Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Future is Green

I just read two very interesting items, one a book and one a magazine article: "The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century" by Dr. Dickson Despommier and "Population 7 Billion" in the January 2011 National Geographic. Both talk about the world's population in different ways, and environmental and food production challenges.

In "The Vertical Farm," Dr. Despommie proposes that growing food plants and producing clean water locally in multistory greenhouse buildings, and even in portable verticle farm units, is the solution to the world's food production challenges. Dr. Despommier envisions the vertical farms as ultra clean units where workers would shower and change into sterile clothing to work inside to protect the food and water produced there from contamination by things like e. coli, salmonella and insect infestations.

In "Population 7 Billion," author Robert Kunzig explores the impact of population growth, poverty, and increasing consumption on the earth's resources. He discusses solutions to poverty, overpopulation and changes and ideas that will be required in the future.

I would love to be able to grow all the food for my family at our home, although we don't live on a farm. I'd love to have a home that can take advantage of solar energy and wind power and not have to pay the gas and electric company.We live in town on less than half an acre, with neighbors on all sides. We are very happy to be within walking distance from a CVS pharmacy, a Dominick's grocery store, local banks, a very good family medical practice, a veterinary hospital, our library and the high school and grade schools. But even so, I'd much rather grow the tomatoes and lettuce for our salads, and a whole year's worth of produce and other food. While it might be possible, it would take a lot more time and effort than we'd be able to give it to make it happen while working full time and taking care of a family.

I spend a lot of time wondering about it, how to make it happen, what it would take to be fully self-sufficient in the midst of modern life. The flip-side of that is that we are all inter-connected, dependent on each other in a myriad of complex ways, so where does self-sufficiency fit into that? "The Vertical Farm" and "Population 7 Billion" offer a lot of ideas about how we will all meet the future, together.

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