BY Grace Carollo
Currently, the agriculture industry in the United States presents a wicked sustainability problem both environmental and socially. The combination of increased population, increased demand of/addiction to dairy/meat/processed foods, and government policies connected with big agricultural companies worsens our impact on the environment while ignoring the needs of the poor. The United States runs off both a national and international food system, where the developed nations largely depend on intensive farming (monocropping) crops (corn, soy, rice, wheat) and factory faming livestock, which mostly occurs overseas, to supply the majority of our diets.
BY Eliza Merritt
Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages globally, with a billion-dollar industry and a commodity depended upon by people worldwide. Coffee is the second-most sought after commodity in the world after crude oil, and its popularity and consumption continue to expand.
The consumption of coffee is most prominent in more-developed countries, while most coffee production occurs in less-developed nations of the Global South. This distance between consumption and production makes for a disconnect between those who consume coffee and who and where produces the product. As water becomes more scarce, soils change, and climate change becomes a more and more pressing issue, coffee producers are feeling pressure to transition to more sustainable methods of production. Already the coffee industry is beginning to suffer due to a decline in suitable environments for coffee cultivation because of rising global temperatures. Exploring the challenges, techniques and goals of sustainable coffee cultivation is the first step in moving towards a coffee industry with lighter environmental impacts.
BY Jack Klein
By 2050, production of 60% more food than we produce today will be required to support Earth's population, which is going to be an estimated 9.7 billion people. The traditional method of farming (that of harvesting crops in extensive outdoor plots of land) is a main contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and water quality degradation from nutrient runoff and soil loss. After 2030, climate change’s most important impact will come from the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, causing serious negative effects on traditional agriculture.
If by 2050 we have to greatly increase global food production to meet the basic needs of our growing population but the traditional method of food production has proven to be detrimental to our environment, accelerating climate change which in return is expected to gravely affect its resiliency, one question arises: are there any methods of food production that can protect from the increasingly vagarious environment, help meet future global food production goals, all while having a neutral or positive impact on the environment?
One possible solution is the relatively new idea of vertical farming, or building farms up in climate-controlled buildings rather than out on environmentally susceptible land.
Students in Jess' ENV 151 Introduction to Sustainability write blog posts on a sustainability-related topic of their choice.