Daily Archives: March 24, 2019

Killing the Soil that Feeds Us: Food, Profit & the Fatal Impact of Petro-Dependent Agriculture | EV & N 308 | CCTV

http://ecoethics.net/2014-ENVRE120/20190324-EV&N-308-Link.html

https://www.cctvcambridge.org/node/627857

YouTube Version

In the face of menacing climate change, agricultural systems around the world are under pressure to produce more food — fast.   In response many “agricultural experts” are promoting the expansion of petro-intensive growing techniques, deploying ever greater amounts of nitrogen fertilizers derived from natural gas.   In pursuing this strategy humans are linking their primary production system (agriculture) irretrievably to non-renewable fossil fuels.  As these fossil fuels become ever more expensive petro-intensive agriculture will begin to appear ever more disastrous for human survival.

The tragedy is that while fossil-fuel based agriculture has been widely praised and broadly disseminated through the “green revolution” (and its logical extension in the “gene revolution”) petro-dependent agriculture of this kind is ultimately destructive because it is killing the natural fertility of the soil.  We need to remember that topsoil is the ultimate life-support system of all civilizations.  We may think we live in a “post-industrial” society or a “post modern” culture, but we should not kid ourselves.  There is no such thing as a “post-agricultural” civilization.  Ultimately there are limits to the industrialization of agriculture.   Agriculture is a subset of biological processes, infinitely more complex and precarious than assembly-line industrial processes.

The human community needs desperately to learn how to build soil and sequester atmospheric carbon in an increasingly enriched reserve of topsoil that can support solar-sustainable agriculture.   Instead, in pursuit of immediate profits, agribusines corporations (often owned by petrochemical firms) are driving global agriculture into ever more elaborate forms of petro-dependence.   More and more of the world’s population has come to depend on fewer and fewer crop species, grown in ever more narrow regions of the world with ever greater subsidies from fossil fuels and fossil water supplies.  All the while the distance between rural production zones and areas of growing urban consumption is increasing, committing food systems to greater investments in processing, refrigeration, storage and transportation — all of which is enabled only by further fossil fuel subsidies.

Meanwhile, on every continent, in every culture and in all nations on Earth humans have become net-destroyers of topsoil and turned their petro-intensive food system into a net-emitter of greenhouse gases and an “energy sink” for food production.  This cannot and will not persist for long in geologic time.

Properly designed agriculture should capture solar energy, not run itself on fossil energy subsidies.  It should sequester carbon in the ground, not combust fossilized carbon and release the massive carbon reserves stored in the soils.  By killing Earth’s topsoil and linking its agriculture irretrievably to the increased use of fossil fuels humans are committing collective suicide.

Spurts of growth with one or another of the petro-intensive technologies like those deployed in the “green revolution,” may look impressive and create vast fortunes for petrochemical firms and agribusiness multinationals in the short term.  Nevertheless, without building soil fertility and re-creating an agriculture that sequesters carbon and sustains itself with throughput solar energy, human civilizations cannot and will not endure for long in a climate changed world.

See related:

as well as:

With examples of the purposeful transformation of key crops for the convenience and profit of agribusiness firms:

And a range of work by:

Food-matters,

 

Worst flooding damage in our state’s history: Nebraska Gov

Fox Business

Published on Mar 20, 2019

Gov. Pete Ricketts, R-Neb., on the historic flooding in the state. FOX Business Network (FBN) is a financial news channel delivering real-time information across all platforms that impact both Main Street and Wall Street. Headquartered in New York — the business capital of the world — FBN launched in October 2007 and is the leading business network on television, topping CNBC in Business Day viewers for the second consecutive year. The network is available in more than 80 million homes in all markets across the United States. Owned by FOX, FBN has bureaus in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and London.

Farmers devastated by historic flooding in Midwest


CBS Evening News
Published on Mar 19, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence met with flood victims in Nebraska. At least three people have died in the region and the rain is not letting up. Don Dahler reports.

Roads, towns and livelihoods are washed away in Midwest floods

PBS NewsHour

Published on Mar 22, 2019

Ongoing flooding across the Midwest has left thousands of homes damaged and vast swaths of farmland underwater. Residents and public officials alike are trying to cope with washed-out roads, lost livestock, ruined crops, and a lack of supplies. Meanwhile, weather experts are predicting a “potentially unprecedented” flood season. Judy Woodruff speaks to Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts for more.

“Water Is Life”: Midwestern Floods Threaten Indigenous Communities at Forefron t of Climate Crisis


Democracy Now!

Published on Mar 22, 2019

As Nebraska and the U.S. Midwest recover from devastating climate change-fueled floods, we speak with Lakota historian Nick Estes on how two centuries of indigenous resistance created the movement proclaiming “Water is life.” Estes’s new book is titled “Our History Is the Future.” He is a co-founder of the indigenous resistance group The Red Nation and a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.

“Remember the South”: Devastating Cyclone Idai Another Example of Global Sout h Paying for Polluters

Democracy Now!

Published on Mar 22, 2019

Cyclone Idai, the worst weather disaster in the history of the Southern Hemisphere, has caused extensive flooding and left tens of thousand homeless and more than 400 dead in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Officials say the death toll is over 400, and the number is expected to rise. More than 400,000 people could be displaced in Mozambique, and the country’s president says as many as 1,000 people may have been killed there alone. The storm dropped more than two feet of rain in parts of southeastern Africa—nearly a year’s worth of rain in just a few days—an extreme weather event that climate scientists say is consistent with models of climate change. We get an update from Dipti Bhatnagar, who is usually based in Maputo, Mozambique, where she is climate justice and energy coordinator at Friends of the Earth International. She joins us now from Penang, Malaysia.

Report: 70 Percent of U.S. Produce Contains Pesticide Residue

Mar 22, 2019

A new analysis by the Environmental Working Group finds 70 percent of fresh produce sold across the United States is contaminated with pesticide. Topping the list of contaminated produce are strawberries and spinach, while more than nine out of 10 samples of kale were found to contain residues of pesticides, with some leaves containing up to 18 different chemical compounds.