What will happen in the future? An unanswerable question that we often ask ourselves. These days if you read any article in the media about our future you are likely to find a mention of climate change and the fact that it will have a major effect on all our lives. The mountain environment will certainly change with glaciers melting and weather systems becoming more erratic. Rising sea levels will displace people from low lying areas and a global population that will increase to 9 billion will put even more pressure on water and food resources.
The question of food and water shortages will undoubtedly be a problem in the future. Just where will we grow enough food to feed everybody? One proposed solution is Vertical Farming. Instead of growing produce horizontally in fields, Dr. Dickson Despommier from the Department of Environmental Health Science of Columbia University is proposing that we adopt a method of vertical farming in which fruit and vegetables are grown in skyscrapers in the urban environment. There are many benefits of vertical farming, they include:
- Production all year round and no weather-related crop failures due to droughts or floods.
- No herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers need to be used and food is grown organically.
- Fossil fuel use is reduced since there will be no tractors, plows or shipping.
- Black and gray water can be recycled into potable water.
- Energy is put back to the grid via methane generation from composting non-edible parts of plants and animals.
- Urban buildings which have been abandoned can be converted into food production centres.
- Sustainable environments are created in urban centres.
Vertical Farming and Hiking
Vertical farming could well play an important part in food production in the future, but what does it have to do with hiking? As cities grow ever larger they take up more land, so it will take longer to get out into the countryside, assuming that the countryside has not been built on. Transportation contributes a large amount to the build up of greenhouse gases. If no alternative to oil powered transport is developed, we may have to curtail our journeys somewhat. In the future, instead of hiking or walking up hills and mountains, those of us who live major cities may find that if they want to go hiking in amongst greenery the place to go will be a vertical farm!
The Future of Hiking
Three enjoyable things about going hiking are
- getting a great view from the top of a summit,
- being in the countryside and
- getting exercise.
Vertical farms will offer all three of these things!
In the future you will be able to hike up to the top of skyscraper surrounded in the greenery of crops growing all around you. To be honest it is probably not going to be as much fun as hiking up Scafell Pike or scrambling across Sharp Edge in the Lake District, but in the future it might be our only option!
If you want great views from the top of a skyscraper why not just get the lift?! The same question can be asked about getting the train up to the summit of Snowdon. Where is the challenge in getting the lift and of course, you get no exercise that way!
What do you think? If it was not possible to hike up your favourite mountain would hike up a vertical farm instead? Leave a comment and let us know!