Reading Reactions – Week 9

Considering the future is an interesting task.  How does one propose a solution for a problem that doesn’t yet exist?  Assumptions must be made, and those assumptions extrapolated to their logical end.  At which point, along this journey of thought, we are forced to momentarily stop thinking about the now, and posit ways in which we exist in the future.  So, for the sake of argument, and keeping in step with the articles for this week, let’s assume that climate change will drastically alter our food system.  In reality, we might not be able to slow climate change, and thus these assumptions will become reality.  So what happens?  Do we still push for the ‘natural’ approach to fixing the food system?  Do we try to get farmers to think more holistically, and farm more sustainably using experiential techniques?  Or do we throw a whole bunch of science at the problem and hope we can find some novel solutions?  The answer, not surprisingly I think, has to be both.  We have to come at things from both sides.  But if we take our assumptions even further, to the point where we’ve degraded our soil so completely, weather patters are so erratic that our staple crops can no longer grow reliably, we’re left with no choice but to push for novel scientific advances in order to just feed ourselves.  It’s a scary thought.  But it’s this sort of extrapolation that makes me really believe in the work of microbiologists attempting to unravel the deep complexity of soil and the interactions between microbes and plants.  We can let nature do it’s thing by farming in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, but if we damage our soil so badly, we’re going to need that knowledge to understand how to go about repairing it.  Similarly with people investigating genetic modification to make plants hardier.  It’s something that we just might have to accept if we want to continue eating what we’ve been eating.  Or we adopt the plethora of unfamiliar plants and animals that up until now are treated as weeds and pests.

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