This Month in SEED: Carnivores Like Us and Paper Tigers in China
Meat-lovers and vegetarians alike will find much to like about Paul Roberts' pièce de résistance, "Carnivores Like Us," in this month's SEED. The article, adapted from Roberts' new book, The End of Food (see Mother Jones' recent energy issue for his take on the 7 myths of energy independence), is a fascinating meditation on the past, present and future of carnivorism.
Proceeding from a bustling duck-processing plant in Weifang city, China -- one of the focal points of the country's new meat-eating revolution -- Roberts goes back in time to trace the very beginning of our carnivorous past. He explains that it is the act of meat-eating itself that has made us what we are now: Meat proffered more "calorie bang for the buck," which allowed our ancestors to get their daily food intake more easily, and helped fuel the development of our bigger (more calorie-dependent) brains. He goes on from there to describe our current "meat economy," framing it in the context of global warming, the global food crisis and recent advances made in what he calls "meat science" (see: growing meat on a petri dish). In the end, he says, humans will need to change their meat-eating ways to adapt to a growing world population and changing climate: As he puts it, "The same scientific methods that showed us just how important meat was in our species' spectacular rise must now help ensure that meat doesn't contribute to our fall."
You'll also find an interesting take on the state of Chinese science and regulation, which revolves around a strange "paper tiger incident," from Jane Qiu and an interview with Sir David King, the former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, on the need for independent science in a democracy (that must be nice).
Last, but (certainly) not least: SEED's writers round up the latest science/design books in their must-read "Picks" section. Several books of potential interest to TH readers are: Elizabeth Royte's Bottlemania (about the ubiquity and problems of bottled water); Robert Engelman's More (about overcrowding and population control); and The Endless City, a 500-page statistics- and picture-rich volume edited by Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic which focuses on 6 major urban centers -- New York, London, Shanghai, Johannesburg, Mexico City and Berlin.