Originally published December 2 2009
Take Notice of the Sustainability Factor and the Disposable Economy of the World, Part III
by Aaron Turpen
(NaturalNews) The human population currently thrives on a basic food source: grains. Our current food paradigm requires that we have wheat for our breads, barley for our animals, rice for our tables, and soy for our animals and food additives. Corn is another important food source, especially in the Americas. All five of these food sources make up the bulk of the world`s diet at present.
To grow these crops using our modern, industrial methods requires a lot of resources. It requires oil for the machinery and transportation, artificial fertilizers (nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous), and water.
All of these crops, cereal grains especially, require potassium (commonly called "potash") to thrive, especially when farmed industrially. Potash is literally mined out of the ground (it is a mineral). Between 2006 and 2008, the price of potash went up by 500%. It's still rising. We`re running out of "easy" potash.
Water is another resource growing more scarce. The planet is 2/3 water, but only 2% of that is fresh water. Most of that fresh water is polar ice, glaciers, and in the atmosphere. What`s left is fresh water that we can utilize. It cycles at a given rate. Currently, we use 30% more than there is in America and 50% more than there is in China, and it gets little better as we circle the globe. Most of the excess comes from aquifers, which are quickly drying up.
Oil has peaked, which leaves nitrogen. Nitrogen we aren`t running out of, but we're heavily over-using it. Again, because of industrial farming. Nitrogen is so cheaply acquired that farmers can dump it by the train load on their fields without concern. The excess runs off into groundwater and eventually into rivers and the ocean.
At the mouth of the Mississippi River, where it dumps into the Gulf of Mexico, there is a huge "dead zone." It stretches from Louisiana to Houston, Texas and out into the Gulf nearly five miles from its source. That dead zone is due to all of that nitrogen raging into and down the Mississippi and into the Gulf.
The nitrogen causes an explosion of algal growth, soaking it up. That algae breathes the oxygen in the water, sucking it up at such a rate that anything else that requires oxygen (basically everything living) either dies or has to leave. These dead zones are at the mouth of nearly every river in the world.
Many people are under the impression that we can just magically switch from our current, industrial methods of farming to organic and more sustainable methods whenever we need to. This is not the case. Even disregarding USDA Organic requirements, it takes several years (close to a decade) for a farm to move from synthetic fertilization to organic methods. The soil requires time to recover.
So, we face a big decision as humans. Do we continue as we are and eventually starve to death when the resources start to run out? Or do we change our ways and hope that in the next generation (or less), we can reverse the trend and become sustainable?
It`s not a question for governments; it`s a question for people. We all have to change, individually and in communities. That change can`t come by government coercion. It comes through personal life choices that you must make, your family must make, your neighbors, friends, and community must make.
It starts, however, with you. Are you sustainable yet?
Municipal Solid Waste in the United States, Facts and Figures, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Landfill Data From China: Addressing Information Needs for Methane Recovery, A. Robinson U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al.
The Sustainability Factor: What Sustainability Means and Why You Need to Know, by Aaron Turpen
Minerals Scarcity: A Call for Managed Austerity and the Elements of Hope, by Dr. Andre M. Diederen, Msc.
About the authorAaron Turpen is a professional writer living in Wyoming in the USA. His blogs cover organic/sustainable living and environmental considerations (AaronsEnvironMental.com) and the science debunking mainstream medical and proving alternatives (HiddenHealthScience.com).
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