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Re: Inbox 23rd April “World Oil Crisis Looms”

 

Further to the above article, your readers may be interested in this~

 

I have copied a few short pieces. The full text can be found at~

 

http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/100303_eating_oil.html

 

I don’t wish to alarm your readers but it’s no use burying our heads in the sand.

 

Best Wishes,

                    John Pearson

 

 

 

Eating Fossil Fuels

 

by Dale Allen Pfeiffer

 

© Copyright 2004, From The Wilderness Publications, www.copvcia.com. All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.

 

 

“Between 1950 and 1984, as the Green Revolution transformed agriculture around the globe, world grain production increased by 250%. That is a tremendous increase in the amount of food energy available for human consumption. This additional energy did not come from an increase in incipient sunlight, nor did it result from introducing agriculture to new vistas of land. The energy for the Green Revolution was provided by fossil fuels in the form of fertilizers (natural gas), pesticides (oil), and hydrocarbon fueled irrigation.

 

 

In a very real sense, we are literally eating fossil fuels. However, due to the laws of thermodynamics, there is not a direct correspondence between energy inflow and outflow in agriculture. Along the way, there is a marked energy loss. Between 1945 and 1994, energy input to agriculture increased 4-fold while crop yields only increased 3-fold. Since then, energy input has continued to increase without a corresponding increase in crop yield. We have reached the point of marginal returns. Yet, due to soil degradation, increased demands of pest management and increasing energy costs for irrigation (all of which is examined below), modern agriculture must continue increasing its energy expenditures simply to maintain current crop yields. The Green Revolution is becoming bankrupt.

 

 

Total fossil fuel use in the United States has increased 20-fold in the last 4 decades. In the US, we consume 20 to 30 times more fossil fuel energy per capita than people in developing nations. Agriculture directly accounts for 17% of all the energy used in this country. As of 1990, we were using approximately 1,000 liters (6.41 barrels) of oil to produce food of one hectare of land.

 

Modern intensive agriculture is unsustainable. It is damaging the land, draining water supplies and polluting the environment. And all of this requires more and more fossil fuel input to pump irrigation water, to replace nutrients, to provide pest protection, to remediate the environment and simply to hold crop production at a constant. Yet this necessary fossil fuel input is going to crash headlong into declining fossil fuel production.

 

None of this research considers the impact of declining fossil fuel production. The authors of all of these studies believe that the mentioned agricultural crisis will only begin to impact us after 2020, and will not become critical until 2050. The current peaking of global oil production (and subsequent decline of production), along with the peak of North American natural gas production will very likely precipitate this agricultural crisis much sooner than expected. Quite possibly, a U.S. population reduction of one-third will not be effective for sustainability; the necessary reduction might be in excess of one-half. And, for sustainability, global population will have to be reduced from the current 6.32 billion people to 2 billion-a reduction of 68% or over two-thirds. The end of this decade could see spiraling food prices without relief. And the coming decade could see massive starvation on a global level such as never experienced before by the human race.”