What happened so far: The previous part of this series explained the problem of feeding billions of people plus twice as much biomass on their pets sustainably. For solutions he put off the text that follows. In doing so, the author cleverly avoided writing the catchy word “renunciation” in the first episode, which always pisses off so many readers. So let the scaring off begin, because at the beginning all researchers deal with the question: “How much does an individual need to live?”
How can a world population of up to 10 billion people eat sustainably? Global agriculture is looking for solutions that go beyond “organic” management and the use of IT in “smart farming”.
I would like to speak again against defeatism. In the case of future problems, an equivalent to Godwin’s Law applies. At some point someone always says: “There are just too many people.” While that may be true, what should be the conclusion of this statement? Kill half? Two-thirds? More? So who to start with? Her mother? Your brother? This is inhuman nonsense please. The population curve is flattening out through education and urbanization, and I would like to leave it at that in this discussion, because education and urbanization are not only more welcome but also more effective than war and mass murder, which have never been sustainably reduced.
The virtue of moderation
I wanted to come here with the Christian West, with Plato and the deadly sins of the Catholics, but I think we all know what it’s about, even if acceptance is sometimes difficult: on earth, up to 10 billion people cannot live like this the Germans lead today, or worse: the Australians, the Saudis or the Qataris. At the same time we can (neither morally nor physically) forbid other countries to raise their standard of living in our direction. A standard of living is needed that is satisfactory and yet is permanently possible on planet earth.
If we compare Germany with Afghanistan or Gambia, we see more than 30 times the emission of CO2 equivalents, mainly from resource consumption. The Afghan or Gambier woman naturally strives for her children to be able to lead a better life than a German dog one day, and whoever wants to forbid her from doing so should put the first word in the forum. The largest part of overconsumption is in the segment “buying a lot of useless things and throwing them away early”. When it comes to the share of diet in CO2 equivalents and the desired increase in standard of living, it is mainly about meat consumption – the second big bad word of all future discussions.
The previous article to this touched on the problem: Currently, mankind is growing large amounts of animal feed such as corn and soy to feed them to pigs or chickens elsewhere, from which we produce the cheapest animal protein. This happens because white meat is more efficient to produce in this industrialized process than meat from outside ruminants. However, the whole process is very inefficient. In addition, chickens and pigs compete with humans in terms of food-growing area: soy also provides us with high-quality nutrients.
The most obvious way out suggested among others Schader et al 2015 in a study, for the almost 10 billion people forecast by 2050: If we no longer pass arable crops through pigs and the like, but eat them directly, that alone can keep the global calorie and protein supply stable at a sufficient level. Schrader even takes into account a slight decrease in arable land in accordance with the UN wish. Many other parameters such as greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen surplus, energy consumption, pesticide quantity, water consumption and soil erosion improved. And now comes the pill the vegan gives you: animal protein in the diet has been reduced by 71 percent.