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Eating Fossil Fuels: Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture


Eating Fossil Fuels: Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture Cover


Synopses & Reviews

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Publisher Comments:

The miracle of the Green Revolution was made possible by cheap fossil fuels to supply crops with artificial fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation. Estimates of the net energy balance of agriculture in the United States show that ten calories of hydrocarbon energy are required to produce one calorie of food. Such an imbalance cannot continue in a world of diminishing hydrocarbon resources.

Eating Fossil Fuels examines the interlinked crises of energy and agriculture and highlights some startling findings:

  • The worldwide expansion of agriculture has appropriated fully 40 percent of the photosynthetic capability of this planet
  • The Green Revolution provided abundant food sources for many, resulting in a population explosion well in excess of the planet's carrying capacity
  • Studies suggest that without fossil fuel-based agriculture, the United States could only sustain about two-thirds of its present population. For the planet as a whole, the sustainable number is estimated to be about two billion

Concluding that the effect of energy depletion will be disastrous without a transition to a sustainable, re-localized agriculture, the book draws on the experiences of North Korea and Cuba to demonstrate stories of failure and success in the transition to non-hydrocarbon-based agriculture. It urges strong grassroots activism for sustainable, localized agriculture and a natural shrinking of the world's population.

Book News Annotation:

For every calorie in those corn flakes you ate this morning, if that indeed is your habit and preference, the planet expended ten calories of hydrocarbon energy. Feel guilty yet? Without fossil fuels artificial fertilizer, pesticides and energy to irrigate the US can sustain only about two thirds of its present population. Feel alarmed yet? Independent journalist and geologist Pfeiffer analyzes the experiences of Cuba and North Korea with agriculture not based on hydrocarbon resources. He details the degradation of land and water, the hidden costs of current food production, the inevitable collapse of hydrocarbon-based agriculture, the efforts to create sustainable systems by Cuba and North Korea, and activities people can do now to change the system and their dependence upon it. Pfeiffer concludes by encouraging strong grassroots support of localized, sustainable agriculture and reduction of the population. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


A shocking outline of the interlinked crises in energy and agriculture--and appropriate responses.

About the Author

Dale Allen Pfeiffer is a novelist, freelance journalist and geologist who ha

Product Details

Pfeiffer, Dale Allen
New Society Publishers
General science
United States - 20th Century
Development - Sustainable Development
Agriculture - Sustainable Agriculture
Petroleum industry and trade
Food industry and trade
Food supply -- Forecasting.
Agriculture-Sustainable Living
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
October 2006
Grade Level:
8.5 x 5.4 x 0.4 in 7 oz

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Related Subjects

Business » Manufacturing and Product Development
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » General
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
Reference » Science Reference » Technology
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » General
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » Politics and Economics
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » Sustainable Living

Eating Fossil Fuels: Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture Used Trade Paper
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Product details 125 pages New Society Publishers - English 9780865715653 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
A shocking outline of the interlinked crises in energy and agriculture--and appropriate responses.
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