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Energy Sustainability after Global Fossil Energy Depletion

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2010) | Viewed by 27755

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Guest Editor
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Interests: basic population ecology; genetics; ecological and economic aspects of pest control; biological control; energy use and conservation; genetic engineering; sustainable agriculture; soil and water conservation; natural resource management and environment
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Several energy specialists project that the world will deplete oil resources by 2040 or about 30 years from now. Natural gas and coal will be depleted later or about 2100. After the fossil energy resources are depleted, humans will have to rely on solar energy technologies, these include hydropower, biomass, photovoltaics, solar thermal, geothermal, algae oil, solar ponds, biogas, and parabolic troughs. All of these solar energy technologies require land to collect solar energy then convert it into various forms of energy. The land requirement to produce one half of the energy now used in the U.S. and Canada will require an estimated 20% of the land. Of course, no use of cropland is planned because cropland is essential for food production. Transportation of goods and people will have to rely on trains and ships – no aircraft and few automobiles. Homes will be smaller with heavy insulation and heating these homes will be difficult. In the northeastern and Midwestern U.S. biomass will be the prime heating source. In the West and South, electricity will be the prime source of heat. Agricultural production will trend toward organic farming that could reduce the energy inputs by about 50% for many crops.

Prof. Dr. David Pimentel
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • fossil energy
  • solar energy
  • biomass energy
  • cropland
  • geothermal energy
  • food production
  • transportation
  • residential and commercial heating
  • organic farming

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Review

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Review
The Carbon and Global Warming Potential Impacts of Organic Farming: Does It Have a Significant Role in an Energy Constrained World?
by Derek H. Lynch, Rod MacRae and Ralph C. Martin
Sustainability 2011, 3(2), 322-362; https://doi.org/10.3390/su3020322 - 28 Jan 2011
Cited by 108 | Viewed by 27035
Abstract
About 130 studies were analyzed to compare farm-level energy use and global warming potential (GWP) of organic and conventional production sectors. Cross cutting issues such as tillage, compost, soil carbon sequestration and energy offsets were also reviewed. Finally, we contrasted E and GWP [...] Read more.
About 130 studies were analyzed to compare farm-level energy use and global warming potential (GWP) of organic and conventional production sectors. Cross cutting issues such as tillage, compost, soil carbon sequestration and energy offsets were also reviewed. Finally, we contrasted E and GWP data from the wider food system. We concluded that the evidence strongly favours organic farming with respect to whole-farm energy use and energy efficiency both on a per hectare and per farm product basis, with the possible exception of poultry and fruit sectors. For GWP, evidence is insufficient except in a few sectors, with results per ha more consistently favouring organic farming than GWP per unit product. Tillage was consistently a negligible contributor to farm E use and additional tillage on organic farms does not appear to significantly deplete soil C. Energy offsets, biogas, energy crops and residues have a more limited role on organic farms compared to conventional ones, because of the nutrient and soil building uses of soil organic matter, and the high demand for organic foods in human markets. If farm E use represents 35% of total food chain E use, improvements shown of 20% or more in E efficiency through organic farm management would reduce food-chain E use by 7% or more. Among other food supply chain stages, wholesale/retail (including cooling and packaging) and processing often each contribute 30% or more to total food system E. Thus, additional improvements can be obtained with reduced processing, whole foods and food waste minimization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Sustainability after Global Fossil Energy Depletion)
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