Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The West has never known what to do with shit.

Our first choice has been to throw it "away." A very competitive second choice is to wrap it in a flag and vote for it.

Reuters' Planet Ark today reports on a study by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. Reuters paraphrases one of its conclusions,

"Industrial livestock production also hurts the environment through the huge amounts of animal waste these facilities produce. Large amounts of manure carry excessive nutrients and farm chemicals into surface waters, causing dense growth of plants and the death of aquatic animals due to lack of oxygen."

All that nitrogen down the river. We appear to prefer petrochemicals (mainly coal and natural gas) as feedstocks for our nitrogen fertilizers. Go figger.

Richard Heinberg, author of Powerdown - Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World, gives the following breakdown:
"In the US, agriculture is directly responsible for well over 10 percent of all national energy consumption. Over 400 gallons of oil equivalent are expended to feed each American each year. About a third of that amount goes toward fertilizer production, 20 percent to operate machinery, 16 percent for transportation, 13 percent for irrigation, 8 percent for livestock raising, (not including the feed), and 5 percent for pesticide production. This does not include energy costs for packaging, refrigeration, transportation to retailers, or cooking" (Museletter #159 Jul 05).

Read the Reuters story =>

Read the report's Executive Summary =>

Read the whole report =>
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