And other lessons for humankind from “The Martian”
Spoiler alert. If you don’t like to read anything about movies before you see them, you should stop reading for now. I do recommend this movie highly.
Lessons from the movie Martian
- The sensibility of plant-based eating. The most obvious lesson is that plant-based food is by far the most efficient and, hence, the most sustainable way for humans to feed ourselves.
- The goodness of human nature. With a single life in peril on a planet 33 million miles away, the global outpouring of interest, care and support is staggering.
- The power of international teamwork. Against all odds and a zillion possible things that could go wrong, the international community joins together with incredible resolve to bring this single American back to Earth safely–while the entire world nervously watches this modern-day miracle in space unfold.
Let’s start with the first one–growing potatoes on Mars in Martian soil while using human waste as fertilizer. Once it sinks in that even with the quickest of possible rescue scenarios to bring him back to Earth, Watney calculates that he will run out of food many months, if not years, before his earliest possible rescue.
Fortunately, he is a botanist and quickly goes about doing what any botanist would do in that situation–he figures out how to grow some plant-based food. (A quick Google search appears to validate his potato farming method on Mars as doable.)
While watching how he is able to sustain himself indefinitely by growing potatoes, I was reminded of just how totally absurd, wasteful and harmful, our current method of eating animals truly is. Of course, Watney probably would’ve liked to have had a steady supply of burgers on Mars…but not if he had to do all the work.
Just imagine how much work it would take to feed, grow, slaughter, process and cook meat when you’re all by yourself on a planet that is 33 million miles from home.
My conclusion is that growing meat makes absolutely NO sense on Mars–and it makes NO sense on Earth either. Why not? Because, on a per calorie basis, it takes over ten times as much land, water and energy (on Earth) to grow meat calories than it does to grow plant calories. End of discussion when you consider that we don’t have nearly enough land or water on Earth to feed even half of our population–if everyone tried to eat the way we do in the United States. So where does that lead us?
From incredible complexity to blinding simplicity. I am talking about comparing the rescue of one astronaut to the rescue of billions of future humans. But what about that “goodness of human nature” and “power of international teamwork” mentioned earlier? Why has there been none of that when it comes to saving not just one human, but millions of current humans, billions of future humans and trillions of future animals?
Why have the smartest and most powerful people in the world ignored the incredibly simple power of food when it comes to saving our ecosystem and our civilization–necessary steps for preserving our future as a species?
I have answered that question in at least 200 online articles and now in two books. The entire disgusting reason is a combination of “money, ego, power and control.” Our global feeding system for humans has locked the minds of the smartest, most powerful and most influential leaders. That system has resulted in the ubiquitous protein myth that exists in ALL of the wealthiest countries in the world. (See movie preview at end of this article.)
The Bottom Line. We have the knowledge to fix our biggest problem on Earth–the way we feed ourselves for the rest of this century. I call it the most important issue in the history of humanity because the future of humanity is riding on those food choices. As for relevant complexity, the solution I am proposing is wonderfully simple and imminently doable.
Consider this. The method for fixing our feeding model (and saving our ecosystem) compared to rescuing Mark Watney from Mars is like comparing first grade arithmetic to nuclear physics. Nothing could be simpler than shifting to a diet of mostly plants–like Watney did on Mars. The seemingly impossible part is identifying and motivating enough influential leaders to make it happen.
In closing, I am reminded of a few relevant quotes from famed Harvard professor of biology, E.O. Wilson in his latest took, The Meaning of Human Existence. These four quotes all appear in the final chapter, “Alone and Free in the Universe.”
Human beings are not wicked by nature. We have enough intelligence, goodwill, generosity, and enterprise to turn Earth into a paradise both for ourselves and for the biosphere that gave us birth.
The problem holding everything up thus far is that Homo sapiens is an innately dysfunctional species. We are hampered by the Paleolithic Curse: genetic adaptations that worked very well for millions of years of hunter-gatherer existence but are increasingly a hindrance in a globally urban and technoscientific society. We seem unable to stabilize either economic policies or the means of governance higher than the level of a village.
Too paralyzed with self-absorption to protect the rest of life, we continue to tear down the natural environment, our species’ irreplaceable and most precious heritage. And it is still taboo to bring up population policies aiming for an optimum people density, geographic distribution, and age distribution. The idea sounds “fascist,” and and in any case can be deferred for another generation or two— we hope.
Scientists who might contribute to a more realistic worldview are especially disappointing. Largely yeomen, they are intellectual dwarves content to stay within the narrow specialties for which they were trained and are paid.
As for that last sentence, although there are an estimated 10,000 nutritional scientists in the world, NONE of them have had the courage to step out of their narrow specialties and publicly endorse the world-changing scientific findings of Dr. T. Colin Campbell. If they did, their careers would be over. What a terribly sad state of affairs.
I mentioned that I have written about the simple solution to sustainability in hundreds of articles and in two books. The most recent book is our 4Leaf Guide to Vibrant Health. Related to this article, here are a few chapters that you might find enlightening. All 37 chapters are five pages or less:
- Chapter 4. Why should we eat mostly plants?
- Chapter 27. Cancer, climate change and world hunger
- Chapter 29. The brain-locking protein myth
- Chapter 31. Sustainability is paramount.
- Chapter 32. Profound lessons from Easter Island
- Chapter 36. New world of harmony
A few relevant articles on this “big picture” topic:
- NOTHING is more Important than Sustainability!
- Tearing down the single biggest roadblock to sustainability
- Food Choices. The primary cause of global warming?
- Were humans the “infestation” of Easter Island?
- Global Depletion. The Big Picture. The Solution
- Food Choices. The primary cause of global warming?
- They say that Nero fiddled while Rome burned…
- My relentless drum-beat continues.
- Characters in the movie “Interstellar” ate ONLY plants. Ironically, Damon stars in both of these movies about space–the villain in the first one and the hero in The Martian.
The following six books 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
- 4Leaf Guide to Vibrant Health, powerful new book by Kerry Graff, MD and yours truly
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (my first book)
- 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.
- Primary cause of cancer is not bad luck. Stop Feeding Your Cancer, by John Kelly, MD
- 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.
Want to find out how healthy you are eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes about two minutes. eCornell is now using our survey in their plant-based nutrition course.
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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 Program website, which is now being used by an ever-growing army of enlightened medical doctors who are fed up with “disease care” and want to promote true health for their patients.
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