Was Fusion Reactors, Now Agriculture

From: Joel Moore (redsoxfan_1977@yahoo.com)
Date: Mon Sep 09 2002 - 11:20:07 EDT

  • Next message: Glenn Morton: "RE: Was Fusion Reactors, Now Agriculture"

    I think Glenn is right in what he wrote and quoted below.

    >>quote:
    Think of the things for which petroleum or natural gas is the base.
    Airplane travel, Fertilizers(made from petroleum and natural gas) and
    insecticides(made from petroleum) for crops, plastics, distribution of
    food
    and raw material. Consider:

    ŌPetroleum fueled much of the vast transportation network which spanned
    the
    globe by rail, road, sea and air as part of the increasing integration of
    the world economy. By the second half of the twentieth century, even such
    commodities as basic foodstuffs were frequently produced far from their
    place of consumption. Cheap supplies of petroleum made this possible but
    contingent in this dependency was that a sharp rise in the price of
    petroleum would necessarily have an impact on the price of any commodity
    transported even a short distance.” Fiona Venn, The Oil Crisis, (London:
    Pearson Education, 2002, p. 2
    >> end quote

    While on one hand I think Glenn is a bit alarmist in his outlook, on the
    other hand, I think he's much closer to being right than those who blindly
    assume that our current petroleum-supported system will last forever (or
    even for another 50 years). More so than air travel or anything else, the
    current system of agriculture is inherently unstable. By using large
    quantities of petroleum in the form of fertilizer and pesticides, we are
    not only consuming petroleum at an ever quickening pace, we are also
    reducing the capacity of our soils to grow crops. Granted this assertion
    is a generalization and things are improving. For example, some farmers
    are selectively apply fertilizer according to the varying soil conditions
    in the fields using GPS units in their tractors. However, such
    improvements still do not preserve and improve the soil as well as the
    more labor-intensive methods used by the Amish in eastern Ohio and
    elsewhere.

    All that is to say, one way we can both be better prepared for the
    declining petroleum supply and be better stewards of the earth God has
    given us is by Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSA came to the U.S.
    from Europe in the 1970s and has quietly become wide-spread. The idea is
    that people buy a share of the produce from a local farm, enabling the
    farmers to concentrate on their work and less on the selling of their
    produce. Most CSA farms are organic. By supporting local agriculture, the
    amount of petroleum used to get a cucumber to your door from a farm 20
    miles will much less than the amount needed to grow it in California or
    outside the U.S. (using petroleum-based pesticides and fertilizer) and
    then refrigerate and transport it hundreds or thousands of miles to your
    local grocery store.

    There's probably a CSA farm near you. There were several within 60 miles
    of where I last lived (Falmouth, MA), including one in Falmouth and the
    situation is similar in State College, PA where I currently reside. From
    what I've read there many big cities (at least Boston and Chicago) have
    CSA farms near their outskirts that truck food in to the cities. And of
    course, in many places there's always the option of growing your own
    vegetables and anything else.

    A couple of links to information about CSA:
    http://www.umass.edu/umext/csa/
    http://www.csacenter.org/

    I would also second George's point that just because we want or need some
    "silver bullet" of technology (fusion in this case) to maintain our
    current lifestyle, it doesn't mean we can make it happen. Also Wally is
    most likely right that we would step back to a life similar to the 1800s
    rather than the middle ages.

    Sorry, if I sound like an advertisment, but I think changing how we buy
    our food can be one of the most important and tangible ways for us to be
    better stewards of God's good earth.

    Joel Moore

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