The Ugly Face of Overpopulation

buildings

freeimages.co.uk buildings

Texas, the lone star state. My recent visit to Texas gave me a new outlook on the Lone Star meaning. They say that this Lone Star state is capable of containing all of the world’s population. Texas has a square mileage of about 268,581 which equates to 7,487,608,550,400 square feet. Over 7.4 trillion square feet gives about 1000 square feet to each of the 7.5 billion people of our Earth’s population! So that’s what they mean by lone star state! Texas truly IS the only state that the world needs!

But what about transportation, farms, food services, power plants, etc.? Realistically, that would be a problem if we all lived in Texas, but that is not the point. What matters is that we have sufficient room on this planet for up to 282 billion people (calculated by Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) and surely technology will always evolve and adapt to the limited space available to us. If not, then we build UP! Towers, skyscrapers, pyramids, whatever we can think of. Even, eventually, out into the new frontier!

So why all this overpopulation talk? Why is there all this talk of Kenya’s population needing to be controlled because of its drastic population increase? Why are we so afraid of reaching 9 billion people by 2050?

The answer is not in sheer numbers but in the daily consumption of those increased numbers and the toll it takes on the environment. It is in resources and available luxuries of a comfortable lifestyle that we are lacking. Roger Martin, chair of the NGO Population Matters states that:

Every additional person needs food, water and energy, and produces more waste and pollution, so ratchets up our total impact on the planet, and ratchets down everyone else’s share.

In reality, we Americans live lavishly, even at poverty levels compared to that of the rest of the world. Here in America we associate a good, happy life with a big house, a nice car, a high paying job, and a family that is fed and satisfied. Other countries are not so lucky and a daily struggle for food only increases as the population grows. One of many gruelling facts:

Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy.

Where are all the solutions?! What can we do as a country to prepare for an Environmental Crisis?! Do I have to give up all of my luxury?

I am confident that most of you reading this article have heard the claim that the United States produces enough food to feed the entire world before. So then why are we still worrying about a shortage of food or overpopulation? Because every day supermarkets throw away food while people die of starvation all over the planet. Because day after day the corporate world  churns out more than is needed, creating piles of waste so that we can have comfortable lifestyles in America. Because no matter how much we produce or how efficient we become, nothing will deter the environmental crisis if we do not work for a cleaner and healthier environment around us.

Obama and his congressmen have been putting off the reforms needed in environmental advancements in order to have more sustainable energy and a cleaner environment. Germany already has implemented better energy efficient methods that are improving both the environment and their people’s way of life and is setting records for solar power production. Even if all that can be reached is a consensus on a future we want but do not currently have, we need to start moving in the right direction to help create that better, sustainable future.

Already the revolution towards a cleaner environment is happening. Already we are creating edible landscapes, creating gasoline out of air, working towards more efficient heating methods, and most importantly, using waste as a form of energy! The Environmental Revolution is upon us. Do not let yourself get left behind.

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas

http://www.pik-potsdam.de/institute

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Kenyans-urged-to-cut-population-growth/-/1056/1607130/-/kdn3t5z/-/index.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/23/why-population-growth-costs-the-earth-roger

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy5A8dVYU3k

http://www.mindfully.org/Sustainability/Americans-Consume-24percent.htm

http://www.naturalnews.com/029637_supermarkets_food.html

http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

https://wondergressive.com/2012/09/07/unprecedented-changes-and-extinctions-occurring-in-marine-life/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/16/permaculture-connection/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/26/us-climate-germany-solar-idUSBRE84P0FI20120526

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2118058,00.html

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/15/edible-landscapes/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/11/02/fresh-air-turned-into-gasoline/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/05/heat-yourself-not-your-house/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/12/sweden-is-running-out-of-trash/

Don’t Wine About “Cork Shortage”!

WINE. Fine when you dine, make it all mine, I love the taste of fine wine! As you may be able to tell I love my wine and I open at least 4 bottles of wine every day. Not to say that I drink all of it, I mean I am pretty sure I could and it would probably follow with a painful morning, but I am a server at a restaurant and opening wine has become a kind of a fetish for me. The taste, the aroma, the tannins! Oh boy I am getting carried away… So! As of late I have been constantly hearing from people around me that there is a cork shortage going on. This did not bother me at first but as I came to realize that my wine key will become useless with no more cork pulling to do during a wine presentation, I became overrun with grief and hostility. Well not really, but it would take away from the casual conversation that could be had and the ability to show off my expertise during my wine opening “ceremony”.

Alright lets not get sidetracked. I immediately started to research a bit and it turns out that for a while Trichloroanisole or (TCA) was an issue that the cork industry ignored, creating unhappy consumers of wine. TCA causes wine aromas to be tainted with tastes of card board and mold rendering the wine undrinkable, although honestly some wine is normally undrinkable anyways. For a time there was no real testing done on cork and people started coming to the realization that cork may not be all that safe to use.

So what happens when something starts going bad? We put some spices and salt on it and eat it anyway! Really though, we usually improvise and put research into that field to better it and make it more efficient. Thus, alternatives to cork were developed such as screw caps and plastic closures. The problem with these alternatives is they are not as bio degradable as cork is, resulting in a hit on the environment. But hey, they are cheaper and that’s usually the focus anyways when it comes to any industry; if it is cheaper and more efficient who cares about the environment.

It turns out that even if these alternatives are cheaper they are not that necessary anymore since the cork industry started cracking down on TCA:

Wine taint from bottles closed with natural cork is down to 1% there is no quality benefit to using an alternative closure.

So what is the deal? Are we experiencing a cork shortage or not?! According the Cork Forest Conservation Alliance or CFCA (honestly Cork Forest Conservation Alliance is more fun to say so forget that abbreviation):

No in fact, based upon current estimates there is enough cork to close all wine bottles produced in the world, for the next 100 years. The cork forests are now being more sustainably managed than ever before in their history and new planting is always ongoing.

In fact cork forests are actually good for the environment:

These forests absorb millions of tons of CO2 each year and are a vast provider of oxygen to our planet. The forests also provide the greatest defense against the desertification of this region. The cork forests are one of the most sustainable and environmentally harvested forests in the world.

Not to mention that cork is very biodegradable and recyclable (ahhh the power of repetition)! Cork has a lot of cool uses such as flooring and different crafts, and while it may have been a problem at one point, the cork industry has taken care of business. No more of this cork shortage nonsense people! Simply put, it all boils down to money. The more you know… well at least I can peacefully resume my condescending ceremony without any real worry. For now.

So the next time you are in a nice restaurant or considering cooking up a delicious meal that would pair really well with a nice bold red wine or a crisp white wine, make sure to go for the real thing and get it with a cork! It may cost a little more but what’s wrong with spoiling yourself once in a while?! Think of it as donating to better the environment. Everybody wins.

 

 

Sources: 

Food Service Warehouse- Wine Basics for the Bartender Part 2: Major Types of Red and White Wine

The Kitchn- Wine Words: Tannin

Luxist- How to Use a Wine Key Like a Pro

Wikipedia- 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole

Wikipedia- Alternate Wine Closures

Cork Forest Conservation Alliance

Wise Bread- 25 Things to do With Used Corks (Including Making Money With Them)

 

A Product That Will Turn You Into a Tree After Death

Currently there are many designers attempting to find new ways to make our deaths more eco-friendly.  Gerard Moline has developed the Bios Urn.

The Bios Urn  allows people to use their ashes to germinate a seed of their choice.  The urn itself is completely biodegradable and is made of coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose.

It’s time to get to the root of the issue and leave behind forests rather than engrave rocks.

Bios Urn Will Turn You Into a Tree After Death

bios urn makes me cool oak tree

The bios urn awaits planting! http://www.atheistexile.com

 

The Bios Urn  allows people to use their cremated ashes to germinate a tree seed of their choice.  The urn itself is completely biodegradable and is made of coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose. Gerard Moline has developed the Bios Urn, but is just one of many designers currently attempting to find new ways to make our deaths more eco-friendly.

There is a turn in the way people are approaching life. There is a thriving community looking to live their lives in more ecologically sustainable ways and more and more people are looking to go into the afterlife in the same fashion. Traditional cemetery burial is highly unsustainable. The New York Times states that an

Another  issue contributing to the unsustainability of traditional cemetery burial is its environmental impact. The resources that go into the ground every year associated with a typical cemetery burial translate into: enough wood to frame over 2,300 single-family homes; sufficient steel to erect almost 15 Eiffel Towers; nearly four times as much concrete as was used to build the Pentagon; and a volume of embalming fluid that would overflow an Olympic swimming pool.

In 2012 the US Cremation rate was 43.2% according to the National Funeral Directors Association; raised from only 17% in 1990. Cremation is not only cheaper but also a much more viable option for an eco-friendly alternative with a product such as the Bios Urn. However, the Bios Urn isn’t the only option for those in the market for an alternative choice. There are many emerging options for creative, eco-friendly ways to deal with the remains of a loved one after death. DarkRye.com mentions options ranging from chemical-free, short-term body preservation to completely biodegradable caskets and urns.

It’s time to get to the root of the issue and leave behind forests rather than engraved rocks. If you’re interested in purchasing one of these lovely Bios Urns you can do so at the Funeraire website, and maybe even pick up some cremation jewelry while you’re at it…

What tree do you want to become after death?

 

Sources:

Big Think: This Awesome Urn Will Turn You into a Tree After You Die

Gerard Moline

NYT- A Lifetime After the Baby Boom, a Burial Boom

NFDA- Trends and Statistics

NYT- In Tough Times, a Boom in Cremations as a Way to Save Money

Funeraire

DarkRye.com- The Sustainability of Death

Mystery of Death Solved: DMT is the Key

USA Today- Market Weak for Selling Cemetery Plots

A Breakthrough Futuristic Material: Silk

In this TED talk Fiorenzo Omenetto discusses the copious areas where society can economically and sustainably implement silk in breakthrough ways.  Silk can be used in almost any area of society including fiber optics, needles, cups, tattoos, medicine, sensory devices, and much more!

It seems like silk has the potential to single handedly usher in a new era of our materialistic culture.  Since it is easily biodegradable as well, why not?