By the year 2030, two-thirds of humanity will live in cities— but we are not alone. Cities are filled with food and natural predators are scarce, so many creatures have moved in with us.
There are predictions that the world’s population could reach 10 billion by the year 2050. Whether population growth can be slowed down enough to prevent this remains to be seen. Regardless, it is clear that we need to figure out how to feed many more people than we have today and we are not even doing that good a job of feeding the current population.
Natural world heritage sites exemplify the world’s greatest areas of natural beauty, ecology, geology, and biodiversity. They are recognized internationally for their value as places with significance that is “so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.” Many of these areas also are a vital source of food, fuel, and water for rural communities, and provide a revenue stream for national economies through tourism and recreation. The livelihoods of some 11 million people are directly dependent on these areas.
Food fraud means selling food products that have misleading labels, descriptions or promises that give consumers substandard, less desirable, counterfeit, and sometimes even dangerous products. This sort of thing has gone on throughout history. It leaves consumers feeling duped and distrustful and sometimes can lead to people eating foods that violate religious or moral values or that result in allergic reactions.
Plastics are the ubiquitous workhorse material of the modern economy. Their use has increased 20-fold in the past half century, and production of plastics is expected to double again in the next 20 years.
We recently highlighted how safe drinking water is in short supply. According to research published in the journal Science Advances, at least two thirds of the global population – more than four billion people – live with severe water scarcity for at least one month every year. And 500 million people around the world face water scarcity all year.
Food shortages have always been a challenge for the Inuit and other aboriginal people in the Arctic, because they depend on subsistence hunting and fishing, which often means living life on the edge.
Ecotourism is increasing on a global scale. Ecotourism is generally defined as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education. Visitor numbers to many protected areas around the world are expanding every year. Ecotourism provides rich experiences for the traveler and often has great benefits to local communities fighting poverty and seeking sustainable development.
China passed the U.S. as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth back in 2007, mostly due to manufacturing. However, the great majority of all the products China produces are exported to the rest of the world. China’s per capita consumption-based environmental footprint is actually small. If you put the responsibility for environmental impacts on the consumer instead of the producer, we are all the culprits.
For about a decade now, insect pollinator populations have been in decline. Their decline poses a significant threat to biodiversity, food production, and human health. In fact, at least 80% of the world’s crop species require pollination, and approximately one out of every three bites of food is a direct result of the work of these pollinators. In the United States alone, insect pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, certain wasps and flies (among many others), account for an estimated $15 billion in profits annually.
The Zika virus epidemic is yet another disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Those tiny insects are responsible for spreading many of the world’s worst diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever. According to the World Health Organization, over 400,000 people worldwide died from malaria in 2015.
The effects of climate change are being felt around the world, including in some well-known places in the Northeast. Buzzards Bay is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and tourism adjacent to Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
Augmenting food with preservatives is not a recent practice. For thousands of years, we have canned fruits with sugar, preserved meats with salt, and pickled vegetables so that they could keep in hot humid environments.
A food desert is a geographic area – often an urban area – where affordable and nutritious food is difficult to obtain, particularly for those without access to an automobile. Food deserts disproportionately affect occupants of poor, low-income neighborhoods where there are often no groceries stores or farmer’s markets. These are places were food comes from convenience stores or fast-food chains. More than 20 million Americans are thought to live in food deserts.
Many people compost their food scraps and yard waste because they think it is the right thing to do. In some places, like San Francisco and Seattle, there is curbside pickup available to have these organic materials composted.
For some, vampire bats conjure up thoughts of Dracula. But two recent studies highlight the intelligence of these misunderstood mammals, with noted animal behaviorist Brock Fenton comparing their social skills to elephants.