Fertilizer Politics Reveal the Childishness of Many Enviros
Senior Policy Analyst, CFACT
[Editor’s Note: Fertilizer made with natural gas and the other necessities provided via fossil fuels are the objects of scorn by obsessive enviros who ache for primitive life.]
Many eco-activists (and too many legislators, regulators, judges and journalists) have trouble thinking beyond slogans. They apparently believe declaring ecological emergencies, repeating clever mantras, and issuing proclamations and mandates will create a fossil-fuel-free, organic farming utopia. In their dreams.
Since 1950, American farmers increased per-acre corn yields by an incredible 500% – and other crop yields by smaller but still amazing amounts, while using less land, water, fuel, fertilizers and pesticides. Their exports helped slash global hunger and malnutrition. Farmers in Brazil, India and other countries worldwide have likewise enjoyed record harvests in recent years. Their success has many “roots.”
Hybrid seeds combine valuable traits from different plants. Biotech seeds protect crops against insects and viruses and reduce water and pesticide demand. Nitrogen fertilizers (synthesized from natural gas) join phosphorus and potassium in supercharging soils. School and online programs offer libraries of agricultural success tools. Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) further spurs plant growth.
Long-lasting herbicides control weeds that would otherwise steal moisture and nutrients from crops, while enabling farmers to utilize no-till farming that avoids breaking up soils, reduces erosion, further retains soil moisture and preserves vital soil organisms. Israeli-developed drip irrigation delivers water without the evaporation characteristic of other irrigation methods.
Modern high-tech tractors use GPS systems, sensors, cameras and other equipment to steer precise courses across fields, while constantly measuring soil composition, and injecting just the right kinds and amounts of fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides, along with seeds, to ensure optimal harvests.
Imagine the bounteous crops for humanity if all these technologies could spread across the globe.
Instead, this planet-saving, life-saving progress is under assault – by well-meaning or ideologically driven, ill-advised or ill-intended … but all well-funded … organizations that demand natural gas bans, “more Earth friendly” agriculture and a return to “traditional farming lifestyles.”
Their hatred of biotech crops is intense and well-documented, but they also despise hybrid seeds. They want modern herbicides and insecticides banned, in favor of “natural” alternatives that are often toxic to bees, animals and people; may actually be synthetic (eg, neurotoxic pyrethrins); and are rarely tested for residues on produce or long-term toxicity to humans. They demand “natural” fertilizers, which often provide a tiny fraction of nutrients that modern synthetic fertilizers do.
They want to teach only “traditional” (ie, subsistence) farming, especially in Africa. They prefer to call it “food sovereignty” – which they claim is the “right” to “culturally appropriate” food produced through “ecologically sound and sustainable methods,” in accord with AgroEcology policies. In other words, millions more people (ruling elites and their kids?) doing back-breaking stoop labor, dawn to dusk.
Tractors? Why not horses, oxen or human labor, they ask? At least get rid of gasoline and diesel tractors and trucks, in favor of electric models. Never mind that EV tractors and combines would require several tons of battery modules, and still wouldn’t be able to do a full day’s work without hours-long recharges.
They want oil and gas locked in the ground. “We don’t need petrochemical products, especially synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.” Or tractor tires, paint, windows, GPS/computer housings, and more.
Have these illiterati looked at their own clothing, food, homes, offices or world? Synthetic fabrics, cosmetics, cell phone and computer housings, pharmaceuticals, tapes and adhesives, protective gear, eyeglasses, car bodies, detergents, wind turbine nacelle covers and blades, medical devices, car bodies – practically everything around them and in their lives exists because of oil, gas and petrochemicals.
But we can just use biofuels to replace feed stocks for products we really need, they proclaim. Right.
Banishing oil, gas, petrochemicals and internal-combustion engines would certainly mean no more ethanol as a gasoline additive. That would eliminate the need to grow corn on 36,000,000 acres (equivalent to Iowa), and that land could be used for food crops or wildlife habitat. Except it won’t be.
Organic farms have significantly lower crop yields per acre and require far more landthan conventional agriculture. Worse, ending oil and gas production means tens of millions of acres would have to be planted with biofuel crops, to provide feed stocks for thousands of now-petrochemical products.
That means vastly more tractors or human labor – and more water, fertilizers and pesticides – to cultivate and harvest sugar and oilseed crops (and algae). And then all those simple biofuel molecules would have to be transformed into much more complex hydrocarbons to provide the necessary feed stocks. That would require even more energy, from even more wind turbines and solar panels – on top of doubling or tripling our existing electricity needs, to transform the U.S. and global economies to all-electric systems, and repeatedly recharge the grid-balancing and power backup batteries those systems would require.
Or perhaps Team Biden plans to simply import all those petrochemicals and/or products – as it seems to be planning with regard to wind turbines, solar panels, battery modules, transformers and other “green” energy equipment. America will not be able to produce any of it, because Team Biden and its allies oppose mining and drilling in the USA (even for raw materials essential for their utopian “renewable” energy transformation – and we won’t even have affordable, reliable electricity to operate factories.
How can these “best and brightest” decision-makers and advisors be so ignorant, inept and clueless – so unable to connect even two or three dots? They’re destroying our planet, habitats and wildlife, to “Save the Earth” from a computer-modeled “climate crisis” that President Biden absurdly insists is “a greater threat than nuclear war.”
They base critical policies that deeply affect lives and livelihoods everywhere on childish beliefs in Santa Claus and Harry Potter. They think we can banish today’s energy and agricultural resources and technologies – and amazing replacements will just be there … via some mystical, mythical process called Materials Acquisition for Government-mandated Infrastructure Change (MAGIC).
Some of them know this cannot possibly happen, but promote the policies anyway. They seem to believe they can mandate that “common folks” will just have to live austerely, under nineteenth or early twentieth century living standards, in 700-square-foot apartments, using electricity when it’s available (not when they need it), and subsisting on bug burgers and larvae milk.
They think Africa would be “the perfect laboratory” for testing new foods, like “crackers, muffins, meat loaves and sausages” made from lake flies. If all that fails, they’ll just impose forced rationing.
Others would go even further. Obama science advisor John Holdren advocated “de-development of the [United States and other over-developed countries] and semi-development of the under-developed countries, to approach a decent and ecologically sustainable standard of living for all in between.”
Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau once said, “in order to stabilize world populations, we must eliminate 350,000 people per day.” Environmental Defense scientist Charles Wurster said “People are the cause of all the problems…. We need to get rid of some of them, and [banning DDT] is as good a way as any.”
Environmental and racial justice? Campaigns, policies government actions to eradicate fossil fuels and modern agricultural practices and technologies go well beyond callous and imperious. They go well beyond eco-imperialism, eco-colonialism and eco-Apartheid. They drive eco-manslaughter on a global scale via energy, farming and climate policy. They impose systemic, systematic racism.
These ideas, and these policy proponents, are what should be banished from government, media and academic institutions. Not the wondrous technologies that make modern life possible.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, climate change, environmental policy and human rights.
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