Final Report - Petroleum and Food Production Draft 4

Final Report - Petroleum and Food Production Draft 4 -...

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English 100wb Prof. Hessler 11/15/2008 The Role of Petroleum in Food Production I. Introduction With high prices of oil come high prices of food. Why is this? Well we can trace the evolution of farming back to answer this question. In the past humans were hunter and gatherers known as nomads. Then we discovered farming and began planting small crops and harvesting them. In time we constructed tools that would help with this process of farming. Next we had the Industrial Revolution in which machines replaced manpower and animals. Then fossil fuels were introduced and all the sudden we could run machines off fuel replacing both man and animal power even further. These fossil fuels were abundant and inexpensive and as a result they were used to manufacture fertilizers so that farmers no longer had to practice the inefficient processes of old, waiting years for farmland to be fertile again. 1 We were able to create large amounts of food with little man power allowing people the freedom to spend more time working at their profession and not at farming. As our population grew so did our need for food. To create more food we needed highly efficient processes in which we could make the most amount of energy within the least amount of time. To accomplish this we had to rely on the benefits of using machines, fertilizers, and food processing that are all dependent upon oil. Thus we became so helplessly dependent on oil that when oil prices go up it is impossible for food prices not to go up. When we take the time to truly analyze the food industry it becomes quite apparent that we are very dependent on oil. And everyone also knows and understands that the use of oil in our current agricultural practices causes pollution which leads to global warming. What most people don’t understand is the extent of which our current agricultural process is utilizing oil and how much our reliance is affecting global warming. For instance when we are asked about the use
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of petroleum in food production, what do we think of? Many would say: gas, tractors, oil, fuel, or transportation. These are all good answers but they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the processes that depend on petroleum in food processing. A more complete thought would include plastics, fertilizers, wax, tar, asphalt, jet fuel, diesel fuel, lubricant, pesticides, harvesting, delivery, end consumers, food processors, etc. The list is amazingly extensive. Who would have guessed all these processes and products used in modern agriculture depend on oil? As of today, food production is one of the leading causes of pollution in the world due to our modern agricultural methods of pesticide and fertilizer based farming, gasoline and diesel based transportation, oil based food processing, and the reliance for these processes in order to sustain and feed the ever growing population of the world. II.
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Final Report - Petroleum and Food Production Draft 4 -...

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