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Environmental Considerations

The challenge of providing food for the Earth's growing population, estimated to reach 9 billion within the next century, will put major stresses on our natural environment. The effects of our agricultural activities alone are severe, ranging from soil degradation and erosion to loss of sensitive ecosystems and reduction of biodiversity. It is estimated that 75% of the genetic diversity of our crop plants has been lost during the last 100 years (The Global Education Project). At the same time, fertilizer use has been steadily on the increase for many decades, and in many places, has permanently damaged the soil.  In the next 100 years, climate change may hurt the agricultural productivity of farmland we depend on.  Unsustainable human use of the planet's resources has the potential to severely decrease food security in the future. 

In light of the environmental concerns listed above, Mission 2014’s 100-year plan involves several precautions to combat the potential negative environmental impacts of feeding 9 billion people. To encourage sustainable practices, the proposed 100-year plan strongly endorses organic farming methods whenever possible, in both developed and developing countries (see the Organic Industrial Agriculture page). The plan also involves guidelines on the responsible use of biofuels, such as corn ethanol, sugarcane ethanol, and algal oil, as well as measures to combat desertification though sustainable farming and planting vegetation. To address the issue from a political standpoint, the Terrascope team devised an international policy database so governments can coordinate and share information on common environmental issues. 

For developing countries in particular, the proposed 100-year plan includes several measures to decrease our impact on the environment. Forage farming, which is the raising of both plants and animals on the same land, for example, is heavily advocated for its sustainable approach to agriculture. Solar food dryers offer an energy-efficient method of food storage in developing countries. Small farm cooperatives are another environmentally conscious solution: cooperates preserve the local biodiversity of a region, produce high levels of output with relatively few amounts of artificial inputs, and allow farmers to receive fair prices for their goods (Overseas Development Institute, 2008). 

For developed countries, the Terrascope team takes a different approach to reducing environmental impact. The team suggests phasing out heavy crop subsidies in developed countries and slowing the current unsustainable trend of fertilizer and pesticide use.  This policy shift would likely cause fierce debate during its implementation, and would require significant changes in infrastructure, but we think the environmental benefits more than outweigh the costs (see the Crop Subsidies page). In developed cities, we suggest the creation of small community gardens, following the successful example of cities such as Shanghai (RUAF). These gardens (see the Urban Agriculture page) provide a small number of local jobs and reduce the costs associated with transporting food from many miles away. These farms would also utilize organic techniques to reduce their impact on the environment. 

Works cited: 

The Global Education Project. Food and soil. Retrieved 23 November 2010, from

Overseas Development Institute. (2008). Retrieved 9 November 2010, from

RUAF Foundation. (2005). Retrieved 23 November 2010, from