just finished reading marvin harris.

and it concludes with a couple sinister tidbits:

...Food production, to take the most critical example, has now become totally dependent on our oil supply. Agricultural traction, lifting, hauling, and transport were captured first. Now we have reached the stage where the conditioning of the soil through chemical fertilizers and the defense of plants through herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides have also become totally dependent on an ever-increasing supply of petro-chemicals.
As David Pimentel of Cornell University has shown, in the United States 2,790 calories of energy are now being used to produce and deliver one can of corn containing 270 calories. The production of beef now requires even more prodigious energy deficits: 22,000 calories to 100 grams (containing the same 270 calories as in the can of corn). The bubble-like nature of this mode of production can be seen from the fact that if the rest of the world were suddenly to adopt the energy ratios characteristic of U.S. agriculture, all known reserves of petroleum would be exhausted in eleven years. [This book was written in 1977].
Since evolutionary changes are not completely predictable, it is obvious that there is room in the world for what we call free will. Each individual decision to accept, resist, or change the current order alters the probability that a particular evolutionary outcome will occur. While the course of cultural evolution is never free systemic influence, some moments are probably more "open" than others. The most open moments, it appears to me, are those at which a mode of production reaches its limits of growth and a new mode of production must soon be adopted. We are rapidly moving toward such an opening. In the meantime, people with deep personal commitments to a particular vision of the future are perfectly justified in struggling toward their goal, even if the outcome now seems remote and improbable. In life, as in any game whose outcome depends on both luck and skill, the rational response to bad odds is to try harder.

-Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings


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