THAT (that) wrote,
THAT
that

Among the Fields of Barley

Is it just me, or is "biofuel" disturbing?  Mexicans have to pay twice as much for their tortillas because we need the corn to run our cars?  Mile after mile of plants growing, reaching for the sun... mowed down by giant machines, liquified, poured into gas tanks.  Even the machines that harvest them feed on their life force.

Oil is the condensed essence of the biological activity of eons long past.  Geologic pressure and the passage of time concentrate the remains of dead plants and animals into an energy-rich elixir.  When that goes away, all the world's farmlands may not suffice to feed the ravenous maws of the machinery that supports life as we know it for billions of consumers.

What is a consumer?  What exactly is it that we consume?

This computer will eat flowers and fruits.  It will eat anything that lives.  It needs energy and it doesn't care where it gets it.  I would like to see it powered by the sun, but that's not going to happen until every last dollar has been sucked out of the earth and the creatures still scratching a living out of it.

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I can see a vast field of meat in laboratory vats, splayed out until it merges with an artificial horizon.  Sub-sentient tissue, quivering in fluorescent light, fields of hearts and kidneys, broccoli florets with eyes, waiting to be harvested.

Harvest.  Once that word conveyed images of humble folk, skimming the cream off nature's wealth, grateful to be spared nature's unpredictable moods.  Now what does it mean? 

The machine has a thousand claws, each one specifically designed to suck the life out of a particular plant or animal.  And on the other end, the nozzles that suckle us all.

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P.S.  Driving my fossil-fueled metal box to work today, I heard a reference to this story on the radio:

(AP) - An international group of food scientists says countries should not use food crops to produce biofuels during a world food crisis.  (....)  Ohio Sate University soil researcher, Rattan Lal, an often critic of the international group, agrees. Lal says "we need to feed the stomach before we feed the car."

Emphasis mine.  I might have phrased it slightly differently... "We need to feed the human before we feed the machine."  But one could, of course, reasonably argue that the machine must be fed first since it is now what feeds the human.  We've reached the point where the immobility of our machinery would mean certain death for untold millions.

No, I have no answers.  Just kinda noticing that our Robot Overlords are already here.  The hive mind is so scaffolded with metals and plastics that it can not exist without them.  And they require biological energy in order to function.
Tags: politics
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