Saturday, August 18, 2007

Jimmy Eat Grain Elevator

Michael T. Klare has this to say in AlterNet:

Peak-oil theorists have long contended that the first half of the world's oil to be extracted and consumed will be the easy half. They are referring, of course, to the oil that's found on shore or near to shore; oil close to the surface and concentrated in large reservoirs; oil produced in friendly, safe, and welcoming places.

The other half -- what (if they are right) is left of the world's petroleum supply -- is the tough oil. They mean oil that's buried far offshore or deep underground; oil scattered in small, hard-to-find reservoirs; oil that must be obtained from unfriendly, politically dangerous, or hazardous places. An oil investor's eye-view of our energy planet today quickly reveals that we already seem to be entering the tough-oil era.

The article goes to quote speculation from one John Kildruff, and analyst for futures brokerage firm Man Financial, that "we're only a headline of significance away from $100 oil."

The price of oil compounds itself, because it takes fuel to transport fuel.

It takes fuel to transport everything, and these days most people live a long way from their food sources, which is why a gallon of milk now lists for $4.99 without your grocery-store discount card.

As grain sources are diverted into biofuels production we will see yet another upward pressure on food prices, as this poor fellow notes in the Arizona Republic[an]:

Associated Press reports: "The boom in biofuels is also pushing up corn prices and, as a result, making animal feed more expensive. Farmers have responded by raising milk prices." And that, "Milk prices hit a record last month in the United States, where consumers paid an average $3.80 a gallon, compared to $3.29 in January, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It forecasts prices will remain high throughout the year."

The New York Sun reports: "The production of ethanol, which is made from corn, is one major reason classic cuts of prime beef are becoming more and more expensive."

The writer of this LTTE lays the blame for this at the feet of "fools pushing corn-based ethanol," like they have other alternatives. They don't. Our economy, as are all industrial/technological societies over the whole planet, is entirely beholden to cheap carbon fuels.

We do not really have a choice between growing corn for fuel and growing corn for food, because the corn crops themselves are completely dependent on natural-gas derived fertilizers for much of their production. It's not an either/or proposition.

When you eat a bowl of Wheaties the calories in that cereal come significantly from fossil fuels, not just from soil, water, and photosynthesis.

That's why I do not have much confidence that biofuels will in any way allow us to continue the great American automobile-based lifestyle. It takes fossil fuel fertizilers to grow corn which in turn will be refined into petrol substitutes. That makes sense?


Eating Fossil Fuels: Oil, Food And the Coming Crisis in Agriculture,by Dale Allen Pfeiffer. I'm done reading my copy. If you want me to I will gladly ship it to anyone who'd like to read it themselves. Just e-mail me.

I rambled a bit. Essentially I wanted to again say that oil prices are going up, we depend on oil for food production, and modern agriculture is therefore unsustainable. Current world populations are therefore also unsustainable. So why am I living in a desert with five million other people?

No comments: