I'm always shocked when adults leave food on their plates. It's a truly shameful habit.
Whether you are rich or poor, fat or thin, you simply don't push away a plate half finished in polite company if you've been raised right.
Today Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of soybeans, growing them in the tropical climate zone on land once thought to be hopelessly infertile. A combination of better agricultural techniques and new varieties of soybeans adapted to the tropics has turned a wasteland into whatever one calls the tofu equivalent of a breadbasket.
This is not problem free, nothing is. While soybean cultivation takes place mostly on semi-arid savannah land rather than in rain forests, there can be a knock-on effect. As more of the savannahs are converted to soybean production, cattle ranchers may clear more rainforest to replace the lost pastureland. Nevertheless, using grasslands to produce protein directly rather than feeding it to cattle is a more efficient and more sustainable way to use the land.
And it turns out that you can actually grow more soybeans in the tropics than in the temperate zone: with the tropical year-round growing season you can get two and even three crops a year from the same fields in Brazil. (New techniques involving the use of nitrogen fixing bacteria help reduce the need for fertilizer even with the extra crops.) According to Brazilian agronomists I’ve met, much of Africa’s unproductive, hot and semi-arid land could also be used to grow protein-rich soy, and Brazilians are already working to share these ideas and techniques with African farmers.
While Tibet raises a number of controversial questions, one dimension will assume increasing political significance: its water resources. The Tibetan Plateau, known to many as the "Third Pole," is an enormous storehouse of freshwater, believed by some to be the world's largest. It is the headwaters of many of Asia's mighty rivers, including the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Brahmaputra, Indus and Sutlej. These vast water resources are of course vulnerable to environmental challenges, including climate change, but they are subject to an array of political issues as well.
Should China be the lone stakeholder to the fate of the waters in Tibet? What happens in the downstream nations that depend heavily on these rivers? China has exploited all but two rivers from the Tibetan Plateau; an exception is the Nujiang River, which flows through Yunnan province and enters Burma, where it is known as the Salween. China's north-south diversion plans on the Yarlung Zangbo (known in India as Brahamaputra), the other untouched river, are bound to worry India, a downstream state...
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