What is Peak Oil? • Since oil is a nonrenewable resource, we will eventually run out of it. • The study of peak oil attempts to establish when oil production and discovery will peak, decline, and, eventually, stop.
Yipes! Scary stuff, all that, but... how do carrots fit into it all? • The Green Revolution • New strains of plants, chemical fertilizers, irrigation, heavy machinery, pesticides, herbicides. • An average of 50, sometimes up to 100 fold increase in consumption of energy over “traditional” agriculture.
Oil into Food “In the United States, 400 gallons of oil equivalents are expended annually to feed each American (as of 1994).Agricultural energy consumption is broken down as follows: · 31% for the manufacture of inorganic fertilizer · 19% for the operation of field machinery · 16% for transportation · 13% for irrigation · 08% for raising livestock (not including livestock feed) · 05% for crop drying · 05% for pesticide production · 08% miscellaneous Energy costs for packaging, refrigeration, transportation to retail outlets, and household cooking are not considered in these figures. “
Well... That’s a lot of oil, but we have more food, right? • Between the years of 1945 and 1994, the energy input to crops increased four-fold. Crop yields, however, only increased three fold. • For every 1 kcal of food produced by US agriculture, an input of 10 kcals of exosomatic energy must be used.
More energy... • As of right now, the US uses 40% more energy than is captured by all plant biomass in the US. • The US, per capita, consumes about five times the average world usage of fossil energy.
Population woes, too? :( • If the US population grows at 1.1% per year, it will double by 2050. • Right now, there is 1.8 acres of farmland available per person. In 2050, that could be reduced to 0.6 acres per person. • To support current dietary standards, 1.2 acres per person is needed. • Increase land efficiency while decreasing fossil fuel usage?
Alternatives? • Wind • Solar • Wave / other sources of water power • Geothermal • Biofuels • Other nonrenewable sources (natural gas, coal, etc.)