Although Earth Day is officially April 22nd, Down to Earth will be celebrating it on Sunday April 27th with a special day of fun and music. Proceeds from tickets sold will go towards supporting an awesome new sustainability charter school in Kaimuki, the School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability (SEEQS). Here's a great opportunity to support a worthwhile cause and have fun doing it! Learn more about Down to Earth's Earth Day Celebration
Environment & Sustainability
Tucked into the beautiful Lualualei Valley on the leeward coast of Oahu, are dozens of family farms growing a range of produce for the island. One of the newest in the valley is Ili’ili Farms, a certified organic aquaponics farm which we recently had the pleasure of visiting. Aquaponic farmers typically grow vegetables in water, instead of soil, where they place fish to nurture the plants.
The need to produce more food in some regions of Asia during the past fifty years was—for a time—achieved by increasing the yields of grain crops by as much as 2.5 percent per year using industrial farming methods. These methods relied on high-yielding hybrid seeds and more recently seeds of genetically modified (GM) crops, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and intense irrigation. But by 2004 annual growth rates of crop yields began declining, e.g. the annual growth in yield for rice crops dropped to as low as .5 percent.
As concern over diminishing soil quality grows in the Asia-Pacific region, natural farming methods may hold the cure. The prime cause of soil erosion and nutrient depletion during the past thirty years is over-application of chemical fertilizer.
This is the finding of a study by the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Science, which notes that farmers have become too dependent on artificial fertilizers. They haven't been building up their soil with organic matter that nurtures the soil naturally and binds it together to help resist erosion due to wind and rain.
Water resources are growing scarce in Asia and experts say the primary culprit is changing diet. Increasing adoption of a western meat-based diet requires more than four times the amount of water to produce than tofu and ten times more than rice.
The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that food production will need to increase globally by 70% to feed the world's surging population in 2050. The FAO says that efficiency gains in agriculture will be overwhelmed by the expected population growth.
As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products, and which are increasingly being adopted around the world, are unsustainable.
What we eat can cause or worsen diet-related illnesses and thus has a significant impact on our quality of life.
Virtually all the major scientific and medical institutions in the world agree that the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, obesity, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, cancer, and diabetes, among other diseases is linked to a meat-based diet consisting of highly processed foods laden with fats and artificial ingredients. These institutions further agree that the risk is greatly reduced by adopting a healthy low-fat, high-fiber diet.
What makes it wrong, and the idea of it even repulsive, to eat a pet, but okay to slaughter other animals and put them on the dinner table or in our children’s lunch box? Our pets earn a special place in our hearts and often are treated as members of the family. Great efforts and expense are taken to see that they are kept safe, well-nourished, comfortable and happy.
What we choose to eat is one of the most significant factors in the personal impact we have on the environment and the fastest path to climate change. A recent study examining the impact of a typical week’s eating showed that plant-based diets are better for the environment than those based on meat. A vegan organic diet had the smallest environmental impact while the single most damaging foodstuff was beef. All non-vegetarian diets require significantly greater amounts of environmental resources such as land and water.
A new book criticizing vegetarianism and veganism is making a splash in the UK. Reviewers have called it "groundbreaking" and "life changing." After reading the book, George Monbriot, a well known environmentalist and advocate of veganism, has reversed his position and is now advocating eating animal flesh, as long as the animal has been sustainably raised. The book causing all the fuss was written by Simon Fairlie, a farmer with experience in permaculture, which is a type of agriculture that seeks to mimic natural ecosystems. The book is called Meat: A Benign Extravagance.