What is in this article?:
- Solving energy problems key to agriculture‚Äôs future
- Problems need to be solved
- Supplies hard to reach
- A key to solving energy problems and invigorating agriculture in the U.S. and worldwide is to invest billions, not millions, into meaningful research efforts that could change the very fiber of energy production and consumption worldwide.
GALE BUCHANAN, former Dean of Agriculture at Auburn University discusses energy with current AU Dean Bill Batchelor.
Problems need to be solved
The former USDA administrator says there are 10 facts that underscore the need to solve our energy problems:
• Energy is a requirement for the success of agriculture as we know it. Virtually every aspect of modern agriculture is dependent on energy to get land ready for crops, to put seed in the ground, to harvest and transportation to marketing — every step is energy intensive.
• World population will reach 9 billion people before 2050. With world population topping seven billion last October, agriculture is now hard-pressed to meet the demand for calories worldwide. By 2050 farmers will be charged with feeding two extra countries the size of India, or about 2 billion more people.
• The world’s appetite for oil will grow faster in the future than it has grown in the past. For example 50 million new cars are added globally each year. To get a look at the future demand for gas for cars, China now produces more new cars each year than the U.S. produces.
• U.S. energy supply is not sustainable. The United States represents about five percent of the world’s population, but consumes more than a fourth of the oil (about 20 million barrels of oil per year) used worldwide. The most rapid growing economies in the world, like China and India are also the fastest growing in demand for oil — and they will have the money to buy it in the future.
• The Age of Oil will be brief in terms of the history of the world It took 125 years for the world to consume a trillion barrels of oil. In less than 30 years the U.S. will use a trillion barrels of oil — at the current pace of consumption. Unless many current energy realities change, we will use the next trillion barrels of oil in a much shorter time frame.
• At some point the world will reach ‘peak oil. The U.S. reached peak oil in 1972 — that’s the point at which a country reaches maximum output and total production begins to decline. When the world will reach peak oil is highly debatable. An equally big question is how can a debtor nation like the United States, compete for oil when the supply begins to decline.
• The rate of discovery of oil in the U.S. peaked in the 1930s and in the world it peaked in the 1960s. The 10 billion barrels of oil recently discovered in North Dakota and Montana currently represents only a 130 day supply for the world or 10 billion barrels.