&#39; own hides are in danger.

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          • #6
            1



            Mick,


            You got me laughing pretty hard picturing wandering livestock set free by a vegetarian dictator.


            But seriously, my point is that if the world wanted to subsist on organic free range meat and fish and a variety of organic fruits and vegetables, planted, harvested, caught with sustainability in mind, then the population of the planet must shrink by an order of magnitude. On the other hand, if we want to maintain or grow the human population and create a uniform feeding strategy, then the primal diet isn&#39;t going to be the answer unfortunately.

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            • #7
              1



              We need a good pandemic (with a high mortality rate). Would be nice if living primal makes you strong enough to live through it....

              The "Seven Deadly Sins"

              Grains (wheat/rice/oats etc) . . . . . Dairy (milk/yogurt/butter/cheese etc) . . . . . Nightshades (peppers/tomato/eggplant etc)
              Tubers (potato/arrowroot etc) . . . Modernly palatable (cashews/olives etc) . . . Refined foods (salt/sugars etc )
              Legumes (soy/beans/peas etc)

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              • #8
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                This is an elitist way of life. Not for the masses. I have no problem with that.

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                • #9
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                  Re: Who needs a vat when you&#39;ve got a chicken?


                  Just another person saying it can&#39;t be done because they can&#39;t do it now. Our lives are filled with technologies that long ago "couldn&#39;t be done."


                  Cars will never replace the horse, right? Do you know what the argument for that was in Europe, at least? That there aren&#39;t enough chauffeurs!


                  Synmeat will get done sooner or later. I may not be around, but it will be made.

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                  • #10
                    1



                    before Synmeat, a whole host of omega 3 and protein rich grains will come. The grain economy will not die easily. You can bet that those guys in big agra are working on an answer to all the "king corn" and "Food, Inc."

                    It's grandma, but you can call me sir.

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                    • #11
                      1



                      That&#39;s an interesting thought, grandma. Corn is certainly nothing like the little grain heads that are its ancestors.


                      It&#39;s possible it can&#39;t be done; like when they thought they could make synthetic opiates w/o the addiction. One follows the other.


                      Or, if they can do it, how much processing would be necessary?


                      Anyway, good thought.

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                      • #12
                        1



                        "This is an elitist way of life. Not for the masses. I have no problem with that."


                        Exactly...


                        Well, it is my humble opinion that, for humans to survive more than a few hundred more years on this planet (at least without a major catastrophe), we need to find solutions that work for the entire species. Whether it&#39;s diet or environmental pollution, ignoring the mistakes of our neighbors will come back and bite us eventually. Believe me, I hope that I am totally wrong and that I can live the way I think is right without a care in the world for what anyone else does. I just think that&#39;s naive...

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                        • #13
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                          First you need to call him out for saying &#39;16 Tera Watts&#39;. Unless he weighs himself in Kilo Grams and pedals his recumbent bike ten Kilo Meters into town.


                          I agree with OTB that rising living standards reducing the birth rate is going to be pretty effective in curbing population growth. If we were willing to divert the resources we currently expend in Iraq and Afghanistan towards productive use, we could build enough solar thermal concentrators in the southwest US to provide enough renewable power for the whole country, as well as producing enough desalinated water to alleviate shortages in that part of the country.


                          In the next three decades, nanotechnology is going to become mature, and it will shortly become trivial to coat every surface with solar cells, and use that power to drive the production of whatever food you like from inputs of CO2 and water. However much protein, whatever length fatty acids, whatever thickness steak and fractal dimensionality of marbling you prefer. And it will do so with an efficiency unmatchable by livestock or conventional agriculture. So failing a systemic collapse in the progress of technology, Moore&#39;s Law points toward achieving atomic-scale precision manufacturing in the early 2030s (32nm now, 0.1nm at the very strictest definition of atomic scale, so 320x increase in transistor density on a 2D surface, at sqrt(2) increase in linear resolution every 18 months, gives us 16.67 * 18 months or about 25 years away).

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                          • #14
                            1



                            http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS146090+08-Jun-2009+PRN20090608


                            one company is taking small steps. gotta love Vermont.

                            It's grandma, but you can call me sir.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              1



                              Fascinating, Nick. Thanks.

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