This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

You can download an iPhone app for the 13th edition from the App Store (search for Weeks Population).

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More Good Reasons to Become Vegetarian

My wife and I are vegetarian for animal rights reasons, but I have noted before that if people ate less meat, the planet would generally be better off. A new study about to be published in Nature makes the important point that vegetarianism, or at least less meat-eating, may be the way by which we will figure out how to feed the growing population.

A newly published blueprint for doubling the global food supply includes a key suggestion about how everyone can contribute to this increasingly pressing ambition: eat less meat.
An international team of researchers has developed solutions to respond to what it calls one the greatest challenges of the 21st century — boosting food production while slashing the environmental impact of agriculture.
McGill University's Navin Ramankutty, one of the team leaders on the paper, said the research is the first of its kind to quantify both food production and ecological consequences in the same analysis.
He added that it's also the first study to examine these factors while considering the specific environmental characteristics of different regions of the planet.
Ramankutty said limiting meat consumption is one of several ways to increase food production.
He estimates that simply dedicating prime cropland to growing food for humans — rather than growing biofuels or feed for animals — could spike the global output by nearly 50 per cent.
The study says that three-quarters of the world's agricultural land is devoted to raising livestock, either for grazing or for growing feed.
Ramankutty added that beef is the most resource-intensive animal product of them all.
The research also calls for improved crop management to increase yields; an end to deforestation to make way for farmland; and a cutback on food waste, which amounts for as much as half of the planetary food production.
In truth, none of these ideas is really new, but it is important to keep getting the message out there. The more mud we throw on the wall, the more likely it is that some will stick.

No comments:

Post a Comment