There’s a tendency amongst journalists to try and make numbers understandable by relating them to a completely unrelated object. Thus exceptional tumours are the size of an orange or, even, a water-melon. When talking about an area of land, the common standard is ‘the size of Wales’. Of course, it falls down because I have no better concept of what the size of Wales means that I do if some other place is ‘x times the size of Wales’.
That thought was sparked after a website decided to relate the total amount of Cannabis sativa, marijuana, seized in the USA to the number of joints per person that could be produced from it. That same site goes on to describe a number of other ways to represent the amount seized but none of them really tells me anything that I can get hold of.
One thing did strike me about the amount of cannabis seized. I know that a lot of cannabis is grown indoors and that there are reports of illegal plantations in national parks and on other land that is not designated for agricultural use but that still leaves some, possibly quite a lot, being grown on land that could be used for producing food crops.
Not all agriculture is for food production. I wouldn’t say that, for example, cotton shouldn’t be grown because that land could be producing food but, clearly, using land to grow cannabis that is transported somewhere before being destroyed by the authorities is a complete waste of that land as well as the resources used to transport and then destroy the crop.
And this article was just about the marijuana
seized in the USA. If you were to add all the cannabis seized
anywhere in the world and then take account of the seized heroin
and cocaine and the destroyed crops of
Papaver somniferum, opium poppies, and
Erythroxylum coca, cocaine, you would certainly come up with
a sizeable area of land not contributing anything of value to
the human race.
I’m not putting this forward as some sort of ‘silver bullet’ argument but, the next time someone talks to you about world food shortages or the overuse of resources by human beings, it could be worth asking them where they stand on the status of marijuana and other plant based illicit substances.
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