Friday, May 27, 2011

The Froth on the Sewage

While it would be nice to believe that my blogging about the coming crash will somehow compel or spark a revolution whereby one person reads my blog and then that person tells two others and they tell two more until, like an uncontrolled nuclear reaction, a vast number of people suddenly "get it" and march upon civilization and make it stop killing the planet and therefore all of us.

The problem is, of course, we are civilization. We are not on the outside looking in, except in our intellectual fantasies. We are the meat and marrow of the planet killing juggernaut. To be not part of it, would mean giving up all energy except that of the sun. It would mean walking away from all of our harmful practices: non-local resources, the repair of failing tech, non-personal entertainment, electronics, and well, you name it. If we could all simply walk away, out into the woods, the prairies, the swamps, the mountains, anywhere that is away from poison world, we could live off that landbase, if only at a subsistence level, then we could save the planet in one fell swoop. But we know that cannot happen.

The primary problem is the lack of skills. Not one person in one hundred thousand could claim to have walk-away skills that would serve them for the rest of their days. No, the truth is each one of us in a certain unique environment that requires rules be obeyed implicit to that unique environment. Those living in the large cities will suffer greatly without the land to grow their food even though some claim that all one need do is plant all the available green spaces and the rooftops for a wonderful cornucopia to be had by one and all. The problem is that the 12 million people of the New York area need on average 2000 calories per day. Without boring you with the math, that works out to twenty-thousand square miles of perfectly managed farmland to feed New York alone. If you have not been to the East Coast, you would discover that it has become to a great extent one vast city comprised of 112, 642,503 people. That means that that would need 187,000 square miles of perfectly managed farmland within that local area. No cheating through import! This, of course, assumes that all of the calories go towards only people and not traction animals or chickens. It means millions upon millions of people hand-tending their gardens.

Think of the logistics. Think of transportation: water, food, fiber, building supplies, people, animals, fuel, and well, everything. Each road means less farmland. Each foot path means less farmland. Each shed for tools, each home for a local farmer, each plot of land set aside for fuel production means that 187,000 square miles must be expanded. If we decide to use traction animals, then we need to grow fodder! By the time it is said and done, we will need to double the square miles we need (at least).

The point is a person living in New York will face certain problems related to starvation as surely as someone living in Phoenix where water is a huge problem. If we must move all of the people who live in untenable areas such as the Southwest, which includes such metropolises as Los Angeles, into areas which might support them, then we have a serious problem.

Ultimately, we need to calculate the number of calories needed and the land area required to produce that amount. Using the current numbers from the CIA factbook (a source that is bound to be on the high end), after making conversions and calculating per capita requirements, each person needs 1.2 acres to just gain the food stuffs we need. We have 1.6 acres per person available. Many would sigh with relief at this point and move on, but that would be a mistake. You must remember that this is a system that injects billions of pounds of fossil fuel energy into the ground in the form of anhydrous ammonia (made from natural gas) in order to fertilize what has become a largely sterile ecosystem. As one farmer I interviewed said, "Without the input of fertilizer, diesel to move the machinery, pesticides, and herbicides, I would go from 50/60 bushels of wheat per acre to maybe 7 bushels."

It is more than land that supports us, it is cheap fossil sunlight.

So. Back to the premise. Getting the word out is unlikely. We, the community of anti-civ people and animals, are so few in number that we are like the froth on the sewage pond. We've seen the light, but our efforts to communicate what we've seen to the depths of bullshit that most people live within will likely go unheard or unheeded. More than likely, we will not be heard until it is plain for everyone to see, and at which point it will be too late.

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