Last week, Breakthrough launched a
six-part series on the future of food in hopes of empirically
regrounding the conversation about food, agriculture, and
sustainability. Reviewing the best science available, we’ll consider the
consequences and trade-offs associated with different food systems and
the possibilities that continuing social and technological innovation
could open up for a food system that might sit more lightly on the land.
The first essay in that series,
by Breakthrough Institute’s Director of Conservation Linus Blomqvist
and Applied Invention’s David Douglas, considers the possibilities for
precision agriculture. Much of the conversation around improving
agricultural yields, they write, has focused too much on biotechnology,
which is important but insufficient, and “Green Revolution”-style
application of fertilizers and irrigation, which have largely run their
course in the developed world.
Given how much land humans use to grow food today, and
how much progress we're making towards growing it more efficiently, is
peak farmland in sight? Watch the video, and read Blomqvist's and
Douglas's essay for more information.
Next week, we will post the next installment in our Future of Food series:
“The Future of Meat”
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The New York Times’ Eduardo Porter details the findings of Breakthrough’s recent climate policy report,
which suggests that explicit emissions targets and treaties have
“little or no discernible impact upon emissions.” Domestic policies
targeted at energy and innovation, rather, have driven real progress in
emissions reductions, Porter shares.
Breakthrough Report Stirs Up Energy Poverty Conversation
Since its release in November, Breakthrough's latest report has been stirring up the energy poverty debate. Ronald Bailey at Reasoncontrasts
Breakthrough's call to prioritize energy development for productive,
large-scale economic enterprises with approaches based around
small-scale energy projects aimed chiefly at supplying tiny amounts of
electricity to millions of subsistence farmers.
Last week, Greentech Mediaalso featured
Breakthrough's work, noting that recent initiatives to address energy
poverty ignore what has worked in the past, and instead rely on
technology fixes made possible by the dramatic price reductions in
solar, microgrids and batteries.
In his latest blog post, Breakthrough Energy Analyst Michael Goff evaluates
both the cost and carbon intensity of electrical grids in 18 of the
world’s leading economies and finds that nuclear and hydroelectric power
remain the cheapest way to deeply decarbonize modern electrical grids.
Trump has repeatedly painted an apocalyptic
picture of contemporary America, but Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker
feels pragmatically optimistic. In his Motherboard interview, Pinker discusses reality and hope in the face of a Trump presidency and argues that ecomodernism is the best solution to mitigating climate change.
“Climate change can be mitigated by an aggressive combination of policy and technology, following the lead of the ecomodernist movement.
Success is by no means guaranteed, but we must not sit back and sulk,
resigned to the corrosive belief that humanity is doomed.”
Applications Open for Breakthrough Generation and Breakthrough Research Fellowships
are open for the Breakthrough Institute Generation and Research
Fellowships! Apply now or share the opportunity with those you think
might be a good fit for this summer's programs.
Breakthrough Generation Fellowships foster the
development of a new generation of thinkers and writers capable of
finding pragmatic new solutions to today’s greatest challenges in the
areas of energy, conservation, innovation, and human development.
Breakthrough ResearchFellowships offer
more advanced scholars the opportunity to pursue non-resident research
collaborations that seek to change the way society approaches major
environmental and development challenges.