We discussed running out of crop space to grow food for the human race. I mentioned the use of
human high rise structures (vertical gardening) to furnish food on site and bypass the need to
transport food items and eliminate the need for tractors etc. It sounds ridiculous at first but it is
not and it has to be entertained to serve human and livestock needs. One has to be aware that we
are encroaching of every type of eco system on earth and the most land intense activity is land
agriculture. The concept of the ecological footprint should be revisited in your minds. Who
remember how that was defined?
Ecological footprint the biggest part of this equation is agriculture production and
furnish materials i.e. pulp and paper materials calculated on a per capita basis. Remember
the number for the average Canadian is over 4.27 hectares/capita. A group from Simon
Fraser came up with this number. So this concept is very important here because it draws the
radius of resource consumption. The 4.27 isn’t sustainable in the sense that our planet isn’t large
enough and doesn’t have a large enough land base. We are dealing with 6.5 billion people and
they can’t all enjoy 4.27 hectares. So the crisis is more a demand for land than any other crisis
i.e. extinction of habitat and species. Water tables around Beijing drop by 2 metres on average
per year because humans have to pump from underground aquifers to supply agricultural lands
and to flush toilets etc. If we took all humans alive on the planet and said they required 4.27
hectares that would give us a requirement of 3 planets not taking into consideration that the
human population is still growing. We are not that far off from 12 billion that each expert says
will be on this earth soon and that will truly be unsustainable. A reduction in family sizes/human
offspring size correlates linearly with the welfare of a given nation. The better to do people will
have fewer children and it is the law of demographic law. Remember the demographic
transition model. On average each Canadian child consumes as much energy as 1,000 children
in Bangladesh. Countries like China (mainly), India, and Indonesia per capita are beginning to
consume a larger and larger ecological footprint that resembles the footprint of Canadians.
Canadians are on the top of the chart, nobody consumes as many resources as Canadians.
In these vertical gardens we can supply temperature control, moisture control, and nutrients in an
indoor environment. In Canada we wouldn’t have to shut down agriculture of this kind each
year. We could grow all through the winter months as well. We might have to do this no matter
what the price. This was written up in Popular Science and we will touch on this again in the
next few weeks.
This is the average transit time of energy in living plant biomass for representative ecosystems.
The biomass sitting there is called the standard biomass (gm-2). Once again not surprisingly the
largest amount of standing biomass per area is in the tropical rain forests and then the list goes
•Tropical rain forest
BGYC61H3F.October.6.2008 Lecture 5 1