conservation1

Responses: The Future of Meat

Maureen Ogle, Jayson Lusk, Judith Capper, Simon Hall, and Alison Van Eenennaam Respond to Breakthrough Essay

As part of Breakthrough's Future of Food series, we have invited experts on food, farming, livestock, and resource use to respond to and critique our research essays. We hope this will be the starting point for an inclusive, productive, and exciting new conversation about twenty-first century food systems. You can read the responses to our Future of Meat essay below.

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Responses: Is Precision Agriculture the Way to Peak Cropland?

Calestous Juma and Mark Lynas Respond to Breakthrough Essay

As part of Breakthrough's Future of Food series, we have invited experts on food, farming, livestock, and resource use to respond to and critique our research essays. We hope this will be the starting point for an inclusive, productive, and exciting new conversation about twenty-first century food systems. You can read the responses to Linus Blomqvist and David Douglas's essay on precision agriculture below.

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Video: The Future of Meat

In the latest essay for our Future of Food series, Marian Swain details how modern, intensive livestock production can offer environmental efficiencies compared to traditional, lower-input systems As global demand for meat grows, the environmental “hoofprint” of livestock production could grow, too. In a world where billions of people want meat on their plates, it will be crucial to leverage the efficiency of intensive systems to meet demand and minimize environmental harm.

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The Future of Meat

An Outlook on Omnivorism and the Environmental “Hoofprint” of Livestock

Each year, humanity produces more than 310 million tonnes of meat. That entails raising and slaughtering billions of chickens, pigs, and cows and processing and distributing meat all over the world. The sheer volume of global livestock generates massive environmental impacts. Pasture land for cattle alone covers a quarter of the world’s land area, and the global livestock sector is responsible for about 14% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

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Is Precision Agriculture the Way to Peak Cropland?

The Unsung Hero of Agricultural Innovation

As threats to wildlife and habitats go, the global expansion of farmland – including land used for crops and livestock – is unrivaled. Forests, grasslands, and wetlands representing more than two-fifths of the earth’s ice-free surface have given way to farming. Over the past half century alone, farmland has grown by more than 400 million hectares – an area nearly half the size of the United States. More than half of recent agricultural expansion in the tropics has come at the expense of old-growth forests. Conversion of natural habitats to farmland has been a leading cause of precipitous declines in terrestrial wildlife populations, which on average fell by more than half between 1970 and 2012.

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Video: Precision Agriculture

Visualizing Agricultural Innovation

In a new essay, Breakthrough's Linus Blomqvist and Applied Invention's David Douglas consider trends in global food demand and crop yields. Given how much land humans use to grow food today, and how much progress we're making towards growing it more efficiently, is peak farmland in sight? Watch the video below, and read Blomqvist's and Douglas's essay for more information.

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Conservation

We live on a planet whose natural processes are now widely impacted by human activities. The Anthropocene, or “Age of Humans,” presents new challenges and opportunities for conservation, which must ask how a world population going on 10 billion people can lighten its footprint on the planet to leave room for vibrant, diverse natural landscapes. Embracing technology, urbanization, and human ingenuity is key to navigating this age of opportunities and hard choices. 

PUBLICATIONS
 

 


ANALYSES



"Does the terrestrial biosphere have planetary tipping points?" (2013)


BREAKTHROUGH IN THE NEWS




Linus Blomqvist, Ted Nordhaus, and Michael Shellenberger, "How Modern Agriculture Can Save the Gorillas of Virunga," September 15, 2015


Justin Fox, "We Might Be Near Peak Environmental Impact," September 11, 2015




Michael Lind, "The Case for Ecomodernism," May 26, 2015



Eduardo Porter, "A Call to Look Past Sustainable Development," April 14, 2015
 


Eric Holthaus, "Manifesto Calls for an End to 'People Are Bad' Environmentalism," April 20, 2015
 



Andrew Revkin, "Can Humanity's 'Great Acceleration' Be Managed, and, If So, How?" January 15, 2015


Keith Kloor, "The Battle for the Soul of Conservation Science," Winter 2015


Michelle Nijhuis, "Bridging the Conservation Divide," December 9, 2014


Ben A. Minteer, "The Fall of the Wild? Not Really," July 20, 2014


John Horgan, "Could Consuming More Energy Help Humans Save Nature?" July 7, 2014


Walter Russell Mead, "Here's How We Feed the Future," July 6, 2014


Mark Tercek and Peter Kareiva, "Green Is Good: Science-Based Conservation in the 21st Century," May 5, 2014


Walter Russell Mead, "Kicking Malthus While He's Down," March 23, 2014


Amy Mathews Amos, "What's Wild? The Battle for Nature in the 21st Century," February 11, 2014


Robert Krulwich, "How Important is a Bee?" December 6, 2013


Fred Pearce, "Admit it: we can't measure our ecological footprint," November 20, 2013


Paul Voosen, "Who Is Conservation For?" November 10, 2013


David Biello, "Forget What You've Heard: Humans Are Not Using More Than One Planet," November 7, 2013


UN Development Policy and Analysis Division, "World Economic and Social Survey 2013: Sustainable Development Challenges"


Bryan Walsh, "The Trouble With Beekeeping in the Anthropocene," August 9, 2013


Keith Kloor, "The Future of Conservation," July 26, 2013


Hillary Rosner, "Is Conservation Extinct?" July 22, 2013



Fred Pearce, "New Green Vision: Technology As Our Planet's Last Best Hope," July 15, 2013


Robert Lalasz, "Debate: What Good Are Planetary Boundaries?" March 25, 2013
 

 
Erle Ellis, "Time to Forget Global Tipping Points," March 11, 2013



B
ryan Walsh, "Anthropocene: Do We Need a New Environmentalism for a New Age?" December 18, 2012
 


 


 

"Boundary Conditions," June 16, 2012
 


 




Matt Ridley, "The Global Doomsayers' Ever-Changing Story," June 15, 2012
 

 

FURTHER READING
 



"Beyond Planetary Boundaries"



"Planet of No Return"
 


"Conservation in the Anthropocene"



"Saving Gorillas"

 


"Stop Blaming China for the Epidemic of Elephant Killings"
 


"Polarizing Bears"