The future of agriculture

In Cuba, local farmers respond to rapidly increasing oil prices by bringing their farms close to home.

This article about local farming in Cuba is a preview of how our food will be grown in the future, in and around our homes, in our neighborhoods, on the outskirts of our towns and cities. The 100 mile meal will become the 10 mile meal, the ten block meal and the backyard meal.

Everyone can grow something at home, on a patio in pots, in planters on the concrete apron of a mobile home, in what once was monoculture grasses in our yards.

It’s time to grow up!

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(Un)sustainable Growth

“The stakes are high, as, without sustainable growth, ‘billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of civilisation will collapse’.”

In this article in Commondreams: “The Planet's Future,” Jonathan Owen clearly states the inevitability of the collapse of what we optimistically call “civilization.”

Since “sustainable growth” is an oxymoron, collapse is the only possible outcome of the present course of many human societies. Whether or not this equates with a Mad Max “collapse of civilization” remains to be seen.

The State of the Future report, backed by Unesco, the World Bank, the US Army and the Rockefeller Foundation, comes to the obviously ingrown conclusion that in order for human society to continue on its present course, technologies must be developed to overcome limitations of Peak Oil and climate change so that 10 billion people can continue to live on this planet in a state of continued economic growth and consumption.

This, of course, is impossible.

The only sustainable forms of human economic activity are shrinkage followed by steady state. There are already far too many humans consuming far too much to be sustainable even on the short term of human life spans. Continued growth in a finite system is impossible and any scenario that ignores this reality is fantasy at best and destructive in the long term.

Human numbers will decline. Human economic production will decline. These declines can either be gradual and manageable, or they will be precipitous and catastrophic, for humans and many other species.

Governments and corporations have proven themselves incapable of perceiving and acting on necessary changes to forestall the destructive collapse of human economies. It remains for individual humans, acting within local communities, to lead the way to steady state economies based on local production for local consumption within natural resource limitations.

Step into the future! Grow your food at home, support your local farmers markets, turn your backs on corporations and distant central governments. Build the future right here at home where we can all keep an eye on it.

Your grandchildren will thank you for your wisdom and foresight.

Anarchy, whatever you call it

Today I visited a new on-line dictionary called Wordnik. As is my habit, I tested it with my favorite word, “anarchy.” Here are the results:

American Heritage Dictionary (3)
noun Absence of any form of political authority.
noun Political disorder and confusion.
noun Absence of any cohesive principle, such as a common standard or purpose.

Century Dictionary (1)
Absence or insufficiency of government; a state of society in which there is no capable supreme power, and in which the several functions of the state are performed badly or not at all; social and political confusion.

Webster’s Unabridged (1913) (1)
Absence of government; the state of society where there is no law or supreme power; a state of lawlessness; political confusion.

WordNet (1)
a state of lawlessness and disorder (usually resulting from a failure of government)

thus is demonstrated the depths to which the English language, and popular thought, have plunged.

Anarchy, of course, means no ruler, not no rules. The confusion of anarchy with chaos came about as a result of decades of government propaganda against those who agitated against the status quo of centralized, authoritarian, coercive government. Anarchy is characterized by self-reliance, self-discipline, democracy and mutual aid, supposedly the goals of society in the united States, but in reality the antithesis of the ruling ideals of those who control government in this country, which is to keep its citizens in thrall to consumerism, debt, fear, and hierarchical authority.

Interestingly enough, recent “crises” in energy and economy are paving the way for a new resurgence of anarchy. Call it localism, sustainability, Democracy, ethnic identity, or what have you, the thrust nevertheless is to bring control of our lives back home from the central authority that has demonstrated a complete inability to plan and control the lives of the people across this vast continent.

We will, of necessity, return to a focus on local economies, local food production and distribution, local social support systems, local health care, local education, as the economics of global and even national economies crumbles in the face of rapidly increasing energy costs brought about by Peak Oil and climate change.

The politicians will keep arguing about the source of global warming and what to do about it, while the corporate toadies continue to line their pockets with filthy lucre. Meanwhile, here at home, the people are turning more and more to local gardens, farmers markets, and local economies. We are beginning to deal with the realities of transportation in a world of increasingly expensive oil, and increasing evidence of environmental damage as a result of burning that oil in our burgeoning fleets of private automobiles. The culture of the private automobile is beginning to erode, slowly of course, yet the sanctity of the private automobile is beginning to show a trace of tarnish.

I see this as a healthy step toward anarchy, self-rule, government by the people and for the people. Call it what you will, it’s time to throw the authoritarian monkeys off our backs and take control of our lives.

It’s Nature’s Way.

Peak Oil, Climate Change and PRT

PRT Enthusiasts ignore two critical pots of information when evaluating future transportation needs: Peak Oil and Climate Change.

Our transportation choices are influenced largely by two factors: perceptions of convenience and relative cost. Right now, private automobiles are the cheapest, most convenient mode of transportation for more than a mile up to several hundred miles of travel. Therefore, most people buy and use private automobiles and eschew public transportation.

Peak Oil and Climate Change are raising the cost of everything. During the past spike in gasoline prices, private automobile traffic declined precipitously, as did transport by truck. Cargo ships are still travelling at 10 knots rather than their earlier 24 knots to save fuel. As gas prices return to $4.00 per gallon and beyond, more people will leave their cars at home and travel by foot, bicycle and public transportation, all without the expense, energy consumption and urban blight of building a PRT network.

As climate change takes hold and global agricultural patterns change, precious fossil fuels will be reserved for moving food and water about the planet rather than people. Localism is already seen as the response to climate change, as we seek ways to grow our own food within easy transportation distance from our communities.

All this will change public attitudes about transportation, as we all pull together in mutual aid to accommodate the coming changes. PRT fosters individualism, on demand services and elitism, all of which are antithetical in a world demanding local cooperative solutions.

PRT is a 20th Century solution to a 21st Century problem

Are they finally starting to get it?

The growth of local power is a bright spot in seven bleak years of Bush | Guardian Unlimited

“‘The centre cannot hold,’ Yeats wrote; his next line is ‘Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.’ Anarchism in the contemporary sense of decentralised direct democracy is on the loose, and that’s the rest of the good news.”

It’s great to see anarchism correctly identified in print as decentralized direct democracy.

It’s misleading to say that there has been a growth in local power. Local power has always existed, exercised in our homes and neighborhoods, neighborhood associations and local governments. What has happened recently is that we have increasingly rejected centralized state power as illegitimate.

It may turn out that the Bush administration has been a powerful force in demonstrating that ineffectiveness of centralized state government, especially in such a geographically large and diverse country as the united States. California and Vermont are taking strong measures to establish local control over air and water quality, among other issues important to local residents.

The revolution is progressing, in its own way, at its own time. As the grass growing through the macadam, those forces that arise of themselves are always the most powerful.