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View Diary: Peak oil: BP, Conoco and IEA all say it's there (299 comments)

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  •  Correct, but that's only because... (2+ / 0-)
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    pletzs, naltikriti

    we've turned away from sustainable agricultural methods, and turned 'food production' into a giant petrochemical reliant 'industry' centered on giant monocultural fields and CAFO's.

    A return to local and sustainable methods of agriculture will lower that ratio significantly.  I'm no expert on this issue and do not have exact numbers, but we do have the entire history of humankind prior to the last 50 years or so to back up that point.  

    Prior to Cargill and Tyson and ADM, etc... turning agriculture into 'agribiz', and prior to the ridiculous amounts of chemicals now being sprayed on our food and land (which also seep into our water...) and the ridiculousness of shipping 'fresh produce' on trucks from Southern California to Maine and North Dakota, etc... year-round; humans always had enough to feed themselves.

    •  Well, yes, but... (1+ / 0-)
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      Hardhat Democrat

      the ability of humankind to support something like 6 billion individuals should not have been possible prior to industrialized agriculture (although I'm no expert either).  This is to say there's a population implosion potentially out there on the horizon -- and we should all hope to survive that contraction in food supplies.

      As an Iraqi-American academic born and raised in New Orleans, this voter is not pleased.

      by naltikriti on Sat Nov 10, 2007 at 04:45:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But see, that's another misconception.... (1+ / 0-)
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        that the only way we can continue to feed ourselves is via 'industrial methods' of agriculture...

        Again, I wish I had hard numbers and expertise on my side, but it's never been proven that industrial methods of agriculture are any more 'productive' than sustainable (organic, etc...) methods, except for possibly in terms of sickening us and poisoning our environment.  Industrial 'agribiz' is clearly a leader there....

        As a matter of fact, if we do keep eating our industrial diet, that just may be the solution to overpopulation - with it's attendant diseases (mad cow, diabetes, etc...).  Our diet is killing us.

        This is actually one issue related to our (many...) current problems that I'm not pessimistic about, although that may just be because I live in Portland, OR...

        Ideas like this being spread across the country, along with the recent rise in Farmers Markets, etc... do give me hope.  I do wish we hadn't turned such a large amount of productive agricultural land in the US into suburban and exurban developments, though....

        •  Well, perhaps, but... (1+ / 0-)
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          Hardhat Democrat

          I can't imagine a situation in a post-oil world where populations concentrated in cities like Mexico City, Cairo, NYC, Istanbul, Shanghai, etc are going to be able to maintain that kind of concentration while gardening their own food.  If you have to rely on what animal and wind power can provide, you're limited to local agriculture by definition.  In such a scenario, I see a lot of mega cities not just dispersing, but dieing.  

          Industrial agriculture certainly makes us sick, but it also allows for the possibility of billions more of us getting sick together...

          As an Iraqi-American academic born and raised in New Orleans, this voter is not pleased.

          by naltikriti on Sat Nov 10, 2007 at 05:13:01 PM PST

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          •  Well, mega-cities are a different issue.... (2+ / 0-)
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            naltikriti, yoduuuh do or do not

            I agree there, too - although I'd exclude NYC from that list - NYC is still within a reasonable distance of productive agricultural land on all sides, in Upstate NY, NJ, CT, even within the city itself....the sprawl surrounding NYC has certainly taken a toll on same, but not a deadly one, I'd say....

            I do agree about Cairo, Dubai, cities in China and India, etc... Those places never had such populations until just recently, when certain (very short-term) regional-specific externalities allowed same (cheap labor and outsourced production in China and India; Oil in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, etc....).

            I wouldn't include NYC, Philly, Chicago or Detroit in the same boat as those places, though.

        •  I did read somewhere recently that it is much (4+ / 0-)

          more efficient to grow food locally and use the old methods of rotating a variety of crops and allowing the pigs and chickens to root and fertilize. Maybe it was in the book by Jane Goddall et. a. entitled Harvest for Hope. Trucking food across country in refrigerated trucks doesn't keep it fresher longer. I tried some carrots from a nearby grower at a Whole Foods on both sides of the continent. The ones that had been shipped had a very short freshness "lifespan," and were added to the landfill (I didn't have a compost pile at that end).

          We'd be a lot better off with fresher, non-pesticide laden food. I have never gotten so many positive compliments about my appearance as I have in the past few months when I've eaten most vegetarian and mostly from farmer's markets (organic or pesticide-free). I feel healthier as well, and always considered myself as a healthful eater, at least compared to what I see in others' shopping carts.

          One recent study (wherever it was) showed progress with individuals overcoming insulin resistance (one of the major problems of having too much subsidized junk food) when people ate a whole foods diet of fruit, nuts, grains, vegetables, something closer to what humans evolved to eat.

          We can eat much better using much less energy by eating locally and using meat as a condiment/side dish. Having meat products every meal and everyday isn't something humans have always done. Factory farming allows the mass production of meat at a great cost to the environment and our health, even if we ignore the suffering of animals in feed lots and chickens raised stacked in crates whose beats are snipped off to facilitate close-quarters. The lives of pigs in factory farms is even worse for all concerned, so I've removed pork from my diet.

          Not having access to air and sunlight and being shot up with hormones (to increase weight) and antibiotics because of crowded condition doesn't produce the most savory meat. I wonder how nutritious an egg is if the hen has never been outside and her feed contains arsenic (a common additive). Cattle evolved to eat grass, not subsidized corn, and have a host of medical problems because of this and the crowding in feedlots. Our coal-fired power plants have added mercury to the oceans and streams so that someone eating a fish from a river in Oregon is ingesting mercury from a coal plant in China.  Low cost stuff has its higher costs.

        •  Not really true, unfortunately (1+ / 0-)
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          When I was growing up in central Illinois in the 1950's and 1960's, 100 bushels of corn per acre was considered a pretty good yield on some of the most productive corn-growing land in the world.  

          I couldn't quickly find present average yields for central Illinois, but the average for the entire state is now 164 bushels per acre, and that includes a lot of much less productive land in the northern and southern portions of the state.

          There's a chart in this article that shows the increase in average corn yields in Indiana from 1930 to 2003, and it's a pretty dramatic upward trend from less than 30 bushels to more than 140 bushels.  

          "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

          by leevank on Sat Nov 10, 2007 at 08:21:28 PM PST

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          •  But that is not for human consumption... (0+ / 0-)

            those giant monocultural fields are growing 'field corn' used to fatten up cows (who are not meant to eat corn...) on factory farms, and for other wasteful purposes and viewed as 'inputs' into an industrial agricultural system - not to mention the poisonous, irreversible destructive effects on the land of all the chemicals used in growing same, and the reliance upon cheap fossil fuels to truck that stuff to points all over the country.

            There are many other factors to consider here besides 'corn yields'.  And even if we were to just focus on those numbers, even they won't be possible to sustain for much longer.

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