Food and Agriculture
Natural Gas
Global Warming

Articles on Oil's Relationship to Agriculture and Food

How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor, by C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer, Foreign Affairs [2007 May/June]
"Thanks to high oil prices and hefty subsidies, corn-based ethanol is now all the rage in the United States. But it takes so much supply to keep ethanol production going that the price of corn -- and those of other food staples -- is shooting up around the world. To stop this trend, and prevent even more people from going hungry, Washington must conserve more and diversify ethanol's production inputs."

Condenados a muerte prematura por hambre y sed más de 3 mil millones de personas en el mundo, Reflexiones del Presidente Fidel Castro [2007 March 28]

English Translation

Vegetarian is the New Prius, By Kathy Freston, Huffington Post [2007 January 20]

"President Herbert Hoover promised "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage." With warnings about global warming reaching feverish levels, many are having second thoughts about all those cars. It seems they should instead be worrying about the chickens."

Cow 'emissions' more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars by Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor, The Independent [2006 December 10]

"The United Nations has sent tremors through the livestock industry with a new report that states, "The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." The report shows that livestock production accounts for more greenhouse gases than automobiles. For every calorie of meat consumed, at least ten calories of fossil fuels were required to produce that meat. Animal agriculture takes up 70% of all agricultural land, and 30% of the total land surface of the planet. Today, 70% of "slash-and-burned" Amazon rainforest is used for pastureland, and feed crops cover much of the remainder. The ultimate ramifications of the report suggest that the average American can do more to reduce global warming emissions by adjusting their meat eating habits than by switching to driving the most fuel efficient car currently on the market. Negative environmental impacts can be greatly reduced by reducing (or eliminating) meat consumption and buying locally grown and sustainable produced meats, dairy and animal products."

Renewing Husbandry: The time of mechanization in agriculture is fast coming to an end. But can we recover what's been lost? by Wendell Berry in Orion Magazine [2005 September/October] Work by Human Animal Machine

"An intention to replace husbandry with science was made explicit in the renaming of disciplines in the colleges of agriculture. "Soil husbandry" became "soil science," and "animal husbandry" became "animal science." This change is worth lingering over because of what it tells us about our susceptibility to poppycock. Purporting to increase the sophistication of the humble art of farming, this change in fact brutally oversimplifies it.

"Similarly, 'animal science' without husbandry forgets, almost as a requirement, the sympathy by which we recognize ourselves as fellow creatures of the animals. It forgets that animals are so called because we once believed them to be endowed with souls. Animal science has led us away from that belief or any such belief in the sanctity of animals. It has led us instead to the animal factory which, like the concentration camp, is a vision of Hell. Animal husbandry, on the contrary, comes from and again leads to the psalmist's vision of good grass, good water, and the husbandry of God."

Perilous Optimism, by Ernest Partridge, University of California, Riverside [2001]
"Simply put, we have traded a rather inefficient but sustainable system of solar to biomass energy (by means of animal power and manure fertilization), for an intensive system that draws on the capital of fossil fuels (supplying both machinery fuel and fertilizers), with a byproduct of greenhouse gases. In a very real sense, industrial man eats petroleum. Consequently, land formerly used to produce food for the draft animals, is converted to food production, reforestation or urbanization. However, this, says ecologist, Kenneth Watt, is a gamble."
Vulnerability in Agriculture: Energy Use, Structure and Energy Futures
"To fulfil the basic goal of delivering food for the tables of the citizens, modern Western agriculture is extremely dependent on supporting material flows, infrastructure, and fossil energy. According to several observers, fossil fuel production is about to peak, i.e., oil extraction is no longer capable of keeping pace with the increasing demand. This situation may trigger an unprecedented increase in fossil energy prices, which makes the entire food production-distribution system highly vulnerable...." [Folke Günther, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, June 15, 2000]

New Scientist, Planet Science: White bread is green

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