Could Big Ag Boil Niagara Falls?

I’m running some numbers for a paper that I’m working on and I’m trying to come up with a way to make the 11 exajoules that are consumed annually in U.S. crop and livestock production a bit more tangible.  Let me know if this grabs you.

11 exajoules is equal to 10,432,965,210,899,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs)

A BTU is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

The 10,432,965,210,899,000 BTUs consumed annually is equal to 330,600,711,76 BTUs/Second.


6,320,000 Pounds of water flow over Niagara Falls every second.

330,600,711,76 BTUs/Second divided by 6,320,000 Pounds/Second = 52.31 degrees Fahrenheit.


So, it appears that the energy used in direct production of crops and livestock would not be enough to heat the water going over Niagara Falls to the boiling point of roughly 212 F, but it sure would take it a long way towards the goal, and this leaves out all of the energy used in trasport, processing, packaging, retailing/wholesaling and end use.  So, in total we might just get there!


Does this help make the 11 exajoules of energy seem a bit more tangible?  Any thoughts on that comparison, or other ways that might make it more concrete, would be greatly appreciated.


4 thoughts on “Could Big Ag Boil Niagara Falls?

  1. Let’s start thinking outside the box. How about melting the Arctic ice or ice caps of Siberia etc.? The significance of melted ice will have more significant effects in the quality of life as we still know it today. Melted ice will lower the salinity of sea water, significantly affect marine life, fishing activities, food sources, raise sea water levels and cover coastal towns and cities, and change the climate in more ways than one. It would disrupt livelihood activities, compromise health care services, education, etc.

    Unlike the Niagara Falls water, the ice caps are not mobile. Also, the question perhaps should be, how many pounds of ice can 330,600,711,76 BTUs/Second.melt? How many pounds of ice would that be in a minute, an hour, a month, a year?

    Raise temperature of 1 pound of ice from 0°F to 32°F, add 16 BTU.
    Change the pound of ice at 32°F to a pound of water at 32°F, add 144 BTU (latent heat of fusion). In looking at the results, factor in too that there’s no change in temperature while ice is melting.

    The significance of ice melting has harrowing global effects. I think this is where you can visually get your message across at just how detrimental to the environment is 11 exajoules of BTUs/year or the amount of energy used in the production of crops and livestock. Ice melting is very visual experience for the readers/viewers. Of course a boiling Niagara basin has much more impact, but too many visual variables, for one it is moving too much. Just my humble thoughts….Hope, if this doesn’t work for your purposes, it will lead you to something else more meaningful. It is not fun, so, good luck!
    From: @PVRTY2RIOTS

  2. Hello Costrike,

    I have sent you a Direct Tweet, requesting for you to follow us.  I have a request to make, don’t know if you could help, but maybe you could lead us to other orgs.  it is abut GMOs, Monsanto, UN, Obama, Bill GAtes, etc., and we are veeery concerned.  Don’t know if this e-mail will get to you.either.

    Hoping to be hearing from you.



    RIOTS  Reduction of Inequitable Opportunities for True Sustainability


  3. If I could quantify the volume of ice and then compare that to a recognizable figure (sports stadiums that volume would fill) that might work. I’ll have to navel gaze on this a bit. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

    • Please do not take this as being obstinate, but how about x cubic meters of snow cover left on Siberia and how many square miles it is. There are some reports indicating the volume of snow or ice covers left on Siberia, Alaska, and Antarctica, while the Arctic is believed to be all ice. Areas expressed in square miles could deliver the message. I wonder how many women are like me….total nincompoop when it comes to sports. But areas expressed in square miles or square kilometers…that’s a lot more understandable…I apologize for my inadequacies….

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