Sunday, March 26, 2006

My Saudi Arabian Breakfast

mar 26th

the insidious ways in which oil has entered into our systems. the end of the oil era will be quite painful in many ways. need to produce a lot of substitutes for hydrocarbon-derived materials, maybe using nanomaterial technology? this is one of the reasons materials science is so important, and india is nowhere in the picture.

great forward by rajan.

there is also the concept of the opposite of globalization, that is aggressive localization. i first read about this in a very good (if overly positive) article about kerala by an american guy. among all the praise for kerala and the marxists of kerala (mostly undeserved) the author bill mckibben talks about localized product consumption. this is a brilliant idea. we really dont need to import bananas from costa rica and oranges from israel and whatnot, because the hidden transportation costs are so high. besides, one could argue that the local flora are probably better for you anyway to eat, because you and they have evolved alongside. thus, better to eat bitter gourds from the local organic farm than imported grapefruit, to take one random example.

the hidden cost of transportation, as well as the hidden cost of generating meat (some 2000 pounds of water to create one pound of meat? as compared to 20 pounds to generate one pound of grain -- well, something along those lines), suggest that it would be better for all of us to become consumers of local vegetable produce.

mckibben's exceedingly well-written article on kerala is at

unfortunately the folks like food-first in san francisco (franke is a researcher there) have an overly rose-eyed picture of kerala.(they were also misled by the laughable amartya sen theory of the 'kerala model'. this is complete hogwash, snake-oil) 

those who live in kerala know that the place is a money-order economy and a cargo-cult economy. the money is all coming from expats, mostly those slaving away in foul arab countries. second, if there is a truck strike and rice and vegetables and other produce doesn't come from tamil nadu, kerala people will starve to death in a week. there is no agricultural produce in kerala these days that one can eat. it is all boutique farming and plantation crops: vanilla, spices, rubber, tea etc. like the arabs whom keralites suck up to, keralites will also be stuck -- they will have to eat rubber while the arabs drink oil.

agriculture and food production are the key. india can win in the race for agribusiness, and provide huge employment in the bargain, too. if only people were not seduced by the siren song of the 'temples of modern india'  according to that economics-challenged nehru. the bloody dams have a lifetime of only 50 years and destroy the ecosystem; the bloody large-scale heavy industry (eg. automobiles) are eco-unfriendly hell-holes. much better to work the land and value-add the produce by food processing.

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From: Rajan P

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