An unlikely place for a vegetable farm is the 70,000-square-foot facility in Newark, New Jersey. But that’s where the urban agriculture pioneer AeroFarms has one of its many indoor farming operations. AeroFarms has partnered with Dell Technologies to produce tasty and nutritious leafy greens using data that tracks the entire process from seed germination to harvesting to packaging. You can learn more from the informative Dell Aero Farms promo video here. We here at ClimateYou believe that this type of endeavor has implications for the climate, especially since it uses 95% less water and yields up to 390x that of traditional growers’ crops. The ever-growing population requires agriculture to be transformed by the application of science and technology. However, scaling what are essentially pilot urban agricultural experiments to a world scale that would threaten the displacement of millions of peasant farmers will be a long, slow, arduous process. As the world urbanizes, industrial, high-carbon, high-fertilizer, high-pesticide, monoculture agriculture must transform itself to be more productive, more efficient, less greenhouse gas emitting, less polluting of soil, water, and eaters, more sustainable. Food markets are ubiquitous throughout the developing world; will plentiful low-carbon power bring refrigeration and supermarkets to most people everywhere? In time, yes.
Combining high-tech urban agriculture with industrial production of affordable, palatable, preferred meat substitutes will constitute as big a shift in the human condition as the shift from hunter-gatherer to farmer. It will require new ways of being, of behaving, of organizing, of socializing, of resolving conflicts. This future is still dimly perceived and inchoate, fluid and malleable, yet surely it will come to pass unless humankind fails to halt the emission of the greenhouse gases that are warming the world past our limits of remediation and adaptation, and disrupting the climate in ways that imperil our very survivability.