Future Food

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Ever wondered why Creation allocated only 29 percent of Earth’s surface to land and 79 percent to water? Or why this huge water mass was made saline?

Tough questions; unless you believe in Divine Wisdom and can think beyond yourself and your progeny as far as the future of this planet is concerned. For the seas must surely be the food basket, or the bank deposit vault of sustenance, for generations of life forms to inhabit Earth a long, long time from the present. Presumably, these life forms will include the homosapiens, considering we are the most intelligent of all life forms and hence have the greatest chance of survival as a species. But wait! Neither the fact – highest intelligence level, nor the inference – greatest survival prospects, is particularly strong in its essence. For isn’t it said that the intelligence level of chimpanzees is only about 3 percent less than that of humans? So that takes care of how ‘intelligent’ our intelligence is, if you will. And then if you examine the inference, isn’t it a fact that out of all life forms on Planet Earth, humans are perhaps the most wasteful and the most self-destructive? Like there is no tomorrow. So would you say we have the greatest chance of survival as a species, even a thousand years from now?

I don’t know.

But we digress. The point I was making is that the great oceans contain a stupefying diversity of plant and animal matter that may well serve as the principal source of food for future humans. Unless in the interim we do to the oceans what we have done to the land. Abuse it, over-use it, pollute it. Almost with a vengeance, as if the land was our enemy instead of what it is – our life sustainer. The signs are alarming. We have already started abusing the oceans too. Too much evidence of this is available to fit into this whole publication, leave alone this page. But how about a few quick facts?

Today, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, more than 3.5 billion people depend on the oceans for their primary source of food. In 20 years, this number could double to 7 billion. In the meantime, more than 70 percent of the world’s marine fisheries are already being fished up to or beyond their sustainable limit. And as far as polluting the oceans goes, an estimated 21 million barrels of oil run into the oceans each year from street run-off, effluent from factories, and from ships flushing their tanks.

So as the sustainability gurus struggle with solutions to the burgeoning global food crisis, let them also consider how to save the seas from wanton destruction which is far bigger than we can imagine, already. Let us all evaluate how much of this is being caused by business and industry and let us raise the CSR red flag to hold the perpetrators responsible.

Today on land we have 1 percent, yes, only one percent of the total number of animal species left surviving from the number that had once inhabited this planet. 99 percent of species diversity has been lost, for ever. Does anybody know what is happening in the depths of the oceans? Or on the shores, in mangroves, in and around coral reefs? We all know about the link between the destructive effects of natural energy and human attrition of nature’s own protective mechanisms – for instance, the protective role mangroves play from disasters such as tsunamis. We must take a deep and serious look at these matters, for at the end of the day the unchecked pollution, unmitigated devastation of aquatic eco-systems is reducing and even eliminating food for the future inhabitants of planet Earth – among all the other impacts we already bear witness to.

As an aside, a report from China states that a technique has been developed to produce gigantic sized fruits and vegetables, grown from seeds sent into space. Pumpkins 10 times their normal size, tomatoes over a kilogram in weight and 9-inch chillies are amongst other fruits and vegetables being heralded as a solution to the world’s food shortage.

What will they think of next? Is this the solution for the future then? Will they turn next to animal life, send embryos into space to produce cows the size of elephants? Will scientists of the future apply even more advanced versions of this technology to life in the sea, propagating sole to be the size of whales so that no one goes hungry? Well, count me out for one amongst the partakers of such techhy cuisine. I still prefer my sole to fit whole onto my standard sized dinner plate with space to spare for the sautéed veggies. Normal sized of course!

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