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12/06/2012

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Clyde

The only fertilizer I've ever used to grow food in my garden is the unused vegetation and food waste mixed with a little chicken/sheep/horse manure all broken down by worms into a lovely compost.
Another example of a 'solution' to a 'problem' that only exists because of our blindness.

Remi

Clyde, isn't that argument akin to saying it doesn't matter if we run out of oil, because you run your car on used vegetable oil? It works on a small scale, but not with the agricultural system we currently have.

Stu from Rutherford

Figuring out the recoverable resources is one thing, trying to figure out the effects are quite another. The latter is highly non-linear. For instance, perhaps the ores cannot be reached without fuel-guzzling machinery. This could bring the peak forward a bit, except what if the demand for industrial agriculture has already peaked due to an earlier population crash?

The most valuable answers to the first will categorize reserves according to the fuel inputs necessary to extract them.

Ryan Brooks

Still, as usual, oil/fossil fuels must always be considered in any resource depletion scenario. Without abundant and relatively cheap fossil fuels any resource becomes more and more scarce in a sense. Extraction of any resource is absolutely dependent upon fuel. Without fuel, or with a continually limited amount of it, resources, too, become ever more limited. Hence we have a positive feedback.

Clyde

Remi, I think it is best to grow food the right way and feed as many as can be fed than to do it the way we are currently.
The present way of feeding the population reflects everything that is wrong with the current system.

JohnWDB

@Ryan Brooks, I see what you mean, but resources do not become more scare because of fuel, so much as they become more expensive. The difference is reflected in price elasticity of supply (supply is inelastic in the case of a peak phosphorous scenario but rather elastic in a peak oil scenario). The spike in fertilizer prices in 2007-2008 wasn't due to sudden scarcity, so much as a spike in oil prices and inelastic food demand. However scarce oil becomes, there will, for the foreseeable future, be some way to extract phosphorous and potassium. That will just lead to more volatile food prices and cycles of starvation in the developing world. Add actual declining phosphorous production to declining oil production, and you get a synergistic effect on food price volatility (2 bumpy plateaus, if you will, that tend to be reinforcing in their effects on food costs)

Andy

Solve this by having the crop people call the cow/chicken people for manure. It worked back when both were owned by 1 farm.

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