Seed World

Climate Crisis Battle: Agriculture vs The Sphere

Gro Alliance

A third-generation seedsman, Jim Schweigert grew up in the family seed business and was exposed to industry issues at an early age. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of Minnesota and worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta before joining the family business full time in 2003. He has since been active in the American Seed Trade Association, the Independent Professional Seed Association and earned his master’s in seed technology and business from Iowa State University. As president, Schweigert manages client contracts and crop planning, as well as business development and new market opportunities. His unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry’s leaders in innovation. As such, he was honored as Seed World’s 2009 Future Giant and currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Seed Programs International.

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Las Vegas just got even more opulent. The Sphere is a 580,000 square foot, globe-shaped arena that features an exterior with 1.2 million LED lights capable of 256 million different colors at 16k resolution. The inside is equally impressive featuring a 360-degree, immersive experience complete with vibrating seats and pumped in scents.

It’s the hottest ticket in town! U2 played the first concert in early October and the attendance counted Oprah, Lebron James, Jeff Bezos, Snoop Dogg, Matt Damon and others. 

What does this have to do with the climate?

Well, all that impressive technology is a beast to power. In fact, The Sphere uses as much electricity as 21,000 homes, according to USA Today. That same article states that the goal is to eventually get 70 percent of its power from solar, but the $1.5 billion solar farm to generate all those amazing light shows hasn’t broken ground yet. Will it? We’ll have to wait and see.

This struck me as indulgence in the grandest sense. 

Spending billions to build another concert venue in the desert while Las Vegas electric bills have increased 54.2% since 2021 (according to the CBS affiliate, News 8 report in April of 2023) doesn’t seem like a set of actions those concerned about the pending climate crisis should support. And yet, dozens of celebrities boarded private jets and filled Harry Reid International Airport to enjoy a performance by Bono and his band from Dublin.

These same celebrities push climate solutions that disproportionally affect agriculture. Oprah in particular lists eating less meat as number two on her list of the “Top 5 Things You Can Do About Climate Change.” 

What’s ironic is that agriculture is already doing more than its part on climate. reports that since 2012, total US cropland has decreased by about 4 million acres from 257 million to 253 million in 2019. During that same time frame total US grain production has increased from 356 million metric tons to 420 million metric tons. That’s a nearly 18% increase in grain volume while acres were reduced by 2.5%. 

Doing more…a lot more…with less is how the world will continue to feed a growing population using less resources. I’m proud of the work agriculture has done to enable this incredible food production efficiency. If the entertainment industry isn’t going to try to reduce its climate impact, at least it should stop making it worse.