Green Thumbs for Green Energy? Think Vertically.November 16, 2011
Our global population has hit 7 billion and is growing more and more rapidly with each passing year. Medical advances are speeding forward, increasing our longevity. With more and more people needing sustenance, will we be able to keep our population fed? Columbia professor Dickson Despommier joins us today to discuss a new and innovative solution to the growing food crisis.
Dr. Despommier’s book, The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century, explores the exciting possibility of vertical farming. If you are visualizing a garden that reaches higher and higher into the sky, similar to Jack’s beanstalk, you aren’t far off the mark.
“The idea is to actually grow food where you live. Most people choose to live in areas where they are forced to because their farming has failed and they have to look for work. Well, they aren’t finding that work, so why not grow food where we live?” Professor Despommier explained.
As the cost of producing and transporting food continues to skyrocket, our food crisis becomes more important than ideological, religious, or cultural differences. The ability to feed and sustain populations across borders is a unifying problem. This sort of globalized thinking that is starting to take root.
Professor Despommier demonstrated how: “The idea caught on not just with people but with countries. Korea has invested a large amount of money to make vertical farming a reality in all of Korea. There’s one going up in China, one already up in Japan.”
The green energy debate has been a central focus of American governance for several years now, and yet little seems to be getting done to remedy our dependence on oil and move into a cleaner, healthier alternative for the future. Vertical gardening might just be the sort of creative, dynamic solution that will allow our innovative minds to start reshaping our energy policy.
With our elected officials doing so little to remedy these advancing problems, maybe it’s time we took the matter in our own hands. Or, better yet, into our green thumbs.
See Dylan’s full discussion with Dr. Despommier below:
Dr. Dickson Despommier, a full-time professor at Columbia University in the Department of Environmental Sciences, is the author of The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century.