Categories Farming

Vertical Farming: Can it Help Us Survive Climate Change?

One of the facts of climate change that many don’t consider is the potential disruption of our food supply. I guess this is forgivable since most folks are ignorant of where food comes from and how much effort was put into getting it from seed to your plate. Still, this small blip on the radar right now, due to the ease of obtaining a can of peaches in winter, is getting closer and we’ll be dealing with it in our lifetimes. Obviously the best solution would be to eliminate the problem with zero carbon emissions and a stable global population. Since these aren’t going to seem like attractive options until the disaster is upon us, and it’s way too late, people are working on ways to mitigate some of the worst effects and increase our security.

If you are poor in America or anywhere else, you’ve thought about food security. The sterling effort underway is to increase the amount of food growing in U.S. cities through urban agriculture, which at once addresses the problems of malnutrition, climate change, failing local economies, and loss of community. Some models of sustainable cities seek to retrofit every residential block with an area that would recycle gray water, run-off, and organic waste, while turning these “waste” products into the resident’s next meal.

Most of the hands-on work is being done by poor people in the inner cities who have taken the initiative to transform vacant lots into income and food generators. And there’s a lot going on. Urban agriculture has taken hold in the rust belt cities, places of concentrated poverty. Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, and others are producing more of their food every season and with minimal help from city officials.

But this could still end badly. Climate change is going to do some rather unpredictable things to global weather patterns and local miniclimates. The successful urban farms of Detroit this year could next year be facing unforeseen drought, flooding, and frosts. Considering a systems analysis of climate change dynamics, where the more an ice sheet melts then the faster it melts versus the old ideas of a steady and predictably slow climate change based solely on greenhouse gas composition, we’ll be dealing with problems a lot earlier …

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