Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Peak Food: Can Another Green Revolution Save Us? By Nicholas C. Arguimbau

Peak Food: Can Another Green Revolution Save Us? By Nicholas C. Arguimbau
Great summary of the situation. The Green Revolution prevented the global famines that Paul Erlich predicted in The Population Bomb. But now China, India, Pakistan, Mexico, and many other nations are running out of water to grow those thirsty super grains.


Anonymous said...

The IEEE Spectrum had an excellent issue a few months ago regarding the cost of some of these green initiatives in terms of water.

The "greenies" seem to ignore the tradeoffs of their "improvements" because it's not part of the metric they use to value their agenda.

Consider the hoopla about supplementing gasoline with grain-based ethanol. Think ethanol is such a great solution?

The entire process of extraction, refining, etc. and delivery of gasoline consumes approximately 0.26 liters of water for every kilometer driven using gasoline as a fuel.

In contrast, every kilometer driven on grain ethanol requires the consumption of 26 liters of water and the withdrawal of approximately 35 liters of water due to the irrigation required for the grain. Pretty water-inefficient.*

*"consumed water" is water that evaporates away or cannot be returned to its source. "withdrawn water" is water removed from the ground or diverted from its source - some of which may be returned to the source.

Citation: "Water vs Energy", IEEE Spectrum, vol 47, no. 6 (June 2010) at p. 51.

Nicholas C. Arguimbau said...

Corn alcohol supplementation of gasoline wasn't a "greenie" idea. It was a Bush Administration idea for giving money to corn growers. Ubfortunately the Obama Administration likes it for the same reason. I believe it uses enough corn to meet the caloric needs of all the world's 1 billion hungry people.
Nicholas C. Arguimbau