J500 Media and the Environment

[WILL DESTORY LAND FOR FOOD] And can you blame us? by Chardonnay

The bad news is that fossil fuels are a limited resource, but society relies on them so heavily that if (when) we run out, we will have no way to sustain ourselves (in other words, eat).

The good news is that humans are problem solvers. It’s undeniable—in fact, it’s how we got here.

A brief history of energy use on Earth starts with the sun. The sun provides energy to plants through photosynthesis and the plants deliver this energy to humans via the food chain.

Problem 1: We want more plants.
Solution: Find more land.

Problem 2: No more productive land.
Solution: Make the existing land more productive.

Problems 3, 4, 5, and 6: Farming takes a lot of time and hard work, the land doesn’t always produce, and pests are getting into the crops.
Solution: Fossil fuels.
More specifically, machinery (fueled by oil), fertilizers (natural gas), pesticides (oil), and hydrocarbon fueled irrigation.

Because there’s only so much sunlight to go around, we looked for other ways to produce more food. I can’t help but consider this smart. In hindsight, however, these fuel-based solutions are far more temporary than anticipated.

As the population increases, it creates demand for agriculture to keep pace. If fair is fair, we put x amount more resources into the land, it ought to yield x amount more in crops. In reality, the land isn’t holding up its end of the bargain. The pesky thing about Mother Earth is that she refuses to play by our rules.

The U.S. food system consumes ten times more energy than it produces.

Problem: The more we turn to fossil fuels as a solution, the more rapidly we move toward an Earth without any fossil fuels at all, starting with petroleum and natural gas first. Maybe it’s overly optimistic, but I can’t help but reason, if we weren’t capable of creative problem solving, we’d never have made it this far. It’s an obstacle, yes, but mankind is made up of hurdlers.

Solution: TBA [Ideas welcome.]


According to sustainabletable.org, your food travels 1,500 miles on average before it gets to your plate. If demand for local food increases, we can cut back on the fossil fuels used for transportation.

-Sonya English


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I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Tina Russell

Comment by Tina Russell

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