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Pessimists insist that food supplies are going to decrease as fresh water becomes more scarce which will lead to more difficulties in irrigating vast areas of land; this could then, they say, lead to such areas becoming deserts which can never again sustain agriculture as the land dries up, the plants and trees die, the topsoil which was anchored by all the root systems shrinks into dust and is blown away. "Nonsense!" say the optimists, who point out that those same plants and trees live mainly on carbon dioxide and that an increase of that gas in the atmosphere will prove to be positively beneficial, by providing extra plant food.

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There are indeed vast areas of Spain in particular in which the main industry is the growing of vegetables under cover; the pants in these 'plastic sheet cities' don't require any soil at all and receive their nutrients from water and the rest from the CO2 in the atmosphere which they transform into cheap and abundant tomatoes, courgettes, onions etc which have grown from seed to maturity without ever needing a single speck of earth. Granted agriculture will have to change, say the dissenters, but they believe that it would not be such a bad thing if we all completely re-assessed the way in which we expected our food to be produced. One very wasteful way of feeding human beings is to grow crops which are then fed to livestock; the poultry, cattle, pigs etc are then slaughtered and then eaten by those consumers who can afford to buy meat; but this is a very inefficient way to produce food since it takes many times as much nutrition to produce that meat as the meat itself provides. Furthermore evidence is now coming to light that a diet which is high in animal protein is not really terribly good for us; many of the ailments which afflict richer societies have been laid at the door of their high protein diets, as well as the growing scourge of obesity.



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