Gongol.com Archives: May 2008
Brian Gongol

May 1, 2008

Agriculture "Without chemical fertilizer, forget it. The game is over."
Norman Borlaug points out one more of the irrefutable connections between food and energy: We need lots of chemical fertilizers to produce food, and those fertilizers are created through the use (and sometimes the feedstocks) of energy, like petroleum. With energy prices rising around the world and causing political distress, some people are fooling themselves into believing that socialism is the answer. It certainly isn't; poverty and demotivation are the inevitable by-products of any consistent socialist regime. Meanwhile, the decision to spend $770 million on international food aid is probably good short-term politics for the United States, but it is far from the right long-term answer. What's needed is more innovation and more trade -- the only things which ever successfully put human capacity to work towards solving real problems. Much of the rise in world food prices has arrived with the onset of tremendous new demand from parts of the world that used to be much poorer. Instead of bemoaning the price rises, we should be celebrating the escape of billions of people from poverty.

Health One step closer to better medicine -- maybe
A $150,000 machine designed to sequence a person's genes is hitting the market, to the great delight of researchers who haven't been able to buy such equipment at anywhere close to that price before. The better we know our own genomes, the more likely we will be able to anticipate serious conditions to which we may be predisposed and to do the right things to extend our time spent living. Some think that we're getting close to "radical" extensions in life expectancy, the good of which may be subject to debate, but the desirability of which ought to be pretty obvious to anyone who has grieved the loss of a loved one.

Aviation News Landing a big plane safely with no nose gear? That takes talent.

Water News Opponents of HR 2421 / S 1870 step up their counterattack