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Vertical Farming

Redesign, USA

Dr Dickson Despommier, professor of Environmental Health Science at Columbia University, has found, together with his students, an innovative solution to the impending disaster of global food shortage.

At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use.  By the year 2050, the human population will have increased by about 3 billion people, with nearly 80% of the earth's population residing in urban centers. What can be done to avoid the inevitable land shortage resulting from this dramatic increase?

The answer: vertical farms. Many stories high, they will be situated in the heart of the world's urban centers. They offer the promise of sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming.

It took humans 10,000 years to learn how to grow most of the crops we now take for granted. Along the way, we despoiled most of the land we worked, often turning verdant, natural ecozones into semi-arid deserts. Within that same time frame, we evolved into an urban species, in which 60% of the human population now lives vertically in cities. The time is at hand for us to learn how to safely grow our food inside environmentally controlled multistory buildings within urban centers. If we do not, then in just another 50 years, the next 3 billion people will surely go hungry, and the world will become a much more unpleasant place in which to live.