Creative Descent into the Stewardship of Earth
An excellent article has just been published over at the Energy Bulletin - Making us "future-proof" - the evolving role of horticulture
The end of cheap oil is going to have far reaching consequences to the way we live, breathe and eat. Think for a moment of modern day agriculture, of the large machines cultivating the fields, of the fertilizers used on the crops, of the trucks that transport the food from the farms to the supermarkets, sometimes thousands of kilometers away. Think of the plastic wrapping on those foods, think of the large refrigation cool rooms at each of those shops.
Each of these things are based around oil, as oil becomes more expensive, shopping for food will become a luxury, rather than a necessity. People will be forced to grow their own, which will mean a sharp learning curve for those of us that have not soiled our hands since we were children.
"The end of cheap oil means the end of cheap broad-scale mechanical cultivation, the end of cheap fossil-fuel-based fertilizers, and the end of cheap long-distance transport. In such a scenario, it is of genuine concern that we have (1) covered large areas of our most fertile, well-watered land with giant, sprawling cities, (2) filled these cities with pretty but unproductive parks, gardens, and streetscapes of mostly exotic plants on which we lavish water and fertilizers, (3) have come to rely on growing food at remote locations and transporting it over long distances to where it is consumed, and (4) devoted large areas of our land to growing surplus crops and products that need long-distance transport to distant countries. In an energy-descent world, horticulture and productive gardening, together with some wood production, will need to become more local - shifting back into our cities where they have traditionally been in more sustainable societies."
If we are to survive this massive change, we have a limited number of roads to go down. A lot of the population tends to put their trust in the scientists of the day, safe in the knowledge that the same wonderful technology that got us to this point will eventually solve all our woes. For those of us that don't fit into this category, some of us have decided that the world will indeed end, and there is nothing we can do about it but enjoy the time we've got, and others take as many steps as possible to limit their personal footprint, recycling, using alternative energies and growing their own food.
There is also a fourth group, a group of people who have a deep understanding of their place in the natural world. This group plans to ride the long sloping curve away from oil dependance, at the same time lessening their dominance over the land. This group see themselves not as masters of the universe, but as integral parts of it. They see their roles as stewards, not rulers. They see their final resting place ina world where...
"human populations are back in balance with the surrounding ecosystem; the use of energy and resources is matched to the natural capacity of the land people occupy"