Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Food as humanity's primary renewable energy source

I sense opportunity in changing the narrative to count as energy and technology, things that haven't been considered as so by the mainstream.

Food is solar energy. Energy from the sun is converted to a medium that powers living beings to move and grow and live. It still has far higher efficiency than PV, wind etc and is a storage medium.

Permaculture / organic farming is a technology that removes the fossil fuel dependence of food energy. Just because it may not immediately involve silicon chips and wires or handling of poisonous substances doesn't necessarily make this a non-technology.. We can instead look at its sophistications. Wind direction, terrain, light and shade, companion plants, 100% waste recycling, macro and micronutrients management through influencing soil microbes and beneficial insects (coming a long way from the simplistic N-P-K and kill-everything-else doctrines), designs that incorporate water management, location-specific micro-climate adaptation ... It takes farming to totally new levels of sophistication and productivity potential that make conventional fertilizer-pesticide farming and its predecessors look crude, backward and uncivilized.

To top it off, this technology has been proven to not just avoid or reduce CO2 emissions (which is the primary focus of, say, solar PV), but it actually reverses them, sequestering carbon back into the ground. So imagine a solar panel that while providing you with energy that's inherently storage-friendly, also pulls excess CO2 out of the atmosphere, and does not use rare earth metals or have a pile of embodied costs. That's permaculture technology. (Yes there are many other names of this but I suggest we just go with the one that more than one nationality's peoples are already familiar with)

So yes, do keep eyes open for renewables technologies, even forms that haven't been taken into account as yet by a mainstream that chooses to ignore innovations in the world's largest and most primary energy sector (food) when talking about energy.

PS: all technologies have a transition period, with early adopters investing more, feedback cycles for improvement, not getting immediate ROI, time taken for standardization, lack of available resources, learning curve, etc and the one mentioned is probably no different.

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