The Ugly Face of Overpopulation

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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.



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.




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)