The natural habitat of our planet has taken billions of years to evolve.
The diversity of life on our planet is magnificence personified, and it has only been through the emergence of technology that we as a species have been privileged to glimpse it.
Only a few generations ago, most of the natural world was beyond the sight and experience of most of its inhabitants.
Yet in similar timescales, the industrialisation of crop and livestock farming has seen animal and plant species become extinct alongside land being desertified.
Desertification is a type of land degradation in drylands in which biological productivity is lost due to natural processes or induced by human activities whereby fertile areas become increasingly arid. Desertification is not new, it was a causal factor in the demise of many early civilisations.
The difference with early civilisations and today is in the geographical extent of impact.
Today global food businesses of many different varieties strive to produce food at the lowest possible cost to maximise profits. The lowest possible cost of production economically unfortunately is rarely balanced with the lowest possible cost to our ecosystem.
Not only is industrial farming taking much out from our natural ecosystem it is also putting much in, laboratory manufactured ingredients that were never in mother nature’s billion year old recipe, and as such are fundamentally unbalancing nature.
Pesticides and genetically modified organisms are added to crops to increase the yield from the land, but at a very high cost to nature. The land itself has been paying the price for this increase in yield, and chemicals never intended for human consumption are now being consumed on a daily basis. Knowingly and unknowingly.
As the land is being industrialised to increase yield it is also having its ability to sequester Carbon Dioxide decreased. Sequestration involves the net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere by plants and micro-organisms and its storage in vegetative biomass and in soils.
From a global perspective most animals are now farmed for food production in artificial environments, food factories, battery farms and feedlots. The same animals are fed with crops from industrialised production. We have taken animals off the land and turned the land into a factory. The produce from the land factory creates food for factory animals, who eat it, and we in turn eat the factory animals fed with factory crops.
Putting figures alongside the change in use of land is truly disturbing.
- Food accounts for over a quarter (26%) of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- Half of the world’s habitable (ice- and desert-free) land is used for agriculture.
- 70% of global freshwater withdrawals are used for agriculture.
- 78% of global ocean and freshwater eutrophication (the pollution of waterways with nutrient-rich pollutants) is caused by agriculture.
- 94% of mammal biomass (excluding humans) is livestock. This means livestock outweigh wild mammals by a factor of 15-to-1.
- Of the 28,000 species evaluated to be threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List, agriculture and aquaculture is listed as a threat for 24,000 of them.
Food, therefore, lies at the heart of trying to tackle climate change, reducing water stress, pollution, restoring lands back to forests or grasslands, and protecting the world’s wildlife.
Unfortunately, or maybe a better phrase to use ‘potentially catastrophically’ the numbers and examples given above don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the problem. In a few hundred years we have managed to significantly reverse what has taken billions of years to evolve and sustain human life, nature.
Two recent documentary programmes on Netflix have highlighted the problems we all face and are bequeathing our future generations.
Both documentaries cover subjects most of us think we are well versed in, watch either or both to realise most of us are not.
WARNING: Both will alarm and upset you, but both are worth enduring to gain some perspective on what is happening right now.
The video below is a short snippet from Kiss the Ground, and is neither alarming or upsetting, it shows farming enhancing nature. In fact in a few short minutes it should deliver you a smile.
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Hospitality & Catering News: Netflix documentaries climate change – 19 October 2020 – Netflix documentaries climate change
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