[NAFEX] Fluffy's point

Alan Haigh alandhaigh at gmail.com
Wed Jun 17 05:54:28 EDT 2009


I believe Fluffy's point about the ratio of input to output is quite flawed
when he takes on issues like public transit, which have clearly proven
themselves to be much more energy efficient in every part of the world
they're used compared to the American auto-centric model.  Even in Kenya,
entrepreneurs drive around in vans and use them as buses because they can
offer cheap (I.E. efficient) transportation.   He might consider me an idiot
because he has some data that proves that European rail transit is not part
of why they use much less energy per capita than Americans (you know the
wide open spaces of the U.S and that kind of thing) but I doubt he could
actually win a debate on a forum with experts on public transit, even if he
left muttering about what idiots they are.

That said, he still makes a valid and important point when it comes to
organic food production.  Rivka will probably argue this, but when I go to a
farm market around here and compare organic to other stands, the offerings
are relatively poor and expensive in general, especially when it comes to
fruit.  Even the heads of lettuce tend to be smaller and much more expensive
than that offered by small farms that do use some synthetic chemicals.

This suggests to me that at least here in the humid northeast, using some
chemicals allows commercial growers to make more efficient use of their
land, labor and petro fuel.  Of course if you add all the information about
environmental degradation you might get another equation but I actually
doubt it given that the organic produce grown here costs literally twice as
much.  Virtually all agriculture is environmentally disruptive and more
efficient agriculture is less so.

I believe that in drier climates with less disease and insect pressure this
comparison will not be the same, but I do think when you're talking about
improving the environment by using organic production you have to consider
inputs to outputs and realize that better production is also an essential
part of the equation.

I also think Fluffy's point is valid when it comes to the "environmentally
concsious" consumer who feels virtuous bringing the empty bottled water
bottles to the recycling center along with a lot of other frivolous and
poorly made manufactured goods.  Recycling something doesn't erase the
environmental impact of its production.  But this doesn't mean that there is
no virtue in putting other peoples junk to practical use just because the
source doesn't get the tree-huggers seal of approval.
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