Re: Calories and Economic Value

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Sat Jun 10 2000 - 00:54:13 MDT

On Fri, 9 Jun 2000, J. Goard wrote:

> At 10:14 PM 6/6/00 -0500, altamira wrote:
> >The predominate method of food production used these days requires an
> input of several calories of fossil fuel for each calorie of food obtained

Real *hard* references (i.e. not from Greenpeace) for these figures would
be nice.

> In terms of economic value, a calorie from fossil fuel doesn't
> inherently equal a calorie from food, nor does a calorie from wheat
> neccessarily equal a calorie from corn, etc.

> Sure, perhaps food production could be done more efficiently, and maybe you
> have an argument for that. But to merely compare calories between fossil
> fuels and food is a really bad argument.
I've pointed out previously in the list (3-5 months ago) how very poor
energy harvesting is in agriculture. I haven't read all of the thread,
but if the point was to promote "green gardening", they I would argue
against it. You *want* to burn all those fossil fuels in agricultural
production and put the CO2 into the atmosphere so there will be lots of
"free" carbon available and a big incentive to push for self-replicating
nanomachines to remove the carbon for nanotech construction purposes.
The loss of life due to "pre-global-warming" will be *very* small
compared with the lives saved due to the development of nanotech,
nanomedicine, essentially "free" food replicators, etc.

IMO, the extropian (rational) position should be to minimize the
years of potential life lost given anticipated technology developments.
The economic value of keeping humans alive has to be greater than
the value of the food they consume (or tradeoffs between the methods
used for that).

The "classic" green position fails to acknowledge the benefits technologies
have and will provide. Both "greenistic" and "industry-style" agriculture
fail by a wide margin in terms of efficiency, supportable population,
minimization of land devoted to energy harvesting, etc. when compared
with direct conversion of solar energy into food for people via biotech
and eventually nanotech.


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