[ExI] Paleo diet and sustainability
js_exi at gnolls.org
Mon Apr 11 18:22:37 UTC 2011
Ben Zaiboc said:
> And no, this can never be a diet for the majority, it wouldn't be sustainable.
The same can be said about agriculture, particularly industrial
agriculture -- which depends on:
-A continual depletion of topsoil and soil nutrients
-A continual influx of fossil fuels via the Haber process (which uses
3-5% of world natural gas production)
-A continual influx of fossil water via depletion of underground
aquifers (example: Oglalla aquifer), or a continual influx of irrigation
water, resulting in soil salinization and abandonment
-The complete destruction of whatever biotic community existed previous
The sustainable carrying capacity of the Earth has little to do with
energy: it has to do with soil, in which our food grows, and without
which we don't have any. Lierre Keith's "The Vegetarian Myth" happens
to be written as an argument against vegetarianism -- but it's even more
important for guilty omnivores, who comprise a much larger segment of
the population. Its real subject is how food is grown, and how soil is
created and destroyed -- a subject on which most of us are completely
ignorant -- and how animals and animal products are an *absolutely
necessary* part of that cycle.
The upshot is that agriculture is the equivalent of strip-mining, it's
even more destructive than pastoralism (as can be seen by the current
condition of, say, the "Fertile Crescent"), and that seven billion
people is far, far beyond the sustainable population of the Earth even
if you posit nearly free energy and force everyone to eat corn and soy.
I can't stress this enough.
Most of the Earth can't support agriculture, anyway: it can only support
ruminants grazing on the grasses and other perennials that grow there.
For example, only ~19% of the United States is arable, most of that due
to exploitation of fossil water and gigantic, destructive dams that silt
up anyway. (Feeding grains to cattle was uneconomical until our massive
subsidies for destructive, unsustainable industrial grain production.)
I link quite a few references here:
Here are some more articles of interest:
"Allan Savory won the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Prize of
$100,000 for the Africa Center for Holistic Management (ACHM) in
Zimbabwe by demonstrating that by INCREASING the number of livestock on
barren land by 400% we can convert it from desert back to productive
(Note that Buckminster Fuller was a high-meat, low-carb dieter, and
lived to age 88.)
"...taking the farm as a whole, the food output per acre from a well-run
mixed farm was often higher than today's intensive chemical operation."
Again, I recommend "The Vegetarian Myth" in order to to understand the
process by which food is grown and consumed sustainably. It involves
animals and animal products, which are necessary to return consumed
nutrients to the soil so that more plants can grow, and which are
necessary to consume the foliage that naturally grows but we can't eat.
PS: I must point out that the first review on Amazon is a hatchet job
that makes blatantly false claims about the book: for instance, claiming
that the fact that ulcers are caused by bacteria counteracts Keith's
assertion that bacterial digestion does not occur in the human stomach.
More information about the extropy-chat