Posts Tagged ‘Farming’

On Farming and Peak Oil – an interview with Albert Bates

January 21, 2009

albert-bates2 Jan 14th, 2009 | By Aaron Newton

A wonderful vision of the future.

A Nation of Farmers: I wanted to start by asking about something I’ve heard you say in other interviews.A lot of other people, even some of the cheery folks, tend to talk about peak oil specifically in really gloomy, sad terms.You tend to talk about it as a potentially positive development for humankind, and I wondered if you could talk about why.

Albert Bates: There are a few reasons behind that I think everybody at some point has to go through the process of having the realization.That may come as kind of a rude awakening, or it may come as “Aha, I told you so!”, but at some point everybody goes through it. It tends to deepen as time goes on, and people have their own periods of weeping and gnashing the teeth, but then you have to cope, you have to get up and do something about it. I think the more important thing is to have an attitude that something can still be done. You can’t exclude the possibility that the future is still malleable, that there is still an opportunity for positive change if we exert our capacity or our abilities to do that.

I think it’s important to paint a positive vision for the future to galvanize the kinds of changes that people are capable of, rather than to focus on the various dystopias, which is all too common in peak oil literature. We’re going to have to talk about energy and energy descent, and that’s ultimately about energy ascent — which is to say re-energizing. Re-energizing communities and culture, re-energizing the way we go through our lives so that we’re much more of our human selves, so that the separation that we’ve lost with nature is repaired. And that’s the key to realistically embracing the possibilities of our situation rather than being overwhelmed by the kinds of challenges that our situation presents us with.


Change You Won’t Believe, by Jim Kunstler

December 17, 2008

A key concept of the economy to come is that size matters — everything organized at the giant scale will suffer dysfunction and failure. Giant companies, giant governments, giant institutions will all get into trouble. This, unfortunately, doesn’t bode so well for the Obama team and it is salient reason why they must not mount a campaign to keep things the way they are and support enterprises that have to be let go, including many of the government’s own operations. The best thing Mr. Obama can do is act as a wise counselor companion-in-chief to a people who now have to leave a lot behind in order to move forward into a plausible future. He seems well-suited to this task in sensibility and intelligence. The task will surely include a degree of pretense that he is holding some familiar things together and propping up some touchstones of the comfortable life. But the truth is we are all going to the same unfamiliar new territory.
The economy we’re moving into will have to be one of real work, producing real things of value, at a scale consistent with energy resource reality. I’m convinced that farming will come much closer to the center of economic life, as the death of petro-agribusiness makes food production a matter of life and death in America — as opposed to the disaster of metabolic entertainment it is now. Reorganizing the landscape itself for this finer-scaled new type of farming is a task fraught with political peril (land ownership questions being historically one of the main reasons that societies fall into revolution). The public is completely unprepared for this kind of change. We still think that “the path to success” is based on getting a college degree certifying people for a lifetime of sitting in an office cubicle. This is so far from the approaching reality that it will be eventually viewed as a sick joke.


Farmer in Chief, by Michael Pollan

October 21, 2008

Thursday 09 October 2008

by: Michael Pollan, The New York Times


Dear Mr. President-Elect,

It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration – the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact – so easy to overlook these past few years – that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.