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Posted: 29 November 2008 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 91 ]  
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part two of two

Again, Michael Pollen sums it up pretty well:

As long as the sun still shines. There is the energy to produce the food. The thing we need to remember, when people ask, “Can we feed the world sustainably?” is that about 40 percent of all the grain we’re growing in the world, which is most of what we grow, we are feeding to animals….

.... yield isn’t everything — and growing high-yield commodities is not quite the same thing as growing food. Much of what we’re growing today is not directly eaten as food but processed into low-quality calories of fat and sugar. As the world epidemic of diet-related chronic disease has demonstrated, the sheer quantity of calories that a food system produces improves health only up to a point, but after that, quality and diversity are probably more important. We can expect that a food system that produces somewhat less food but of a higher quality will produce healthier populations.

If this system is so sensible, you might ask, why did it succumb to Confined Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs? In fact there is nothing inherently efficient or economical about raising vast cities of animals in confinement. Three struts, each put into place by federal policy, support the modern CAFO, and the most important of these — the ability to buy grain for less than it costs to grow it — has just been kicked away. The second strut is F.D.A. approval for the routine use of antibiotics in feed, without which the animals in these places could not survive their crowded, filthy and miserable existence. And the third is that the government does not require CAFOs to treat their wastes as it would require human cities of comparable size to do. The F.D.A. should ban the routine use of antibiotics in livestock feed on public-health grounds, now that we have evidence that the practice is leading to the evolution of drug-resistant bacterial diseases and to outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella poisoning. CAFOs should also be regulated like the factories they are, required to clean up their waste like any other industry or municipality.

It will be argued that moving animals off feedlots and back onto farms will raise the price of meat. It probably will — as it should. You will need to make the case that paying the real cost of meat, and therefore eating less of it, is a good thing for our health, for the environment, for our dwindling reserves of fresh water and for the welfare of the animals. Meat and milk production represent the food industry’s greatest burden on the environment; a recent U.N. study estimated that the world’s livestock alone account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gases, more than all forms of transportation combined. (According to one study, a pound of feedlot beef also takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce.) And while animals living on farms will still emit their share of greenhouse gases, grazing them on grass and returning their waste to the soil will substantially offset their carbon hoof prints, as will getting ruminant animals off grain. A bushel of grain takes approximately a half gallon of oil to produce; grass can be grown with little more than sunshine.

The final point to consider is that 40 percent of the world’s grain output today is fed to animals; 11 percent of the world’s corn and soybean crop is fed to cars and trucks, in the form of biofuels. Provided the developed world can cut its consumption of grain-based animal protein and ethanol, there should be plenty of food for everyone — however we choose to grow it.

In fact, well-designed polyculture systems, incorporating not just grains but vegetables and animals, can produce more food per acre than conventional monocultures, and food of a much higher nutritional value. But this kind of farming is complicated and needs many more hands on the land to make it work. Farming without fossil fuels — performing complex rotations of plants and animals and managing pests without petrochemicals — is labor intensive and takes more skill than merely “driving and spraying,” which is how corn-belt farmers describe what they do for a living.


Our focus should be on teaching ecological farming systems to students entering land-grant colleges today. For decades now, it has been federal policy to shrink the number of farmers in America by promoting capital-intensive monoculture and consolidation. As a society, we devalued farming as an occupation and encouraged the best students to leave the farm for “better” jobs in the city. We emptied America’s rural counties in order to supply workers to urban factories. To put it bluntly, we now need to reverse course. We need more highly skilled small farmers in more places all across America — not as a matter of nostalgia for the agrarian past but as a matter of national security. For nations that lose the ability to substantially feed themselves will find themselves as gravely compromised in their international dealings as nations that depend on foreign sources of oil presently do. But while there are alternatives to oil, there are no alternatives to food.

The revival of farming in America, which of course draws on the abiding cultural power of our agrarian heritage, will pay many political and economic dividends. It will lead to robust economic renewal in the countryside. And it will generate tens of millions of new “green jobs,” which is precisely how we need to begin thinking of skilled solar farming: as a vital sector of the 21st-century post-fossil-fuel economy.

A decentralized food system offers a great many other benefits as well. Food eaten closer to where it is grown will be fresher and require less processing, making it more nutritious. Whatever may be lost in efficiency by localizing food production is gained in resilience: regional food systems can better withstand all kinds of shocks. When a single factory is grinding 20 million hamburger patties in a week or washing 25 million servings of salad, a single terrorist armed with a canister of toxins can, at a stroke, poison millions. Such a system is equally susceptible to accidental contamination: the bigger and more global the trade in food, the more vulnerable the system is to catastrophe. The best way to protect our food system against such threats is obvious: decentralize it.

There are other kinds of information about food that the government can supply or demand. In general we should push for as much transparency in the food system as possible — the other sense in which “sunlight” should be the watchword of our agenda. The F.D.A. should require that every packaged-food product include a second calorie count, indicating how many calories of fossil fuel went into its production. Oil is one of the most important ingredients in our food, and people ought to know just how much of it they’re eating. The government should also throw its support behind putting a second bar code on all food products that, when scanned either in the store or at home (or with a cellphone), brings up on a screen the whole story and pictures of how that product was produced: in the case of crops, images of the farm and lists of agrochemicals used in its production; in the case of meat and dairy, descriptions of the animals’ diet and drug regimen, as well as live video feeds of the CAFO where they live and, yes, the slaughterhouse where they die. The very length and complexity of the modern food chain breeds a culture of ignorance and indifference among eaters. Shortening the food chain is one way to create more conscious consumers, but deploying technology to pierce the veil is another.


Yes, sun food (sustainable food)  costs more, but the reasons why it does only undercut the charge of elitism: cheap food is only cheap because of government handouts and regulatory indulgence (both of which we will end), not to mention the exploitation of workers, animals and the environment on which its putative “economies” depend. Cheap food is food dishonestly priced — it is in fact unconscionably expensive.

 

 

Very interesting conversations at:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/11282008/transcript5.html

and…


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/magazine/12policy-t.htm?pagewanted=1&_r=2

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Posted: 29 November 2008 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 92 ]  
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Response to part one:

I’m not confused or confusing anything, what I said is what I meant. Are there issues, of course, mass food production parallels any other industrialization. Take automobiles, if we had waited until we could produce clean, efficient cars and fuels we would still be riding horses. Same goes for the materials your home is built of, all the stuff in it, all electronics etc. etc.  People like you crack me up! The only reason you can afford to pay more on green products is because everything else is so cheap, primarily because of industrialized food production that provides cheap dependable food which took most people out of the fields into factories which created the economies of scale that make everything cheap enough that you/we can live well with enough money left over to put a Green bumper sticker on our SUV(s).

Response to part two:

Popish doom and gloom flag waving. Double the price of beef and there won’t be a deer, bear, eagle or even a gofer left.

Never mind it’s not worth wasting time on.

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Posted: 29 November 2008 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 93 ]  
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Gad

The only reason you can afford to pay more on green products is because everything else is so cheap, primarily because of industrialized food production that provides cheap dependable food…

I don’t buy industrialized, processed food, so there is no savings in it for me. I grow some of my food, and eat mostly whole foods, fruits, vegetables, grains. I don’t buy “processed food” because it is unhealthy, full of fat, sugar and salt. And mostly, because it tastes bad.

... which took most people out of the fields into factories which created the economies of scale that make everything cheap enough that you/we can live well with enough money left over to put a Green bumper sticker on our SUV(s).

I don’t drive an SUV and I don’t have a Green bumper sticker. My car gets 39mpg and I drive under 60 mph on the highways.

You need to work a little harder at putting square pegs in round holes. confused

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Posted: 29 November 2008 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 94 ]  
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Gad

Response to part two:

Popish doom and gloom flag waving. Double the price of beef and there won’t be a deer, bear, eagle or even a gofer left.

Never mind it’s not worth wasting time on.

Yeah, that’s what I thought you would say…......

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Posted: 29 November 2008 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 95 ]  
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Gad

Take automobiles, if we had waited until we could
produce clean, efficient cars and fuels we would still be riding horses.
Same goes for the materials your home is built of, all the stuff in it, all
electronics etc. etc.

Who said anything about having to wait?  The time is here and now.  I don’t think you get what Pollen is talking about.  He isn’t talking about the past and what use to be.  He is talking about the future and now.

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Posted: 29 November 2008 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 96 ]  
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Gad

..... Double the price of beef and there won’t be a deer, bear, eagle or even a gofer left.


Yeah, you’re right,  “popish doom and gloom flag waving.”

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Posted: 29 November 2008 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 97 ]  
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lindajean - 29 November 2008 03:26 PM

Gad

The only reason you can afford to pay more on green products is because everything else is so cheap, primarily because of industrialized food production that provides cheap dependable food…

I don’t buy industrialized, processed food, so there is no savings in it for me. I grow some of my food, and eat mostly whole foods, fruits, vegetables, grains. I don’t buy “processed food” because it is unhealthy, full of fat, sugar and salt. And mostly, because it tastes bad.

... which took most people out of the fields into factories which created the economies of scale that make everything cheap enough that you/we can live well with enough money left over to put a Green bumper sticker on our SUV(s).

I don’t drive an SUV and I don’t have a Green bumper sticker. My car gets 39mpg and I drive under 60 mph on the highways.

You need to work a little harder at putting square pegs in round holes. confused

As usual the rapid patting of your own back has created a draft that pushes everything else over your head.

I have a garden, I compost, I recycle (everything possible), I use CF lights (everywhere), I drive fuel efficient vehicles, I give to charity, I invest in green where it makes sense. So…...... That doesn’t change reality.

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Posted: 29 November 2008 12:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 98 ]  
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“GAD”
As usual the rapid patting of your own back has created a draft that pushes everything else over your head.

I always enjoy your sense of humor.LOL

I have a garden, I compost, I recycle (everything possible), I use CF lights (everywhere), I drive fuel efficient vehicles, I give to charity, I invest in green where it makes sense.

Those are worthwhile things to do to help the environment.  You deserve your own pat on the back.  cool smirk

So…...... That doesn’t change reality.

What reality is that?  The industrialized food industry has seen its zenith and will someday become a dinosaur.  The organic food market has grown 20x’s its original market since 1990 and continues to grow.  Even people in low income neighborhoods are starting community gardens and farmer’s markets. Is this the reality you are talking about?

Reality changes over time.  What I find perplexing is your stance that somehow this is all a bunch of BS. That the industrial agricultural food industry is the be all and end all of food.

Talk about a narrow, fundamentalist view!

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Posted: 29 November 2008 04:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 99 ]  
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I think Harris’s view that all atheists should be utilitarianism is bad. Utilitarianism leads to Peter Singer and his support of infanticide (in particular of disabled infants or having a child specifically to kill it and give its organs to a sick sibling, but he rejects the idea that infants are persons altogether), which all sane people should be disgusted by. Utilitarianism does not a liberal make.

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Jump through the Blackmun Hole!

Salt Creek has discovered the meaning of the first half of “Nulono”. Now, what language uses “nul” for zero?

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Posted: 30 November 2008 11:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 100 ]  
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Nulono - 29 November 2008 09:01 PM

I think Harris’s view that all atheists should be utilitarianism is bad. Utilitarianism leads to Peter Singer and his support of infanticide (in particular of disabled infants or having a child specifically to kill it and give its organs to a sick sibling, but he rejects the idea that infants are persons altogether), which all sane people should be disgusted by. Utilitarianism does not a liberal make.

Nulono, you have a record of saying things about Harris that are out of context.  Would you be so kind as to quote Sam Harris when you refer to his ideas. For example, a quote that Sam has made saying all atheists should be utilitarians would be a good place to start.

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Posted: 16 January 2009 04:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 101 ]  
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Gad

All things being equal changing from corn and beef to peas and carrots would make a difference so small it would be hard to measure. Changing to things like organic foods grown locally doesn’t change the amount of food needed, just how it was grown and where which can be applied to anything. People confuse this with corn and beef are bad for the world, when they are no worse then anything else that followed the model.

I already posted this here: http://www.samharris.org/forum/viewthread/11257/P240/

But it’s appropriate for this thread also:


A thought provoking article.  Read it and weep.
Some excerpts below.

But with global warming, here’s the inconvenient truth about meat and dairy products: If you eat them, regardless of their origin and how they were produced, you significantly contribute to climate change. Period. If your beef is from New Zealand or your own backyard, if your lamb is organic free-range or factory farmed, it still has a negative impact on global warming…

 

But when it comes to food, the facts are not enough for many people. Of this I’m also sure. A holistic nutritionist in my neighborhood says one’s ideas about food reside in the same part of the brain that houses our ideas and beliefs about religion. It’s not all rational, in other words. Facts abound about the harm of fatty, sugary foods, yet the obesity epidemic grows. And I can’t count the number of environmental conferences I’ve attended where meat was served in abundance. Even Michael Pollan’s 2006 bestseller The Omnivore’s Dilemma, wherein he dissects with encyclopedic thoroughness the eco-hazards and animal cruelty issues surrounding meat and egg production—even this book astonishingly mentions the words global warming only two times and climate change not at all. In 464 pages. That’s highly unreasonable, in my view….

...All of which is to say that for people to care, the climate–food discussion must be about more than just facts, more than pounds of greenhouse gases per units of food. It’s got to be about morality, about right versus wrong. And I don’t mean the usual morality of environmental “stewardship.” Or even the issue of cruelty to farm animals. I’m talking here about cruelty to people, about the explicit harm to humans that results from meat consumption and its role as a driving force in climate change. Knowingly eating food that makes you fat or harms your local fish and birds is one thing. Knowingly eating food that makes children across much of the world hungry is another….

...But in the Congo and other poor countries, in places like Bangladesh and Peru and Vietnam, where meat consumption is already low, severe climate change means food off the table. It means hungry children. It means the rains don’t come on time or at all in tiny villages like the one I lived in. It means, in the end, cruelty to people…

http://www.audubonmagazine.org/features0901/viewpoint.html

 

 

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Posted: 16 January 2009 07:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 102 ]  
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Nulono - 29 November 2008 09:01 PM

which all sane people should be disgusted by.

What the fuck do you know about sane people?

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Posted: 16 January 2009 08:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 103 ]  
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Nulono - 29 November 2008 09:01 PM

... he rejects the idea that infants are persons altogether), which all sane people should be disgusted by.

What sick fantasy world do you live in? You don’t know where to draw lines, do you? You say you’re Pro-life, then how about getting one, a sane one preferrably.

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Posted: 17 January 2009 11:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 104 ]  
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lindajean - 16 January 2009 09:47 PM

A thought provoking article.  Read it and weep.
Some excerpts below.

Do they want some cheese with that wine.

Look, if you would read something beside crap like this you might learn something. Cows make methane, they pollute about as much as a typical car and there are 1.5 billion of them. Still, their overall contribution to global warning is very small. People can do a lot more by not having babies and/or not driving cars.

I don’t care to spend much time on this, but here is a simple article that matches the consensus in general. Read it and weep, I’m going out for a burger.

http://sxxz.blogspot.com/2008/01/do-cow-farts-cause-global-warming.html

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Posted: 17 January 2009 03:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 105 ]  
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GAD

I don’t care to spend much time on this, but here is a simple article that matches the consensus in general. Read it and weep, I’m going out for a burger.

http://sxxz.blogspot.com/2008/01/do-cow-farts-cause-global-warming.html


Of course you don’t want to spend much time on it, because educating yourself on all of the facts might cause you to pause a little between burger bits.

 

From the UN studies:
http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm

At the same time, the livestock sector has assumed an often unrecognized role in global warming. Using a methodology that considered the entire commodity chain (see box below), FAO estimated that livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a bigger share than that of transport. It accounts for nine percent of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, most of it due to expansion of pastures and arable land for feed crops. It generates even bigger shares of emissions of other gases with greater potential to warm the atmosphere: as much as 37 percent of anthropogenic methane, mostly from enteric fermentation by ruminants, and 65 percent of anthropogenic nitrous oxide, mostly from manure.

 
New measurement for greenhouse gases

Scientists usually tie their estimates of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming to sources such as land use changes, agriculture (including livestock) and transportation. The authors of Livestock’s long shadow took a different approach, aggregating emissions throughout the livestock commodity chain - from feed production (which includes chemical fertilizer production, deforestation for pasture and feed crops, and pasture degradation), through animal production (including enteric fermentation and nitrous oxide emissions from manure) to the carbon dioxide emitted during processing and transportation of animal products.

 

The blog you cited is less than reputable.  One of the articles on there is by By Dr. William Campbell Douglass .  He believes GW is a hoax and says Al Gore is a flunkie.  I cant believe you read this kind of stuff…...

From his article:

The Cold Truth About Global Warming, Plus Dr. Douglass’ Health Newsletter
   

If you’re staying up nights worrying about your carbon footprint or how climate change is leaving polar bears adrift at sea, I’ve got the best advice you’ve heard in a while - get some sleep.

Al Gore and his global warming flunkies have half the world brainwashed into thinking our ice caps are melting, our seas are on the verge of boiling, and that everywhere from Miami to Juneau, Alaska is about to be ravaged by tropical diseases from malaria to Dengue Fever. Well, I’ve studied the science and I’ve got an “inconvenient truth” for Gore and company - the only hot air that’s threatening the planet is coming out of their mouths.

Global warming has benefited from one of the greatest public relations and marketing efforts in recent history. You’ll hear plenty from environmentalists about carbon emissions, clean energy, and the disappearing arctic, but here’s what you will NEVER hear them admit…

He has his critics at:


http://scienceiscritical.com/2008/09/15/meet-dr-douglass-probably-not-a-real-doctor/


Integrating science into our culture, our politics and our lives
William Campbell Douglass, quack and contrarian

 

Regardless, the stats from the EPA in your article are based on US statistics not world wide.  If we look at global warming from a global perspective The UN figures are more relevant in predicting wide spread drought and climate change in third world countries, where much of the negative effects of global warming will take place.


From an LA Times article:

All told, livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide, according to the U.N. – more than all the planes, trains and automobiles on the planet.  And it’s going to get a lot worse. As living standards rise in the developing world, so does its fondness for meat and dairy. Annual per-capita meat consumption in developing countries doubled from 31 pounds in 1980 to 62 pounds in 2002, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, which expects global meat production to more than double by 2050. That means the environmental damage of ranching would have to be cut in half just to keep emissions at their current, dangerous level.


http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/15/opinion/ed-methane15

So eat all the burgers you want Gad, and feed them to your children and teach your children that their carbon footprint doesn’t include eating meat, but doing so is patently ignoring the facts.

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