Urgent need for leaders to REALLY promote sustainability


By addressing the #1 driver of our most serious environmental issues

Dr. Stephen Emmott

Dr. Stephen Emmott published this “wake up call for leaders” in September of 2013.

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

There's nowhere near enough arable land for many more people to adopt the highly inefficient Western diet.

There’s nowhere near enough arable land for many more people to adopt the highly inefficient Western diet.

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.

As more people adopt the wasteful Western diet every day, the problems of water shortage and pollution continue to get worse.

One billion people are already facing extreme water shortages—and it’s about to get a lot worse.

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.

Burning trees in the Amazon to feed pigs in China---an environmental disaster

Burning trees in the Amazon to feed pigs in China—an environmental disaster

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.

J. Morris Hicks, promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

“I sincerely believe that there is a plant-based pathway out of this unprecedented planetary emergency.” — J. Morris Hicks.

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:

  1. Overpopulation
  2. Over-consumtion (an economy built on the maximum consumption of STUFF in a finite world)
  3. Excessive burning of fossil fuels
  4. 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.

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

  1. Healthy Eating, Healthy WorldThe “big picture” about food (our book)
  2. A life changer for millions, including James Cameron. Forks Over Knives DVD 
  3. 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.
  4. What have we done to our planet? Full Planet, Empty Plates by Lester Brown
  5. A horrifying wake-up call for leaders. TEN BILLION by Dr. Stephen Emmott
  6. Food choices are the primary cause of our environmental problems, yet our world leaders, scientists & experts are Comfortably Unawareby Richard Oppenlander.

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 2 or 3 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 jmorrishicks@me.com

International. We’re now reaching people in over 100 countries. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or get daily blog notices by “following” us in the top of the right-hand column. For occasional updates, join our periodic mailing list.

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 jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member since 2012; click banner for more info:

Nutrition Certificate

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.
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5 Responses to Urgent need for leaders to REALLY promote sustainability

  1. Chris James says:

    I’ve just read 10 Billion myself and was doing a general search on Dr Emmott when I came across this blog site, which I really like. I published a book last June reflecting much of what is contained in 10 Billion, although mine is fiction. My book – The O.D. by Chris James – also takes over-population as being the biggest nail in our coffin, but the advantage of fiction is that you can suggest solutions without being shot down. Anything which makes people think about the real problems we face should be welcome and I think 10 Billion should be mandatory reading not just in the West, but all over the world.

  2. Mary Guay says:

    I want to do all I can to leave a planet my grandchildren can survive on. I TOTALLY agree with Jim that eating a plant-based diet is the single most immediate and effective thing we can do to protect our children’s futures. But, there is more I can do. I view energy as having 2 sources, either current or ancient (the fossil fuels). I try to use “current” energy whenever possible. CONSERVATION of energy seems to be down played. Americans squander resources as a result of being used and abused to be the market for all big business can push on us. The way we live, spend, waste and delete and contaminate our Earth is CRAZY. And we don’t even realize what we are doing. We are using 10 times the electricity per person we used 50 years ago. Much of this is wasted in the name of convenience and safety. A world that runs out of useable water, top soil and is plagued by violent weather extremes is neither convenient or safe. Yet, that is the direction we are racing in. I read all the books Jim recommended and they are fantastic. I also wrote a book that tells how a typical American learned the crisis we are facing and now lives differently. My book was written after we made may positive changes and I asked God, “What more can I do?” Now I am asking people to read it and see how an average American can become part of the solution. And, “Yes Jim, I eat a totally plant-based diet.” I also cut our electrical use 82% a year and our gasoline and water use 75% a year. I never would have thought it is possible, but it is. And, we are happier living this way. We did not install solar panels or a wind turbine. We do shed a light on CONSERVING energy and resources. http://www.MaryGuay.org

  3. Leo S. says:

    How mmany are aware of the impact Elon Musk and Tesla will have on the future of individuals and the planet. His effort to electrify transportation is probably moving ahead more quickly than the average person might have thought. Not only is he producing cars which will reduce pollution and provide cleaner air for people to breathe, other auto manufacturers are also building more electric vehicles. The following link shows the progress his supercharging network is making all over tthe world and providing many jobs at the same time. His goal is to provide renewable energy which can be used by Model S owners for no cost and also to put more energy back into the grid for anyone to use for electric appliances or devices, even though they might not drive or are not old enough to drive. http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

    • J. Morris Hicks says:

      Like everyone else, I have always just assumed that everything about renewable electric energy was terrific. But Stephen Emmott opened my eyes to some of the not-so-green elements of renewable electric energy. On page 170, he writes:

      “It is difficult to imagine existing green-energy technologies solving our energy demands at scale. For example, the next generation silicon photovoltaic cells require intensive mining of numerous metals and rare earths. Mining such metals involves processes that are anything but “green.” Many of these metals are at severe risk of what is known in the trade as “cumulative supply deficits”— that is, they’re running out. And the production of the new generation of solar panels involves nitrogen triflouride— one of the most potent greenhouse gases on Earth.”

      As the old saying goes, “All the glitters is not gold.” Like ALL other prominent leaders, Elon Musk is missing the elephant in the room when it comes to climate change—the grossly unsustainable food choices of the human race. I wrote to him two years ago, but his assistant said he was too busy to meet with me.

      Emmott, Stephen (2013-09-10). Ten Billion (Vintage) (Kindle Locations 546-550). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

  4. Leo S. says:

    Here is a free downloadable book on sustainable energy some might find worth their time. http://www.withouthotair.com/

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