Finally, some CLARITY! But no plausible solution

Ten BillionMy copy of Ten Billion arrived this morning. And I am using my 800th blog-post to tell you about it.

During the past few months, I have featured Dr. Stephen Emmott in a number of my blogs (See links below). That’s because of his CLARITY. He pulls no punches when he tells the world what will happen to us if we don’t quickly and radically change our behavior. But while he fails to mention the single most powerful solution; this book is well worth reading.

In it, he does acknowledge that FOOD is a huge part of the problem, summarizing what is happening early in this short (one hour read) and powerful book (You can get a Kindle copy today for $5.99):

1. An increasing population accelerates the demand for more water and more food.

2. Demand for more food increases the need for more land, which accelerates deforestation.

3. Increasing demand for food also increases food processing and transportation.

4. All of these accelerate the demand for more energy.

5. This then accelerates greenhouse gas emissions, principally CO2 and methane, which further accelerate climate change.

6. Demand for food will at least double by 2050, increasing demand for more land.

Dr. Stephen Emmott as he appears in the Forbes article referenced below.

Dr. Stephen Emmott as he appears in the Forbes article referenced below.

While Dr. Emmott goes on to address the details of our global food problem, he fails to point out the obvious solution. He notes that food production is accelerating at a far greater rate than population for three reasons:

  1. People are eating more food.
  2. People in developing countries are eating more meat.
  3. Recreational eating is becoming more common.

He nailed the problem extremely well, but never mentioned the obvious solution of changing what we eat. Perhaps, like many other great thinkers, he is under the impression that we really “need” to eat animal protein to be healthy.

Once that “protein myth” is dispelled, it opens the door for a massive global effort to begin phasing out all those animals and to start growing more plant-based food for human consumption.  The implications of such a move are staggering:

By cycling our grain through 70 billion animals, we’re wasting 96% of the calories, 90% of the protein and 100% of the fiber.

Imagine the impact on land, water and energy usage if we stopped eating animals.

Dr. Emmott calls his book TEN BILLION. Here’s my “Top TEN” list of benefits from changing what we eat.

J. Morris Hicks, always trying to focus on the big picture.

Industrial engineers always go after the biggest bang for the buck first. —J. Morris Hicks (the big picture guy)

  1. We’d be able to free up 80% of the land that is now used for agriculture.
  2. We’re talking about returning over 30% of all the non-ice land in the world to nature.
  3. We would stop all rainforest destruction and let them flourish.
  4. We’d save our oceans by ending the needless harvesting of trillions of fish each year.
  5. We would eliminate the leading drivers of global warming.
  6. We’d solve the water crisis once and for all.
  7. We would put the pieces in place to end world hunger.
  8. We would save trillions of dollars on healthcare throughout the western world.
  9. We’d give our eco-system a chance to regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed 10,000 years ago.
  10. We’d prevent the inevitable “mass extinction” that Dr. Emmott predicts.

By virtue of all of the above, we’d give ourselves a chance to survive and thrive as a species indefinitely. We would finally have become the true stewards of our precious, life-giving planet. My conclusion:

Moving to a whole food, plant-based diet will do more to ensure the long-term survival of humanity than ALL other possible initiatives combined.

"If we eat the way that promotes the best health for ourselves, we also promote the best health for the planet." ---T. Colin Campbell, PhD

“If we eat the way that promotes the best health for ourselves, we also promote the best health for the planet.” —T. Colin Campbell, PhD

But, we also need to get get started on those other initiatives. Specifically, we need to start addressing the dual problems of over-population and the grossly unsustainable depletion of natural resources that is  driven by the incredibly wasteful way that we live.

But by initially focusing all of our efforts on the single “biggest bang for the buck,” we give ourselves the time to work on the other crucial issues affecting our survival.

Once Dr. Emmott fully understands all the health benefits of plant-based eating and realizes that we never “need” to eat ANY animal products whatsoever, I am confident that he will want to play a major role in our SOS Global Initiative. 

But he’s not there yet; without a plant-based pathway out of our current dilemma, he sees only doom and gloom.  The last few paragraphs copied directly from his book. Please pardon his “French” in the last sentence:

Why we are not doing more about the situation we’re in— given the scale of the problem and the urgency— I simply cannot understand.

Only an idiot would deny that there is a limit to how many people our Earth can support. The question is, is it seven billion (our current population), ten billion, or twenty-eight billion? I think we’ve already gone past it. Well past it. We could change the situation we are now in. Probably not by technologizing our way out of it, but by radically changing our behavior. But there is no sign that this is happening, or about to happen. I think it’s going to be business as usual for us.

As a scientist, what do I think about our current situation? Science is essentially organized skepticism. I spend my life trying to prove my work wrong or look for alternative explanations for my results. I hope I’m wrong. But the science points to my not being wrong. As I said at the beginning, 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 fucked.

Scroll down for three short videos.

His Bio from the book. Stephen Emmott is head of Computational Science at Microsoft Research. He leads a broad scientific research program, at the center of which is an interdisciplinary team of new kinds of scientists, and a new kind of laboratory, in Cambridge, England, pioneering new approaches to tackle fundamental problems in science.

His lab’s research spans from molecular biology, immunology, and neuroscience, to plant biology, climatology, biogeochemistry, terrestrial and marine ecology, and conversation biology, as well as the new fields of programming life and artificial photosynthesis.

Stephen is also Visiting Professor of Computational Science, University of Oxford; Visiting Professor of Biological Computation, University College London; and Distinguished Fellow of the UK National Endowment of Science, Technology and the Arts.

85-second video, Ten Billion (book trailer, August 2013)

90-second interview with Dr. Emmott (August 2013)

The following two-minute Jimmy Kimmel “You’re Screwed” video would be entertaining if it weren’t so true.

What would our word leaders do if they knew that a huge asteroid would collide with our planet on June 3, 2072?

What would our world leaders do if they knew that a huge asteroid would collide with Earth on 6-3-2072?

The Bottom Line. This is the first time that a prominent scientist has provided such alarming clarity on the most important topic in the world—our survival as a species. With his credentials, affiliation with the University of Oxford, a prestigious position at Microsoft and direct access to Bill Gates—we really need to have this man on our team.

Indeed, it was his “asteroid” type of project that initially prompted the idea for the S.O.S. (Saving Our Species) initiative that we’re envisioning.

Update. In July, I reached out to Dr. Emmott with an email and followed up a few days later with a letter and a hard copy of our book. Then, while I was in London in early October, we met to discuss his impressions of our envisioned SOS Global Initiative. The meeting went very well and he agreed that two billion people eating much more plants would make a huge difference. Stay tuned. A few of my earlier blogs on this topic:

Handy 5-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

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

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, visit our 4Leaf page and also enjoy some great recipes from Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
This entry was posted in Activism & Leadership, Big Picture, SOS (Saving Our Species). Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Finally, some CLARITY! But no plausible solution

  1. Alan Whitehead says:

    Given that it’s too late for pessimism (as they say in the Transition movement), we may as well ‘go down’ trying, as you (and others) are.

    To my mind, it’s better to do something positive rather than curl up under a table or bury our collective heads in the sand.

    Keep up the good work!

    • dogsnoseknows says:

      “… it’s better to do something positive rather than curl up under a table or bury our collective heads in the sand.”

      I’ll second that. I’ve got Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion” playing whilst putting forth my positive, albeit paltry, effort.

      In the face of overwhelming odds, it won’t make much difference, except to me it will.

  2. Sal Liggieri says:


    Maybe Dr Emmott’s realizes that the change to a WFPB by the world will never happen and thus
    we are f___ked.

    In spite of your optimism, I agree with Dr Emmott. I have seen no change in my life time and neither have you seen any change in yours.

    We are all doomed so let it be.

    Sal Liggieri

  3. Excellent!!! Sharing.

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