Act: Inspiration

Sleepwalking into Certain Catastrophe, or Awakening via Agroecology

July 12, 2019

Ed. note: This piece was also cross-posted to Mother Earth News.

In early July, just as the United Nations (UN) was releasing stun-level scientific reports about climate changes, food disruptions, and accelerated extinctions, meteorologists reported that the preceding month, June 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. They also reported that for the first time ever in recorded history temperatures in Anchorage, Alaska soared into the 90s, while rising up to 115 degrees F in Paris, France.

These were but three among the advancing army of clanging climate-change alarms.

As baldly stated in one of the UN reports from the Human Rights Office, if we maintain our economic and agricultural course we are headed for deeper disaster. Going forward on a status quo pathway will have a mighty impact not just on some remote places featured on TV news, but on our backyards, pantries, refrigerators, supermarkets, and our overall way of life. We are “sleepwalking into catastrophe.”

Note well these parts of the report: Climate change also threatens basic human rights, and democracy itself. Within the next 10 years or so, the report states, climate change will cast tens of millions more human beings into poverty, hunger, and displacement from their homelands, according to the report.

Climate change demands our attention now. That’s the core message. A rowdy cascade of extreme, biblical-level weather events is steadily piercing the misinformation and complacency that surround climate change.

But acknowledging reality of climate change and its ominously real threat is but the first step in a decades-long journey into our future. For survival and for prosperity, what’s needed is an all-hands-on-deck reckoning with the vast scale of the change that is essential.

As people’s access to food, land, water, health care, housing, and education are threatened or destroyed, there will be an intensified need for policies that ensure respect for human, social, economic, and environmental rights.

The policies and actions that address climate change are not impediments to economic growth, but rather catalysts for a necessary transition to a green economy, improved labor rights, and poverty relief.

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Agroecology: A Righteous Response

Although mass media paid minimal attention, on July 5, 2019 The UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS) released a report, Agroecological and other innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition.

The CFS report offers detail on the global food system, which is perched precariously at a crossroads. The report concludes that the food system needs a profound transformation at all levels, including the local level. We face complex, “multidimensional challenges,” including a growing world population, urbanization, and climate change. They all increase pressure on natural resources, and negatively impact land, water, and biodiversity.

In our era of challenge and tumultuous transition, agroecology is a leading idea: a stabilizing set of principles and practices for clean, just, and sustainable farms and food. Transformation of agriculture through agroecological techniques and principles can and will have profoundly beneficial impacts on land, workers, and food. Our entire relationship to the earth and our specific environments is being challenged. Agroecology and deep agroecology are intelligent, sophisticated, practical, and effective ways to meet and transcend those challenges, establishing a clean, healthy foundation on the earth for the next evolutionary step of humanity.

While governments may choose to ignore hard facts, and to hide information about it, we cannot afford to ignore it. Our lives, and the lives of our children, depend upon us waking up and acting now at some level of the system, from household on up to Washington, Ottawa, and beyond.

In a paper published in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community, Professor William E. Rees writes: “Based on current trends, the most food-secure populations by the second half of the 21st century will be those populations that have deliberately chosen and planned to re-localize as much of their own food systems as possible.”

Knowing all these trends and their likely trajectories, I see that it has become a modern-day civic responsibility to be involved at some level with and to be directly supportive of clean, just and sustainable food production–agroecology and deep agroecology.


Teaser photo credit: By Elina Mark – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Steven McFadden

Independent journalist Steven McFadden is rooted in agrarian cyberspace

Tags: agroecology, Building resilient food and farming systems