Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ethanol/Bio-diesel VS Food

Thrashing about for an alternative source of energy to support business as usual as the global supply of crude oil goes into decline more and more energy companies, university research projects, and governments are turning to the enticing spectre of ethanol and bio-diesel. Increasing acreage of industrial agriculture soil around the world is being converted to the production of corn, soy, sugar cane and any other crops intended to be diverted into the production of motor fuels. There are serious proposals as well for the production of motor fuels from wood, from coal, from natural gas, and from seaweed.
All of this is coming about because the love affair with hydrogen that has been passionately engaged in for the past couple of decades has fizzled out in the face of hard geothermal realities, like one of those many moonlight kisses that cool in the morning sun. Hydrogen, even the most ardent supporter eventually accepts, is only an energy carrier, not an energy source. It takes energy to produce hydrogen and store it and convert it back into an energy bundle, and more often than not those working on hydrogen fuel options are facing the realization that it takes more energy to produce and convert hydrogen than the energy derived from the hydrogen itself.
The very important and sad bi-product of this new love affair with ethanol and bio-diesel is that it is severely impacting, and going to increasingly impact, our ability to feed and support even the existing human population, let alone support the ongoing increases in that population. For six of the last seven years the world has produced less grain crops than the world has consumed. The amount being produced has declined for each of the past three years. The world's emergency grain supplies have, over this past few years, declined from a 119 day reserve to a reserve level below the danger level, currently 57 days. And it is believed, by all reputable agronomy scientists, that global grain production will continue to decline as global warming, environmental pollution, soil toxicity, soil depletion, global aquifer depletion, fresh water contamination, and soil salination continue to exacerbate the problem.
As I have said repeatedly, peak oil is not about the oil, not about motor fuels, not about running our cars and SUVs and vans and all the other fuel-driven engines. It is about our inability to feed a growing human population. We can not do it today. When we lose the increased crop production capability that fossil fuels have given us, when we lose the artificial fertilizers and pesticides and herbicides and other agricultural chemicals that have been the underpinning of the green revolution that has seen our population more than double in the past half century, there is going to be a tremendous nutritional deficit throughout the world.
We cannot continue to pursue our western lifestyle as we have when it comes at such a huge price to the near-term human population of this planet. Past failures of agriculture were always local and were responded to by finding new territory and starting over again. There is no new territory left. We cover this entire planet and the whole process of economic globalization should have made one thing perfectly clear to everyone. In a greater way than the global economy was a global societal benefit, the abundance of human created problems we are facing on the near-term horizon will represent a totally unprecedented global catastrophe.

1 comment:

Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Richard and all,

Here's some pivotal knowledge (wisdom) so you and others can stop focusing on symptoms and obfuscatory details and home in like a laser on the root causes of and solutions to humanity's seemingly never-ending struggles.

Money is the lifeblood of the powerful and the chains and key to human enslavement

There is a radical and highly effective solution to all of our economic problems that will dramatically simplify, streamline, and revitalize human civilization. It will eliminate all poverty and the vast majority of crime, material inequality, deception, and injustice. It will also eliminate the underlying causes of most conflicts, while preventing evil scoundrels and their cabals from deceiving, deluding, and bedeviling humanity, ever again. It will likewise eliminate the primary barriers to solving global warming, pollution, and the many evils that result from corporate greed and control of natural and societal resources. That solution is to simply eliminate money from the human equation, thereby replacing the current system of greed, exploitation, and institutionalized coercion with freewill cooperation, just laws based on verifiable wisdom, and societal goals targeted at benefiting all, not just a self-chosen and abominably greedy few.

We can now thank millennia of political, monetary, and religious leaders for proving, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that top-down, hierarchical governance is absolute folly and foolishness. Even representative democracy, that great promise of the past, was easily and readily subverted to enslave us all, thanks to money and those that secretly control and deceptively manipulate all currencies and economies. Is there any doubt anymore that entrusting politics and money to solve humanity's problems is delusion of the highest order? Is there any doubt that permitting political and corporate leaders to control the lives of billions has resulted in great evil?

Here's a real hot potato! Eat it up, digest it, and then feed it's bones to the hungry...

Most people have no idea that the common-denominator math of all the world's currencies forms an endless loop that generates debt faster than we can ever generate the value to pay for it. This obscured and purposeful math-logic trap at the center of all banking, currencies, and economies is the root cause of poverty. Those who rule this world through fear and deception strive constantly to hide this fact, while pretending to seek solutions to poverty and human struggle. Any who would scoff at this analysis have simply failed to do the math, even though it is based on a simple common-denominator ratio.

Read more here...