In 80 years, look at the change in biodiversity:
What can be done? What should be done? What is the impact of less biodiversity?
National Geographic just published a fascinating article (“Food Ark” – http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/07/food-ark/siebert-text) about the topic of biodiversity, particularly the impact science has had for farmers around the world.
The world population keeps growing, and there are millions of hungry people (at least 925 million people are chronically hungry in the world). That’s a lot of people. How can we prepare for the future? How can we make sure that the scientific research and foreign assistance that we (as Americans/other countries) are offering is actually effective and sustainable? Or are we all just a few bacteria/fungi away from losing our entire food supply?
Fortunately, international aid groups are trying to increase food production in more sustainable ways.
I really liked what Dr. Woerde, who is working in Ethiopia to increase biodiversity, said about this:
“The people planning this are aware that the first green revolution failed over time. There are some intelligent ideas, but they are still placing too much emphasis on a narrow range of varieties. What about the rest? We’ll lose them. Believe me, I’m not against science. Why would I be? I’m a scientist. But contextualize it. Combine science with the local knowledge, the farmer’s science.”
This is all pretty abstract to us here in America. Most of us reading this are not worried about a drought or storm wiping out our whole livelihood. Why should we care?
Personally, I think that everyone in the world is our neighbor — and that we need to look out for the well-being of all our neighbors. This could mean standing up to Monsanto when they abuse small farms, or encouraging community organizations to work with their population instead of at their population. It can mean lobbying Congress to not cut foreign assistance aid (which, by the way, makes up less than 1% of the federal budget!), or domestic nutrition programs (like SNAP and WIC).