As I believe I may have mentioned, my neighbor owns hundreds of acres of woods and I keep his roads open in exchange for the firewood. This involves chainsaws and a tractor that I use to load big pieces into the truck and pull logs to more accessible locations. The tractor also has a backhoe, which comes in handy for my neighbors at times.
So yesterday I took the day off from work to have my car serviced and my neighbor and I took advantage of the opportunity to dig out a culvert. It carries a stream under one of his roads near the property of the town historical society. The stream is runoff from a cornfield.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this sort of situation, what can happen is that if the stream slows down at the entrance to the culvert, silt will fall out of it. Once this starts to happen it's self-reinforcing. The ridge of silt slows the stream down further and more and more silt falls out until the culvert is completely obstructed and the water is forced to flow over the road.
So I dug out what must have been a ton of the most beautiful black topsoil you ever saw. The farmer sprays the field with synthetic fertilizer every spring, and as the topsoil washes into the Shetucket he just keeps spraying more. That's where the corn comes from -- a factory that uses natural gas both as fuel and as feedstock to manufacture ammonia. About 2-3% of the world's natural gas consumption is used for this purpose. So to be clear, you are eating fossil fuel, while the world's top soil washes into the ocean.