A little while ago, I posted a series of teasers here on my blog about an upcoming book about the environment. That book, called The Protein Crunch : Civilisation on the Brink, has now been released and it makes uneasy reading.
The author, Jason Drew, international businessman, serial entrepreneur and passionate environmentalist, comes up with some hard-hitting facts and some bitter truths to swallow. Taking his title from the financial crisis, nicknamed the credit crunch, of the last few years, which has shaken the global economy, The Protein Crunch looks at sustenance - the food and water we need to survive. It comes from three sources, our water, our land and our seas, but we have been so busy using and abusing them that, with the increased demands of our rapidly ballooning world population, things are reaching crisis point.
The book is filled with numerous interesting facts and nuggets of dazzling scientific research. Did you know, for example, that it took 30,000 litres of water to make your mobile phone? Or that to feed their citizens, China and Saudi Arabia have bought more farmland in Africa than exists in the whole of France? Or that fishing has been banned on the Sea of Galilee as fish stocks have collapsed? Would you be surprised to learn that 25,000 is the number of people who die of starvation each day but also due to obesity ? There's plenty of food for thought and fodder for dinnerparty conversations in this book.
My one criticism would be that Jason sometimes seems to jump from A to C without explaining B so he appears to pluck scientific facts out of thin air without any hard proof or detailed explanation, more like somebody standing on a soapbox at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park than presenting a thoroughly-researched document.
Some of Jason's claims and suggestions seemed (to me at least) slightly exaggerrated and pessimistic so it would be easy to write him off as a doom-and-gloom merchant who wanders around with a sandwich board declaring "The end of the world is nigh !" for a hobby, but many big organisations are revealing research that backs up his worrying predictions. Just recently, as you can see here, Oxfam warned of a food crisis looming with the prices of staple foods set to increase more than twofold if urgent action isn't taken. And yesterday was World Population Day, when this interesting video was released :
Jason offers "conditional hope", a chance to turn things around if we take action now. He has stated that the next Bill Gates will make his fortunes from the business of the environment and Jason himself is already investing in environmental business methods. His latest venture (http://www.agriprotein.com/), in collaboration with South Africa's University of Stellenbosch and a team of international scientists, has developed a renewable and natural source of protein. Using fly larvae to recycle existing waste nutrients, the company has developed and tested a natural animal feed, so instead of polluting the environment with abattoir waste, the larvae are turned into high quality protein that can replace fishmeal in industrial farming and save the seas.
It's just this kind of thinking outside the box which could help offer a solution to the Protein Crunch.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £9.99
Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Print Matters (1 July 2011)
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Intriguing teasers - upcoming book about the environment