Organic food worse for the climate?

Discussion in 'Plants: Science and Cultivation' started by Junglekeeper, Dec 14, 2018.

  1. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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  2. Margot

    Margot Rising Contributor

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    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
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  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Organic crops can have as high yields as 'intensive' sprayed crops. They do however require much higher labour input which can be viewed as an advantage, in providing employment, but also makes costs much higher. More importantly though, organic crops sustain far higher biodiversity - that for me is the main reason to buy them.
     
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  4. Michigander

    Michigander Active Member

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    None of which is true. Except so-called organic crops requiring more labor, which may or may not be. The reason that crops are grown with nitrogen from other than organic sources is plain and simple: There ain't enough organic nitrogen to go around. Not to speak of the neighbors who rarely complain about the smell of pellitized urea, but just love to be downwind of field of organic nitrogen. What, exactly, is the biodiversity spoken of here? Weeds? Microbes in the soil of good, intensely farmed land are every bit as diverse as plain dirt full of weeds and stones in any long-fallow city lot. In fact, plowing-in otherwise unusable crop residues feed and keep healthy the microbes along with crop rotation, occasional fallow periods, green manures and the incidental positive of continual aeration of annual plowing. No contest: intensely farmed land is the postcard picture of a rich, productive, cost-effective, tax-paying, home of diverse populations of microbes, and, -your choice crops. Sans e coli. Lettuce, anyone?
     
  5. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Plants, insects, birds, mammals, etc.

    Ask yourself: why do birders always go to Amish farms if they want to see a wide range of open-country birds like Bobolink, Dickcissel, Meadowlarks, etc? Because those birds are all considerably rarer (if not actually extinct) on chemical-intensive farmland, while still common on Amish farms which use more-or-less organic principles.
     
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  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Esteemed Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Here's a summary from this book chapter published in 2015: (PDF) Impact of Organic Farming on Biodiversity

     
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  7. Michigander

    Michigander Active Member

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    I'm a fisherman who buys worms because I don't want to use any from my own garden. They are too useful to me in my garden to squander so I buy somebody else's. I pay the price for me. I buy my brother lunch in return for a carload of leaves he vacuums up and chops to smithereens from his large lawn. I collect all my grass clippings and put them in my flower beds except for a couple cuttings after weed & feed applications. My single tomato plant is large enough to distinguish from satellite photos. I only kill bugs that do damage.

    Can I be forgiven for not wanting to get into the weeds of just how important "soil invertebrates" are to me? I'm willing to bet that the overwhelming percentage of organic farms are tucked into, adjacent to, surrounded by, or otherwise around large blocks of non-farmed or forested land as opposed to intensely farmed tracts that have approximately the reciprocal percentage that have boundaries with no more than the Gordy Howe hockey smile line of trees with intensely farmed land on the other side. And a higher population of crows. Are there more critters there because organic farms exist or because of what is near them?

    3% of US land is farmed. That leaves a lot of land for the birds. And bugs of your choice. It will never cease to amaze me how some people expect us to eat twigs and roots, but out of the other side of their mouth want us to not use land in the most efficient way. Buy electric cars which are really coal-fired. Install more wind powered generators to knock birds out of the sky and cook them on the way down with massive arrays of solar collectors that look like lakes from above. There are trade-offs and consequences for everything in life. We can't have our cake and eat it, too. We CAN virtue-signal 24 hours a day our superiority by protecting the Spotted Owl at the expense of lumberers, Delta smelt and Snail Darters from farmers, and granting various frogs and mice a reprieve from extinction at someone else's expense. This, in spite of the fact that 99.999%+ of species that have been, have been superseded before man made much of an appearance. Evolution having been what it was, we now say that any creature that is unable to keep up today is not extinct because its own inadequacies, ~man~ is now responsible. There is a mixed metaphor here, either man is this superior creature that can stop evolution of the Earth in its tracks at no cost, or there is a cost and we should calculate the net worth of this or that end.

    We know the costs of having more lawyers than the rest of the world combined. Just over the horizon we will be finding that having too many ecologists has a price, too: There are some great number of species of this and that literally everywhere which are at the edge of seceding from the world, completing their journey and just dying to be discovered by a researcher who can name them and usher them to the alter of Untouchables erected on someone else's land. OPM. Other People's Money to be used to benefit exactly what? If, or I should say, when do-gooders have to raise the price of buying the properties to be condemned at market prices to save this or that bug, bird, lizard, minnow, mouse or microbe, a new calculation will come into vogue: cost effectiveness.

    Somewhere between saving nothing and saving everything is a sweet spot. THAT is what needs research.
     
  8. Margot

    Margot Rising Contributor

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    Squandering worms?! You must catch a lot of fish or waste too many worms in the attempt.

    Never mind, you have established yourself as someone very concerned about the environment and your comments have given me much food for thought.

    A discrepancy that needs to be clarified is your claim that 3% of US land is farmed whereas the 2012 Census of Agriculture asserts that just over 40 percent of all U.S. land was farmland – about 2 million farms.

    https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Highlights/2014/Highlights_Farms_and_Farmland.pdf

    Are you a writer by profession or an activist - or both? I started out agreeing with you about the disadvantages of organic farming but now, having read obvious flaws, contradictions and lack of corroboration in many of the claims you make, am seriously reconsidering my position.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
  9. Michigander

    Michigander Active Member

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    I am neither. I'm a retired plastic moulder and hobby gardener.

    I stand corrected. 3% is developed land, which I misread. Yes, 40.5% is farmland = 914,500,000 acres. 390,000,000 acres of which is harvested cropland: 390 ÷ 914.5 = 42.64% x 40.5% = 17.27% intensely farmed. That does not include 415,000,000 acres of permanent pasture, 77,000,000 woodland, and 32,500,000 other land.

    4,000,000 acres are certified organic farms, 4 ÷ 390 = 0.1%.

    The point I am trying to make is that there are benefits to biodiversity and "organic" pursuits, and costs, too. In almost every case, the costs are borne by individuals for the "benefit" of the world, or the USA as a whole. This is absolutely wrong. It is a "taking" by any definition and should never be allowed. If the world or the USA needs to prevent an individual from using their property in an otherwise legal way, then they should buy them out at market prices. When there is no price paid, there is no cost to the takers. If they take your house to build a freeway but didn't pay you for it you would scream bloody murder. Putting private timberland out of possible use by the owners is not different.

    Taking water rights away from ranchers makes their rights to use land useless, and is exactly the same thing. Great swatches of grazing land in the west is made useful by cattle and sheep ranchers only to the extent that water is available. The government populated those lands by guaranteeing that each parcel had the use of some amount of water. Those lands went from empty and useless to productive and taxable. It's one thing for the government to change its mind and want that land for other uses, like mining, but another thing entirely to just subtract its part of the contract and not compensate the ranchers. It's really pretty simple. King George can't summarily change the laws, have you arrested, and appoint judges favorable to him to convict you of breaking his laws. The beginning of changing that began with the Magna Carta and 600 years later evolved to the American Constitution that divides the three powers into three different branches.

    The basis of American Rights is also pretty simple: The legislature makes the laws and appropriates revenue, but can't police or judge compliance, or spend money. The executive can execute the law and spend revenue, but can't legislate, appropriate money or judge compliance. The courts can judge compliance with law and the Constitution, but can't make or enforce laws. No one branch has complete power over me, or you.

    A Taking of someone's property or rights without reimbursement violates the principles of divided powers of government. The question is not whether or not a taking is right or wrong for the country or mankind, it is a question of doing it the right way if it is decided that it is necessary.

    Today, when you step out your front door you see an odd frog in a puddle. You recognize his face from the newspaper last night. He's special, in a puddle, in your yard. What are you going to do? You're going to do a mental calculation...
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
  10. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Esteemed Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    First of all, the authors specifically note the following summary from the studies: "They also found that the effect of organic farming on species richness was larger in intensively managed landscapes than in diverse landscapes with many non-crop biotopes." Not too surprising, really, that organic farms exist as oases in these instances.

    I don't think it's necessary to refute your talking points one by one, as I'm wont to do (though I will mention a few below). Anti-science agendas do not have a place on these forums; though perhaps not explicit, it's in the forum charter (which I haven't had to link to in years: Forum Charter ) that we promote a precautionary principle with respect to chemicals. We--the collective we--also rely on university and government sites for understanding the world and backing / refuting claims.

    "That leaves a lot of land for the birds." : Forty Percent of the World’s Bird Populations Are in Decline, New Study Finds via Yale University, "Agriculture has the biggest impact of all human activities on birds, threatening 74 percent of the 1,469 species at risk of extinction."

    "And bugs of your choice." : Three-Decade Survey Shows Drastic Decline in Insect Populations via Yale University, "The number of flying insects in Germany has declined more than 75 percent over the last three decades, according to a new study of survey data collected from 63 nature preserves in the country." That's in nature preserves, nevermind lands that are more directly impacted by humans.

    "Somewhere between saving nothing and saving everything is a sweet spot. THAT is what needs research." : You're not wrong, but the implication is that it isn't even being considered. This has been discussed for over thirty years now, see: Biodiversity protection prioritisation: a 25-year review and the papers it references.

    As for the "taking" stuff, that is an American political discussion which is not relevant to this forum: "The mission of the UBC Botanical Garden forums is to create an online community of plant, gardening and natural history enthusiasts with participation from around the world, for the purposes of appreciating the diversity of life on Earth, interpreting the natural world and aiding people to improve local environments and communities." Please keep it on-topic, as I don't appreciate the "taking" of my time to have to address off-topic stuff.
     

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