So Why Care About Little Farms? Pt.III

So modern ag is energy, soil & monoculture intensive.

I doubt many farmers would disagree but they might also point to improvements made in methods and energy use over the last 40 years, much like the rest of first world society has achieved. And when pointing to their new GPS based tillage and chemical application hard/software, improved genetics, fuel efficiency, etc, they may say just as economists have for years, 'The Market and innovation will save our bacon'.

Interestingly this "belief" is being challenged more and more, even by economists seemingly intent on defending the idea of infinite growth. On page 37 of this copyrighted paper, after 36 pages of pretty well the same critiques of Malthus, the Club of Rome, Hubbert, etc as usual the author says exactly what they said:

"The ability to substitute capital for natural resources is limited by physical laws of nature. It simply is not possible to produce an ever-expanding level of material output from an ever-decreasing quantity of material input. No amount of capital–resource substitution or technological progress can overcome that constraint. The same is true of energy—the amount of work obtained cannot be greater than the amount of the energy expended as an input. Recycling durable nonrenewable resources can increase the life of a given resource stock, but 100% recovery and reuse is not practical, so the process cannot continue indefinitely. Consequently, sustaining the economy ultimately must rely on renewable natural resource inputs."

Economics of Natural Resource Scarcity: The State of the Debate
Jeffrey A. Krautkraemer [PDF]

I didn't think when I started this Blog the crux of my whole argument would come from an economist! I would only add this:

And it must happen in my back yard.