Gotta save Gaia

Other than the usual fanbois, two standout HN comments –

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding of agriculture in this thread.

1) No, land is not expensive. In agricultural areas, land is quite cheap. Organizing shelves of crops vertically solves for a problem that isn’t actually a problem.

2) The sun is free and electricity isn’t cheap. Putting plants indoors and then buying electricity to create light is going to be expensive compared to using the free sun. (The absurdity of putting solar panels on a roof to make electricity to beam LEDs on plants, losing 90% of the energy along the way, shouldn’t be lost on anyone.)

3) Shipping is cheap. It may make us feel good that a salad’s greens were created on a roof-top in Brooklyn, but using some of the most expensive real-estate on Earth to save a few cents on shipping is beyond economically irrational.

I actually love the idea of hydroponics for another reason entirely: it saves a ton of water. Water is a real problem worth solving, particularly in the dry west. Focus on this and forget about all of these other non-benefits.”

“In a word no. I spent twenty years as a fertilizer agronomist and I’m quite familiar with the costs of producing a crop.

The numbers simply do not work. Even when they tried in Detroit and got buildings for five cents on the dollar they couldn’t make it work.

The investors funding these enterprises do not understand agricultural economics. I keep investigating these stories looking for some kind of ‘breakthrough tech’ that would dramatically reduce costs or increase yields. I’ve been tracking these vertical greenhouses for fifteen years, they open and a couple of years later they’re gone.

I think what could change things for produce is solar cells and electric trucks. It would isolate producers transportation costs from oil prices and lower the cost of getting produce to the cities. I know technology is quickly improving in both battery technology and solar cells.”

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