Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Food for a foolish thought

What the hell? Are these people moronic idiots or total fucking chimps? In other words, are they fucking thick or fucking thick?
They observe that "petrol tanks and stomachs were competing well before biofuels were proposed to tackle climate change," since transportation and industrial agriculture are both premised on cheap fossil fuel.

Well, yes. So far, so good. But the following is quite simply so staggeringly ignorant that it's bordering on the insane...
One way to tackle the competition for a scarce resource is to change transport policy—a shift towards walking and cycling would reduce both the demand for fossil fuel, and secondarily mean that there were fewer overweight people, thus driving down the need for food.

Um... No.

Look, the body is a machine: like any machine, if the body needs to do more work—walking, cycling, juggling puppies whilst riding a unicycle up a slight incline, or whatever—then it is going to need more fuel in order to power the machine to do said work.

Now, one might argue that obese people could use their greater reserves of stored energy to power that work—although, actually, one has to ensure that they are doing the right sort of work in order to utilise energy through the desired metabolic pathway—but the chances are that they will not (or not to a greater degree than before).

However, unless one targets only fat people—by banning them from driving or taking the bus or something equally illiberal, unworkable and generally fantastical—you are also going to be encouraging—or, knowing this bunch of fuckers, forcing—those who are not obese (still the majority of the population, believe it or not) to do more work and they will need more food in order to fuel the increased level of work.

Given the current conflicts between food-growing space and that turned over to biofuels, in practice, this actually means more starving Africans. Further, it also means yet more environmental damage (if you are a climate change alarmist).
In fact, there’s been one researcher who claims that using your car to go to the shop is "more efficient" than walking, as the calories you need for the walk take more emissions to create than the petrol gives off.

So I’m a little confused here. My understanding is that farming plus the inefficiencies of human conversion of food into energy mean that exercising, that walking and cycling, will increase food demand, not reduce it. If that’s correct, then what are these people talking about?

Well, quite. Morons.


Anonymous said...

I remember it was something like 5000 kcal/day that was considered necessary to get your average labourer through the day in the 1930's.
I've just checked an online calorie counter, and for a sedentary 10 stone male age 30 the requirement is 2350.
It looks as if food bills will double in this particular fuckwits utopia.

Boy on a bike said...

I cycle too and from work and I eat like a fucking pig - and I'm still losing weight (which is a good thing). I do between 80 and 120 minutes a day on the bike, and I have to eat and eat and eat or I end up "bonking", or running out of energy.

Next thing you know, these idiots will want a return of the horse. My uncle, who worked on a farm as a kid and saw the transition from horse to tractor up close and personal, told me one once that 30% of his farm was planted with oats, which were used to feed the horses. The only acreage the tractor required was the spot where it was parked.

Old Holborn said...

I blame Prescott

Can't we put fat people in power stations?

Anonymous said...

Laff @John East -- this is also why people drank strong beers in the MA. Growing, cooking and eating 5000 cal is damn hard work, plus if it's not meat but grain to bulk you out, you'll get to crap quite a lot and your stomach will be labouring overtime too, making you very tired in the process.

If you drink, the only side effect is that you have to pee and get to sway a bit. (so... you drink, duh)

What I really hate about this 'fit people town' is that is has no place for old folks and the disabled -- people who need cars to get about and who need to have their stuff delivered.

@boy on a bike: the horse shit on the streets back then used to be legend...

Katy Newton said...

mean that there were fewer overweight people, thus driving down the need for food.

Oh HEY here's how we can reduce the need for food - take all of our calories in unadulterated fat. Seriously. Because, right, fat is calorie-dense and therefore you can pack all 1500-2000 calories in the day into half a pack of butter. THE PLANET - I HAS SAVED IT.

Seriously, though, what utter tosh. Based, apart from anything else, on a complete lack of understanding of individual metabolism. Studies have been run that show that some very thin individuals remain thin even if they are eating well over 4000 calories a day, whilst some very obese people struggle to lose weight even when restricted to 1500 calories a day. It is quite likely that some people, not least the extremely irritating Mr Kitchen, are just very slender regardless of how many calories they take in, whereas other people are just not.

Old BE said...

If only we could metabolise petrol...

John A said...

"An obese population of 1 billion people with a stable mean BMI of 29.0" would be in good health overall. Studies repeatedly show that BMI of 25-30, currently labelled "obese", is the range with the least actual (as opposed to "at risk") health problems.

Right there, I know the authors are blowing smoke.

Then they proceed to "estimate" food/calorie consumption. Based on what? Not science: "everybody knows" that the obese and morbidly obese eat more than others - except that study after study garners evidence that this is not true, even as the same studies "conclude" that it is in defiance of the evidence they have gathered.

Then, based on SWAG (Sophisticated Wild-A**-Guessing) tied to their "estimate" they state that the obese use 18% more calories than others.

This is not science, it is seeking omens in the entrails of termites.

Roger Thornhill said...

Old Holborn - bitter and twisted said...

I blame Prescott

Can't we put fat people in power stations?

Only if you cut them up first.

James Higham said...

Fat Man Walking - name for a film?

Anonymous said...

cinnamon - actually, beer was popular in the middle ages not just as a source of energy, but also because it was safer to drink than the water.

I believe that remains true to this day, hic! ;)

Jones said...

Raj Patel? Wasn't he the pet trick cyclist who used to do a spot on GMTV back in the 80's?

All the stuff about preventing 'Global Warming' is tosh anyway, especially after the much lauded 'ice core data' which underpins much of the theory has been sabotaged by a peer reveiwed paper published back in 1978.

Katy Newton said...

john a: a BMI of 25-30 is labelled overweight. 30+ is obese. 35+ is morbidly obese. But you are absolutely right that the "overweight" range is the range with the least actual health problems and also the best chance of recovery from surgery and serious illness.

You'd think someone would sit down and think about whether we need to rethink our definition of "overweight", wouldn't you?

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