Be very careful what you wish for. I understand the appeal of a simpler life that we think we can understand. When we say we want to end our dependence on fossil fuels we are also saying we want food costs to double and triple. That price rise will happen not only here in the US but around the world. Energy also effects the cost of every product. More of us will lose our jobs as we de-industrialize. That makes more of us financially vulnerable. The increased cost of producing, storing, and transporting food will push vulnerable people into poverty and malnutrition. Poor people don’t act like rich people do. We’re talking about more hungry kids and more environmental damage. You might not know how we got here, but we stand on the shoulders of giants who keep us fed.
The use of nitrogen fertilizer is critical to modern farming. These fertilizers doubled the yield of modern crops. With fertilizer prices soaring, we will see marginal farmers stop planting. That means that food prices will increase dramatically. We will also see more naturally rich and naturally irrigated farmlands forced into food production. That means more destruction of natural lands.
Add in the fact that Ukraine was the fifth largest exporter of wheat in the world. If politicians continue or accelerate the foolish subsidy of alcohol as a “green” fuel, then we will see energy and food prices rise to dangerous levels.
Give me enough energy and I can do anything. Make energy cheap and we make everyone rich. There was a time long ago when it made sense to force air through an electric arc to produce nitric oxide. Eventually, that nitric oxide was converted to ammonia. Ammonia is a key ingredient in modern fertilizers. Ammonia is the “amine” in amino acids, and a critical building block in plant growth. Modern fertilizers doubled the amount of food we produce per acre given the same amount of water and cultivation.
Later, we discovered more things we could do with electricity so electricity prices rose. We also discovered that rather than convert air into ammonia, it took far less energy to convert natural gas into ammonia.
You remember natural gas, don’t you?
Yes, natural gas is the fossil fuel that let the United States cut its greenhouse gas emissions while our economy grew and eliminated unemployment at the same time. Yes, that fossil fuel.
Natural gas is the same fuel we used to export to Europe. The same fuel that Democrats told us to stop pumping. Now that Europe shut down many of its nuclear reactors, Europe, particularly Germany, gets its natural gas from Russia. Now you know why Russia developed its own nuclear plants and funded environmental activists in other countries, including the United States. Russia said it will also ration the fertilizer it sells outside of Russia.
It takes energy to cultivate, to plant, to weed, to fertilize and to harvest our food. It takes energy to transport and process our food. It takes more energy to store our food. That is true here and true around the world.
We’re going to eat more canned vegetables, and the fresh vegetables we see will be higher in price and lower in quality. Meat prices will rise. That may not bother the rich, but it will sure impact the poor. It will hurt the poor in both the US and in other countries.
The tragic part of this is that making people poor and hungry is really bad for the environment. Poor people can’t care about cutting down the forest or destroying the reef when they have to feed their children. Making sure that poor people in the third world have economic opportunities is what allowed those people to care about the environment next door to where they live.
Destroying the fossil-fuel driven industrial world cuts the poor off from their opportunities to make money. Making energy more expensive means more people will go back to stripping the forests for fuel.
No, you can’t afford to run a freighter on solar power and green energy promises. Making fossil fuels and fertilizer more expensive hurts poor people everywhere.
The green political movement has made us poorer. They made the poor poorer, and that will hurt the environment the greens say they care about.
The lesson is pretty clear. We have to be careful when we swallow simplistic answer to complicated problems. There may be important things the advocates for “climate justice” didn’t tell us.
I may be wrong about this. I have been wrong before, but I’ll ask you to note that billionaires have invested heavily in farmland across the US.
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