This book is very eye opening and informative. Most people wouldn’t put a lot of thought to our food production abilities in this country because for most of the country, food isn’t a crisis, or so we think. It’s everywhere. You can’t drive anywhere in a lot of the country without driving past fast food, gas stations, and grocery stores. Most people don’t see that our plantable land is decreasing as our population increases, but in other countries, especially where the population is higher and/or the people are poorer, there is even less land available for crops, grains being the most important. Some countries such as Saudi-Arabia, South Korea, India, and largest investment of all, China have been buying up land from other countries to plant their grains and oil-bearing plants because they’re out of land in their own country or the conditions have been so unfavorable that they can’t plant. The countries that they buy from are typically those that are so poor as to depend on World Food Programme (WFP) for part or most of their food supply. This was eye-opening because it sounds just crazy to sell your plantable land to another far-away country and you can’t even feed your own people and have to rely on aid. I read that the US may think that it’s safe from the effects of a diminishing world food supply, but if China were to turn to us for large quantities of grains, Brown says that “In such a situation, it would be tempting for the United States to restrict exports- as it did, for example, with grain and soybeans in the 1970s when domestic food prices soared. But this is not an option with China, which now holds well over $1 trillion is U.S. debt. It is often the leading international buyer at the monthly auctions of U.S. Treasury securities that finance the growing U.S. deficit”.
Just to visualize that number, that is $1,000,000,000,000 owed to China, and they BUY MORE MONTHLY which is something I never heard of. Auctions for U.S. deficit. Crazy.
Not only is crop plots decreasing, but land for foraging livestock is also decreasing due to overforaging. Three-fourths of oceanic fisheries are overfished. All of the things wrong with the world food supply is due to OVERgrazing, OVERplowing, OVERfishing, and OVERloading the air with CO2. We can’t continue on the way we have been going or societies are going to start collapsing like the Mayans, Sumerians, and others. It’s not just food that is the issue with food. It is also the processes to get it to the market, including gasoline and packaging that people don’t think about. If we paid the prices reflecting not only the fuel costs, but also the cost to preserve the resources for the future, we would pay an incredible amount more to where a lot of people would starve, or nearly so. As stated in the book, “Today we need a realistic view about the relationship between the economy and the environment. We also need, more than ever before, political leaders who can see the big picture”. This is true, but how to have these kind of leaders all over the world, even in the countries that are so poor and corrupt, and those that hate us. If we tried to implement some kind of system to improve world food issues, who would cooperate? Some would deny us just to deny us, and some would undoubtedly expect us to either do it for them or to give them a bunch of resources. Food isn’t the only problem either in swelling populations, there’s also the fact that with more people, more various buildings are needed to dwell, treat for illness, educate, shop, etc. which causes an additional reduction in resources.
What Plan B is, is an alternative to what we as a planet are doing now. The goal of Plan B is to move the world from the developing crisis to a new path to food security and sustained civilization. It has four proposed components: 1. Cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2020, 2. Stabilizing the population at 8 billion or less, 3. Eradicating poverty, and 4. Restoring the Earth’s natural ecosystems to a good health again. As soon as I read this I thought yeah, that’s never going to happen, ever, but Brown’s next statement is that “The ambitiousness of this plan is not driven by perceived political feasibility but by scientific reality”. He proposes a large scale switch to clean energy, which would be great, but not everyone can afford it, and the resources to make at least solar panels is not a renewable source. Once that material is gone, it’s gone. Giving women all over the world access to education and reproductive health care would help keep women from having too many children to support, keeping the population at a more manageable level and eradicating poverty simultaneously. Lastly, stopping the deterioration of natural systems can be done by conservation practices, reforestation, and restoring fisheries. It is a huge challenge, but is necessary to leave a livable planet for our children, and our children’s’ children to grow on. Some countries like Brazil and South Korea have areas that they have implemented some of these practices and it has paid off. If this is to happen, it needs to happen now globally before it is too late. Brown says that “The challenge is not only to build a new economy but to do it at a wartime speed before we miss so many of nature’s deadlines that the economic system begins to unravel. Participating in the construction of this enduring new economy is exhilarating. So is the quality of life it will bring. A world where population has stabilized, forests are expanding, and carbon emissions are falling is within our grasp”. I think it is a very optimistic thought, but like I said previously, doesn’t sound plausible on a global scale. There are too many greedy people in positions of power all over the world that are too busy trying to climb a ladder and make money and a name for themselves to stop exploiting what and who they are currently profiting from to do something that will benefit everyone and not just themselves. These proposals Brown makes are also not free if implemented. Reforestation costs money, stocking fisheries and maintaining them cost money, green energy and electric cars cost money. If people are having a hard time affording food, what makes him think that they can afford whatever insane tax increases it would take in order to do something like this? And for the countries that have already sold extensive land to other countries, what are they going to do? Say never mind, we take our land back so we can fix it and not need your money anymore? Nobody will tell that to China, I can guarantee that. Implementing education and birth control practices is a great idea, but even this would require 1. Approval from leaders in countries that want to keep their women oppressed and if that even works, then 2. It would have to be accepted by the people, who are used to having things that way, 3. Huge scale production of birth control products (creating a ton of plastic, using fuel, etc), then finally 4. There would probably have to be places built in order to house these opportunities and people to work and maintain them and the practices therein. The plan sounds like a great endeavor that would be a wonderful revitalization of the Earth and her resources, but it sounds too far-fetched once you start thinking about all of the baggage that comes along with it. Some countries surely would be all for it, but without everyone on board with such a large-scale project such as this, there would be an eventual, inevitable failure.