Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Crisis of Civilization.8

Today I finished reading Nafeez's section on Energy Scarcity and started the chapter on Food Insecurity. So far, I haven't learned much of anything new, though it's nice to see that my man Nafeez references my man Lester Brown. Notes:

  • In the US, "the share accrued by the farmer of every consumer dollar spent on food has declined from over 40 cents before 1950 to about 7 cents today" (95).
  • Agricultural economists in the US like to say that food self-sufficiency does not equal food security. With rising energy prices, though, I think they're wrong. (Not to mention violent and exploitative methods of securing those trade agreements.) Colombia produces 62% of all the cute flowers imported by the US, but 13% of its population is malnourished (95).
  • Modern industrial farming is bad for a lot of reasons (97):
    • it takes 500 years to renew a lost inch of topsoil
    • over the last 100 years, the US has lost half its topsoil
    • topsoil in the US is eroding 30 times faster than natural rates
    • 2 million acres of cropland are lost per year in the US through erosion, desalinization, and waterogging
    • 1 million acres of cropland are lost per year in the US through urbanization, roads, and industry
  • Agriculture consumes 86% of US freshwater resources.
I don't have a particular thesis or message today. Not much hope except for the advice that keeps popping up among thinkers, poets, researchers, activists, scholars, etc: live in community and work from the ground up, learn new skills, and respect your land base.

1 comment:

Douglas said...

Modern farm legislation, on the other hand, encourages farmers to abandon some fields, over-burden others, and throw food away in the name of price stabilization. Some of our most idiotic world-peace practices are based on the same beliefs (like NOT razing Columbia to the ground for being the Cocaine capital of our hemisphere).