On the date of this broadcast, the community of Nelson, British Columbia celebrates Fossil-Fuel-Free week. While efforts are made to eliminate motorized transportation and turn down the thermostat, to be truly fossil-fuel-free, there would need to be a cessation of eating!
Food relies predominantly on oil as raw material and energy in the manufacturing of fertilizers and pesticides. It is used as cheap and readily available energy for planting, irrigation, feeding and harvesting, processing, distribution and packaging. Fossil fuels are essential in the construction and the repair of equipment and infrastructure needed to facilitate this industry, including farm machinery, processing facilities, storage, ships, trucks and roads. Food processors rely on the just-in-time delivery of fresh or refrigerated food, food additives, including vitamins and minerals, emulsifiers, preservatives, and colouring agents. They rely on the production and delivery of boxes, metal cans, printed paper labels, plastic trays, cellophane for microwave/convenience foods, glass jars, plastic and metal lids with sealing compounds. There is of course the daily just-in-time shipment of food to grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, schools. And at the end of it all, we use fuel to drive to the grocery store and purchase that food!
Julian Darley of the Vancouver-based Post Carbon Institute uses overwhelming data that forecasts a bleak future our reliance on fuel may lead us into. The energy crisis he points to is one that will force significant political, cultural, and social changes. The Institute suggests Global Relocalization, where communities take on a much greater role in sustaining local food systems, and ultimately, sustaining people.
Darley is the author of High Noon for Natural Gas: the New Energy Crisis (2004) and the forthcoming Relocalize Now! Getting Ready for Climate Change and the End of Cheap Oil (forthcoming in 2007) in collaboration with Celine Rich, Dave Room and Richard Heinberg.
Julian Darley spoke in Vancouver in February 2006, and the Vancouver-based Necessary Voices Society was on hand to record his presentation.