Thursday, May 25, 2023

The Need to Grow

When I taught civics and we discussed Canada's immigration policy, that we typically take in about 250,000 newcomers each year, but over 600,000 apply, many students would suggest we need to take them all. They'd prefer an open door policy that maybe only stops the criminally-minded from entry. My follow up question: To what point? What happens if much of the rest of the world becomes uninhabitable and we get millions wanting to live here? At what point do you close the door, if ever? 

We're about to find out in just a few decades. According to an article in Nature about the specific kind of habitat we need to survive,

"Climate change has already put ~9% of people (> 600 million) outside this niche. By the end-of-century (2080-2100 [about 55 years from now]), current policies leading to around 2.7°C global warming could leave 1/3 (22-39%) of people outside the niche."

When a third of the civilized world becomes inhabitable, we'll all be either migrants or hosts or something far worse. Canada's in a pretty good location to weather this except for all the fires

But, I just watched a film that's free for the next couple days: The Need to Grow. It focuses on food production, but it's all interrelated. It's well put together with three entwined storylines, and it's got a hopefulness to it that can really help these days! It's just $7 to buy a permanent copy of the film along with lots of extras, and that will help them continue their work. 

Michael Smith is a genius inventor who found a way to create nutrient rich soil after learning that we've lost 1/3 of the world's topsoil in the last forty years, taking a matter of days to regenerate what would normally take a few hundred years. Erik Cutter created a vertical agriculture technique that enables far more food growth in a much smaller area and reduces GHGs as well. And Alicia Serratos and her mom, Monica, aimed to take on Girl Guide cookies. 

The bad guys are the fertilizer and pesticide corporations, an $170 billion industry, which could lose substantial profits if these ideas take off. The industries started with the leftover materials from the military without a market, like nerve agents.  

*** SPOILERS ***

The soil creating building burns down (possibly arson); the vertical farm is replaced by a huge skating rink, and the little girl doesn't get an audience with the head of Girl Guides. 

"People don't have the foresight to know what to care about. They don't WANT to know - ignorance is bliss."

BUT, they persisted! Two years later Smith rebuilt and Cutter found new places to start over, and Serratos kept working on food education. 

"You don't get points for doing the right thing. You just have to do it. . . . We can solve these problems. It's not too late. We can do much better."

It helps to know people are still trying to do the right thing even though things look bleak. 

My only criticism of the film is that the music is a bit heavy-handed at times, drowning out the audio, and was reminiscent of being on hold. But I'm old, and it might just not be to my taste!


Toby said...

The scariest statistic is that the world's population of humans has more than tripled in my lifetime.

Marie Snyder said...

To clarify, when that was said by Cutter, I believe he wasn't trying to tell a universal Truth, as if we should remain ignorant, but merely expressing his frustration with the situation he was in -- that the city wanted skating rinks instead of food. I see that in my own region where we're building huge homes on agricultural land. We often go for short term benefits over long term harm. It's often too late before enough people are informed enough to act in our own self interest. We can see that with Covid as well, that some people actively avoid looking at the data in order to enjoy the short term joy of believing the pandemic ended instead of taking any precautions to avoid infection.

Larry Hamelin said...

I think you mean uninhabitable.

Marie Snyder said...

Thanks - I fixed it.