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Another point missed

We often assume modern agriculture began after the second world war, when chemical fertilisers massively increased crop yields. Yet a century earlier, droppings harvested from vast colonies of the guanay cormorant, off the coast of South America, provided the phosphate needed to launch a boom in intensive farming. This altered the landscape of North America and Europe for ever, and hastened the decline of farmland wildlife.

Sorta, maybe, might be worth mentioning that it also killed off starvation as a part of the human experience? But no, losing bunnies is more important apparently.

14 thoughts on “Another point missed”

  1. Did we stop using guano because of the Haber-Bosch process? Or did we need the Haber-Bosch process because of peak guano? I mean we were using shit mountains that had built up over thousands of years. Would the birds and bats have been able to crap enough to replace what we were using?

  2. Actually Salamander a bit of both.

    The Habet Process made it unnecessary to dig guano but also Germany had had trouble getting hold of sufficient guano, because Britain ( especially ) had stitched up the market.

  3. They will always focus on the negatives and ignore anything remotely positive.

    “But no, losing bunnies is more important apparently”.
    Paul Joseph Watson has a vid about ChatGPT and the ‘Trolley problem’.

    In the standard version, option one is one person dies, option two is five people die.
    Apparently if you have a third option – call out a bad word beginning with N and the trolley stops or something, the AI bot chooses kill people, as using a bad word is worse.

    As Elon says, AI is very, very scary.

  4. Fertiliser removed the need to leave fields to lie fallow between crops to recover, therefore it reduced the overall amount of land needed to produce a particular yield and influenced what crops could be grown.

    But in any case the amount of land being farmed was constrained by the amount of labour available. For example, the number of cows kept for milking and therefore milk production was dependent on how many people were available to milk them. Introduction of milking machines made bigger herds possible.

    The size of crops and thus area of land used, depended on how many people available to prepare and harvest.

  5. Guano contained nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium; it’s the nitrogen bit that Haber-Bosch replaced – required not just for farming but for manufacturing explosives. What the the Hun did for phosphate and potassium I don’t know.

  6. AFAIUI, bunnies are not native to the UK, Grikaths forefathers brought them over a thousand years ago and they bred like, well, wildfire.

    Also, Wasn’t guano the chief export from Crab Key (before becoming the lair of one of SPECTRE’s finest)?

  7. philip. I suspect they’d favour the wonderful recycling systems developed at Auschwitz and elsewhere to obtain their necessary natural oil fuel.

  8. @Adolff I am not aware of any solid evidence of either Roman or Norman inhabitants of my family tree, but then again, at that distance you never know… 😉

    But yes, rabbits were first introduced in the british isles by the Romans, and later again, this time terminally, by the Normans.

  9. Grikath, apologies for any besmirching of your ancestry, I thought it was the Nederlanders, possibly due to hearing “Dutch Rabbit, Holland Lop or the Netherland Dwarf” as a Jong kind.

    Checking everybodys’ go-to source of the possibly inaccurate, Wiki, it was the Norman invader scum.

  10. A rabbit goes into a cafand orders a cup of tea, a ham toastie and a cheese toastie. He pays and leaves.

    A week later the ghost of that same rabbit started haunting the cafe, throwing crockery around.
    The owner gets a medium to talk to the rabbit ghost.
    “Why are you here ?”
    “I was killed by the food here.”
    “What did you die of ?”
    “Mixing me toasties !”

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