I was going to append this meme to Redemption Song, but the more I dug around in the entrails of the story, the more outrageously intriguing it became.

We are hearing a lot about defunding fossil fuel projects, that big banks are still mysteriously underwriting, but we don’t hear so much about where The New Cash is going.

But you KNOW those Hedge Fund guys are out there doing the timewarp again.

As someone very clever once said, “saying you don’t believe in climate change is like saying you don’t believe in hemoglobin.” Shapeshifters coming out of the Ivy Leagues aren’t talking about “believing” or “not believing”, of this we can be sure.

Exhibit A is a newfangled farm in the South Australian desert growing 180,000 tree-like tomato plants, in coconut husks (no soil) in a newfangled greenhouse that uses seawater it desalinates with mirrors.

It cost $200 Million to build the thing.

They’re just growing organic tomatoes. 15,000 tonnes of organic tomatoes annually. There are 2,204 pounds in 1 tonne of tomatoes so, if all goes according to plan, that’s 33,060,000 pounds at $4 US / lb.

It’s hooked up to the grid, just in case, but the business model is built on zero fossil fuels, zero pesticides, zero soil and zero groundwater. On any given sunny day (in the desert), 23,000 mirrors can generate up to 39 megawatts of energy – enough to power both the desalination plant and the greenhouse.

To put that into perspective, 1 MW can power as many as 1,000 homes and 45 MW can power a small city of 80,000.

At that rate, how long will it take them to recoup their initial investment and start picking cherries?

My favorite quote from the New Scientist piece?

Paul Kristiansen at the University of New England, Australia, questions the need for energy-intensive tomato farming in a desert, when there are ideal growing conditions in other parts of Australia.

“It’s a bit like crushing a garlic clove with a sledgehammer,” he says. “We don’t have problems growing tomatoes in Australia.”

Besides the Australia footprint, they have offices in London, Portugal and Tennessee.

There are people in China reading this blog, so even though you might know where Tennessee is, I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on that part of the picture.

It just so happens that we also have a workshop/quizlet to help you learn more about the south eastern states of the United States.


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6 thoughts on “Sledgehammer Economics

  • March 21, 2017 at 9:24 am

    A bit of an over-simplification, but sometimes that’s good.


  • March 26, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    National Geographic has a better Rising Sea Levels map. I added a nice bird’s eye of Arkansas — because Pine Bluff seems kinda new on the Famous Places you might never have heard of list.

    Rising Sea Levels

    • April 22, 2017 at 6:22 am

      Houston is recognized worldwide for its energy industry—particularly for oil and natural gas. Petroleum products, chemicals, and oil and gas extraction equipment accounted for roughly two-thirds of the metropolitan area’s exports in 2012.

      The Houston area is a leading center for building oilfield equipment.

      Much of its success as a petrochemical complex is due to its busy ship channel, the Port of Houston. In the United States, the port ranks first in international commerce and 10th among the largest ports in the world.

      Unlike most places, high oil and gasoline prices are beneficial for Houston’s economy, as many of its residents are employed in the energy industry. Houston is the beginning or end point of numerous oil, gas, and products pipelines . . .

  • March 26, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Shanghai’s not sitting so pretty either.

  • March 26, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    From the comments at the National Geographic post:

    Since 1992 it has averaged a net loss of 65 million metric tons of ice a year. That’s a rate of 2 cubic metres of ice per second for 25 years.

    It’s also likely that the rate started lower in 1992 and is currently a fair bit higher.

    One metre is about  3 3⁄8 inches longer than a yard, i.e. about  39 3⁄8 inches.

    But even if you round it down, 2 cubic yards a second is definitely dumbfounding.

  • March 26, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    Funny that they didn’t even bother to mention Paris on their map.


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