Originally Posted by Sir Humpsalot
I said it awhile back... we produce enough grain in this country to feed the world and yet we are on a push to convert this edible grain into alcohol/fuel. Our energy source, which is our food source, is renewable. Theirs is not. Sounds like a long term game of chicken to me.
You may want to look into how we grow all this grain, Nitrogenated fertilizer is made using oil, more oil is used in this process than is used in our cars every day...
from here, http://www.fromthewilderness.com/fre...ating_oil.html
yes, I know, they have an agenda, but you can find more on this at your leisure...
The Green Revolution
In the 1950s and 1960s, agriculture underwent a drastic transformation commonly referred to as the Green Revolution. The Green Revolution resulted in the industrialization of agriculture. Part of the advance resulted from new hybrid food plants, leading to more productive food crops. Between 1950 and 1984, as the Green Revolution transformed agriculture around the globe, world grain production increased by 250%.4 That is a tremendous increase in the amount of food energy available for human consumption. This additional energy did not come from an increase in incipient sunlight, nor did it result from introducing agriculture to new vistas of land. The energy for the Green Revolution was provided by fossil fuels in the form of fertilizers (natural gas), pesticides (oil), and hydrocarbon fueled irrigation.
The Green Revolution increased the energy flow to agriculture by an average of 50 times the energy input of traditional agriculture.5 In the most extreme cases, energy consumption by agriculture has increased 100 fold or more.6
In the United States, 400 gallons of oil equivalents are expended annually to feed each American (as of data provided in 1994).7 Agricultural energy consumption is broken down as follows:
· 31% for the manufacture of inorganic fertilizer
· 19% for the operation of field machinery
· 16% for transportation
· 13% for irrigation
· 08% for raising livestock (not including livestock feed)
· 05% for crop drying
· 05% for pesticide production
· 08% miscellaneous8
Energy costs for packaging, refrigeration, transportation to retail outlets, and household cooking are not considered in these figures.
To give the reader an idea of the energy intensiveness of modern agriculture, production of one kilogram of nitrogen for fertilizer requires the energy equivalent of from 1.4 to 1.8 liters of diesel fuel. This is not considering the natural gas feedstock.9 According to The Fertilizer Institute (http://www.tfi.org
), in the year from June 30 2001 until June 30 2002 the United States used 12,009,300 short tons of nitrogen fertilizer.10 Using the low figure of 1.4 liters diesel equivalent per kilogram of nitrogen, this equates to the energy content of 15.3 billion liters of diesel fuel, or 96.2 million barrels.
Of course, this is only a rough comparison to aid comprehension of the energy requirements for modern agriculture.
In a very real sense, we are literally eating fossil fuels. However, due to the laws of thermodynamics, there is not a direct correspondence between energy inflow and outflow in agriculture. Along the way, there is a marked energy loss. Between 1945 and 1994, energy input to agriculture increased 4-fold while crop yields only increased 3-fold.11 Since then, energy input has continued to increase without a corresponding increase in crop yield. We have reached the point of marginal returns. Yet, due to soil degradation, increased demands of pest management and increasing energy costs for irrigation (all of which is examined below), modern agriculture must continue increasing its energy expenditures simply to maintain current crop yields. The Green Revolution is becoming bankrupt.