Our Oceans are Under Attack

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by brian eiland, May 19, 2009.

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  1. myark
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    myark Senior Member

    It simply takes too much water to grow a steak. In a new report, leading water scientists say the human population would have to switch to an almost entirely vegetarian diet by 2050 to avoid catastrophic global food and water shortages.

    "There will not be enough water available … to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends," Malin Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute stated in the report. By their estimation, there should be just enough water to go around if humans derive just 5 percent of their calories from animal-based foods by midcentury, instead of the 20 percent of calories that they currently get from meat, eggs and dairy.

    It's a simple numbers game: Cattle, for example, consume a shocking 17 times more grain calories than they produce as meat calories. All that lost grain (which humans could have eaten) requires water. "Producing food requires more water than any other human activity — and meat production is very water-intensive," Josh Weinberg, the institute's communications officer, told Life's Little Mysteries.

    The fixed amount of water on Earth indicates people must reduce their meat consumption to avoid shortages. But with so many meat lovers around, will people actually do it?

    They'll be forced to eat less meat, experts say. But not by government intervention or their own inner moral compasses. For most people, the choice between a juicy, medium-rare sirloin steak and a humble plateful of soybeans won't turn on which one is sucking wells dry in Texas. It will hinge on the contents of their wallets.

    Rich food

    In fact, meat eating is already on the decline in the United States. It reached its peak in 2007. According to Janet Larsen, director of research at the nonprofit Earth Policy Institute, Americans collectively consumed 55 billion pounds (25 billion kilograms) of meat that year. This year, consumption will total about 52 billion pounds (22 billion kg). Beef eating has dropped off the most.

    One driver, Larsen said, is health; another is environmental concerns, because meat production contributes greatly to greenhouse gas emissions and thus global warming. But the primary reason meat-eating has fallen is the rising price of meat, especially beef, Larsen said. And that reflects the increasing price of the corn used to feed livestock.

    "Incomes aren't rising nearly as fast as corn prices, and people end up filling their carts with less meat," Larsen told Life's Little Mysteries. She thinks the trend will continue. "We might go back to when Sunday night dinner was [the only time] when you had a chicken on the table."

    In the past two years, corn prices have been driven up in the United States by droughts across the Southern Plains — a palpable demonstration that water is the ultimate deciding factor in the availability of meat. A fixed amount of water paired with a growing world population means something has to give (or if not give, at least become a luxury). And that something is meat eating.

    "When you look at the absolute numbers of people on the planet and the amount of food that we're producing, you ask the age-old question: How many people can Earth support? We look at the question from the perspective of food-intake levels," Larsen said.

    "People in India eat very little meat, so they consume about 200 kilograms [441 pounds] of grain per person each year. At that level of consumption, our total grain harvest could support 10 billion people on the planet. In the U.S., people are eating closer to 800 kilograms [1,768 pounds] of grain, and that's because much of our grain is being consumed indirectly through livestock. At that level, we could only support a world population of closer to 6 billion or less."

    Humans stand at 7 billion strong partly because most people consume a fraction of the grain that Americans do. As the population presses upward, placing ever greater demand on the grain supply, fewer people will be able to afford the large quantity of grain that goes into each pound of meat. Wealthy populations will import grain to support their meat-eating, but at great cost.

    Beef will probably end up as the priciest meat of all, Larsen said. In fact, although people in China, India and other rapidly modernizing countries are eating more meat, beef production is already leveling off globally, according to Larsen. "I don't think that the world will be able to produce much more beef," she said. Cows just eat too much.

    Ruminating cows

    "Not all animal-based foods are created equal," said Gidon Eshel, a statistician at Bard College in upstate New York who studies the energy cost of various agricultural practices. "Certainly beef is a huge contributor to unchecked water consumption that is hard to imagine continuing."

    Eshel's research shows that beef has a "conversion efficiency" of just 6 percent: "So if you give a cow 100 calories of feed, it will produce 6 edible beef calories," he said. Chicken and turkey are four times more efficient, and pork falls in between poultry and beef. [How Much Water Is Used to Grow a Hamburger?]

    The low conversion efficiency of the cow is partly due to its digestion, which starts in the rumen. "A ruminant supports itself as well as a couple trillion protozoa and fungi and unicellular organisms that also make a living in its rumen," Eshel said. "We humans also have a ridiculous amount of bacteria, but it is unique that for [cows and other ruminants] the bulk of those hitchhikers are involved in digestion — they mostly live in that oxygen-free chamber called the rumen." In this symbiotic relationship, the bacteria break down cell walls in plant matter and extract the useful material, some of which gets offered up to the host cow, and some of which they use for their own metabolism, Eshel said. "Without them, cows would be no more competent at digesting ruffage than we are."

    Considering how much grain cows require to satisfy both themselves and their hangers-on, Eshel thinks beef is still pretty cheap. (In the United States, it's cheap enough to contribute to the obesity epidemic, he noted.) This is bound to change, whether the passionate meat lovers of the world like it or not. "I assume the ranks of 'passionate meat eaters' will thin dramatically," he said, "once it is expensive."
     
  2. myark
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    myark Senior Member

    If humans continue having babies at the rate that they do now for the rest of the century, and life expectancy rates hold as well, there will be 27 billion people on planet Earth by 2100.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Joo0MQ4WlDo

    Who's coming over for dinner?

    Science fiction has taken a stab at what institutionalized cannibalizing of the elderly might look like. In the 1973 movie "Soylent Green" a powerful corporation peddles rations of the eponymous food flakes. The miracle foodstuff is advertised as algae, but that turns out to be not true. Instead, humans who die are being processed into the colored wafers. As the police detective played by Charlton Heston memorably screams near the end upon learning the unsavory truth, "Soylent Green is people
     
  3. myark
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    myark Senior Member

    After dropping more than 20 spots in one ranking that measures how well countries are working to protect the environment, the United States is taking steps to improve its environmental impact.

    The 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries based on 10 indicators of environmental protection, such as levels of air pollution, marine protection laws, water quality, and their rate of planting new trees. The EPI is composed biannually by a team of environmental experts at Yale University and Columbia University.

    The U.S. came in 61st place with a score of 63.5 out of 100, a significant drop from landing in 39th place with an EPI score of 81.0 in 2009.
     
  4. ImaginaryNumber
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    ImaginaryNumber Imaginary Member


    Amazon rainforest losing ability to regulate climate, scientist warns | The Guardian
     
  5. ImaginaryNumber
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    ImaginaryNumber Imaginary Member

    The largest city in Brazil is running dangerously low on water – São Paulo reservoirs at less than 5 percent of capacity, 13 million people face water outages | Desdemona Despair
     
  6. sdowney717
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    sdowney717 Senior Member

  7. whitepointer23

    whitepointer23 Previous Member

    This thread is worse than last time I looked At it. Surely myark and imaginary number can find some environmental site that welcomes their relentless rantings on how bad they think everything is. Neither of you have an interest in boats .
     
  8. myark
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    myark Senior Member

    To restore the ocean ecosystem, we must put an end to overfishing and bottom trawling, which you liken to “catching songbirds with a bulldozer.” Is there such a thing as eating fish responsibly these days?

    Except for those living in coastal communities — or even inland if we’re talking freshwater species — for most people, eating fish is a choice, not a necessity. Some people believe that the sole purpose of fish is for us to eat them. They are seen as commodities. Yet wild fish, like wild birds, have a place in the natural ecosystem which outweighs their value as food. They’re part of the systems that make the planet function in our favor, and we should be protecting them because of their importance to the ocean. They are carbon-based units, conduits for nutrients, and critical elements in ocean food webs. If people really understood the methods being used to capture wild fish, they might think about choosing whether to eat them at all, because the methods are so destructive and wasteful. It isn’t just a matter of caring about the fish or the corals, but also about all the things that are destroyed in the process of capturing ocean wildlife. We have seen such a sharp decline in the fish that we consume in my lifetime that I personally choose not to eat any. In the end, it’s a choice.
     
  9. myark
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    myark Senior Member

    The contest is joined. On one side there is the near-unanimous conclusion of thousands of active climate scientists throughout the world: the global climate is changing and human technology is the primary cause. From the other side we are told that “climate change” is at worst a “hoax” or at least a normal and natural phenomenon not significantly affected by human activity. This position is endorsed by right-wing media, almost all congressional Republicans, and a few bought-off “scientists” (“biostitutes”) lavishly funded by fossil fuel industries.

    So how do you deal with a “denier” willing to engage you in a debate?



    If the “denier” tells you that “God would not allow the climate to change” or that “Jesus will fix all that when he comes back in the next few years,” and then quotes the Bible as “evidence,” save your breath and his time. His is a hopeless case.

    But if your adversaries are citing what they believe is “scientific fact” or otherwise exhibit some indication of a capacity to yield in the face of scientific evidence, they just might listen to reason and consider evidence – but don’t count on it.

    You might proceed by citing scientific studies, to which your opponent will likely respond with anecdotes, out-of context quotes, and citations of dissenting “biostitutes” (Cf. “The Tobacco Institute”). But this promises to be an endless harangue. As one wit put it, “for every Ph.D there is an equal and opposite Ph.D.” Except, of course, in this case, with regard to the weight of empirical evidence, the “experts” in question, while “opposite,” are not equal.

    Three Questions for the Denier:

    Instead of citing an endless list of scientific studies, I propose a different approach. Pose just three questions.
    • “Putting aside for the moment the issue of the reality of climate change, will you acknowledge that a recent survey of 10,000 active climate scientists found that 98% affirmed the existence of anthropogenic climate change?”
    •“Will you acknowledge the existence of a recently released report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an agency with 195 member countries, which concludes with 95% confidence that the climate is changing, due to human activity.”
    •“How, then, do you deal with these acknowledged facts?”

    Now he might reply that the press has lied: that there never was such a survey, and that there is no such thing as the IPCC. But such a reply will only confirm that your adversary is a certified citizen of Fantasyland, and that it is time for a polite but prompt exit.

    But if your opponent answers the first two questions affirmatively, it seems that there are only four conceivable responses to these compelling facts:
    1. “Global climate change” is a hoax, perpetrated by a world-wide conspiracy of thousands of scientists.
    2.Those scientists have been “bought off” by funding agencies – primarily governments – who have a secret agenda (variously described).
    3. These scientists, along with their inferences from thousands of peer-reviewed accounts of field and laboratory studies, are all simply wrong.
    4.The consensus conclusion of these scientists is correct: global warming is real and homo sapiens have caused it.
     

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  10. myark
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    myark Senior Member

    Seafood is a $400 billion global industry. An additional $10-$24 billion of fish is caught each year illegally. That means fish caught above and beyond the quotas set by regional governing bodies and informed by scientific data. That means fish stolen from small-scale fishers who rely on that catch for their livelihood. It means patronizing thieves that we don’t yet have good ways to catch.
     
  11. myark
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    myark Senior Member

    * Livestock was responsible for 51% of global emissions. (Worldwatch Magazine, 2009)

    * Methane dissipates from the atmosphere in 12 years vs. 1000 years for CO2.

    * Methane global warming potential (GWP) is 68 times that of CO2 after 20 years, 23 times that of CO2 after 100years.

    * Over 40% of Black Carbon (BC) emissions are attributed to the burning of forests and savannas.

    * When BC lands on ice or snow, it causes rapid melting. A NASA study suggests that BC may be responsible for more than 30% of the most recent warming in the Arctic (i.e., in the last 30 years), contributing to the acceleration of Arctic Sea ice melting. Other ice masses known to be affected by BC deposits are the Himalayas, the Swiss Alps and Antarctica.
     

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  12. whitepointer23

    whitepointer23 Previous Member

    Just had a barbecue dinner. Nothing like a feed of steak and sausages .
     
  13. myark
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    myark Senior Member

    Princeton University professor and founder of the animal rights movement, Peter Singer, believes that if alternative means of survival exist, one ought to choose the option that does not cause unnecessary harm to animals. Most ethical vegetarians argue that the same reasons exist against killing animals to eat as against killing humans to eat. Singer, in his book Animal Liberation listed possible qualities of sentience in non-human creatures that gave such creatures the scope to be considered under utilitarian ethics, and this has been widely referenced by animal rights campaigners and vegetarians. Ethical vegetarians also believe that killing an animal, like killing a human, can only be justified in extreme circumstances and that consuming a living creature for its enjoyable taste, convenience, or nutritional value is not sufficient cause. Another common view is that humans are morally conscious of their behaviour in a way other animals are not, and therefore subject to higher standards.
     
  14. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    That sounds delicious. Last night we ate a huge helping of grouper fingers. I don't know what they did with the rest of the grouper. Maybe they baited crab traps with it. :D
     

  15. ImaginaryNumber
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    ImaginaryNumber Imaginary Member

    Any particular reason why left out Yobarnacle from your illustrious list of miscreants? He has made more than twice the number of posts of either Myark or myself, and his posts cover a wide range of subjects other than the thread topic.

    Speaking of which, did you notice what the thread title is?

    Our Oceans are Under Attack

    Maybe you should also read the OP's first post. The first sentence reads:
    If you feel like you've stumbled into the wrong thread by mistake we'd be happy to call your Mommy for you so she can take you home, give you some cookies and a cup of warm milk, and tuck you into bed. Maybe you will be less disoriented in the morning.

    [​IMG]
     
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