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Not enough land...

Discussion in 'Environment' started by Emma JC, Aug 16, 2018.

  1. Emma JC
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    Emma JC Active Member

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    I found this article very interesting, especially the last couple of paragraphs.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/usda-guidelines-diet-agricultural-land-use-study-1.4781291

    If the world ate the USDA-recommended diet, there wouldn't be enough land to grow it

    An additional gigahectare of agricultural land — roughly the size of Canada — is required

    Showwei Chu · CBC News · Posted: Aug 16, 2018 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 5 hours ago


    If everyone in the world followed the USDA-recommended diet, there wouldn't be enough agricultural land to grow all the food, a new study has found.

    The researchers from the University of Guelph and the University of Waterloo, both in Ontario, said an additional gigahectare of fertile land — roughly the size of Canada — would be required to feed everyone, highlighting the fact that dietary guidelines should be based on more than just nutrition.

    The study, funded by a Canadian government grant through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, sought to address the issue of sustainability in the global diet.

    The researchers drew from current yield data (production, imports and exports by nation) for various crops from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to estimate the amount of land required to grow what the USDA considers a healthy diet low in calories and saturated fats.

    "Our analysis shows that there is not enough land for the world to adhere to the USDA guidelines under current agricultural practices," they wrote in the study, which was published earlier this month in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE. "This is despite the fact that the USDA guideline diet is already less land-intensive than the current U.S. diet."

    'Much larger than we thought'
    Madhur Anand, the study's senior author and a professor of global ecological change and sustainability at the University of Guelph, said the numbers "were a little surprising."

    "It's just sometimes you know that there might be an issue but you just don't know the extent of it. It was just much larger than we thought," she said.

    "It's important to know that this may have global implications if we were to have everybody follow this diet … and there would be land limitations to implementing it," said Anand, who used the USDA guideline because it was the most readily available one when the researchers began their study six years ago.

    Based on their findings, the researchers recommended that national dietary guidelines:

    • Should be developed using not just health but also global land use and equity as criteria.

    • Be co-ordinated internationally.
    Navin Ramankutty, a professor of global food security and sustainability at the University of British Columbia, agrees that dietary guidelines should consider more than just health.

    "A health guideline only focuses on what kind of macro nutrient people get. They're just going to say, 'OK, you need to consume so much protein.' It's not going to say where that protein source should come from," said Ramankutty, who was not involved in the study. "And for sustainability, it makes a huge difference where the actual protein comes from, and I think to point that out is very useful."

    But Ramankutty said he can't imagine countries co-ordinating on dietary guidelines: "I don't think that makes sense."

    The researchers also analyzed the current yield data by country and continent and found:

    • Australia, Brazil and the United States could spare the most land, while India, Mozambique and Saudi Arabia required the most land to meet the USDA guidelines.

    • North America, South America and Oceania could spare significant amounts of land if they adhered to the less land-intensive diet, while Africa, the European Union and Asia would require more agricultural land.
    Ramankutty said those results "were not entirely surprising."

    "So the result that the Western Hemisphere is going to spare land by switching to the guideline makes [sense] completely in line with intuition," he said. "The same thing for the Eastern Hemisphere, where a lot of people are not getting enough protein these days. If they switched to the guideline, clearly they will use more land. They're also going to be less malnourished."

    'A wake-up call'
    Co-author Evan Fraser said the findings were "a wake-up call and a path forward."

    "Feeding the world over the next generation is one of the biggest global challenges that we face," said Fraser, who holds the Canada Research Chair in global food security. "And this is not an easy problem to solve. It's right up there with climate change and international trade issues and all these big, thorny issues of the 21st century."

    He said the study "helps articulate and gives us some sense of the scale of the problem."

    The message here is that "eating healthy and sustainably is both necessary, is a big challenge, but is also doable given certain changes that need to be made."

    And those changes include shifting to diets that are higher in fruits and vegetables, shifting to plant-based proteins, reducing waste and investing in science to increase crop yields, he said.

    "If we don't do those things, we're going to need a heck of a lot more land," Fraser said.


    Emma JC
     
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  2. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    Somewhere along the line, I have become almost suspicious of articles that report on scientific studies. It's almost like I expect the reporter to make some kind of mistake or be biased in some way.

    But the conclusion doesn't surprise me. The earth is overpopulated or will be soon. And I think we all know the USDA dietary requirement are not based on nutrition or good science.

    I also think the author burried the lead. The last lines are the most important lines.
    "and those changes include shifting to diets that are higher in fruits and vegetables, shifting to plant-based proteins, reducing waste and investing in science to increase crop yields, he said.

    "If we don't do those things, we're going to need a heck of a lot more land," Fraser said."

    No 5h!+, Sherlock.
     
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  3. Emma JC
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    Emma JC Active Member

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    I agree, the lead was buried and likely purposefully as many people may have stopped reading if it wasn't.

    Emma JC
     
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  4. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    Well, it was also a conclusion.
    :)
     
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  5. Forest Nymph
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    Forest Nymph Active Member

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    As someone who has been paying attention to the science for a few years I'm both overjoyed and annoyed that FINALLY mainstream media is starting to pick up things I've been telling people for years. Like how the "hothouse" download is considered some sort of "breakthrough" in 2018 of people accepting climate change. I'm like, yes I've been reading this for years, it's really terrible that someone had to package it in this particular manner for people to finally start taking action.

    I'm not blaming scientists. I'm blaming the media for how they frame science.
     
  6. Forest Nymph
    Nerdy

    Forest Nymph Active Member

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    I just started taking a course where my professor (a scientist specializing in climate and energy) told us to listen to an episode of This American Life specifically about natural gas in the US, but generally about this topic, how the media and even institutions can "frame" science to their liking.

    One of the things I've had to learn in school is question who is funding the study, how many peer reviewed journals match this particular conclusion, who profits from this study, and of course (what everyone should know but apparently does not) whom is reporting the study.

    It's a real ***** to try to explain it to other people though. They are suspicious of science because they were never taught science is a constantly changing deductive process of disproof, that "theory" means something more substantial to scientists than arm chair philosophers, and how to spot how a study is being funded et al.

    I also think Merchants of Doubt as a documentary to watch is another good place to start.
     
  7. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    Just a subjective opinion: but I think MSM does a much better job on the environment than on nutrition.

    I think it was in a movie, maybe Inconvenient truths where it was pointed out that there were like 99 articles stating that climate change was happening to each one that said it wasn't. Oh, sure, more people believe in Angels than in Climate Change, but I don't think it's the medias fault. If anything its "the people's" fault. For being so effing stupid.

    Just turn on the TV news or open almost any paper and you will see an article about the wildfires being caused by climate change.

    But the media does a pretty bad job on nutrition. Yes, like you said there is some deliberate muddying of the water by Corps and special interests. Maybe that is the main problem. but I see just a lot of sensationalized headlines and lazy reporting, too.
     
  8. Forest Nymph
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    Forest Nymph Active Member

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    My Geology professor has a PhD and stopped speaking to her own grandfather because he angrily denies man-made climate change. I don't think she inherited bad genes from him, perhaps she is the more educated one, yet how is it that we live in a media culture where a businessman feels qualified to argue with a geologist possessing a doctorate on the causes and effects of global warming? There is definitely a media element, the MSM may be doing a much better job NOW but five or ten years ago, they were still playing it "safer" for allowing for "dissent" and "differences of opinion."

    Scientists have also been actively discouraged, hushed, or fired from universities for becoming an advocate of the science they know to be true. This is also a factor, the institutions - corporate and academic.

    Is there a factor of people just being stupid? Yes. But climate change denial is an American phenomenon unmatched in sheer numbers of stupidity in other developed nations. There are causes for that, I don't believe it's just inbreeding or head trauma.
     
  9. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    Yes, you are right about that.
    I guess since I saw Inconvenient Truth something like 20 years ago, i just thought it's old news. but yeah, you are right. As I should know. In some other thread, I pointed out many people still were thought it a myth. Including most Republicans.

    I also think it is just stupidity.
    1. Look at all the people who voted for Trump.
    2. Think of the how stupid the average American is. Now realize that half the population is stupider than him.
     
  10. Forest Nymph
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    Forest Nymph Active Member

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    Yes one of the worst arguments I've ever seen against climate science is "but Al Gore uses a lot of fossil fuels." And that's true. As an environmentalist, I actually kind of loathe Al Gore ...because here he pointed out all of this truth...yet then he continued to live in his huge mansion and use more natural resources than the average American. That's part of what's wrong with Republicans too. They see this hypocrisy and if they don't understand science, then obviously they'd be suspicious of the mentality of "bicycles and beans for thee, first-class flights and grass-fed steak for me."

    It's why I don't want to do policy though. ******* these ******* people. I just don't have the patience, I can be better used somewhere else.
     

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