Green Noise In the New York Times

Two articles worth noting in the New York Times: a fairly silly one by Alex Williams about how hard it is to make the right environmental choices, that we are becoming victims of "green noise" — static caused by urgent, sometimes vexing or even contradictory information played at too high a volume for too long." It is filled with specious non-choices like "Which salad is more earth-friendly, the one made with organic mixed greens trucked from thousands of miles away, or the one with lettuce raised on nearby industrial farms?" and concludes with Paul Hawken saying "even people inside the movement have the same feeling — burnout." ::That Buzz in Your Ear May Be Green Noise

Far more interesting is Donald G. McNeil Jr.'s Malthus Redux: Is Doomsday Upon Us, Again? which answers emphatically, no.

" The whole world has never come close to outpacing its ability to produce food. Right now, there is enough grain grown on earth to feed 10 billion vegetarians, said Joel E. Cohen, professor of populations at Rockefeller University and the author of "How Many People Can the Earth Support?" But much of it is being fed to cattle, the S.U.V.'s of the protein world, which are in turn guzzled by the world's wealthy.

Theoretically, there is enough acreage already planted to keep the planet fed forever, because 10 billion humans is roughly where the United Nations predicts that the world population will plateau in 2060. But success depends on portion control; in the late 1980s, Brown University's World Hunger Program calculated that the world then could sustain 5.5 billion vegetarians, 3.7 billion South Americans or 2.8 billion North Americans, who ate more animal protein than South Americans. "

McNeil concludes:

"Americans like Malthus because he takes the blame off us. Malthus says the problem is too many poor people.

Or, to put it in the terms in which the current crisis is usually explained: too many hard-working Chinese and Indians who think they should be able to eat pizza, meat and coffee and aspire to a reservation at Chez Panisse. They get blamed for raising global prices so much that poor Africans and Asians can't afford porridge and rice. The truth is, the upward pressure was there before they added to it.

America has always been charitable, so the answer has never been, "Let them eat bean sprouts." But it has been, "Let them eat subsidized American corn shipped over in American ships." That may need to change." ::New York Times

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