Whenever politicians talk about curbing greenhouse gas emissions, they’re really talking about higher food prices. Farming contributes more greenhouse gas than any other industry, sector or activity; a whopping 37 percent of a developed nations’ total greenhouse gas emissions!
Naturally, proponents of anthropogenic-global-warming theory place the blame for all of this so-called pollution on factory farms and food miles. But it turns out that the carbon footprint of organic fertilizer (compost) is on the order of 14 times higher than that of conventional fertilizer made with the Haber-Bosch ammonia synthesis process. (See for instance Steve Savage, “Organic Farming Would Be Better In Terms of Climate Change Impact. Right?” on Sustainablog, November 10th, 2009; and James McWilliams, “Organic Agriculture: A Solution to Global Warming?” New York Times, June 2, 2010.)
The truth is it will always take a certain amount of energy, and hence a certain amount of methane and CO2, to produce a given amount of food. What are we supposed to do? Starve to save the planet? In all seriousness, this is a question that needs to be posed to crusaders like Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT). There’s a good chance they’re not even aware of which sector of the economy is actually to “blame” for the imagined curse of rising atmospheric CO2 levels. And if it turns out they are aware, then they need to be pinned down on exactly how much of a rise in food prices they would deem acceptable. 100 percent? 200 percent? That’s what they currently pay in the European Union thanks to all the taxes on energy on that continent.
Or how about a ten-fold increase in food prices like they’re stuck with in Cuba?… a nation which was recently applauded by organic activists for being the world’s first organic country.
(See The Coming Insurrection, written by the invisible committee, MIT Press, 2009, p. 26: “The most advanced experimentation with ‘organic’ agriculture on a global level has taken place since 1989 on the island of Cuba.” Just as absurd is the claim by Hamas agriculture minister, Muhammad al-Agha, that the Gaza strip is “going organic” after Israel banned nitrogen fertilizer. See Jon Elmer, “Going organic: The siege on Gaza,” Aljazeera.net, August 9, 2010, 14:22 Mecca Time. Hamas claims, and much of the media actually believes, that Israel is trying to starve Gazans, but of course Israel rightly banned nitrogen fertilizer because it’s a deadly explosive.)
What’s more, “locavores” − people who eat only locally-grown food from small farms and who are tightly affiliated with organic activists − are actually responsible for elevated greenhouse gas emissions even when their local food isn’t fertilized with compost. It turns out only 11 percent of CO2 emissions associated with modern food-production is generated in its transportation (it can be as low as 4 percent, even when crossing the world’s oceans). Meanwhile, a whopping 80 percent of food-related CO2 emissions result from production (plowing, cultivating, seeding, spraying and harvesting), an area where big farms are naturally much more efficient. (See Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, SuperFreakonomics, William Morrow, 2009.)
Politicians like Boxer and Sanders will always pretend to be going after oil and coal companies. But the fact of the matter is that the products oil and coal companies sell to consumers (gas and electricity) are already taxed at exorbitant rates with no discernible impact on these industries. None.
But knowing that the American farmer is one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels (diesel and fertilizer), you’d think even ideologues like Boxer and Sanders could connect the dots and tell us the truth: that our grocery bill is about to go sky high if they get their way.