Saturday, April 18, 2015

On our giant bus traveling through space, headed towards the future

So I was having an interesting conversation with someone last night, some real talk about world issues. We had some fundamental disagreements about the future of humanity: while I'm optimistic that humanity will ultimately evolve in a positive direction and that we can learn how to live in greater harmony with the planet/living beings/society, his opinion is that humanity is basically fucked and we are too deep in this shit to get out (he ascribes to principles of VHEMT... look it up, don't even want that link on my blog).  I agreed that we are facing crises and we will continue to face crises... but I still have faith in humanity.  He thought my beliefs are like some mythical fairy tale unicorns and rainbows worldview (I paraphrase)... and I can see how he would think that. The good thing is that I'm totally willing to be disproven... I'm willing to admit that I'm wrong, or to change my worldview and opinions, if exposed to the info/experiences that would show me that humanity actually is fucked beyond repair.  For now, I do think that our current systems that are in place can be changed, and will change, since they are fundamentally unsustainable... and nature, as it tends to, will force us into a state of greater equilibrium, which we can only surrender to if we wish to survive. And while I'm stuck in a human body, I might as well put my work and energy towards building that kind of positive future and alternative/progressive society.  

Anyways, we got into the subject of overpopulation, and he gave an analogy that went like this: the planet is like a bus and only a certain number of people can fit on it... and at this point, its way too crowded and has passed max capacity. I said that I agree somewhat with that analogy, but also fundamentally disagree. I started compiling some info backing up my opinion in an email, and then figured I should make this into a blog, since there's a lot of good info here:

Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. 
FOOD WASTE FACTS <-- check that crazy shit! 

  • In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage –and cooling facilities. Thus, a strengthening of the supply chain through the support farmers and investments in infrastructure, transportation, as well as in an expansion of the food –and packaging industry could help to reduce the amount of food loss and waste. 
<-- This begins to illustrate why I think it's not just about having too many people on the bus. It may more like this: the rich/privileged people get to take two seats, and the poor people have to get strapped to the roof of the bus, piled on top of each other... so those in "developed" countries get to live comfortably while other people get screwed. And they remain out of sight... so people can buy the sweatshop clothes they make, for instance, and not think about where they actually came from. Amiright? Anyways, this is why I think the root of the problem is less about the number of people and more about the fucked up systems that keep people oppressed, and encourage ignorance.    

Here are some more reasons why I think that... 
And just to be clear: 
The vast majority of the world's hungry people live in developing countries, where 13.5 percent of the population is undernourished. Hunger Statistics 
Ok so, the wealthy can just give their extra food to the poor, right? Wrong: 
Certain types of food “aid” (when not for emergency relief) can actually be destructive. Dumping food on to poorer nations (i.e. free, subsidized, or cheap food, below market prices) undercuts local farmers, who cannot compete and are driven out of jobs and into poverty, further slanting the market share of the larger producers such as those from the US and Europe. Food Aid as Dumping
The better solution would be if developing countries can build up their own local agriculture and economy...
A consensus is emerging that addressing the new challenges requires a Sustainable Agricultural Intensification (SAI) in small and large farms throughout the world. Simple operational definition of the objective of SAI is to provide sufficient, accessible, nutritious food, while enabling economic and social development in rural areas and treating people, animals and the environment with respect. 
Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems  <-- (looks like an amazing report that I'd like to dive into!)  
Back to the analogy... contrary to mainstream thought, I still believe there's enough space on the bus to fit all the people... if, among various systems changes, patterns of food consumption could shift: 


The livestock sector is by far the single largest anthropogenic user of land. Grazing occupies 26 percent of the Earth's terrestrial surface, while feed crop production requires about a third of all arable land. Livestock impacts on the environment - FAO

<-- So again, it's not only about the number of people on the planet that's causing problems... it's actually about systems and culture, about lifestyles and consumption choices. It's about things we could control, provided we have the awareness and motivation-- in many cases, the power-- to do so. 

Clearly our situation on the planet is extremely complicated, and I'm only touching on a subset of issues here. But I'm still optimistic! What am I missing? Come at me ^^  

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