Nature, Not Only Mankind, Saved by Fossil Fuels

“[F]ossil-fuel-dependent technologies that stretched living nature’s natural productivity and dis­placed some of its products not only per­mitted humanity to escape the Malthusian vise, but saved nature itself from being over­whelmed by humanity’s demands.”

The collective demand for land to meet humanity’s demands for food, fuel, and oth­er products of living nature is—and always has been—the single most important threat to ecosystems and biodiversity. Yet fossil-fuel-dependent technologies have kept that de­mand for land in check.

This positive aspect of the impact of fossil fuels on the environ­ment has been ignored in most popular narratives, which instead emphasize fossil fuels’ potential detrimental effects, including air, water, and solid-waste pollution, as well as any climate change associated with the use and production of these fuels. Because of this oversight, and thus lacking balance, these studies generally conclude that fossil fuels have been an environmental disaster.

Agricultural Advances: Less Land, More Habitat

To obtain a notion of the magnitude of the environmental benefits of fossil fuels, consider just the effect of fertilizers and pes­ticides on the amount of habitat saved from conversion to cropland because fossil fuels were used to meet current food demands. The Haber-Bosch process, by itself, is re­sponsible for feeding 48 percent of global population and pesticides have reduced losses from pests for a range of food-relat­ed crops by 26–40 percent.

Read more at MasterResource.org. By Indur Goklany.

Photo credit: eutrophication&hypoxia (Creative Commons)

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Comments

  1. Give all the green religion believers a bag of seed, a hoe and a 1/10th acre plot of ground and let them make the subsistence living off it because that is what they want the rest of us to do. Agenda 21 believers need not ask for more.

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