Driving through the countryside in the run-up to the recent election you would have noticed a fine crop of Conservative billboards springing-up in fields, hedgerows and farmyards, indicating in no uncertain terms the party of choice among Britain’s farming community. That none of the other main parties saw fit to produce a billboard the size of a 5-bar-gate should tell us something about the certainty with which this core Tory vote is taken for granted.
In 1975, the Scottish ecologist Kenneth Mellanby wrote a short book called Can Britain Feed Itself? His answer was yes, if we eat less meat. The way in which he worked it out was simple, almost a back of the envelope job, but it provides a useful template for making similar calculations. In this article I have adapted and embellished Mellanby’s “basic diet” to show how much land modern UK agriculture might require to produce the food we need under six different agricultural regimes — chemical, organic and permacultural, each with or without livestock.
Continue reading Can Britain Feed Itself?
“More People Died at Chappaquiddick than at Three Mile Island” was a bumper sticker favoured by supporters of nuclear power in the early 1980s. Chappaquiddick, you may recall, was the site of a car accident in which one person, Mary Jo Kopechne, died, while Teddy Kennedy emerged unscathed. Since then the facile Chappaquiddick argument has become more sophisticated and successful. James Lovelock was the first well known environmentalist to argue that the dangers of nuclear power had been exaggerated, and that it offered a relatively safe alternative to fossil fuels.
Continue reading Thanks George, but No Thanks
If the statistics are to be believed farming must be up there as one of the least attractive jobs facing school-leavers in the UK. With a typical wage middling at £4.50 an hour1 and the average farmer pushing 622, the future looks far from rosy for an industry recently charged by the government with securing the nations food supplies over the next 20 years. Or so you would think.
With apologies to any readers who are not car drivers, here is a question about vehicle use. If your car did more miles to the gallon, would you drive it further? Perhaps some long journeys you had previously made by public transport would now be cheaper to do by car. Perhaps you might be tempted to drive more often instead of walking, or to make some new and previously unaffordable journeys.
Part 1 of this article, published in The Land 5, described how advances in the converging technologies — genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robotics (GNR) — are taking humanity down a road that leads, ultimately, to the obsolescence of the human race.
Continue reading Slow Evolution is Co-evolution
There are two contrasting ways of countering the threat of global warming — Pro-Growth and No Growth.