The numbers are pretty astounding (and they set up some of the children to work out some interesting math problems, such as how many acres of land it would take to feed a population on a meat-based diet versus a plant-based diet). It takes roughly two to five acres of land to feed a single cow, which can provide less than a year’s worth (about 257 days’ worth) of calories for an average adult—whereas the same amount of acres could support twelve to thirty adults per year on a plant-based diet. In the United States, only 27% of crop calories directly feed human beings; a whopping 67% feed livestock, with the remainder going mostly to biofuels.
In its most extreme forms, an assembly line can reduce a human being to an appendage of a machine, repeating the same, highly specific task over and over again, and thereby exercising, developing, and enjoying only a small portion of his or her overall range of human capacities and aspirations. Some of the students’ responses to this were to “get rid of that,” but, they were reminded, the workers in developing nations are relying on “that” for their income. If they didn’t have it, what would they do to survive? There are no easy answers to the questions these topics raise—but that’s usually a sign that they are good topics and questions to think about.
Here is where our overall series of lessons, activities, and projects reached its culmination. I have split the following account of it into four sections. The middle sections derive from a couple of posts I wrote on Namaste’s Facebook page; the first and last sections are new.
We then noted how for some of the categories (e.g., communication and transportation), human beings could, in theory, fulfill their needs without the help of external, technological aids: to move from point A to point B, a person could just walk, and to communicate with another person, he or she could just talk. However, as we further noted, the ability of walking and talking to fulfill our transportation and communication needs depends upon the proximity of one’s destination and interlocutor.