Monday, January 4, 2010
Imagine looking at the city skyline and instead of seeing a 30 story business building you were looking at a farm. That very well could be the future if Columbia University professor Dickson Despommier see his dreams fulfilled. Despommier says that by taking our farming techniques skyward we would have the answer to many of the problems we are currently facing including World hunger, reducing carbon gas emissions, and even helping to preserve forests. Could what he terms, vertical farming, be the next wave of ethical consumption?
Well in his plans, Despommier envisions these farms on one city block and with the capabilities to produce throughout the entire year. Being contained indoors, these vertical farms wouldn't be subject to varying weather patterns and climate changes. They would be able to mimic the ideal growing conditions for the crops through a complex system involving advanced hydroponics, artificial lights, and aeroponic growing means. In his model each of these farms would not only take up significantly less space, as a vertical farm that is built on a single acre would produce that of a standard farm spanning up to six acres, but also cut back on the amount of hipping and transport fumes that are released with more standard practices. He figures this because the vertical farms would be able to serve a more local community being as they can be built in even the most urbanized places. Being that transportation is one of the leading causes for concern in regards to global warming this vertical farming method is tempting if it lives up to all of the hype.
In to saving land space, vertical farming would then give previous sites of farming land back to the wildlife who live there and do much to preserve our natural resources. And having the food grown in a farm similar to a bubble environment, don't think that Despommier hasn't thought of further ways to inject the latest technology as he believes that with strict observation and gas chromatographs he will be able to produce better tasting food at the same time. The professor states that we have the ability to erect these farms today, so what's stopping us from doing so? There are critics to the vertical farming plan that say that the theory is flawed in that any carbon gas it cuts back in the way of transport will be outweighed by the immense amount of electricity and energy the farms will consume
annually. With a harvest lasting the entire year, one such analyst Bruce Bugbee calculates that the power needs of vertical farming would equate to be 100 times the amount of electricity of an office building. I think that Bugbee has a point there, but this can be negated if the power source is renewable say in the source of wind or solar. I can picture solar panels being put on top of these farms along with all the other bells and whistles.
I do think that the vertical farming method is an interesting proposition to consider, especially when it seems that the population of the world looks to surpass 9 million in 2050. Hunger is already a mounting problem, and with further urbanization 80% of those people are expected to live in a city. Ethical consumption needs to be on the minds of everyone, with so much that still needs to be done and more efforts needed I think taking our food supplies to the great blues above is a great idea if not at least in the right direction.
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Posted by Caitlan Chok at 1:45 AM