Do you think you are green? Thinking about trying to be green? It is a nice concept but how many of us are really willing to do what is necessary to turn this planet around? Here are a few of the major problems we face that MUST be dealt with immediately to even save the planet let alone turn it “green” again.
Farmers, I didn’t start this blog site to get all warm and fuzzy and tree hugging, but damn, I’m turning up some serious problems that are starting to worry me. Let me know if I’m going over the deep end or if I haven’t even begun to see the tip of the iceberg yet. – Jughandle
Rice is the major calorie source for half of the world’s population, but growing rice accounts for one-third of the planet’s annual freshwater use, according to Oxfam. Luckily, a new farming method known as System of Rice Intensification has been developed that enables farmers to produce up to 50 percent more rice with less water. Oxfam is working to get rice-producing countries to convert 25 percent of their rice cultivation to SRI by 2025.
2. Genetically modified foods
As with human health risks, it’s unlikely that all the potential environmental harms of genetically modified foods have been identified, but here are some of the main concerns about GMOs.
- Lower level of biodiversity: By making a crop resistant to a certain pest, the food sources for other animals could be removed. Also, the addition of foreign genes to plants could be toxic and endanger the animals that consume the plant.
- Spread of altered genes: Novel genes placed in crops won’t necessarily stay in designated agricultural fields. The genes can easily spread via pollen and share their altered genes with non-genetically modified plants.
- Creation of new diseases: Some GM foods are modified using bacteria and viruses, which means they could adapt and create new diseases.
More than 145 millions tons of sugar are produced in 121 countries each year, according to the World Wildlife Fund, and production on such a scale takes its toll on the Earth. Sugar may be responsible for more biodiversity loss than any other crop, according to a 2004 WWF “Sugar and the Environment” report, due to its habitat destruction, its intensive use of water and pesticides, and the polluted wastewater discharged during the production process.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, if every American substituted one meal of chicken with vegetarian food, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads. Here are some of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization’s findings on meat and the environment:
18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock — more than from transportation.
70 percent of previously forested land in the Amazon was cleared to pasture cattle.
The world’s largest source of water pollution is the livestock sector.
Livestock are responsible for a third of the nitrogen and phosphorus in U.S. freshwater resources.
Livestock account for about 20 percent of land animals, and the 30 percent of Earth’s land they occupy was once inhabited by wildlife.
5. Fast food
But it’s not just the packaging that’s a problem. A recent Hong Kong study found that a fast-food restaurant making four hamburgers emits the same amount of volatile organic compounds as driving a car 1,000 miles. If you calculate the carbon footprint of a cheeseburger, you’re in for a real shock: The greenhouse gas emissions arising each year from the production and consumption of cheeseburgers is roughly the amount emitted by 6.5 million to 19.6 million SUVs.
6. Foods that contain palm oil
7. Packaged and processed food
8. Many non-organic foods
9. Some seafood
10. White bread
11. High-fructose corn syrup foods
12. Much non-local food
Many people eat local for the freshness or to support the community, but the most widely touted benefit of local food is that it reduces fossil fuel consumption. According to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the average fresh food items on your dinner table travel 1,500 miles to get there. Although there’s disagreement over whether “food miles” are the best measure of a food’s carbon footprint, buying food at your local farmers market is one way to guarantee that your food hasn’t traveled too far to get to your plate.