By Brian Filipowich
The U.S. Government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment (November, 2018) highlights the need to adopt aquaponics at a large scale nationwide.
The report states: “over the next few decades, overall, yields from major U.S. crops are expected to decline as a consequence of increases in temperatures and possibly changes in water availability, soil erosion, and disease and pest outbreaks”; furthermore: “[c]limate change is also expected to lead to large-scale shifts in the availability and prices of many agricultural products across the world, with corresponding impacts on U.S. agricultural producers and the U.S. economy.”
So how can aquaponics help?
Aquaponics is a method of growing fish and plants in efficient, recirculating systems. Aquaponics does not require soil, and is practiced across the nation from cities to deserts. The ability to grow food anywhere allows all regions of the U.S. to create their own food supply without relying on long-distance, carbon-intensive food transport.
Aquaponics requires over 90% less water than traditional soil growth, making production far less susceptible to water shortages.
Aquaponics does not require synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or antibiotics.
Also, aquaponic systems not only produce fruits and vegetables, but also edible fish — an extremely efficient source of healthy protein that can be grown in any environment.
Unfortunately, the U.S. economy is not set up to incentivise efficient food production methods like aquaponics, hydroponics, and vertical agriculture. A free market economy is based on producers incorporating all costs of production into the prices for goods. But certain costs of agriculture are not realized at the time of production and are passed to other parties or future generations, creating artificially low prices for inefficient goods.
Modern large-scale agriculture uses excessive amounts of water, carbon, pesticides, antibiotics and fertilizers. These elements create enormous costs passed to others such as climate change adaptation, healthcare costs, food waste, antibiotic resistance, and toxic nutrient runoff.
Conversely, aquaponic systems can grow much more efficiently, but without a means to monetize this efficiency.
The U.S. Government Climate Report highlights the need to change the current system: “[n]umerous adaptation strategies are available to cope with adverse impacts of climate variability and change on agricultural production. These include altering what is produced, modifying the inputs used for production, adopting new technologies, and adjusting management strategies.”
It will take a large-scale, concerted nationwide effort to change the way we incentivize food production. Until that point, our economic system will steer consumers towards produce that adds to the problem of climate change, and is less able to adapt to climate change.
Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/23/health/climate-change-report-bn/index.html?no-st=1543264267