Thursday, January 06, 2005

tour de force

The defining problem for peak energy is not this moment in history, when we sit flush with oil, natural gas and stupidity.

Rather, the question is what will we do in the post peak years?

These ruminations can be stressful, because modern agriculture is significantly dependant on oil, without which yields drop precipitously. The corollary is that if crop yields fail, human population will crash in direct proportion.

I ran across one person who is working on the issue of sustainable agriculture while watching a bioneers (goofy name - thanks, feckless liberals) presentation on public access television. Someone introduced Fred Kirschenmann, and an unassuming gentlemen walked up and began his presentation.

He started with the usual litany of problems – declining oil, soil degradation, high cost of industrial farming squeezing out the private farms and so on. Took about five minutes. I was hooked. He didn’t waste time defending peak oil or even explaining it, just took it as a premise.

Then he waded in and started taking swings at the assumptions of industrial farming, and correctly framed the debate. That is too say:

We can’t depend on oil.
We can’t keep dumping pesticides into the ocean and ecosystem.
We can’t keep losing our soil.
Given that, we need real answers for this century.

And then he gave some real answers. Read this article through to the part about the Japanese farm. It is about a year old, but the message will be timely for the next fifty years and beyond. Then dive in and get a little more background on this man here – I particularly liked this article.

Fred is worth his weight in intellectual property.
(Or, in a few years, gold.)


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