March 27 2009 ~ Energy Crisis: "Last year's crippling oil prices may be just a taster of what is to come."
Rebecca Hosking's film, "A Farm for the Future" can now be watched online The photography is stunning. The message is stark:
"..."... the alarming question of whether there'll be enough food to keep us fed. If our farm is to survive it will have to change...All the farms I know, including the organic ones, are utterly dependent on fossil fuel, particularly oil.
Last year's crippling oil prices may be just a taster of what is to come...to Dr Colin Campbell, the facts about our oil supply are simple.
Since, as Miss Hosking says, "if we didn't have oil refineries..., in this country we'd pretty much starve", her vision for the future of farming is of vital importance. After the evidence is in, she reaches some fascinating conclusions:
"I don't think there's any serious doubt that we're close to this turning point, a sort of turning point for mankind you could say, when this critical energy - for agriculture in particular, which means food, which means people - is heading on down..."
March 27 2009 ~ "Now I have learned the Big Lesson: Biodiversity keeps us going.. it protects our food."
Rebecca Hosking's film, "A Farm for the Future"
"....It is the attention to detail that a gardener can give to a small plot that makes it so productive...up to five times more food per square metre than a large farm...Supermarkets, reliant on industrial scale transportation and the farms that supply them are unlikely to survive as oil declines, but a collection of veg. plots, allotments and smallholdings could easily make up for their loss - but only if we have a lot more growers...." Richard Heinberg is shown agreeing - but adds "We'll also need a lot more full time farmers". The film concludes, "I'm fascinated to find out what species of grasses we have and how I can improve our pastures and how we can make the most out of our trees to benefit our cattle but we need to produce more than just livestock..for any of these ideas to work it is essential to preserve the farm's wildlife and work even harder to preserve greater biodiversity."
The film is a joy to watch, and as Rebecca Hosking says, the pioneers' work shown is a big inspiration. She talks of a national effort, even a bit of government leadership - but qualifies this by adding, "..in an ideal world". Watch in full.
March 27 2009 ~ Energy prices affect everything - including food supply
(FT) "The number of chronically hungry people has surpassed the 1bn mark for the first time as the economic crisis compounds the impact of high food prices, the United Nations' top agriculture official has warned." And the New York Times quotes a spokesman from the IMF who says of oil, " today's low prices could be setting the stage for another price run-up in the future." (see oil page)
The global crisis makes actions such as "quantitative easing" look as weasly as the words themselves.
President Obama spoke in advance of the G20 of "restoring the sustained growth that can only come from open and stable markets that harness innovation, support entrepreneurship and advance opportunity." Perhaps. But Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, recently wrote that it was the "growth binge" that led us into such a mess in the first place,
"...... We are all going to have to share the bitter fruits of our society's century-long growth binge.... The only silver lining is the possibility that now, at last, as the trends (Peak Oil, the failure of growth-based economics, the failure of industrial agriculture, climate chaos, and so on) are becoming so starkly clear, policy makers will begin seriously to contemplate a Plan B...." Read in full
March 27 2009 ~ Plan B is already being implemented by down to earth opinion
The prescient professor, Tim Lang, spoke last May of
"...fundamental problems about oil dependency, water shortages looming, growth of population, changes of diet, all the things that are beginning to emerge on the international scene..." adding that the UK really does need
"to re-learn the gardening skills it lost a century ago and to change its diet to one that includes less meat, fewer dairy products and more fruit and vegetables" The far-sighted action of the Transition Town movement involves ordinary people at grass roots level and has immediate and comprehensible appeal - while initiatives such as LandShare aim to help everyone to help themselves.