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September 13, 2010


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Having spent part of the last decade farming when the dot bomb imploded my job, I'd be happy to discuss sustainable agriculture with you over #storagebeers.

marc farley

Hey now! It might be time to schedule that #storagebeers! Moving this thread to Twitter.


WRT "organics" I saw something interesting a couple years back, organic agriculture is so inefficient that we wouldn't be able to feed the global population if we switched over to it. I think at the time the estimate was we could feed 4 billion out of the 6 billion folks in the world.

With population growing out of control the problem is only going to get much worse of course.

Fresh water supplies will probably run out/low first. A somewhat recent "water council" concluded that fresh water supplies will fall 40% short of demand by ~2030. We've had a ~1% increase in efficiency per year for water the past couple/few decades and if we can sustain that, we can recoup half of that shortage but no word where the rest will come from. Not long ago scientists in California discovered evidence that past droughts had lasted for 'hundreds of years', which was somewhat contrary to previous beliefs.

There is fighting going on in Nevada over fresh water already, Nevada offered to build desalination plants for California in exchange for it's share of the Colorado river, California declined.

And Las Vegas is in the midst of legal fights with folks in northern Nevada over water rights in some underground springs(? memory is hazy).

And the problem is made even worse by poor infrastructure, in some places as much as half of the fresh water is lost in transit
due to degrading pipes and stuff.

I don't have faith that we can change things radically enough, quickly enough to reverse the trends, am convinced we won't change(in any meaningful way) until we hit that 'brick wall'.

So many of the efforts to become more efficient and more sustainable are nullified by the explosion in population, until that is under control the problems won't go away. A couple (obviously) controversial studies were released that says at current levels of U.S. consumption the average newborn person over their lifetime will consume the equivalent of 1 million barrels of oil.


Even if the numbers aren't exactly right the angle is very interesting, nice to see someone out there at least do some work in that area.

With so much of the word "emerging" and seeing what we have accomplished over the past 100 years and in many respects aspiring to be us, they're in for a rude awakening when we hit that resource wall.

As you can probably tell my personal outlook on our civilization and society as it is today is pretty grim :)

I don't use twitter so... :)

marc farley

Hi Nate,

It's probably a good thing that there is no single entity in charge of maintaining the system of our planet. Imagine how screwed up that could get!

We have a problem because we lack the data and tools to understand the system's health. As much as some attempt to read the tea leaves, there are others who call "bull" on their efforts. The way I see it, the cost of not making adjustments could be much greater than the cost of making the adjustments. It's obvious that we are depleting a lot of energy resources that aren't being replenished and the by-products of those resource expenditures are being redistributed irretrievably, with some probability that they are adjusting system variables.

FWIW, I'm not sure that sustainable necessarily requires organic production. Organic production seems like it is more likely to be sustainable, but there are many ways to get do things. It seems to me that local production without the hidden costs of transportation are a larger issue than organic.

Anyway, I think its worth working on and trying to play whatever part I can. That's what the blog post was about, as well as changes I'm trying to make as a consumer.

BTW, are you coming to the bay area any time soon? Input required for #storagebeers planning.

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