Friday, 15 June 2012

Our future is a potato

Our "green" future
I'm becoming more and more convinced that the media is laying the groundwork for abandoning CAGW in favour of reviving that old chestnut of Malthusianism and resource scarcity.  Today's exhibit: An article in Slate about "food security" written by someone who clearly knows nothing about livestock and hopes you don't either.

The point of the article is, no surprise, to declare that the only answer is for us all to resign ourselves to becoming peasants–except for the enlightened oligarchs, of course, who must hold onto their high-tech lifestyles complete with air-freighted arugula.

For our good, of course.


Sergej said...

It would be amusing, at least. Not being forced by Our Betters to adopt a pre-industrial lifestyle (Think of the Children!), but to see "though we have plenty of resources to use, you must hold back in our usage of them" turn into "resources? what resources? in 20 years there will be no resources". Goes back to the whole elegies-in-country-churchyards thing, I think---is this industrial lifestyle a good idea? Which incidentally, makes the self-styled progressives about 300 years' worth of reactionaries by now.

By the way, I noticed a thing a couple of weeks ago, about Greeks and Italians leaving the cities and taking up sheep-herding and cheese-rearing (or wherever one does to get cheese; mold?). Deindustrialization and going back to working to make food directly are bad, scary things.

eon said...


Absolutely. The jungeresthete who wrote the Slate article should be required to read and outline The Last Centurion by John Ringo, who actually understands agriculture by virtue of being a farm kid himself.

Organic farming? The single least efficient method of producing crop yield, other than the Paleolithic "stick the seed in a hole in the ground and pray to the Rain God" method. Crop losses to pests are never less that 40%, and usually over 50%. Also, as us OH farm brats know, "Organic"= "Fertilized with liquid or solid manure", with all the attendant problems of sanitation re the final product.

(I'm happy to let the organic mavens at my local Kroger sneer at me for buying the "philosophically unclean" regular produce. I pay less, and they're welcome to the risk of salmonella, etc.)

The yam or its near-cousin the sweet potato? I like them, but in terms of a food source they aren't a good choice. Hard to raise, very weather-sensitive, and a major source of sugar; good for energy, but a steady diet is almost certain to exacerbate any genetic tendency to Type II diabetes.

(I was diagnosed with it last year, and wasn't surprised, as almost every member of my family on both sides developed it by age 40, except for my mother and myself. She developed it at 84, just before her passing; I'm 54.)

The "peak soil" argument sounds like another scare tactic to me. It would indeed be valid, if we were still farming the way we did in Malthus' time. Crop yields per acre have gone up exponentially since the introduction of modern farming technology, all of which came after Malthus' death. He had the excuse of not being able to see into the future; Ehrlich & Co. have no such alibi.

In fact, their demands for a return to "traditional" farming methods smack of using philosophy as an excuse to engage in culling of the human herd; which for this lot wouldn't be anything new. They don't like people very much, and never have.

If this article proves anything, it is (as David surmises) that the "enlightened elite'" still cling to their dream of being philosopher-kings in a neofeudal, Bronze Age agrarian socialist "paradise". With the rest of those who survive spreading night soil in the rice paddies by hand.

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the solution Tom Clancy described in Rainbow Six may be the only cure. Put the "enlightened ones" in a primitive area, and let them try to survive there on their own "philosophical" terms. Just no peasants; they have to do the work themselves.

I suspect they would scream maniacally and attack anyone who even dared to suggest it. They aren't the sort to tolerate lese-majeste' at even that minimal level.