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Dirt

Does this entry even belong here?  I think yes, because it’s all connected.

Dirt - without water. FAO/Giulio Napolitano

One of the very few things I remember from college is Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs.  It’s usually shown as a pyramid with the basic needs of life – air, water, food and shelter – at the bottom of the pyramid.

I’ve concentrated on this site on shelter, or, more accurately, on how to live comfortably inside our shelter, using a minimum of energy.

But in the larger scheme the production of food uses large amounts of energy.  And we use huge amounts of water to grow food, which in turn requires energy to distribute, purify and then dispose of.

This article (“The Joy of Dirt” by Larry Gallagher) in Ode magazine summarizes the whole thing very nicely.  About the only quibble I have with the article is the part on human wastes.  There is no need to cart buckets of poo to a compost bin in your backyard!  Warwick Rowell, who is featured in the Australian section of this site, is probably one of the world experts on dry composting toilets.  The one’s I’ve used in Warwick’s house are clean, have no smell, and the composting takes place right there, no carting of buckets!

There is lots of information on dry composting toilets on the web, e.g. here on Wikipedia.  Commercial units are available in the USA for under $1000.

But back to the article, and what does it have to do with energy realism?  I guess the underlying point is that we are wasting everything, with no thought of the future.  We are paying too little for energy, essentially borrowing it from the future.  We waste water, expecting “someone” to clean it up when we finally run into real shortages.  And we deplete the soil, growing cheap food for 6+ billion people, with no thought on how we will feed 9 billion in a few years time – when energy, water – and soil – will all be in short supply.

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