Has Climate Change become the new Religion?

March 25, 2010 · Filed Under news · Comment 

For many people, their opinion on climate change is more a religious type of faith rather than one based on science.   It’s understandable because most of us are not experts and must rely on the work of those who are.

Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists tell us that man made global warming is happening, we are baffled when a few others come up with credible sounding arguments that seem to back the sceptics. Many people prefer to have blind faith in the sceptics arguments because they do not want to give up their fossil fuel enabled standard of living or do not want to contemplate the catastrophe that is waiting if we do not take action.
As non-experts, we need help to understand some of the debates in this complex area of science, and fortunately, no less a body than The Royal Society- as the UKs national academy of science- has produced an overview of the current state of understanding of climate change and responds in easy to understand terms, to eight key arguments that are currently in circulation by setting out where the weight of scientific evidence lies. We feel that this is really helpful to many people and so we show these responses here on Peak Food.
Burning the massive reserves of fossil fuels in a very short time frame will not only alter the climate but will bring our oil and gas dependent farming industry to its’ knees when those finite resources become scarce and expensive due to depletion or to events in the middle east where 60% of remaining oil reserves are. It is the stated ambition of Islamist extremists to establish a Caliphate to rule that entire region and deny “Muslim oil” to the hated infidels. US and western policy is to fight wars to stop that happening but success is not assured.
At some time we will be forced to devise a sustainable way of living, using the abundant solar energy that reaches us each day more effectively, rather than the ancient solar energy stored in oil and gas. The farming industry will, by necessity, have the major role in collecting that energy via the plant leaf.

TOTAL Oil Boss gives Peak Oil Warning

January 19, 2010 · Filed Under climate change · 2 Comments 

In the last few years there have been a series of remarkable u-turns from the world’s top oil companies. Not long ago they were saying that man-made climate change was a myth and funding scientists who were prepared to agree with that. Now, however, they all say that climate change is taking place and that greenhouse gas emissions are at least partly responsible. Indeed, they are all spending millions to prove their green credentials by starting projects that will reduce emissions to some extent.

Peak Oil and Peak Food

Peak Oil and Peak Food


Peak Oil is another matter. Until now the message coming from the oil companies is that Peak Oil – the time when a peak in production is reached, followed by a decline in production in the face of increasing demand, causing severe shortages – is many decades in to the future. Recently though there are indications that at least one company has changed its mind.

In this week’s Time magazine, Christophe de Boisseson, CEO of the French oil giant Total, speaks openly about the nightmare scenario oil shortages that most energy firms prefer to avoid or deny. De Margerie says the possible effects on the world economy of dwindling oil supplies are so great that, “I am not prepared to shut my mouth.” Shortly after taking over at Total he jolted executives at a London conference by stating that the industry would be unlikely to produce more than 100 million barrels a day, far below the 120 million or so the International Energy Agency estimates the world could produce by 2030, and which will be needed for Asia’s galloping growth. De Margerie now says 90 million barrel a day is “optimistic.”

This is worrying for the health of the world economy, but for the future of food production it is devastating. Western agriculture is totally dependent on oil and the rest of the world is rapidly becoming so.  It is expected that food production will need to double in the next 40 years as the population continues to rise and as more people demand a better diet. To increase food production using modern methods requires a corresponding increase in fossil energy inputs. A serious shortage would cause the farming industry to collapse.

The truth about our situation is so unpalatable that most people will prefer to not believe it, but it must be said. The carrying capacity of the Earth has been temporarily increased by the massive use of finite resources. When these resources become depleted, the Earth’s carrying capacity and therefore its population will be reduced – in other words mass starvation and we in the West are the most vulnerable.

Role of Agriculture in Global Warming

January 16, 2010 · Filed Under Peak Food in the News · Comment 

Peak Food author John Gossop this week had this article printed on pages 28 and 29 of the Farmers Weekly under the topic of the week section. Dated 8th January 2010, the article was entitled ‘Agriculture has a key role in taking heat out of global warming debate’. The issues raised were then then debated on the Farmers Weekly Forum.

Agriculture's role in takingt heat out of global warming

Agriculture has a key role in taking heat out of global warming debate  by John Gossop
(Article published in Farmers Weekly 8th January)
Charlie Flindt’s article about man-made global warming ( Farmers Weekly, Qpinion, 18 December) will have struck a chord with many readers, because if he is right – and the overwhelming number of climate scientists are wrong – we can happily continue with our fossil-fuelled living standards and our fossil-fuelled farming systems until those finite resouces become scare.
Unfortunately, the physics and the evidence clearly favour the scientists.
The present level of greenhouse gasses trap heat energy, reducing the amount that is radiated from the earth back into space, acting as a partial blanket and causing a difference of about 21 degrees C between the average temperature that we would have and the average earth temperature.  Without the greenhouse effect the earth would be uninhabitable.
By increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere we are enhancing the greenhouse effect.  The earth is responding just as we would expect it to, with a well-proven warming trend.  Experts never expected every year to be warmer than the one before.  Does anyone really believe that we can increase the blanket by more than 40% with no effect?

The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time slow the depletion of finite oil and gas reserves has massive implications for the future of farming, which has become nothing more than a system of converting cheap, plentiful calories into a much smaller amount of expensive food calories.  As oil and gas supplies are finite, and their production is expected to peak soon and then decline, our present farming system must be regarded as temporary.

As the world moves to collecting and using more of the abundant solar energy that reaches us every day, the most important method will be to use plants to collect solar energy to synthesise simple carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water – in other words agriculture.  But to feed the nine billion people predicted by 2050 with fewer fossil inputs, we will need to grow more of our input energy, fix more of our nitrogen and recycle more nutrients.  It will be a massive challenge, but agriculture will surely become the most important industry in the world.