Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard? | Jon Jandai | TEDxDoiSuthep

There is one phrase that I have always wanted to say to everyone in my life. That phrase is "Life is easy." It's so easy and fun. I never thought like that before. When I was in Bangkok, I felt like life is very hard, very complicated. I was born in a poor village on the Northeastern of Thailand And when I was a kid, everything was fun and easy, but when the TV came, many people came to the village, they said, "You are poor, you need to chase success in your life. You need to go to Bangkok to pursue success in your life." So I felt bad, I felt poor. So I needed to go to Bangkok. When I went to Bangkok, it was not very fun. You need to learn, study a lot and work very hard, and then you can get success. I worked very hard, eight hours per day at least, but all I could eat was just a bowl of noodles per meal, or some Tama dish of fried rice or something like that. And where I stayed was very bad, a small room where a lot of people slept.

It was very hot. I started to question a lot. When I work hard, why is my life so hard? It must be something wrong, because I produce a lot of things, but I cannot get enough. And I tried to learn, I tried to study. I tried to study in the university. It's very hard to learn in university, because it's very boring. (Laughter) And when I looked at subjects in the university, in every faculty, most of them had destructive knowledge. There's no productive knowledge in university for me. If you learn to be an architect or engineer, that means you ruin more. The more these people work, the mountain will be destroyed more. And a good land in Chao Praya Basin will be covered with concrete more and more. We destroy more. If we go to agriculture faculty or something like that, that means we learn how to poison, to poison the land, the water, and learn to destroy everything. I feel like everything we do is so complicated, so hard.

We just make everything hard. Life was so hard and I felt disappointed. I started to think about, why did I have to be in Bangkok? I thought about when I was a kid, nobody worked eight hours per day, everybody worked two hours, two months a year, planting rice one month and harvesting the rice another month. The rest is free time, ten months of free time. That's why people have so many festivals in Thailand, every month they have festival. (Laughter) Because they have so much free time. And then in the daytime, everyone even takes a nap. Even now in Laos, go to Laos if you can, people take a nap after lunch. And after they wake up, they just gossip, how's your son-in-law, how's your wife, daughter-in-law. People have a lot of time, but because they have a lot of time, they have time to be with themselves. And when they have time to be with themselves, they have time to understand themselves. When they understand themselves, they can see what they want in their life.

So, many people see that they want happiness, they want love, they want to enjoy their life. So, people see a lot of beauty in their life, so they express that beauty in many ways. Some people by carving the handle of their knife, very beautiful, they weave the baskets very nicely. But, now, nobody does that. Nobody can do something like that. People use plastic everywhere. So, I feel like it's something wrong in there, I cannot live this way I'm living. So, I decided to quit University, and went back home. When I went back home, I started to live like I remember, like when I was a kid. I started to work two months a year. I got four tons of rice. And the whole family, six people, we eat less than half a ton per year. So we can sell some rice. I took two ponds, two fish ponds. We have fish to eat all year round. And I started a small garden.

Less than half an acre. And I spend 15 minutes per day to take care of the garden. I have more than 30 varieties of vegetables in the garden. So, six people cannot eat all of it. We have a surplus to sell in the market. We can make some income, too. So, I feel like, it's easy, why did I have to be in Bangkok for seven years, working hard and then not have enough to eat, but here, only two months a year and 15 minutes per day I can feed six people. That's easy. And before I thought that stupid people like me who never got a good grade at school, cannot have a house. Because people who are cleverer than me, who are number one in the class every year, they get a good job, but they need to work more than 30 years to have a house. But me, who cannot finish university, how could I have a house? Hopeless for people who have low education, like me.

But, then I started to do earthly building, it's so easy. I spend two hours per day, from 5 o'clock in the morning, until 7 o'clock in the morning, two hours per day. And in three months, I got a house. And another friend who's the most clever in the class, he spent three months to build his house, too. But, he had to be in debt. He had to pay for his debt for 30 years. So, compared to him, I have 29 years and 10 months of free time. (Laughter) So, I feel that life is so easy. I never thought I could build a house as easy as that. And I keep building a house every year, at least one house every year. Now, I have no money, but I have many houses. (Laughter) My problem is in which house I will sleep tonight. (Laughter) So, a house is not a problem, anybody can build a house.

The kids, 13 years old, at the school, they make bricks together, they make a house. After one month, they have a library. The kids can make a house, a very old nun can build a hut for herself. Many people can build a house. So, it's easy. If you don't believe me, try it. If somebody wants to have a house. And then, the next thing is clothing. I felt like I'm poor, like I'm not handsome. I tried to dress like somebody else, like a movie star. To make myself look good, look better. I spent one month to save money to buy a pair of jeans. When I wore them, I turned left, I turned right, looked in the mirror. Every time I look, I am the same person. The most expensive pants cannot change my life. I felt like I'm so crazy, why did I have to buy them? Spend one month to have a pair of pants. It doesn't change me. I started to think more about that. Why do we need to follow fashion? Because, when we follow fashion, we never catch up with it, because we follow it.

So, don't follow it, just stay here. (Laughter) Use what you have. So, after that, until now, 20 years, I have never bought any clothes. All the clothes I have are leftovers from people. When people come to visit me, and when they leave, they leave a lot of clothes there. So, I have tons of clothes now. (Laughter) And when people see me wear very old clothes, they give me more clothes. (Laughter) So, my problem is, I need to give clothes to people very often. (Laughter) So, it's so easy. And when I stopped buying clothes, I felt like, it's not only clothes, it's about something else in my life, What I learned is that when I buy something, and I think about, I buy it because I like it, or I buy it because I need it. So, if I buy it because I like it, that means I'm wrong. So, I feel more free when I think like this. And the last thing is, when I get sick, what will I do? I really worried in the beginning, because then I had no money.

But, I started to contemplate more. Normally, sickness is a normal thing, it's not a bad thing. Sickness is something to remind us that we did something wrong in our lives, that's why we got sick. So, when I get sick, I need to stop and come back to myself. And think about it, what I did was wrong. So, I learned how to use water to heal myself, how to use earth to heal myself, I learned how to use basic knowledge to heal myself. So, now that I rely on myself in these four things, I feel like life is very easy, I feel something like freedom, I feel free. I feel like I don't worry about anything much, I have less fear, I can do whatever I want in my life. Before, I had a lot of fear, I could not do anything. But, now I feel very free, like I'm a unique person on this Earth, nobody like me, I don't need to make myself like anybody else. I'm the number one.

So, things like this make it easy, very light. And, after that, I started to think about that when I was in Bangkok, I felt very dark in my life. I started to think that many people maybe thought like me at the time. So, we started a place called "Pun Pun" in Chiang Mai. The main aim is just saving seed. To collect seed, because seed is food, food is life. If there is no seed, no life. No seed, no freedom. No seed, no happiness. Because your life depends on somebody else. Because you have no food. So, it's very important to save seed. That's why we focus on saving seed. That's the main thing in Pun Pun. And the second thing is it is the learning center. We want to have a center for ourselves to learn, learn how to make life easy. Because we were taught to make life complicated and hard all the time. How can we make it easy? It's easy, but we don't know how to make it easy anymore. Because we always make it complicated and now, we start to learn, and learn to be together.

Because, we were taught to disconnect ourselves from everything else, to be independent, so we can rely on the money only. We don't need to rely on each other. But now, to be happy, we need to come back, to connect to ourselves again, to connect to other people, to connect our mind and body together again. So, we can be happy. Life is easy. And from beginning until now, what I learned is the four basic needs: food, house, clothes and medicine must be cheap and easy for everybody, that's the civilization. But, if you make these four things hard and very hard for many people to get, that's uncivilized. So, now when we look at everywhere around us, everything is so hard to get. I feel like now is the most uncivilized era of humans on this Earth. We have so many people who finish university, have so many universities on the Earth, have so many clever people on this Earth. But, life is harder and harder. We make it hard for whom? We work hard for whom right now? I feel like it's wrong, it's not normal.

So, I just want to come back to normal. To be a normal person, to be equal to animals. The birds make a nest in one or two days. The rats dig a hole in one night. But, the clever humans like us spend 30 years to have a house, and many people can't believe that they can have a house in this life. So, that's wrong. Why do we destroy our spirit, why do we destroy our ability that much? So, I feel that it's enough for me, to live in the normal way, in the abnormal way. So, now I try to be normal. But, people look at me as the abnormal one. (Laughter) A crazy person. But, I don't care, because it's not my fault. It's their fault, they think like that. So, my life is easy and light now. That's enough for me. People can think whatever they want. I cannot manage anything outside myself. What I can do is change my mind, manage my mind. Now, my mind is light and easy, that's enough. If anybody wants to have a choice, you can have a choice.

The choice to be easy or to be hard, it depends on you. Thank you. (Applause).

Dan Barber: How I fell in love with a fish

So, I've known a lot of fish in my life. I've loved only two. That first one, it was more like a passionate affair. It was a beautiful fish: flavorful, textured, meaty, a bestseller on the menu. What a fish. (Laughter) Even better, it was farm-raised to the supposed highest standards of sustainability. So you could feel good about selling it. I was in a relationship with this beauty for several months. One day, the head of the company called and asked if I'd speak at an event about the farm's sustainability. "Absolutely," I said. Here was a company trying to solve what's become this unimaginable problem for us chefs: How do we keep fish on our menus? For the past 50 years, we've been fishing the seas like we clear-cut forests. It's hard to overstate the destruction.

Ninety percent of large fish, the ones we love — the tunas, the halibuts, the salmons, swordfish — they've collapsed. There's almost nothing left. So, for better or for worse, aquaculture, fish farming, is going to be a part of our future. A lot of arguments against it: Fish farms pollute — most of them do anyway — and they're inefficient. Take tuna, a major drawback. It's got a feed conversion ratio of 15 to one. That means it takes fifteen pounds of wild fish to get you one pound of farm tuna. Not very sustainable. It doesn't taste very good either. So here, finally, was a company trying to do it right. I wanted to support them. The day before the event, I called the head of P.R. for the company. Let's call him Don. "Don," I said, "just to get the facts straight, you guys are famous for farming so far out to sea, you don't pollute." "That's right," he said. "We're so far out, the waste from our fish gets distributed, not concentrated." And then he added, "We're basically a world unto ourselves.

That feed conversion ratio? 2.5 to one," he said. "Best in the business." 2.5 to one, great. "2.5 what? What are you feeding?" "Sustainable proteins," he said. "Great," I said. Got off the phone. And that night, I was lying in bed, and I thought: What the hell is a sustainable protein? (Laughter) So the next day, just before the event, I called Don. I said, "Don, what are some examples of sustainable proteins?" He said he didn't know. He would ask around. Well, I got on the phone with a few people in the company; no one could give me a straight answer until finally, I got on the phone with the head biologist. Let's call him Don too. (Laughter) "Don," I said, "what are some examples of sustainable proteins?" Well, he mentioned some algaes and some fish meals, and then he said chicken pellets. I said, "Chicken pellets?" He said, "Yeah, feathers, skin, bone meal, scraps, dried and processed into feed." I said, "What percentage of your feed is chicken?" Thinking, you know, two percent.

"Well, it's about 30 percent," he said. I said, "Don, what's sustainable about feeding chicken to fish?" (Laughter) There was a long pause on the line, and he said, "There's just too much chicken in the world." (Laughter) I fell out of love with this fish. (Laughter) No, not because I'm some self-righteous, goody-two shoes foodie. I actually am. (Laughter) No, I actually fell out of love with this fish because, I swear to God, after that conversation, the fish tasted like chicken. (Laughter) This second fish, it's a different kind of love story. It's the romantic kind, the kind where the more you get to know your fish, you love the fish. I first ate it at a restaurant in southern Spain. A journalist friend had been talking about this fish for a long time. She kind of set us up.

(Laughter) It came to the table a bright, almost shimmering, white color. The chef had overcooked it. Like twice over. Amazingly, it was still delicious. Who can make a fish taste good after it's been overcooked? I can't, but this guy can. Let's call him Miguel — actually his name is Miguel. (Laughter) And no, he didn't cook the fish, and he's not a chef, at least in the way that you and I understand it. He's a biologist at Veta La Palma. It's a fish farm in the southwestern corner of Spain. It's at the tip of the Guadalquivir river. Until the 1980s, the farm was in the hands of the Argentinians. They raised beef cattle on what was essentially wetlands. They did it by draining the land. They built this intricate series of canals, and they pushed water off the land and out into the river. Well, they couldn't make it work, not economically. And ecologically, it was a disaster. It killed like 90 percent of the birds, which, for this place, is a lot of birds. And so in 1982, a Spanish company with an environmental conscience purchased the land.

What did they do? They reversed the flow of water. They literally flipped the switch. Instead of pushing water out, they used the channels to pull water back in. They flooded the canals. They created a 27,000-acre fish farm — bass, mullet, shrimp, eel — and in the process, Miguel and this company completely reversed the ecological destruction. The farm's incredible. I mean, you've never seen anything like this. You stare out at a horizon that is a million miles away, and all you see are flooded canals and this thick, rich marshland. I was there not long ago with Miguel. He's an amazing guy, like three parts Charles Darwin and one part Crocodile Dundee. (Laughter) Okay? There we are slogging through the wetlands, and I'm panting and sweating, got mud up to my knees, and Miguel's calmly conducting a biology lecture. Here, he's pointing out a rare Black-shouldered Kite.

Now, he's mentioning the mineral needs of phytoplankton. And here, here he sees a grouping pattern that reminds him of the Tanzanian Giraffe. It turns out, Miguel spent the better part of his career in the Mikumi National Park in Africa. I asked him how he became such an expert on fish. He said, "Fish? I didn't know anything about fish. I'm an expert in relationships." And then he's off, launching into more talk about rare birds and algaes and strange aquatic plants. And don't get me wrong, that was really fascinating, you know, the biotic community unplugged, kind of thing. It's great, but I was in love. And my head was swooning over that overcooked piece of delicious fish I had the night before. So I interrupted him. I said, "Miguel, what makes your fish taste so good?" He pointed at the algae.

"I know, dude, the algae, the phytoplankton, the relationships: It's amazing. But what are your fish eating? What's the feed conversion ratio?" Well, he goes on to tell me it's such a rich system that the fish are eating what they'd be eating in the wild. The plant biomass, the phytoplankton, the zooplankton, it's what feeds the fish. The system is so healthy, it's totally self-renewing. There is no feed. Ever heard of a farm that doesn't feed its animals? Later that day, I was driving around this property with Miguel, and I asked him, I said, "For a place that seems so natural, unlike like any farm I'd ever been at, how do you measure success?" At that moment, it was as if a film director called for a set change. And we rounded the corner and saw the most amazing sight: thousands and thousands of pink flamingos, a literal pink carpet for as far as you could see. "That's success," he said. "Look at their bellies, pink.

They're feasting." Feasting? I was totally confused. I said, "Miguel, aren't they feasting on your fish?" (Laughter) "Yes," he said. (Laughter) "We lose 20 percent of our fish and fish eggs to birds. Well, last year, this property had 600,000 birds on it, more than 250 different species. It's become, today, the largest and one of the most important private bird sanctuaries in all of Europe." I said, "Miguel, isn't a thriving bird population like the last thing you want on a fish farm?" (Laughter) He shook his head, no. He said, "We farm extensively, not intensively. This is an ecological network. The flamingos eat the shrimp. The shrimp eat the phytoplankton. So the pinker the belly, the better the system." Okay, so let's review: a farm that doesn't feed its animals, and a farm that measures its success on the health of its predators. A fish farm, but also a bird sanctuary. Oh, and by the way, those flamingos, they shouldn't even be there in the first place.

They brood in a town 150 miles away, where the soil conditions are better for building nests. Every morning, they fly 150 miles into the farm. And every evening, they fly 150 miles back. (Laughter) They do that because they're able to follow the broken white line of highway A92. (Laughter) No kidding. I was imagining a "March of the Penguins" thing, so I looked at Miguel. I said, "Miguel, do they fly 150 miles to the farm, and then do they fly 150 miles back at night? Do they do that for the children?" He looked at me like I had just quoted a Whitney Houston song. (Laughter) He said, "No; they do it because the food's better." (Laughter) I didn't mention the skin of my beloved fish, which was delicious — and I don't like fish skin; I don't like it seared, I don't like it crispy. It's that acrid, tar-like flavor.

I almost never cook with it. Yet, when I tasted it at that restaurant in southern Spain, it tasted not at all like fish skin. It tasted sweet and clean, like you were taking a bite of the ocean. I mentioned that to Miguel, and he nodded. He said, "The skin acts like a sponge. It's the last defense before anything enters the body. It evolved to soak up impurities." And then he added, "But our water has no impurities." OK. A farm that doesn't feed its fish, a farm that measures its success by the success of its predators. And then I realized when he says, "A farm that has no impurities," he made a big understatement, because the water that flows through that farm comes in from the Guadalquivir River. It's a river that carries with it all the things that rivers tend to carry these days: chemical contaminants, pesticide runoff.

And when it works its way through the system and leaves, the water is cleaner than when it entered. The system is so healthy, it purifies the water. So, not just a farm that doesn't feed its animals, not just a farm that measures its success by the health of its predators, but a farm that's literally a water purification plant — and not just for those fish, but for you and me as well. Because when that water leaves, it dumps out into the Atlantic. A drop in the ocean, I know, but I'll take it, and so should you, because this love story, however romantic, is also instructive. You might say it's a recipe for the future of good food, whether we're talking about bass or beef cattle. What we need now is a radically new conception of agriculture, one in which the food actually tastes good. (Laughter) (Applause) But for a lot people, that's a bit too radical. We're not realists, us foodies; we're lovers. We love farmers' markets, we love small family farms, we talk about local food, we eat organic.

And when you suggest these are the things that will ensure the future of good food, someone, somewhere stands up and says, "Hey guy, I love pink flamingos, but how are you going to feed the world?" How are you going to feed the world? Can I be honest? I don't love that question. No, not because we already produce enough calories to more than feed the world. One billion people will go hungry today. One billion — that's more than ever before — because of gross inequalities in distribution, not tonnage. Now, I don't love this question because it's determined the logic of our food system for the last 50 years. Feed grain to herbivores, pesticides to monocultures, chemicals to soil, chicken to fish, and all along agribusiness has simply asked, "If we're feeding more people more cheaply, how terrible could that be?" That's been the motivation, it's been the justification: it's been the business plan of American agriculture.

We should call it what it is: a business in liquidation, a business that's quickly eroding ecological capital that makes that very production possible. That's not a business, and it isn't agriculture. Our breadbasket is threatened today, not because of diminishing supply, but because of diminishing resources. Not by the latest combine and tractor invention, but by fertile land; not by pumps, but by fresh water; not by chainsaws, but by forests; and not by fishing boats and nets, but by fish in the sea. Want to feed the world? Let's start by asking: How are we going to feed ourselves? Or better: How can we create conditions that enable every community to feed itself? (Applause) To do that, don't look at the agribusiness model for the future. It's really old, and it's tired. It's high on capital, chemistry and machines, and it's never produced anything really good to eat. Instead, let's look to the ecological model.

That's the one that relies on two billion years of on-the-job experience. Look to Miguel, farmers like Miguel. Farms that aren't worlds unto themselves; farms that restore instead of deplete; farms that farm extensively instead of just intensively; farmers that are not just producers, but experts in relationships. Because they're the ones that are experts in flavor, too. And if I'm going to be really honest, they're a better chef than I'll ever be. You know, I'm okay with that, because if that's the future of good food, it's going to be delicious. Thank you. (Applause).

Why Do We Waste $1 Trillion Of Food A Year?

Food grows in nature. Bugs crawl on it. Fish poop all the time. Cows lick things you wouldn't want to touch. And fruits and vegetables literally grow in dirt — DIRT YOU GUYS. Hey flavonoids, Trace regurgitating some food science for DNews today. We all know food comes from the earth, so why do we expect it to look perfect? Ugly food, or food that doesn't "look right," doesn't get sold, and it makes up a ton of our food supply. According to the USDA 133 billion pounds and 161 billion dollars worth of food was wasted in 2010 by retailers and consumers. That's about 30 percent of all food production! Ugly food is part of that waste. Reducing food waste could help us feed more of our population, without increasing food production, and ugly food is a first step on that path, but it has a big climb to be accepted, because some humans have cognitive bias; we don't roll with the uggos. Humans assume attractive people are smarter, and have fewer diseases, so it would make sense that we'd also assume attractive food is better. There's a principle restauranteurs and chefs use called plating or presentation — chefs place the food on our plates to make it look good. And it works.

A study in the journal Appetite and another in Flavour looked at the importance of the aesthetics of food. They found not only does good looking food positively affect the flavor, but the actual plate it's on also affects how people feel about it. Unfortunately our cognitive bias for attraction likely goes far deeper than people, plating or the plates themselves. Even potatoes have to look good. Since it's founding in 1862 the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been a source of regulation, standardization and knowledge for how we grow and consume food. Today, it fights to comprehend and regulate the U.S. food systems, but some of its original regulations don't make sense anymore." The USDA ranks food by freshness, appearance, color, and size — among other things. Grade A milk, for example, can be used for… well, milk.

While Grade B milk and lower is used for butter, cheese and so on. The idea being to protect the consumer. Milk in liquid form is more susceptible to bacterial infection. But some of these regs don't make sense. Take cauliflower color, for example. Color 1 cauliflower should be "bright white to creamy white," according to USDA standards. But not for a specific reason! The silly thing about USDA recommendations is that cauliflower left in a farmer's field doesn't stay white, it has to be harvested early to meet this standard, because the sun turns it a dull yellow! Yet, "yellow or other abnormal color [that] materially detracts from the appearance" is unacceptable, says the USDA. Our bias against ugly food goes all the way back to regulation. The USDA says this is so we can share a "common language" for our food. But, yellow cauliflower is just as nutritious as white.

Another regulation states that green peppers have to be 90 percent green. Again, same nutrition, just regulated this way for common language. So, because it can affect the grade, and thus the price, this ugly, perfectly nutritious food stays in the field to rot. Any number of things can cause this, from the wrong color, the wrong shape, not enough leaves or too many. On top of that bushels of fruits and vegetables never leave warehouses due to blemishes, bruising, or discoloration. Wasted food has a value of 1 trillion dollars worldwide, and could feed billions more people. Now, the “ugly food movement” to get these weirdo plants harvested and on the dinner table is gaining ground. More grocery stores, farmers markets, and even restaurants are buying and serving "substandard" food. Which is great, because c'mon, it's exactly the same, it just looks weird. And hey, I look weird, but y'all still like me, so why not a green pepper that's like… 85 percent green? Or a potato with an extra bump? Or a double carrot! All the way across the sky. The ugly food movement is making it big lately, and our friends at seeker stories followed a chef who transformed “ugly food” and turned it into an amazing six course meal which was served out of a dumpster.

Seriously, it's weird. But super interesting. Watch it here. Do you care what your food looks like or are you just a human trash compactor? Tell me..

World War II, A War for Resources: Crash Course World History #220

Hi, I’m John Green and this is Crash Course World History and today we’re going to talk about World War II. But we’re not going to look at it as a battle between good and evil, but instead as a war for resources, particularly a war for food. Wait, Mr. Green, Mr. Green, what about like Rosie the Riveter and Pearl Harbor and Nazis and Hitler? Yeah, Me From the Past, I mean if the question is was Hitler evil? Then, yeah. But evil people generally can’t, like, cause massive world wars on their own. So instead of talking about, uh, you know, the personality driven model of history, I want to talk about resources, specifically my favorite resource: food. So the story of World War 2 is commonly told as a narrative of good vs. evil, and it is. But we can also look at the second world war through the lens of resource allocation, and I think if we do it tells a story of both causes of the war and one of the ways that it impacted both soldiers and civilians.

The presence or absence of food affected everyone involved in World War II. In the most stark terms, the absence of food led to the deaths, directly or indirectly, of at least 20 million people during those years, as compared to 19.5 million military deaths. Now, of course, both the Nazis and the Japanese were militaristic and expansionist in the 1930s. And they were both definitely motivated by nationalism, but they were also seeking something called autarky. You can remember this term by conjuring the feeling one gets near Thanksgiving: “Aw, turkey”. You can also remember it when thinking about the collapse of the Ottoman Empire: “Aw, Turkey”. Anyway, autarky is a form of self sufficiency in a world where, increasingly, people were reliant on world trade, and that made nations more and more dependent upon each other to meet basic needs. Both Germany and Japan lacked the resources within their borders that they needed to build their growing industrial states, and the resource that concerned them most was food.

And this was a big part of what motivated their imperialist expansionism. Like, Hitler talked all the time about expanding German territory to acquire “lebensraum,” or living space. But what this meant, of course, was agricultural land to feed Germans, that’s what living space is really about on Earth. And most Germans of the time remembered the blockade during World War I, which had led to acute food shortages. For the Nazis, to quote Collingham, “Lebensraum would make Germany truly self-sufficient and immune to blockade and this would eventually enable Germany to challenge British and American hegemony.” Meanwhile, in Japan the need for food was also spurring imperial ambitions. If anything, Japan’s limited space created a sense of crisis and made colonies seem necessary. Like Japanese colonies in Korea and Formosa, taken in the Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1895, provided 20% of the Japanese domestic rice crop by 1935.

And then the Great Depression and Japan’s growing population made the situation appear even worse and probably led to the decision to annex Manchuria after 1931. So the Germans’ plan was to open up Poland, and eventually parts of Russia, to German farmers. The Japanese plan was to resettle farmers in Manchuria to provide food for the homeland. So if the desire for more food was one of the initial causes of World War 2, it also shaped the actual strategy of the war. This was especially true with one of the stupidest decisions of the war, Hitler’s decision to invade the Soviet Union. A German agronomist named Hans Backe put forth something called “the Hunger Plan”, and in doing so convinced Hitler that in order to become self-sufficient, Germany had to invade the Soviet Union. And everyone knows that you cannot successfully invade Russia unless you are the Mongols. Anyway, the plan was the Ukraine and western Russia would be transformed into a huge breadbasket that would feed both the German armies and German civilians. This was never fully implemented, because, you know, the Nazi’s could never successfully nail down all of the territory, but Collingham argues that it was a primary motive for Hitler’s disastrous invasion of the USSR.

And then on the Western front, the so called “Battle of the Atlantic” was largely about shipping arms, material, and food from the U.S. to Britain. This was incredibly important in the opening years of World War 2. Like, Winston Churchill once said that “the Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea or in the air, depended ultimately on its outcome.” In short, it was Britain’s dependence upon other parts of the world that ultimately made it stronger than Germany’s attempts at self-sufficiency. Starvation never became an issue for the Brits, but fear of running out of food, especially of running out of food for the troops, led to policies that made starvation a reality for many people in British colonies.

In British Africa, for instance, colonial policy forcing production for the war instead of for domestic food consumption meant shortages that were only made worse by wartime inflation. Crop failure in Rhodesia in 1942 meant widespread hunger and famine. And, in an echo of what happened at the end of the 19th century, World War II and British colonial policy spelled disaster for India. Japan had seized Burma in early 1942, cutting off 15% of Bengal’s rice supply. And when harvests failed later that year, hunger turned to famine. Now, the British could have alleviated the suffering but they were afraid to use supply ships that might be needed for the war effort to bring food to starving people in India. When you take into account hunger-associated diseases, between 1.5 and 3 million Indian civilians died, more than the total number of Indian combatants killed in World War 1 AND World War 2 combined. In the United States, meanwhile, there was no starvation, but there was some rationing.

And this was, especially relative to most recent American wars, some shared sacrifice. Americans gave up coffee and chocolate so that the troops could be well fed. So Americans and Britons hardly suffered from hunger. Neither did the Germans, actually, where memories of World War I made feeding the civilian population a top priority. Of course, millions of civilians weren’t being fed because they were being murdered or worked to death in concentration camps. But in Britain, World War II might have actually improved people’s diets. Now, Britons largely despised the whole-meal National Loaf of bread, but it was more nutritious than white bread and its flour took up less cargo space. It’s amazing to think that British people would dislike good food when there’s so much of it in their country. Stan, this is the part where in the comments all the British people say, “We are not a country, we’re four separate countries!” The “dig for victory” campaign encouraged ordinary people to plant gardens, and so they ate more vegetables. Full employment and higher wages meant that working class people also had more access to nutritious foods.

Also, you know, they had the benefit of Canada growing like, a gajillion acres of wheat. Although both the British and the Germans saw an overall reduction in caloric intake, it was nothing compared with what was happening in the USSR, Japan and China. In Russia, daily caloric intake by the end of the war was half of what it had been in 1940. And I will remind you that things were not great in 1940 in Russia, because Stalin. The daily caloric ration for Japanese women workers fell to 1476 calories, which was bad, but in China, where the corrupt Nationalist army was known to sell rice to the Japanese for profit, a famine in Guangdong claimed the lives of as many as 1.5 million peasants. And without doubt, much of the civilian suffering in the war was related to the massive amounts of food needed to keep soldiers fighting. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. In World War 2, the US and Britain made a massive effort to make sure that their soldiers were well fed, and for the most part it paid off, even though the food that they got was sometimes pretty gross.

The British World War I diet of biscuits and bully beef eventually gave way to the appetizingly named “composite ration.” American soldiers may have complained a lot about their infamous C and K rations, but they were the best fed soldiers in the world, receiving a whopping 4,758 calories per day, including meat at every meal, because, you know… America. As you can probably guess, Soviet soldiers did not fare so well, especially when the Germans invaded because it was their policy to live off the land, which meant scrounging as much food from the Russian countryside as they could. German troops weren’t as well fed as Americans or the Brits, but they still managed to scarf down a respectable 4000 calories per day. No combat soldiers were as consistently hungry, however, as the Japanese. Japanese soldiers were expected to feed themselves and were not provided with field kitchens.

Often this meant that Japanese soldiers were fueled by little more than rice. And as the war turned against them it became more and more difficult for Japanese troops to feed themselves. On Guadalcanal the Japanese attempted to re-supply their troops with floating barrels dropped from passing ships, but by December 1942 between 120 and 130 soldiers were dying of starvation every day. The Japanese commander there estimated that while 5000 of his soldiers died in combat, 15,000 starved to death. Overall, it’s estimated that more than 1 million of the 1.74 million Japanese military deaths were caused by starvation or malnutrition. Thanks Thought Bubble. So, a quick look at the history section in your local bookstore or an IMDB search will tell you that there are hundreds if not thousands of ways to tell the story of World War II.

And this is just one history of the war, certainly not a definitive one. But examining the role of resources, especially food, in the second world war tells a story that has at least one advantage over the narrative of the triumph of Allied good over Axis evil. Because it helps us to see that the war was not only about the soldiers fighting, and it gives us a window into the way the war affected everyone who lived at the time. It also allows us to see World War II from a global perspective in a way that focusing on strategy or tactics or pivotal battles doesn’t. Like very little fighting went on in Sub-Saharan Africa or most of India, but these places were deeply affected by the war in ways that don’t often make it into history books.

Also, we live today in a thoroughly globalized world, but so did the people of the 1930s, and it’s very interesting to see some of their responses to it. That hyper nationalist idea, that we can take care of ourselves and don’t need help from outside, as long as we annex a lot of territory that’s currently outside of us – that idea is a response to globalization. But I think history shows us that it’s a horrible response. It’s a dangerous business when humans imagine others as less, when they think their land needs to become our land so we can feed our people. And in that sense at least, you can’t separate ideology from resource allocation, and as long as we live in a world of finite resources, the potential for conflict will always be there. Knowing that, hopefully, will help us to avoid it. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next week. Crash Course is filmed here in the Chad and Stacey Emigholz studio and it's made with the help of all of these nice people and also with the help of our Subbable subscribers.

Subbable is a voluntary subscription service that allows you to contribute directly to Crash Course so we can continue its mission of keeping it free for everyone forever. So thank you for making Crash Course possible, thanks for watching, and as we say in my hometown, don’t forget to be awesome..

The Science of Overpopulation

So I assume you know that there’s a lot of people on this planet. As of last week, Wednesday, I think, was when we turned over to seven — I –, nobody knows. But nobody knows exactly how many people there are, it’s kinda hard to keep track; it’s a big planet. But there are about seven billion people on the Earth right now. And they keep getting born, all the time. In fact, for every 2 people who die, about 4 are born. Every second, there are about four babies introducing themselves to this world, and there are less than two people saying goodbye to it. So, easy math here, our world’s population is growing by about 2.5 people per second. And as a reminder of this, during this video I’m going to have 2.5 ping pong balls being thrown at me every single second throughout the entire rest of the video. Who’s hitting me in the face every single time? [Intro] Ok, instead of the balls, uh, were just gonna do a clock because I get nosebleeds pretty easily, and I don’t want you to have to see that. So 7 billion people, it’s hard to actually get your mind around how many people that is, maybe if you were to just like sit down and count to 7 billion, it would take you like 200 years or something.

On the other hand, there is plenty of space for them. If you took 7 billion people and stood us shoulder to shoulder like we were at a Sting concert, those 7 billion people could fit in an area the size of Los Angeles. We can fit on the Earth. There’s space for us all. So as long as there’s space for us all, what’s the big deal about having 7 billion people? Well it turns out people have been thinking about this for a long time, since around 1800, when the world first clocked 1 billion people. I know what you’re thinking, you’re like 1 billion, that’s nothing, haha. Well at that time all the economies in the world were based on agriculture. How much stuff we could grow with human hands, farm animals, maybe a scythe and a wooden plow or something.

So that kind of technology, a billion people was really pushing it. And the first like big-time thinker guy, to totally have a cow about there just being too many freakin’ people was a British economist named Thomas Malthus. Thomas Malthus calculated that human populations tend to grow exponentially, while the ability of humans to feed each other tends to grow more linearly. And so our growth as a species tends to outstrip our ability to feed everyone. And when that happens, it’s pretty obvious what happens, you get the famine, and the starvation. And for the people who are left over who don’t die of those things, they can get taken care of by disease and war. Basically, Malthus thought that humanities natural state was to be cruel, miserable, pathetic and sniveling in a pile of dirty underpants. In his essay on the principle of population, Malthus observed… “The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation.

They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should their success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.” Diseases also have an easier time taking hold, and of course starvation can kill off a lot of people as well. Though he did make some pretty good points, as long as humanity is well-fed, we’re a pretty nice lot of people. But I have this problem too; when my blood sugar just gets a little bit low, I start killing all of my neighbors — that’s not actually true. When you and your family’s lives are threatened by starvation there’s a lot of things that you will do for food, including go to war. However, what Mister Doom and Gloom didn’t predict was the frickin’ Industrial Revolution- which not only allowed the production of much more food with far fewer laborers, it was also the impetus for this.

Uh, yeah. What that there is, is uh, the population of the Earth busting through Malthus’s ceiling and then his atmosphere and then his ozone layer and then his mesosphere and then his – probably be pretty impressed by this. If you’re not impressed yet, ah, just keep staring at it. I can wait. I got all day. It took humanity fifty thousand years to go from zero to one billion people, and then to get from one billion to seven billion, about two hundred. So wow, Industrial Revolution, thank you for allowing us to grow more food using machines, and for the fast and efficient transportation that it takes to move all that food around to the people who needed it, and thanks for the medical advances too, which help us understand things like the importance of soap and the way that diseases worked, and as a result, humans now live about four decades longer than the average guy in the eighteenth century.

Yeah! Industrial Revolution! So Malthus might have been right about how frickin’ stupid it was to be a human if the Industrial Revolution had not happened. So now, the world’s population is growing at about 1.1 percent per year, which is a tiny bit better than the 1.3 percent per year that got us here. If this current rate continues by 2050, we should have about 9.3 billion people on the planet. So the question is: at what point are these numbers going to outstrip our ability to feed all of the people on the planet? It turns out actually that the question isn’t how many people can the Earth accommodate, it’s more like: how many rich people can the Earth accommodate? Because people in general, they tend to demand stuff for their survival like uh, oxygen, water, and food. But rich people, we have different expectations. We, for example, in America have a lot of agricultural crops, and we have to use a lot of fresh water to water those agricultural crops.

Do you want to take a guess at the number one irrigated crop in the United States of America? Unless you’ve heard this statistic before, you were wrong! It’s grass! It takes more water to create lawns than it does to create all of the corn in America. We’re using it like crazy; though it is a pretty scarce resource, we can use less than one percent of the water on our planet. Most of it is salt water that we cannot use to drink or irrigate crops, and 70 percent of our freshwater is frozen in glaciers. So clean freshwater, non-negotiable and scarce. So what’s next? Ah, food. The world’s combined food output could feed around 11 billion people, and yet, there are 1 billion people who need food. So yeah that’s one of the most pathetic and infuriating things about our planet. So if there’s enough food for 11 billion people, and there’s 7 billion people and a billion of them are hungry, who is eating all of our food? Food, is eating all that food.

A huge amount of the food that we grow in America gets uh, in turn eaten by livestock. It’s so hard to say the truth, which is that, but, rich people can do what they want. Now when I say ‘rich’ it’s important to note that I’m not talking about like, uh, the 99 percent versus the 1 percent rich. I’m talking about if you have running water, electricity that comes into your home, a computer that you can watch youtube videos on, and regularly can afford to eat meat – you are a rich person on the earth, and you, you know sometimes we just have to come to terms with the fact that we – even those of us who don’t have it great in America – have it better off than a whole lot of other people. There’s a lot of people in the world who don’t get that. If you can have a hot shower, that’s like the peak of luxury to me. So assuming that you are a first worlder, that you live in a developed country in Europe, or you live in America or Japan, you consume on average as much stuff as 32 Kenyans.

And now the number of well-off people in the world is starting to increase dramatically and quickly, and this is what we’ve always wanted for the world. So now we have all these moderately well-off people walking around all over the planet, and it’s great! Except that they require more. In the meantime though, a huge percentage of all of the babies that we’re talking about being born right now aren’t being born to these rich people in the developed world. They’re being born in developing nations, and so the population isn’t just growing. It’s growing in this weird, sort of scary, lopsided way. Fact is, people in a lot of developed countries have kinda stopped having babies. Like Japan for example, everybody’s like ‘Japan what are you doing? Why aren’t you having any babies??’ and Japan’s like ‘Uhh don’t know kinda don’t feel like it.’ So on average, Japanese people are having about one baby per household. They’re not even replacing themselves, compared to two or three babies in America or like, five or six in most of Sub-Saharan Africa.

So developing nations are having a baby boom, and that’s what happens when you get, you know, vaccines and antibiotics and safe water and better sanitation. You get fewer babies dying, and we are all completely and totally in favor of fewer babies dying, I hope. But it also means that there are going to be a lot of new Sub-Saharan Africans in the next 50 years or so, and that is where a lot of the 1 billion currently hungry people are already living. So while those of us in the developed world are not having any babies at all and yet consuming enough food for like, four truckloads of babies, the governments in developing countries are struggling with where to put all of these new people and how to feed them all. And you also get what is known as a ‘youth bulge’. A lot of developing nations are currently seeing a huge explosion in people between the ages of 15 and like 29. And all of those youth are out there, looking for the same jobs, all at the same time, feeling generally hormonal as youth do, and being pretty unhappy with their lot in life. Some social scientists conjecture that youth bulges like this have been responsible for nearly every insurrection in history, from the English revolution in 1640 to the more recent Arab Spring.

And neither of those things were bad things, but we should be aware that there may be more of it coming. And another thing that Reverend Malthus never thought of is: what happens when humanity gets together and takes over the whole frickin’ world? Seriously, because it turns out that there are actually supposed to be some other things living on this planet with us. Through our desire for more space and more stuff, we’re putting pressure on pretty much every habitat on earth. So much so that worldwide, 52 species of mammal, amphibian and bird move one category closer to extinction every single year. You know, this world is pretty big, but there’s only so much room and it turns out that Bengal tigers aren’t particularly well-suited to high rise living. So the more there are of us, the fewer of literally everything else there is, except for like, things that we enjoy eating, and petting – dogs and cats as well; their populations continue to grow. So happy birthday new people, welcome to Earth. I’ll try not to screw it up too much for you. If you’re interested in more things to do with global population, please check out the description below.

There will be links in there for our source materials. You can also ask us questions and leave ideas for future episodes of SciShow in the comments and get in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Goodbye..