Peak Oil and Rethinking How We Feed Ourselves

321Energy.com has published a paper by Richard Heinberg entitled “Threats of Peak Oil to the Global Food Supply” that gives a detailed overview of how our globalized system of growing and transporting food will have to change in the face of peak oil. Most writers addressing peak oil have given attention to the effects of limited oil on food production and distribution, but Heinberg’s paper, originally presented at a conference in Dublin in June, starts from the most basic premise of life requiring more energy inputs that it expends in gathering food, and extrapolates from there into a brief history of agricultural development, an analysis of our current unsustainable methods, and ideas and illustrations of how we can do better, primarily by looking to preindustrial agriculture. A little wonky at points (it is, after all, an academic paper), but Heinberg’s essay is necessary reading for understanding the relationship of fossil fuels to our food supply, as well as the contexts in which we think about food.

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