字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 This video is sponsored by CuriosityStream, which now comes with Nebula for free when you sign up using the link in the description. In the outskirts of Newark, New Jersey, tucked between a packaging manufacturer and an aquatics center lies a farm. Except if you're driving down the nearby highway you probably wouldn't be able to tell that this particular farm is churning out thousands of pounds of greens each year. In fact, all you'll see is a bunch of buildings, because this is a vertical farming operation called AeroFarms which grows all their food in a warehouse. Like the owners of AeroFarms, tech enthusiasts across the world have embraced the dream of vertical farming, exclaiming that their operations are the answer to feeding a growing global population, combating climate change, and eradicating food deserts. So, today we're going to look under the hood of these vertical farms in order to answer three questions. Do they work? Are they sustainable? And are they a viable alternative to growing food outdoors? How Does Vertical Farming Work? The many-shelved farming operation that is AeroFarms is just one of many companies that uses vertical space to grow vegetables. What sets AeroFarms apart, however, is that it grows in a fine mist filled with nutrients instead of a typical growing environment like rockwool and nutrient-rich water. But AeroFarms is an outlier in the vertical farming space. The typical vertical farm looks a lot more like that at Bowery, a company that uses a more traditional hydroponics system to grow their produce. Essentially, Bowery grows greens and other veggies in a nutrient-rich tray of water, which is consistently recycled in a closed-loop system. This system is then replicated en masse and expanded not horizontally, but vertically to maximize space. But because all these plants are stacked on top of each other, access to light becomes a big obstacle, which means that each shelf is equipped with LED lights to act as artificial sunlight. Some operations like Plenty go even further by shining only the beneficial colors in the light spectrum for growth. While some of these large-scale vertical farms can quickly become laden with advanced technologies like robotic arms and AI monitoring systems, at their most basic, vertical farms use a combination of artificial sunlight and vertical space to maximize the amount of yield per acre. These food factories seem promising, but they also seem like a lot of work. So why are people so excited about them? The Benefits of Vertical Farming The typical American farm is 444 acres, and, if you're a lettuce farmer, on average you can pull around 36200 lbs per acre from your field every year. Vertical farming, however, boasts much higher yields per square foot, with some companies like San Francisco-based Plenty claiming they can produce 400x times the yield of a conventional farm. This is where the benefits of a vertical farm begin, but it's certainly not where they end. Vertical farming proponents point to disease and pest prevention, water-saving, season extension and exacting control as some of the many benefits of growing vertically. In a sealed, indoor environment disease and pests are rare, meaning that pesticide and herbicide use is at its minimum. Hydro or aquaponics systems which are common in vertical farming, recycle water in a closed loop system and can conserve up 95% of the water used. While artificial lights means that plants can grow regardless of the season and location. You could theoretically grow plants right next to a supermarket. And this farming method can do all this without depleting the soil. All this sounds amazing. Who wouldn't want a pesticide-free operation that uses less water, less land, and is closer to urban centers? Well, unfortunately, there's a cost. The Problem with Vertical Farming The vertical farming space seems to be inundated with Silicon Valley tech investors dead set on finding a solution for growing food that will catapult us into an era of sustainably grown produce. Their warehouses are full of AI driven robots, software that monitors plant growth, and spaceship-like white columns that all seem right out of a sci-fi movie. All these futuristic devices couldn't possibly have a downside, right? Wrong. The technology-ridden vertical farm comes at a high cost, both in terms of money and the environment. In order to start-up just one of these food factories, costs could be as high as $39 million, which is prohibitively expensive even for an already costly industry, which might require as much as $5 million just to start a grain farming operation in Iowa. Even vertical farming in shipping containers, which have a small startup cost compared to big warehouse farms like AeroFarms or Plenty, is expensive. Sometimes this is to the tune of 10 times the cost to grow produce than a regular dirt farm. In part, this has to do with the expense of retrofitting a shipping container, but it can also be tied back to the energy required for lights, heating, ventilation, and cooling. According to research conducted by Civil Eats, a 30,000 sq ft New York City vertical farm might pay $216,000 annually just for lighting and power, and another $120,000 for air conditioning systems. These costs can differ drastically depending on the location of these vertical farms but on the whole the costs of most vertical farms lead to higher prices on the consumer side. Agriculture consultant Peter Tasgal estimates that lettuce from vertical farms costs roughly 5 times more per pound than when it's conventionally grown. Alongside their high monetary cost, these systems also generate a larger carbon footprint than field farmed produce. A number of papers have studied the lifecycle impact of a kilogram of lettuce in a vertical farm and, depending on the context, they found that vertical farms can emit anywhere from .156 to 4 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent for every kilogram of lettuce grown. While one Washington Post reporter writes that in places with heavy fossil fuel use, vertical farms could generate as much as 7 to 20 times more greenhouse gases than outdoor farms. Yes, vertical farms do cut down on the need for transportation, but Paul West, lead scientist at the Global Landscapes Initiative at the University of Minnesota, asserts that 80% of a farm's carbon emissions are created on the farm, so food miles are negligible. I also think the key thing to keep in mind here is that vertical farms can really only grow a small range of veggies, like lettuce greens and kale, efficiently and profitably. And when grown outdoors these crops already tend to have low emissions footprints. Essentially, vertical farming is tinkering at the edges when it comes to agriculture's carbon footprint. If we truly want to drastically reduce agricultural emissions we should instead use our resources to address the biggest emitter in the industry: meat. Is Vertical Farming a Viable Solution to Food Scarcity and Climate Change? Food production facilities like AeroFarms easily cling to the imaginative areas of our brains. They're big, futuristic, shiny, new, and exciting. But vertical farms are not a sustainable silver-bullet solution to solving world hunger. While there certainly is use for them in some contexts, like in the cold seasons, or in water-deprived areas like California or cities like Abu Dhabi, they provide a different service than small and large traditional farms. And in terms of feeding the world, our problem is not a lack of food, it's a lack of appropriate infrastructure to distribute the food we have to those in need. For instance, globally we waste ⅓ of the food we produce. So, investing hundreds of millions of dollars into vertical farms feels similar to trying to colonize Mars to escape a changing climate. It's a prohibitively expensive and technology ridden solution to a problem that has other, more just, and less expensive answers. There are many appropriate technologies and methods on conventional farms that have been proven to increase yields on extremely small plots, all without AI, white columns, or smart cameras. And if we genuinely want to address climate change through agriculture our first step should not be to fiddle with greens, it should be to address the huge impact that beef has on our land, water, and greenhouse gases. Techno-fixes like vertical farming are alluring, and when used in appropriate contexts, beneficial, but looking ahead towards 2030 and onwards to 2050, we'll need a hell of a lot more than technology to fix the societal problem that is climate change. After being on YouTube for over four years, I still find it really hard to create climate-oriented videos that perform well. The truth is that the algorithm tends not to like politically charged videos, like the ones I made about the Green New Deal and Ecofeminism, and they end up doing poorly or even get demonetized. Which is why a bunch of creator friends and I teamed up to create a platform where we can make content without having to worry about pleasing the YouTube algorithm. It's called Nebula and we're thrilled to be partnering with Curiosity Stream. Nebula is an ad-free video streaming platform that allows creators to create without worrying about views or sponsorships. With exclusive content from a wide range of educational YouTubers like Polymatter, Tom Scott, and T1J, Nebula is the perfect place to consume ad-free educational content. I've recently been watching Evan from Polymatter's Nebula original series called A Hill To Die On, and like his videos on his YouTube channel, Evan effortlessly blends education with entertainment! But what does this have to do with Curiosity Stream? Well as the go to streaming platform for thousands of top tier documentaries, Curiosity Stream loves supporting educational creators. So we worked out a deal where if you sign up with link below, not only do you get access to Curiosity Stream, but you'll also get Nebula for FREE. And this is not a trial, you'll have Nebula as long as you're a Curiosity Stream member. And for a limited time, Curiosity Strean is offering 41% off their annual plan - that's less than $12.00 a year for BOTH Curiosity Stream and Nebula. If you liked this video, then definitely check out the episode of Cities of Tomorrow all about Vertical Farms. It goes way more in depth about their possibilities and downfalls. So if you want to support both Our Changing Climate and hundreds of other educational content creators go to CuriosityStream.com/OCC or click the link in the description and sign up for Curiosity Stream and Nebula for just $12 per year, that's 41% off. Hey everyone, Charlie here. Thanks so much for watching all the way to the end! If you've already signed up for Curiosity Stream here are two quick things that you can do if you want to support this channel. Share this video on reddit, facebook, or twitter, and consider supporting me financially on patreon. Even a dollar a month helps this channel thrive. Again, thanks for watching and i'll see you in two weeks.