PowerSwitch Main Page
PowerSwitch
The UK's Peak Oil Discussion Forum & Community
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Phosphate fertiliser 'crisis' threatens world food supply

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    PowerSwitch Forum Index -> News
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Lord Beria3



Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 4704
Location: Moscow Russia

PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:02 pm    Post subject: Phosphate fertiliser 'crisis' threatens world food supply Reply with quote

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/06/phosphate-fertiliser-crisis-threatens-world-food-supply

Quote:
The world faces an “imminent crisis” in the supply of phosphate, a critical fertiliser that underpins the world’s food supply, scientists have warned.

Phosphate is an essential mineral for all life on Earth and is added to farmers’ fields in huge quantities. But rock phosphate is a finite resource and the biggest supplies are mined in politically unstable places, posing risks to the many countries that have little or no reserves.

Phosphate use has quadrupled in the last 50 years as the global population has grown and the date when it is estimated to run out gets closer with each new analysis of demand, with some scientists projecting that moment could come as soon as a few decades’ time.


Sign up to the Green Light email to get the planet's most important stories
Read more
Researchers say humanity could only produce half the food it does without phosphate and nitrogen, though the latter is essentially limitless as it makes up almost 80% of the atmosphere.

“Phosphate supply is potentially a very big problem,” said Martin Blackwell, at Rothamsted Research, an agricultural research centre in the UK, and lead author of a new study. “The population is growing and we are going to need more food.”

At current rates of use, a lot of countries are set to run out of their domestic supply in the next generation, including the US, China and India, he said. Morocco and the Moroccan-occupied territory of Western Sahara host by far the largest reserve, with China, Algeria and Syria the next biggest, together representing more than 80% of global rock phosphate.


This is a key story hidden behind the Brexit saga.

It's something I've been monitoring for over a decade.

Very concerning.
_________________
Peace always has been and always will be an intermittent flash of light in a dark history of warfare, violence, and destruction
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
clv101
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 8086

PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed.

However, this isn't true:

“The population is growing and we are going to need more food.”

Firstly, we already grow enough food for over 9bn people, just large amounts are wasted or poorly allocated. Secondly, a shift in diet with a lower proportion of meat and dairy would feed a lot more humans with existing production.

The 'need more food' argument is a myth, what we need is a better food system.
_________________
PowerSwitch on Facebook | The Oil Drum | Twitter | Blog
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Little John



Joined: 08 Mar 2008
Posts: 7026
Location: UK

PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
Indeed.

However, this isn't true:

“The population is growing and we are going to need more food.”

Firstly, we already grow enough food for over 9bn people, just large amounts are wasted or poorly allocated. Secondly, a shift in diet with a lower proportion of meat and dairy would feed a lot more humans with existing production.

The 'need more food' argument is a myth, what we need is a better food system.
And what makes you think that humans have the organizational capacity to actually do that? In other words, perhaps humans are producing food "efficiently". Or, at least, as efficiently as it is possible to do given our evolutionary constraints as a species. On what basis do you assume that this is not as good as it gets?

But, in any event, if humans did manage to increase efficiencies of production, on what basis do you make the implied assumption this could ever mean anything other than a consequent rise in population to meet that increased production due to the problem of the "prisoner's dilemma" that inevitably plagues any human endeavor? In turn leading to us hitting the limits to growth just the same, albeit somewhat later but even harder.

It seems to me, you view living processes and their management as an engineer might view a piece of human technology. Life is not like that. It's messy and "inefficient" in engineering terms. But, it has the advantage that it is incredibly robust, self regulating and self repairing over the long run.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
fuzzy



Joined: 29 Nov 2013
Posts: 922
Location: The Marches, UK

PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes it isn't true. It's just more of the endless economist bollox about growth.

It's all about keeping the peasants poor and desperate so that debt is seen as rational.

1/2 the population and we could all own twice as much - then where would the banksters be??
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
BritDownUnder



Joined: 21 Sep 2011
Posts: 586
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes phosphates are one of the factors limiting human growth. The company I work for has done some work for the phosphate mines in Morocco and I have even met some of the employees of OCP (a French acronym that means the Kingdom Phosphate Office) the Moroccan phosphate company. They seemed very level headed considering they sit on about 80% of the worlds available reserves mostly being concerned with technical issues. The company OCP is the personal property of the Moroccan King and he is consulted about every move the company makes.

There was talk a few years ago that an Indian company was willing to develop less easily extracted phosphate reserves in Northern Australia but nothing came of it.

In the end the practice of flushing phosphates down the toilet into the sewage system and eventually into the sea via rivers probably is not sustainable and needs to be discontinued.
_________________
G'Day cobber!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Catweazle



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 2229
Location: Little England, over the hills

PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have a soak away system. It's strangely satisfying to have a dump and know it's all going to your own land.

Weird ? yep.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ReserveGrowthRulz



Joined: 19 May 2019
Posts: 271
Location: Colorado

PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peak phosphorus was another "OH NOES!!! THE END IS NIGH!!" routine back in the peak oil days. I kicked around on the USGS esimates of the stuff and..as expected, there is bunches of the stuff and people were just running around trying to find ways to pretend their wasn't enough.

I checked those numbers again recently, when some doomer or another trotted this out. Turns out those geologically based estimates done by the best in the business are still out there, saying "please learn to use the science provided rather than following the same kind of chuckleheaded nonsense that led you down the peak oil path".
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
BritDownUnder



Joined: 21 Sep 2011
Posts: 586
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the phosphorus in excreta is concentrated in poop or pee then? Or split between both?

The problem is as with oil not that there is an immediate global shortage but that some countries have enough, some have too much and some have too little. The economic a geopolitical consequences of this are as much of a problem as the lack of a resource.
_________________
G'Day cobber!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ReserveGrowthRulz



Joined: 19 May 2019
Posts: 271
Location: Colorado

PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BritDownUnder wrote:
So the phosphorus in excreta is concentrated in poop or pee then? Or split between both?


Turns out, it is also a rock. Phosphorite is mined, as a rock, in the US. World's 3rd largest producer. Not quite Saudi America Phosphate but America is well endowed with the stuff. Smile
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kenneal - lagger
Site Admin


Joined: 20 Sep 2006
Posts: 11269
Location: Newbury, Berkshire

PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went, yesterday, to a talk by Lawrence Woodward, co-founder and long time director, now retired, of the Elm Farm Organic Research Institute. He said that there wasn't a problem with phosphate availability only a problem with the way we farmed and used the stuff. Current farming practices are the problem and organic practices, together with using human manure would be the answer.

Strikes me that including human bones in bone meal would be a good thing as well. Perhaps my will should include spreading my ashes back onto the land from where much of my food came from would be a good idea.
_________________
Action is the antidote to despair - Joan Baez
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    PowerSwitch Forum Index -> News All times are GMT + 1 Hour
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group