Category Archives: Agriculture

Muscle Power

Preface. Before fossil fuels, the energy to do work came from muscle power and the heat from burning biomass, mainly wood.  When I visited the Deutsches museum in Munich in 2017, I saw two animal treadmills: The first picture shows … Continue reading

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Battling the Inland Sea, the history of why and how the levee system was built in California’s delta

[ When settlers first moved to farm the central valley, they found it was often flooded with water, not the “desert” people often claim California to be.  A vast swamp over 100 miles long of half a million acres of … Continue reading

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From wood to fossil fueled civilizations — the greatest tragedy mankind will ever know

[ These are my notes from this book about how we went from an organic sustainable economy to a temporary fossil-fueled one.  It’s one of the few books I’ve found that explains what life was like before fossil fuels in … Continue reading

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How horses changed native cultures after 1492

[ This is a very brief overview of Peter Mitchel’s “Horse Nations”.  As oil and other fossils decline, will we will almost certainly return to using more horse “muscle power” as we did in the past. Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author … Continue reading

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Book review of “1493 Uncovering the new world Columbus Created”

[ This book will be included in the “must read” category of my giant booklist when I get around to updating it. This book isn’t just about the past, the implications reverberate into the postcarbon future.  Will slavery return without … Continue reading

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Chemical industrial farming is unsustainable. Why poison ourselves when pesticides don’t save more of our crops than in the past?

Pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides destroy soil, ecosystems, and a third of the crop is still lost to pests, just as in the many millennia of farming before chemicals. [ This is a book review of Dyer’s “Chasing the Red Queen”, … Continue reading

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After the harvest – protecting food from rats, mold, insects, fire, and bacteria

Preface. Post-harvest storage in the U.S. consists of gigantic gran elevators, some so huge they can store enough grain for most of the U.S. for weeks at a time.  These silos are highly energy-intensive and far apart, requiring legions of … Continue reading

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The Back to the Land Movement: why it failed and why we need to try again

[ This is my book review of “Back from the Land: how young Americans went to nature in the 1970s, and why they came back”.   Some succeeded, but most failed, and there are lessons to be learned from the previous … Continue reading

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Livestock diseases, Science Mag Review of “Arresting Contagion”

Science 17 April 2015: Vol. 348 no. 6232 p. 294 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa7672 The fever on the farm Arresting Contagion Science, Policy, and Conflicts over Animal Disease Control Alan L. Olmstead and Paul W. Rhode Harvard University Press, 2015. 477 pp. … Continue reading

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Become a Bison rancher

Far more buffalo can be grazed per acre than cattle. It’s likely wild bison will return to the Great Plains in the future.   Already there are fewer people in areas where the Ogalla aquifer has been depleted than when Native … Continue reading

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