But if abundant low-carbon energy doesn’t immediately materialise, or if it’s used to grow the human economy and its footprint, then Monbiot’s farmfree solutionism offers no solutions to real present predicaments.
Ultimately, humans aren’t going to protect the rest of creation from their own actions by excluding themselves from it.
No ifs, no buts, and please – more small farms producing real food for everyone, and no more IPES!
So the challenge is to defend distributed property, commons, kinship, human neighbourliness and renewable local agrarianism against the blank certainties of new-old Marxist categories of class struggle.
Hopefully my writing and maybe even my speaking might convince a few waverers from getting hoodwinked by some of the more preposterous ecomodernist claims, but mostly I’m happy to preach to the converted…
I’ve come to think that, unfortunately, small farm societies emerging contingently in some of the margins of a collapsing urban-industrial world system and shining a light to the future is about as good a prospect as we can realistically now hope for.
There will be no food factories on a dead planet, and there will be no low-carbon manufactured food in a fossil-fuelled energy system.
The case for manufactured protein is sometimes made on the grounds that its bacterially based processes are more energy efficient than plant photosynthesis. But it’s a misleading claim given the energy costs of producing the generated electricity and industrial plant needed in the manufactured route.
Who needs to read Saying No to a Farm-Free Future? Anyone thinking that the ecomodernist prescription might be a good idea; and anyone arguing with ecomodernists and looking for data to back up their feeling that “food” factories in megacities is not the best path.
My book is a polemical critique of George Monbiot’s book, Regenesis. In it, I make the case for agrarian localism in the face of his derision for the same.
A problem I have with a lot of ecomodernist solutions to present problems, Monbiot’s included, is that they focus too much on why occupations like farming are an economic fantasy and not enough on why occupations like corporate law are. From that mistake, many other errors flow.
My fear is that our societies aren’t going to give up on the hope of a 100% renewable transition, meaning – unfortunately – that the likeliest future we face is the hard path to agrarian localism.