futures thinking ... looking ahead
Sustainable agriculture “rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, according to the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis. It involves integrating three main goals--environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity. Starting in the 1970s, farms in the U.S. have turned more and more to growing corn. This near monoculture requires huge inputs of fertilizers and pesticides, which in turn require huge amounts of petroleum to produce them.
At the same time, livestock production has moved to concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where cattle eat corn rather than their natural diet of grass. Waste management and animal health are ongoing concerns with these operations. The old model in which livestock, in conjunction with pasture and forage crops, improve soil quality and so lessen reliance on agricultural chemicals is re-emerging.
Additionally, many consumer food products are derived from corn. Nutritional and health research studies are finding related health problems, including obesity. Here is a link to a 2012 Scientific American article entitled “For a Healthier Country, Overhaul Farm Subsidies”.
applied foresight ... using the perspective
Elimination of chemical weapons is essential to securing a humane future. As described by the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs, public outcry against chemical weapons used in World War I led to the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which was strengthened by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997. As a signatory of this convention, the US committed to eliminate its chemical weapons. Oversight of this is conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Conventional weapons can be targeted at military targets. Chemical weapons cannot be so targeted. They indiscriminately kill and maim. Our common humanity calls us to respect all human life, whether military or civilian life. By tradition, we have invoked special protection for unarmed civilians and, in particular, children. Chemical weapons violate this tradition, and are in a category of their own of moral repugnance.
on the horizon... learning opportunities & events
Interested in a course on the future for college credit?
Check our Exploring the Future (FTR /BPA /SOC /PSY 105) course listing. This is a 3 credit-hour General Education course which also satisfies the diversity requirement, and it is offered in either online or face-to-face formats. Registration is open for Term 2 of Fall 2013.
Registration is now open for the WorldFuture 2014 Conference, "What If". The conference will be in Orlando, Florida, USA, July 11 - 13, 2014.
The Futureportal supports the spirit of community among colleagues and the synergy of working together.