Back To The Future Of Farming

If I can go back now to the Brave New World After Coronavirus.

It’s not just a great thought experiment in social engineering. It’s been done to us already to advance certain hoarding persons’ agendas, to prevent advancement of quality of life for all alive. We’ve been born to it, been exposed to ti in kindergarten, in school and college and university, we’re exposed to it in advertising and news and movies. It takes only one generation for the knowledge of how to grow and process our own food (for example) to almost vanish completely from first world citizens.

The world needs Renaissance men and women. Renaissance people lived on a cusp between two ways of life, with serfdom and servitude on one side and the Industrial Revolution on the other. They used their leisure to learn and learn and learn.

They broke the serf / laird mold. And we’re at the point where we CAN break the cash cow / capitalism mold. Where, in fact, it might break all by itself. (One can but hope . . . ) We’re at the point where we CAN become the New Renaissance people. We have the technology to learn whatever we like, whenever we like, however we like.

There are a few Pandemic Protips though:
If you enforce 0.5CPP (One Child Per Couple better formalised as Half A Child Per Person to prevent serial monogamiser system gamers) then we know that we can expect to reduce the population by one third in one generation. That means by 2050 we might have reached 5bn in population. By 2080 there’d still be 2bn of us.

It’s sensitive to the starting number, you see. A) the longer we take to start doing this, the higher the starting point, the longer it is to a sustainable population. The world has 4bn acres of arable land. That’s almost 10% of the world’s land area above sea. That total land area in turn is shrinking due to ocean level rise, leading to arable farmland becoming a greater and greater proportion of the total land surface of the Earth, and leaving less and less natural land.

We’re a population of almost 8bn. 1/2 an acre of the world’s current farmable land supports us comfortably, and if we were farming in smaller, more sustainable lots then it’d need more than half an acre pp. That’s due to economies of scale, not least of which is that the borders of each farm / garden lot have to be a certain minimum width.

Increase the number of people and we’d either have to destroy more natural land for farming, or force the existing land to produce more.

If we clear more land that will further unbalance the ecosystem and lead to Bad Things for us and all other Earthlings. (Remember the other what – maybe 10,000% ? – of biomass of the Earth that isn’t us humans?) We comprise 1 / 10,000th to 1 / 20,000th of the biomass in the world depending if you count all the biomass we’ve already destroyed or not.

If you push the productivity of the existing farm land, it’ll affect the ecosystem correspondingly worse than it currently does, and that’s bad enough, remember that our plastics waste for transporting food now affects almost 100% of the world’s surface to some degree, fertiliser, antibiotics, and chemical waste runoff affects almost every large body of water close to human habitation and therefore the whole ocean ecosystem, let alone the mining for resources to make the machinery and process the foods. That’s also a Bad Thing For Earthlings . . .

Or we can make our farming moire sustainable. The single, platinum, standard for improving sustainability is to stop huge areas of mono culture with a large distribution footprint and replace that with smaller, cleaner, far more localised farming. Instead of producing corn in a handful of states, spread production right across the country. If it doesn’t grow locally, don’t eat it. If it doesn’t grow in this season – don’t eat it. If it needs a factory to turn it into a tinned travesty of itself that you can ship to Upper Shitstainistan for an obscene profit – DON’T DO IT.

The two downsides of that are that as you make farms smaller, the farm borders become a larger percentage of the farm. That anonymous half acre on a million acre megafarm becomes a whole acre. If our population keeps growing and stays high, that means clearing more natural land, and we’ve already established that this too is a BTFE.

What we need is a solution that reduces the total number of acres under farming, allows for more localised farming and consumption and economies, and less impact on the land under farming and the surrounding land.

What we need, in short, is what 0.5CPP will achieve in 100 years. But we need it in a decade or two at the latest . . . And THAT, speaking dispassionately, is where pandemics like Novel Coronavirus 19 come in . . .