Monday, March 07, 2005

The 'soft collapse': Will organic farmers become the most important people on earth?

Several pieces has been appearing on the Internet which eschew the apocalyptic visions of some peak oil bloggers and commentators and propose that a failure to find adequate new energy sources is more likely to lead to a slow decline in industrial civilization, a decline that might even be temporarily arrested and reversed by technological developments. This piece appearing on Energy Bulletin is the most thoughtful and complete I've seen. My main interest is a comment at the end, something which you also see in the writings of James Howard Kunstler.

Without cheap fossil fuels to produce the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides which drive industrial agriculture, we will be in grave need of the knowledge of how to farm the land without these. Organic farmers are the storehouse and guardians of this knowledge, and it is to them that we will likely increasingly turn to feed the world. Such farmers will be in double demand. First, they will be called upon to produce vastly much more food than they do today. Second, they will be called upon to teach organic techniques to the many more people we'll need to work the land both in the countryside and in urban gardens in order to adequately feed everyone.

Something like this has already happened in Cuba where an end to cheap oil shipments from the collapsing Soviet Union in the early 1990s forced a complete reorganization and vast expansion of agriculture in the country. Will we have enough organic farmers to do the job should the time come for the rest of us?

(Comments are open to all. See the list of environmental blogs on my sidebar.)

1 comment:

monkeygrinder said...

I think you are on the right track here. This is the only renewable solar technology that we know scales. It may not be considered "sexy" right now, local organic farming isn't something you hook up to the internet.

Give it a few years though. Food will be front and center.