Sunday, August 26, 2007


Should we wait until all the US is this crowded?
Over Populated - Are We There Yet?

In the July, 2007, issue of Popular Science is an article entitled Skyscraper Farm about a plan to build skyscrapers to house highly automated hydroponic farms. A farm might be 30 stories tall and feed 50,000 people. Microbiologist Dickson Despommier of Columbia University suggests skyscraper farms as a solution to several problems.

Al Gore has suggested that we grow more trees in response to global warming. Since 40.5 percent of the earth is being used for agriculture, we could move agriculture to skyscrapers and use the land formerly planted in crops for trees.

With the world's population projected to grow from 6 billion to 9 billion, we will need to find additional land to grow food, land we need planted in trees to counter global warming. Skyscraper farms allow a lot of food to be grown on a small foot print of land.

In addition, these hydroponic farms could use and recycle waste water and sewage (after pretreatment) to not only grow the plants, but also to produce clean water by capturing the moisture that evaporates from the leaves. Clean water is another resource that is becoming more scarce. Presumably, skyscraper factories would use less water because water loss due to evaporation would be minimized.

This all sounds fine, except this solution (and problems it tries to solve) are in response to another problem. Over-population. Shouldn't we be talking about ways to minimize population growth and, maybe, over the long term, decreasing the worlds population to a level that is enviornmentlly and economically sustainable without such drastic solutions?

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