The Real Inconvenient Truth: Global Land Use

Global warming is a problem, says climate scientist Jonathan Foley, but it's not the only one. The other major problem facing the global environment is a pattern of land use for agriculture that is grossly unsustainable.
October 23, 2009, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Although I'm a climate scientist by training, I worry about this collective fixation on global warming as the mother of all environmental problems. Learning from the research my colleagues and I have done over the past decade, I fear we are neglecting another, equally inconvenient truth: that we now face a global crisis in land use and agriculture that could undermine the health, security, and sustainability of our civilization.

Our use of land, particularly for agriculture, is absolutely essential to the success of the human race. We depend on agriculture to supply us with food, feed, fiber, and, increasingly, biofuels. Without a highly efficient, productive, and resilient agricultural system, our society would collapse almost overnight."

Foley argues that we need to develop a greener way to feed the world's growing population, or face environmental devastation.

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Published on Monday, October 5, 2009 in Yale Environment 360
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