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The World Faces Common Environmental Challenges

06/15/2022

Gaining a world perspective is a direct consequence of foreign travel. Over the past week Barbara and I have moved around in Germany observing agriculture and interacting with their citizens both natural born and immigrant.  An outstanding impression is that despite distance we all are faced with similar problems impacting the environment, the economy, availability of resources and concern over the future.  There are differences among nations and our homeland as to the priorities, approaches to solutions and commitment but the basic challenges exist. We are all concerned over :-

 

  • Climate change with the prospect of severe weather events
  • Population growth exceeding food supply, accentuating the differences between industrialized and developing nations leading to disharmony and competition
  • Reduced availability of resources including water, non-destructive energy and building materials
  • Environmental degradation from industrial and domestic pollution with accumulation of toxins affecting the health of humans and the productivity of livestock
  • Emergence of international aggression based on competition for resources or misplaced territorial ambitions resulting in disruption in food supplies, and commerce and intensifying human misery.

 

The relative importance of these factors depends on location, time and public perceptions and priorities. These may change depending on circumstances. Whilst  U.S. citizens may be concerned over the environmental conditions for their grandchildren, war refugees and those displaced by drought are preoccupied with their next meal and shelter for the current night.

 

The U.S. despite immense resources cannot assume sole responsibility for addressing insufficiencies and inequalities that exist within and beyond our borders. Cooperation with other nations to develop action plans and allocate aid and resources are essential to effect any measurable improvement. Perhaps the U.S could make the greatest contribution through developing and adapting technology.

 

Some of the areas that could be considered include:-

  • Nuclear energy to displace fossil-fueled power generation and for desalination, supplementing sources of alternatives including wind and solar.
  • Wider adoption of GM crops. The sustainability of “organic” production and small-scale agriculture is currently being questioned in the E.U. despite traditional support.
  • Replacement of potentially toxic industrial and agricultural chemicals with more acceptable compounds. Demonizing beneficial and innocuous products as at present is counterproductive.
  • More effective collection, recycling and disposal of industrial waste.
  • Extending internet communications to disseminate productive information to assist developing nations.
  • Developing water-conservation programs involving minimization of loss, effective irrigation and recycling.

 

Our own industry is a model of efficiency despite problems including periodic overproduction, disease and supply-chain disruptions. Eggs provide a balanced supply of amino acid with a highly efficient feed conversation. Relative to other intensive livestock species we produce more food per unit of power, feed ingredients and water consumed, produce less waste and with mechanization operate with high labor efficiency, but only with confined systems.

 

The problems facing the World will not be resolved quickly or without sacrificing current standards of living. We can but hope for a plateau in environmental degradation while longer-term solutions are devised and implemented. Denial of scientific reality is not a valid option. We have the power to reverse the situation that has been created but only with commitment, resolve and international cooperation.