free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 426. LOCAL FOOD GUZZLES MORE FUEL THAN LONG-DISTANCE FOOD

Saturday, October 03, 2009

426. LOCAL FOOD GUZZLES MORE FUEL THAN LONG-DISTANCE FOOD

We're all familiar with the classic Kunstler rap:
The age of the 3000-mile-caesar salad will soon be over. Food production based on massive petroleum inputs, on intensive irrigation, on gigantic factory farms in just a few parts of the nation, and dependent on cheap trucking will not continue. We will have to produce at least some of our food closer to home.Source
The logic seems to be straightforward. It takes more energy to transport food over long distances than short distances, so peak oil will drive a shift to local agriculture.

So what does local agriculture look like? Here's a representative quote by Megan Quinn of Community Solutions (a somewhat delusional group promoting Cuba as a model for peak oil response) on the structures of local food:
Now, local food systems look very different from conventional food systems. We're not going to have local food supermarkets. So what are the distribution mechanisms of local food systems?

Well, a variety of structures is a good way to go. We have on-farm and in-town vegetable stands operated by farmers, farmers' markets, fairs, CSA or Community-Supported Agriculture farm subscription programs, cooperatives, and direct sales from farmers to consumers, to name a few. Importantly, there is a human element in local food systems. Direct relationships are developed between those who grow the food and those who eat it. We should embrace that.Source
This all seems reasonable on the face of it, but as I noted in the previous article GOING RURAL FOR PEAK OIL: BAD IDEA, close analysis shows that farmer's markets, vegetable stands, CSA and direct sales are all incredibly inefficient in terms of fuel because they require long drives in lightly loaded vehicles. Local agriculture, as it exists today, is basically a highly energy-intensive form of cat herding. This comes through vividly in a revealing quote from Jeff Rubin's book Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller:
And if you have ever been to a farmer's market and have seen the fleets of Land Rovers and sleek Volvo wagons heading home with their cargos of organic cavolo nero and free-range Berkshire pork...

Farmers Market: Plenty of Parking is a Must

The inconvenient truth is that inefficient gasoline guzzling lies at the very heart of the local food model. And, as we've seen, this totally defeats the purpose of local food :
In the worst scenario, a UK consumer driving six miles to buy Kenyan green beans emits more carbon per bean than flying them from Kenya to the United Kingdom. Source
A number of studies have reached similar findings: local food is more energy intensive than long-range food. See:

Long haul food can produce lower carbon emissions than local produce
Food that Travels Well: Why Imported Produce may be Better for the Earth than Local
Food Mile Myths: Buy Global

Here's a quick calculation to give you a feel for the problem. Suppose Joe Sixpack gets in his 20 mpg vehicle, and drives 4 miles to pick up a pack of hot dogs at 7-11. This will consume 0.4 gallons of gas per pound of hot dogs (1 pack = 1 pound).
Now, a semi truck gets about 90 net ton-miles/gallon, assuming that it makes the return trip empty. So a semi can deliver a load of hot dogs (20 tons) coast-to-coast and return empty on 1333 gallons. That translates to .03 gallons per pound.
In other word, Joe Sixpack will burn 13 times as much fuel, per dog, driving to 7-11 than the semi which brought those dogs 3000 miles across the country.

Interestingly, a livestock farmer named Bob from Schoharie, New York -- who is actually involved in the local food business -- echoes these concerns. He confronts this every day in the real-world context of marketing his product:
In fact, local food currently uses much more fossil fuel, especially in distribution, on a per pound basis. This is so painfully the case that one example will suffice, my own.

I drive seventy miles round trip to the farmers market on Saturdays. Some people drive more, some people drive less. I think that on average, my mileage is not untypical, but the average might be closer to fifty miles. This market season, on a bad day, I would sell ten pounds of meat (an amount that does not cover the cost of gas to get there). On a good day, I would sell forty to fifty. One of the biggest farmers market meat sellers in our area that I am aware of probably sells about 200 pounds a week.

Lets take a good day for me:
Miles per pound — 70 (miles driven) divided by 50 (pounds of meat) = 1.4 miles per pound

Gallons of fuel per pound — 70 (miles driven) divided by 12 (miles per gallon) = 5.8 (gallons of fuel) divided by 50 (pounds of meat) = 0.116 gallons per pound

Industrial:
Miles per pound — 1500 (avg. miles driven) divided by 40,000 (pounds of chicken on a tractor trailer) = 0.0375 miles per pound

Gallons of fuel per pound — 1500 (avg. miles driven) divided by 5 (miles per gallon) = 300 (gallons of fuel) divided by 40,000 (pounds of chicken) = 0.0075 gallons per pound

I would have to sell 750 pounds of meat every week to match the gallons per pound efficiency of industrial distribution. That is fifteen times more than I currently sell, and 3.75 times more than the biggest seller in our area that I am aware of.

Stop perpetuating this myth!
Source
Isn't that amazing? Industrial is at least 3 times more efficient than the highest volume local sellers, and that's not even including the monstrous waste of the buyers driving 50 miles round trip to buy a bag of local food!

That cracking and crumbling sound you hear in the distance is the accepted wisdom.

Bob takes the argument further in a post titled Pound-Gallons, Not Food Miles:
In the early 2000s, a report from the Leopold Institute popularized the phrase “food miles.” The research detailed in that report showed that locally produced and distributed food uses less fossil fuel than industrially produced and distributed food because it has fewer food miles in it. Since the publication of that and subsequent reports this idea has become dogma and the phrase “food miles” has become a part of everyday language. The problem with the Leopold paper is that the comparison they did was for fully loaded local, regional, and national trucks. In reality, local, especially, trucks are not fully loaded, they are often mostly empty.

Awhile back I got some flack for a post and a follow-up post in which I argued against this food miles dogma and claimed that local farm and food systems, as they really exist today, do not use less fossil fuel than the industrial one. I still believe the argument I made in those two posts. I also still believe that it is important to find ways to decrease, on a per pound basis, which was the basis of my comparison, the fossil fuel consumption of local farm and food systems, especially in distribution. I would like to propose that we abandon the concept of food miles in favor of the more revealing and accurate “pound-gallons,” a horribly ugly phrase, I admit. What matters in terms of fossil fuel consumption is not how many miles the food has traveled, but how many gallons of fuel are in each pound of food. (Pound-gallons can also be used to compare fossil fuel consumption between industrial and local food production as well [eg, tractor use]) The food miles framework is very misleading. The reality is that there are substantially fewer pound-gallons in 40,000 pounds of produce trucked 1500 miles (0.0075) than in 200 pounds of produce trucked 50 miles (0.021). At 550 pounds of produced trucked 50 miles, the local pound-gallons and the industrial pound-gallons would be equivalent. (See the link to the first post above to see the math)

Once we adopt pound-gallons and abandon food miles, we see that we have a long way to go before local farm and food systems are using less fossil fuel, especially in distribution, than the industrial system. We need to get substantially more produce on each truck and/or transport that produce substantially fewer miles.
The situation is exactly the opposite of the common wisdom. The 25 mile farmer's market salad is actually more fuel intensive than the 3000 mile Caesar salad.
by JD

785 Comments:

At Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 11:19:00 PM PDT, Anonymous DoctorJJ said...

I think the flaw with this post is that it doesn't seem to properly address the last mile issue. That is the same regardless of where the food came from. If you drive to the grocery store or the market (or both in most cases when you go shopping), of course the most energy intensive part is getting those bags of groceries back to your house. Still though, if I buy potatoes that were grown by my neighbor, how in the world does that use more FF's than buying potatoes that are shipped from Idaho???
In the grand scheme, the trip from Idaho isn't that costly or FF intensive, but it can't be less than growing and buying locally.

DoctorJJ

 
At Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 11:47:00 PM PDT, Blogger Stekelenburg said...

I do the last mile by bike. Not one pound-gallon added as I take my food home from the supermarket. And I don't have to restrict myself to just eating my neighbor's potatoes either!

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 2:35:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

DoctorJJ, if you walk over to your neighbor it get some potatoes, that's as fuel efficient as it gets, and you are absolutely right. Local is superior to long-distance in that case. But that's not the way local food works in the reality. In the real-world, local food is distributed through systems like vegetable stands, farmer's markets, CSA etc. And, as Bob points out, vendors/customers drive very long distances to farmer's markets.

The problem is that efficiency (gallons per pound) is determined by how fully the transporting vehicles are packed (and how large they are). It turns out that transporting a semi-load of hot dogs cross-country consumes less fuel, per hot dog, than a person driving four miles to buy a pack of dogs at 7-11.

You might build a network of growers who grow for their neighbors in the country, but the problem is that:
a) There aren't that many customers in the country.
b) They have to drive long distances in poorly loaded vehicles to market their produce.
That's why local ag is like cat herding, and I doubt it can really be efficient.

Look at it from the perspective of local farmers like Bob. Why doesn't Bob just do the efficient thing and sell all his product to his neighbors? Answer: Because there isn't any real market from his neighbors. All local farmers have that problem. That's why they set up mechanisms like farmer's markets, roadside stands and CSA. But those mechanisms guzzle more fuel than the 3000 mile salad.

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 5:35:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is all based on the idea that future local food will look a lot like current local food. People have had only local food for millenias, never using a single drop of petroleum for it. You don't adress a very simple issue : when using your car is not economically possible anymore, would you like to live in a world where your food is produced 1000 miles away, or 5 miles away, or better yet in your own town?

Flawed logic.

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 6:08:00 AM PDT, Anonymous JB said...

I have doubts over the efficacy of this post.

1. To begin with I believe your argument falls down totally if there are any shortages of fuel. Its all well and good declaring the 3000 mile salad is more efficient, but in terms of actual fuel usage if you don't have the fuel to hand to do this then the point is mute.

2. Mrs Miggins packs her landrover with various produce freshly picked by her fair hand and heads down to the market. 3000 mile salad corp needs pickers to go out and pick the salad(they use energy in their transport), then the salad to be delivered to the storage depot, then delivered to the plane/boat, then unloaded from the plane/boat whilst 3000 mile salad corp fly out produce managers to source other salad sources. There is additional energy you need to factor in to your calculations.

3. Here in europe a farmer at a market rarely brings one type of produce; they will bring several. I could goto the local market and pick up everything I need for the chicken caesar salad: lettuce, chicken, anchovy, dressing, cheese and croutons. Your argument doesn't take into account that *each* ingredient would have its own 3000 mile journey - suddenly JIT long haul delivery doesn't look too good now.


Its one thing to perform a mathematical trick on paper to show that local produce is less energy efficient, but in actual fact reality is quite different. In times of economic hardship or fuel limitations, the locally sourced produce wins.

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 7:13:00 AM PDT, Anonymous hettygreen said...

Farmer's markets have changed considerably for the worse over the last thirty years. The ones I remember as a child were about as far from pretentious as you could get - many of the vendors looking grizzled and hung over on an early Saturday morning. My father bought produce we could not grow in our back-yard garden (which by the way, damn near everyone had). I have fond memories of large quantities of Spanish onions spread out on a sheet to cure in the autumn sun before finding a home in our root cellar. What wouldn't keep my mother canned or froze. Those were the days.

I think to be truly local you have to grow some of your food in the space you occupy. If everyone managed even a small raised plot of say 20 to 30 square feet it would make a huge difference in energy consumption and in the way we think about and connect with food.

I also think that in our quest for instant gratification we have lost touch with the seasonality of fruits and vegetables. Many of us wouldn't recognize the taste of a locally grown strawberry, cucumber or tomato if it reached out and bit us. Eat your fill when it is in season; eat it out of a can when it is not. Only then do you really appreciate the taste of homegrown.

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 11:26:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Pythor Sehn said...

I think some important omissions in these calculations are exemplified by the local distribution of long-distance food. The fuel usage of the long-haul truck system doesn't end (or even begin) when the semi pulls into, or out of, town. One also has to consider that the cargo is then loaded onto a fleet of smaller trucks for local delivery to all the various points of sale or other parts of the local distribution system. At that juncture in the fuel calculations, the pound-gallons of industrial food is likely to rise sharply, especially at convenience stores which can't take advantage bulk deliveries since they receive small shipments of a wide variety of products. The comparison which had someone buying hot dogs at the 7-11 may fall apart at this point. On the other hand, local agriculture is much more of a one time shot for each delivery, yet industrial agriculture has many more links in its delivery system. A better accounting would make room for all of the other distribution links in industrial agriculture and present an sumative result for contrast against local agriculture, rather than just comparing industrial's most efficient link and leaving out the rest.

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 1:40:00 PM PDT, Anonymous DoctorJJ said...

I guess a different way of saying what I was trying to say is, if I have to go shopping for food for my family. Then I have to drive to the store and/or farmer's market. If I drive 10 miles to the store, the produce I get had to travel 3000 miles to get to the store. It still has the same inefficient trip to my house. If I have to drive 10 miles to the farmer's market, the produce I buy didn't have to travel 3000 miles to get there. It ONLY has to make the trip to my house. That uses less energy than the 3000 mile salad.

DoctorJJ

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 2:27:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

DoctorJJ,
You're assuming that the farmer's market is located on the farm, and that it's the same distance as the supermarket. That may be the case, but on the whole it isn't. For example, Bob the livestock farmer travels 70 miles to the farmer's market, and he notes that 50 miles is average among his fellow marketers. He also notes that his fuel efficiency (in gallons per pound) is 15 times worse than industrial food transported 1500 miles. There are even some days where sales don't pay for the gas to get to market. And that's all *before* including shoppers driving to the farmer's market, which is a huge source of waste in its own right.

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 4:26:00 PM PDT, Anonymous non-doomer said...

people don't understand that there is more to food production than fossil fuels when it comes to where food is grown.

it's soil.
it's climate
it's location
it's water
it's late prices
it's land prices
it's availability of labor
it's wages

have the doomers thought this through?

let's let the market sort this out, NOT the doomers!

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 4:28:00 PM PDT, Anonymous non-doomer said...

"In the grand scheme, the trip from Idaho isn't that costly or FF intensive, but it can't be less than growing and buying locally."

other costs besides fossil fuels could make it so much more expensive to grow food locally.

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 4:38:00 PM PDT, Anonymous non-doomer said...

"when using your car is not economically possible anymore, would you like to live in a world where your food is produced 1000 miles away, or 5 miles away, or better yet in your own town?"

many people already can't afford cars and where they want food grown is wherever it's the most efficient.

doesn't anyone see that organic and local food is always more expensive?

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 5:32:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These examples don't take into account that when food is trucked from 1000 miles away, it didn't just appear on those trucks at the starting line. It had to be rounded up, delivered to a central point where the trucks were loaded.....or the trucks do the rounds to pick it up....your only counting the FF from the time the trucks are loaded and at the start line. Joe Blow taking his locally produced food to market is probably only using a similiar amount of fuel as what it takes for the food to get from grower to actually being loaded on a truck. Think of the transport, think of the packaging.....think of the refrigeration....think of the fertilizers......the pesticides......the herbicides.....aqnd besides all that....its possible for Joe Blow to make his 25 mile trip to market with horse and cart.......he certainly doesn't need to use a 20 mile per gallon petrol guzzler.

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 5:37:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

1. To begin with I believe your argument falls down totally if there are any shortages of fuel. Its all well and good declaring the 3000 mile salad is more efficient, but in terms of actual fuel usage if you don't have the fuel to hand to do this then the point is mute.

If there isn't enough fuel to transport food 3000 miles, then there isn't enough fuel for vendors/customers to drive to the farmer's market because the latter case uses *more* fuel per pound of food, as I've shown.

2. Mrs Miggins packs her landrover with various produce freshly picked by her fair hand and heads down to the market. 3000 mile salad corp needs pickers to go out and pick the salad(they use energy in their transport), then the salad to be delivered to the storage depot, then delivered to the plane/boat, then unloaded from the plane/boat whilst 3000 mile salad corp fly out produce managers to source other salad sources. There is additional energy you need to factor in to your calculations.

This point is valid, but very debatable. Personally I would guess that pickers work so intensively that their transport fuel use will amortize out to be a very small amount per pound of finished product. Similarly for managers -- sourcing is likely an unusual activity, and not a routine part of every shipment. Loading and unloading steps are unlikely to be particularly fuel intensive due to containerization, palletization, cranes, forklifts and so on which don't operate on gasoline.

3. Here in europe a farmer at a market rarely brings one type of produce; they will bring several. I could goto the local market and pick up everything I need for the chicken caesar salad: lettuce, chicken, anchovy, dressing, cheese and croutons. Your argument doesn't take into account that *each* ingredient would have its own 3000 mile journey - suddenly JIT long haul delivery doesn't look too good now.

In general, each ingredient at a farmer's market has its own 25 mile (50 mile round trip) distance to market in a poorly loaded vehicle. As I showed, each of those trips is more fuel intensive (per pound of product) than a 3000 mile journey, by quite a large margin.

Its one thing to perform a mathematical trick on paper to show that local produce is less energy efficient, but in actual fact reality is quite different. In times of economic hardship or fuel limitations, the locally sourced produce wins.

This isn't a mathematical trick. The main section of the post describes the fuel efficiency of an actual local food operation in Schoharie, New York.

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 6:04:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

This is all based on the idea that future local food will look a lot like current local food. People have had only local food for millenias, never using a single drop of petroleum for it.

Yes, that's true. This is why people in rural Thailand, Honduras or sub-Saharan Africa will adapt readily to peak oil. They already have genuine local food, and don't use much oil in the first place. However, you're not giving any indication about how a country like the US can make the almost inconceivable transition from modern ag as it stands today, to living like peasants in rural Cambodia.

The key question is: will high oil prices wreak havoc on car-intensive local food (farmer's markets, CSA etc.), as it exists in the US today, before the US can transform into rural Cambodia. I would say: Yes, without a doubt. If the fuel efficient future form of local ag is such a good idea, why isn't anybody doing it? What is standing in the way? How will the transition to future local food actually occur?

You don't adress a very simple issue : when using your car is not economically possible anymore, would you like to live in a world where your food is produced 1000 miles away, or 5 miles away, or better yet in your own town?

I don't actually have a car, but even if I did, I don't see any credible near-term scenario where all use of cars is economically impossible. You're talking about something more like nuclear war than peak oil.

However, what we can say is this: local ag, as it exists today, is at least as fuel-intensive as long-distance ag, so if long-distance ag is going to get creamed by peak oil, local ag is going to go down with it.

Also, please sign a name next time or your post will be deleted. This blog discourages anonymous posting.

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 6:25:00 PM PDT, Anonymous DoctorJJ said...

"These examples don't take into account that when food is trucked from 1000 miles away, it didn't just appear on those trucks at the starting line. It had to be rounded up, delivered to a central point where the trucks were loaded.....or the trucks do the rounds to pick it up....your only counting the FF from the time the trucks are loaded and at the start line. Joe Blow taking his locally produced food to market is probably only using a similiar amount of fuel as what it takes for the food to get from grower to actually being loaded on a truck."

Thank you, anonymous. That's the point I was trying to make, although I had just focused on the consumer side. Except for the long distance part, all other issues of travel and transport of farmer's market products compared to long distance shipping are likely a push. Both on the farmer's end and the consumer's end it's the same, regardless of whether the product is consumed locally or 3000 miles from home. Short distance, high FF intensity, travel dominates at both ends. I'll admit, in the big picture, the 3000 mile trip in between doesn't make much difference in FF use or price because it is so cheap to ship huge, heavy loads over long distances. That is a known fact. But to act like long distance food, overall, uses less FF than locally grown and consumed products, is a little silly.

DoctorJJ

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 7:43:00 PM PDT, Blogger OneCrazyMama said...

I certainly understand what you're saying, JD. I guess it is kind of similar to buying items in bulk, in general. So long as it gets used, the per-item cost goes down the more you buy.

So, would you say that, given the current situation, the best scenario for the future might just be a new urban landscape complete with good railway systems? I ask this, because it seems like rail would be good for transporting people and goods while using less energy per person (or per item)?

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 7:44:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point is moot as I see it. This is just pointless arguing for arguments sake. If we were running the planes and trucks and trains on clean electricity this whole discussion wouldn't be an issue.

The real issues in food production are human. Forget for a second the term Peak Oil and think of the term Banana Republic. That is the real effect of industrial, shipped agriculture.

People living settled lives compared to nomads need large, staple crop agriculture. To argue other wise would be ignorant. So I buy grains and rice from far away. But I also go to my local farmers market (on my bike for what it is worth) and talk to people. I ask the people who grew my veggies what is good this week. How the kids are. What new recipes they have. We talk and we build a community. I get food from people I know, who I know are making an honest living.

Anyone who agrees with this blog in general is probably of the opinion That we will develop alternative energy sources. Once you have those then the human issue is all that matters. It all comes back to people.

jeff

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 9:26:00 PM PDT, Anonymous non-doomer said...

Always remember, peak oil is not about oil for doomers in the end, it's all about how they don't like society and want to go back to some kind of rural agrarian utopia that never existed.

no thanks thomas jefferson.

what is hilarious is that they spout this nonsense on computers assembled from parts all over the world in "JIT" fashion.

oh btw, read it and weap doomers. A 6 watt lightbulb. "they" did it again!

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-lightbulb3-2009oct03,0,3065254.story

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 10:11:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Both on the farmer's end and the consumer's end it's the same, regardless of whether the product is consumed locally or 3000 miles from home.

This doesn't appear to be the case. Anon talks about the food being "aggregated" from farms before loading onto large trucks. But we haven't seen any evidence that that actually happens. It seems much more likely, considering that vegetables are grown in huge industrial scale fields, that they are loaded into large trucks right in the field, and that shipment in fully loaded trucks is maintained throughout the chain from field to retailer. Many vegetables (like celery) are picked, rinsed and bagged right in the field and loaded for transport to retail.

That's certainly far more efficient than a group of 30 or 40 farmers marketeers, each driving a poorly loaded car/pickup.

Bob from Schoharie points out major inefficiencies of local in other areas, such as slaughter:

To address the criticism, the reason I thought that focusing on distribution alone, rather than looking at the whole picture, including production, processing, and distribution, was that the difference in distribution was so dramatic, and because I thought it would go without saying that the fuel efficiencies seen in distribution are achieved in production and processing as well. For example, one 400 hp tractor fitting, cultivating, spraying, and harvesting a 1,000 acre field uses substantially less fuel than 50 50-hp tractors fitting (or 50 35-hp tractors), cultivating, spraying, and harvesting 20 acres each (the vast majority of farms producing for local consumption are diesel and/or gas powered, and they are not organic, so they are using fossil fuel based fertilizers and pesticides). Another example would be slaughterhouse travel. To slaughter pigs I drive a total of 280 miles (two 140 mile round trips, one to drop them off, one to pick up the meat). I will have made this trip twice this year to slaughter twelve pigs (six each time). That is 560 miles to slaughter twelve pigs, or just a bit more than forty-five miles, or a whopping 4.5 gallons, of fuel per pig. In the mid-west, where most factory farmed pigs are raised, the slaughter infrastructure is nearby, but let’s assume for argument’s sake that the industrial slaughterhouse is the same distance from the factory farm as the slaughterhouse I use is from my farm. Let’s also assume that the tractor trailer belongs to the factory farm, so it will make a round trip of 140 miles from the factory to the slaughterhouse and back. That is all the mileage that is charged to processing in the factory farm system because in that system, the meat goes from the slaughterhouse directly into distribution, unlike in the small-scale system where the meat goes from the slaughterhouse to be “warehoused,” generally on the farm, before going back out for distribution. Let’s put 100 pigs on the truck. In this example of the industrial system, there are 1.4 miles, or 0.28 gallons, per pig for processing, or sixteen times fewer gallons per pig than in my example of the local system. Some people will declare that my own experience is somehow unrepresentative. However, I think it is very much representative, in fact, I know many people (both in person and whose blogs I follow) who drive further and often take fewer pigs/animals per trip than I do. Or, before you point out efficiencies in local that I have left out (eg, a portion of the return trip should be subtracted to account for on-farm sales or direct delivery because for meat sold from the farm the return trip is distribution and not processing, as it is, obviously, for deliveries), please grant appropriate weight to the enormity of the difference in fuel consumption — you can’t whittle away a difference of sixteen times.Source

 
At Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 10:17:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

It's hard for me to be convinced that long-distance ag is less fuel efficient than local ag when a FARMER DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN LOCAL AG is pointing out very large disadvantages of local ag in terms of fuel use.

Of course, there's a lot I don't know about both local and industrial distribution, and I'm willing to be convinced by hard info. But for the time being, I'll stick with the guy who is actually working in the business, and (if anything) has a motivation to fudge the facts in favor of local.

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 7:23:00 AM PDT, Anonymous DoctorJJ said...

Couple of issues. First, in the example you gave, JD, the original poster said "To slaughter pigs I drive a total of 280 miles (two 140 mile round trips, one to drop them off, one to pick up the meat)."

I live in the sticks of Oklahoma and I can tell you this is an EXTREME example. There are literally 4 or 5 slaughterhouses within 10 miles of where I live.

The second point is that while large scale ag may benefit from better use of FF's, by putting produce or animals directly on big trucks, a large percentage of what we grow and eat in this country is produced by small to medium ag.

I have worked on a medium sized farm in Mazie, OK. That's about as typical as you can get. The grain we raised was put on 2 ton trucks or 10 wheelers and driven to the port. That was highly FF dependent. That's how almost everyone in small town America does it. Sure, there are big farms that put it straight on semi's, but that's not much better than the 10 wheeler scenario.
Also, for the beef cattle that were raised, 10-20 were put on a trailer and taken to the market that is about 40 miles away. From there, they are loaded onto semi's and taken to feed lots. Again, sure, there are large ranches that take the calves from momma cow straight to their own feed lot and onto semi's to be slaughtered, but that's now how most beef is produced.
When I'm talking about local use, I'm talking about taking several of those calves out of that commercial market and feeding them out ourselves and slaughtering them locally (within 10 miles) for family and friends. So that is obviously less FF intensive than us taking those same cattle 40 miles away so they can be sold, taken who knows where, fed. butchered, and driven back to a local store so we can go buy the meat one package at a time.

DoctorJJ

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 7:54:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of things.
It's not a mathematical trick.
It's the numbers. You can argue opinion all you like but you can't argue with the numbers.

JD is right.
Of all parts of the supply chain, in the US, it's the consumer driving to the store that's the biggest user per kilo of freight for gasoline.
The most efficient is, say, someone driving to a mall with both a Costco and a Safeway in it and loading up on a month's supplies. It's still unlikely that an SUV is going to be fully loaded and THEREFORE this is the most fuel inefficient part of the supply chain.

That said, the rest of the supply chain is indeed much more efficient than Small scale farmers markets etc where everybody drives to them.

The argument that the original farm in the 3000 mile salad is just as inefficient as the person driving to safeway to pick it up is nonsense. The truck at the farm will be fully loaded.

Even in a no-substitute-for-oil world, farms will be the last to be cut off, so the real problem will be the "last mile".

What are the solutions?
* Take the bus.
* Walk
* Cycle
* Supermarkets creating more local markets (such as they're doing in the UK, something I noticed while visiting last year: e.g. Tesco Local, Sainsbury Local etc)
* Supermarket delivery systems moving to Electric (again the UK chains are out in front - Sainsbury has electric medium duty vehicles for just such a section of the supply chain, as does Tesco)

So, not to worry about the 3000 mile salad.

But driving out to mennonite country for some organic bacon is another story.

DB

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 8:24:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Jeff P said...

This is a great post with great responses. Good points are made by both sides of the discussion but I think the real winner is the free market.

If this post had demonstrated anything it is that calculating all the inputs for just fuel across all of the different scenarios is quite complex. Fortunately, peak oil or no, the market is very good in taking all of the costs into account. I'm certain that as energy costs change there will be winners and losers. The most efficient systems will continue and inefficient ones will wither away.

Ultimately, some local food systems will thrive and others will fail. The same is true for industrial operations.

Fortunately the market will mostly make those decisions.

Unfortunately, the government subsidizes industrial operations preventing the market from finding the most efficient level.

-Jeff P

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 9:08:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What stands in the way of local ag being more efficient than faraway ag? Petroleum prices. Energy costs represent a very tiny fraction of overall food costs. Guess which part represents the biggest cost? Right! Margin!

But when petroleum becomes REALLY expensive (and no, $150/bl is not expensive. Let's say $1000 - $2000/bl), the logic of the market, though destructive it may become, will prove that local ag is, naturally, more efficient than faraway ag.

What some seem to forget is that the current economic model, based on cheap energy (that is a fact, not some doomer talk) doesn't represent normalcy, and the prices induced by peak oil don't represent a "freak in nature". Our current low energy prices are the freak in nature.

Thus, trying to apply the current logic to the future form of the economic (the way back to normalcy) is a fallacy. A fallacy that has become the signature of the "peak oil debunker" logic.

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 9:38:00 AM PDT, Anonymous non-doomer said...

"What some seem to forget is that the current economic model, based on cheap energy (that is a fact, not some doomer talk) doesn't represent normalcy, and the prices induced by peak oil don't represent a "freak in nature". Our current low energy prices are the freak in nature."

um, how do you know that? what makes you the authority on the history of oil prices such that you "know" oil is cheap?

I happen to think $150 was expensive and the economy showed that. at $150 we still had big add because it's the most efficient.

small ag is great if it's growing your own food in the backyard or getting a bunch of celery from your neighbor. it's not so good for feeding you year round. most people only grow food in the summer. what about the other part's of the year?

big farms have economy of scale that small farms just don't have. yeah some small farms are probably great producers but they can't feed all of the people all of the time.

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 9:41:00 AM PDT, Anonymous non-doomer said...

"What stands in the way of local ag being more efficient than faraway ag? Petroleum prices. Energy costs represent a very tiny fraction of overall food costs. Guess which part represents the biggest cost? Right! Margin!"

I don't really know what you mean but what makes big ag more efficient than small ag is economies of scale.

"Economies of scale, in microeconomics, are the cost advantages that a business obtains due to expansion. They are factors that cause a producer’s average cost per unit to fall as scale is increased. Economies of scale is a long run concept and refers to reductions in unit cost as the size of a facility, or scale, increases."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_scale

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 9:54:00 AM PDT, Blogger HeavyD said...

First of all this article opens up with a accusation that supermarkets will never sell local foods. What makes this author believe that as demand grows for local sustainable food that supermarkets won't cater to this demand. Secondly, while this author calculates every mile and gallon of gas comparison, he fails to consider the environmental impact of pesticide and weed spraying, antibiotics, carbon monoxide from grain fed cows, GMO, Ecoli, soil destruction and contamination, and many other factors that are involved with mass produced food.

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 10:19:00 AM PDT, Anonymous goofy said...

"and many other factors that are involved with mass produced food."

what do any of those have to do with the difference between local and long distance ag? you local farmer could use all of those too. the smaller grower, because of costs, will have even less of an economic incentive to or the means to be less harmful to the environment.

organic food might be less harmful, but it's also more expensive. not everyone can afford it. we also might not be able to scale organic food.

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 10:34:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"um, how do you know that? what makes you the authority on the history of oil prices such that you "know" oil is cheap?"

Compare prices of fossil energy to what it would cost to hire human labour for the same ultimate work, for starters. Now compare prices of energy in historic terms, and try to project your thoughts to the pre-oil era. That will show you that oil is not only cheap at 150$/bl... it is also virtually free at that price. Why do you think all economic extension in the XXth century was based on it?

"I happen to think $150 was expensive and the economy showed that. at $150 we still had big add because it's the most efficient."

Again, it was the most efficient at that price tag. I wouldn't be surprised if it still were at $1000/bl. But don't mistake big ag/small ag with local ag/faraway ag. As someone else put it, it's a different debate.

"small ag is great if it's growing your own food in the backyard or getting a bunch of celery from your neighbor. it's not so good for feeding you year round. most people only grow food in the summer. what about the other part's of the year?"

Well, ultimately, everyone's food comes from somewhere. btw, big ag also only produces during summertime. oil-intensive agriculture is not protected from seasonality.

"big farms have economy of scale that small farms just don't have. yeah some small farms are probably great producers but they can't feed all of the people all of the time."

Maybe it can, maybe it can't. We won't know until we try. But I agree that economies of scales from intensive large scale agriculture won't be balanced by the costs of energy unless oil prices get way higher than they have ever been, which is unlikely to happen in the near term.

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 10:40:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't really know what you mean but what makes big ag more efficient than small ag is economies of scale."

Agreed, as I've said earlier. But these economies of scales can be reached only because these scales could be achieved. Cheap oil made these gargantuous scales possible in the first place. I'm not saying these economies of scale will become a thing of the past in the near future, and I believe so either (oil and other inputs would have to be much more expensive), but your opinion seems to be focused on the current and past situations, with no concern for the possible changes that the future may bring.

Which is the main mistake that blog often makes, namely "the future can only ever be a linear continuation of the present without any dramatic changes in direction". I'm not a doomer myself, but I try to keep an open mind. There is no law saying that present logic, including economic logic, will always apply.

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 10:46:00 AM PDT, Blogger murphstahoe said...

You've invented the perpetual motion machine!

All we need to do to save the world is start shipping all US produced food to Southeast Asia, and all Asian produced food to the US! This will save us so much fuel oil will drop to $5 barrel!

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 11:02:00 AM PDT, Anonymous non-doomer said...

"Agreed, as I've said earlier. But these economies of scales can be reached only because these scales could be achieved. Cheap oil made these gargantuous scales possible in the first place."

there are many more factors and inputs into farm production than cheap oil. cheap oil is just a meme used to say how some industry will be brought down by peak oil.

$150 fuel is not cheap. anyways, farms thrive off of high oil prices not low oil prices. high oil prices lead to high commodity prices which mean farmers are raking in the dough. during the 70s farmers were making out like bandits. it's only in the 80s when high oil prices collapsed along with commodity prices that farms did bad.

peak oil will only make it so that those farmers that are not productive will be put out of business.

nothing is more efficient than railroad shipping except maybe water transport.

as always, let the market decide. $150 oil didn't hurt big ag.

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 11:37:00 AM PDT, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"and many other factors that are involved with mass produced food."

Someone responded that this is not necessarily a local/non-local issue. Not true.

In order to take advantage of the economy of scale, large ag needs to be more of a mono-culture than a smaller farmer who will be more likely to grow a variety of crops.

Visit the Almond orchards in Central California if you need an example. Those trees have been planted in the middle of the desert because the terrain allows for easy setup and harvest. Unfortunately their presence causes a big issue with an even more important quantity - water.

This also results in a lack of crop rotation - the farmer has purchased big equipment tuned to one crop(or planted 1000's of trees in the case of Almonds) that are very specific to one crop, making rotation into another crop infeasable. The farmer will fight the good fight trying to fertilize the soil with (petroleum based - ahem) fertilizers but long term this is a losing battle and also has a detrimental impact on the water system.

The next primary problem found in the presence of mono-cultures is dieout of feral bee colonies. The feast or famine effect of an area solely being populated by a single crop which comes into season at one point means the bees cannot have a food source that is stable. This even turns into another energy input for big-ag - the need to truck in beehives to pollinate their crops.

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 12:11:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Babun said...

I think JD is right in practical terms. Nevertheless, long-distance food per se is not efficient. It's just that that happends to be where the produce is, and there just isn't similarly centralized and organized production closer to the population centers.

What this demonstrates, is that however local agriculture is to be implemented - it should always be centralized and organized - instead of sporadic and distributed (as it is now), in order to be efficient.

Locally produced food might account only for a small portion of the food needed by the region. I believe efficiency has to do with the scale of the local production compared to the demand - probably there should be a break-even point somewhere.

There is a valid point to be made with this post though, although I too originally intuitively believed otherwise.

However if you look at locally grown food in current industrial societies - it would seem to me more like small scale nitpicking, instead of a real organized effort. An unorganized system cannot really be compared to an organized one. So it's not just local vs long-distance here. It's hobbyist versus pro. So what we'd need to do is look at when going pro locally pays off.

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 2:23:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The situation is exactly the opposite of the common wisdom. The 25 mile farmer's market salad is actually more fuel intensive than the 3000 mile Caesar salad."

Would you rather live next to a farm or an interstate highway?


HDT

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 2:45:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Would you rather live next to a farm or an interstate highway?"

Hmmm. Do I have a job and traffic jams to contend with or am I going to be fending off hordes of peak oil zombies?

Tough call.

DB

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 8:24:00 PM PDT, Anonymous GreenNeck said...

As one of the 'local' producers I'll chime in.

JDs post is fundamentally right. Today's local food is not as efficient, fuel wise as big ag food simply because the latter has a major economy of scale advantage.

With that said, all food had been local for centuries. Fossil fuel and oil in particular made big ag possible. To say that local food 'needs more oil' only reflects the fact that today's local ag is an alternate distribution network which is poorly optimized.

With that said, I have a real issue with big ag food, and that actually was the major motivation into growing my own, even more than the doomer rationale. Big ag food is produced with tons of chemical fertilizers, which end up fouling rivers, lakes and estuaries; vegetables and fruits are loaded with potentially harmful pesticides, fungicides and herbicides; genetically modified food could be dangerous; meat animals are often treated inhumanely, loaded with hormones, antibiotics, and fed with totally unnatural food, sometimes even their own by-products. Produce is often picked by near-slave labor. All that in the name of the almighty dollar. This disgusts me to no end.

Local producers can do all the above, of course, but usually you know them, so you know how their food is grown. I buy beef meat (a wood for beef trade:) from a local raiser who grazes his cattle; I know it because I can see them.
My neighbours who buy my surplus production know my vegetables are 100%organic, and my eggs come from free-running hens. If you buy 'organic' food from a city store, how can you know for sure it is indeed organic? You can't.

 
At Monday, October 5, 2009 at 11:53:00 PM PDT, Blogger Richard said...

So let's say Joe Sixpack decides to buy the hotdogs that have been driven from coast-to-coast, rather than choosing to buy locally produced hot dogs. How is he going to get them? He's going to drive to the supermarket of course.


It doesn't matter where the hotdogss came from, either way Joe Sixpack is going to drive to get them. No semi is going to throw them over his front fence like a newspaper delivery.

 
At Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 7:04:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure big ag is thriving on high commodity prices, but what happens when most of us are unable to buy the products from big ag, either because they become too expensive or because commodity prices impact the economy and make us lose our jobs?

Well, my guess is that people with a clue will try to grow some of their own. I already see a lot of people starting gardens and trying to produce part of their food to save money. This is, to me, proof that small, local ag is making a huge, albeit stealth comeback, because of high food prices and the recession. This is all happening while the naysayers are endlessly debating.

I was also in a job interview for a job in a supemarket recently, where the HR guy confirmed that fresh products in most of their supermarkets are becoming more local, because this is what customers want (I live in France, not Cambodia, fyi). So much for all the ranting.

 
At Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 8:13:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How is he going to get them? He's going to drive to the supermarket of course."

Driving out to mennonite country is a lot further than driving four miles to the local safeway or H.E.B.

DB

 
At Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 10:47:00 AM PDT, Blogger OptimisticDoomer said...

I was also in a job interview for a job in a supemarket recently, where the HR guy confirmed that fresh products in most of their supermarkets are becoming more local, because this is what customers want (I live in France, not Cambodia, fyi). So much for all the ranting.

Our local Walmart is carrying more and more local food, when in season. I remember reading an article about Walmart's nationwide moving to buying more produce locally.

 
At Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 11:07:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Isn't that amazing? Industrial is at least 3 times more efficient than the highest volume local sellers, and that's not even including the monstrous waste of the buyers driving 50 miles round trip to buy a bag of local food!"

It would be amazing if the 'logic' behind it weren't so shallow and mean-spirited.

If you're driving 50 miles to buy food, then it's no longer 'local' by definition. Think about it. If small-scale farmers bring their trucks of produce into a urban market for sale, it usually goes straight to the point of sale.

The choice of processed meat as an example of industrial efficiency is particularly ill-informed. How many thousands of tons of industrial, feed-lot meat have been destroyed due to infection over the last few years? How many billions of dollars were squandered? The mind boggles at the incredible amounts of fossil fuel corn fed to inhumanely treated animals, and these animals are then shipped - with more fossil fuels - to remote slaughter houses, infected with e.coli from their own feces, packaged, and then, after using even more fossil fuel to ship tons of infected meat all over the world, the meat is recalled and even more fossil fuel is used to destroy ton after ton of it. A total waste. And all of this infected meat is intended for a junk food addicted population that already suffers from high cholesterol, blood pressure

Similar problems arose with e.coli on tomatoes a while back. If you were buying local, you'd at least know where the infected produce came from.

HDT

 
At Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 12:30:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It would be amazing if the 'logic' behind it weren't so shallow and mean-spirited."

This may be hard for you to accept HDT but logic is divorced from feelings. That's why it is used: so the argument does not become colored by emotion.

The numbers are the numbers. Like them or not, but you cannot argue with them.

Growing some food in your own back yard is laudable and even sensible (tastes better and has more nutrients - clearly, since lowest cost highest profit means the less inputs the better) but to try to argue that it's more efficient to replace our current system with a less efficient doesn't hold up to the light of day.

DB

 
At Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 12:45:00 PM PDT, Anonymous non-doomer said...

" I already see a lot of people starting gardens and trying to produce part of their food to save money. This is, to me, proof that small, local ag is making a huge, albeit stealth comeback, because of high food prices and the recession. This is all happening while the naysayers are endlessly debating."

endlessly debating what? nobody said growing your own food in the backyard isn't great. it can save time driving to the store for that one thing you forgot like tyme. that is a lot different than local agriculture.

for a lot of people it just might not be worth the effort. personally, I want my dentist fixing my teeth not going off and starting an organic farm because he read peak oil is going to be a disaster.

 
At Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 12:50:00 PM PDT, Anonymous goofy said...

"The choice of processed meat as an example of industrial efficiency is particularly ill-informed. How many thousands of tons of industrial, feed-lot meat have been destroyed due to infection over the last few years? How many billions of dollars were squandered? The mind boggles at the incredible amounts of fossil fuel corn fed to inhumanely treated animals, and these animals are then shipped - with more fossil fuels - to remote slaughter houses, infected with e.coli from their own feces, packaged, and then, after using even more fossil fuel to ship tons of infected meat all over the world, the meat is recalled and even more fossil fuel is used to destroy ton after ton of it. A total waste. And all of this infected meat is intended for a junk food addicted population that already suffers from high cholesterol, blood pressure"

doomers have such a great gift for making something simple, in this case raising animals for beef and make it sound like the toughest thing to accomplish.

so with all those massive fossil fuel "inputs" and complicated steps meat must be like $500 a pound, right?

 
At Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 3:44:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...to try to argue that it's more efficient to replace our current system with a less efficient doesn't hold up to the light of day."

But then no one's arguing to replace the current system like some wholesale replacement of a seized-up engine. There's a glut of cheap oil out there, remember? Industrial agriculture with 'economy of scale' will always, by definition, be more efficient than small scale farming in mass producing Doritos or hot dogs per gallon of oil. As long as the 'glut' holds out, Big Ag with all its waste and depletion of soil will still be more efficient at delivering mass-produced food.

Until that time when the 'glut' no longer means 'cheap' oil, the progressives agricultural types out there will keep on developing more CSAs, local and regional markets, content with the virtue of not competing with Doritos, hotdogs and the rest of the Big Ag dreck that kills thousands every year.

HDT

 
At Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 6:04:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There's a glut of cheap oil out there, remember? Industrial agriculture with 'economy of scale' will always, by definition, be more efficient than small scale farming in mass producing Doritos or hot dogs per gallon of oil. As long as the 'glut' holds out, Big Ag with all its waste and depletion of soil will still be more efficient at delivering mass-produced food."

See that's the reason you use logic.
Allow me to point out the flaws in your argument.

1. Big Ag is more efficient at producing agricultural "widgets" than Small Ag per unit of oil used.

2. We have a current glut of oil so the price is low.

Your conclusion?
When the glut is gone Big Ag will be less efficient than Small Ag.

Sorry. Does not compute.

When the glut of oil is gone Big Ag will STILL be more efficient at producing agricultural widgets than small ag.

What will have changed is this:
The cost of driving will have increased.

This means that driving out to mennonite country will be a no-no.

It also likely means that the gap in price between transport + big ag products vs grow your own will decrease.

The problem is that grow your own doesn't work as a full replacement unless you have a lot of land.

So what is the likely outcome of such a scenario?

Substitutes to driving far to picking up groceries will be found.

What are examples of such substitutes?

* Pick up some groceries on a daily basis from a supermarket near a bus stop on the way home from work
* Cycle or walk to 7-11 instead of driving
* Use an electric vehicle either a scooter or an electric car
* Home delivery by supermarkets
* Home delivery of fast food
* Supermarket chains start opening many more "local" markets within walking or cycling distance (as is happening in Europe as we speak).

I'm sure there are others.
None of them, however, involve a mass exodus to small towns and the good old days of rural living.

DB

 
At Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 6:43:00 PM PDT, Blogger DB said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 6:30:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anthony Summers said...

DB:

No offense but that post on your blog is the biggest load of nonsense I've read in a long time and only confirms to me that you and JD have decided to change the global problem of 'everyone needs energy to live and its looking like there may be a shortage in the future' to 'the doomers are all out to get us'. Its totally childish. Please grow up.

Could you please explain how the economies of the world today seem to be fucked without the problem of reinvesting billions in new infrastructure for the electric economy? Does it not seem a tinsy winsy bit of a problem that on top of a financial situation not caused by peak oil that then we would also have to deal with peak oil?

Also I was wondering if anyone could answer this: You say that there is huge waste in our current system aka 'people are driving around needlessly and most of peak oil can mitigated by people not driving around'. Its a classic debunker soundbite. I, to a certain extent, agree that huge amounts of waste can be cut from our current system - however surely there are large financial implications in this. Think of all the taxes not coming in because people aren't buying fuel. Think about all the other services that support people's needless driving around such as carwashes, service stations, roadside businesses etc. The driving may be needless, but someones waste is anothers lifeline. Without using pejorative childish crap such as 'youre a doomer' could you explain how the economy will continue to function with this additional hit.

If your answer is good enough then I will write to Gordon Brown immediately and tell him to step down because obviously the large governments and financial institutions need to be replaced with your blog.

Hit the snooze button.

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 8:44:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Antony"

Nice ad-hom.
Come up with some arguments instead of sarcastic dismissals.

FYI Nobody said there's no recession.

The point you are missing though (and perhaps it's myopia from living on a foggy damp little island) is that recessions are NORMAL.

Since you are clearly an expert I'd like you to refute the data which shows there's a recession like clockwork every nine years.

And CLEARLY idiot countries that make poor decisions WILL collapse.

Your country is a case in point. It has spent hundreds of billions bailing out your banks and what? tens of millions investing in the necessary infrastructure upgrades your country is going to need?

Logic is not negated by stupid decisions.

DB

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 9:12:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anthony Summers said...

DB:

1. Even though the 'debunking' crowd is very fond of the term ad hom, you'll notice at no point did I attack you personally. Before you use latin please, at the very least, know its definition. The way you are behaving is childish however, as in your approach to an adult situation is to reduce the problem from a complex interlinked economic one to one where 'doomers are the baddies'.

2. I think you will find sarcastic dismissals are your forte, as I have seen when HDT has raised valid points and you dismiss them without actually answering them (as you have done with my post).

3. Today in the UK it is sunny and cloudless. FYI foggy weather doesn't induce myopia (We should replace Specsavers/Vision Express with your blog too if I'm wrong on this)

4. Your government is just as bad as the UK one in terms of bail outs. Your country is also is heavily addicted to oil

5. I am at no point refuting recessions are not NORMAL! At what point did I say "Recessions are not normal" ? - To be exact I think it is stated that a recession is every 10 years and every recession is different. My point is that: in a recession given that we are struggling to bail out car companies, banks, keep people employed where is additional investment going to come from to convert large swathes of infrastructure and also cut down on something which is going to ease the recession. The very fact youre not answering is giving me the true answer.

Oh and let me guess, because I now disagree with you I am now a 'troll'?

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 9:38:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antony

1. Your entire #1 response is an ad-hom. Your position is that if I don't agree with you I'm childish is quite clearly an ad-hom. My response to you? "piss off".

2. HDT is quite capable of using sarcastic dismissals. His logic is weak, however and doesn't seem to be able to separate distinct assertions. That I use a combination of sarcasm and logic in no way negates my point.

3. Sample size my friend. Sample size.

4. At least our government is spending on infrastructure and mitigation options measured in the billions, unlike your lot who seem intent in running the economy into the ground.

5. I did answer you. You don't seem to be able to grasp the fact that your government printed up a bunch of sterling and handed it to the banks and gave peanuts to industry. That's nothing to do with peak oil (though peak oil will bite you on the ass because of it) and everything to do with shoddy decision making.

And no, you're not a troll. You are a pompous ivory tower twit.

DB

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 9:51:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anthony Summers said...

DB:

Sigh.....

1.Again I didn't attack you personally, somthing which you have done now and have seriously weakened your reputation in my opinion. Again: y o u a r e c h i l d i s h!

2. HDT's logic is much better than yours, and I don't see him using ad homs and made up economics. You seem to think you are the queen of logic??

3. Nonsense my friend, nonsense.

4.5 I agree my government sucks. You also agree that peak oil is going to be a problem! Ha!

Thanks for saying I'm not a troll. Since you are pretty much wrong in your 'die-off debunked blog' (which btw is a pale emulation of JD's attempt) I'll forgive you for also being wrong about the ivory tower twit bit. Poor DB....

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 10:11:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anthony,

Welcome to the Monty Python peak oil sketch. You are by now aware that JD and DB are using this forum to hone their two weapons of equivocation, obfuscation and contradiction. Their *three* weapons of....

The most popular tactic is to create a binary strawman and then whack at it with 'ad homs,' while decrying the use of 'ad homs' by others. This usually takes the form of glibly asserting that there are two modes of existence; a brutish, off-the-grid subsistence life OR a life of enlightened pleasure and ease in their dense urban oasis. Small and local = bad, big and industrial = good.

For JD and DB, these are the only two modes of existence. No one could possibly live a life that used elements of both lifestyles, there are only pure doomers or pure, enlightened urban debunkers.

Energy efficiency would appear to be their sole metric of one's worth as a human. Energy efficient junk food trumps other forms of sustenance merely by virtue of which method delivers the most hot dogs or Doritos per gallon of gas.

In the debunker dialectic, Big Industrial Agriculture is now, and will always be more efficient than small local agriculture, regardless of the price or availability of oil to run the machinery of Big Ag and interstate delivery.

Logic from these debunkers is more like the desperate assertions of children who've always found enough change in the sofa to order their pizza. "We've always done it this way! If the sofa dries up, we'll look on the sidewalk! Ordering pizza will always be more energy efficient than working like third world peons in the nasty earth to grow things! Let's see if we can borrow some change from the neighbors!"

Welcome, Anthony. Please help me nail this jello to the tree.

HDT

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 10:20:00 AM PDT, Blogger OptimisticDoomer said...

The point you are missing though (and perhaps it's myopia from living on a foggy damp little island) is that recessions are NORMAL.

Absolutely. The US, for example, had many more severe 'recessions' before the age of oil.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recessions_in_the_United_States

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 10:28:00 AM PDT, Blogger OptimisticDoomer said...

HDT,

I'm not sure what you are going on and on about, but JD has said on many occasions the US, for example, will have a difficult transition because of our current lifestyle. He has never said, as far as i've seen, that life will just carry on and we'll all be driving huge SUVs in 20 years. You might try actually reading some of the past posts on this blog.

There are a lot of peak oil moderates on this site, as far as I can tell, that believe the transition will be hard, but it will not be a massive dieoff with 6 billion people perishing in a few short years. The doomer argument that we'll all be eating each other's dogs and a massive dieoff will happen is just as silly as the ultra cornucopian that believes growth will continue indefinitely and oil is put in the ground by God as we need it.

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 10:37:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anthony Summers said...

Optimistic Doomer:

Your stance on the PO situation is similar to mine - however even now a uneccassary 'die-off' is occurring in Iraq over oil (lets face it people, its basically been proven). If I were to agree with the die-off crowd it would be that countries that experience a 'hard' transition - such as America, are more likely to wage war. If America is trigger happy now before peak-oil.....

HDT:
Haha nice one. My main beef is that fact that db seems more interested in the 'getting one over the doomers' than the actual facts (and logic for that matter ;) ).

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 10:48:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antony,

"1.Again I didn't attack you personally."
Calling someone childish for disagreeing is not a personal attack? I think you and I have differing opinions on more than just the effects of peak oil.
And I'm not interested in what you think of my "reputation". I'm interested in debunking doomer myths with facts and logic.

"2. HDT's logic is much better than yours"
No it isn't. He cannot separate two independent assertions and because of that his deductions are incorrect.

"and I don't see him using ad homs"
Yes you do.

"and made up economics."
Yes he does.
Now since you are an economics genius, I suggest you go dissassemble my piece on my blog, since I re-read it and can't find a single thing to argue with.

"You seem to think you are the queen of logic??"
We through out such anachronistic social structures along with the tea party. Your political blinders are telling.

"3. Nonsense my friend, nonsense."
You are correct. Your argument is nonsense. The UK has on average 200 days of measurable rain. Clearly you are a damp, smelly little island.

"4.5 I agree my government sucks. You also agree that peak oil is going to be a problem! Ha!"
1. Read JD's disclaimer for idiots.
2. Of course it's not going to be a cakewalk for *everyone*. In this very post, JD is pointing out that expensive oil (assuming limited substitutes) is going to screw over local food. Your logic is thinner than HDT's, though your sarcasm is better.

"Thanks for saying I'm not a troll. Since you are pretty much wrong in your 'die-off debunked blog'"
Breezy dismissal. How dull.

"(which btw is a pale emulation of JD's attempt)"
I believe I said that. Have you no originality?

"I'll forgive you for also being wrong about the ivory tower twit bit."
Don't. Because I'm not wrong.

"Poor DB...."
Speak for yourself.

DB

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 11:51:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Pitt said...

> Anthony Summers said...

> 1.Again I didn't attack you personally....
> Again: y o u a r e c h i l d i s h!


I would hope that you can see the irony in this.

What is true, however, is that your attacks on him were not ad hominem. Ad hominem arguments are of the form:

- X should not be listened to on saving gas because X drives a hummer.

By contrast, statements of the form:

- X is childish.

are just personal attacks with no purpose; the technical term for engaging in those is "being an arse".

*****

> Could you please explain how the
> economies of the world today seem to
> be fucked


They seem to be "fucked" because you're projecting onto them what you want to see, rather than what's actually there.

If you go and do some reading on the state of the world economy, you'll find that (a) it's still quite strong, and (b) it's showing clear signs of recovering from this recession. There's a good chance the recovery will be slow (U-shaped or W-shaped) and painful for many (unemployment tends to lag); however, even Roubini - nicknamed "Dr. Doom" for his pessimism on the economy - is projecting stable (if lackluster) economic growth next year.

A rational assessment of the available evidence does not support the level of pessimism you display.


> Think about all the other services
> that support people's needless
> driving around such as carwashes,
> service stations, roadside
> businesses etc.


Much like buggy-whip manufacturers, the people and resources which had been supporting driving will move on to more productive parts of the economy. One possible growth area that such people will move into (or will displace other people into) will be energy efficiency and green energy sectors, which I think we can all agree would be a better use of manpower and resources.

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 12:49:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pitt,

Not to nitpick, but though the argument used is indeed of the form "being an arse" an ad hominem attack is an attack on the person or characteristics of the person.
e.g. You are childish therefore I negate the validity of all your arguments logical or not.

"A rational assessment of the available evidence does not support the level of pessimism you display."
Thank you.

Anyway, we're far, far off topic here.

My position:
Local food guzzles more fuel than long distance food is supported by the numbers.

That imminent doom is coming is NOT supported by the numbers.

That imminent global collapse is coming is NOT supported by the numbers.

DB

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 1:47:00 PM PDT, Anonymous wchfilms said...

Sheesh, a lot of these comments are really making my head spin. Large "corporate" farming crushed most of the little guys because it's a bazillion times more economical. They wouldn't do it otherwise, how is this not obvious? Also, there are really really good places for farming, like say California's Central Valley, and terrible ones, like basically Nevada's deserts. We're not all going to move to places like the Central Valley though.

Also, this is slightly off point, but I live in California and there are many farmers' markets. One is so close I could walk to it (but I still drive, heh). But I stopped buying stuff from them because the produce all seemed to go bad very quickly compared with the stuff I get at the supermarket. I'm talking 2 or 3 days versus a week+ typically. I don't know if this has to do with irradiation, or the food being picked closer to when it is ripe, or what, but it was very notable more than once.

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 1:55:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Large "corporate" farming crushed most of the little guys because it's a bazillion times more economical. They wouldn't do it otherwise, how is this not obvious?"

It is obvious, but those who advocate a "return to the land" as a solution to peak oil are really advocating the abandonment of industrial civilization.

They *want* it to be true that Big Ag is worse than Little Ag, regardless of the numbers.

DB

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 1:58:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Local food guzzles more fuel than long distance food is supported by the numbers."

That's not a position, that's a truism. A tautology. It shouldn't be a surprise that an entrenched, heavily subsidized industry like Big Ag, based on massive consumption of cheap fuel and fertilizer would out-perform a smaller, less fuel-intensive collection of small farms on the production of monoculture crops like corn, wheat and soy.

"That imminent doom is coming is NOT supported by the numbers."

No one on this thread is claiming imminent doom, however you define it. This is just another of your hand-waving distractions. Are there serious, structural problems with the US and other major economies? Absolutely.

"That imminent global collapse is coming is NOT supported by the numbers."

Again, no one on this thread has suggested any such thing.

HDT

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 2:21:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It shouldn't be a surprise that an entrenched, heavily subsidized industry like Big Ag, based on massive consumption of cheap fuel and fertilizer would out-perform a smaller, less fuel-intensive collection of small farms on the production of monoculture crops like corn, wheat and soy."
This is why I pull my hair out with your logic buddy.

You say what I said is true. It is.
Then you go on to say something different from what I said.
Big Ag is LESS fuel intensive than Little Ag. It's more efficient across the board.

The only part of Ag that uses less fuel in absolute terms than Big Ag is backyard gardening (hard to beat sowing the seeds by hand and harvesting by hand by walking a few feet).

DB

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 4:26:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

50 miles is local? WTF? LOLOLOLOL!!!!


John Q. Galt

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 5:17:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Big Ag is LESS fuel intensive than Little Ag. It's more efficient across the board."

More cheap oil is used in big Ag practices as a whole than local ag. What you stubbornly refuse to address is the fact that Big Ag becomes less efficient as fuel prices rise and small, local organic ag becomes more efficient in comparison. Hot dogs per gallon at today's 'oil glut' prices is not a very useful metric to measure the availability of safe, nutritious food for any given region. Your shallow, efficiency-driven logic doesn't begin to address the efficiency-diminishing externalities of massive taxpayer subsidies to Big Ag, or the soil-destroying erosion or monoculture diseases associated with Big Ag practices.

All agriculture was local and organic only a 150 years ago. It will be small and organic again - it's just a matter of time. If you're lucky, you and JD can rely on a steady supply of cheap, Big Ag food-like junk for the rest of your lives. I wouldn't bet on it, personally.

HDT

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 7:08:00 PM PDT, Anonymous DoctorJJ said...

HDT,
You said "Local food guzzles more fuel than long distance food is supported by the numbers."

That's not a position, that's a truism. A tautology. It shouldn't be a surprise that an entrenched, heavily subsidized industry like Big Ag, based on massive consumption of cheap fuel and fertilizer would out-perform a smaller, less fuel-intensive collection of small farms on the production of monoculture crops like corn, wheat and soy.


Maybe you should go back and reread what you just typed. It makes NO sense.

DoctorJJ

 
At Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 7:23:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What you stubbornly refuse to address is the fact that Big Ag becomes less efficient as fuel prices rise"

Because it doesn't.
That Big Ag is more efficient at fuel use is INDEPENDENT of the price of fuel.

As usual your logic sucks.

Others understand this but you don't.

DB

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 1:43:00 AM PDT, Blogger Evan said...

Peak oil has made it to the headlines of the BBC and this report agrees that the production will plateau until 2020 at the latest after which point it will decline.

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 1:44:00 AM PDT, Blogger Evan said...

BBC front page peak oil article:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8296096.stm

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 5:53:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That Big Ag is more efficient at fuel use is INDEPENDENT of the price of fuel."

Again, for the willfully obtuse; tax subsidized Big Ag becomes less efficient AT PRODUCING CHEAP FOOD as imported fuel prices rise.

IF there were to be another OPEC embargo, or when PO drives oil prices to the point where there are shortages of diesel to power the fleet of tractors, threshers, semis, etc. THEN the produce of the truly local, organic gardener who is not dependent on diesel will be extremely attractive to the LOCALS who want to eat. All the fuel efficiency in the world won't feed you if the wheat thresher won't start and the fleet of semis is not speeding your pizza dough down the interstate to Dominoes.

Simply put, Big Ag as we know it now can't work without oil. And, as even idiots know, oil is finite. Small, organic ag has worked without oil for centuries and it will be the dominant model again - it's just a matter of time.

I know this flies in the face of the cornucopian oil glut fantasy that fuels JD and his amen chorus, but the sooner you wrap your head around it, the better.

HDT

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 8:09:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Again, for the willfully obtuse; tax subsidized Big Ag becomes less efficient AT PRODUCING CHEAP FOOD as imported fuel prices rise."

As usual you're conflating two different assertions.
Efficiency of production depends on using the least possible inputs NOT price.

If fuel prices go up, then the component of cost that is fuel will go up.

The less efficient small ag will rise in price MORE because they use more fuel per unit of production.

Do you get it yet or are you going to continue to post your crappy logic ad nauseum?

DB

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 10:28:00 AM PDT, Blogger OptimisticDoomer said...

Peak oil has made it to the headlines of the BBC and this report agrees that the production will plateau until 2020 at the latest after which point it will decline.

I'm not quite that optimistic, but the ASPO puts global decline at less than 1% per year. To me that doesn't spell doom, that spells a long & difficult, but doable transition. Probably many severe recessions. But that has been the history of most of the developed world. Growth followed by recessions, sometimes severe.

I also believe we will follow a mitigation plan very similar to the one put out by the ASPO. It is right on their website if anyone wants to read it. The fact that every major auto maker is putting out a hybrid or electric says as much. Personal transportation will become somewhat limited, especially for the poor, but it is not going away. Same as big AG.

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 10:29:00 AM PDT, Blogger OptimisticDoomer said...

DB, I would seriously give up. I think HDT just likes to argue. It's like trying to drive a square peg into a round hole. No matter how hard you try, it just won't work.

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 10:32:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Do you get it yet or are you going to continue to post your crappy logic ad nauseum?"

Oh, I understand perfectly that you and JD, like my techophiles, worship at the altar of efficiency. But I will probably inject my crappy logic here from time to time just to remind you kids that doritos/gallon of imported oil is not the only metric worthy of consideration in this, uh, debate.

HDT

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 10:51:00 AM PDT, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"Also, there are really really good places for farming, like say California's Central Valley, and terrible ones, like basically Nevada's deserts. We're not all going to move to places like the Central Valley though."

Apparently you aren't following the goings on in Sacramento. The Central Valley is a desert no different than Central Nevada. There just happens to be some rivers a 100 or so miles away, so we pump river water from there to the desert of the Central Valley to support those crops, damming it along the way to suck every last drop.

This showcases a secondary effect of large Ag. Large Ag may be more fuel efficient at producing the crops it produces, but now I have to buy Salmon from Alaska or overseas instead of fished off the waters of California, due to the water consumption needs of Central Valley Farmers.

One might argue that smaller producers would cause the same problem once added up - but this is generally false. Smaller producers do not get the economy of scale to farm crops that don't make sense for the water content of the area because they can't get the water rights or build the infrastructure to suck up that much water - witness Sonoma County's grapes which are reliant on sucking the ground dry with 300-500 foot wells.

"Also, this is slightly off point, but I live in California and there are many farmers' markets. One is so close I could walk to it (but I still drive, heh). But I stopped buying stuff from them because the produce all seemed to go bad very quickly compared with the stuff I get at the supermarket. I'm talking 2 or 3 days versus a week+ typically. I don't know if this has to do with irradiation, or the food being picked closer to when it is ripe, or what, but it was very notable more than once."

Twinkies last forever, and aren't very good for your body. Think about that...

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 11:12:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Shiner said...

Once again you restrict your thoughts to this paradigm.

Things are going to change and we need our local food production kicked into high gear.

The US dollar is going south and wether we like it or not we are about to be sent much less oil.

The guy cannot walk to kenya to get his beans. He can walk the 6 miles.

Who cares how much fuel long distance food saves now. When the decline starts people will need local food.

As usual your ideas are very short sighted.

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 11:37:00 AM PDT, Blogger Yogi said...

“tax subsidized Big Ag becomes less efficient AT PRODUCING CHEAP FOOD as imported fuel prices rise”

Production and distribution costs of Big Ag will certainly rise as imported fuel prices rise, but this blog post suggests that distribution (if not production)of locally produced food is also vulnerable to rising fuel costs.

Presumably “imported fuel” refers to oil, as the U.S. has ample shale gas and coal bed methane supplies for the foreseeable future.

The leading supplier of US crude oil imports is Canada, which at ~2mbpd supplies about twice as much crude to the US as either Saudi Arabia or Mexico (numbers 2 and 3 respectively).

http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html

And total liquids production in North America has been on a plateau of about 13-15mbpd for the last 3 decades:

http://peakoildebunked.blogspot.com/2008/01/317-strong-argument-for-slow-decline.html

“Simply put, Big Ag as we know it now can't work without oil. And, as even idiots know, oil is finite. Small, organic ag has worked without oil for centuries and it will be the dominant model again - it's just a matter of time.”

I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that. Even if oil and other fossil fuels run out completely, industrial agriculture could continue to use Fischer-Tropsch liquids from biomass as petroleum substitutes.


There are indeed many good reasons to support local organic food production over Big Ag (the health and environmental benefits have been discussed in some detail), but peak oil does not appear to be one of them.

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 11:46:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Who cares how much fuel long distance food saves now. When the decline starts people will need local food.

As usual your ideas are very short sighted."

No. Your crowd who are enamored of local food will keep repeating your position ad nauseum even though it's not backed up by the facts.

The facts are these:
people need CHEAP food, regardless of whether it's local or comes from new zealand.

Now here are the facts:

Big Ag is more efficient than Little Ag.

Fuel prices will rise.

The component of fuel in the Big Ag to supermarket supply chain is a lot lower than the component of fuel in the small Ag to farmers market.

Thus, ALL food will rise in price, but food produced by Big Ag/Supermarkets will rise by LESS.

You Local Food supporters don't want to hear that but it's true regardless of putting your hands over your ears and going "LALALALALA".

The ONLY point you can argue is that the cheapest possible food from a fuel perspective is roll-your-own in your backyard.

But efficiency negates that as JD has pointed out in another thread.

You are much better working in 7-11 than you are growing your own food and the ONLY time it's worth it is when your time is worth nothing.
i.e. when you are unemployed

DB

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 12:23:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read the mitigation strategies proposed by ASPO USA.
It is actually reasonable. But it misses a couple of points.

1. We need to address the issues raised in this thread. i.e. how to get the customers to the food with least cost oil inputs. For those that end up out of work or on low incomes, cheap low oil input mass transit and/or cheap low oil input delivery services need to be scaled up. I'm thinking in terms of electric trucks driving round neighborhoods selling produce. Similar to ice cream trucks that I remember from being a kid. No reason these can't be electric, and in fact I believe the electric milk floats in the UK in the 1950s also sold produce, so we have a model for delivering the last mile right there.

2. They don't say anything about electrified mass transit. This is a must. One obvious answer is that government owned bus fleets should be replaced by some combination of electric buses/hybrid buses/nat gas buses and electrified light rail solutions.

3. They don't say anything about the logistics infrastructure. The interstates can be kept going if there is a huge push to convert many of the semi's to nat gas and the medium duty trucks to electric/hybrid. The tech is there and it's cost effective. This should be a priority.

DB

 
At Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 3:23:00 PM PDT, Blogger wchfilms said...

murphstahoe said...

Apparently you aren't following the goings on in Sacramento. The Central Valley is a desert no different than Central Nevada. There just happens to be some rivers a 100 or so miles away, so we pump river water from there to the desert of the Central Valley to support those crops, damming it along the way to suck every last drop.

The California Central Valley is a gigantic Valley the size of Tennessee and is some of the most fertile soil on the planet. Nevada on the whole is far more mountainous and has a much less favorable climate for agriculture than the Central Valley.

Water availability is always been an ongoing problem but I guarantee you they don't go to all the trouble of getting the water there because it's a bad place to farm.

Twinkies last forever, and aren't very good for your body. Think about that...

Honey lasts forever, and isn't very good for your body either. And?


goofy said...:

doomers have such a great gift for making something simple, in this case raising animals for beef and make it sound like the toughest thing to accomplish.

so with all those massive fossil fuel "inputs" and complicated steps meat must be like $500 a pound, right?


I know, it seems they can figure out more or less how some system works, describe it in detail, then despair that the slightest alteration would destroy the entire thing. It's ridiculous. Doomers seem to believe there is some elaborate and intricate system, whereas in reality it's a bunch of fairly random actors all going about their own business, which means the system has extreme flexibility. (Although I would agree the financial system is a bit more of a special case.)

 
At Friday, October 9, 2009 at 11:18:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Pitt said...

> The Central Valley is a desert no
> different than Central Nevada.


Not true.

In particular, the northern half gets about 20 inches of rain yearly, or about three times what Nevada sees. While parts of the southern valley are indeed semi-arid desert, that's not even remotely true about the area as a whole.

Please do some research before making claims, as being so far from the truth casts your argument in a very poor light.

 
At Monday, October 12, 2009 at 3:59:00 AM PDT, Blogger Evan said...

Battery technology making advances again which is more good news for electric vehicles. Who will need gas for cars anymore in a few years ?


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8297934.stm

 
At Monday, October 12, 2009 at 7:13:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anthony Summers said...

Evan: Don't mean to piss on your bonfire but isotope batteries are ok for pacemakers - not for mass transport (just take a second before objecting and think of how many cars there actually are). Debunkers love their 'debunker porn' but have no conception of applying it to very large systems. Someone said it before and I agree: technology is not energy, only a facilitator of energy.

 
At Monday, October 12, 2009 at 9:10:00 PM PDT, Blogger OptimisticDoomer said...

Someone said it before and I agree: technology is not energy, only a facilitator of energy.

yeah yeah yeah, but what doomers ignore is without technology we would have already stooped using FF's the way we are. Technology allows us to pursue energy that would otherwise be left in the ground or not harvested.

We have been replacing the car fleet every 12 years or so for the past how many decades? But you're right, we're going to stop making any new cars and we absolutely won't make any of them electric. /sarcasm

 
At Monday, October 12, 2009 at 11:38:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Soylent said...

"People have had only local food for millenias, never using a single drop of petroleum for it."

To the extent that they did have local food they periodically had massive famines because of it.

Local food is largely a myth. It's not a coincidence that big cities formed on rivers and along coasts, wherever natural harbours existed. Egypt was the bread basket of Rome; they even managed to import oysters from London. Even for land-locked cities, food was brought in from far and wide with carts. The first to starve in a famine was the country-side.

"when using your car is not economically possible anymore, would you like to live in a world where your food is produced 1000 miles away, or 5 miles away, or better yet in your own town?"

Global of course, local is suicide.

We've got about a century to wean container-ships off of fossil fuels, they're monstrously efficient. A natural replacement is nuclear power; I'd prefer to do it right with molten salt breeders or lead-bismuth cooled fast-breeders but it's trivial to do it with 1960's technology(the TRU "waste" from LWRs is a tremendous resource for starting fast reactors).

Electrified rail(ubiquitous over here) will take the containers to land-locked cities from the major ports.

Cities are dense enough that electrified trucks can afford to deliver stuff the last 10 miles to large retail outlets that are within comfortable walking distance.

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 4:26:00 AM PDT, Anonymous JEUB said...

Optimistic Doomer:
Yeah yeah yeah I hear your same recycled debunker blather - but if you'd read the post before excitedly replying to fight off the nasty doomer (read realist) then you'd see I was making my point in the context of tiny nuclear batteries. /smackdown

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 10:06:00 AM PDT, Blogger OptimisticDoomer said...

jeub or anthony summers,

And *gasp* I took your inane comment and used it in yet another context. Try to keep up.

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 10:53:00 AM PDT, Anonymous JEUB/Ant Summers said...

Optimistic Doomer:

Ha your comment is textbook inane and you admit your using the comment out of original context! It is you sir that needs to keep up

Typically 'debunker' bullshit

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 11:45:00 AM PDT, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"In particular, the northern half gets about 20 inches of rain yearly, or about three times what Nevada sees. While parts of the southern valley are indeed semi-arid desert, that's not even remotely true about the area as a whole.

Please do some research before making claims, as being so far from the truth casts your argument in a very poor light."

OK, it's the Amazon Rain Forest. Why is Sean Hannity running around the Central Valley muckraking with farmers asking to turn the spigot back on? If it were a perfect place to grow crops, there would be no discussion. The soil is great, the water situation, not so much. Certainly were we to close down LA and the Bay Area, there would be plenty of water for the farmers and the salmon, but Ag is the primary user anyway.

1) You can't grow many of the crops grown in the central valley with 20 inches of rain, even if you could pick the days that rain would fall. Cotton? RICE?

2) As I used to say back in my card-counting days - "Expectation isn't everything - the variance is a bitch". Today we are getting drenched in California. From late May until September - prime growning season - it never rains. The 20 inches of rain that falls in January is meaningless to Central Valley crops - they are irrigated from snowfall in the mountains. We could have an 80 inch winter in Healdsburg but my peppers will still need roughly the same amount of watering in summer as if we had no rain at all.

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 12:03:00 PM PDT, Blogger OptimisticDoomer said...

jeub/blahblah,


You're really grasping at straws now. I think LATOC is missing one of its crazies.

I'm not even sure what you are going on and on about, since we both seem to agree that mini nukes will not fuel cars in the future. You are just bitter because I had a mini rant about an old tired meme that you overheard and thought you were bringing some insight to this blog.

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 12:41:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Someone said it before and I agree: technology is not energy, only a facilitator of energy."

What do you think gets the oil out of the ground?
What do you think transports and refines the oil into gasoline?

It's a ludicrous argument to try to separate technology from energy.

Technology does not work without energy but we cannot get energy without technology.

Enough already.

DB

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 1:22:00 PM PDT, Anonymous JEUB / Ant Summers said...

DB/OD > "we cannot get energy without technology"

yes this is true its impossible to burn driftwood without technology.

Im not bitter - where do I say I'm saying im bitter?

Its not a tired old meme (btw this is an incorrect usage of the word meme) - its a true statement.

And finally I'm not even registered at LATOC - so stfu!

And if you agree with my statement about running cars on tiny nuclear batteries then what are you so worked up about!?

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 2:55:00 PM PDT, Anonymous DoctorJJ said...

Okay, so this is a little off-topic, but I think it's a great story about the potential of power production, even from low-temp geothermal. This probably won't be a game changer, but it could certainly fill a gap in cheap, easy, clean energy production.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/10/13/geothermal.resort/index.html

DoctorJJ

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 3:00:00 PM PDT, Blogger Yogi said...

“if you'd read the post before excitedly replying to fight off the nasty doomer (read realist) then you'd see I was making my point in the context of tiny nuclear batteries”

Being a doomer means you are a realist? Really?

Not all doomers have demonstrated a very good grasp on reality lately.

At the risk of recycling some old debunker blather, I would like to draw your attention to some of Ace’s production forecasts from the Oil Drum.

http://peakoildebunked.blogspot.com/2009/07/411-reality-check-for-ace.html

And it was also the usual Doom Crew who missed the increase in U.S. gas production, made possible by improved extraction technology.

http://peakoildebunked.blogspot.com/2008/08/374-natural-gas-cliff-bends-wrong-way.html

This is a good illustration of how technology, while not identical with energy, does influence the “energy available to society” part of the EROEI ratio.


It is correct to say that nuclear batteries are not suitable for cars, but chemical batteries charged on a mainly nuclear power grid would be a good substitute:

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2008/10/13/french-president-gives-evs-hybrids-green-light/

“French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that the French government will earmark $550 million of state funds over the next four years to subsidize the development and construction of “carbon-free” cars, Deutsche Welle reports.

In addition, Renault-Nissan and PSA Peugeot Citroen signed separate agreements with Electricité de France, Europe’s leading electricity producer and owner of the world’s biggest fleet of electric vehicles.”

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 3:09:00 PM PDT, Blogger Robert Davidson said...

While Farmer's Markets may not be efficient, I would expect CSAs to be much more efficient. In the areas I have lived in (Washington State, Texas, Illinois), CSAs have been fully engaged and most have waiting lists. In a CSA, a farmer is shipping all his produce to a pickup point. The farmer is able to size the vehicle to the load and will be moving all that his farm can produce that week. This seems about as efficient as a farm can get – if it were moving its produce to an industrial pickup point it would be doing the same thing.

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 3:51:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"yes this is true its impossible to burn driftwood without technology."

Can you run a car off of driftwood?
Can you run a subway system off of driftwood?
How about a chemical plant?

Your straw man is pathetic.

DB

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 4:49:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Jeub/ant greenwood said...

Db: ah yes the good old strawman comes to aid your actually pathetic arguing strategy. No one has claimed that chemical plants et al can be run on driftwood - you are pathetic with your ad Homs and 'authorative' tone. I am merely pointing out that energy can be found without technology but technology cannot exist without energy. Apologies if that was too abstract for your pathetic brain. Now back to my point: all because we have technology does not mean that it is then viable as an energy source for Large scale operations. Try and keep up

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 5:23:00 PM PDT, Anonymous non-doomer said...

read it and weep doomers.

Financier Soros to invest $1 billion in clean tech
http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10373946-54.html

"they" are working on the problem.

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 6:00:00 PM PDT, Anonymous DoctorJJ said...

"I am merely pointing out that energy can be found without technology but technology cannot exist without energy."

Can your driftwood burning caveman fashion an arrowhead out of a piece of flint? That is technology.

DoctorJJ

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 6:14:00 PM PDT, Blogger Yogi said...

“Can your driftwood burning caveman fashion an arrowhead out of a piece of flint? That is technology.”

Well said.

And if you use flint to start a driftwood fire then that’s technology too.

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 6:36:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am merely pointing out that energy can be found without technology but technology cannot exist without energy."
Mere is correct.
Technology certainly can exist without energy, though you could not run a civilization from it.
As others have pointed out, technology is a synonym for "tools".
And your point is irrelevant, because energy sufficient to run our civilization cannot be harnessed WITHOUT technology. It's all or nothing.

"Apologies if that was too abstract for your pathetic brain."
Be off with thee troll.


"Now back to my point"
Your "point" is about as pointed as a damp soggy blanket.

"All because we have technology does not mean that it is then viable as an energy source for Large scale operations.Try and keep up"
On the contrary, technology is a REQUIREMENT to efficiently extract the maximum possible energy from an energy source. Do try to maintain the pace old chap.

DB

 
At Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 7:46:00 PM PDT, Blogger wchfilms said...

OK, it's the Amazon Rain Forest. Why is Sean Hannity running around the Central Valley muckraking with farmers asking to turn the spigot back on? If it were a perfect place to grow crops, there would be no discussion. The soil is great, the water situation, not so much.

I guess I'm losing sight of what the discussion is. The water issue has been around forever, but they wouldn't bother if it wasn't such a generally great place to grow crops. Seems like local farming would have much more severe problems with periodic droughts than big ag. At any rate, even with the continual water rights problems, economically it's a very rewarding place to grow big ag.

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 12:12:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Soylent said...

"And if you use flint to start a driftwood fire then that’s technology too."

Bashing two flint rocks toghether won't give you a spark, you need iron or some other metal that can be made to flake off and burn; this is not stone age technology.

Is there any way of starting a fire in a piece of driftwood that doesn't draw on a broad web of technology?

You need your tinder material. It needs to be dried. This is a technology.

You need your small twigs or other material that can easily be ignited by tinder. This is a technology.

If you need to dry or store your driftwood appropriately that's more technology.

The ignition source itself is where most of the technology resides. In the stone age you'd have used friction. At the very least you need to make a spindle and hearthboard. To make the spindle you need a a straight, rounded stick that is hard and dry; this requires drying(technology), sanding(technology) and flint tools( technology). The hearthboard is a dry plank with a socket ground into it with stone tools and a notch adjacent to the socket in which to place the tinder; at the very simplest it can be two straight, dry sticks bound toghether using either dried sinew or string weaved from thin layers of bark or other fibre.

Starting a fire this way is a huge pain in the butt, but it can be much simplified by a few further bits of technology. You can make a bow-like instrument and a smooth socket in a piece of stone so you don't have to spin the spindle back and forth by hand.

If you actually do something with the fire, like cook food, that's more technology. You're not going to hold a whole hog over the fire by hand, you're going to skin it and clean its skin with stone tools, you're going to get out the sinews and other useful parts, you're going to cut it up into managable pieces and then you're going to use some kind of stick-based technology to cook it without burning yourself.

More advanced cooking tools like pots can be made from particular kinds of soft, workable rocks. Pottery wasn't invented until 8000 years ago.

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 3:01:00 AM PDT, Anonymous JEUB\ANT SUMMERS said...

Youve all sadly missed the point (and the sad thing is you are trying to desperately debunk me on somthing so abstract anyway...and failing) : you cannot burn flint. Lets say all the wood in the world is burnt - is your technology (flint) worth anything? No
Now a history lesson - the first fires in the caves weren't started by flint but by lightning. Our ancestors transferred fire with sticks to a pile of sticks closer to home and kept the fire going (DB I wouldn't even try and equate the sticks used as technology otherwise you'll look even more ridiculous).

I have shown that an energy source can exist where technology cannot. I have won. End of story.

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 6:49:00 AM PDT, Anonymous DoctorJJ said...

"I have shown that an energy source can exist where technology cannot. I have won. End of story."

Yes, but unfortunately for your argument, this place where energy exists but technology doesn't is a fantasy. There IS energy left in the universe. Technology has been created and applied.

You also said "I am merely pointing out that energy can be found without technology but technology cannot exist without energy."
What's the point? Again, there is energy left in the universe. The wood has not all been burned. Technology will allow us to continue to capture and use the available energy for eons.

DoctorJJ

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 7:51:00 AM PDT, Blogger Yogi said...

“DB I wouldn't even try and equate the sticks used as technology otherwise you'll look even more ridiculous”

Well, the use of sticks by chimpanzees has been equated with tool use:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tool_use_by_animals


You are correct to say that an energy source can exist without technology, but technology is highly relevant to how effectively an energy source can be exploited.

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 8:06:00 AM PDT, Anonymous JEUB\Ant Summers said...

Yogi: Good point technology can be made of wood. Im mainly arguing on a matter of principle as 'authorative debunkers' state a truism such as "TECHNOLOGY = ENERGY" as a rule; I've found an exception to their rule, hence it is not a rule anymore.

Now wheres the strawman... looks like DB will need to use his faithful services again ;)

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 9:15:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeub,

You are a clown.
First of all you're trying to force the idea that debunkers are saying technology = energy.
We are not.

What we are debunking is that from the doomer side (according to them) technology is of no help in production of energy. Further, the point is that there's nothing we can do from a technology perspective to EVER get more usable energy than we are currently getting from oil.

We here beg to differ.

The non-doomer position is that technology is REQUIRED to extract useful energy, and the more advanced the technology is, the better and more efficient the extraction is.

It seems to be only doomers who disagree with that position.

Sure we can sidetrack and split hairs over where the dividing line between technology and energy lies, but the fact that you have to go back to before the stone age is telling.

The only thing you have "won" is first prize in the doomer clown gallery.

Enjoy.

PS How old are you? I suspect you are either in your teens or are in your early twenties.

DB

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 12:49:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Technology is to the natural world as leverage is to economics. Technology amplifies our natural abilities, our capacities to do accurate, valuable work as well as our capacities for waste, destruction and error. To screw-up in truly biblical proportions.

Technology produces life-saving medicine and suitcase nuclear weapons.

The problem with technology, and technophiliacs, is the same as the problem with leverage - you rarely think you have too much economic leverage until the fulcrum shifts.

In other words, don't put all your eggs in the technology basket.


HDT

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 1:30:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Babun said...

To the extent that they did have local food they periodically had massive famines because of it.

Local food is largely a myth. It's not a coincidence that big cities formed on rivers and along coasts, wherever natural harbours existed. Egypt was the bread basket of Rome; they even managed to import oysters from London. Even for land-locked cities, food was brought in from far and wide with carts. The first to starve in a famine was the country-side.


Local food is a myth? Perhaps you should choose your words more carefully :)

I think there were lots of reasons for famines in old and ancient times, but local production probably wasn't the main cause (e.g economic, political, technical, natural and social). Just because food is produced locally doesn't mean you have to be isolated. And i'd guess in ancient times pretty much everyone was at least partly producing their own food. Stockpiling has also been around for veeeeery long.

When making claims like yours, some kind of sources would also be prudent, like regarding that the countryside would have been the first to suffer.

Stop the pointless bashing of local food for merely the sake of some anti-idealism - or provide some sources for your claims.

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 2:03:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In other words, don't put all your eggs in the technology basket."

Too late for that genius.
The key difference between human beings and other animals IS technology.

So we should go back to the forests and "live off the land" and abandon technology?

Is THAT your solution?

Or do you not have a solution and you just come on here to preach to the technology heathens?

DB

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 2:30:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

HDT,

Leverage is a poor way of looking at technology. Leverage assumes you are taking out a debt in order to achieve a higher return than the weighted cost of the debt. However, technology is better (though not perfectly) treated as equity capital. Or even as a capital or labor multiplier (think of how machinery can make one worker more efficient on the margin, and how software can also make that machine more efficient on the margin.)

However, treating it as leverage is odd.

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 2:54:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In other words, don't put ALL your eggs in the technology basket."

There are problems for which there are no technological solutions.

"So we should go back to the forests and "live off the land" and abandon technology?"

No. The false binary once again. There are problems for which there are no technological solutions.

"However, technology is better (though not perfectly) treated as equity capital."

No. Technology is all about harnessing nature to do work for men that men couldn't otherwise do for themselves in the present moment. Same for borrowed money.

HDT

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 2:59:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No. Technology is all about harnessing nature to do work for men that men couldn't otherwise do for themselves in the present moment. Same for borrowed money."

Are you claiming that all technology is equivalent to borrowed money?

DB

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 3:10:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

HDT,

No, technology is about AMPLIFYING human capabilities. A lever, for example, allows us to lift greater amounts of weight than we could on our own.

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 3:14:00 PM PDT, Anonymous GreenNeck said...

So we should go back to the forests and "live off the land" and abandon technology?

DB,
Get out of your cornucopian haze. You are already 'living off the land'. As smart as you think we are, humans are utterly dependent on a healthy ecosystem, i.e., the 'land'. Without it, we're nothing.

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 3:27:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

GreenNeck,

Semantics are fun, but the phrase "living off the land" has a specific meaning in colloquial American English.

Yes, you are correct that we all are dependent on the well-being of the ecosystem, but it's been a long time since we were all hunter-gatherers or tenant farmers.

You are absolutely correct, however, in implying that we should treat ecological capital as the most important resource-- that, however, is a different issue from this, IMO.

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 3:32:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No, technology is about AMPLIFYING human capabilities."

I said that very thing just a few comments above: "Technology amplifies our natural abilities, our capacities to do accurate, valuable work as well as our capacities for waste, destruction and error."

The lever/leverage does indeed allow us to lift heavier loads. With the right fulcrum, you can move the earth. I'm not sure what you're trying to reflexively disagree with.

HDT

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 3:45:00 PM PDT, Anonymous non-doomer said...

"Technology is all about harnessing nature to do work for men that men couldn't otherwise do for themselves in the present moment. Same for borrowed money."

no it isn't. almost anything we do today used to be done by hand. didn't they dig they dig the panama canal by hand until the steam shovel? if worse comes to worse, with less oil things will take a little longer to build, will be scaled down a bit and will take more human effort to accomplish.

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 4:07:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

HDT,

I'm not "reflexively disagreeing" with anything. I'm saying that technology is not leverage, because leverage implies that you have to pay back something in the future. What do you pay back in the future when you use a lever? There is no "debt" incurred with using a pulley system.

Leverage is DEBT. You don't necessarily incur a debt by using technology. Technology is capital and an an amplifier. That's my issue. You're framing technology as something that has to be paid back, when in reality once you have a technology you don't "pay it back" but continue to enjoy it and amplify your labor and capital indefinitely.

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 4:31:00 PM PDT, Blogger DB said...

"DB,
Get out of your cornucopian haze. You are already 'living off the land'. As smart as you think we are, humans are utterly dependent on a healthy ecosystem, i.e., the 'land'. Without it, we're nothing."

The "land" is simply a resource.

Moreover, we're not constrained to use only pre-technology land for productivity.

Only food is dependent on land and even there it's debatable.

Greenhouses are inarguably a product of human technology.
Are they "land"? I'd argue yes, though clearly they are not pre-technology.

Hydroponics are inarguably a product of human technology.
Are they "land"? I'd argue yes.

Algae grown in vats with mined nutrients run off of energy which DOES NOT COME from the ecosystem are also a product of human technology. Are they "land"? I'd argue yes.

Yes, we currently live off the land ultimately in the sense that currently most of our food comes from land but that is not to say we are SHACKLED to it.

Has it ever occurred to you that the machine economy could be kept running without humans?

Extrapolating it's CLEAR that human welfare does not depend 100% on the ecosystem. An artificial ecosystem such as is our economy is obviously poorer in terms of diversity compared with the natural ecosystem, but it's no foregone conclusion that we REQUIRE a natural ecosystem for our economy to function.

But no it hasn't because it's you who are shackled by your luddite thinking.

But then again that is the essence of this argument. You and HDT and the other doomers are essentially luddites.

DB

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 4:57:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You're framing technology as something that has to be paid back, when in reality once you have a technology you don't "pay it back" but continue to enjoy it and amplify your labor and capital indefinitely."

You're really showing your free-lunch, technophiliac side here. There's always a payback of some kind, that's the inescapable, basic law of thermodynamics. Debt can be useful and it can destroy economies.

Technology doesn't always produce positive amplification - it amplifies destructive processes as well.

There's no free lunch.

HDT


HDT

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 5:01:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Has it ever occurred to you that the machine economy could be kept running without humans?"

Who would care?

"Extrapolating it's CLEAR that human welfare does not depend 100% on the ecosystem."

You are clearly deluded. If the ecosystem dies, we all die. If the ecosystem gets sick, we get sick. To suggest otherwise in to indulge in the most juvenile of Jiminy Cricket wish-on-a-star fantasies.

HDT

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 8:35:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

HDT,

I don't think the laws of thermodynamics are what you think they are. Let us, for a moment, review them:

Zeroth: "If A and C are each in thermal equilibrium with B, A is also in thermal equilibrium with C"

First: The increase in the internal energy of a system is equal to the amount of energy added by heating the system, minus the amount lost as a result of the work done by the system on its surroundings.

Second: In a system, a process that occurs will tend to increase the total entropy of the universe.

Third: As a system approaches absolute zero, all processes cease and the entropy of the system approaches a minimum value.

I often see you say that "these are the laws of physics" and whatnot, but for all intents and purposes;

- all life is a constant battle against entropy (from the smallest cell to the largest mammal)

- the Earth is not a closed system, never has been, and barring any strange events in our lifetimes, will never be

The "there is no such this as a free lunch" argument is, of course, the first postulate one learns in any decent economics class, and it is of course true. Mankiw said it best: "To get one thing that we like, we usually have to give up another thing that we like. Making decisions requires trading off one goal against another." This is, of course, pretty much the entire study of economics: how people deal with trade-offs in a world with scarcity. This is not "new" and by no means something that I'm arguing with you.

I'm arguing that technology is best treated as capital. Instead of repeating what you said before, tell me WHY it's not best treated like a stock of capital. You keep saying the same thing, but at least the last time you offered up some fallacious science...

Also, yes, I realize that the use of a technology means the conversion of energy: but so does physical labor. ALL work (in the physical sense) incurs an energy cost. And no, that's not the point. The point is that a technology, such as the pulley, the wheel, the lever, the engine, etc. is a form of capital because we can amplify our labors with them. The fact that we incur a cost in their use is moot, because that's something that is true of ALL actions.

 
At Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 9:23:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You are clearly deluded. If the ecosystem dies, we all die. If the ecosystem gets sick, we get sick."
I don't think so.
We are capable of making artificial carbohydrates, fats and proteins from basic elements through chemical processes.
We can also do the same for various enzymes and vitamins.
Given sufficient energy source, we don't need an eco-system at all.
This is not to say that any humans in such a system would be 100% healthy, but then again, humans in an agricultural system aren't 100% healthy either and yet here we are, all 7 billion of us.

DB

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 1:51:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

DB:

Haha nice one your posts gave me a good laugh. But seriously I'd consider respecting the earth and ecosystem a bit more:

" "You are clearly deluded. If the ecosystem dies, we all die. If the ecosystem gets sick, we get sick."
I don't think so."

Erm.. I think so. Yes we could sit in a big plastic bubble eating synthetic nutrients grown in vats of algae (hmm wheres the algae come from?) but what about water? Clean air? What kind of existence is this? You seriously want to replace every service the earth does for us with technology, have 7+ billion people reliant on this and you don't consider this putting all your techno-eggs in one basket?

"Given sufficient energy source, we don't need an eco-system at all." Sigh...I definitely disagree. I think you totally underappreciate how dependent we are on this planet, and people like you are the reason the earth is being polluted and destroyed. I loathe your 'suck the earth dry' mentality and I think it is going to suprise you in the future how intrinsically linked we are to this planet. True you could burn the earth and replace all the bounties of nature with machines, then I think you would realise what a bad idea this is, as then you are then truly shackled.

I'd suggest this: take a second to step into the natural world. Realise the truely stupendous beauty of it - the handful of soil containing billions and billions of organisms, the wonder that virus's, bacteria, nematodes, plankton, worms, plants , fungus and animals all moving in harmony and balance. You want to replace this with machines, vats of nutrients and artificial systems...how very very sad. I know that computers, cars and video games make us seem outside nature but if you spent a couple of minutes thinking about it (I bet you wont) then you would see that we need the natural world more than it needs us.

HDT! gimme an email I wanna ask you a question - email james [at] boxybrown.co.uk

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 6:08:00 AM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

GreenJamie,

I think you and HDT are missing DB's point. The point is not that we would WANT to live in that world, but that humans could theoretically survive in some way in that world.

There's an important difference between a normative and a positive statement.

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 7:31:00 AM PDT, Blogger Yogi said...

Ari, they are not really interested in facts. This is fundamentally a debate between competing value systems.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-primitivism

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Industrial_Society_and_Its_Future

Peak Oil is being used as a canard. Some other threat to industrial civilization will be found to replace it in the next few years.

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 7:32:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The point is that a technology...is a form of capital because we can amplify our labors with them."

We're in complete agreement there; I've said the same thing as plainly as I possibly could.

As for your quibbling over semantics; the chronology of any technology - from a simple lever to a complex nuclear reactor - is to FIRST conceive, design, fund and build and implement that technology with one's existing energy and capital BEFORE that technology begins to repay that debt of time, money and effort with increased lifting power, electrical power, etc. There's nothing magical about it. As you say, all actions come at a cost, and the cost can come in many forms. You must build the amplifier before it can amplify. Once the amplifier is in operation, it can amplify for good or, if it is poorly conceived or operated, it can oscillate and destroy itself and the operator.

DB in particular seems to suffer from an extreme case of magical thinking. The idea of not needing an ecosystem is something only a spoiled urban brat who'd never stepped outside an urban home could imagine.


HDT

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 8:20:00 AM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

HDT,

If you're going to use these terms, don't you want to use them as correctly as possible?

As for your quibbling over semantics; the chronology of any technology - from a simple lever to a complex nuclear reactor - is to FIRST conceive, design, fund and build and implement that technology with one's existing energy and capital BEFORE that technology begins to repay that debt of time, money and effort with increased lifting power, electrical power, etc.

But unlike a debt, a new technology can give returns long after the cost of investment has been repaid: LIKE EQUITY CAPITAL. This is more than simple semantics, this is about you not applying physical and economic principles correctly.

There's nothing magical about it. As you say, all actions come at a cost, and the cost can come in many forms. You must build the amplifier before it can amplify. Once the amplifier is in operation, it can amplify for good or, if it is poorly conceived or operated, it can oscillate and destroy itself and the operator.

You're conflating two different arguments here: the positive and the normative. Whether or not a technology can be used for ill or good doesn't change the fact that it's not a "debt" to be repaid, but a capital stock that you build up over time.

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 9:04:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...But unlike a debt, a new technology can give returns long after the cost of investment has been repaid"

Incurring debt is not always a negative thing. Just like technologies, we can use debt to accomplish useful, productive results that continue long after the debt has been repaid. We can also incur debt that strangles us and drags us into bankruptcy.

Positive and normative arguments need not be mutually exclusive. It's your inability to see the similarities between leverage and technology that blinds you to the larger picture. Both leverage and technology amplify human capacities for good and productivity and evil and destruction. Both technology and leverage are comprised of time and energy invested to achieve some desired future outcome.

Back to the thread that started the discussion - putting all the eggs (food production) in the basket of large-scale, monoculture, technology-intensive agriculture is asking for trouble.

I hope you, JD and DB will stay in the dense, urban areas where all the food and energy comes from somewhere else. Some of us intuitively see the advantages of small, independent and cellular.

HDT

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 9:31:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

HDT! gimme an email I wanna ask you a question - email james [at] boxybrown.co.uk

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 9:56:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think you and HDT are missing DB's point. The point is not that we would WANT to live in that world, but that humans could theoretically survive in some way in that world."

Yup. I definitely would rather eat steak and nutritious vegetables than "meal-in-a-gob-of-green-glue".
Which is not to say that we couldn't survive on the green glue if we needed to. Which is my point: we have CONTROL over our survival.

"Yogi said...
Ari, they are not really interested in facts. This is fundamentally a debate between competing value systems."
Yup.
They care not a whit for a logical argument. It's an emotional argument based on their position that rural living is a fundamental good and technological civilization is a fundamental bad.
Not considering that rural living could not possibly support seven billion people. i.e. their value system implies the NECESSARY death of billions of people.

DB

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 10:38:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

Db, our technological civilization not only implies but actually causes the death of entire species and the Eco system. For some unknown reason people have a problem with this/sarcasm. And for your information the death of the eco system would result in the deaths of billions of people regardless of how much green glue you could produce - if you can't understand this then there's not much more point discussing things with you - be under no delusion you have not debunked anything - merely invented some science fiction

ps. Do you mind if I go on to solve the current world hunger situation with your green glue? Here you go mr. African the answer turned out to be rather simple!

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 11:14:00 AM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

GreenJamie,

Db, our technological civilization not only implies but actually causes the death of entire species and the Eco system.

Our "pre-technological" civilization also caused the extinctions of many species. We, along with every other species on the planet to a degree, have been altering the ecosystems we live in since we first figured out how to make sharp sticks.

That is a truism, and in and of itself not interesting.

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 11:41:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

Ari yes you are correct that humans, and other species, have in the past damaged the planet but cannot argue with the fact that our rate of ecological destruction is disproportionate to our population size. Whether you find that interesting or not is your prerogative but I'm guessing when the destruction of the planet starts to affect you then you might be interested.
What I find interesting is that we are the first species
to understand what we are doing to our world - if it turns out we still do nothing then what does that say about us?

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 11:50:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They care not a whit for a logical argument. It's an emotional argument based on their position that rural living is a fundamental good and technological civilization is a fundamental bad."

No one, not even the most devout Luddite here has argued that technological civilization is fundamentally bad. You're having another bipolar episode.

"Not considering that rural living could not possibly support seven billion people. i.e. their value system implies the NECESSARY death of billions of people."

The only way you could reach that hysterical conclusion is to convince yourself that someone actually wants, or is even able to, magically convert all 7 billion of us to uniformly impoverished rural dwellers at the drop of a hat. This is your sick bipolar fantasy. Stop trying to project it on everything you see.


HDT

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 12:10:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

GreenJamie

Ari yes you are correct that humans, and other species, have in the past damaged the planet but cannot argue with the fact that our rate of ecological destruction is disproportionate to our population size.

A couple of points: "damaging the planet" is a value statement that has no meaning within the natural world itself. Beavers damming a stream and causing the deaths of animals upstream is not "damaging the planet," but simply beavers competing for resources.

Whether or not our "ecological destruction" is disproportionate to our population size is also a loaded statement. Do we alter the planet in greater degrees than other species, per capita? Absolutely. Do we cause dramatic changes to ecosystems? Yes. Is that "ecological destruction?" Again, a value statement. We create DIFFERENT ecosystems, for better or for worse.

I am not arguing in favor of any of our changes, mind you, just saying that you're using loaded language.

Whether you find that interesting or not is your prerogative but I'm guessing when the destruction of the planet starts to affect you then you might be interested.
What I find interesting is that we are the first species
to understand what we are doing to our world - if it turns out we still do nothing then what does that say about us?


I find our impact on the Earth absolutely fascinating, and have spent a fair amount of time reading environmental science, as well as taking a broad range of science courses during my student days.

As for what our actions say about us, I think it's pretty simple: we, like all other species, are programmed to survive and procreate. That's biological imperative number one.

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 12:37:00 PM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

You answer well Ari; I did laugh at your euphamistic 'change ecosystems for better or for worse' - I'm making a wild guess in saying that the global average of Eco-change falls into the latter category.

Db no offense but I'm ignoring your comments because as HDT says you are being hysterical and indirectly implying we're in the pro dieoff camp

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 12:58:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

GreenJamie,

It's interesting that you say "mostly negative." For example, there is now evidence that native human beings in a sense created the ecosystems of the Americas:

http://www.wildlandfire.com/docs/biblio_indianfire.htm

I previously read, but cannot currently find, a newer article that demonstrated evidence that the modern Amazon rainforest was, to a greater degree, a human creation. We often cite the same forest as a "pristine" environment, but humans have been affecting those environments for many many centuries.

Don't get me wrong: I'm all for preservation of biodiversity and protecting habitat. I believe that we should do our best to maintain a "hands off" approach in these cases. But to argue that there has existed a "pristine" world since the Pleistocene seems to me to be romantic talk.

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 2:08:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I previously read, but cannot currently find, a newer article that demonstrated evidence that the modern Amazon rainforest was, to a greater degree, a human creation."

Amazing. Next you'll tell me that Niagra Falls was a CCC project.

You guys are putting me on now. You're sick, really sick.

HDT

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 2:51:00 PM PDT, Blogger Yogi said...

“You guys are putting me on now. You're sick, really sick.”

I told you they weren’t really interested in facts ;)

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 3:11:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

HDT,

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/301/5640/1710

http://www.nature.com/news/2003/030919/full/news030915-12.html

This is one of the articles I was thinking about. Say what you want about Science, but it's certainly not a podunk no-name journal. I quote the sentence written in the ScienceNews article:

"The Amazon was densely populated before Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World, confirms new evidence unearthed in Brazil1. The finds lay to rest the notion that the region was pristine forest when the explorer landed in 1492."

And another quote from the article's author:

The Amazon was not primordial when European colonists arrived -- bringing with them the diseases such as smallpox and measles that virtually wiped out indigenous populations.

"I firmly believe that the majority of what is now forested landscape would have been converted into some other type of environment -- secondary forest or fields of grass or orchards of fruit trees or manioc gardens," he said.

So...HDT, if you think I'm "sick," then I suppose those guys are sick as well?

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 3:21:00 PM PDT, Blogger Yogi said...

Good find Ari.

Early humans have also been implicated in the pleistocene megafaun extinction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleistocene_megafauna

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 3:28:00 PM PDT, Blogger DB said...

"And for your information the death of the eco system would result in the deaths of billions of people regardless of how much green glue you could produce."

That's an assertion only.
Western Europe, for example, is a case in point of where the natural habitat has been heavily modified from it's natural state. It's MUCH less biologically diverse than it used to be and yet, now there are a few hundred millions living in it as opposed to less than million in "pristine" times (i.e. pre agriculture). In terms of raw physical health, it's quite possible that the hunter gatherers of this period were better off than those who subsist on e.g. bean burritos or green glop in a can.

The point I'm trying to make that you and HDT are stubbornly refusing to take on board because of the emotional impact the concept of a reduced eco-system has on you, is that human beings are capable of creating a minimum level of food resource which can sustain a large population.
Less healthy to be sure, but still larger.

The cost, of course, is that there is much less biodiversity.

DB

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 3:32:00 PM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

Ari: They are quite interesting posts, if slightly unbelievable imho - both the articles needs you to pay to view the whole article which, to me, smells of profiteering polemic.

Regardless, it doesn't debunk anything to do with the fact that modern technological society is causing the degradation of our ecosystem. It is really open to debate other than to people who solely want to debate.

Yogi, the sites aren't stating the facts, rather theories.

Organisms do change the ecosystem by the very fact that they are part of the ecosystem. Humans are organisms ergo are also part of the ecosystem - you could argue that pollution and ecodestruction is actually all natural. But as we understand what we are doing, to outsiders (lets pretend aliens) - we look as stupid as someone who shits in their own living room

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 3:45:00 PM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie james[at]boxybrown.co.uk said...

HDT I get the distinct impression that DB isn't reading anything I'm writing and basically putting his hands over his ears going 'techno techno techno techno'

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 3:47:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Pitt said...

> I previously read, but cannot
> currently find, a newer article that
> demonstrated evidence that the
> modern Amazon rainforest was, to a
> greater degree, a human creation. We
> often cite the same forest as a "pristine"
> environment, but humans have been
> affecting those environments for many
> many centuries.


You may be thinking of this article, or a similar one addressing the same research.

You may also be familiar with research showing effects of similar magnitude on North America's ecosystems:

"So extensive were the cumulative effects of these modifications that it may be said that the general consequence of the Indian occupation of the New World was to replace forested land with grassland or savannah, or, where the forest persisted, to open it up and free it from underbrush. Most of the impenetrable woods encountered by explorers were in bogs or swamps from which fire was excluded; naturally drained landscape was nearly everywhere burned. Conversely, almost wherever the European went, forests followed. The Great American Forest may be more a product of settlement than a victim of it (Pyne 1982: 79-80)."

Roughly speaking, evidence indicates that it's been thousands of years since anything outside of Antarctica was a pristine environment.

 
At Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 4:08:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Regardless, it doesn't debunk anything to do with the fact that modern technological society is causing the degradation of our ecosystem. It is really open to debate other than to people who solely want to debate."

Nobody is arguing that the ecosystems are not being degraded.
What is being argued is whether or not human beings are totally dependent on a fully bio-diversified ecosystem.

DB

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 5:34:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

"Nobody is arguing that the ecosystems are not being degraded.
What is being argued is whether or not human beings are totally dependent on a fully bio-diversified ecosystem."

Hehe Im getting the feeling that you feel youre still 'debunking' if you write literally anything. I'll leave you with this parting shot: you *are* going to be suprised at how intrinsically linked your body and mind are to the wellbeing of the a diverse, healthy eco-system; all because you feel that we could survive on green gloop does not necassarily mean that you would want to exist in that state.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 6:10:00 AM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

GreenJamie,

Again, you and DB are arguing different things. You keep mixing up the NORMATIVE and the POSITIVE:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normative

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_science

Do we WANT to live in a Lovelockian apocalyptic desert world of Arakkis? Hell no. But it's CLEAR that humans survive, and to a degree even thrive, in harsh miserable climates.

Also, regarding your opinion of the articles, I can only say a few things.

First off, it's VERY common for articles in major scientific publications to be behind a paywall. And I daresay that this suggests to me that you haven't much experience with scientific journals, of which Science is one of the major ones. Even specialized journals are behind a paywall. That is, of course, how they pay their expenses-- calling it "profiteering" is silly invective.

Secondly, articles such as the one I linked to are VERY interesting because they're in major, status quo minded journals like Science (okay, so it's not Nature, but still). Science thrives on contrarian arguments-- especially well-researched and argued ones.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 7:43:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DB's magical thinking: "Given sufficient energy source, we don't need an eco-system at all."

Ari's subsequent support for that magical thinking: "...evidence that the modern Amazon rainforest was, to a greater degree, a human creation."

Voila! All problems solved! We don't need an eco-system, humans created the rain forests, and we have a glut of energy. Ergo, we'll grow all our 'food' in one big central vat and ship it all over the world to feed all 7+ billion of us.

I guessing Ari probably has the common sense to know that humans couldn't conceive, design, and manufacture the DNA, soil, nutrients, conditions, etc. necessary for a potted plant, much less an entire rain forest. The problem with these 'debunkers' is that they use the magical pronouncements of the petulant cranks like DB to spin cornucopian fantasies like "we don't need an eco-system at all."

This is why this site often seems like an inside joke started by a bored AEI intern.


HDT

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 8:39:00 AM PDT, Blogger OptimisticDoomer said...

I guessing Ari probably has the common sense to know that humans couldn't conceive, design, and manufacture the DNA, soil, nutrients, conditions, etc. necessary for a potted plant, much less an entire rain forest.

Soil nutrients? One of the arguments but forth that the Amazon was not managed by humans, is the soil is very poor. Did you even read the articles posted by Ari & Pitt or did you immediately just spin-off on your own tangent?

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 8:42:00 AM PDT, Blogger OptimisticDoomer said...

Ari -

I have serious doubts greenie & hdt are even reading the articles. No use in going in circles if they aren't even interested in reading what is put forth.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 8:47:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

HDT this is quite ironic:

(http://www.thefreedictionary.com/debunk):

de·bunk (d-bngk)
To expose or ridicule the falseness, sham, or exaggerated claims of: eg. debunk a supposed miracle drug.

That description sounds more like what doomers do to debunkers!

I find it particularly humourous that the debunking on this site seems to be a comical mix of sci-fi, visceral attack, cherry picked stats and wishful thinking.

To be fair though Ari you are a decent debater and evidently well read.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 9:21:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Im getting the feeling that you feel youre still 'debunking' if you write literally anything."
Good. You are finally clueing in.
It's about debunking doomer myths surrounding peak oil. The core doomer myth is dieoff.
If we can survive on green gloop which we manufacture ourselves with non-oil-based energy and other inputs clearly dieoff is debunked.
It's taken you quite some time to clue in, but you made it in the end.

"All because you feel that we could survive on green gloop does not necassarily mean that you would want to exist in that state."
I actually don't disagree with that. Just that we *could* which DEBUNKS dieoff. Which is the point.

DB

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 9:26:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I find it particularly humourous that the debunking on this site seems to be a comical mix of sci-fi, visceral attack, cherry picked stats and wishful thinking."

You don't seem to read much outside of "greenpeace today".

Are you wilfully ignoring the hundreds of POSITIVE articles every year showing the breakthroughs humankind are making?

I think so.

What I don't get is why you even bother coming here.

DB

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 10:14:00 AM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

HDT,

You're being disingenuous, and like many people who try to argue with me, putting words in my mouth.

Voila! All problems solved! We don't need an eco-system, humans created the rain forests, and we have a glut of energy. Ergo, we'll grow all our 'food' in one big central vat and ship it all over the world to feed all 7+ billion of us.

When did I ever even say this? And before you say, "BUT YOU IMPLIED IT," I'll say this: I implied no such thing. I was responding to GreenJamie in a conversation about humanity's role in ecosystems pre- and post-industry. Whatever you're trying to pin on me just won't stick, because it's not there.

That being said, I never even said that we "created the rainforests." I said that it appears, according to recent research, that the rainforests as we know them today are largely a human creation. Did you even bother reading the articles, or hell... the abstracts?

I guessing Ari probably has the common sense to know that humans couldn't conceive, design, and manufacture the DNA, soil, nutrients, conditions, etc. necessary for a potted plant, much less an entire rain forest. The problem with these 'debunkers' is that they use the magical pronouncements of the petulant cranks like DB to spin cornucopian fantasies like "we don't need an eco-system at all."

When did I say that? You're just setting up a straw man to blow over, you big bad wolf, you. You're gonna huff and puff, but guess what? You need to do more than blow a bunch of hot air with this one. Last I checked, Nature and Science aren't namby pamby no-name journals, and even if you disagree with the research you need to at least READ IT to come up with good counter arguments.

I'm waiting, Mr. Wolf.

This is why this site often seems like an inside joke started by a bored AEI intern.

Actually, I never even considered AEI. Did try for Brookings and Wilson, but I don't have a PhD, so there wasn't much in the way of career opportunities. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I'm not the CATOite you think I am.



GreenJamie,

I still want to know why you think a major scientific journal having a paywall is "profiteering." Last I checked, even the AAAS needs to pay bills.

OK OK, snark aside-- I want to know WHY you don't think the paper makes sense. This is the problem I find with a lot of the contrary comments here: they're hit and run snipes that never even try to hit the target, and instead are designed to distract from the points being made. C'mon, sit a spell and take your best shots-- maybe even stick a couple of scientific cartridges in that rifle of yours.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 10:44:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

"Good. You are finally clueing in.
It's about debunking doomer myths surrounding peak oil. The core doomer myth is dieoff."

But you haven't debunked anything - please read on and you'll see why.

"If we can survive on green gloop which we manufacture ourselves with non-oil-based energy and other inputs clearly dieoff is debunked."

No you haven't debunked anything (read the definition of debunked). Why, if the green gloop paradigm is so wonderous, are there food related dieoffs today when oil and other energy is freely available? You seem to transpose something that can be done in a test tube to a solution for billions of people. Could you please, before replying, reflect on this and understand its absurdity.

"It's taken you quite some time to clue in, but you made it in the end"

lulz all ive done is debunk you.


"I actually don't disagree with that. Just that we *could* which DEBUNKS dieoff. Which is the point"

No it really isn't otherwise we 'could' do a lot of wonderous things we haven't. I wonder *why* we haven't?


"You don't seem to read much outside of "greenpeace today""

I'm talking about this site DB, not 'greenpeace today'. This statement is just your bipolar handwaving.

"Are you wilfully ignoring the hundreds of POSITIVE articles every year showing the breakthroughs humankind are making?

I think so."

Are you wilfully ignoring the hundreds of NEGATIVE articles every year showing humankinds impact on the planet. I think so.

"What I don't get is why you even bother coming here."

The first actually sensible statement you've probably ever written. I enjoy reading what ari and hdt write and I also confirm to myself that there is absolutely no debunking taking place. Another reason might be because we all enjoy a good laugh now and again.

mwah!

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 11:09:00 AM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

GreenJamie,

But you haven't debunked anything - please read on and you'll see why.

Here's where I disagree. JD has done a good job of bringing a number of the most egregious claims to light and showing why they're wrong. I don't see how that's not "debunking" taking place.

No you haven't debunked anything (read the definition of debunked). Why, if the green gloop paradigm is so wonderous, are there food related dieoffs today when oil and other energy is freely available? You seem to transpose something that can be done in a test tube to a solution for billions of people. Could you please, before replying, reflect on this and understand its absurdity.

Jeez, lots of issues here.

First off, let's establish something: the world does not produce too little food to feed those living today. The fact that there are today more obese than there are malnourished shows that, if anything, we produce too much food-- or we are simply not distributing it properly. I think both are true.

Secondly, and I can't stress this enough: normative and positive statements are different. Just because something IS doesn't make it GOOD.

No it really isn't otherwise we 'could' do a lot of wonderous things we haven't. I wonder *why* we haven't?


There are many things we COULD do that we do not. I, for example, COULD finally finish reading War and Peace, but I probably won't. Why? Limited resources (time.) I gain more utility in the present by reading other books (I'm reading McCullough at the moment, to be exact.) The same thing applies to societies. Many times, countries that have the resources to provide good living conditions to their people instead devolve into stupidity: look at Zimbabwe.

Are you wilfully ignoring the hundreds of NEGATIVE articles every year showing humankinds impact on the planet. I think so.

And... how does this change the positive? This is just you changing the subject.

The first actually sensible statement you've probably ever written. I enjoy reading what ari and hdt write and I also confirm to myself that there is absolutely no debunking taking place. Another reason might be because we all enjoy a good laugh now and again.


Except that there is. I can't hold a candle to JD for his fantastic work, but I think I've offered some pretty decent rebuttals to some bad "peak oil arguments" in the past.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 11:22:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

Ari:

"I want to know WHY you don't think the paper makes sense."

I think you are putting words in my mouth (please point out where I said the papers don't make sense - if you can't then I'll assume that you are also guilty of missing the target in hit and run attack statements).

If the papers are true, and who is say they are not, then thats great historical news and I would pay to read them. Maybe even I will. But I find their contribution to the current discussion somewhat meaningless. They are interesting - that is all.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 11:43:00 AM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

GreenJamie,

You said: They are quite interesting posts, if slightly unbelievable imho - both the articles needs you to pay to view the whole article which, to me, smells of profiteering polemic.

Sorry, you said "unbelievable," and I should have used that word instead. Why do you say that? And also, why do you think it's profiteering for Science/Nature to have paywalls? Please answer my question.

If the papers are true, and who is say they are not, then thats great historical news and I would pay to read them. Maybe even I will. But I find their contribution to the current discussion somewhat meaningless. They are interesting - that is all.

Actually, the contribution to forest ecology is HUGE. It radically changes how we understand how massive regions of the Earth have responded to human influence for centuries or even millennia. It provides us with a significantly less apocalyptic vision of how these systems respond in the short- and long-run than previously thought.

I think that's pretty damn significant.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 12:21:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I said that it appears, according to recent research, that the rainforests as we know them today are largely a human creation. Did you even bother reading the articles, or hell... the abstracts?"

Yes, I read them. You've just reminded me what an irony-impaired bunch you 'debunkers' are. DB says we don't need the eco-system, and your paraphrase of the research as "rainforests as we know them today are largely a human creation."

Humans don't "create" biological things. They do their best to manipulate them, with mixed results. You apparently don't realize how childishly arrogant and Godlike most of this debunking sounds. And there's apparently nothing anyone can do to disabuse of the habit.

HDT

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 12:45:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No you haven't debunked anything (read the definition of debunked). Why, if the green gloop paradigm is so wonderous, are there food related dieoffs today when oil and other energy is freely available?"
That "all of us are going to dieoff because the ecosystem is being impacted by the economy" certainly IS debunked by the concept of growing food NOT based on the ecosystem.

As for starvation today, see if you can figure it out yourself by asking the following question: is food [i]distribution[/i] directly linked to the [i]way the food is grown[/i]. Well is it genius?

"lulz"
LULZ?
How old are you?
Are you one of those kids who gets kicks out of baiting the scientologists?
If so, applause for that part but boos for your grasp of science.

"No it really isn't otherwise we 'could' do a lot of things we haven't."
Uh YES it is. When you debunk a model because it's full of holes, turning round and saying that the results will happen anyway because of SOMETHING ELSE does not validate the model.

"Are you wilfully ignoring the hundreds of NEGATIVE articles every year showing humankinds impact on the planet.I think so."
I think not. I am discussing SOLUTIONS to keeping human beings fed, employed and housed. All you are doing is saying "waaaaah!!! we're dooooooooomed because the environment is being damaged!!!"

"I enjoy reading what ari and hdt write and I also confirm to myself that there is absolutely no debunking taking place."
Confirm away "napoleon". Still doesn't make you French.

"Another reason might be because we all enjoy a good laugh now and again."
So you admit you're a troll.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 12:58:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

HDT,

Yes, I read them. You've just reminded me what an irony-impaired bunch you 'debunkers' are. DB says we don't need the eco-system, and your paraphrase of the research as "rainforests as we know them today are largely a human creation."

You're not even arguing the same thing.

Let's look at what "create" means:

create |krēˈāt|
verb [ trans. ]
bring (something) into existence : he created a thirty-acre lake | over 170 jobs were created.
• cause (something) to happen as a result of one's actions : divorce only created problems for children.

Now, let's see what the researchers had to say about human influence in the region:

"What all this information infers is that these inhabitants were essentially terra-forming the Amazon into a highly productive, sustainable agricultural region, "

Furthermore:

"...the Indians, rather than living in static harmony with nature, radically engineered the landscape across the continents, to the point that even "timeless" natural features like the Amazon rainforest can be seen as products of human intervention."

And from an interview in The Atlantic:

"Planting their orchards, the first Amazonians transformed large swaths of the river basin into something more pleasing to human beings. In a widely cited article from 1989, William Balée, the Tulane anthropologist, cautiously estimated that about 12 percent of the nonflooded Amazon forest was of anthropogenic origin—directly or indirectly created by human beings. In some circles this is now seen as a conservative position. "I basically think it's all human-created," Clement [an anthropological botanist at the Brazilian National Institute for Amazonian Research.] told me in Brazil. He argues that Indians changed the assortment and density of species throughout the region. So does Clark Erickson, the University of Pennsylvania archaeologist, who told me in Bolivia that the lowland tropical forests of South America are among the finest works of art on the planet. "


Humans don't "create" biological things. They do their best to manipulate them, with mixed results. You apparently don't realize how childishly arrogant and Godlike most of this debunking sounds. And there's apparently nothing anyone can do to disabuse of the habit.

I'd say that those researchers are clearly using the word "create" properly, since one of the meanings is:

"cause (something) to happen as a result of one's actions : divorce only created problems for children."

So... we haven't created new species? We haven't created new environments? We haven't created new landscapes?

Hell, I took enough environmental science and biology to know that humans certainly create things in nature. Unless those guys in the Ivory Tower are also deluded, HDT? Or, lemme guess, now I'm a wannabe Heartland guy? Or will it be FOXNews this time? I can't wait to hear which untrue title you throw at me this time (without bothering to argue anything along the way.) I await your response, sir.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 1:03:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Humans don't "create" biological things. They do their best to manipulate them, with mixed results."

I think you're splitting hairs buddy. I believe the correct term is being pedantic.

"You apparently don't realize how childishly arrogant and Godlike most of this debunking sounds. And there's apparently nothing anyone can do to disabuse of the habit."

When someone goes around presenting a model which could have significant impact on policymakers based on questionable assumptions, do you think we should say [i]nothing[/i]?

What should we do? Not debunk?

Why are [i]you[/i] here. You clearly think it important enough to [i]disabuse[/i] us of our "childish arrogance".

I personally think it is you who are arrogant. It sounds like you think you have all the answers and it's your duty to share with us.

DB

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 2:50:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ari. The article you cite is the very definition of local, organic, sustainable agriculture. And without a drop of oil or gasoline. To listen to JD you'd think it would be impossible


These people didn't 'create' nature, They managed it wisely.

HDT

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 3:05:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

HDT,

The question is not whether they "created" nature, but whether the rain forest, as we know it today, is a human creation.

You don't even bother replying to any of my arguments, and instead trot out truisms. Why?

Another quote from the good Professor Clarkson: "The phrase "built environment," Erickson says, "applies to most, if not all, Neotropical landscapes."

"Built environment" sounds an awful lot like "created" to me. But maybe he's also one of the dummy AEI idiots?

Also, the articles by Charles C. Mann as well as the article in Nature both speak of significant systems of roads, which suggest transport of goods. "Local" may not have been so "local," considering that transporting ANYTHING in those days any distance was hardly "local." Local is, as we know, a fluid concept.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 3:20:00 PM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

Ari:

"Sorry, you said "unbelievable," and I should have used that word instead. Why do you say that? And also, why do you think it's profiteering for Science/Nature to have paywalls? Please answer my question."

I used the term 'slightly unbelievable'. I think this because it is slightly unbelievable, even if true, to think that the whole Amazon rain forest was a manmade creation. Do >you< think humans could create somthing as large as that without nature? As for the 'profiteering' part I am willing to concede, to you, that this may have been a rash comment. Still if a someone said 'Here is some amazing discovery, pay me to read about it' would you, without any doubt, pay?

"Actually, the contribution to forest ecology is HUGE. It radically changes how we understand how massive regions of the Earth have responded to human influence for centuries or even millennia. It provides us with a significantly less apocalyptic vision of how these systems respond in the short- and long-run than previously thought.

I think thats pretty damn significant."

It is, but it the context of the original argument to what humans are doing now.... well are we helping the creation of rain forest? I think not.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 3:33:00 PM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

DB:
"That "all of us are going to dieoff because the ecosystem is being impacted by the economy" certainly IS debunked by the concept of growing food NOT based on the ecosystem."

Is it really? Hmm Ive not heard of any starving country resorting to your green gloop, I've never met anyone thats eaten green gloop and never really seen any serious technology claiming that green gloop can be created. Your 'debunk' may as well have been written by George Lucas or Iain M Banks in terms of practicality. Please read this slowly otherwise the discussion has to cease: all because you have written something doesn't mean any debunking has taken place.

"As for starvation today, see if you can figure it out yourself by asking the following question: is food [i]distribution[/i] directly linked to the [i]way the food is grown[/i]. Well is it genius?"

Use < and > for formatting. In answer to your question the original post by JD seems to link the way food is grown (massive monoculture agriculture) and the way it is distributed (3000 mile salad). Are you now debunking JD?

"LULZ?
How old are you?
Are you one of those kids who gets kicks out of baiting the scientologists?
If so, applause for that part but boos for your grasp of science."

Ha the 'lulz' bit ironic. As for my age I noticed you asked someone earlier. DB asking someones age seems shallow and makes you seem like a bit of an age-ist. Certainly doesn't help your credibility. How old are you? How on Earth is that question relevent?

"Uh YES it is. When you debunk a model because it's full of holes, turning round and saying that the results will happen anyway because of SOMETHING ELSE does not validate the model."

Well this is assertion assumes that you'have debunked something...

"I think not. I am discussing SOLUTIONS to keeping human beings fed, employed and housed. All you are doing is saying "waaaaah!!! we're dooooooooomed because the environment is being damaged!!!" "

I'm interested in your why your SOLUTIONS haven't been used already!!! Forget distribution- grow the slime in vats out in Africa and feed the poor! Go and and solve the worlds problems with your slime ffs

"Confirm away "napoleon". Still doesn't make you French."

Bipolar Hand Waving

"So you admit you're a troll."

No I admit I like a laugh whether I post or not. I'm trying to discuss things sensibly. Notice I haven't called you anything like 'troll'. Ah yes your credibility soars when you use your ad homs!

:)

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 4:28:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe that the irony of this exchange is lost on you, Ari. But here we have you citing an article crediting small villages of ancient people for 'creating' the rain forest using sustainable, organic, methods of agriculture, the very same methods that JD dismisses so derisively with his hot-dogs per gallon efficiency stats.

I might quibble over the semantics of 'creating' rather than 'managing' a rain forest. But in either sense, the outcome of the narrative in the article is the same - the rainforest is there, it is of value, and it came into existence through the use of sustainable, organic methods without the use of oil, gas or electricity. And if the article is to be believed, it was all done by 2,500 to 5000 people dispersed over 20 villages and 1000s of square miles.

I would venture a guess that the people who 'created' that rain forest would have laughed out loud at DB's assertion that "given sufficient energy source, we don't need an eco-system at all."

If you want to be taken seriously, Ari, you should at least distance yourself from the DB lunatic fringe of the debunker world.


HDT

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 5:53:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

GreenJamie,

I used the term 'slightly unbelievable'. I think this because it is slightly unbelievable, even if true, to think that the whole Amazon rain forest was a manmade creation. Do >you< think humans could create somthing as large as that without nature? As for the 'profiteering' part I am willing to concede, to you, that this may have been a rash comment. Still if a someone said 'Here is some amazing discovery, pay me to read about it' would you, without any doubt, pay?

No offense, but have you done any university-level research? This is the norm, and that's how it should be. Journals have overhead that they need to pay for, and there is a lot of costs involved with peer reviewed journals.

And when I was in the university, I didn't pay-- I was fortunate enough to have access to the sites through a proxy. Unless you think that the peer review system itself is in need of replacement, it's pretty much the best of a bad situation.

Also, you and HDT are really missing the point on this: the forest is a creation of human influence in the sense that humans essentially transformed it from some prior state into the state we know today. And can I believe it? Yes. Absolutely. We already know that humans have altered landscapes in other significant ways... why is this so hard to believe?

It is, but it the context of the original argument to what humans are doing now.... well are we helping the creation of rain forest? I think not.

At present, perhaps not. But that's in large part to do not with industrial society, but the poor without access to much besides simple farming tools and some fire.

(Que HDT telling me I'm a deluded AEI plant for stating this.)



HDT,

I find it hard to believe that the irony of this exchange is lost on you, Ari. But here we have you citing an article crediting small villages of ancient people for 'creating' the rain forest using sustainable, organic, methods of agriculture, the very same methods that JD dismisses so derisively with his hot-dogs per gallon efficiency stats.

Actually, these weren't "small" local villages. They were networks of fairly large clusters of populations that are estimated to have totaled in the hundreds of thousands.

As for "sustainable," that's a loaded word. Agronomists and agricultural scientists argue quite a bit as to what "sustainable" means, so I prefer to avoid that. I do know that DISTANCE and SUSTAINABILITY are not the same thing, despite your arguments otherwise.

I also find it funny that not too long ago you were calling me deluded and all sorts of things, but now you seem to sort of accept this research? What changed your mind?

I would venture a guess that the people who 'created' that rain forest would have laughed out loud at DB's assertion that "given sufficient energy source, we don't need an eco-system at all."

Meaningless assertion, strawman argument.

If you want to be taken seriously, Ari, you should at least distance yourself from the DB lunatic fringe of the debunker world.

Guilt by association, yet another yellow card fallacy.

Honestly, I couldn't care less if YOU take me seriously. I figure my arguments stand by themselves, and anyone can feel free to disagree on their merits. I'm not really interested in playing your fallacious games, to be honest. I think I've done a good enough job of demonstrating that I:

- generally know what I'm talking about
- argue my points clearly, with reasonable sourcing
- and have demonstrated a degree of honesty and humility about when I'm wrong.

I won't go around bothering to kowtow to people who want to argue based on personality rather than logic and facts. Feel free to quibble with me all you want.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 6:56:00 PM PDT, Blogger Evan said...

Quoting "Anthony Summers":

"Don't mean to piss on your bonfire but isotope batteries are ok for pacemakers - not for mass transport (just take a second before objecting and think of how many cars there actually are)."

Why is it that you doomers almost always have this sort of predisposition that technology will never be sufficient enough to meet our energy requirements as if innovation and ingenuity somehow will all of a sudden cease and technology will stop advancing or something. The link I posted is just one example of the recent massive breakthroughs in battery technology which will lessen the amount of energy inputs they require, yet not signigificantly alter the amount of potential energy they can store.

There is enormous energy resources remaing all over the Earth which will be able to substitute for oil while scientific and technological breakthroughs keep being made by actual intelligent people who work hard and make a CONTRIBUTION to society.

In terms of electricity, there is massive untapped hydro power all over the world, but especially in the US, Canada and Russia. China has obviously realized with their numerous massive dam constructions (eg. Three Gorges Dam) the potential of this energy. Canada alone could provide most of the energy requirements for the US if it fully harnessed its hydro-power potential.

Throw in massive growth in the development of tidal, solar, wind and geothermal generatoin and the electricity production for the future looks quite secure, not to mention around 500 years of coal reserves.

You doomers simply don't have the complete facts but only read "facts" through a distorted, narrow-minded, ultra-pessimistic viewpoint.

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 7:23:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also find it funny that not too long ago you were calling me deluded and all sorts of things, but now you seem to sort of accept this research? What changed your mind? "

I haven't changed my mind. I don't find anything to disagree with in either case. Either 'God' created the rain forest, or humans learned to harness nature and the rain forest is the result. Either way, I see nothing that supports JD'S assult on local, organic agriculture. The delusion comes from my inability to discern any substantial differencr between your sweeping equivocations and DB's 'we don't need an ecosysteml blather.

HDT

 
At Friday, October 16, 2009 at 7:51:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

HDT,

Care to tell me where I've equivocated?

equivocate |iˈkwivəˌkāt|
verb [ intrans. ]
use ambiguous language so as to conceal the truth or avoid committing oneself : [with direct speech ] “Not that we are aware of,” she equivocated. See note at lie .

Where am I being ambiguous? I try to respond to all of your concerns as directly as possible, with sources and facts. You, on the other hand, breezily dismiss arguments and call me names, and never admit fault for anything you say.

You have yet to cite any sources for your arguments or provide anything in the way of factual argumentation. Want to call me names? Fine. But try actually backing up that bark of yours with something of a bite.

 
At Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 2:05:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

Ari I'm currently studying physics at Manchester University and have also read quite a few papers. You'll need to excuse my lack of knowing about the costs as I too have never had to pay for journals. (Initially I hesitated to mention this as I have noticed whenever somone says what they do then they are accused of lying)

Anyways lets assume that the amazon is largely a human creation. It is only one of many ecosystems being destroyed today the others including the Congo rf, Siberian tundra, Indonesias rf and the oceans in general.

 
At Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 7:28:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You have yet to cite any sources for your arguments or provide anything in the way of factual argumentation."

My 'argument' in this particular instance is with the nonsense in the following three quotes from DB:

"...it's no foregone conclusion that we REQUIRE a natural ecosystem for our economy to function."

"...it's CLEAR that human welfare does not depend 100% on the ecosystem."

"Given sufficient energy source, we don't need an eco-system at all."

You seem to think that the research in the rain forest article validates DB's baseless assertions about the ecosystem. Or perhaps you just stubbornly refuse to distance yourself from a fellow 'debunker' regardless of how ludicrous or untenable his statements are.

I will repeat once again that it makes no difference whatsoever to the cause of local agriculture if you believe the rain forest is a human 'creation' or some kind of 'pristine' wilderness. I personally think that once any ground has been tilled for any sort of agricultural purpose it's no longer 'pristine,' but I won't stoop to quoting the dictionary to muddy the waters even further.

Frankly I don't know what sort of "factual argumentation" would be relevant here. Take your pick - God created the rain forest or man did. If you insist on the man-made rainforest, then all I can say is thank you for providing such a wonderful example of natural, organic, sustainable agriculture. The snide, contemptuous attitude in this blog toward contemporary efforts at local, sustainable agriculture has been what drew me to this conversation to begin with.

Thanks for (inadvertently) citing one source that purports to show that ancient humans could be good stewards of the environment. In retrospect, I'm not sure what you were trying to accomplish with that article, as it certainly doesn't buttress any of the snark coming from JD or DB.


HDT

 
At Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 11:07:00 AM PDT, Blogger Evan said...

Oil fields in Iraq begin to be fully developed:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8312249.stm

 
At Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 9:59:00 PM PDT, Blogger DB said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 10:06:00 PM PDT, Blogger DB said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 10:09:00 PM PDT, Blogger DB said...

'My 'argument' in this particular instance is with the nonsense in the following three quotes from DB"

The problem with you HDT is that you don't use any kind of logic.
You have a position which you continually put out.
JD, Ari and others on this blog put out hypothetical solutions to problems based on understanding of science and REAL EXPERIENCE.

You on the other hand breezily dismiss anything that counters your POSITION with the fallback that it's "not common sense".

You have yet to counter argue using any kind of SCIENCE any of the assertions.

To wit: My "crazy" idea that the economy does not necessarily depend on the ecosystem.

1. Robots
2. Electricity
3. Mining.
4. Large Scale Automated Process Flow Plants of various kinds

Each of the four of these items are part of our economy and are heavily automated.

They WILL NOT collapse even if all the amphibians on the planet die off from fungus and the seas become incredibly polluted.

It's easy to extrapolate from that.

But since you have an emotional stake in your position, you're unable to grasp logic.
It doesn't help that your scientific background is clearly shaky.

In the end I don't know why you bother coming here, since you have nothing of value to add to the debate.

DB

 
At Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 10:19:00 PM PDT, Blogger DB said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 11:59:00 PM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

Sorry DB but you really have totally and utterly embarrassed yourself. I should have mentioned that this is my second degree, my first being chemical eng. and that I'm inmy thirties! To be honest you've totally lost my respect and calling someone 'kid' is completely lame as it is pointless. It is ironic that a kid could actually point out how flimsy your arguments are. I feel embarrased for you. Oh and you'll note I still haven't used ad homs. Notice how I haven't stooped to your level.

"To wit: My "crazy" idea that the economy does not necessarily depend on the ecosystem.

1. Robots
2. Electricity
3. Mining.
4. Large Scale Automated Process Flow Plants of various kinds

Each of the four of these items are part of our economy and are heavily automated.

They WILL NOT collapse even if all the amphibians on the planet die off from fungus and the seas become incredibly polluted."

The argument isn't about whether the economy can survive without the ecosystem but whether humans can survive. Robots, mining, automated systems and stargates still need people to control and operate these systems at some point. This might be news to you but I have a feeling the worlds economy is more dependent on agriculture, logging and fishing than it is on robots. Oh look here's that ecosystem we were talking about.

"Oh but they have kid. That you have no understanding of logistics or economics is blindingly clear to anyone who has spent any time outside the manchester student union."

Ok then cite a real world example where somone has realistically survived without the worlds ecosystem for a significant period of time. then explain how this solution, if it even exists, scales to work with 7,000,000,000 people.

""grow the slime in vats out in Africa and feed the poor!"
Even funnier. Go ahead, tell us why businesses aren't trying to solve Africa's problems.

"Go and and solve the worlds problems with your slime"
ffs
You really are an obnoxious little guy aren't you?
I feel sorry for you. You're two to three years away at most from having to graduate in possibly the worst economic conditions in sixty years. You're going to have to learn a hell of a lot of humility than you have especially to people who know what the hell they are talking about, because your potential employers are people like me. Good luck getting a job kid."

Noone said businesses aren't trying to help out Africa - where was that written? Businesses just aren't using manmade slime... you know what I bet they are probably using resources found in that pesky little thing called THE ECOSYSTEM

I have a job db and I enjoy it. I actually work for myself so bonus. As for being obnoxious...well I wasn't aware calling people kid was the height of manners. Just to recap you should be embarrassed for the previous couple of posts.

 
At Sunday, October 18, 2009 at 12:19:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Greenjamie said...

Post aimed at everyone : Just an interesting thought experiment I was wondering if anyone has actually quantified to what extent the economy relies on the ecology of the planet. In my previous post to Db I mentioned that the economy relies on agriculture, logging and fishing. I'm assuming as well that manual human labour in factories and even office workers in cities to some extent is the ecosystem as humans are organisms on earth too.

Ari what do you make of this? Is there a measure of how much the ecology contributes to the economy?

 
At Sunday, October 18, 2009 at 4:39:00 AM PDT, Blogger Robert Davidson said...

GJ: To see the financial impact of only the trees in an ecology, you could review American Forest's studies of cities at http://www.americanforests.org/resources/urbanforests/analysis.php. The San Antonio report finds trees provide $750,000,000 in air pollution removal and stormwater runoff services.

 
At Sunday, October 18, 2009 at 6:43:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You have yet to counter argue using any kind of SCIENCE any of the assertions."

Science is not needed to counter third-rate science fiction. Robots, mining, large scale algae farms, all ostensibly built and operating completely free and independent of human support or intervention is not science, it's puerile science fiction.

The human beings who would build, operate and maintain all your gee-whiz fantasy scenarios require clean air and water and healthy food. In short, real human beings need a healthy ecosystem.

If you and JD want to live on a lunar mining colony and get your algae pizzas delivered by robots, have at it.


HDT

 
At Sunday, October 18, 2009 at 8:11:00 AM PDT, Blogger Robert Davidson said...

If you are looking for the results of how well humans fare in an artificially created environment, check out the results of Biosphere 2. Some highlights: CO2 levels fluctuated wildly. Oxygen ended up equivalent to living at 13,400 ft. Cockroaches and pest insects boomed. The second experiment failed when human conflict caused management to be locked out and forcing the experiment to end. The last is probably the greatest argument to keeping a viable ecosystem around. The power of those who control the food supply would be nearly absolute.

 
At Sunday, October 18, 2009 at 8:44:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

Robert Davidson: Hey two excellent finds - thank you for the posts they are very interesting.

In terms of the Biosphere I found these bits especially noteworthy:

"Undoubtedly the lack of oxygen and the calorie restricted nutrient dense diet contributed to low morale. The Alling faction feared that the Poynter group were prepared to go so far as to import food [from the outside proper ecosystem], if it meant making them fitter to carry out research projects. They considered that would be a project failure by definition." "In November the hungry Biospherians began eating emergency food supplies that had not been grown inside the bubble"

And this isn't even in a completely manmade system that DB keeps flogging!

 
At Sunday, October 18, 2009 at 6:47:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

GreenJamie,


Ari what do you make of this? Is there a measure of how much the ecology contributes to the economy?


I think that healthier ecosystems, by and large, are more productive. That that is true, however, I find a trivial fact.

Once again, and I don't think it's really all that mind blowing: I think that the debate here is between normative and positive arguments. Jamie, you keep making a normative statement: what should be. DB keeps arguing something positive (in the philosophical sense, HDT, before you start attacking my diction): what is.

That we want to live in a world with a healthy, well-developed ecosystem is hardly controversial. Of course we do. That our species depends on it in order to survive in some fashion? Hard to say.

HDT: please, please, please for the love of everything that is holy, understand that I am NOT MAKING A VALUE JUDGMENT.

Jamie, I think where you and I probably differ the most is that you appear to be pessimistic about development, resources, and human and ecological well-being. I am not. I remain positive and optimistic. Developed nations generally become better, more forward-thinking stewards of the land. Furthermore, as I've read from a number of talented and interesting scientists such as EO Wilson, I began to realize that even as they warned their readers, they themselves remained optimistic-- they saw in the future increased awareness and better stewardship.

I threw out my Worldwatch books in favor of just reading Science, Nature, and a few other journals. I've since then realized that the pundits and media paint a terrible, apocalyptic future where there arguably is not one. Will there be challenges? Yes. However, I believe that we live in a world where people are more aware, more caring, and more proactive about the environment than any time in the past.


HDT,


Thanks for (inadvertently) citing one source that purports to show that ancient humans could be good stewards of the environment. In retrospect, I'm not sure what you were trying to accomplish with that article, as it certainly doesn't buttress any of the snark coming from JD or DB.


Y'know, you still haven't apologized for calling me names when I initially made this argument. Now you're trying to use it against me? You're a real piece of work, pal.

The article I linked to does not, in any way, change JD's thesis. At all. Stop conflating two different arguments. Whether or not the ancient South Americans used the Amazon as an agricultural machine has little bearing on fuel use today.

JD's point still stands: local is not necessarily more fuel efficient on the margin.


HDT,

And again, you don't bother citing any sources.

 
At Monday, October 19, 2009 at 3:18:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

Ari:

Cheers for your reply.


"I think that healthier ecosystems, by and large, are more productive. That that is true, however, I find a trivial fact."
Ok - but why do you find it trivial? The post from RD before demonstrated that 2 jobs trees do in just San Antonio saves the area millions. Is this trivial from an economic point of view? Surely these trees are subsidizing services.

"That we want to live in a world with a healthy, well-developed ecosystem is hardly controversial. Of course we do. That our species depends on it in order to survive in some fashion? Hard to say."
'Survive in some fashion' seems to be slightly vague and can be interpreted in many ways. I'm sure that *some* members of the human race could survive. But DB is debunking a die off. Some members implies not all members, so you are agreeing there would be, to a certain extent, a die off if the eco system died? (Lets also be clear about one thing: all because I'm saying that this could/would be the case doesn't mean I want it to happen. Im not pro die off, but see it as a logical conclusion to the death of the ecosystem)

"Jamie, I think where you and I probably differ the most is that you appear to be pessimistic about development, resources, and human and ecological well-being. I am not. I remain positive and optimistic. Developed nations generally become better, more forward-thinking stewards of the land."

It is admirable that you remain positive and optimistic. I'm not as pessimistic as you think, but prefer to air on the side of being realistic as opposed to blindly relying on deus ex machina. As for better stewards of the land, we might be in our own countries because of the very thing JD is talking about - its done for us in other countries. Let them worry about their land, we're good stewards of our own etc.

 
At Monday, October 19, 2009 at 8:17:00 AM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

GreenJamie,

Ok - but why do you find it trivial? The post from RD before demonstrated that 2 jobs trees do in just San Antonio saves the area millions. Is this trivial from an economic point of view? Surely these trees are subsidizing services.

I find it a trivial fact because it's so bloody clear as to be almost meaningless. It's like reporting on the sky being blue and water being wet.

'Survive in some fashion' seems to be slightly vague and can be interpreted in many ways. I'm sure that *some* members of the human race could survive. But DB is debunking a die off. Some members implies not all members, so you are agreeing there would be, to a certain extent, a die off if the eco system died? (Lets also be clear about one thing: all because I'm saying that this could/would be the case doesn't mean I want it to happen. Im not pro die off, but see it as a logical conclusion to the death of the ecosystem)


I think where I lie in this is that I don't think that humans would be likely to die-- I just think that the quality of life would go down. I think that having clean, healthy ecosystems brings higher quality of life more than anything. A good example is how nasty Pittsburgh used to be in the early 20th-century. The place was practically a superfund site. Today, it's a clean, much more "green" city, and I think people are healthier for it.

It is admirable that you remain positive and optimistic. I'm not as pessimistic as you think, but prefer to air on the side of being realistic as opposed to blindly relying on deus ex machina. As for better stewards of the land, we might be in our own countries because of the very thing JD is talking about - its done for us in other countries. Let them worry about their land, we're good stewards of our own etc.

You subscribe to an unfortunate myth, it appears: that industrialization necessarily leads to worse land stewardship. That is simply untrue. Even if manufacturing hadn't gone abroad, the Chinese, Indians, and Latin Americans were already tearing down their forests and polluting their lands. This is not special to modern economies: if anything, modern city-based economies use less land per capita and allow for the financing of better land stewardship than pre-industrial economies.

China was an area of study for me in my academic life, and I can say this with some authority: the environmental movement in China, though nascent, is largely a product of modernization and development. As economies modernize they have time and money to spend on the environment. Before that, it's all about survival, baby.

 
At Monday, October 19, 2009 at 9:59:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Pitt said...

> I was wondering if anyone has actually
> quantified to what extent the economy
> relies on the ecology of the planet.


Yes, although not everyone agrees with the methodology used.

You're talking about part of the field of Ecological Economics; the most relevant research is a 1998 study which estimated the value of services provided by the economy at $33T, which was larger than world GDP at the time.

 
At Monday, October 19, 2009 at 10:15:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I should have mentioned that this is my second degree, my first being chemical eng."
I think occam's razor suggests otherwise.

"I'm inmy thirties!"
No you're not.

"To be honest you've totally lost my respect"
This may come as a great surprise to you, but I'm not interested in your respect.
And clearly you have no respect for JD or myself either.

"Businesses just aren't using manmade slime..."
Go look up "chlorella".

"all because you have written something doesn't mean any debunking has taken place."
Please read this slowly:
YOU don't get to frame the debate.

JD, Ari, myself and others are debunking various predictive *models* based on flimsy science by demonstrating the flaws in the science. In yet other cases we are showing that technology readily exists that debunk the models.

In your case and that of HDT, your argument consists of "I don't agree and I don't need to prove it because nyah you're arguments are science fiction".

Guess what clueless unless it actually happens, DIEOFF is science fiction.

Limits to Growth is *also* science fiction.

Your position is blind faith. Neither you nor HDT understand the science as your posts have repeatedly demonstrated and have nothing valid to bring to the table.

I'll be ignoring you from now on because religion bores me.

DB

 
At Monday, October 19, 2009 at 10:23:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

"I find it a trivial fact because it's so bloody clear as to be almost meaningless. It's like reporting on the sky being blue and water being wet." Yes I agree it is so bloody clear...hence my disagreement with people who say the economy is fine without the ecosystem. It is so bloody clear a kid could see it. Why can DB not?

"I think where I lie in this is that I don't think that humans would be likely to die-- I just think that the quality of life would go down. I think that having clean, healthy ecosystems brings higher quality of life more than anything. A good example is how nasty Pittsburgh used to be in the early 20th-century. The place was practically a superfund site. Today, it's a clean, much more "green" city, and I think people are healthier for it."

No doubt having a healthy ecosystem brings quality of life. But a lack of ecosystem, as I have shown, leads to massive economic costs, humans misery and ultimately death. What would have happened to those people in the biosphere fake eco system if they hadn't had emergency food? Would their quality of life merely diminished... or would they have starved to death ? (presuming the experiment *had* to be completed - don't answer by saying they could just open the door and walk out because on a planet wide scale that is a bit more difficult)

I accept your point on the fact that modernism gives people the luxury to worry about the environment, before it was just survival. The Chinese, Indians were still damaging the forrests but at a rate that was closer to the regrowth of the ecosystem. Is it not clear to you that they are damaging them at a much faster pace due to better technology and more efficient processes? Does this not appear to be a problem?

 
At Monday, October 19, 2009 at 10:35:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

"No you're not."
Go on the prove this assertion. You wanted to go down this road of comparing ages and qualification;

"And clearly you have no respect for JD or myself either."
Well I have enough respect to not call you obnoxious or kid.

"Go look up "chlorella".
hahahaha I did and look what it said : "Although the production of Chlorella looked promising and involved creative technology, it would not prove to be economically viable in the market." - yes nice try DB, nice try;

"YOU don't get to frame the debate."
I'm not framing the debate. I'm making a perfectly valid observation that no debunking had taken place from your corner.

"In your case and that of HDT, your argument consists of "I don't agree and I don't need to prove it because nyah you're arguments are science fiction"."

But I have shown that the economy would lose incalcuably high amounts of natural capital if the ecosystem was to go. An example has been presented that clearly shows living in a closed biodome system is far from operational at this point. Your arguments are actually science fiction. You may as well espouse time travel as a viable means of avoiding future problems!

"Guess what clueless unless it actually happens, DIEOFF is science fiction"

Dieoff seems a logical conclusion given the lack of an ecosystem. You haven't shown otherwise.

"I'll be ignoring you from now on because religion bores me."

hahaha well looks like DB finally took his bat and ball home. It isn't a religion, I don't pray that there will be a dieoff. Anyone with any sense would see that we need the natural world. Imagine trying to tell Attenborough or Sagan, world respected SCIENTISTS, it would be pure comedy!

:)

 
At Monday, October 19, 2009 at 11:08:00 AM PDT, Anonymous GreenJamie said...

"Go on thinking that your flames prove your point, troll."

http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia_term/0,2542,t=trolling&i=53181,00.asp#

A troll seems to be someone that posts derogatory messages. Maybe like calling someone 'kid' or obnoxious could be counted as derogatory ergo you are a troll. I'm merely debating - you'll notice throughout our entire deliberation I didn't get upset or insult. Adieu!

 
At Monday, October 19, 2009 at 12:22:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: Green Gloop/do we need the ecosystem and dieoff

Using Chlorella as an example (there are others such as Spirulina).
Wikipedia states that Chlorella is "not economically viable."

Since it is available on the internet, it's clear that some businesses are making money from it.

So what does wikipedia mean by "not economically viable"?

I'm guessing that it means that not everyone in the world could afford to live off it.
Well let's look at the numbers.
Seems to be the average price for chlorella is about $30, giving 2 grams a day for a dollar a day.

The average human needs about 50 grams a day, giving us a cost of $25/day. That's about $10K/year.

What's the world average GDP?
$10K/year.

So if we're shortsighted, there's the answer: the average person in the world would use their entire income to buy food.

If we're not shortsighted, we could ask some further questions:

What percentage of the world's population *could* currently afford this?

And, could it be made cheaper?

And, could the income level of the world be raised?

The answer to the first question is the entire rich world could afford this and some of the middle income countries. That's somewhere between 1 to 2 billion people.

Could it be made cheaper?
With economies of scale it's likely that the price could be cut in half.

The answer to the third question is a little more complicated.
First we ask a question: why are the world's poorest countries so poor?
This is a whole can of worms but given that the poorest country in the world (burkina faso) is more than 90% subsistence farming it seems that the answer is *not* local farming and not back to the land to raise the income of the average person.
If these countries upgraded infrastructure and became part of the industrialized world, it's likely that their income would rise concurrently, thus allowing them to be adequately fed on the putative "green gloop".

If we look at other needs of the human component of the economy, we need potable water and acceptable air.

Currently "ecosystem services" supply much of the clean air and water.

Clearly, however, they do not supply 100% clean air and 100% clear water.

Why is this?

Well if demand were high enough to provide air that is 100% clean and water than is 100% drinkable, then the price of such filters would drop.
The technology exists to provide these devices and yet the air is still dirty in many places and the water is polluted.

What gives?

Clearly the demand is not high enough to produce the given products at an acceptable price or else simply the demand is not there.

How can it be that the demand is not there if services to clean the air and water are required?

The answer is that people don't NEED these "services". They *prefer* them. If the services were needed, people would be dieing in droves.

They are not.

The air has to get a whole lot worse and the water a whole lot worse before pollution will cause dieoff.

DB

 
At Monday, October 19, 2009 at 12:53:00 PM PDT, Blogger DB said...

I take a look at the crappy limits to growth model here: http://dieoffdebunked.blogspot.com/2009/10/limits-to-growths-version-of-dieoff.html

DB

 

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