> Dennis, Dale, and others: do we have enough global cropland
> to accommodate fuel production as well as rising levels of
> meat consumption...
We don't have to eat so much meat, and we don't have to use so much energy.
If meat cost, say, $10/pound in terms of todays dollar, you can bet meat
consumption would drop. If diesel fuel cost $5/gallon, we would use less,
and producing biodiesel will be very attractive.
Times will change and markets will adjust. The prevailing view among
proponents of "sustainable" agriculture seems to be that public policy
should seek to discern the distant future and institute strong policy to
accomodate their model of the future. This is dangerous because it is hard
to predict the future. Not only that, we have enough clear inequities,
market distortions and environmental problems to deal with in the immediate
IMO, we need to create policy that looks ahead about a decade to catalyze
the seeds of the solutions to tomorrows problems. For example, the
government subsidizes R&D in solar power in anticipation that this will be a
market-driven solution in the forseeable future. This backfired in the
1970's because the need was too far in the future (it isn't anymore).
Right now, meat consumption is rising because grain is very cheap. Farmers
burn a lot of diesel and apply excess N because petroleum is cheap, but that
won't last very long. The markets are inexorable, and I trust them more than
central planning in the long run.
> plus necessary biodiversity, wilderness reserves, etc.?
IMO this is the central environmental issue: making room for wild nature.
"Sustainability" is the wrong issue. Agriculture in some form is
sustainable because people have to eat. Most concerns on Sanet are
anthropocentric and political.
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