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What do these crises have in common:

Economic crisis
Water shortages
Global warming
Healthcare
Energy

Okay, they probably have lots of things in common. But the answer I was looking for is "food."

Imagine for a minute that everyone in the United States stopped overeating and became vegetarians, perhaps with some fish thrown in the mix for protein and Omega-3. We all know that situation can never happen, so this is just a thought experiment.

Healthy eating would have a huge impact on healthcare costs. It would be partially offset by people living longer, but I have to think multiple sports injuries cost less than one heart bypass operation. And I read somewhere that 40% of mortgage foreclosures are caused by health problems. (Anyone have a link for that?) So in the short run, until the world is overrun by 200-year old marathoners collecting Social Security, the economy would be better off if people ate right. And that would free up money to insure the uninsured.

Now imagine that cattle are taken out of the food chain. Suddenly you don't need to cut down the rain forests to create new pastures, and the cost of food would drop because veggies are much cheaper than cows. Preserving trees would help the environment, which is also good for the economy. Beef suppliers wouldn't be too happy about this situation, so that is one offset to consider. But your food bill would be substantially lower.

Two-thirds of the world's fresh water supply goes to agriculture, and some sources claim that half of that water is wasted because of inefficient irrigation methods. Once again, food is the culprit. If we irrigated more efficiently we'd have plenty of water.

Now consider how much energy is expended in the pursuit of food. The typical American eats twice as many calories as needed. And most families are making multiple car trips to the grocery store, or to get take-out, every week. If we cut our calories in half, we could enjoy more leftovers and reduce all the driving we do for food. Plus we'd weigh less, so our cars would use less fuel hauling us around.

Therefore, food-related inefficiency is a big contributor to most other crises. Unfortunately, food is somewhat sacred, so political solutions around food are not practical. And our cigarette-smoking President isn't in a position to tell people they should eat less. So don't expect anything to change.
 
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+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 18, 2009
"I like how some people are making the accusation that wanting to have free choice makes me selfish. That seems odd to me, considering that I believe that the best result occurs when people have free choice."

I'm probably a rare bird, but I was a child in the UK in World War 2. Most food was strictly rationed - everyone had a ration book which was stamped when you bought your 2 ounces of cheese or whatever (you can probably Google to find just how much was allowed per week.)

Certainly not "free choice". Of course I don't suggest that food be rationed, but it's generally considered that never before or since has the nutrition of the average British person been better. "Not too much: not too little" because people tended to eat all their entitlement, and couldn't get more.

There was of course some breaking of the rules, but it wasn't widespread.
 
 
Jun 14, 2009
"What do these crises have in common:

Economic crisis
Water shortages
Global warming
Healthcare
Energy "

OVERPOPULATION.

Duh!
 
 
Jun 14, 2009
GLK,

Who were your comments aimed at? I'm not quite sure what you are saying. We already have all sorts of classifications for vegetables, but for the most part vegetables are vegetables. Different kinds of meats have varying degrees of fat and lean, but what really seperates vegetables from one another? How do you make vegetables 50% more nutritious? They're already pretty darn nutritious, and any more "nutrition" would be almost unnecessary. If you eat vegetables that are twice as nutritious, does that mean that you only need to eat half as much? lol. Most people would only look at the increased nutrition as a way to increase sales (Now with more nutrition!!!! Kind of reminds me of idiocracy, "Now with more molecules!"). Maybe it is you who doesn't understand economics, because it isn't necessarily true that an increase in demand for a product leads to an increase in quality of a product. Short of the selective breeding and genetic engineering (essentially the same thing) that we've been doing, I don't know how you can make a huge difference in the quality of vegetables. There is no perfect food, and as humans we require a diverse diet. Yes, we can get all of the nutrition we need without meat, but I haven't heard one single decent argument that shows that we should strip people of their right to eat what they want.

Yes, obesity is on the rise, but year after year we set new records for life expectancy, and for the most part, people are healthier than ever. I mean, somebody could abuse heroine, crack, and donuts and still outlive most people from 1900. Actually, length of life is a greater determinant of medical costs than your lifestyle. A healthy person who lives longer will cost as much or more than an unhealthy person who dies early. Go freedom.

As I said before, this issue is bigger than numbers, but I'm still forced to make the numbers arguments. Freedom should be its own defense (unless I'm talking about hurting somebody directly; and no, contributing to global warming is not the same thing as directly hurting somebody).
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 13, 2009
Evidently what you don't know about free enterprise is a lot. If vegetables were to take over as the major food source their prices will rise accordingly. Then they'll develop super-veggies that will taste better and have 50% more nutrition than the "regular" kind. Of course they'll cost a lot more. Eventually vegetables would be in classifications like meat. You want the Prime veggies? Pay up sucker! And on it goes. I'm also sick of hearing people whine about how fat Americans are while simultaneously ignoring the "coincidental" rise in diabetes and obesity that coincides squarely with the inclusion of High Fructose Corn Sweetener in American food products. Lastly, be careful about putting a dollar value on the alleged "bad habits" of human beings. For this sort of reasoning is the forerunner of a tightly controlled society dominated by those who are allegedly working for our greater good.
 
 
Jun 12, 2009
gargamel

since the industrial revolution, deaths due to famine caused by ecological damage have almost fallen of the face of human history. Famine used to be one of the main forces that kept human population in check during the malthusian era, but since the IR population is no longer directly related to ecological factors. That is why many technologies in the modern era tend to be out of synch with "nature" as the environmental externalities are seen as less of a problem compared to the gains of the technology. It's a trade off like any other. Give up some natural aesthetics (although I would argue that the modern world is actually more beautiful than the classical) in return for real economic gains. And yes, that is a choice we should all be free to make. The government shouldn't get to decide between trade offs for me.
 
 
Jun 12, 2009
Here's the problem. They're are plenty of good "organic" and "green" ideas that with help from GE agriculture and more technologically inclined farming techniques that could save us from not being able to feed ourselves. The problem is that the greenies religiously try to avoid doing anything that could be seen as "unnatural" meanwhile the other side simply ignores good farming policy meant to protect the environment. We need both. There are plenty of environmentally friendly ways to irrigate and fertilize crops and there are plenty of problems that genetic engineering can solve. Why can't we use the benefits of both?

The whole argument that an agriculturally based food market would be better for the environment is only marginally true. If we were really in a panic for food, the cost difference between a pound of steak and a pound of rice would be large enough to turn us all into vegetarians. We're nowhere near there yet, and probably never will be. The only other argument on the environmental side is the global warming debate. Perhaps there should be some system to make polluters (of all kinds) responsible for their externalities, but we have to figure out what those externalities are first of all. What real healthcare and societal costs can be directly linked in any scientific way (meaning provable, repeatable experiments; and no correlation is not causation) to global warming, and what percentage of global warming can be attributed to people's eating habits?
 
 
Jun 11, 2009
god save England

Correct, in 70 or so years someone else will own my land, and then it will be theirs. Yes it was likely claimed at the barrel of the gun at some point in time, and guess what else.. it will be defended at the barrel of a my gun as long as I own it.

Yes, indians were largely nomadic, do you know why? because they consumed all resources in an area untill the land was useless (ever heard of slash and burn?) Many american indian tribes had to be nomadic because the stench of human waste near by would build up to the point it was no longer sanitary. Some american indian tribes did have the concept of 'their' land and would kill other tribes to keep it (and also for their women, but these were nice organic natural folks remember, they lived which nature, until it was out of fish then they moved on).

I wouldn't know about democratic countries and their use of "our land", I live in a republic, a little country known as the United States. "and to the republic for which is stands", does that ring a bell?

I know a lot of farmers that grow 20,000 potatoes for their own use. They use them to pay for their car, their house, maybe other food types, gas, send their kids to school. Of course they tend to convert potatoes into local currency first for more convenient exchange. They don't just grow 20,000 potatoes then hand over 19,500 to the government for free.
 
 
Jun 10, 2009
What they have in common is they're all fake.
 
 
Jun 10, 2009
JoshP

Actually, we could just grow more food. With GE crops and some smart organic ideas, we can produce most all the food we really need. As the price of food goes up in response to any actual shortage, people will change their eating habits themselves, and fundamental changes will take place in food production. Farmers will spend more money per acre growing food thanks to the increased revenues causing an increase in per acre output. Land that was once deemed too infertile to grow food on will become profitable cropland thanks to the higher price. See, simple market forces save the day once again. And I'm not the "the free market will solve all of our problems" type either. IT is our fear that causes us to give up our freedom. We have nothing to fear but fear itself. That's all I have to say to people who want to call me selfish.

And people are already having less children. In any advanced society, birthrates are plummeting. Most of the population increase occurred during the period just after the industrial revolution when an agricultural people used to having a lot of children (who were mostly killed off by natural factors) were suddenly protected from the things that killed them (starvation, resource wars, malnutrition) and the population exploded. Before the industrial revolution, increases in population stretched the resources to the point that poverty, disease, and famine eventually brought the population back to "normal." After the industrial revolution, the opposite occurred. Population increases increased the supply of goods of services. Now we're seeing diseconomies of scale in populations and they are beginning to contract naturally outside of any government intervention. In fact the government of Japan and the governments of Europe are falling all over themselves to prevent population loss in there countries under the other misguided view that population decreases are bad for the economy.
 
 
Jun 10, 2009
I like how some people are making the accusation that wanting to have free choice makes me selfish. That seems odd to me, considering that I believe that the best result occurs when people have free choice. Individuals are likely to realize that something is wrong before large groups do. IF the cost of meat ever became prohibitively expensive (if it really takes 12 pounds of grain to create a pound of meat, then that cost will show in the the price of the pound of meat) people would become vegetarians anyway. And many already have. That's the beauty of individual choice. It's quick, painless, and comes with zero cost to society. Now, if some "non- selfish" comes into power and mandates that everyone must eat vegetables, or levies some health tax on meat (even though the main arguments against meat consumption have very little to do with health and more to with resource costs), it would lead to chaos. I want to see numbers. How much more does an acre of pastureland (or equivalent for chickens etc) cost the producers in terms of resources, and cost the planet in terms of greenhouse gasses and other pollution? If it is fairly marginal, then we're just splitting hairs. You can pretend you're holier than thou for producing 8% less pollution if you want, but that doesn't seem like a good reason to crush free choice. Also, aren't you selfish for putting your aesthetic views of nature and health above our personal choice? There is no good argument that eating meat makes people inherently unhealthy, so the only decent argument that I've heard is the resource argument, but if we applied that logic to every aspect of life, the government would control everything all of the time. IT's not the government's job to make sure that we live efficiently. End of story. I find it ironic that they want to tell me that I'm inefficient. If that's not the pot calling the kettle black then I don't know what is. Since when is the government good at making people efficient?

On a side note, i saw someone argue about land use rights, and another person responded with some incoherent rant about how it's not "your" land. Whether or not you hate private property isn't the issue here. In this country private property rites are the crux of our system (at least in theory), so unless you have a better solution for managing land usage, you can't just sit there and throw out BS statements about how I'm abusing the land that I own and maintain and pay taxes on. I know, I'm selfish. I want to be treated like a frickin adult. I forgot that this was kindergarten.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 10, 2009
Good ideas - I've been doing most of those already plus some organic, free range chicken thrown in the mix.

Our other option is kill off 3 billion people or so, but that wouldn't be a very popular choice either.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 10, 2009
I admit that I haven't read all the comments, sorry if this is a repeat.... The "fat" problem would certainly go down considerably if everyone turned vegetarian since veggies need a growing season to produce. Works well in So.Cal. but once you get a little further north or higher in altitude veggies are harder to find between November and May.
 
 
Jun 10, 2009
The issue to me is the telling people what to do bit. The cigarette-smoking president may not tell people not to eat less? Why is his authority dimished by the fact that he has a habit of which you do not approve? Why should anyone tell anyone else how much or what to eat?

There is a growing movement to puritanism and the pursuit of long life and youth, which is corrosive to choice and enjoyment of the now. Heart bypasses can happen at any age, and thin, old vegetarians have them too. Fat, meat-eating smokers contribute more in taxes and die younger and usually more suddenly. You're welcome.

 
 
Jun 10, 2009
ROFL, the things some people post...

Posted by naclsweet:
"I agree that becoming vegetarians will be better for the environment but you are implying that fat people are damaging the planet and if they would just eat less then they would be thin and the world would be a better place.

1) Fat people don't necessarily eat more. This has been shown in studies and I have also seen it for myself with friends and family.
2) The risks of being "overweight" are greatly exaggerated. Many of the studies are financed by manufacturers of diet drugs.
3) Dieting can cause short term weight loss but very few people can maintain any significant weight loss after 5 years.

Here's a good place for more information on Fat Acceptance: http://kateharding.net/but-dont-you-realize-fat-is-unhealthy/"

Yeah, what a good place for info, some fat broads biased blog hahahahahaha
 
 
Jun 10, 2009
Actually Firehawk77028, it wont be your land in 70 years, given that the land has been there in one form or another for billions of years, your apparent ownership is but a very small squashed fly on the windscreen (windshield for the colonies) of existance. equally you bought the land from the bank, who (skip a few steps here) bought it from the government, who dont actually have any real claim to it. As when they claimed it (probably from some now minority group) it was at the barrel of a gun, and the people they claimed it from were largely nomadic so didnt "own" the land either... In effect Mother Nature doest have a billing address so you cant claim the land is OWNED by anyone.
Also Democratic countries refer to "our land use" as its "our nation" that is "using" the land. I dont know any farmers that use the land to grow 20 000 potatoes for personal consumption...
 
 
Jun 10, 2009
In reading all the comments, it seems that there are two complaints:
- People won't voluntarily give up meat (because they were raised to love it)
- Overpopulation, not food, is the real root problem.

The solution then, is obvious: Create a genetically engineered virus that causes sterility in humans when exposed to animal proteins.

Thus, vegetarians will raise their (fewer) kids to be vegetarians, and the world will have an incentive to give up meat )"Meat or Mate")

The post-apocalyptic period should produce interesting an interesting new culture. Those who are no longer in their child-bearing years might go "On Meat", which could hasten their demise. This will reduce geriatric and retirement costs to the general population.
I wonder, would a man taking a woman out for a nice steak dinner become the equivalent of him handing her a condom at the start of the date? After all, contraceptives wouid not be required after the meal...

I'll get right on that....

 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 10, 2009
The essential problem with your suggestion is that it is nearly impossible to change peoples habits in mass. Sure make meat more exprensive (emissions tax) people would eat less of it, but basically this kind of dreaming change humanity solutions primary effect is to make people less willing to work at the actual solution to our problems.
 
 
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 10, 2009
Brad K - 1000 acres of land will produce MUCH more food as vegetables than it will as beef from cattle grazing that same land. Similar story with growing food to feed chickens/pigs to feed us, rather than feeding us directly. So if we all turned vegetarian, we would need less land to grow the food we need, and/or we could cope with the reduction in yeild/acre by growing organically without fertilisers.

I'm arguing against myself here, 'cos I have no intention or desire to become vegetarian. But I like to keep the facts straight, even if they are not in my favour...
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 10, 2009
Scott - under "environmental", you forgot the benefit to global warming. Supposedly, the methane released into the atmosphere by cows farting and belching causes more greenhouse effect than all man-made carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Although I guess to get rid of that completely we'd have to give up dairy products too, and put soy milk or rice milk on our breakfast cereal (yeuch!). While giving up steak and sausages would be hard for me, the idea of never eating gorgonzola again might drive me to suicide (which would probably also be good for the environment, depending on how I went about it).
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 10, 2009
Denton42 - the Koreans (apparently) eat dog, and the French eat horse. I've had horse steak in France, quite nice, but I still prefer beef.

Not really enough meat on a cat to feed a family, but desparate times could call for desparate measures...

I think it's to do with sqeamishness on the part of the consumer. We are happy to eat any animal that we've grown up our whole lives thinking it is normal to eat. If anyone suggests something different, there's a "yeuch" reaction.
 
 
 
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