Sunday, January 27, 2013


" 'the upcoming year could be a challenging one for ethanol advocates, ' ncga president johnson said. 'at the same time we see many new legislators and regulators coming to power. with fewer leaders form the corn producing states, education and grassroots action will be essential to successfully defend the renewable fuels standard.' " national corn growers association corn action news jamuary 18, 2013____________________________________________________ "we should keep in mind that the energy in the alcohol required to meet the demands of an average u.s. car for one year could alternatively be used as food to feed 23 1/2 people for an entire year." wes jackson "new roots for agriculture"_______________________________________________ "measured by energy content, current world oil production is about five times larger than than world agricultural production. assuming that the conversion of food to biofuel involves a loss of some 40% of the energy content of the food, the entire world food production could not replace more than 12% of current world oil production. new plant species could raise that percentage somewhat, but if more than 12% of current world oil production were to be replaced, hardly any food would be left for human consumption." erling moxnes, university of bergen.__________________________________________________ given that farmers are a spectacularly underpaid segment of the workforce it isn't surprising that the would form special interest groups and lobby politicians to enact legislation that benefit them economically...and it isn't surprising that they would want to craft legislation that would give them the highest possible return for the work that they do...still, one of the purported functions of government is to balance the requests ( or demands ) of special interests the rest of society...( for some insight into my views on how successful politicians are at this arbitration of costs and interests i would ask you to take a look at other of my blogs...if, indeed, this holds any interest for you )...and higher prices per bushel of corn because of a spike in the need for renewable fuels for automobiles at the cost of a rise in the price of food that impacts the poorest of the world seems to me to be ethically also seems to me to be a profound denial of natural limits to what humans can do on the planet...and before the techno-optimists among you point to the 'new species' response as a way out let me remind you of the billions of new mouths to feed due by mid-century and point out the even the marginal land that could presently be used to produce something like switchgrass for use in fuels is going to have to be used to feed people soon enough..squirm as you will there are still limits to what can be achieved and the "education and grassroots action" are going to have to be directed towards learning some responsibility towards fellow humans rather than our economic keep the record straight, yes i do drive a motor do all the members of my yes there is some conflict here...i do make a serious effort to limit my odometer tells me that i have driven 1643 miles since november second ( the date of my last oil change) which works out to an average of 19.06 miles a day...mostly the 12.2 mile round trip to and from work...1643 mile more driving than someone from lagos or san cristobal...i am struggling with limits as well and embedded as i am in this consumerist society i will not get my motor vehicle mileage to zero until i find a method of subsistence outside that economy...since farming is all about subsistence ( "there are no post-agricultural societies"..the credit for that quote escapes me at the moment but that doesn't make it less true ) the decision about what farmland is used to grow is central to the direction we choose to or drive?

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the last quote, the full quote is: "There is no such thing as a post-agricultural society." That was Harvard anthropologist Timothy Weiskel testifying to a U.S. Senate committee in the 1980's. It remains a quintessential statement on the primacy of agricultural concerns.