” Let’s fantasize for a moment and ask: What would an ideal farm in Brazil that was operating as part of such a Clean Energy System look like? Imagine Senhor Verde has a thousand-acre farm, with a river full of fish running through it that is adjacent to an expanse of natural forest loaded with a rich diversity of plants and animals. Here is how he would operate:
He would start his day using a smart tractor, the kind already made by john Deere. As he plows his filed, the tractor takes real-time measurements of the moisture and nutrient content of each square meter and automatically inserts only the exact amount of fertilizer needed to produce the yield he seeks, taht way there is no fertilizer left over to wash into his river and harm the aquatic life there and downstream. Less nitrogen fertilizer also means fewer emissions of nitrogen oxide-a potent greenhouse gas. Thanks to this technology, he is taking advantage all the time of the most productive parts of his land for farming, so he has less incentive to go into the rain forest or to denude the riverbanks of trees just to plant a few more acres of crops. In fact, he and his neighbors have worked with a local conservation NGO to zone their farms so that the most productive areas are farmed, and other areas are set aside and restored to their native vegetation, which protects the streams and allows wildlife to migrate across a much larger area of natural habitat. That smart tractor, by the way, is a plug-in electric hybrid, with a backup motor thjat runs on biofuel made from switchgrass planted in Brazil on degraded lands that were specifically set aside as part of a national plan to protect the Amazon from biofuel encroachment. All the information amassed about the amount of fertilizaer that went into every square meter of his land, and the yield it ultimately produced, is captured on the onboard computer so he can make smarter decisions next year and increase his yield, even as he reduces his inputs. The sprinkler system is also a smart system and adds only the precise amount of water per square meter that is needed. The crop itself has been engineered to grow with the least amount of fertilizer and the least amount of water and fewest pesticides, so it is much stronger and produces a higher yield than non-bioengineered crops. It has also been engineered to be more nutritious, so people get healthier and healthier from less and less foodIn addition, because he is using fewer and cleaner fertilizers, the impact on the local river is tiny, so the water can be recylced with less energy and fewer chemicals. Also, by not cultivating the banks of the river and by maintaining the trees, he is preserving from erosion his most valuable asset – the arable land that produces his crops – and providing through the roots of trees and wetlands a natural water filter, which keeps sediment out of the river and prevents degradation of the wetlands downstream. Because the rover is healthy, he can enjoy fishing it or swimming in it much more, but he can also license others to come and fish for peacock bass on it each summer, making another nice little side income. On the part of his land that abuts the tropical forest, he has built a small ecolodge, which draws all its electricity from a one-megawatt wind turbine and attracts hundreds of ecotourists each year “.
Friedman, TL. (2009: 243-244) Hot, Flat, & Crowded, Release 2.0,