वॉशिंगटन में, कानून निर्माता तो यह प्रतिबंध है कि वे इसे दो बार प्रतिबंधित करने के लिए उत्सुक थे. पहले कांग्रेस ने इसे सबसे ज्यादा गैरकानूनी, में 1981. Then the first President Bush outlawed it again, में 1990.
But the soaring price of energy is now driving everyone to, ahem, extraction.
पिछले सप्ताह, our current president lifted the executive ban that his father had put in place. Senator John McCain recently announced that he supports offshore oil and gas exploration as well–a change of heart for him. Polls show that most Americans now support the repeal of federal bans, भी.
These shifting views are the result of rising gas prices and environmentally safer technologies. The cost of fuel has never been higher and the risk of off-shore exploration has never been lower.
Farmers have a stake in this debate, and not just because they need to fill up their gas-guzzling combines and tractors. They’re also enormous consumers of natural gas—for energy and the production of fertilizer.
Like so much else, the price of fertilizer has shot up in recent months for a number of reasons, including increased global demand. Keeping the cost reasonable is in the interests of everybody, from the farmers who spread fertilizer on their fields to increase yields to the consumers who purchase what they grow.
Fuel, natural gas and food are strategic commodities, and so is fertilizer.
इससे पहले इस महीने, the G8–the world’s eight wealthiest countries–met in Japan. “We are deeply concerned that the steep rise in global food prices coupled with availability problems in a number of developing countries is threatening global food security,” they said in a joint statement. They called for aid to famished people as well as for increased production.
It will be difficult to increase food production if the affordability and accessibility of fertilizer becomes a challenge. Farmers will have to spend more of their resources just to maintain their current production levels. And that’s not good enough: We need to break food production records every year just to keep pace with the demands of a growing global population.
Without fertilizer, food production around the world would drop by at least 40 प्रतिशत और संभवतः अधिक. The terrible result would be rampant malnourishment and mass starvation–a horrific dead zone, if you catch my drift.
Pulling natural gas from the bottom of the sea won’t work as a panacea, but it will begin to address a problem of added demand that’s having a big impact on burgeoning food prices.
Although estimates vary, federal geologists think that the U.S. continental shelf may hold 10 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in areas where exploration currently is banned. When these resources come on the market, they’ll do nothing but help the cost of energy, उर्वरक, एवं खाद्य.
More research is needed as well. Dozens of projects are now underway to help us maximize the advantages of fertilizer. Different types of crops and soil have different needs. Farmers must know how much fertilizer to apply, when to put it down, and precisely what kind of mix to use. On our farm we do a complete scientific lab analysis of our soils every year and determine what nutrients are needed for a balanced exact fertilizer application program for the intended crop to be grown. एक ही समय में, seed companies are working to develop crops that make the most efficient use of nitrogen.
Scientists always have known that fertilizer’s main benefit involves yield. But that may not be the only benefit. The fertilizer industry recently helped endow a professorship at Oklahoma State University.
“It is our hope that this professorship will encourage the expansion of an untapped and important area in academic research,” said Harriet Wegmeyer of the Nutrients for Life Foundation. "यदि, as predicted, a correlation between fertilizer and healthier foods is established, imagine the impact. An increasingly health-conscious public will finally regard fertilizers for what they truly are … पौष्टिक–for both plants and, बदले में, people.”
To have enough fertilizer, हालांकि, we need enough natural gas. To have enough natural gas, we need offshore production.
Maybe we really do need to think about this issue in terms of dentistry. As with a bad toothache that won’t go away, we should let the drilling start as soon as possible.
टेरी Wanzek मकई बढ़ता, सोयाबीन, और उत्तर डेकोटा में उसके परिवार के खेत पर गेहूं.
श्री. Wanzek एक नॉर्थ डकोटा सीनेटर और सच्चाई के बारे में व्यापार और प्रौद्योगिकी के बोर्ड के सदस्य के रूप में कार्य करता है (www.truthabouttrade.org)