Peak Oil and Famine
A Trial Thesis
- Famine is caused by injustice in food distribution, not underproduction of food.
- Peak oil will not change this situation.
Elaboration & Clarification
- Peak oil will force a massive reorganization of the food chain.
- But this will only lead to additional starvation if people react to it unjustly
- Preparation for the agricultural reorganization should focus on institutions of justice,
- Preparation for should not be an attempt to match food production to population levels.
- Background on Famines and Forecasting
- The current size of the buffer
- Alternative sources of nitrogen
- The value of systems thinking over productionism
- Famines are not correlated with the underproduction of food, and rarely caused by them.
- Famines can occur when food production is at a high.
- Food production can drop as much as 70% in a poor region without triggering famine.
- Famines come with a particular group loses access to the food stocks
- You forecast to help deliberate
- You deliberate over what you have control over (Aristotle)
- The goal of forecasting is to develop a range of possible outcomes of differing desirability that you have some influence over.
- Given this, many cornucopias and catastrophists are forecasting irresponsibly.
Where is the food missing?
- Central African Republic
Alternative Nitrogen Sources
Alternative Feedstocks for Haber-Bosch
- Hydrogen from electrolysis
- Coal, low-quality hydrocarbons
- Engineering non-leguminous plants to form a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobia
- Engineering a nitrogen fixing microbe to operate at an industrial scale, independently of green plant symbiosis.
4. Productionism v. Systems Thinking
- “Productionism is the philosophy that emerges when production is taken to be the sole norm for ethically evaluating agriculture” (Thompson 1995)
- “There are no philosophically sophisticated defenses of productionism,” although Earl Butz is a kind of productionist icon.(Thompson 1995)
- Malthusianism is pessimistic productionism.
Sustainability as systems thinking
- Identify boundaries of the system
- A system is sustainable if it is free from internal threats. (Thompson 1995)