Vertical Thinking

Some time ago, someone sent me a link to a news story about vertical farming, which is a form of urban agriculture. Here is the Wiki on it and here are some news stories about it here, here and here. Amusingly, when you dig into the subject, you find that the growth of vertical farming can be credited to marijuana growers, who used hydroponic farming to grow weed outside the prying eyes of the man. Big agriculture is now jumping into the business, as a way to both cut labor cost, but also transportation costs.

The cost drivers for food production have always been labor, land and transportation, so farmers have always looked to technology to mechanize their process and increase the yield per acre. Getting the result to market, on the other hand, has always been controlled by distance. Farmers are way outside the city and the customers are in the city. Things like motorized transport and refrigeration have had the strange result of increasing the distance between farm and table. Most city dwellers have never seen a farm.

Vertical farming not only allows for greater yield per acre, you just keep growing up, it also allows for the distance between farm and table to collapse. Vertical farms are just buildings using hydroponics and can be as tall as you like. Almost every city has an excess of abandoned warehouse and factory space. Those spaces, in theory, can be turned into vertical farms. The area around them could literally be turned into farmer’s markets, where the locals can buy their food from the farmer.

The other twist on this is the growing of food in a building, rather than out on the land, makes automation easier. Having robots roaming around the countryside sounds like fun, but robots break, so that means people roaming the countryside to fix the robots. In contrast, an automated warehouse requires just a few people to maintain the robots, relatively speaking. A Japanese firm has built a vertical lettuce farm that is entirely automated. It is a robot vertical farm that is commercially viable.

It’s not much a jump in thought to imagine where this can lead. This method of food production means that cities could become independent of the countryside, maybe even become agricultural centers. That means the interdependence of rural and urban that is enforced and regulated by government could be be broken. That does not mean cities would break from from the countryside, but it means they could survive, at least, if order breaks down and government is no longer able to maintain the balance.

The science fiction scenario is not such a big leap, if vertical farming can be what the industry thinks it can be in a few decades. The cosmopolitans who run the cities and control finance and trade, would move to seal off the cities from the countryside. Inside we get the Brave New World of Huxley, while outside we get the depopulated countryside of John the Savage. The cities would be connected by hyper loops built by Elon Musk. Port cities will be where goods and services enter the system from overseas.

As John Derbyshire remarked at the most recent Mencken conference, the future imagined by Huxley is not only more likely than that imagined by Orwell, it is right around the corner. Cities may not become entirely self-sufficient in the next generation, but the world of work and want is possibly coming to a close in the West. A lot can happen between now and the glorious future, like a plague or an unforeseen financial collapse that upends social order, but the future imagined by Huxley is visible on the horizon.

There is one problem with all of this, whether it is self-sufficient cities run by robots or the future imagined by Huxley. That is, what would be the point? Ruling elites have the population they need to rule. They always seek to reduce that which is not useful to their grip on power. The proliferation of birth control is simply eugenics with a happy face. The societies to the South are sending their excess population north because they don’t want them. Every African potentate will tell you. He has too many Africans.

In the robot cities of the future, most of the people would serve no purpose, so they could be expelled out of the city or recycled for their mineral content in the vertical farms. At some point, the only useful people to the ruling elite would be the guards, who defend the city from the outlanders and expel excess people. Some jobs can never be automated, at least not in foreseeable future, so cities would still have people, just not a lot of them. The logical result of that is much smaller cities, but that becomes self-defeating.

Just play out the dynamics of the imaginary world of self-sufficient cities run by robots and it becomes ridiculous in a hurry. The expulsion of people drives up the population of outlanders and drives down the population of cosmopolitans. To keep from being overrun, the number of guards needed by the city must go up. The self-sufficient cities run by robots eventually become armed camps for no other purpose than to guard the vertical farms and give the ruling class someone over whom to rule. It’s pointless.

Of course, there is another side to the question. That is, what’s the point of living in the world imagined by Huxley. That is the thing Derbyshire noted in his talk. People prefer Orwell, because his future seems like it has a point. There is a reason to live. In the Brave New World, life is consumption and fornication floating in an ether of soma, the opioid-like narcotic freely available in Huxley’s future. That’s what makes it so unpleasant for modern readers. Life without purpose is not utopian. It is dystopian..

As we get closer to that world and drug addiction rates spiral upward, suicide rates climb higher and now life expectancy is declining, it suggests there is a stop between here and Huxley’s imagined future. That’s death. Humans, at least Europeans, are not built for captivity. This reality is probably what is driving the migrant invasions. What’s the point of defending your lands when you have no reason to get up in the morning? People don’t defend land. They defend the life that can be built and lived on that land.

86 thoughts on “Vertical Thinking

  1. Farming in cities is technically possible. It will never make cities self sufficient. The raw material to farm…..water, fertilizer etc must still come from outside sources. And crop like grains…. Corn, rice and grasses (wheat, rye, barley) require vast amount of land. So while “vertical farming” can fill a niche like fresh vegetables it’s still just a niche.

  2. “People prefer Orwell, because his future seems like it has a point. There is a reason to live. In the Brave New World, life is consumption and fornication floating in an ether of soma, the opioid-like narcotic freely available in Huxley’s future. That’s what makes it so unpleasant for modern readers. Life without purpose is not utopian. It is dystopian..”

    Are you sure about that? In Orwell’s dystopia, life for most outside the elite “inner party” is bleak. Labor is hard and/or soul-killing. Any dissent is punished, or might be eventually. What marriages are allowed aren’t based on love or attraction, and are soluble only by death. Promiscuity is forbidden. Most residents might long for political change, but dare not agitate or strive for it. In Huxley’s dystopia, by contrast, people do jobs which for the most part they don’t mind (if only because they’re conditioned to accept their niches) and enjoy recreational drugs, sex, and consumerism. Within that framework, people DO have goals and purposes: to sleep with so-and-so, to acquire stylish new clothing, to play the fashionable games, and in the upper (high-ability) classes to be promoted to a higher-status job. The only thing really forbidden is to try to change the system; but only the rare malcontent even contemplates doing that. Most of the characters in Huxley’s world think they’re happy. Huxley’s readers might think they wouldn’t like to live in his world; but in fact most of them already do. And they LIKE their bread and circuses.

    I guess your point
    is that people would be happier living in a blatant dystopia of hardship and political oppression than in something that at least pretends to be a utopia–because at least in the former there “would still be something to struggle against”. But it just isn’t true.

    Think about it–which would YOU prefer: Former Soviet Union, or contemporary PUA-and-cannabis America, maybe taken a step or two further? (All right; even if you’re an exception, which would your two closest NEIGHBORS prefer?) Not which do we think we should prefer; but which would we actually prefer?

    See you poolside; amirite?

  3. A Japanese firm has built a vertical lettuce farm that is entirely automated.

    I saw a video of a combined lettuce farm and vending machine: rows of lettuce in different stages of growth behind a glass pane, you pressed a button for the head you wanted. When you got your lettuce, the next lettuce head in file slid forward.

  4. Photosynthesis is the week link in vertical farming quite inefficient better instead to grow yeast with hydrogen:
    Solar panels creating hydrogen for yeast gives you ten times the number of edible calories per acre as photosynthesizing plants. Of course, the cheapest source of hydrogen is still reformed natural gas, so till solar panels become cheaper you can also feed yeast on the methane directly:

  5. The choke points of large cities are power and water. Those mainly come in from outside. Even if you have large power plants inside the city, you must bring in fuel from distant oil/gas pipes or mining operations. Subversives could wreak havoc on large cities by disrupting those vital utilities.

  6. OT:

    Apparently asking people to remember the USS Liberty is anti-Semitic. Is asking people to remember Pearl Harbor anti-Japanese?

    “Brett Favre here with a shout-out to the Handsome Truth and the GDL boys,” he said. “You guys are patriots in my eyes. So keep waking them up and don’t let the small get you down. Keep fighting, too, and don’t ever forget the USS Liberty and the men and women who died on that day. God bless and take care.”

    • So women were aboard the USS Liberty, eh? See how insidious the nonstop propaganda is? The phrase “brave men and women” is so pervasive now, people are unable to distinguish between eras when the lunacy of political correctness was not the controlling factor. It’s like the common inability to distinguish between “to, too, and two,” or between “led” and “lead” or talking about “towing” the line. People who don’t read can’t catch common spelling errors. People ignorant of history will talk about the brave men and women who fought on Iwo Jima, or the brave men and women who rode on Paul Revere’s horse.

  7. Not long ago Hollywood celebrated country living. Green Acres ,Petticoat Junction, Hee Haw, Dukes of Hazzard, Beverly Hillbillies etc.

    Even city people enjoyed those shows . They were our ” country cousins ”

    Now the left has declared all-out war calling country people ” bitter clingers “. For so-called intellectuals they’re not very bright. All their food, military, transportation, energy, etc.comes from the countryside.

    I’m putting my money on the side of history. When times get bad cities are just miserable hell holes. Hell, half of them already look like Mogadishu.

  8. The solution to the African potentate’s problem is brewing in Congo as we speak, if only we have the sense to stand back and let it run its course. And seal our borders to anyone who has been to that godforsaken shithole in the past two years or so. Of course some idiot will run whining to some Commie west coast judge about raaaaacism when GEOTUS issues the quarantine order, and this may just be the moment that the lower court judiciary gets the presidential bird.

  9. “Life without purpose is not utopian. It is dystopian.”

    If we were a serious society we would be looking long and hard at the role AI is going to play and asking ourselves questions such as:

    + Why do we need migrants when the problem will be giving the average person who is already here a life with meaning?

    + How do you keep a populace healthy and happy if they can’t be productive? Blacks who have been on welfare for generations and the new crop of shattered white communities show that long term unemployment doesn’t yield more Sistine chapels. It produces disfunction of all types that gets worse over time. Being stoned all the time just results in early death and violence.

    + If robots do all the work, how does the economy function? Do robots start buying from each other?

    + Is the elite going to simply kill off the masses once they are no longer needed? If so, why are they trying to expand the size of the masses now? If not, where does the money come from to support the masses?

    • Well this topic has been discussed at length under the rubric of “post scarcity world.” Alan Watts has written much. Basically, some sort of universal income would be instituted. I disagree with most of it. Why would some people work if no one had to; only people with an agenda or some missionary zeal would. But the topic has been discussed at length

  10. Not quite. No vertical ranches. Vertical farming works for high value crops but do they grow grains or other high calorie crops? And things which require trees like apples or oranges?

    There’s always the Soylent Green option…

    Also everything requires energy from somewhere. Generally the Coal, Uranium, etc. come from red areas, and the blue areas don’t bother asking where it comes from no more than the free market types bother about Chinese cheap stuff when it requires not looking at worker safety or pollution.

    I don’t see WalMart being stocked from vertical farms beyond a small “organic” (to make it worth it) section.

    What happens when insects or weeds discover the vertical farms?

    This parallels “self driving cars” which I won’t go into.

    • I was initially dismissive but when I think about what the weed guys have done in terms of both quality and quantity in a pretty short time (while stoned, presumably) there may be something there.

  11. Another development is 3D printing, which will help localize manufacturing and lessen the dependence of rural areas on connection to port cities.

    We should to start a new habit of evaluating technologies and policies according to whether the promote globalism or dis-aggregation. There are a lot of forces simultaneously pushing in both directions. We need to reevaluate which ones are helping us and which ones are not. Extreme localism is what we want.

    For example, I’m much more in favor of high fuel prices and electric vehicles now than I was in the past. Anything that raises transportation costs promotes localism. It will cost me more but it’s a bargain if it helps break the back of globalized manufacturing.

    • We should to start a new habit of evaluating technologies and policies according to whether the promote globalism or dis-aggregation.

      Who is this “We”? You want a new Federal Bureau of Technology Policy, or what?

      You want “extreme localism”? How will extreme localists enforce technology policies outside their local turf? Air pollution, for example, doesn’t stay local.

      • You must be a lawyer because you argue like one. Do you know how to argue without making straw men?

        I meant exactly what I said. I simply asked all of us to reevaluate old positions in light of new priorities. Is this really so hard to understand? Don’t put words in my mouth.

        As far as “enforcing technology policy,” picture something like Switzerland– more of a decentralized confederation than what we’re living in now. If you think there is even a remote chance that the government will become too weak to enforce pollution controls, then you’re more optimistic than I am.

        We need more localism for more reasons than I can list in a blog comment. I’ll just list one: people are very realistic about things that effect them directly, but virtue signal about other issues. Think of people in gated communities virtue signaling by supporting open borders. Compare the government policies of Switzerland to France to see the difference between centralization and localism. Which country better implements the true will of the people? Which one has big riots at the moment?

        “Decentralization is the nightmare of lobbyists.” – N.N. Taleb

        Clear enough?

    • That is what the Amish do. They are also currently the fastest growing population in the world doubling every 18 years.

  12. >”Inside we get the Brave New World of Huxley, while outside we get the depopulated countryside of John the Savage.”

    No such luck, I’m afraid. If the populated industrial part of the country was inclined to let the rural agricultural regions go, they would have done it in 1861. Instead, they gave ’em the old Terrible Swift Sword treatment. Don’t ever forget that cosmopolitan leftism is deeply, fundamentally messianic. It *will* save your souls from the darkness, if it has to kill every motherfucking last one of you to do it. I’d be overjoyed if the big cities sneeringly told the rest of us to get lost. So would everyone who isn’t in a big city. Talk to literally anybody in upstate New York, and they’ll tell you that if they could, they’d take a giant bandsaw, cut off everything south of Westchester, and kick it out to sea. Similar sentiments can be found in downstate Illinois, rural California, eastern Washington and Oregon, and western Maryland. Hell, they can be found in rural England, Spain, and Japan too. Everyone in the countryside hates being ruled by the big cities. But the big cities love you long time, never let you go.

  13. My money is on plague. We’ve got the leading edge with drug resistant MRSA and gonorrhea, Ebola, this new polio-like virus striking down kids. Add increasing rates of diabetes from an expanding (heh) population of obese people disinclined to physical labor pr vigorous exercise. Add opioid overdoses. Death abounds.
    The solution is not going to be clustering in ever more dense urban centers, eating the equivalent of soylent, ingesting legal cannabis, and striving to fornicate with hotter partners (or, failing that, dabbling with the newest immersive virtual reality game). “Live free or die” is not just an artsy tagline on New Hampshire license plates. Learn how to grow an heirloom tomato and how to can the surplus. Learn how to fish and hunt wild game. Learn how to take a punch and defend yourself if attacked. In short, learn or re-learn everything that Boy Scouts (in the pre-poz first half of the 20th century) knew and practiced in fulfillment of the motto “Be Prepared.”

    • ” Death abounds.”
      Yeah, no kidding.
      Sooner or later everyone dies.
      Not all at the same time, though.
      Not yet.

  14. OT, how can anyone pretend we don’t have a massive White woman problem:

    [Link above from Instapundit]

    Wrestling comment back on topic — this is the function of easy urbanism. Nice White ladies with no real demands on their time, no housework, no chores, no kids, no farm animals, no cooking, cleaning. Nope all of that done by a compliant, obedient servant class (until they are not) and unbridled rage, with the white hot fury of a woman denied an Alpha male, at their beta male husbands.

    A man would be shocked to write the screed in the link, for women it seems pretty much mandatory. If our women are bad (and they are) then easy urbanism relieving women of much of the drudgery of modern life leaves them endless time to bitch about their real enemy: their sexless husbands. [Its never their fault for marrying them.]

    Historically of course cities have been population sinks. Hard to reproduce in, and requiring constant refreshing from the countryside as plagues and disease and seiges and unrest cull the previous population. That’s been a problem since Sargon of Akkad (the historical figure not the blogger). Well documented.

    In a civil war, cities are very bad places to be. They rely utterly on the surrounding countryside for water and power, for disposal of waste, and for all sorts of things besides food. While high IQ and dutiful Japanese can farm luxury vegetables in Tokyo, I don’t see that happening in Bombay (its not Mumbai dambit!) or Mexico City or Lagos or Lagos on the Chesapeake for that matter. Cities are very good places to engage enemies with superior mobility however. Stalingrad, Chalons, all good examples of high powered cavalry coming undone in the rubble of cities. Hard to charge your tanks or horses through mounds of rubble with ambushers at every corner.

    Since I live in Mexico Norte, aka Socal, this is not a matter of idle speculation for me.

    • I’m beginning to wonder whether Whiskey has, perchance, many goodly states and kingdoms seen. Maybe he’s been ’round many Western isles, who can tell. Film at eleven.

  15. “. Big agriculture is now jumping into the business, as a way to both cut labor cost”

    But what will become of all of the Mexicans we just had to import?

    Oh, right, the dole.

  16. “Life without purpose is not utopian. It is dystopian..” This is why urban layabouts are so miserable.


  17. So unless urban people decide to go nuclear, energy must come from the rural areas, out where all us hillbillies reside.
    Of course they can always try to exist without raw materials and continue to work off of rainbows and unicorn fats.

    • Amen Brother…The logistics for large scale agriculture in an urban center growing the food for that city is ludacris…Has anyone even sat down and did the math on it because if they did then they would see what a crock it is…But everyone has a fantasy I suppose…

  18. All this sounds like a plot by whitey to bring back share cropping. You can’t keep the black man on the plantation and so what do you do? You try and bring the plantation to the black man. Next thing is you’ll be saying “the robots are all broken”, and you’ll have blacks picking tomatoes again. A proud and independent black demographic is anathema to you people.

    • Actually we can bring back n…rs to plantations. The only obstacle is white male christian morale and when this taboo brakes then….:D:D

      We can also outsource the farming to Africa, where Arabs running plantations. and make the face that we do not know who is working there. I would pay double price for bananas picked by ex BLM members sold to slavery…:D

  19. Hark_! We are about to behold an actual economic experiment re. the vertical farming of pot. Evidently pot is grown profitably via vertical farming under conditions of aggressive government-provided supply restriction. But once pot is widely legal, as it is rapidly becoming, it can and will be grown openly by conventional farming methods. Which will prevail_?

    My money is on conventional if the Mexican Cartels’ aggressive efforts to continue to restrict supply by their usual means of extra-governmental violence and intimidation can be countered. Then we’ll know if the actual economics of vertical farming can stand up. As it is, all we have now on the subject is NGO feel-good PR* and investor/sucker hype.**

    Specifically, I got a chuckle out of the so-called market projections for vertical farming found in a couple of the links. Takes me back to the ’90s dot com bubble. For a while there you were able to raise really big, really stupid money using practically the same slide-deck with a new ‘dot com’ in the new proposal name. Good times_!
    *Inner city Detroit is going to become self-sufficient by taking up vertical farming_? Please_!
    **Elon Musk level subsidy trolling: Attention Coastal Cloud Cities, you can be saved from evil climate change via the new and hot vertical farming, not just the old and busted wind and solar power_!

  20. I foresee potentially disastrous consequences of large-scale vertical farming that the “industry” seems to be largely ignoring. Genetic drift, invasive species, insects, diseases and bacterial contamination are all going to be enormous long-term risks given the massively-compressed density. The system is incredibly fragile; distributed outdoor farming is robust.

    Of course, with the way these people think, they’ll surely ignore all of these risks, and then demand that rural communities support them when famine strikes.

    • That has already happened. In the commercial poultry industry the concentration of chickens and turkeys is so great, and the margins so slim, that the slightest cold or sniffle spreads to the entire flock leading to a loss. To make it worse, the mass breeding results in birds that have no immunity or resistance to even common, insignificant illnesses.

      As a consequence most states have a significant chicken or turkey industry(it’s an industry it’s not farming) have strict laws on “backyard chickens” that if enforced makes self sufficiency difficult or impossible. Even so there’s a cyclic avian influenza every 4 to 8 years. The industry itself has shown no initiative, and with the states legal backing has no motivation to breed more resistant birds.

      The same mechanism is true of all living things whether it’s tomatos, lettuce, test tube beef, or what have you: mass breed them, grow them packed shoulder to shoulder, and nature finds something that will parasitize them.

  21. I take the opposite viewpoint. the country will be walling off the cities. Why did people populate cities to begin with? It was an efficient way to engage in commerce and better standards of living. Once you get used to no street lights, especially that harsh LED light, and no sirens, you can’t go back.

    1) With modern supply chains (Amazon, UPS, etc) suddenly efficient deliveries are now common in the country. As a matter of fact, it can be harder to get something in a downtown condo tower than on a country lane.

    2) Technology. As long as you have a Verizon Wireless signal you have fast internet. As matter of fact they’re building 5G systems that will make all telecommunications eventually wireless, and fast. Even Hughes Net is much better than it was.

    3) The wild card. I believe that one day some future Osama, possibly secretly sponsored by a state, will unleash pure evil once again on a densely packed metro area, and it will be nuclear. When the country sees the aftermath there will be a cultural shift to country living, which is already underway. In silicon valley moving to the country and getting designer pigs and chickens is the new Porsche, so the country living shift is already underway.

    Maybe what I see every day in the bay area warps things. But the country is the new city.

  22. The great majority of foodstuff grown for urban consumption is grains. Tens of thousands of square MILES of grains. There ain’t enough area in cities to match that, no matter how far vertical you go. Boutique crops for the vegetarians, yes, but there won’t be much if any bread.

  23. That vertical lettuce farm in Japan shut down. It was too expensive to run relative to its output. However, with bio-technology, vertical farms will evolve into food factories, which really well make city-states more autonomous (as in seasteads).

  24. Huxley’s vision may never come into being, but the pursuit of it could be a boon for the Hoi Polloi in the countryside.

    Freed from the demands for industrial scale agriculture to feed the cities and enslavement to urban sensibilities, they could build a more manageable traditional culture with a network of villages, farms and small urban areas. (Assuming they clean up the demographic problem first).

    • … they could build a more manageable traditional culture with a network of villages, farms and small urban areas.

      In other words, neo-Medievalism …. fortified castles for the gentry and undefended farms and villages for the villeins. … Also redolent of “Small is beautiful” stuff from a hippy-dippy 1970’s paperback.

      And who needs either large or small urban areas as long as there’s Amazon Prime deliveries?

  25. There will be never robotic dystopia and the reason is simple. Not a single liberal / communist actually want to live in liberal communist society. Liberalism communism is always for others. That is why communism liberalism always loses and humans always win.
    Btw, in vertical farming aeroponics works better than hydroponics. Eternal problem with those vertical systems is gravity. Your lower plants are rotting and upper plants are drying.

  26. energy production and water use in the cities is a far more difficult problem. growing inside requires either copious sunlight or massive use of electric powered illumination.

    net, it requires a massive comittment of infrastructure that dindu governed cities won’t even attempt.

    cities will remain dependent on farmers and trucks until after the reset.

    • We would be far better off with a lower world population, especially of those without the brainwatts to meet their own needs.

      Obviously there are better and worse ways to reduce current and future overpopulation. That is what the debate should be about, not about whether human numbers can keep multiplying to infinity.

  27. Keep in mind that life is non-linear. Do not extrapolate today out 1000 years. The brown hordes will be fighting each other far more than they will be fighting whites. The federal government will collapse under its own weight. Life will get better. Gen Z is already showing a strong proclivity for changing our rotten system; they are not going to be socialists. The MSM is dying and their malign influence will be lifted.

    Hopefully all the billionaires will eventually OD on fenatyl and stop messing things up.

  28. The limiting factor with “vertical farming” is electricity: plants require light, and shunting enough sunlight into a multilevel building is complicated, so you need artificial lighting, not to mention heat in winter. I expect it’s not really profitable for much beyond small fruits (eg. strawberries, tomatoes), unless you’re also getting a hefty subsidy.

    The main way hidden urban pot farms get discovered is their 4-figure electric bills.

    • A major city like Chicago is lighted up 24/7 with powerful illumination and the buildings can be utilized as reflectors. China is experimenting with space-based reflectors. Plants may be hybridized or genetically modified to be more efficient with the photons. I personally grow tomatoes from the relatively large highrise roof space I own and could be self-sufficient in terms of fruit and vegetables if the rest of the building didn’t continually borrow my space for construction projects. Lots of green roof tops and gardens here, a hydroponic operation would present no challenge.

      • @Dead Bushes
        Good on you for becoming a little more self sufficient… Problem is you still are relying on someone else for your water,electricity, soil, fertilizer, etc which is the only way your able to grow anything…
        Might be time to find a little village outside of city limits…

        • I grew up in a beautiful village and port town with a top four public high school state-wise. My backyard was an abandoned vineyard (Welch’s grapes, concords, were grown there) and fruit farm irrigated by a pristine creek. Our garden was huge and I learned how to grow all sorts of things. My aunt had a working animal farm and I learned how to process animals and hunt quite young.

          I spent my entire youth practically striving each and every day to get the hell outta there. I backpack and otherwise travel all over the world, and visit old friends in my hometown. But to live outside the core area of my megalopolis would be intolerable for me. I’m not going anywhere even with the EMP or whatever thing it is we’re overdue for. I’ll stay put even if everything is burning around me and mine. My choice while I have a choice.

      • As long as you can sell your tomatoes for 2000$ /lb like pot farmers do you should be successful. Good luck !

    • Society requires calories, and the vegetables that are best suited for vertical farming do not provide sufficient calories. Calories in the quantity needed for cities come from grains and animals, neither of which are suited to small areas in cities. Root vegetables, potatoes and yams, produce a lot of calories and might be possible in the quantity needed by a large population, but they will be a lot harder to grow vertically than lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

    • Rez;
      Another major factor in ag. costs is petroleum. Oil makes fertilizer and herb/pesticides as a feedstock, dries grain, provides traction energy for cultivation as well as for transportation. Only the last two uses are obviated by vertical farming.

      And, thanks to fracking, oil will continue to be cheap, holding down transportation costs was well as the rest named above. This also reduces the potential economies of vertical farming.

    • LED lighting helps drive the price down. Don’t forget, these vertical acres produce food all year round. Not just in one or two seasons. Combine that vat grown meat in vertical “live”stock buildings. Tree grown fruit might be hard to replace but if you go with a lot of dwarf varieties, that might work. The japanese lettuce building produces lettuce at 25% less cost. Also, over 90% of the water is recycled. There are real cost savings in vertical farming.

      • Gotta take into account the prohibitive cost of open land in Japan in those calculations. Not the same everywhere else. Many factors are entirely local.

    • More efficient to instead to grow yeast with hydrogen:
      Solar panels creating hydrogen for yeast gives you ten times the number of edible calories per acre as photosynthesizing plants. Of course, the cheapest source of hydrogen is still reformed natural gas, so till solar panels become cheaper you can also feed yeast on the methane directly:

  29. For millennia mankind has dreamed of unlimited leisure. Time by which to develop new art and innovate technology for the improvement of life. Our advertisements still promote this fantasy, but deep down most of us probably are aware that all our species would do with so much leisure is to become increasingly fat, drunk and stupid. It’s what the people vote for. It’s what “the richest” and most secure humans in history, Americans, wish to attain. Our cities merely concentrate these vegetables.

    • Funny that. We I think about “retirement”, I think about buying a farm out in the hills somewhere and actually working the farm.

      My wife thinks I’m nuts. She’s probably right, but if I’m healthy enough I’ll do it anyway.

      • Drake: Same here. A small farm with enough land to roam around, fix stuff, and go shooting. But, I am likely to pass away before my wife, and what’s she going to do with a farm and a bunch of useless firearms?

        • Well, I did just that. Retired, small farm, lots to fix. Place to hunt and fish.
          Keeps me busy and healthy. If I die first, my wife can sell and have plenty of money to live on for many years.
          Life is pretty damn good…

    • all our species would do with so much leisure is to become increasingly fat, drunk and stupid

      Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

      • Oh thanks a lot. I was already on double, secret probation. I’m still gonna hump Mrs. Wormer.

    • This guy is one of the gurus of the FIRE movement (Financial Independence/Retire Early):
      He and his wife worked high paying jobs for 10 years, had an extremely high savings rate, then retired. He argues all the time that if you want to follow a similar plan, you have to stay busy and be creative to be happy, you just get to choose exactly what you want to be busy doing. Buying a small farm to work it yourself would fit the bill. Unfortunately I believe the vast majority of the population would waste away and die of addictions of some kind if they found themselves in a similar situation.

  30. Life without purpose is not utopian. It is dystopian..

    Yes. IIRC, “religion” showed up and had “purpose” as part of its game.

    Just like the Greeks, we Westerns still have lots of gods, too!!

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