Aquaponics as an Alternative to Conventional Agriculture Essay

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The greatest 21st-century challenge that humanity will face is not terrorism, disease, or warfare. It is not solely an issue of politics, inequality, or climate change. Instead, it is the kindling that fuels and exacerbates all other issues. Our greatest challenge is one of demography. The problem is that we exist, or rather, that too many of us do, and that we are running out of ways to feed ourselves.
The most pressing issue we must decide how to handle, in the face of booming population, is how to deal with our current agricultural system. This paper will present the most damaging side-effects of conventional agriculture and will show how aquaponics, a nearly entirely self-sustaining agricultural system, addresses these impacts.
Around the halfway point of the century, the UN predicts there will be 9.6 billion people on Earth (UN 2013). From now until then, we will have to produce more food than what humanity has consumed in its entire existence (Weisman 2013). Most of this demand will come from developing countries. As their economies grow, not only will these countries be able to afford more food, their preferences will also shift towards more meat, dairy, and processed foods, all of which require disproportionately large inputs and the use of intense agricultural practices to produce (Trostle and Seeley 2013).
Paradoxically, modern agriculture is both the blessing that provided us with the abundant food that allowed us to flourish, and the curse that will lead to our collapse if left unchecked. Moreover, our agricultural practices are both shaped by and shapers of our environment. However, as our population grows, we find ourselves having to increase our roles as shapers to meet food demands, often with several environment...

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... Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Various. 2012. Inefficient Use of Irrigation Water. United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Center.

Walker, R. 2013. Aquaponic nitrogen cycle.

Watkins, K. et al. 2006. Beyond Scarcity: Power,Poverty, and the Global Water Crisis. United Nations Development Programme.

Weber, C. 2011. Aquaponic Farming Operations Taking Root. Illinois: The Chicago Tribune, May 25.

Weisman, Alan. 2013. Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?New York: Little, Brown and Company.

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