Currently, I am reading about how we are eating fossil fuels.
But the modern world’s most important - and fundamentally existential - dependence on fossil fuels is their direct and indirect use in the production of our food. Direct use includes fuels to power all field machinery (mostly tractors, combines, and other harvesters), the transportation of harvests from fields to storage and processing sites, and irrigation pumps. Indirect use is much broader, taking into account the fuels and electricity used to produce agricultural machinery, fertilizers, agrochemicals (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides), and other inputs ranging from glass and plastic sheets for greenhouses, to global positioning devices that enable precision farming.
Below is a small list which outlines the amount of energy needed to produce a kilogram of it -
Chicken -> 300–350 mL of crude oil / kg
Bread -> 210–250 mL of crude oil / kg
Greehouse tomatoes -> 500 mL of crude oil / kg
Seafood -> 700 mL of crude oil / kg
Each of these foodstuffs has a different nutritional role (bread is eaten for its carbohydrates, chicken for its perfect protein, tomatoes for their vitamin C content) but none of them could be produced so abundantly, so reliably, and so affordably without considerable fossil fuel subsidies. Eventually, our food production will change, but for now, and for the foreseeable future, we cannot feed the world without relying on fossil fuels.
This is such an eye opener and made me realize how much energy is used to grow food. Imagine with the rising temperatures, if we keep spending this much energy on our food consumption, then what impact will it have on our environment?
Following on from this I also read an article
in the Financial Times
about the rise of methane in our atmosphere, which has a warming impact 80 times greater than CO₂. The future is getting warmer, one way or the other, and it’s important that we get prepared for it. Not by increasing heat emissions but by controlling them.