In sustainability and clean technology circles, many think that innovation will save us from our carbon consuming ways. It’s certainly a hope worth supporting—and I do. However, the other side is often not discussed – that innovation also got us here, to this place of overusing resources.
For example, innovations in farming and fertilizers help us grow more food…and support a growing population. But at what cost? Farmers are using technology and biology advances to literally inject the soil with nitrogen and other nutrients—naturally occurring nutrients under historic population levels—in order to maximize yields. The high yields needed have potentially hurt the family farmers that have found it easier to sell the farm to big operators or homebuilders. Ironic isn’t it? Using farm fields to build more houses for more people so that we need to wring every nutrient out of the remaining fields to feed those people.