A plant-based pathway to the longterm sustainability of humanity
Earlier this summer, I posted a blog (See link below) about the works of Stephen Emmott, an Oxford professor and the head of computational science at Microsoft in the UK. In his new book, Ten Billion, he paints a bleak picture regarding the likely fate of our species. He talks bluntly about the longterm repercussions of the gross overconsumption of our exploding population, stating…
Our cleverness, our inventiveness and our activities are now the drivers of every global problem we face. And every one of these problems is accelerating as we continue to grow towards a global population of 10 billion.
The only solution left to us is to change our behaviour, radically and globally, on every level. In short, we urgently need to consume less. A lot less. Radically less. And we need to conserve more. A lot more. We can rightly call the situation we’re in an unprecedented emergency. We urgently need to do – and I mean actually do – something radical to avert a global catastrophe. But I don’t think we will. I think we’re f _ _ _ _ d!
Dr. Campbell and I are more optimistic. We believe that there is a plant-based pathway out of this mess that we humans created. We agree with all that Dr. Emmott says about the unsustainability of exploding population and its extremely wasteful, harmful and inefficient lifestyle.
We also agree that we must make some radical changes—but we believe we should start with the single systemic “behavioral change” that will yield the greatest benefit—in the least amount of time. In short, we believe that:
Shifting to a whole food, plant-based diet will do more to ensure the long-term survival of our species than ALL other possible initiatives combined.
So how do we get hundreds of millions of people to change? How do we get them to forego the wildly popular typical western diet with meat and dairy three meals a day? And how do we get them to move quickly as they shift to a mostly whole food, plant-based diet?
We propose to do that with a combination of heavily funded, globally-coordinated efforts to educate, motivate and legislate. We begin by putting together a “dream team” of leaders, scholars and philanthropists to oversee the multi-faceted global initiative aimed at teaching the entire world what we should be eating.
My first public presentation of our envisioned SOS Global Initiative will be delivered at a Healthy You Network one day seminar at the Fox Theater in Tucson, Arizona on September 21, 2013. Click here for program details. The remainder of this blog is an abbreviated preview of my Tucson presentation.
Learning from History. We simply must learn from what happened at Easter Island hundreds of years ago. After exhausting the natural resources that sustained them, their thriving civilization of 15,000 collapsed—resulting in an every-man-for-himself chaos that became a hell on Earth for all of its people.
Like Easter Island, our planet Earth receives no “supplies” from anywhere else. All of us Earthlings must provide for ourselves and we mustn’t squander our limited natural resources without fully comprehending how nature utilizes those resources to sustain all of its creatures—including us.
Putting things into perspective. Our precious planet has been supporting life for four billion years and humans have been here for just 200,000 years. If we crammed those 4B years into just one year, the first humans arrived just 26 minutes ago.
Even more alarming, we have grown from one billion to seven billion people in just the last two seconds, and we have inflicted more damage on the fragile harmony of nature in the last 1/2 second (fifty years) than all previous generations of humans combined for the last 200,000 years.
In just a mere blink of the eye of history, we humans have taken over every square inch of arable land to feed ourselves and when we need more, we just burn another rainforest. As we squander our land, water and energy; we’re also destroying the ecosystem that provides life itself for all who live here.
Driven by destructive human activity, the rate of species extinction is running at some 1000 times faster than normal—as we overfish our oceans, over-pump our underground aquifers and burn up our finite supply of fossil fuels that it took nature billions of years to create.
When it’s all said and done, we will have used up ALL of our fossil fuels in just 200 years, which equates to just the last two seconds of that hypothetical year mentioned earlier.
Is plant-based the answer? What would a move to a human diet of mostly whole, plant-based foods do for us? It would enable us to feed the same number of people with 90% less land, 90% less water and 90% less energy than is required for a meat-based diet.
Nature has a diet-plan for all of her creatures. Some eat other animals, some eat plants and so forth. But for some reason, we humans are the only species in the history of the world that can’t figure out what we should be eating.
Confusion over clarity is the name of the game in our extended food/healthcare complex despite some powerful clues from nature and a mountain of evidence gathered by a handful of pioneering medical doctors and one world-changing nutritional scientist, Dr. T. Colin Campbell.
But the problem is that there are far more nutritional scientists and medical doctors who believe that meat and dairy are best for the health of humans. So who is the public going to believe?
Answer: They will believe the scientist or MD that recommends the diet that they like eating—the standard American diet.
In the spring of 2013, Dr. Campbell debated Dr. Westman in Birmingham, AL (shown here) on the topic of the best diet for humans. Both brilliant men, with sterling credentials from the best institutions—they were 180 degrees apart when it came to what we should be eating.
Dr. Campbell promotes the whole food, plant-based diet while Dr. Westman promotes the meat/dairy-rich Paleo, Mediterranean and Atkins diets.
So what if Dr. Westman and the Paleo folks are right. What if meat and dairy really is the most healthful food for humans? See the slide at right for my answer.
What can we do? In his book, Dr. Emmott talked about an “Asteroid” project that would take place if we knew that an asteroid were going to collide with Earth and wipe out 70% of all forms of life on a specific date in 2093.
As he said, “Every scientist, engineer, university and business in the world would be enlisted to work on that project.” And that’s exactly what we need now. We need to pull together a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens (Margaret Mead quote) who have the knowledge, leadership qualities and funding required to quickly change how the world thinks about food.
That project must begin with a knowledgeable “sponsor” who totally understands the power of plant-based nutrition and has the combination of fame and wealth needed to bring the the right mix of individuals to the table. In my presentation, I refer to our initial meeting as the SOS Summit and we’re targeting November of 2013 for it to take place.
What about budget? As you may have guessed, many HUGE organizations throughout the world will be VIOLENTLY opposed to our efforts to get people to stop eating the toxic western diet. It will take billions, if not trillions of dollars to make this thing work. The legal fees alone will be enormous.
At the initial summit, we expect to have people in the room who know Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton personally.
Once these brightest and wealthiest people in the world fully appreciate the gravity of our situation, we expect that the resulting budget will be multiple billions of dollars per year.
After all, what could be more important than preventing the collapse of our civilization? The world’s super-wealthy philanthropists are known for throwing outrageous sums of money at problems with no overall PLAN of action in mind.
They spend too much time applying social service Band-Aids when what is needed is comprehensive, global, systemic change. We must begin in earnest addressing the causes of our problems and we must stop spending so much time and money dealing with the repercussions of our misguided ways.
Attractive package with some flexibility. We all know that there is huge resistance to the words vegan and vegetarian. Hence, we don’t plan to use them.
This slide is the one that I will use to explain our 4Leaf approach to healthy eating—maximizing the percent of your calories from whole, plant-based foods. Not necessarily becoming vegan or vegetarian. We’ll attract at least ten times as many people if we propose something that they consider less extreme and more reasonable.
We’d rather get one billion people to switch to the 2 or 3Leaf level than get 100 million people to become 100% vegan. It will free up over seven times as much land and save seven times as much water in the long run.
How much land? An area over half the size of the United States. And it will prevent the starvation of billions of people. The main problem with most of our destructive human activity is that the unwanted repercussions are out of sight and out of mind. What would you choose to eat if you could see the morbid repercussions of those choices in your own neighborhood?
S.O.S. Status. On August 2, I placed my first phone call to the office of the overall sponsor that we feel would be best suited. Since then, I have met with that person and we are now working on a plan of action. Stay tuned.
Seeking speaking engagements. As the “big picture” guy, this is now my primary focus. My topic is unique, it is critically important and my fees are reasonable. I can travel anywhere as long as expenses are covered. In October I am speaking at a health congress in Italy. For my fee schedule and other details, Click here. Scroll down to see a 4-minute video of me telling the 4Leaf Story.
A few of my earlier links related to this topic.
- Recent blogpost featuring Lester Brown. Saving civilization is not a spectator sport!
- Blog posted on 8-13-13; inspired by Lester Brown. Saving civilization is not a spectator sport!
- Blog posted 8-9-13. “Infestation” IS the best word—if it gets your attention
- My earlier blog featuring Dr. Emmott. Are humans the “infestation” of planet Earth?
- Source article by Dr. Emmott. Humans – the real threat to life on Earth
- Order Dr. Emmott’s book, “Ten Billion” on Amazon.
- Stephen Emmott Bio. He is professor of computational science at the University of Oxford, and head of computational science at Microsoft
- Earlier blog, Oct. 2012. Too many people, wasting resources, eating the wrong food
- Q & A with Stephen Emmott
- Stephen Emmott. Forbes article from August 2012.
- Philosophers worth listening to. “Harmony” for the ages—from E. O. Wilson and Wendell Berry
Handy 5-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.
- Dr. Campbell’s new book: WHOLE, Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf 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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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation