Expedition Natures Realm: Episode 5

Uploaded by geoscienceEIU on 19.03.2012

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>> male voice-over: It starts from a single seed,
dormant until it swells from the presence of water
and begins to reach into the Earth,
with miniature arms, to pull nutrients.
At the right moment, it breaks free from the Earth,
fragile and delicate with leaves reaching for the sky.
Once it springs forth into maturity,
it has no mind to realize the impact it has on
the future of civilizations across the globe.
It's just a small capsule that brings happiness to billions.
These small vessels of life have provided life.
Without them, life would cease.
Have we forgotten their importance as
the benefit of our existence?
Has the importance become less of a priority in
developed countries than it has in less developed societies?
Have we taken for granted that our food
will always be available to us for centuries to come?
As time continues beyond our collective individual periods
on this planet, imagine what would happen
if we waste away the vital ingredients required for seeds
to sustain the human population.
Would our children's future be similar to the events in
Soylent Green, where other means of feeding
the world's population is sought?
Where does your food come from?
>> male voice-over: Grocery store.
Fast food.
>> female voice-over: Walmart.
>> male voice-over: Denny's.
>> female voice-over: Ocean.
>> female voice-over: Friday's.
>> male voice-over: Families
>> female voice-over: Animals.
[unclear dialogue].
>> male voice-over: The Earth.
>>female voice-over: The Earth.
A box.
>> male voice-over: The Earth.
>> female voice-over: The Earth.
The Earth.
>> male voice-over: This is the Earth,
dirt to some, life to others.
Within are the vital nutrients that allow current civilizations
to flourish since their beginning.
It's a resource that hasn't really been a priority to those
of us in developed countries because we take for granted that
it will always be there, and yet, it's desired, always,
in underdeveloped countries.
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Scientists believe that thousands of years ago,
humans reaped the benefits of the natural environment
by simply foraging for it.
They ate on the go.
At first, plants were believed to be the first items
on the menu.
Fruits, nuts and various other forms of plant-life
were acquired to feed the small family.
When their local area was depleted of food, they moved on.
Inhabitants of temperate zones had a more difficult time
than those in areas where plants grew throughout the year.
As the seasons changed, they learned that food was plentiful
during the warm season and was scarce during the cold season.
This situation forced inhabitants to adapt to their
environment in order to survive.
The adaptation would lead to the development of stone tools.
It's believed that the act of hunting wasn't the first method
of acquiring food, but the scavenging of meat
and bone marrow of dead animals.
Stone tools were used to remove the edible tissue
after a predator's visit.
This method of early human sustenance is referred to as
opportunistic and that the opportunity to eat,
is based on finding a dead animal.
Hunting and gathering techniques kept population growth in check.
Their survival was based on the need to find food.
Approximately 18,000 years ago, as the climate warmed
and became more moist, the domestication of plants
and animals led to the adventure of agriculture.
Specific greens and animals were cultivated
and bred to increase the availability of food.
The cultural lifestyle during this period allowed
for the development of permanent settlements,
due to the ability to store food for long periods of time.
Now, the population could grow.
The societies we live in today are based on
the careful development of how early humans adapted
and managed their natural environment.
Agriculture was the basis of survival.
>> Bharath Ganesh Babu: At this point, we see
that human beings probably tended to, okay, now there are
these grasses and it's a hard work to collect these seeds
and eat because now imagine you have a handful of seeds.
You have to get all that energy from that
handful of seed that you might have collected all day;
that's not efficient, that's not enough.
Therefore, a larger settlement now became smaller groups of
settlements that were sustaining themselves with this available
energy that was there.
So, this was 13,000 years back.
We see that climate played an important part in how he
perceived in what we could eat.
However, human beings became smarter.
There are different hypothesis saying why did we change to
agriculture because if you look at it, hunter and gatherer
societies are actually better off than agricultural societies
because hunter and gatherer societies are sometimes called
the true leisure societies, where they had plenty of time.
They probably spent six hours a day collecting food,
maybe, and hunting.
The rest of the time they had to themselves
and they were doing whatever they did in their spare time.
Now, compared with what we do now,
do we have spare time at all?
We are supposed to be a better society than that.
We don't.
However, the hunter and gatherer societies, energy wise,
at least, they were better off because they were smaller
groups of people but they were maximizing their energy
they got from primary and secondary productions,
secondary production being gazelles or whatever else,
bison, that were being hunted, that converted the
solar energy, that was converted by plants, into edible energy.
Now, bison ate it and converted it to an energy
that we could eat.
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>> male voice-over: As time progressed,
specializations began to develop where certain
members of a village were tied to the land to raise food.
Some made their livelihood making tools
for the farmers and hunters.
Some established the laws of the land.
The establishment of society didn't happen over night.
It took centuries to achieve a sense of security.
Knowing when the next meal would come depended on
thoughtful planning and execution of those plans.
Today, we simply don't have to plan because we can get into our
car and drive to a fast food restaurant and eat,
not thinking about where the food came from
and knowing it's always going to be there.
Or is it?
>> Dr. William Dando: Climate, droughts,
natural hazards, storms, winds, whatever it might be in
the world, caused food shortages as a result of crop failure.
They cause crop failure.
It's humans, by failing to provide food to these people
who have experienced a disaster, that experience the famine
and they die.
[music stops]
It's most interesting.
It doesn't matter what your religion is.
Any religion that has a written text talks about the origin of
the Earth and every one states, somewhere in there, that on this
day, this was created, the next day, something was created.
In every case, food was available
before humans were created.
What's most fascinating about this wonderful Earth of ours is
that we have food being planted, cultivated, nurtured
and harvested every hour of every day
of every week of every month throughout the year.
But unfortunately, there are occurrences, natural,
we say droughts to begin with but it could be
something else than natural hazards, or cultural, a war,
a denial, a breakdown in communication
or transportation, a cultural bias, a hatred.
All this manifested in a horrible way,
a way that in some cases is a denial of food for some people.
You can go through history and you'll find
that humans themselves, by denying food to humans,
really created the worst famines on the surface of the Earth.
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>> male voice-over: Hardships and setbacks
would often occur in the past.
Survival of a community depended on the will of the community.
It took everyone working together to achieve
the ultimate goal of surviving.
Before the modernization of food production,
families and communities had to plant their food as soon
as the last frost occurred.
If they delayed, their food for the long winter
would not be ready and misery would set in.
Nature takes time.
It can't be hurried only to benefit our existence.
What if nature can't sustain agriculture?
In some places on Earth, it isn't simply a lack of
organization or planning that causes hardships
for civilizations but it's that climate has evolved to the
point where the landscape is no longer sustainable for farming.
>> Dr. Dando: Right now, the Earth
is going through a period of climatic change.
The Earth is heating up.
The Earth's climate has changed a great deal in the past.
This is not new, to have climates change
or climatic change.
It's not unusual to have cold periods
and warmer periods, this is normal.
It's not unusual to have climatic variation.
Climatic variation is a shift of climatic region,
where climatic region shifts is happening at.
What is abnormal today is the speed and the speed of
climatic change in variation that's occurring
on the surface of the Earth today.
>> Mr. Babu: In Kazakhstan, in the south,
there are two rivers that feed the Aral Sea,
Amu Darya and Syr Darya.
This river, during Soviet policies,
what they did to maximize irrigation,
of course Kazakhstan is a semi-arid area,
there are these rivers feeding the Aral Sea.
What we have seen in the last 30 years is that over-irrigation of
these rivers, over supply of these rivers in semi-arid area
for agriculture has, for cotton and wheat and so on,
has actually salinated the soil because in the arid area,
where you over-irrigate, what usually ends up happening is
[unclear dialogue] evaporation.
With the evaporation, salts from underneath in the soil,
are sucked up in the [unclear dialogue].
It sucks up slowly, then the land gets salinized.
Another of what you see, specifically in the Aral Sea
condition, is that the sea has not received the fresh water.
So, the sea has actually dried up.
Satellite images show us today that
60% of the sea is almost gone.
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>> male voice-over: As we move into the future,
what will be in store for the natural environment
as our population continues to explode?
How will we adapt as we expand into prime farmlands?
What will it take from a society of diverse people to come
together to execute a plan of feeding the
world's growing population as climate change continues?
Scientists agree that climate change is presently occurring.
Only recently did governments around the world agree with the
scientific community that although the change is natural,
humanity is drastically increasing the rate of warming.
We've heard about the effects of a warming climate.
The melting of ice caps that will, ultimately, reshape coasts
and drown streets of major coastal cities.
Specific continental areas lose the ability to retain moisture
needed to sustain agriculture.
>> Dr. Dando: If you look at the United States
we show on our maps that our climates
of the southern tip of Florida, moving northward,
to include almost the entire Gulf Coast latorial in a boat,
75-100 miles, different climates,
but all the climates are moving north.
Now, what does this mean?
It means that the standard pattern, the world pattern,
of global food production is going to change.
Now, who is going to be impacted most?
That was the object of my study.
Those who are going to be impacted most are,
number one, those who live in Africa.
Those who live in the Middle East.
Those who live in central Asia.
Those who live in north China.
Those who live in any marginal area on
the surface of the Earth.
And who, what group, was in a culture, the poor.
Those who are living, shall we say, in existence, day to day,
where's there limited food reserves,
limited storage of food.
Or if there is a shortage in these areas,
there's no food available to them unless
it comes from the outside.
So, the problem in year 20000 or 22100,
will be that climatic change is going to drastically modify
the agricultural geography of the world.
This is going to create a situation,
a potential situation, it's all potential, it's all conjecture,
a conjectured situation of massive famines.
>> Mr. Babu: One of the biggest things
that will limit agriculture in the future will be
fresh water availability.
Fresh water availability, it is known for quite a while now that
in the next 50 years we are going to have problems.
We already have seen instances of that in Australia,
where there was a huge drought.
We saw an instance in the United States.
Atlanta, last year, had a huge problem with water shortage.
We take water for granted but it will be a big issue.
Today, if you watch some of the big companies that advertise on
TV--one example would be General Electric--
they advertise for desalinization.
They have an advertisement that says we desalinize water
from the ocean to make fresh water.
The fact that they are even advertising at this state
tells us that there is a market for it today.
Because it is a tenuous situation.
Fresh water is a very minuscule part of our geosphere.
So, in the next 50 years, if not food, it'll be wars for water.
If not food or oil, it'll be wars for water resource sharing.
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>> male voice-over: The landscape is fragile
and complex.
It's needed to continue civilization into the future,
as it has been demonstrated for thousands of years.
Once it's modified, it's splendor
and usefulness is lost forever.
Think for a moment what the landscapes would look like
well into the future.
Although these visions are only hypothetical, they are possible,
and that is what we are here to do; critically think what if
because we simply don't have foresight, only hindsight.
Will our cities dominate vast regions
that were once held by agriculture?
How much farmland will there be in relation to the urban?
If inflation continues to rise and agricultural land dwindles,
what will the ultimate price of food be in 50, 100 or 200 years?
Will a pound of beef cost $25?
Will a can of peas set a family back $10?
If these things come to pass,
how will we deal with the reality?
>> Dr. Dando: Across the surface of the Earth,
you will have these urban nodes, these megalopolises,
these major urban clusters, hundreds of miles long or wide
or whatever it might be.
Then, you'd have almost voids to the next megalopolis.
If you'd look at the Earth as I projected, the year 2100,
at night, you would have these clusters of lights
and voids, clusters of lights.
But these urban areas are going to have
populations of 30 million, 40 million, 50 million people
per conurbation, per megalopolis.
This is going to be the problem areas of the world if there is
a food shortage because it will be the poor people,
the less fortunate people, living in these urban areas,
who will suffer.
>> Mr. Babu: In the hunter and gatherer
society or early agricultural societies, what we saw was
that the nutrients that you took, the inorganics that
was converted to organics that you ate, went back into the
land when you died or defecated, it went back into the land
and put the inorganics back into the, not the solar energy
of course, but everything else goes back into the system.
But today, what we see is many rural areas,
or third world countries, feed urban areas, or in many cases,
first world countries or developed countries.
So, what happens is nutrients are taken away from one place,
deposited somewhere else.
Right--it doesn't go back to the same system.
That's a huge problem.
Where does it end up?
Usually, urban environments.
Those nutrients end up in the sewage,
that ends up in the ocean.
Today, actually, there was a recent research
that shows that a large part of our oceans are actually
under tremendous stress because of human impact.
We don't know about it because we don't see it visibly,
but it is a tenuous situation that we will face
in the next 20 years.
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>> male voice-over: Evidence of megalopolises
is currently in progress in the Midwest.
Post-war Indianapolis was a blooming city
with fields of corn, soybeans and livestocks surrounding
it's dense urban life.
A few miles to the north lay two prosperous cities,
Fishers and Noblesville.
Throughout much of their history, until only recently,
Noblesville and Fishers were deep into agriculture.
It was easy to travel just beyond the small city limits
to find many farms dotting the landscape that raised cattle,
swine and new crops.
It was a treat to venture to the big city to the south
to enjoy fine food and shopping.
As the Baby Boomers begin having their children
and started their own families,
the towns began to grow in size.
In the last decade, the shift from agriculture
to urban sprawl has taken precedence.
Where there were once fields of corn,
there are shops and restaurants.
Where there were cattle, there are parking lots.
Farm houses have been replaced by subdivisions.
The weekly venture to the big city is no longer a treat.
Indianapolis that once covered only one county
has expanded to nine.
What of the future?
Will Chicago and Indianapolis be a megalopolis of the Midwest?
What of the vast agricultural lands between?
Will they be converted to an urban environment?
Where there were fields to feed these cities,
where and how will we grow our food?
Without the sun, life doesn't happen.
It's the essence of life on Earth.
Second, is water.
Without water, the food we need to survive doesn't grow,
seeds don't function.
Without seeds, beef, chicken and pork won't make it to the table.
The future availability of these vital natural resources
must begin with the education of today's inhabitants.
>> Mr. Babu: For you, as a teenager,
who looks at these problems
and wonder what you can do individually, tries us again.
Things that you buy, tell your parents
what you want as your choice.
Do you want your iPod or Zune or whatever you buy,
to be environmentally friendly?
For you, those things are the choices that you can make,
instead of thinking that my friend has
this particular gadget and I want the same thing,
you can actually be cool if you have the
environmentally friendly product rather than the most in thing,
which is need not be environmentally friendly.
So, your coolness factor comes in there;
that's actually cool, now days, to be environmentally friendly.
You are not looked down on anymore; it used to be that way.
>> Dr. Dando: It's very disturbing because,
number one, it's not only complacency, they don't care.
Number one, it's not been introduced to them.
Climatic change and variation is so important.
Climate has such an important role in your life,
such an important role.
You're created and adjusted in the evolution process
to be able to survive in a particular climate.
That's why you have different skin color.
That's why you have different lengths of nose.
That's why you have different sinus passages.
You have passages that protect your brain
to keep your brain warm so that you don't die.
That's why you have different lengths of arms
and different lengths of legs.
The difference in body configuration between an Eskimo
and a Watusi in Africa; these are adjustments.
Even your hair, whether you have peppercorn hair
or lack of hair or regular hair,
it's all a factor of weather and climate.
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>> Mr. Babu: Look at, just suddenly.
Visit forests, just your local national park.
Don't go picnicking with your radio.
Just sit quietly and watch.
Things won't come together at the same time.
You have to spend some time and watch all the things
that go on around it.
I don't have to tell you anything.
Just sit and watch and you'll appreciate it.
Nobody has to teach you these things, you just sit
and watch how beautiful, how functional that system is.
Why would you want to disrupt it?
I don't have to say nothing.
Your environmental teachers do not have to teach you anything.
You will come away with that feeling because you are,
after all, you are not very far away
from that 50, 100 years back.
Your ancestors were not very far away from that natural system.
We have somehow become plastic and metal only now,
so it's still in you.
It will affect you, just sit there and watch.
I don't have to teach you, you don't have to go to school.
Nature will teach you just how to feel.
>> male voice-over: To learn more about this program
and take a look behind the scenes,
visit our website at www.tempestasproductions.com.
[no dialogue]
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