Shocked and Persuaded


Separating Fact From Fiction

Benefit to Cost Ratio

In his last post Dave noted that the real reason for events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Maghreb and eastward was finite resources. That is extremely true AND if you couple that with the increasing influence of derivative speculation by those that don’t give a hoot about social cohesion AND the declining benefit to cost ratio associated with agricultural related biotechnology you have a Terrible Trio that needs to be addressed via long-term stewardship of biomass and the planet’s limited biogeochemically available elements such as phosphorus. The USGS has determined that there are 62 Gigatons of available phosphorus left on this planet with most in the same region experiencing upheaval today. Thirty-seven percent of the world’s available phosphorus is in Morocco and 5.8% in Jordan (vaccari-20091, rosemarin-et-al).

Add on to this the fact that 90% of the price of wheat globally is due to the daily whims of speculators, which raises ambient commodity volatility above its already high normal.

Take a look at this graph of Crop yield per unit of nitrogen fertilizer applied here in the US (Inset is just total nitrogen applied historically). We have plateued relative to yield and fertilizer EVEN THOUGH supposed ingenius developments out of the likes of Monsanto and Syngenta are said to be the future of agriculture. That fact is that you can only overcome so much degradation and homogenization. We have reached not just Peak Oil, but Peak Oil, Water, Nitrogen, Soil Carbon, Soil Water Holding Capacity, etc. Peaks transition into valleys and we are creating a world where the spread is getting greater and greater in an Age of Volatility and what is rapidly being revealed to be the next great epoch what I will call The Great Decoupling.

Category: Agriculture, Ecological Economics, Ecological Stoichiometry, Economics, Energy, National News

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