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posted by martyb on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:47PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Betteridge-says-"No" dept.

Can We Feed Billions of Ourselves Without Wrecking the Planet?

We are now producing more food more efficiently than ever, and there is plenty to go around for a human population of 7 billion. But it is coming at a drastic cost in environmental degradation, and the bounty is not reaching many people.

Sustainable Food Production, a new Earth Institute primer from Columbia University Press, explores how modern agriculture can be made more environmentally benign, and economically just. With population going to maybe 10 billion within 30 years, the time to start is now, the authors say.

The lead author is ecologist Shahid Naeem, director of the Earth Institute for Environmental Sustainability. He coauthored the book with former Columbia colleagues Suzanne Lipton and Tiff van Huysen.

This is an interesting interview with the author. Do you agree (or disagree) with his conclusions?

Columbia Climate School

[Also Covered By]: Phys.org


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DannyB on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:06PM (9 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:06PM (#1211813) Journal

    Isn't Soylent Green the answer to this problem?

    Soylent Green is produced in small squares that fit easily in the hand and can be easily inserted into computer terminals on the USS Enterprise 1701. Kirk, Spock and McCoy are often seen carrying red, yellow and blue versions of these squares.

    --
    Calmly vote. Fill out your ballet and drop it in the ballet box. Don't dance around bothering the pole watchers.
    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:13PM (2 children)

      by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:13PM (#1211863)

      And the best part is that if we're keeping to schedule, that system should be in place this year!

      --
      Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:41PM (1 child)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:41PM (#1211933) Journal

        Nothing ever stays on schedule.

        --
        Calmly vote. Fill out your ballet and drop it in the ballet box. Don't dance around bothering the pole watchers.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:52PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:52PM (#1211937)

          The trains in Switzerland stay on schedule.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:57PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:57PM (#1211938)

      No. Scientific studies have shown meat is not required for a fulfilling human life. A diet of mealworms and insect protein is efficient, but if you add canola oil they thrive.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday January 12 2022, @02:50PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12 2022, @02:50PM (#1212104) Journal

        Scientific studies have shown meat is not required for a fulfilling human life.

        Some women would agree that a vibrator is sufficient.

        --
        Calmly vote. Fill out your ballet and drop it in the ballet box. Don't dance around bothering the pole watchers.
    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 17 2022, @10:01PM (3 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 17 2022, @10:01PM (#1213480)

      Soylent for all is where the human race is heading, as long as we continue to value money over things of actual value.

      --
      Україна не входить до складу Росії.
      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 18 2022, @01:25AM (2 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 18 2022, @01:25AM (#1213510) Journal

        Soylent for all is where the human race is heading, as long as we continue to value money over things of actual value.

        But are we doing that? I don't get the impression that there's many people who value money over things of actual value?

        Are you doing that, Joe? Do you value money over things of actual value? I think the implication above is that no you don't. I doubt there's anyone on this forum that does - because even the slightest bit of real work would earn more money than yacking away here.

        My bet is that even those who obsessively pursue wealth usually value the things that they can get with money more than the money.

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 18 2022, @02:50AM (1 child)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 18 2022, @02:50AM (#1213521)

          You get impressions like Vishnu Basalt gets footprints.

          --
          Україна не входить до складу Росії.
          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 18 2022, @05:09AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 18 2022, @05:09AM (#1213533) Journal
            I just need to be right. It's bizarre how so many people here make general claims that everyone wants or believes something, when it's clear that nobody here does. You are not unique [soylentnews.org].
  • (Score: 0, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:09PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:09PM (#1211814)

    Sure seems like it is...

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:41PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:41PM (#1211932) Journal

      As long as the Universal Basic Income checks reach them.

      --
      Calmly vote. Fill out your ballet and drop it in the ballet box. Don't dance around bothering the pole watchers.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @12:12PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @12:12PM (#1212079)

      Starvation is still a problem in the poorest parts of the world. There are three main ways this happens: Food is available but people can't afford it (parts of Mexico and Argentina), supply lines to a region have been cut off by civil war (Somalia) or government oppression (Ethiopia), or multinational agricorps bought up all of the farmland in the country to produce ethanol for gasoline (happened in Venezuela).

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 18 2022, @01:27AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 18 2022, @01:27AM (#1213512) Journal

        or multinational agricorps bought up all of the farmland in the country to produce ethanol for gasoline (happened in Venezuela).

        Is that supposed to be serious? Last I checked, multinational agricorps couldn't get the time of day in Venezuela, and yet there was still a lot of starvation.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:11PM (57 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:11PM (#1211815)

    Don't want to go vegetarian?
    You should have supported overpopulation initiatives 50 years ago, and it's not like you weren't warned.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:14PM (21 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:14PM (#1211818)

      The population growth is already slowing. Many, many large countries are below replacement level or soon will be. This is not a problem, except maybe in black Africa. Don't worry about the overpopulation problem because it is solving itself.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:36PM (12 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:36PM (#1211871)

        Why is this modded flamebait? Because I mentioned the taboo topic of black Africa? Facts are facts, and these are easily checked:

        Growth in population (not population itself, mind you):
        https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/population-growth-by-world-region-the-annual-change-of-the-population?time=1950..2085&country=OWID_WRL~Africa~Asia~Europe~Northern+America~Latin+America+and+the+Caribbean~Oceania [ourworldindata.org]

        Look for when a region's growth curve falls to zero and becomes zero. (Projections, except for Europe!)

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:39PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:39PM (#1211872)

          Edit: "becomes negative"

        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by FatPhil on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:43PM (9 children)

          by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:43PM (#1211873) Homepage
          Your link makes no mention of "black Africa", so does not support your initial claim. I know a white missionary (inlaws of a friend, yes, I'm trying to distance myself) in Africa who has 7 children, so from my perspective, white Africa looks worse!
          --
          Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
          • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:39PM (3 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:39PM (#1211909)

            I knew somebody like you would grasp at any straw he could to try to "debunk me", so I tediously had to find some links that you won't read because they just back up what is common knowledge:

            https://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/7-facts-about-population-in-sub-saharan-africa [worldbank.org]
            https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12264271/ [nih.gov]

            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @10:04PM (2 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @10:04PM (#1211941)

              You just have to say Africa, adding black makes you look racist and given the topic doubly so. You can rage about the standards of polite society or be flexible and adapt to changing standards. If you refuse to change then don't whine when people say you sound racist.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @05:15PM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @05:15PM (#1212163)

                N. African groups are not predominately black. MENA is a real, separate demographic.

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 17 2022, @06:28AM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17 2022, @06:28AM (#1213343) Journal
                  North African groups are another high population growth rate population.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @11:21PM (4 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @11:21PM (#1211962)

            Different AC, but "Black Africa" is a common geographical term, although falling in usage, used to refer to slightly differing regions located on the continent of Africa. White Africa is an uncommonly used geographical term referring to slightly differing regions on the northern part of the continent of Africa. It doesn't refer to the actual races of direct subpopulations located across Africa. It is both possible and common to be a white, Black African and to be a black, White African. However, confusion such as this is one of the reasons why it is falling out of common usage.

            • (Score: 2) by gawdonblue on Wednesday January 12 2022, @02:23AM (3 children)

              by gawdonblue (412) on Wednesday January 12 2022, @02:23AM (#1211999)

              So "White Africa" is where the Sahara is? More of a light-yellow Africa from my experience.
              And "Black Africa" is the jungly bit? Maybe dark-green Africa. Or is it the savannah part? Then light-green Africa.
              Racists aren't really racist, they just see colour as black-and-white.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @04:01AM (2 children)

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @04:01AM (#1212022)

                "Black Africa" and "White Africa" originally came from an explored/unexplored (dark/light) dichotomy, mostly limited by the distance from Europe. That historical definition rooted in exploration is why places like Sudan and the Nile's tributaries are commonly excluded from Black Africa but colonized areas on the southern coast are usually not. It wasn't until later that the usage became more coarse and vulgar to a more racial division instead of a geographical one. Such racial loading (including usage out of South Africa and counter usage in the Middle East) leading to confusion is why the terms have been replaced, but even their replacements carry some historical baggage in use.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @04:36AM (1 child)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @04:36AM (#1212031)

                  Had that parenthetical backwards. Unexplored is dark or black and explored is light or white. That is where phrases like "darkest Africa" or "Dark Continent" come from in contrast to "light of civilization" or "bring/shed light" for the opposite.

                  • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday January 17 2022, @08:10AM

                    by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Monday January 17 2022, @08:10AM (#1213356) Homepage
                    So, during which century did this term decay into referring to absolutely nothing? Were you trying to support the original AC's use of the term, or taking another swipe at it, it's not clear?
                    --
                    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12 2022, @01:43AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12 2022, @01:43AM (#1211988) Journal
          For starters, overpopulation in Africa is not just a black thing. The Muslim north also has high population growth.

          As an aside, I think overpopulation will exhibit a strong racial component in the latter half of this century when Africa becomes pretty much the only source of population growth. My take as I've said before is that everyone can make it to a developed world society, including the entirety of Africa. They're just starting from further behind.
      • (Score: 2) by legont on Tuesday January 11 2022, @11:41PM (7 children)

        by legont (4179) on Tuesday January 11 2022, @11:41PM (#1211965)

        The problem here is that modern capitalism can't survive without exponential population grows. That's why we have "our precious children" mantra drilled in day and night and countless laws that support population grows such as local school taxes.
        No matter how much everybody wants to avoid this, population question comes down to economy model question. Do we want communism? Any other *ism? It can't be capitalism, sorry.
        So, stop avoiding the issue and discuss economy instead of stupid green planet crap which just makes the argument weaker.

        Back to the question, we sure can feed a few orders of magnitude more people. Using feed, not food. There is not enough food already even for 10% of the population. No, chicken nuggets is not food. 90% of shit sold in supermarkets is not food. Veggie burger is not food. It's all just feed.

        Now, if you ask me I'd say that we should go with socialism and reduce the population by 90% in the process. Not that I care as I am old and have no children.

        --
        "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
        • (Score: 2, Touché) by khallow on Wednesday January 12 2022, @02:02AM (2 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12 2022, @02:02AM (#1211990) Journal

          The problem here is that modern capitalism can't survive without exponential population grows. That's why we have "our precious children" mantra drilled in day and night and countless laws that support population grows such as local school taxes.

          The problem is merely that you think that is so. What does the "our precious children" or those "countless laws" have to do with private ownership of capital? Nothing.

          The non sequituring continues. Local school taxes have nothing to do with exponential population growth. It's just a straight forward funding of education by taxes which works under a great variety of scenarios. It works just as well in a declining population model as in an exponentially growing one.

          I would suggest as an example of non-capitalist policies that depend on exponential population growth are pension funds (and similar) that can only be supported with a high number of people paying into the system for the people taking out of the system. It's common that these pension funds get into trouble because they promise too much and can't be fully funded by newer participants. The classic US examples would be US Social Security, CalPERS, various company pensions that were drained or underfunded, and Medicare). Some have such unhealthy funding that they really aren't viable as presently constituted without insane levels of population growth (Medicare).

          But in all those cases, the simple solution to bring them in line with funding and real world lack of population growth, is to cut benefits (or in some of the private cases, get the businesses to pony up the amounts that the fund is due).

          None of that is a capitalism problem.

          No matter how much everybody wants to avoid this, population question comes down to economy model question. Do we want communism? Any other *ism? It can't be capitalism, sorry. So, stop avoiding the issue and discuss economy instead of stupid green planet crap which just makes the argument weaker.

          Of course, we don't want communism. The last half century proved that. And sorry, you don't have anything other than capitalism. Capitalism works even in a negative population growth situation.

          Back to the question, we sure can feed a few orders of magnitude more people. Using feed, not food. There is not enough food already even for 10% of the population. No, chicken nuggets is not food. 90% of shit sold in supermarkets is not food. Veggie burger is not food. It's all just feed.

          Sorry no. 100% of the population is fed with food. Chicken nuggets amd veggie burgers are indeed food. Semantics doesn't change that.

          Now, if you ask me I'd say that we should go with socialism and reduce the population by 90% in the process. Not that I care as I am old and have no children.

          I say we go with capitalism instead and just not have the need to reduce anything!

          • (Score: 2) by legont on Thursday January 13 2022, @11:56PM (1 child)

            by legont (4179) on Thursday January 13 2022, @11:56PM (#1212545)

            Oh, come on, the whole point of precious children policies is to generate free labor for the capital. Anybody who has a child in the US simply gives $500,000 donation to the capital. However, it's not enough so local authorities force everybody - child free or not - pay more.

            I do give a large credit to liberals here though as any women liberation reduces population. Girls are not stupid and don't want this burden. They do however want security of male's income stream. Once this dependence is broken, no free children for you, my dear business owners.

            --
            "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 17 2022, @03:40PM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17 2022, @03:40PM (#1213396) Journal

              Oh, come on, the whole point of precious children policies is to generate free labor for the capital.

              I think rather it's a standard FUD tactic to scare voters. There's this scary danger to your kids, so we have to do this politically advantageous (for me) thing. I doubt "free labor for the capital" (whatever that is supposed to mean) even registers in these decisions.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12 2022, @02:22AM (3 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12 2022, @02:22AM (#1211998) Journal
          On the feed versus food issue, it's worth remembering that this is a classist viewpoint: the elite eat food, the hoi polloi eat feed. But if we look at the history of food, we see evolution of this division over time with what was previously considered "feed" to food and vice versa. For example, meat, especially of the exotic sort, was considered to be elite food, even some weird and very gamey stuff that we wouldn't touch today. Those chicken nuggets would be considered very fancy meat. It's only their cheapness and widespread availability that has reduced them to your category of "feed".

          For another example, lobster [knowledgenuts.com] at one time was considered a poverty food. Now, it's a luxury food. All due to marketing - and not eating it every day.

          For a final example, dishes with considerable starches (pasta, maize, rice, bread, etc) were formerly considered poverty food. But they moved to the elite side with better seasoning and cooking techniques.

          The problem here is that food versus feed really is a matter of presentation/marketing and perhaps preparation/seasoning not of nutrition.
          • (Score: 2) by legont on Thursday January 13 2022, @11:45PM (2 children)

            by legont (4179) on Thursday January 13 2022, @11:45PM (#1212544)

            I beg to differ.

            Chicken nuggets have no chicken inside so they are definitely feed.
            Lobster is junk as it's a bottom feeder and therefore dangerous. Similarly tuna is feed as well as salmon. There were revolts during the Great Depression when people wanted steaks but were fed salmon and tuna. The propaganda changed it but it did not change the nature of the food. After all, Bill Gates eats greasy burgers with Buffet.
            Don't even start me on American Italian. It's pretty much all feed. The reason is that American starches are very bad ever since they invented hands free bread.

            So my point is that while feed moves up and down the hype ladder, the nature does not change much. Also, while some feed becomes expensive, no food ever became cheap. Anyway, one is still better off with a steak, oven baked bread and fresh garden veggies. They, however, are not available for 90% of the population and never will be unless we reduce the pressure.

            --
            "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 14 2022, @05:36AM (1 child)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14 2022, @05:36AM (#1212616) Journal

              Also, while some feed becomes expensive, no food ever became cheap.

              Counterexample: meat.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:18PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:18PM (#1211820) Journal

      You should have supported overpopulation initiatives 50 years ago,

      Like democracy, capitalism, and women's emancipation? That box is checked.

      It's time to wake up and see the past 50 years, not merely push stale narratives that haven't been scrutinized in a half century or more.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by srobert on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:31PM (2 children)

      by srobert (4803) on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:31PM (#1211823)

      "You should have supported overpopulation initiatives 50 years ago, and it's not like you weren't warned."

      No, but it is like I was 8 years old and had no control over anything.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:20PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:20PM (#1211865)

        No, but it is like I was 8 years old and had no control over anything.

        You had control over last 50 years to

        1. choose how many children you have
        2. elect officials that either empower women with birth control or treat them as incubators without choice -- this is actually quite literal choice in many nations

        • (Score: 1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:42PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:42PM (#1211911)

          Having children is neither oppression nor abnormal.
          It is a warped mind that thinks it is normal to not have children. Your kind are winning the Darwin Award. You will be replaced by the breeders.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:43PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:43PM (#1211828)

      Covid can fix that.

      • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:26PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:26PM (#1211899)

        It's pretty clear to all except mindless slaves that it's the "vaccines" doing the killing.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:14PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:14PM (#1211921)

          You mean, killing earth?

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @11:07PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @11:07PM (#1211958)

            No no the other slave activity! You know, getting vaccinated against a pandemic! Loooooooool

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @02:01AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @02:01AM (#1211989)

          Is that your best shot?

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @03:44AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @03:44AM (#1212017)

      Vegetarianism is less energy efficient than being an omnivore. All those vegetables are heavy and not that much easier to ship than meat products. 10 or 15% of your calories coming from meat is both healthy and the environmental responsible thing to do.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @03:39PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @03:39PM (#1212130)

        Why is this marked troll? It's factually accurate. We already have a situation where there just isn't enough suitable land to plant enough suitable plants to feed the human population a protein-free diet in a sustainable fashion. I mean, sure, if we fossil fuel it up we can (just about) scrape by with enough, by flattening every rainforest in sight, but sustainably? Forget it.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @08:26PM (23 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @08:26PM (#1212202)

      Vegetarian is not the answer, assuming you want humans to survive. Growing crops is effectively mining the soil for its nutrients. You can put the nutrients back into the soil in two ways. The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer. That is not sustainable. The 2nd option is to either graze herds across the crop fields or manually spread natural fertilizer (animal poop). If you are able to get some of the population to give up meat, you reduce your source of eco-friendly fertilizer and increase your use of non-renewal sources.

      Look at your anti-leather campaigns. Those didn't save any animals. The leather came from animals already being killed for meat and we're still killing them for food. However those skins are now simply being thrown away instead of being turned into durable products. The need for those products hasn't gone away, so what are we using to make them now? Answer: plastics, aka oil products. Your "lets save everyone" attitude moved us from a renewable, eco-friendly product to a non-renewable, bio-harmful product. The push for vegetarian is doing similar things to the food supply. If you want to go vegan for ethical reasons than fine, but it's not a diet that will save the environment.

      Please go back to first grade and re-learn the circle of life. Our modern sanitation and burial customs take humans out of the natural circle of life. You can't grow crops in isolation for humans and expect the environment to survive since the things we extract for food aren't consistently added back into the system where it was extracted from. Eating animals which regenerate the soil during their life is the only answer unless we take over every aspect of nature and that's something we can't do.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 14 2022, @06:01AM (22 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14 2022, @06:01AM (#1212621) Journal

        You can put the nutrients back into the soil in two ways. The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer. That is not sustainable. The 2nd option is to either graze herds across the crop fields or manually spread natural fertilizer (animal poop).

        You're just discussing nitrogen. Green manure is a third way, using a nitrogen-fixing plant or microbe to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and then till that into the soil. Legumes, for example, are a great nitrogen-fixing group of plants and often generate a lot of economic value in addition to the nitrogen-fixing.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @05:38PM (21 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @05:38PM (#1212707)

          There is no green manure, no legume that remotely keeps pace with the kind of nitrogen delivery that fossil fuels give us. The best case seems to be interseeding of legumes in pastures, but then they're not being ploughed back in, rather than just being active for their full growing cycle, and pastures usually aren't boosted with nitrogen to the degree that, say, cornfields are.

          This isn't to say that green manures are bad; far from it. It's just that they're not really a replacement.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 14 2022, @07:23PM (20 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14 2022, @07:23PM (#1212741) Journal
            No legume has to keep up. They grow and fix nitrogen all season. I'm on a cellphone right now, but when I get back to a real computer I'll look this up. My take is you will be surprised how much green manure does now.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @09:05PM (19 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @09:05PM (#1212764)

              "No legume has to keep up."

              If they want to be a commercially viable alternative to bulk urea, then yes, they have to keep up. By definition. Otherwise, urea wins. And by the way, the fact that you need to grow your legume all season and then turn it back into the soil just to get it all in there for the next year's corn planting means that you can't even use it for fodder - you need the whole plant to get into the soil for available nitrogen or you're back at square 1, minus the other nutrients sucked up by your clover, pea, or whatever.

              "They grow and fix nitrogen all season."

              No, they don't. They have growing cycles same as any other plants. A quick search yielded https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2016/nitrogen-fixation-oversold-legume-cover-crops [unl.edu] which points out that "It is important to note it can take up to six weeks after planting before N fixation begins." not to mention the other caveats in that article about growing conditions, scavenging of available N in the soil and so on.

              "My take is you will be surprised how much green manure does now."

              Maybe I will be surprised. I mean, I just studied and use this knowledge in the real world, what do I know?

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday January 15 2022, @05:38AM (18 children)

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 15 2022, @05:38AM (#1212867) Journal
                For example [frontiersin.org]:

                Chemical synthesis provides 118 million metric tons of fertilizer N each year (Joseph et al., 2016). In comparison, it is estimated that symbiosis between nitrogen-fixing rhizobia and plants provides 50–70 million tons of N for agricultural systems each year (Herridge et al., 2008). As one of the most important legume crops, soybean fixes 16.4 million tons of N annually, which represents 77% of the total N fixed by legume crops (Herridge et al., 2008). In modern agricultural systems, soybean is typically considered to have the most potential for sustaining green agricultural systems. For example, in Brazil, over 70% of the N required for soybean growth is derived primarily from BNF [biological nitrogen fixation] (Peoples et al., 2009). Therefore, breeding elite soybean cultivars with high BNF capacities and high yields could be an efficient way to maintain agriculture sustainability.

                So right there we have roughly half as much nitrogen provided by nitrogen fixing plants as we do by nitrogen chemical fertilizer worldwide. And for some soybean crops, 30% of its nitrogen needs (possibly less if those "elite cultivars" can deliver) are met with fertilizer or animal manure.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @04:15PM (17 children)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @04:15PM (#1212944)

                  Uh, great.

                  So what?

                  First: as you say yourself, half. That's a log of pig and chicken shit to make up the gap.

                  Second: you do know that they actually fertilise soy fields with nitrogen, right? because until those nodules start their fixing magic, soy seedlings are nitrogen-hungry little bastards.

                  Third: The soybean doesn't actually leave a whole lot of nitrogen in the soil unless you don't harvest, and turn it back in. Why? Because we like to eat the nitrogen-rich seeds, thereby removing that nitrogen from the cycle. The fact that the soybean happened to fix the nitrogen from the atmosphere is irrelevant to the broader nitrogen cycle if the first thing that we do is to yoink it from that exact same cycle.

                  Everything that you typed there can be utterly unimpeachably true, and still not help in our vision of sustainably feeding the world.

                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday January 16 2022, @02:07AM (16 children)

                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 16 2022, @02:07AM (#1213056) Journal

                    First: as you say yourself, half.

                    I sense those goalposts amoving because the other big number here is three. That is, increase that amount supplied by green manure by a mere factor of three, and you've replaced the nitrogen supplied by fertilizer.

                    Third: The soybean doesn't actually leave a whole lot of nitrogen in the soil unless you don't harvest, and turn it back in. Why? Because we like to eat the nitrogen-rich seeds, thereby removing that nitrogen from the cycle. The fact that the soybean happened to fix the nitrogen from the atmosphere is irrelevant to the broader nitrogen cycle if the first thing that we do is to yoink it from that exact same cycle.

                    The usual approach is to plow in the plants (usually not soybeans) before they seed. I was just pointing out that these soybeans were so self-contained that they supplied most of their own nitrogen through to harvest. That's pretty good.

                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17 2022, @02:12AM (15 children)

                      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17 2022, @02:12AM (#1213299)

                      "That is, increase that amount supplied by green manure by a mere factor of three, and you've replaced the nitrogen supplied by fertilizer."

                      That means that you're not paying attention.

                      Let's take this from the top:

                      Today, I can ride up to a field with sacks of NPK plus various other amendments depending on things such as soil acidity, knife them in (or otherwise incorporate them), in quantities that no legume would possibly provide in a whole season by itself, and then be ready for a full season of growing *insert row crop of choice here*.

                      Clear? One season, row crop at maximum yield.

                      If I want to do the green manure thing, I have to go to the field, plant the green manure of choice, wait a whole season during which I get no useful crop off that field, turn that into the soil, and then only the following season do I get any crop back for sale.

                      Clear? Two years, one crop harvested at sub-maximum yield, even assuming that magic happened to provide all the P and K nutrients (because the legumes don't fix those from the atmosphere the way that they do N). Utter best case, you can maybe fit an early green manure in before a late cash crop in the same year, but even then you're hoping that the weather's friendly enough to give you what amounts to two growing seasons in one year, hugely increasing your risk. So that's great.

                      How do we get more nitrogen per field, per green manure crop? More green manure years piled on each other? Not so fast. Even if we ignore the reduced number of crops per year delivery (kind of hard to ignore, but whatever), they don't do any other kind of supplementation beyond what was already in the soil, plus some putative benefits around soil texture and fibre. If we want to supercharge our green manures for nitrogen (and what the hell, increasing bioavailability of other nutrients, up to a point), we want to supplement to feed the green manure crop, and if we're trying to squeeze it into an early season or use a winter planting, they'll need some extra nutrients themselves, or watering, or other care depending on the local climate.

                      No goalposts need to shift here: green manures have well-known, well-publicised downsides including their limitations, allelopathy, and the limitations on time. Just multiplying green manure by a factor of 3 doesn't get you all of what you want, when and where you want it.

                      As for soybeans, you might want to look again. Just hitting the top of search results, check out https://agfax.com/2014/01/02/adding-nitrogen-soybeans-can-improve-yields/ [agfax.com] and feast your eyes on the bad news. High yield soy requires lots of surplus nitrogen, precisely because soybeans only fix so much, and that much is not enough for the top bushel/acre count.

                      Don't get me wrong. I use green manures myself. But usually in combination with their other benefits, and as part of a differentiated rotation strategy with weed and pest control in mind. But in terms of net agricultural production per acre they are an unambiguous loss compared to mineral supplements.

                      "The usual approach is to plow in the plants (usually not soybeans) before they seed."

                      Well, yes. We know. But if you're harvesting the seeds, you're not doing that. The soybean crop does minimal nitrogen benefit for the field.

                      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 17 2022, @06:34AM (14 children)

                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17 2022, @06:34AM (#1213345) Journal
                        So what you're saying is that yes, it can be done, it's just somewhat suboptimal. My point though is from way back when. An AC claimed that there was only two ways to introduce nitrogen into agricultural crops:

                        Vegetarian is not the answer, assuming you want humans to survive. Growing crops is effectively mining the soil for its nutrients. You can put the nutrients back into the soil in two ways. The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer. That is not sustainable. The 2nd option is to either graze herds across the crop fields or manually spread natural fertilizer (animal poop). If you are able to get some of the population to give up meat, you reduce your source of eco-friendly fertilizer and increase your use of non-renewal sources.

                        Turns out green manure is indeed a third way as demonstrated in this thread.

                        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 18 2022, @04:33PM (13 children)

                          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 18 2022, @04:33PM (#1213595)

                          This is disingenuous.

                          The thread started with the rather oversimplified:

                          "Don't want to go vegetarian? You should have supported overpopulation initiatives 50 years ago, and it's not like you weren't warned."

                          This elicited the response from which you quoted, which reached far beyond merely nitrogen. This also came up later in the thread (for example, pointing out that legumes don't fix K and P from the atmosphere). Green manure does not solve the general nutrient problem at all, and in fact doesn't even really solve the nitrogen problem by itself, which actually supports the respondent's statement that:

                          "If you are able to get some of the population to give up meat, you reduce your source of eco-friendly fertilizer and increase your use of non-renewal sources."

                          It's important that green manures do not increase output, because in the context of vegetarianism, with its limited means of accelerating nutrient cycles we end up taking huge strides back in productivity, which quite simply means mass starvation.

                          If your only point is "Well, yeah, but legumes can fix nitrogen to boost your soil nitrogen levels without fossil fuels, even though you won't get the same returns, and you won't feed the world, and you won't even boost the soil if you harvest the legumes, and won't do much of anything for other nutrients at all, but they can totally fix the nitrogen!" then congratulations, you have a point that is as technically true as it is functionally pointless. If you were trying to position green manures as a way of actually feeding the world, you are demonstrably wrong about that.

                          In fact, I'd go further and say that you're even wrong about "green manure is indeed a third way" unless your criteria for success are at the laboratory curiosity level of relevance. A third way of technically introducing some bioavailable nutrients into the soil, sometimes, allelopathy notwithstanding? Sure. But in terms of sustainably feeding the world (the whole point of the original article) they're about as useful as urinating on a forest fire. Technically, it doesn't hurt, but practically it's not a solution. You choose to phrase it as "somewhat suboptimal" but in the real world in which people will be dying of starvation, that's rather like describing mediaeval approaches to cancer treatment as "somewhat suboptimal". They basically didn't meet the need. Green manures don't meet the need. They definitely don't solve the general case, and for sustainably feeding the world they don't even meet the nitrogen need.

                          But they do fix nitrogen. Woo. Sometimes. Under certain conditions. To limited extents. Break out the party hats.

                          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 18 2022, @05:25PM (12 children)

                            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 18 2022, @05:25PM (#1213612) Journal

                            This elicited the response from which you quoted, which reached far beyond merely nitrogen. This also came up later in the thread (for example, pointing out that legumes don't fix K and P from the atmosphere). Green manure does not solve the general nutrient problem at all, and in fact doesn't even really solve the nitrogen problem by itself, which actually supports the respondent's statement that:

                            Sorry, when someone writes

                            The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer.

                            In fact, I'd go further and say that you're even wrong about "green manure is indeed a third way" unless your criteria for success are at the laboratory curiosity level of relevance.

                            We've already established it's providing half as much nitrogen as the leading way via fossil fuel-derived fertilizer. If that's lab curiosity level of relevance, then all nitrogen fertilizer is at the lab curiosity level of relevance.

                            But they do fix nitrogen. Woo. Sometimes. Under certain conditions. To limited extents. Break out the party hats.

                            It's interesting how even alleged experts often know little about their alleged areas of expertise isn't it?

                            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19 2022, @02:20AM (11 children)

                              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19 2022, @02:20AM (#1213750)

                              What part of green manure taking longer, fixing less, and either increasing risk by taking big bites out of the growing season or requiring extended fallow periods passed you by? It's not a laboratory curiosity because it doesn't work. It's a laboratory curiosity because on the scale of the original question (Can we feed billions without wrecking the planet?) it's a failure. It does not fix as much nitrogen as we would need, it does little or nothing for other nutrients, and you have provided precisely zero evidence to the contrary.

                              But you know what? You're the boss. You're king genius! You're about to prove us all wrong with your secret vetch/alfalfa mix that will do all the things, and you're going to absolutely clean house both agriculturally and financially.

                              Go on, genius, show us all how it's done.

                              "It's interesting how even alleged experts often know little about their alleged areas of expertise isn't it?"

                              Do tell.

                              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 19 2022, @03:21AM (10 children)

                                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 19 2022, @03:21AM (#1213771) Journal

                                What part of green manure taking longer, fixing less, and either increasing risk by taking big bites out of the growing season or requiring extended fallow periods passed you by?

                                Nothing at all. What passed you by was its relevance.

                                But you know what? You're the boss. You're king genius! You're about to prove us all wrong with your secret vetch/alfalfa mix that will do all the things, and you're going to absolutely clean house both agriculturally and financially.

                                Perhaps someday you'll learn to use sarcasm well.

                                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20 2022, @04:32PM (9 children)

                                  by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20 2022, @04:32PM (#1214210)

                                  "Nothing at all. What passed you by was its relevance."

                                  ... to .... what? "Can we feed billions without wrecking the planet?"

                                  No, the relevance to that did not pass me by. In fact, I reviewed it in that light. In fact, I did the sums and the answer came back dead in line with Betteridge: No. Feeding the world's population with green manure rather than other supplementation isn't a realistic prospect. If we drop to pre-supplementation technologies only, (no guano, no manure other than that of our livestock or ourselves, no potash or limestone mines, no calciferous sources other than bone meal) then we will have mass deaths to starvations counted in the billions and the authors of the original article are missing a good chunk of what made the Green Revolution even possible in the first place. Green manure doesn't change this, doesn't fix it, and at best could be considered a reasonably efficient take on fallowing strategies. Technically better than just letting weeds grow and deer graze? A little, sure. Enough to replace industrial supplement supplies? No, by a wide margin, and with a strong upper bound to the capability of the plants precisely because of the growing cycle and limited scope of broad plant nutrition supplementation, rather than a narrow band approach to nitrogen and fibre.

                                  But maybe there's some other relevant factor that's in mind. Your abstract claim that green manure, specifically, is one way, technically, of fixing nitrogen, specifically, regardless of whether it is limited in its application (it is), insufficient for feeding the world absent other supplementation (it is), and has other significant downsides inhibiting its use (it does) such as constraining available growing seasons (it does), increasing weather/climate related risks in agronomic planning (it does) and places additional demands on supporting the green manure crop itself (it does).

                                  This is a bit like trying to explain to freshly-minted marxists that Marx's ideas were founded in a world that doesn't exist any more, mostly existed as an oversimplified caricature even in his time, and consequently it's all a curate's egg. Even if they could conceptually work on some level, modern cooperatives don't prove their viability as such because they're too far removed from what he was talking about.

                                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday January 23 2022, @06:36PM (8 children)

                                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 23 2022, @06:36PM (#1215055) Journal

                                    ... to .... what? "Can we feed billions without wrecking the planet?"

                                    Yes.

                                    Feeding the world's population with green manure rather than other supplementation isn't a realistic prospect.

                                    You moved the goalposts. Originally, you claimed

                                    You can put the nutrients back into the soil in two ways. The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer. That is not sustainable. The 2nd option is to either graze herds across the crop fields or manually spread natural fertilizer (animal poop).

                                    When I mentioned green manure, you claimed

                                    There is no green manure, no legume that remotely keeps pace with the kind of nitrogen delivery that fossil fuels give us.

                                    At that point, I noted that green manure already covers half the nitrogen delivery of "fossil fuels". That's pretty close already. At this point, I don't consider your protests interesting.

                                    Moving on, there are two interesting emerging green manure technologies that I think will weaken your argument even further. First, microbe augmentation in soil. Basically, it involves finding microbes that will fix nitrogen for plants that aren't normally nitrogen fixing. For example: [futureofag.com]

                                    The same is true for plants. Companies like Indigo Ag are taking this advanced understanding of microbiology and applying it to crop performance with some impressive results. I had the chance to chat with David Perry, CEO and Director of Indigo Ag for the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

                                    [...]

                                    Currently, Indigo delivers their beneficial microbes via a seed treatment. The microbes then grow as their “host” (the plant) grows. In cotton, for example, trials demonstrated a 14% yield increase over cotton not treated with Indigo’s microbial technology.

                                    Notice that this would also help cover your six week gap in legume nitrogen fixing, when it is applied to legume seeds!

                                    Moving on, I think the other big technology will be cyanobacteria farming. A variety of cyanobacteria species can fix nitrogen. So in a sunny part of the world, turn sea water, air, and CO2 into nitrogen-rich bacteria ready to fertilize those fields, pretty much as a replacement for ammonia-based fertilizers.

                                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 23 2022, @11:31PM (7 children)

                                      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 23 2022, @11:31PM (#1215142)

                                      Feeding the world's population with green manure rather than other supplementation isn't a realistic prospect.
                                                    You moved the goalposts. Originally, you claimed
                                                        You can put the nutrients back into the soil in two ways. The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer. That is not sustainable. The 2nd option is to either graze herds across the crop fields or manually spread natural fertilizer (animal poop).

                                      Wrong AC, Bubba. I made no such claim. Nor would I; I'm well aware of a number of other strategies, including (but not limited to) green manure.

                                      When I mentioned green manure, you claimed

                                                There is no green manure, no legume that remotely keeps pace with the kind of nitrogen delivery that fossil fuels give us.
                                                    At that point, I noted that green manure already covers half the nitrogen delivery of "fossil fuels". That's pretty close already. At this point, I don't consider your protests interesting.
                                                    Moving on, there are two interesting emerging green manure technologies that I think will weaken your argument even further. First, microbe augmentation in soil. Basically, it involves finding microbes that will fix
                                                    nitrogen for plants that aren't normally nitrogen fixing. For example: [futureofag.com]

                                      See, this is where the crazy comes in. "half" is not "remotely keeping pace". It's a runner being lapped twice on every lap they run. It's not "pretty close already". For a strategy that has been in place, with progressive refinements, before BP or Shell ever existed, it's firmly off the pace and there is no current prospect of a catchup with respect to turning a field to maximum yield. I don't care whether you consider my, or anybody's protests "interesting" or not; the world of production doesn't care either. You have a case to make? Go prove the big boys wrong, collect your Nobel Prize, and masturbate on CNN for all I care. Green manure ain't feeding the world, and even if you somehow magicked a fuckton of nitrogen out of it that ain't appearing now, without the growing season or other downsides that we currently know already exist in it because of fucking magic (good luck with that one!) you still haven't solved another damn thing, whether it's potassium or calcium or something less famous, such as selenium. Green manures do nothing worth writing home about for any of that, and have no prospect of doing so because you don't fix phosphorus from the air, nor potassium, nor calcum, nor iron, nor selenium, nor a whole bunch of other nutrients. As far as additional microbes, they won't fix any of the other nutrients I'd mentioned either because ... again, the air will basically give you carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen and teeny-tiny bits of other stuff such as some occasional sulphur. Those microbes, by the way, had better fix nitrogen like turbocharged bunnyfuckers if they are to deliver maximum yield rates (and if you'd read some of the links I'd sent earlier you'd know that no green manure on earth does that right now).

                                      The same is true for plants. Companies like Indigo Ag are taking this advanced understanding of microbiology and applying it to crop performance with some impressive results. I had the chance to chat with David Perry, CEO
                                                and Director of Indigo Ag for the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
                                                [...]
                                                Currently, Indigo delivers their beneficial microbes via a seed treatment. The microbes then grow as their “host” (the plant) grows. In cotton, for example, trials demonstrated a 14% yield increase over cotton not treated
                                                with Indigo’s microbial technology.
                                                    Notice that this would also help cover your six week gap in legume nitrogen fixing, when it is applied to legume seeds!
                                                    Moving on, I think the other big technology will be cyanobacteria farming. A variety of cyanobacteria species can fix nitrogen. So in a sunny part of the world, turn sea water, air, and CO2 into nitrogen-rich bacteria
                                                    ready to fertilize those fields, pretty much as a replacement for ammonia-based fertilizers.

                                      Now I know you're not doing the homework. 14% on cotton over untreated is not impressive. Just check (because I googled this for you; it's fun and easy!) https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/cotton-yield-goal-nitrogen-rate-recommendation.html [okstate.edu] where the maximum yield rate is over 300% from a base level. Moreover they explicitly call out P and K nutrients as key elements. If 14% is their headline heartthrob number, they have a lot of work to do before I'd even roll out of bed for their stuff, let alone pay money.

                                      Now I get that you're fixated on the holy grail of Nitrogen, and you're studiously ignoring all the other everything that the original story's author would call unsustainable and/or wrecking the planet, but your green manure fantasies aren't fixing that, and regardless of your miraculous fairyfart variety of clover that will suddenly give you abundant nitrogen a week after planting, or whatever, you're still mining like a demented kobold for other minerals - and we have no fix for that on the horizon. None. Doesn't exist.

                                      Now, I breathlessly await your detailed description of a lichen that will miraculously transport potash across the Great Plains to fill our larders ...

                                      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 24 2022, @03:39PM (6 children)

                                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 24 2022, @03:39PM (#1215265) Journal

                                        Wrong AC, Bubba.

                                        Maybe you're the wrong AC, maybe not. I didn't see any "I'm a different AC" warnings in there. But if you really are a different AC, then keep up by reading previous posts. I'm not here to argue different straw men arguments every time a new AC decides to pipe up. Here, the straw man argument is that I'm somehow advocating for replacing all fertilizer, including non-nitrogen supplements by green manure. Didn't happen.

                                        "half" is not "remotely keeping pace".

                                        It's only a factor of three to keeping pace, remotely or otherwise. I'm not claiming that this is going to be just as perfect as using fertilizer, I'm pointing out how close it was in the first place.

                                        Moreover they explicitly call out P and K nutrients as key elements.

                                        Again. You're not going to get those elements from fossil fuels. Nobody made any claims about those nutrients and I explicitly noted earlier in the thread that I was looking at nitrogen only. The goalposts have been moved.

                                        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25 2022, @03:07PM (5 children)

                                          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25 2022, @03:07PM (#1215583)

                                          The only goalposts shifting here are yours. The original (incorrect) statement was: "You can put the nutrients back into the soil in two ways. The 1st method that all you vegetarians love so much is processing oil into fertilizer. That is not sustainable. The 2nd option is to either graze herds across the crop fields or manually spread natural fertilizer (animal poop)." and this wasn't limited to nitrogen. Your response was: "You're just discussing nitrogen. Green manure is a third way, using a nitrogen-fixing plant or microbe to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and then till that into the soil. Legumes, for example, are a great nitrogen-fixing group of plants and often generate a lot of economic value in addition to the nitrogen-fixing." which is a straightforward misconstrual of the original statement, and even within itself limited to the capabilities of nitrogen-fixers (which aren't up to what we can do with fossil fuels - again, check the mathematics) and in no way addresses all the other nutrients stripped by what the original poster called "effectively mining the soil for its nutrients".

                                          Even if you want to try to retcon this as only being about nitrogen in your head because that's all that green manures will do for you, you're not solving the big problem, but in reality you're missing the point that it doesn't all have to be from fossil fuels as such if we're using fossil fuels to mine for things like limestone and phosphate deposits, making up for natural nutrient cycles that we have far outstripped. None of those massive mines constitute sustainable agriculture, most definitely not as the original article's author would have it.

                                          Summary: if it's not just about nitrogen (as per the original poster, and the original article), then you're monumentally wrong. If it is just about nitrogen (as per your particular beef, which nobody else seems to follow), then the sums still don't work for you.

                                          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 25 2022, @10:00PM (4 children)

                                            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 25 2022, @10:00PM (#1215686) Journal

                                            Even if you want to try to retcon this as only being about nitrogen in your head because that's all that green manures will do for you

                                            What part of "You're just discussing nitrogen. Green manure is a third way, using a nitrogen-fixing plant or microbe to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and then till that into the soil." is wrong?

                                            you're not solving the big problem, but in reality you're missing the point that it doesn't all have to be from fossil fuels as such if we're using fossil fuels to mine for things like limestone and phosphate deposits, making up for natural nutrient cycles that we have far outstripped. None of those massive mines constitute sustainable agriculture, most definitely not as the original article's author would have it.

                                            We don't have to use fossil fuels as such for things like limestone and phosphate. Just saying.

                                            Summary: if it's not just about nitrogen (as per the original poster, and the original article), then you're monumentally wrong. If it is just about nitrogen (as per your particular beef, which nobody else seems to follow), then the sums still don't work for you.

                                            The problem word: "if". And the "sums" do work for me. I already said how.

                                            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 26 2022, @03:43PM (3 children)

                                              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 26 2022, @03:43PM (#1215843)

                                              "What part of "You're just discussing nitrogen. Green manure is a third way, using a nitrogen-fixing plant or microbe to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and then till that into the soil." is wrong?"

                                              The original poster did not say nitrogen, but "Growing crops is effectively mining the soil for its nutrients." Nutrients. In fact, not even merely bulk nutrients (which might have been a reduced reference to NPK) but also includes others from sulphur to selenium. That is what is wrong, moreso because even if you had a magic legume that fixed all the nitrogen you'd need without a growing period of its own (spoiler: not even close), it wouldn't do diddly for the other nutrients on the list. It's like saying your car only needs gasoline, when in fact it also needs air, lubricant, coolant and so on - and everyone else is talking about fluid needs while you keep thumping a jerrycan.

                                              "We don't have to use fossil fuels as such for things like limestone and phosphate. Just saying."

                                              No, we don't. We can go back to pickaxes and pit ponies. You're right about that, but the prospect of doing so is minute, the cost would be exorbitant, and even if we mine it with cuddly bunnies and happy thoughts we're still exhausting mines rather than using a sustainable cycle. This seems to fall under what the original author would have called "wrecking the planet", because it becomes less welcoming as a place to feed ourselves.

                                              "The problem word: "if". And the "sums" do work for me. I already said how."

                                              Yeah, we already covered your problems there, whistling past the graveyard of why farmers aren't saving bank on urea because of all the problems with green manure.

                                              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 26 2022, @04:04PM (2 children)

                                                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 26 2022, @04:04PM (#1215851) Journal

                                                The original poster did not say nitrogen

                                                Hence, my correction. You're welcome.

                                                We can go back to pickaxes and pit ponies.

                                                Or electricity from non-fossil fuel sources. I bet that would go further. Funny how you missed that one. Looks to me like you're too busy moving the goal posts to rationally think about this.

                                                Yeah, we already covered your problems there, whistling past the graveyard of why farmers aren't saving bank on urea because of all the problems with green manure.

                                                And we already covered how you acknowledged I was right in a backhanded way. I consider this finished.

                                                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31 2022, @02:57AM (1 child)

                                                  by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31 2022, @02:57AM (#1217118)

                                                  "Hence, my correction. You're welcome."

                                                  If only it were a correction. Instead, many other nutrients, untouched by green manure as a strategy, are of major concern. This is why your focus on nitrogen is so misleading; the green manure strategy does precious little for the larger problem, and depending on factors such as soil acidity can make it actually worse.

                                                  If that's your idea of help, please go help the Taliban. I understand they need all the help that they can get.

                                                  "Or electricity from non-fossil fuel sources. I bet that would go further. Funny how you missed that one. Looks to me like you're too busy moving the goal posts to rationally think about this."

                                                  Thus ignoring this part: "...even if we mine it with cuddly bunnies and happy thoughts we're still exhausting mines rather than using a sustainable cycle. This seems to fall under what the original author would have called "wrecking the planet", because it becomes less welcoming as a place to feed ourselves."

                                                  Funny how you mention moving goalposts in this context. I like 'em just where they are, so would you care to address the point at issue: the exhaustion of mineral resources and the damage involved in doing so?

                                                  "And we already covered how you acknowledged I was right in a backhanded way. I consider this finished."

                                                  ... self-delusion aside, apparently the answer would be not. I mean, please, do feel free to farm all with green manure all the time and show us how to do it. Go on. Be famous.

                                                  But please do it for the Taliban, because we don't deserve your kind of help.

                                                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday February 02 2022, @02:05AM

                                                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 02 2022, @02:05AM (#1217883) Journal

                                                    This is why your focus on nitrogen is so misleading; the green manure strategy does precious little for the larger problem

                                                    Same goes for fossil fuels. You're not going anywhere with this.

                                                    "...even if we mine it with cuddly bunnies and happy thoughts we're still exhausting mines rather than using a sustainable cycle.

                                                    Or open up new mines. Not seeing the point of your concern about sustainability since such exhaustion is a lot slower than the problems of population growth.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Michael on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:28PM (3 children)

    by Michael (7157) on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:28PM (#1211822)

    I have no doubt that large scale agriculture can be made significantly more efficient.

    The first priority for most agriculture is profit, but optimising for that only gives you physical efficiency to the limited extent for which economics maps onto how the physical world empirically works. Small and medium scale demonstrations abound to show that higher yields are achievable with more sophisticated (and usually more labour intensive) systems than the standard monoculture on petrochemical life support approach.

    Taking farming as the product of bending natural systems such as plants or rainfall to better support human needs, you first ask which needs, and then you look at which natural systems are useful and amenable to that manipulation.

    Defining human needs as quarterly profit for a tiny fraction of the population, and concentrating on a handful of species which work best as traded futures is obviously going to give you a shitty system.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bart9h on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:15PM

      by bart9h (767) on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:15PM (#1211864)

      > The first priority for most agriculture is profit, but optimising for that only gives you physical efficiency to the limited extent for which economics maps onto how the physical world empirically works.

      One problem is that optimizing for profit allows for eventually dumping all your production into the landfill because transport+taxes price is higher than what you could sell it for.

      It also makes retailers throw away unsold (usually uglier or about-to-bad) products, because giving it away or selling for too lower a price is detrimental to the profits.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @10:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @10:25PM (#1211949)

      For-profit agriculture, particularly in America, feeds countries the world over. Any time someone has tried to substitute "for-profit agriculture" with something else, shortages and starvation was a predictable result. See Soviet Union (whom we sent shipments of grain to as aid), see Mao's China. I read an article a couple years back about how the new leftist Sri Lankan government made a demand that they would go almost totally organic in their farms, but the yields were of course much lower than before, and this resulted in food shortages.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 14 2022, @07:26PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14 2022, @07:26PM (#1212742) Journal
      The real gains IMHO are in the developing world which still has a fair bit of primitive agriculture which can improve greatly by using better practices.
  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:35PM (30 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:35PM (#1211825)

    This moment in my city, we're seeing societal collapse with empty shelves where food used to graze. Turns out the people that grow your produce, transport it to the city and stock it in your grocery store get COVID too.

    When I was a kid during the eighties my dad kept chickens and had a vegetable patch. How did we lose that knowledge in one generation?

    Retirement plans involve selling my modest inner city apartment, all I could afford on a single salary, and moving to a 3 bedroom cottage away from the big smoke. Nothing fancy, just enough room for a vegetable patch in a town with higher than average rainfall.

    Start with a small garden bed. Potatoes are an easy starter, just need a shovel and a watering can.

    Will it scale to 10 billion? Well, it only has to support me and the neighbors I would swap produce with.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @06:00PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @06:00PM (#1211837)

      >> it only has to support me and the neighbors I would swap produce with.

      Save some for the well-armed ghetto-dwellers who'll be coming by looking for food when their KFC runs out.

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @06:24PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @06:24PM (#1211845)

        I don't think trump does hands on work like that.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:31PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:31PM (#1211905)

        I wish they would.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by crafoo on Tuesday January 11 2022, @06:04PM (10 children)

      by crafoo (6639) on Tuesday January 11 2022, @06:04PM (#1211838)

      As the population grows you will not be allowed land to grow your own food. This system is inefficient and individual farmland is equivalent to asking others to starve. No, you do not get to ask Africans, Asians to have less children. Only to turn over your land, live in a pod, and eat the bugs so that they may have more. Not feeding other peoples' children and shouldering the consequences of their decisions is EVIL. Didn't you know?

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Azuma Hazuki on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:59PM

        by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:59PM (#1211881) Journal

        Leave us out of your weird fantasies.

        --
        I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:10PM (7 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:10PM (#1211884)

        Taxes to fund the murder of other coumtry's citizens for their stuff? Totally cool, patriotism, national security bro!

        Taxes to support your own citizens and build a better country? Tyranny! Don't tread on me!

        You lot are disgusting, and Christ would kick your ass.

        • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:39PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:39PM (#1211910)

          Jewsus never existed and the only way i would ever start paying taxes was if my money was used for my people. Non-whites don't belong in America. Always have been brought in by Jews to subvert the nation.

        • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:46PM (5 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:46PM (#1211913)

          You're not a Christian, so you don't get to use your very poor knowledge of Christianity to try to win an argument. Christ very clearly said many times that those who don't believe in him are damned, so I don't know "whose" Christ you are quoting in your reply. The only person's ass he would kick is yours.

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @10:06PM (4 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @10:06PM (#1211942)

            Leave it to a rightwinger to be ignorant of their own religion.

            • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @10:27PM (3 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @10:27PM (#1211950)

              You didn't refute it because you can't. Jesus was not a longhaired 1970s hippie.

              • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @12:40AM (2 children)

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @12:40AM (#1211978)

                “If you want to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Matthew 19:21

                "Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." Luke 18:22

                Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Mark 10:21

                There are so many goodies in the Bible from Jesus about how you should treat one another. Too bad too many Christians pay someone else to read it for them. Do your own research, indeed.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @01:17PM (1 child)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @01:17PM (#1212086)

                  For the poor to survive, not to live well-off on taxes with TVs, cell phones, cars, etc. "Poor" in Jesus' day was REALLY poor. Today's poor would not even register as poor.

                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13 2022, @12:00AM

                    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13 2022, @12:00AM (#1212249)

                    "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

                    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

                    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

                    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

                    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

                    “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

                    “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

                    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” -- Matthew 25:31-46

                    The least of them. No other qualifications, just that they are in need. And definitely no qualification that you shouldn't give just because you might accidentally help someone who might not need it badly enough, however you would like to rationalize that need.

      • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:38PM

        by krishnoid (1156) on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:38PM (#1211930)

        Bugs! [time.com] Yes! This guy gets it! Well, at least the bugs part.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @06:10PM (3 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @06:10PM (#1211839) Journal

      How did we lose that knowledge in one generation?

      Zoning regulations.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:22PM (2 children)

        by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:22PM (#1211866)

        Also give some blame to homeowner's associations, who frequently demand that the homeowners in their neighborhoods keep their property as boring as possible. It's extreme enough that some of them prescribe precisely what species of grass are allowed, which other plants are allowed, and what color mulch to use. People have been fined, lost their homes, or even gone to jail for failing to follow the dictates of HOAs as defined usually by the neighborhood self-appointed busybodies.

        For example, anything like this [pinterest.com] or this [joegardener.com] would be treated as borderline criminal, even though both of them are in my opinion at least as pretty as grass monoculture lawns.

        --
        Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:29PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:29PM (#1211902) Journal
          The lawlessness is obvious in those photos. I shudder to think how many unauthorized sheds those people have.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @03:40PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @03:40PM (#1212132)

          the pinterest photo is really bad. how many tree-years of wood was sacrificed to make a pretty "bucket" to grow ... salat? sheesh.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:24PM (7 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:24PM (#1211868)

      Unfortunately this simply isn't an option for a solution. Beyond the plain fact that most housing rests on lots that simply can't produce yield, the way that our society has been architected has doomed us to a slow mode of failure. Urbanization was a considerable error. It was compounded by post-war materialism and the "white picket fence", ultimately culminating in a self-destructive mode of living. Had we promoted the multi-generational independent households of the past rather than the single family home, and the "move to work" modality, I suspect we'd be in a much better place. With a limited land allotment and the level of self-accountability that ad hoc production certainly the population growth would've been curtailed many years ago. Instead the collective was made to elect the divestment option and eschew independence for a form which ever-increasingly fosters dependence. Both capital and power, state and business are invested in maintaining this system against all odds - independence is the anathema to their ends. And with the momentum and the inertia they possess, we'll continue the trend until they're in possession of perfect control.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:34PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:34PM (#1211870)

        It's funny that Star Trek is seen as some kind of ideal future. Humans in military uniforms completely dependent on The System to provide not only food but air to breathe. Status is measured in terms of obedience to the master. The "maverick" role is limited to a single superhero and only occasionally and he always gets in deep shit for it.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:23PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:23PM (#1211897)

          looks like someone here needs to go back to the academy for re-education.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12 2022, @03:10AM (4 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12 2022, @03:10AM (#1212012) Journal

        Had we promoted the multi-generational independent households of the past rather than the single family home, and the "move to work" modality, I suspect we'd be in a much better place.

        With higher income inequality. The ability to move to where things are doing well is a huge part of the reason the developed world exists in the first place. And I find it bizarre that you complain of urbanization while praising a form of it (the above multi-generational household).

        Had we promoted the multi-generational independent households of the past rather than the single family home, and the "move to work" modality, I suspect we'd be in a much better place.

        With a poorer, larger population - because they wouldn't be in a better place. The developed world appears to be the place you're referring to, perhaps even the US specifically. That part of the world has licked the population growth problem. Without importing high fertility immigrants, the entire developed world would be negative population growth. And of course, it's got the highest distribution of income and wealth too. So sounds like it's solving these problems just fine.

        With a limited land allotment and the level of self-accountability that ad hoc production certainly the population growth would've been curtailed many years ago.

        I challenge you to find a place that actually works. Making kids is pretty easy for poor people to do even in crowded slums (with ad hoc production of everything).

        My take is that this is a classic and common example of the misconceptions about what causes poverty, overpopulation, and such. You won't find the causes in the developed world. You'd find them in the poorest parts of the world. And as we make these latter places wealthier, the problems associated with poverty are going away like they did in the developed world.

        I think it's time to look at what works.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @08:20PM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @08:20PM (#1212198)

          >With higher income inequality. The ability to move to where things are doing well is a huge part of the reason the developed world exists in the first place. And I find it bizarre that you complain of urbanization while praising a form of it (the above multi-generational household).

          Inequality predominately has to do with the organization of the economy and polity. Loads of anthropological work has shown us there is a huge spectrum by which society can organize itself in long-running civilizations, it's a enlightenment-era fallacy built on uninformed induction that lead us to the current means. But even given the inequality, if your family were to own a household, and if the land was capable of subsistence or better, is inequality particularly relevant? If we didn't socialize people into consumerists? The real outcome here is independence, resilience, and austerity - anti-consumerist. And you've misdefined urban.

          >With a poorer, larger population - because they wouldn't be in a better place. The developed world appears to be the place you're referring to, perhaps even the US specifically. That part of the world has licked the population growth problem. Without importing high fertility immigrants, the entire developed world would be negative population growth. And of course, it's got the highest distribution of income and wealth too. So sounds like it's solving these problems just fine.

          Poor is relative; in the earliest eras of the new world, and in a more recent example, people inducted into what would commonly be defined as "tribal" societies - even when presented the option - opted to remain with them. I suspect neither you, and I'm certain that I, have never been presented with the option to integrate into a civilization that eschews materialism and in lieu offers the real humanitarian aspects, effectively, what we're evolved for. Instead the "developed world" exchanges these human aspects with abstraction into economic units.

          As to the "developed world" there's a running theme wherein every nation touched by European imperialism has been classed in the modern era as "developing" or "underdeveloped" which begs a line of questioning I can't satisfy that is deserving of nuanced research as not only is it a question of material theft, but the interplay of diverse cultures and poisoning of the indigenous mind and society. Moreover, in recent times especially, we've only been able to sustain our quality of life through offshoring, which is to say exploiting the poverty that imperialism is likely directly linked to. And this includes immigration, and this I reckon is a hazard, because it's adjusting against a naturally occurring declination for the sake of maintaining the status quo, which would be much improved over the long run for the majority otherwise, and is effectively a continuation of the impoverishment of the masses.

          So it's all about lensing, and a considerable sum of our "wealth" is a product of theft.

          >I challenge you to find a place that actually works. Making kids is pretty easy for poor people to do even in crowded slums (with ad hoc production of everything).

          No evidence of instance is not an instance of no presence. For one we can look at the Spartans, a truly austere people. They deployed a wide variety of especially draconian methods to structure their society. One of these policies is well known, which ultimately lead to infanticide but there was also late marriages (30y), and Spartan girls weren't available until they were 18, to contrast with the more common 14 years. The most notable consideration here is that it was the culture that ultimately described their behavior, conditioning. And quite a bit of this is also true for hunter-gatherer bands, there's a number of birth control modalities employed by them, including lactational amenorrhea, birth cycling, infanticide, and abortion. These people would assuredly register to you as "poor". And this was practiced widely. And there is evidence that certain people even deliberately timed the births (just as many elect to today) to mitigate issues with scarcity. Moreover there is the imminent risk of death. Ultimately this says, without the naive interventionist route, that both deliberate and natural processes have effected human populations.

          If we took Jared Diamond's thesis into account, wherein Europe was the best-suited continent for the emergence of successful agriculture due to the favorable geography, the biodiversity, thus accessibility of viable cultivars and cultivation - and the further cascading effects that necessarily conditioned them to such a lifestyle wherein land could be made more productive and generating in excess, which ultimately leads to increases in birth, then population density, and evolves into specializations netting a positive feedback loop, and thus displacing the HG populations worldwide through a process of recruitment or extinction. But also this culminates into a system of private property enforced by the state and exploited by those possessed of multi-generational wealth. Which is to say in most cases, a monopoly is enforced by the state to maintain the status quo. Quite a bit of state and federal land is minimally, if at all, meaningfully productive but occupation would be illegal. Ironically the murder and extinction of indigenous Americans was justified on the basis of their disuse of the land.

          The hidalgo class was manufactured from the practice of enclosure. They couldn't reasonably get land in Spain, so they started traversing the world. That's plenty of evidence of the basis of my thesis. Resource scarcity pressed them out. This is occurring in the "plain people" as well. Without intervention this would eventually lead even the most irrational and insane populations to conclude that their population needed management.

          Insofar as the developing world, you're undoubtedly conflating the effects in an unbelievably noisy signal. Figure civil rights, EEOC, women induced into the workforce, the two-income household, figure the rules changes in the currency (Bretton-Woods, inflation, rates), the changes in economic policy (bailouts), the de-correlation of wages and productivity, pornography, dysmorphia, anti-social media. I challenge you to find a definitive causative.

          >........

          Your crowded slums thesis is based on modern era consumer-capitalism wherein systems exist to buffer both the offspring and the parents from being excised, plenty of baffles to prevent them from spilling, including highly processed foods that are nutritionally bereft and have indefinite shelf lives as a product of preservative techne. Foods which very apparently are designed to feed the cattle-esque caricature that is rendered to modernity as the economic unit "human" sold at low cost. My thesis is that had we been allowed to elect a better culture, had we not been goaded by naive and uninformed enlightenment ideology, that slums wouldn't exist.

          I'm under the impression what your saying in regards to poverty is wholly fallacious, but I do challenge you offer some evidence.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 13 2022, @01:49AM (2 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13 2022, @01:49AM (#1212280) Journal

            >With higher income inequality. The ability to move to where things are doing well is a huge part of the reason the developed world exists in the first place. And I find it bizarre that you complain of urbanization while praising a form of it (the above multi-generational household).

            Inequality predominately has to do with the organization of the economy and polity. Loads of anthropological work has shown us there is a huge spectrum by which society can organize itself in long-running civilizations, it's a enlightenment-era fallacy built on uninformed induction that lead us to the current means. But even given the inequality, if your family were to own a household, and if the land was capable of subsistence or better, is inequality particularly relevant? If we didn't socialize people into consumerists? The real outcome here is independence, resilience, and austerity - anti-consumerist. And you've misdefined urban.

            Are you really going to claim that mobility of participants isn't part of the organization of the economy and polity? Because it is. And thus, I neatly sidestep your argument that we have to ignore some of the most important factors in reducing inequality.

            But even given the inequality, if your family were to own a household, and if the land was capable of subsistence or better, is inequality particularly relevant?

            Of course it is. You won't have equal access to the benefits of society, particularly education, economic opportunity, and economic expression. For example, I'm reading through a book on SpaceX's early years, Liftoff. Several of the earliest employees came from rural environments. The first engine designer, Tom Mueller [wikipedia.org] was son of a lumberjack in north Idaho, for example.

            We adopt this multi-generational house thing, then this guy is rotting in North Idaho with whatever paltry education he can get and maybe cutting trees for a living instead of helping create the biggest change in space development since man landed on the Moon. This is the cost - lack of mobility. And all so that you can claim some sort of meager food positive position for people who don't need it. The next sentence is instructive:

            If we didn't socialize people into consumerists? The real outcome here is independence, resilience, and austerity - anti-consumerist. And you've misdefined urban.

            We aren't socializing anything. The "consumerist" is what people want. As to the real outcome, I think this is just Orwellian doublespeak. Subsidence farming is barely surviving. You have nothing outside of your local group to support you. A disaster hits your region and all that is gone. That's the "independence and resilience". As to the "austerity"? Why would we want that? My take is that in practice it's something imposed externally rather than a useful choice to make.

            As for urban, I now grant that multi-generational homes can be rural and that it's an ancient habitation system that predates urbanization altogether.

            With a poorer, larger population - because they wouldn't be in a better place. The developed world appears to be the place you're referring to, perhaps even the US specifically. That part of the world has licked the population growth problem. Without importing high fertility immigrants, the entire developed world would be negative population growth. And of course, it's got the highest distribution of income and wealth too. So sounds like it's solving these problems just fine.

            Poor is relative; in the earliest eras of the new world, and in a more recent example, people inducted into what would commonly be defined as "tribal" societies - even when presented the option - opted to remain with them. I suspect neither you, and I'm certain that I, have never been presented with the option to integrate into a civilization that eschews materialism and in lieu offers the real humanitarian aspects, effectively, what we're evolved for. Instead the "developed world" exchanges these human aspects with abstraction into economic units.

            I've heard the "poor is relative" line before. Sorry, I don't buy that or that tribes work better. For the former, you are poor in an absolute sense, if you can barely feed yourself. As to tribes, where are most of them again? This is where I refer to the concept of economic expression. It's akin to genetic expression. If a gene doesn't have an effect on the world, particularly the organism it's part of, then it will eventually disappear. It doesn't have to have a common or frequent effect, even one that manifests every generation. But if the gene isn't affecting the world, its days are numbered.

            Similarly, if people barely exist economically and politically, then they're at the whim of the powerful forces of the world that have stronger impact.

            >I challenge you to find a place that actually works. Making kids is pretty easy for poor people to do even in crowded slums (with ad hoc production of everything).

            No evidence of instance is not an instance of no presence. For one we can look at the Spartans, a truly austere people. They deployed a wide variety of especially draconian methods to structure their society. One of these policies is well known, which ultimately lead to infanticide but there was also late marriages (30y), and Spartan girls weren't available until they were 18, to contrast with the more common 14 years.

            I don't see your alleged example. Spartan women were high fertility just like their neighbors. If you were talking Spartan women not getting married till they were 30, then you would have an interesting point. Four years is not that significant, particularly given the lethality of childbirth at that time. You're not losing much by starting pregnancies four years later.

            And we're still stuck with that no evidence for your assertion problem.

            As to the "developed world" there's a running theme wherein every nation touched by European imperialism has been classed in the modern era as "developing" or "underdeveloped" which begs a line of questioning I can't satisfy that is deserving of nuanced research as not only is it a question of material theft, but the interplay of diverse cultures and poisoning of the indigenous mind and society. Moreover, in recent times especially, we've only been able to sustain our quality of life through offshoring, which is to say exploiting the poverty that imperialism is likely directly linked to. And this includes immigration, and this I reckon is a hazard, because it's adjusting against a naturally occurring declination for the sake of maintaining the status quo, which would be much improved over the long run for the majority otherwise, and is effectively a continuation of the impoverishment of the masses.

            The begging can be ended by noting that every region almost universally is heading to wealthier, healthier, lower fertility people with societies growing developed world characteristics. The world is developing in the real sense of the world with a growing number of countries on the edge of that development - hence the natural division of the world into developed and developing (with a few undeveloping holdouts that are universally disasters, presently North Korea and Venezuela), with the developed world part growing in a very interesting way.

            As to imperialism and colonialism, we're past most of the 19th century stuff by now. Not much point to complaining about century or longer theft at this point.

            If we took Jared Diamond's thesis into account, wherein Europe was the best-suited continent for the emergence of successful agriculture due to the favorable geography, the biodiversity, thus accessibility of viable cultivars and cultivation - and the further cascading effects that necessarily conditioned them to such a lifestyle wherein land could be made more productive and generating in excess, which ultimately leads to increases in birth, then population density, and evolves into specializations netting a positive feedback loop, and thus displacing the HG populations worldwide through a process of recruitment or extinction. But also this culminates into a system of private property enforced by the state and exploited by those possessed of multi-generational wealth. Which is to say in most cases, a monopoly is enforced by the state to maintain the status quo. Quite a bit of state and federal land is minimally, if at all, meaningfully productive but occupation would be illegal. Ironically the murder and extinction of indigenous Americans was justified on the basis of their disuse of the land.

            This is a great big so what? Some place had to be first. And some place will be last (likely Africa or the undeveloped holdouts). The talk about property, multi-generational wealth (which incidentally your advocacy above doesn't create), old population displacements, and crimes of the distant past really doesn't add anything to our conversation. I'll note that the dynamic of this narrative isn't working now with agriculture improving globally and population growth rates declining globally - that positive feedback is gone.

            Your crowded slums thesis is based on modern era consumer-capitalism wherein systems exist to buffer both the offspring and the parents from being excised, plenty of baffles to prevent them from spilling, including highly processed foods that are nutritionally bereft and have indefinite shelf lives as a product of preservative techne. Foods which very apparently are designed to feed the cattle-esque caricature that is rendered to modernity as the economic unit "human" sold at low cost. My thesis is that had we been allowed to elect a better culture, had we not been goaded by naive and uninformed enlightenment ideology, that slums wouldn't exist.

            Rather my crowded slum thesis is based on the zillion slums out there. And the observation that developed world slums are smaller and less harmful than the ones in the developing world. And the correlation between poverty and higher birth rates.

            As to the "better culture", that sounds a lot like a participation award. I'm not seeing all these great cultures which theoretically work great on a few dozen to a few hundred people, working on a few billion. They just don't scale, even if they do work as advertised. And frankly the "naive and uninformed" "enlightenment ideology" is the best game out there. I don't see anything comparable that would capable of improving billions of peoples' lives over a few decades like the capitalism/democracy mix that we have going on.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13 2022, @06:40AM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13 2022, @06:40AM (#1212349)

              I think you've ran astray of the point, friend. We're talking about a model of humanity that would've been far better suited to maintaining real independence while dually controlling the population expansion with a natural scarcity. That is to say reigning in the polity, offering equitable opportunity, and ultimately flattening the wealth distribution through better acculturation. Instead we've just enshrined a noveau aristocracy which pulls the strings of the masses of millions in plain sight, the masses of whom you are no doubt counted given your wont to argue for the sake of the supposed "elite". But do go fellate monsignor Musk I'm sure he'll appreciate your capacity for flagrant handwaving in the process.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 17 2022, @07:22AM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17 2022, @07:22AM (#1213351) Journal
                Sorry, I forgot to reply earlier. So this is a bit late.

                I think you've ran astray of the point, friend. We're talking about a model of humanity that would've been far better suited to maintaining real independence while dually controlling the population expansion with a natural scarcity.

                A key scientific principle is that if a model doesn't describe a system very well, then you look for something better - you don't try to shoehorn reality into the model. It holds whether you're speaking of dark matter/energy or models of economics/politics.

                Here, my concern is not coming up with some ideal of human dynamics, but reducing overpopulation and the many harmful effects that come with that. The multi-generational family unit just doesn't explain human behavior well - particularly what is needed to reduce human fertility. A model of human behavior that correlates lower human fertility with empowerment of women and increasing wealth of individuals and families does. Further, that latter model has no need for this "natural scarcity" to control human population growth!

                That is to say reigning in the polity, offering equitable opportunity, and ultimately flattening the wealth distribution through better acculturation. Instead we've just enshrined a noveau aristocracy which pulls the strings of the masses of millions in plain sight, the masses of whom you are no doubt counted given your wont to argue for the sake of the supposed "elite".

                I'm not seeing the point of this part. First, we're just too populous to reign in the polity. Second, we already see that this approach doesn't offer equitable opportunity since the approach creates a stickiness that encourages people to stay in regions with less opportunity. Third, why should we desire to flatten wealth distribution. Sorry, because of that wealth inequality, Musk got to radically change humanity's development of space to the better. I doubt a slightly better wealth equality would have improved your contribution to society beyond this theory. Thus, it seems to me that wealth, while not distributed equally, is distributed better.

                Finally, the bit about "enshrined a noveau aristocracy" is a typically outcome of having a lot of people in a society, just like reigning in the polity. Mass media and elite control is a natural outcome.

                But do go fellate monsignor Musk I'm sure he'll appreciate your capacity for flagrant handwaving in the process.

                Funny how defending someone reasonably is "fellating". I see him instead as a huge proof of the negation of your model. Perhaps you ought to as well.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:17PM (2 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 11 2022, @08:17PM (#1211892)

      We didn't lose the knowledge of how to grow vegetables or keep livestock on our own land, we lost the will to do it.

      Growing crops (effectively) and even maintaining chickens is work. Chickens don't take vacations, neither do pests on crops - people might like to dabble at growing food, but the commitment required to do it well is beyond what most modern lifestyles can accommodate.

      --
      Україна не входить до складу Росії.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:48PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @09:48PM (#1211935)

        Honestly, I find even a dog to be too much work.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @03:44PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12 2022, @03:44PM (#1212134)

        i like the part where "green" city dwellers encountering a lost python drive it to the burbs and dump it next to my chicken coup... "no chicken for you next month, greeny. your python got your share.""

    • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Wednesday January 12 2022, @12:09AM

      by inertnet (4071) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12 2022, @12:09AM (#1211971)

      Potatoes are an easy starter, just need a shovel and a watering can

      And crop rotation [wikipedia.org], especially if you want to grow potatoes.

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