[ExI] Paleo diet and sustainability, yet again
js_exi at gnolls.org
Wed Apr 13 07:11:20 UTC 2011
Keith Henson wrote:
>> seven billion people is far, far
>> beyond the sustainable population of the Earth even if you posit nearly free
>> energy . . . .
> That is utter nonsense. With really low cost energy you can make
> fresh water out of salt and pump it inland a thousand miles.
See: soil salinization.
"Estimates indicate that roughly one-third of the irrigated land in the
major irrigation countries is already badly affected by salinity or is
expected to become so in the near future. Present estimates for India
range from 27% to 60% of the irrigated land, Pakistan 14%, Israel 13%,
Australia 20%, China 15%, Iraq 50%, Egypt 30%."
> Likewise, you can salvage phosphorous our of sewage and ship it back
> to the farms.
Plants are not made entirely of ammonium nitrate, potash, and phosphate.
Just to choose one example:
Also see: giant dead zones (larger than Connecticut) in river deltas due
to fertilizer runoff.
I'm not sure your understanding is at a level that allows you to throw
around terms like "nonsense". Cheap energy doesn't solve the problems
of agriculture any more than cheap caffeine solves the problems of sleep.
Frankly, this is a self-cancelling argument. If anyone is worried about
the impact of eating meat (or anything else), then by definition these
are issues of concern.
There's a reason most of us go into technology or theoretical
disciplines: it allows us to work on well-constrained problems in a
restricted space. These are not such problems. Soil alone is a complex
biological system -- let alone entire ecosystems of which it is but one
part. There's a reason I posted the references I did: most people have
no concept at all of the realities of the cycle of life, and either
romanticize it, oversimplify it, or ignore it because its constraints
are momentarily inconvenient. And we're still a long way from free energy.
> I am really getting annoyed at the postings on this list. I would
> think the people who post here should understand Extropy.
Tirelessly working to overcome limits is more productive than ignoring
them, wishing them away, or claiming they don't exist.
It's easy for all of us to see the fallacies in attitudes such as
Singularity Utopia's, because that's our field of expertise. It's
harder for us to see the fallacies in our own attitudes as applied to
fields that are much more messy and complicated -- and generally outside
Finally, recall that it's only the educated middle-class and above that
advances knowledge: filling the world with poor people whose entire life
is devoted to simple survival doesn't accomplish anything but making
more people poor in a vicious positive feedback loop. There's a reason
we don't see headlines like "New Cancer Treatment Discovered by
Illiterate Liberian Slum-Dweller" or "Bangladeshi Subsistence Farmer
Invents More Efficient Refrigerator, Production to Begin In 2012".
I'm inclined to drop this subject now, because it is not terribly
germane to the purpose of this list, and it's unlikely to win me any
friends or allies. However, I do ask that people keep in mind the
degree of irritation they justifiably evince when someone who knows
little about spaceflight or computation makes sweeping generalizations
-- and that it is possible to be on the other end of that particular
PS: As a reward for slogging through all this, here's a delicious recipe
that even the worst kitchen klutz can make:
More information about the extropy-chat