By addressing the #1 driver of our most serious environmental issues
Prior to reading Dr. Stephen Emmott’s TEN BILLION last September, my 800 blogs up to that point had been spread among more than 50 categories relating to consequences of our food choices.
Since reading TEN BILLION, almost ALL of my next 75 blogs have been about one: Leadership, Activism and Sustainability. For, compared to sustainability, everything else shrinks to insignificance.
For my summertime reading, I have been re-reading TEN BILLION about once a week. Because, every time I do, something else catches my attention—something worthwhile that must eventually be recognized & embraced by powerful, mainstream leaders.
In his information-packed “one-hour read,” Emmott describes why he has concluded that we have almost ZERO chance to save our civilization. He describes many reasons, but the elephant in the room—our most serious of all problems, are all about FOOD and WATER.
My Ten-Point Summary of Emmott’s Conclusion
One. It took us 200,000 years to hit the one billion population mark. To add the succeeding “billions” took 130 years, 30 years, 20 years, 10 years, 10 years and 12 years respectively.
Two. Now we’re sitting with 7.2 Billion people and still adding almost one million to that number every four days. In the next forty years, our population will surge to 9 Billion and we’ll need to double our food production. As Emmott says, “in the next forty years, we’ll need to produce more than all the food that has been produced for the last 10,000 years.
Three. By 2050, many more people will be eating meat which is problematic because, on a per calorie basis, it requires over ten times as much land and water to produce as do plant-based foods. We’re already using 45% of the Earth’s surface to produce those animal-based foods and the only land left is the rainforest, where we’ve been destroying 30 million acres per year since 1970.
Four. Today, one billion people are already facing extreme water shortages, yet a staggering 70% of the planet’s freshwater is used for the irrigation of agriculture. Our underground aquifers are being pumped dry right about the time we begin the task of doubling our food production worldwide.
Five. Our rate of consumption of fuel and STUFF continues to gather steam like a runaway freight train. Two examples. Airline passenger miles: In 1960, we flew 62 billion; In 1980, we flew 620 billion. This year, we’ll fly 4 trillion miles. Since 1900, we’ve produced 2 billion motor vehicles; we’re now on track to produce 4 billion in the next 40 years.
Six. All of the above, feeding a population of 9 billion, flying goods and people around the world and producing billions of new motor vehicles—is taking a huge toll on the environment; affecting all four components that control the world’s climate: atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, and the biosphere. All of the above will drive our climate well past the 2 degree Centigrade limit long before 2050.
Seven. We’re rapidly destroying the lungs of the Earth (our trees), the heart & arteries (the oceans) and the biodiversity that makes our planet habitable for all concerned. In terms of the latter, we’re now losing species at a rate of up to 1,000 times faster than we would expect from natural processes.
Eight. We’ve already had our “green revolution” in the last half of of the 20th century. That’s when we used chemicals in the form of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer in combination with an overall industrialization of the food production system. That revolution came at a huge cost in loss of habitat, pollution and overfishing.
Nine. All of the above requires more energy; indeed, it is projected that our energy needs will triple by the end of this century. That means we’ll keep burning coal, oil and natural gas at record levels—since no one will want to leave those riches in the ground.
TEN. In this one-hour read, Dr. Emmott describes an “unprecedented planetary emergency” that deserves top priority attention from every government, business, university and leader in the world. But the “big picture” that I have described here is not being communicated to the public—and NO prominent leaders have grasped the dire situation that we’re in. That’s why Emmott concluded that there is no hope for our civilization to survive until 2100.
That doom and gloom is exactly why his book is not selling very well—no one likes to read about bad news. But I disagree with him. I believe that there is a plant-based pathway out of this mess, but we have to get started soon and we’ll need lots of powerful leadership to get it moving. — J. Morris Hicks
My Conclusion. We have four major problems.
The first three will take decades, if not centuries to address—and we simply don’t have that much time. But the 4th one can be changed relatively quickly, easily and inexpensively—maybe even buying us enough time to address the other three. Here are the four problems:
- Over-consumtion (an economy built on the maximum consumption of STUFF in a finite world)
- Excessive burning of fossil fuels
- We’re eating the wrong food!
How can we fix #4? We desperately need a privately funded, globally-coordinated, MASSIVE awareness campaign led by a well-respected global leader. As people everywhere begin to learn the whole truth about their food choices, millions will start replacing most, if not all, of their animal-based calories with healthier and “greener,” plant-based alternatives.
As we begin working on the “demand” side of the equation, markets will quickly respond, people will begin getting healthier, the cost of healthcare will plummet, water will become more plentiful, trees can be planted on the freed-up land and our fragile ecosystem will begin to heal.
Eventually, we must also deal with overpopulation, over-consumption and the excessive burning of fossil fuels—but those tasks will take many decades, if not centuries. Taking URGENT action NOW with our food choices can buy us the time we need to address them all. — J. Morris Hicks
The Bottom Line. Addressing Problem #4 quickly enough to make a difference will take powerful leadership. I have been searching for that kind of leadership for the past year, but so far I have found NO ONE who is willing to make addressing this unprecedented planetary emergency his/her #1 priority. Everyone seems to just want to keep moving along with “business as usual.”
My Appeal. Please send this blog to the top three leaders that you know and ask them to give me a call. 917-399-9700. I want to talk to those leaders about what’s at stake here:
Things that we value most—family, health, freedom, happiness, peace and wealth—do not exist without sustainability. In other words, if we don’t quickly learn how to live in harmony with nature, life will be nothing more than a hell on Earth for those few of us who survive. — J. Morris Hicks
PS: I met with Dr. Emmott in October of 2013 in London. He actually agrees with my conclusion but doubts that we’ll be able to make it happen in time. Let’s prove him wrong.
- My One-Page Recipe for Saving our Ecosystem
- The ONLY viable pathway to SUSTAINABILITY It will be impossible for us to EVER live in harmony with nature—without radically changing our food choices. 8-4-14.
- NOTHING is more Important than Sustainability! By comparison, all else shrinks to insignificance. 1-25-14.
- “Living in Harmony with Nature” by Ted Turner Perhaps the world’s last chance to save us all from the horrors of global warming. 2-26-14.
- Buy a few copies of this book on Amazon; it’s what I call “A horrifying wake-up call for leaders.” TEN BILLION by Dr. Stephen Emmott
The following five books and one DVD can be purchased on Amazon for a grand total of less than $60—and will enable you to understand the overwhelming challenges we face—along with the single most-powerful solution of all.
Six-Pack from Hicks—for health, hope & harmony on planet Earth
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- A life changer for millions, including James Cameron. Forks Over Knives DVD
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell; the primary book that influenced Bill Clinton to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet.
- What have we done to our planet? Full Planet, Empty Plates by Lester Brown
- A horrifying wake-up call for leaders. TEN BILLION by Dr. Stephen Emmott
- Food choices are the primary cause of our environmental problems, yet our world leaders, scientists & experts are Comfortably Unaware, by Richard Oppenlander.
Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.
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—J. Morris Hicks, board member since 2012; click banner for more info: