Unfortunately for us, the way we live today consumes fossil fuels at a rate we cannot sustain, without severe consequences. Approximately 7 calories of fossil fuel energy are required to produce 1 calorie of food. Due to petroleum being so widely used, more than 88 million barrels of oil a day worldwide, we have to acknowledge that it being a finite resource we will deplete its availability at some point. Life as we know it will cease to exist whether we like it or not. Are you ready for the changes this will bring about?
Globalisation has allowed us to buy goods from foreign countries located thousands of kilometres away. This cost of transport is not only a monetary one but also to our fossil fuel supply. In America, the distance food travels on average is 2400 km from farm to customer and add into that equation food from foreign countries.
Ponder this… to import 1 calorie of asparagus by plane from Chile it will use 97 calories of transport energy and to fly 1 unit of carrot energy from South Africa it will consume 66 units of energy…”
The food system is constantly lengthening its supply chain and this increases emissions and is a significant contributor to global warming. Ironically the very food system which creates these greenhouse gases is affected in a negative way. The many conventional methods we use to overcome environmental problems results in an increase in the consumption of finite oil and our gas reserves, resulting in a vicious cycle where oil dependence and environmental degradation endures.
What really makes no sense to me is that many countries import and export similar quantities of the same foods which makes the impact of all this transportation unnecessary. Analysts have stated that the current oil supply which fuels our food system could be exhausted by 2040. Globalisation has made it unlikely that a modern society can collapse in isolation therefor, for the first time in history we are facing a risk of global decline. When you are faced to really think about it, the total world population is continually increasing yet our planet remains the same size. There is a limit to our natural resources and many are non-renewable and even those which are renewable are being consumed faster than we can replenish it.
If the world had spent the last 25 years urgently preparing alternative energies, conservation technologies, and patterns of land use with a much lower dependence on transport…. Instead, “the long-expected shock finds us unprepared” - policy analyst David Fleming
Grow your food?
A low energy future may not be that far away and we will survive it better if we learn to be more self-sufficient in our lives. The day is fast approaching when we shall enter into an era where the world will have to be fed with a limited use of fossil fuels.
So, what can we do? I think it is clear; we must shift our buying habits to local markets. We must cut down the transportation time needed to obtain our goods, thus benefiting our environment. Supporting local markets would be a great way to lower fossil fuel consumption and even better start to learn to grow your own food whenever possible.
There are many who don’t have land to grow their own tomatoes, starting a community garden might be a good idea, if not, tomato plants grow quite nicely in a pot on a balcony with lots of fresh herbs around it. Give it a try!.