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Broadcast Audubon

Can Cities Feed Us?

By Sarah DeWeerdt

First Published August 27, 2010 in Conservation Magazine

Sometime in mid-2007, the world’s demographic scales tipped. Only a century earlier, urbanites represented just over 14 percent of humanity. But can-cities-feed-usby 2007, a majority of the world’s people lived in cities, and more are on the way. Over the coming decades, cities will absorb all predicted global population growth and then some. According to the U.N. Population Division, there will be 6.4 billion urban dwellers by 2050—as many people as lived on the entire planet in 2004.

That stark reality leads to another: feeding this new urban world with an old agricultural model could be a recipe for environmental ruin—and human misery. The cost of growing food on large plots of land far away from cities and transporting it to the teeming masses has begun to outweigh its benefits. Not only is the carbon footprint of such a system huge, but more often than not traditional farming has been a disaster for natural ecosystems and wildlife. And then there’s the problem of space. Already, over 80 percent of the world’s arable land is in use—some of it highly degraded. Add the 2.5 billion people who are likely to join us on the globe by 2050, and there’s simply not enough room to keep farming the way we have been.

In response, Dickson Despommier, a professor of public health at Columbia University, wants to turn the old system on its head. For the past decade, Despommier has been cultivating a vision of farms filling glass-and-steel towers the size of a city block and 30 stories high. Just one high-rise farm, he has calculated, could feed 50,000 people 2,000 calories a day all year round. Scale that up, and skyscrapers could produce enough food to feed everyone in Manhattan in a space roughly one-fifth the size of Central Park.

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SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

BalleBuying local supports businesses in your community and ensures that more of your cash stays in your own backyard. It’s more personal, and buying locally-made products cuts out CO2 emissions from shipping. Some great North American chefs have built their menus around local and seasonal food, which is usually tastier. Buying local also applies to fashion. Wearing local designers is a surefire way to avoid looking like everyone else.

Living Economies start with entrepreneurs coming together to form a local network. The network's main focus might be a single issue, such as independent retail (a Local First campaign) or rebuilding local and regional food systems. Or, it might be bigger, such as transforming an entire regional economy. Each network evolves according to the needs, contours, and conditions of the local community with the ultimate goal of building a Living Economy. BALLE meets each network where it is, connects it with other networks, and, if the network chooses, provides opportunities for growth, learning, and greater impact. 

Read about the great variety of BALLE networks springing up around the US and Canada.

The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies is the portal for all things local.  


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References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles
www.audubonlifestyles.org

The International Sustainability Council
www.thesustainabilitycouncil.org 

Sustainability Campaign
sustainabilitycampaign.blogspot.com

EnergyStar
www.energystar.gov/

The Business Alliance for Living Economies
www.livingeconomies.org

American Society of Golf Course Architects
www.asgca.org

The United States Golf Association (USGA)
www.usga.org

Sustainable Golf & Development 
www.sustainablegolfdevelopment.com

The PGA Golf Club
www.pgavillage.com

Urbana University
www.urbana.edu

   

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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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