Imagine That. Don’t Think I’ve Ever Said THIS Before.

It Wasn’t the Cows After All

While the cattle industry is repeatedly accused of being the main culprit for increased global methane emissions (and a leading cause for climate change), a new study shows that the fertilizer industry is the root cause.

The report by researchers from Cornell and the Environmental Defense Fund, published in Elementa, shows that emissions of methane from the industrial fertilizer industry have been ridiculously underestimated (and, it turns out, based on self-reporting) and the production of ammonia for fertilizer may result in up to 100 times more emissions than previously estimated for this sector. What’s worse is that these newly calculated emission amounts from the industrial fertilizer industry are actually more than the total amount the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated for all industries to emit across the U.S.

Researchers used a Google Street View car equipped with a high-precision methane sensor to measure the emissions of six fertilizer plants for this study. They drove the car on public roads, downwind from the facilities to record the methane levels in the air. The study reveals an enormous disparity between EPA estimates and actual emissions levels. The team discovered that on average 0.34 percent of the gas used in the plants is emitted to the atmosphere. Scaling this emission rate from the six plants to the entire industry suggests total annual methane emissions of 28 gigagrams, which is 100 times higher than the fertilizer industry’s self-reported estimate of 0.2 gigagrams per year. In addition, this figure far exceeds the EPA’s estimate that all industrial processes in the United States produce only 8 gigagrams of methane emissions per year.

The fertilizer industry uses natural gas both as the fuel for its operations and as one of the main ingredients for ammonia and urea products (aka the world’s most commonly used nitrogen fertilizers). Since natural gas is largely methane, it has serious potential to be a significant contributor to climate change, and the fact that use of natural gas has grown in recent years has previously raised questions on who’s to blame for rising methane emissions. If it’s been no surprise that natural gas can contribute to climate change, and these facilities rely so heavily on natural gas for production, how could these numbers have been so egregiously underestimated in the first place? It seems this billion-dollar industry made it a point to direct the finger of blame elsewhere.

Now that the fertilizer industry numbers are in, and there is further evidence disproving the widely held assumption that cattle are solely to blame for the spike in global methane emissions, will we stop blaming the product and instead blame the system? If we only move from condemning one product to another, we’ll never make meaningful change. Instead, if we think systemically, there are solutions that can start making a change right now. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: When it comes to livestock production, well-managed grazing animals will not only help feed the world sustainably by using pasture, rain and sunshine to make high-quality food, but can even help to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration. This is a system that works, positively benefitting us and the earth.

It is abundantly clear that agriculture as a whole is still a major contributor to global GHG emissions, and many of its climate change-contributing factors need to come to an immediate end. But suggesting that people go vegan, or limit consumption to a single forkful of meat per day, will not stop global warming. Plants are not the be-all and end-all of a sustainable diet. As it turns out, the chemical fertilizer being used for large-scale vegetable production (or even your backyard garden) has more serious consequences than we ever thought. Choosing products from pasture-based systems can truly impact our world for the better, and with eyes wide open to the facts in front of us, demanding a change to the system itself is the only way forward.

Those of you know me will recognize my constant refrain around “unintended consequences.” We are now in a scenario where advocates have been pushing chicken and veganism to save the world, and have just learned that all the “data” behind this push is wrong. All of the environmental footprint studies need a re-do. Once cattle — raised on grass without synthetic fertilizer — are accurately assessed, I predict we will be left with chicken and some plant products as top line polluters. As we always say, it’s complicated. But we have to get it right.

Our Veggie Gardens Won’t Feed us in a Real Crisis


Once again, friend Ellen sent me an article that put me in the food pulpit.   The article is posted below.  This was my rant:

Oh! That is cool that I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness.  I have lambasted vegetarians and vegans for years about the slim landscape that can grow non-grain vegetables at scale.  There are about three areas on this side of the world (there are others, but three major areas) where vegetables can grow at volume.  Should we try what all the IPCC wonks say -that vegetarianism is the only way to save the planet – we will all starve because it CANNOT support a 350 million person population at a 2000 calorie diet with sufficient protein and fiber (not to mention micronutrients and vitamins). It might, if everyone did what I do….. Bwahahahaha!  Oh god, I crack myself up.   Florida, the San Joaquin Valley, and Mexico are about it.  The top soil is so depleted in the Midwest that it could never be readily converted to tomatoes, peppers and onions. Besides that, most of us have this thing we call winter.  I have given up on my species, because when they open their mouths about food, they haven’t got one flippin’ clue.  I DEFY anyone to come out here, in the vast grassland Prairie, and grow Broccoli at a significant scale.  1.  The soil is heavily alkaline.  2.  It’s 80% clay.  3.  The water is basically liquid rock (full of lime and iron).  4.  We get 13 inches of rain per year.  5.  We have that whole winter thing 6. The sun will send it into bolt the second it sprouts.  Animal protein wasn’t produced as a luxury.  It was designed to keep one’s food on its feet and mobile so it can feed itself, and be self moving (herded) to get it where it needs to be processed when needed.  Oh ya, they are also ruminants that can turn grass into protein.

But, but, but! Hydroponics and aquaponics indoors that’s the ticket!!  LED lights instead of the sun and all done in climate controlled grow facilities. Brilliant…… all dependent on coal and natural gas.  But what about solar panels to power them??  I’m not even going there.  The best all that can do is grow greens.  Ever try to survive on just Romaine?  Might work if you have some weight to lose, but that has a shelf life over time.  We are bloody fools.

Does anyone know what it really means to eat “in season?”  It means making nail soup, killing a hog, hoping you canned enough to get from October to June, not eat each other, and pray to your almighty Jebuzz that there isn’t some fucking plague of locusts when you try to restock for the next seasonal cold snap (winter).  May Day and Solstice were celebrations for a reason.  The emergence from dark dank hovels to bask in sunlight, screw, reproduce, plant and thank the ever lovin’ powers that you didn’t succumb to whatever awfulness made parts fall off of your neighbors.  But of course, it’s all May Poles and Easter Eggs, morphed into the re-animating of some dude with a hammer and chisel.

The actual article:

Our Veggie Gardens Won’t Feed us in a Real Crisis


The Piggie Count Down Has Commenced! Turkey Babies Are Cooking.

Because of all of the potential for a food disaster in the mid-west due to all of the flooding, the grumpy farmer has heeded that warning.  My sleep schedule usually follows the sun these days.  Rarely am I up past nine, and usually awaken around 4 am.  Laying there this morning, I started thinking about what this spring flooding (which NOAA says is just getting started) will mean nationally.  Bottom line, meat, bread, eggs and Doritos are going to be rarer and more expensive.  Keep in mind that Smithfield Foods, that was one of the largest pork producers in the country, is now owned by the Chinese.  If pork, in this example, becomes more expensive to produce, that company will likely supply its own country of ownership first.  After all, the Chinese don’t have any pretense of following the fallacy that we have of some kind of “Free Market” System.  One article I read referenced our Secretary of Agriculture who said that up to a million calves could already have been lost in Nebraska.  Meat will never be cheaper than it is right now.  Go buy it, freeze it, smoke it, can it or Jerky it.

Because of this, I started shopping for oinkers on- line, on my iPad, at 5 am on a Sunday morning.  By 7:30 I had a response and have secured 3 pigs to be picked up in about two weeks.  Piglets get weaned from their mothers at around 8 weeks so they have a couple weeks to go.  We will get our usual two that will go off to freezer camp in the early fall, and we are spending a little more money to get a show quality female to keep as farm pet and breeder stock.  We had one previously, but I couldn’t handle her because of my back injury.  Now that we have some more infrastructure, and I’m back to living horizontally, we are going to likely try to breed her later in the fall when she is full grown.  Pigs take 115 days to give birth so it stands to reason that we will have piglets next spring!

As long as we can get corn, some feed, and the produce and bread scraps we get from a food bank, we will be able to stay meat sufficient.  We can produce pork at a fraction of the cost of the grocery store, it’s organic, anti-biotic free, and it’s non-GM feed.  Besides!  Piggies is cute!

pig 21 2015

The incubator is up and running.  We are cooking up some turkey babies.  We will candle the eggs next weekend to check to see if Mr. Tom is doing his job correctly.  Whichever eggs show themselves to be fertile should arrive as fluff balls in 28 days.


Between planting, animals, brooding out this year’s chickens, finishing the hail covers for the gardens, the impending visit from Zina’s brother and his wife, teaching gardening classes at a nursery near our old house, and trying to finish a weaving project, things have been anything but dull.  When people are on retreat, don’t they usually just sit and stare at a Lotus flower?  I think I’m not doing this correctly.

Behold!  The grumpy farmer man teaching the city peoples how to grow food for the Zombiepocalypse!


Why To Have A Food Storage System

There are lots of reasons to keep a pantry well stocked.  Out here, it is simply logical.  We are a 40 mile round trip from the nearest grocery store, so just hopping in the car like a happy suburbanite to go grab a box of cereal because you ran out, simply isn’t feasible.  Stuff happens.  People come down with the flu or have surgery (hmm…) so they can’t shop, cars break down, the zombies are in the streets, or like just recently, a monster land hurricane descends upon you and you couldn’t get to the store if your life depended on it.  For far too many people, their lives indeed do depend on it.  But it need not be a complete dependence.

Being the ex-financial guy, my biggest concern is the fragility of our economy.  When the next crash happens, to quote Nomi Prins, “We will be falling from a higher height”.  Our debt loads alone are stratospheric and in a world of rising interest rates, this will likely end badly.  I imagine a time when all the Diesel trucks stop running and city folks sit and wonder what happened to all the mama birds that were supposed to bring in the chips, snack cakes, and candy to the 7/11.  Understand that I’m not faulting folks for living in urban/suburban areas, but it is a fatally flawed system.  It is a trap that most will find themselves in should the excrement hit the moving oscillator.  Rural folks will have their issues too.  Isolation being a big one.  Most farms today don’t grow food they can actually eat.  Everything needs to be processed and that takes energy, fuel, and resources – All of which contribute to an earth where biblical floods inundate the very landscape that is needed to produce food so folks can get out and buy Apples (notice the cap denoting a name not an item).

Seriously though, given just general demand and inflation pressures, food will never be as cheap as it is now.  The article pasted below came from a pen pal.  I’ve been watching this story unfold since the cyclone hit us last week.  I read that one third of the country (mostly in the breadbasket) are at high risk for record flooding.  It’s already started.  What that means is that farmers can’t get in their fields to plant all the corn and soybeans (and some wheat) to grow food to produce steaks, cheeseburgers, Nachos, Little Debbie’s snack cakes,  vegetable oils and the corn syrup for tasty sugary beverages.  Just look sometime and do a search about how many items consumed in this country are made with corn.   Virtually everything.  We are made of corn.

So it stands to reason, that if corn can’t get planted, feed lots get flooded, and industrial meat producers have to pay more for feed, that we are in for one doozy of a spike in food prices.  If the flooding further erodes the topsoil, fuel prices will rise because of the increased demand for fertilizers.  This isn’t some Doomsday Prepper nonsense.  This is happening right now.  This is how it happens.  We won’t suffer because it got too hot for us.  We will suffer because the change in climate destroyed our habitat.

This also will see a spike in farm bankruptcies, many of whom are being tortured by an insane and unnecessary trade war with a willing and eager soybean purchaser, which will lead to a decline in machinery sales, etc, etc, etc.  Agriculture is the primary string in a very complexly woven Gordian Knot.

Enough rant.  I need to get to the feed store to buy a few more bags of corn; maybe some more rice.  Beans.  Always need more beans.  Perhaps I’ll splurge and buy a bag of Doritos.



The Pantry Is Filling Up Despite The Drought!

We had a terrible gardening season.  The drought and the excessive heat (because we all know there isn’t any global warming – idiots) totally destroyed our hard bean, carrot, tomato, pepper, potato, melon and squash plants.  We did get green beans, a few tomatoes, lots of cucumbers, basil, egg plant, sweet potatoes and celery.  Our garlic was great but that is because it is planted before the hottest time of the year.  The onions were on their way and then got wiped out in a hail storm.  So all in all it was pretty sad.  We produce tons of food and this year we kind of watched helplessly as it all withered in the heat and sun.

So as always, the problem solving had to start.  We are in the process of putting up hail guards and sunblock netting over the gardens by the greenhouse.  We may begin converting the big garden to more trees and berries.  If these crazy heat waves continue (Which NOAA says will continue until at least 2022 – and I think will continue well beyond) we will be continually learning how to improvise, adapt and overcome until we simply can’t.

I am in the midst of canning as usual though.  Our goal is to have a couple of years of just canned food in the pantry that we can rotate in order to keep current.  We are on our way and we probably have close to that amount of food (not all canned) if you take into consideration the 2 pigs and 40 chickens in the freezer, the never ending re-supply of chicken butt nuggets every day for breakfast, a flock of turkeys,  and the individual items that we have canned like carrots and beans, etc and the hundreds of pounds of pasta, dry beans, wheat berries, and oats we have in storage buckets.

We were lamenting the fact that the tomato harvest was a disaster.  We got a couple of gallons of sauce made but not nearly the same was the hundreds of pounds we usually get.  Low and behold though, we had a source to get some cheap!  Zina has a relationship with a food bank near her office.  In the past month they had an open house for their donors so they had a lot of excess that they couldn’t give away (probably because of food safety issues).  It was still good though, they simply couldn’t use it.  Usually, Zina picks up the waste to bring out for us to compost.  This goes to the critters and also to fertilize the gardens (We have fed our pigs loaves and loaves of left over bread from them over the years).  But this time she came home with about 40 lbs of Roma tomatoes and probably close to 50 lbs of potatoes!  The tomatoes were tasteless, but when combined with ours, it made a pretty good sauce.  I had already purchased about 30 lbs of potatoes so we combined them with the food pantry potatoes and spent all day yesterday canning 40 quarts of potatoes!  Brilliant!  So in the last couple of days we have canned over 68 quarts bringing this fall’s canning production well over 100 so far.

Next up is more split pea soup, white bean and ham soup, black bean chili, baked beans, chicken soup, and whatever other canned meals I can dream up.  So despite it all, the pantry is staying stocked.  Food self-sufficiency folks.  Get after it.  Even if it is just canned goods from Costco.  The prices will never go down, and…. well…. ex-financial advisor here…. the next crash on the horizon will make 2008 look like a ride at Disney.  Plus the food tastes better and is better for you.  Sorry.  It’ll make you have to do something else other than work on your short game at the country club though.  Bummer.

Two is one and One is none:


The Latest In Our Broken Food World

I Guess Wall Street Agrees: “Pursue an agriculture degree, and you’ll be rich.”

Because my real job as a financial advisor keeps me focused on the events going on in the world – currently the Tea Party gubbermint shutdown- I have to read these crazy financial websites.  As I’ve said previously, if you want to know what the citiots and wealthy are saying to each other read financial websites and journals.  More often than not they seem entirely out of touch with reality, but in recent months there has been something of an undercurrent with respect to farming.  Many are trying to assert that the reason that folks should consider a career in farming is because we will need to feed 9 – 10 billion people in the next half century.  While that may be true, as my previous post asserts, we are probably going to be stupid enough to try to do that with energy, land, and capital intensive, industrial means.  This article though, and several others, are suggesting it as a way to avoid a potential collapse.  Some are bold enough to say it directly, this one a little less so, but the subtler message seems to be, “something is bleeped up”, we all need food, there are not going to be a lot of industrial jobs, Wall Street is coming unhinged, and we are running out of everything (a recent financial post suggested that MIT’s Limits To Growth  – that we are going to essentially run out of most resources by 2030 – is spot on

{   }  ).  The headline screamed that CEO’s and industry leaders were trying to figure out how to keep our infinite growth model going by improvements in technology and magic.

This quiet paradigm shift to agriculture, I think, speaks volumes.  No one wants to wake up the frogs in the warming pots of water.  They are whispering that the writing is on the walls and if you want to survive, you better have 1. the ability to support and feed yourself, and/or 2. have skills (like doctors and vets and general contractors and repair specialists and seamstresses, and all manner of homesteading skills) that others will need and can be used to support you.

For those who have not heard of them or not read them from my bibliography posted on JAZFarm blog,  I would strongly suggest the novel, “A World Made By Hand” by James Howard Kunstler or his more serious book, “The Long Emergency”.  Another would be,  “Peak Everything” by Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute.  You may want to subscribe to Peak Moment TV on the web (or watch their videos on You Tube).

Suffice it to say that if the citiots, the greedy, and the hard and fast believers in pure “capitalism” (whatever that really is) are talking about digging in the dirt……..   someone is waking up.  Get ahead of them, grow things, learn skills and more importantly….. make sure your kids do.  After this recent shutdown BS going on in Washington, a truism is that they will not be there to help you.  Create community, bring your family close, grow your own food, get in shape, get some callouses on your hands, buy good boots, and get busy.  Remember, there is no such thing as a plant that grows Pizza, Burgers and fries.  Wheat, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, corn, beans, spinach, onions, garlic, etc. all of these can be turned to pizza and beer and things much better and tastier!  Learn how to preserve food, how to grow year round even in winter, raise backyard chickens, and turn your neighborhood into a collective farm.  Learn to compost:  Turn REAL BS into compost, and use it to grow something useful.  Verbal BS simply raises the blood-pressure.

The fight being set up between this post and my last about losing 100,000 farmers by 2020, will be between those that want to control the land and those who will NEED the land.  The rest of our lives are setting up to be pretty interesting.

Jim Rogers: Skip the MBA, get an agriculture degree

Jim Rogers: Skip the MBA, get an agriculture degree

   Text Size  

Published: Friday, 4 Oct 2013 | 9:55 AM ET

By:  | CNBC Producer

Jim Rogers believes the finance industry is about to slip into secular decline. That’s why the famed investor advises young people to pursue careers in farming rather than in finance.

“If you’ve got young people who don’t know what to do, I’d urge them not to get MBAs, but to get agriculture degrees,” Rogers told

David Jones | E+ | Getty Images

That’s because the financial commentator and author of “Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets” is bearish about the entire financial field.

“Finance has been good the past 30 years, but it was not good the 30 years before that, and it’s happening again,” Rogers said. “Finance is in decline. In the future, the center of the world will not be finance—it’s going to be the producers of real goods.”

Economist Robert Shiller recently raised the related question of whether the “best and the brightest” are doing to the world a disservice by going into finance. In a September column in Project Syndicate, the Yale economics professor asked: “Are too many of our most talented people choosing career in finance—and, more specifically, in trading, speculating, and other allegedly ‘unproductive’ activities?”

(Read moreWant to get an MBA? So do a lot of others)

Play Video
Rogers: ‘I Know It’s Going to End Badly’
Investor Jim Rogers explains why he’s not investing in U.S. stocks right now.

After all, there is a good argument that the agriculture field will present more compelling problems to solve.

“We are going to be trying to feed 9 billion people by 2050 with the same number of acres of arable land,” said Timothy Burcham, dean of agriculture and technology at Arkansas State University. Calling that task “overwhelming,” Burcham notes that “the opportunities for a person that has a graduate degree in agriculture are great now, but they are going to be really, really excellent going into the future.”

Rogers is factoring the expected rise of the agriculture industry into his investing thesis. “Recently, I’ve been looking at agriculture stocks,” Rogers said. “I’ve been excited about looking for things to buy in agriculture.”

(Read moreFarming equipment: Agriculture gets its own ‘Apple v. Windows’ battle)

And in a late Wednesday telephone interview from Singapore, Rogers’ prediction even took on a personal tone. He advised this writer: “Pursue an agriculture degree, and you’ll be rich.”

—By CNBC’s Alex RosenbergFollow him on Twitter: @CNBCAlex.

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This is Very Bad News


Is Your Job About to Become Career Roadkill?

Seven Jobs That Might Disappear Soon

By Dona DeZube, Monster Finance Careers Expert

You don’t need a crystal ball to know that in the not-too-distant future, advances in technology and changing consumer preferences will crush the careers of some people who are very happily employed at this very moment. You can just look at Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.

If you’re in one of these seven shrinking jobs, you can either start looking now for a way to transfer your skills and knowledge into a new job, or tough it out and hope the guy next to you gets the ax instead of you:

Gaming Cage Workers

Even though there’s probably a new casino opening near you, demand for gaming cage workers is actually expected to decline by an unlucky 13 percent between 2010 and 2020, the BLS says.

Since gamblers are using self-service machines to buy and cash in chips instead of going to your cage, a better bet for your career is in a field with a more optimistic employment outlook: healthcare. A community-college course in medical billing should help you learn the medical terms you’ll need to know to land a job as a billing clerk — a field projected to grow 20 percent by 2020, according to the BLS.

Auto Insurance Claims Adjusters

Cars are getting safer, which is good news for drivers, but bad news for auto insurance claims adjusters who have fewer accident claims to work. The BLS projects an 8 percent decline in jobs for auto claims adjusters between 2010 and 2020.

If you believe global climate change will lead to a continued uptick in natural disasters, a shift into property and casualty claims adjusting might be a good move for you. Look for opportunities to cross-train via your current employer, or seek out online or community-college classes to pick up knowledge of other insurance lines and the industry’s popular software programs.

You can also boost your employability as a property and casualty adjuster by picking up a bachelor’s degree in a related field like engineering or construction, or by acquiring knowledge of a specialty insurance niche like green building or art.

Floral Designers

Every time you buy flowers in the grocery store instead of ordering an arrangement from a florist, you contribute to the decline in demand for floral designers.

With the industry projected to lose 6,200 jobs between 2010 and 2020, up the chances of hanging on to yours by staying abreast of current trends, earning industry certifications and expanding your skill set intospecial-events coordination, says Thomas Shaner, executive director of the American Institute of Floral Designers. You could also consider teaching flower-arranging classes to all those people buying cut flowers.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Farmers !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Between 2010 and 2020, some 96,100 farmers and ranchers will go out of business, the BLS says. “As land, machinery, seed, and chemicals become more expensive, only well-capitalized farmers and corporations will be able to buy many of the farms that become available,” the BLS predicts. “These larger, more productive farms are better able to withstand the adverse effects of climate and price fluctuations on farm output and income.”

Farmers can either fight ‘em by niche marketing (think organic produce grown for local restaurants) or join ‘em by moving into farm management for an agribusiness corporation or, for those who like the business side of farming, agriculture consulting. If you’re up for a completely new career, consider agricultural appraising, says Cheryl L. Cooley, communications manager for the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.

Power Plant Operators

If you turn off the lights when you leave the room, you’re killing jobs. Along with energy efficiency, new power plants requiring fewer employees to run them will lead to a 3 percent decline in the number of power plant operator jobs between 2010 and 2020, the BLS says.

You can try to switch over to water plant management, but the pay over there is worse (the annual median salary for water plant operators is $41,780 compared with $65,280 for power plant operators). Nuclear power plants are where the money is ($76,590 median annual salary), and new nuclear power facilities have gained approval.

Loan Interviewers and Clerks

Need a mortgage? There’s an app for that, and it’s putting loan interviewers and clerks out of work. The BLS projects a decline of 5,700 jobs for loan interviewers and clerks between 2010 and 2020.

With the real estate market on the upswing, a move into real estate sales might work if you can afford to live off your savings while you establish your real estate business.

The same skill set you use in collecting and analyzing would-be borrowers’ financial information would also come in handy at an IRS job, while your sales skills could apply in an insurance sales job.

Semiconductor Processors and Electronic Equipment Assemblers

You can blame it on the robots, efficiency experts or offshoring, but whichever you choose, there are still going to be 14,200 jobs gone from these two fields between 2010 and 2020, the BLS says.

Cover your assets by switching into an assembly job or fabrication job in a more prosperous sector ofmanufacturing, like aircraft products and parts. If you can handle the math, go back to school for an associate’s degree and become an electronic engineering technician. Not only will you be more employable, but you’ll boost your paycheck as well. The median salary for electrical and electronics engineering technicians is $56,900, according to the BLS.