And running out of land as billions go hungry
Last week, while traveling in New York, I bought a Kindle copy of Lester Brown’s new book, Full Planet, Empty Plates and have mentioned it a few times since. Like me, John Robbins, Howard Lyman and a few others—Mr. Brown is trying to alert the world to an impending calamity, the likes of which we have never seen. As the title implies, he is writing about a rapidly approaching catastrophe—when the world runs out of food.
But, unlike me, Robbins & Lyman, Mr. Brown focuses primarily on population control as the obvious solution; although he does mention that we affluent members of the human race should try to cut down on our consumption of meat. He also talks about the need for us to wipe out poverty and to discontinue our ill-advised practice of diverting over half of our current corn crop to biofuels—which inadvertently has triggered an increase in the cost of food.
Make no mistake. Mr. Brown has identified many good initiatives that we all should embrace. But his unconvincing argument about us consuming too much meat—weakens the likelihood that he will influence people to take the single most important step that we can make to correct so many things in this world.
And that move is returning to the natural plant-based diet for our species before it’s too late. To be sure, Mr. Brown and I agree on many things—including the urgent focus on sustaining our civilization versus previous emphasis on “saving the planet.” From his bio in the book:
Lester R. Brown is President of Earth Policy Institute, a nonprofit, interdisciplinary research organization based in Washington, D.C., which he founded in May 2001. The purpose of the Earth Policy Institute is to provide a plan for sustaining civilization and a roadmap of how to get from here to there.
Big changes are taking place in terms of the world’s food supply. In the USA, we’re now using over half of our corn crop for biofuels while China is now eating more than twice as much meat as the United States. And most of that meat is pork, which he points out is now the world’s leading meat.
In an earlier blog (7-19-11), Burning trees in the Amazon — to feed pigs in China, I described the incredibly wasteful and harmful process of how China is able to consume so much pork.
They don’t have enough land to grow the feed and, since they don’t want to rely on the U.S. and other nations for their pork, they’re now destroying forests in the Amazon—to grow soybeans, which are then shipped to China to feed the pigs.
While sourcing pig feed from around the world, they have increased their annual consumption 600 percent from 9 million tons to 52 million tons in the past 34 years. Can you imagine anything more wasteful and unsustainable? Meanwhile, back to Mr. Brown’s 4-part solution:
On the demand side of the food equation, there are four pressing needs— to stabilize world population, eradicate poverty, reduce excessive meat consumption, and reverse biofuels policies that encourage the use of food, land, or water that could otherwise be used to feed people. We need to press forward on all four fronts at the same time.
The challenge now is to move our early twenty-first-century civilization onto a sustainable path. Every one of us needs to be involved. Environmentalists have talked for decades about saving the planet, but now the challenge is to save civilization itself. We all have a stake in the future of civilization. Many of us have children. Some of us have grandchildren. We know what we have to do. It is up to you and me to do it. Saving civilization is not a spectator sport.
The Bottom Line. Mr. Brown does a great job of describing a serious global dilemma. And every elected official in the world should be required to read his book. They should also devour the contents of our 4-part package shown below. After doing so, they may all realize that the single most powerful step we can take—to correct many of the most crucial issues our civilization faces—is to work toward a global diet-style of whole, plant-based foods.
That single move would take care of our bankrupting cost of health care, would put a serious dent in our energy consumption and would free up enough land and water to easily feed the world’s 8 or 9 billion people—buying us some time while we all work to stabilize the world’s population. Click here to purchase Mr. Brown’s new book on Amazon.
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to email@example.com
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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation