Sunday, September 11, 2011

How Do We Feed the World Without Destroying it? TED Talk on Agriculture.

Professor Jonathan Foley is the Director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of the Minnesota who focuses on the behavior of complex global environmental systems and their interactions with human societies. In particular, Foley's research group uses state-of-the-art computer models and satellite measurements to analyze changes in land use, ecosystems, climate and freshwater resources across regional and global scales.

Foley says that agriculture is dominating our planet; that it is affecting water quality and leading to loss of biodiversity; that it rivals climate change in importance. Forty percent of the earth's land surface is now devoted to agriculture; 70% of water; and 30% of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere due to human activity are due to agriculture. He asks, "How are we going to double global agriculture? Remaining lands are in sensitive areas of biodiversity. We need to freeze the footprint of agriculture and increase production through right methods. Since we have to eat, how we can minimize the negative impacts of growing food?

Note that at 14:20 is a 2 minute video that I've featured here before that is well worth watching put out by the Univ. of Minnesota.

What do we need to do?
  1. Incentives for farmers
  2. Precisions agriculture
  3. New crop varieties
  4. Drip irrigation
  5. Gray water recycling
  6. Better tillage practices
  7. Smarter diets
  8. Global collaboration, all parties at the table: industrial, organic

h/t Dennis Dimick

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