7.10.17

Monbiot on Meat/ Permaculture/ Community Farms/ Housing design/ Radical Education/ Land Reform

'Farming animals is as unsustainable as mining coal.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 4th October 2017
What will future generations, looking back on our age, see as its monstrosities? We think of slavery, the subjugation of women, judicial torture, the murder of heretics, imperial conquest and genocide, the First World War and the rise of fascism, and ask ourselves how people could have failed to see the horror of what they did. What madness of our times will revolt our descendants?
There are plenty to choose from. But one of them, I believe, will be the mass incarceration of animals, to enable us to eat their flesh or eggs or drink their milk. While we call ourselves animal lovers, and lavish kindness on our dogs and cats, we inflict brutal deprivations on billions of animals, that are just as capable of suffering. The hypocrisy is so rank that future generations will marvel at how we could have failed to see it.'
My own view is that Monbiot and the Vegan horde are always less than persuasive when talking about meat consumption.  They come across as hysterical, utterly self-righteous and as self-flagellating as ancient Christian pilgrims.
Monbiot states he can tell no difference between chicken and Quorn!  Enough said really.
Modern industrial farming is a wicked problem.  It will need multi-factorial solutions.  It will affect numerous stakeholders.  It cannot be resolved by simply removing sheep and cattle from the land.  Certainly not by wholescale re-wilding.
Personally I look to permaculture and radical organic farming utilised around complete recycling of every element with the very highest welfare standards applied.  What is the most productive land under cultivation in the UK and probably anywhere else?  It is abundantly clear that it is the vegetable plots which you will find in almost every community.  I will seek out any statistical information that might be available on production from these plots.  Certainly when I walked around my son's plot in Norwich, not only was there a real sense of beauty and peace in the heart of the city but production levels of food of the very highest quality were explosive.
The Victorians brought such smallscale production to incredible levels of competence in the walled garden plots of the large country homes of the period and developed storage methodologies almost miraculous in maintaining food in a fresh usable condition through the winter and into spring.
Immediate solutions:
1)  Include community gardening elements in every new building development with the replacement of lawns with productive soil plots and including water harvesting, wind power collection and solar power with recycling of all materials back through the system.  Create a Community food production culture!  Every housing estate should be re-designed to include a community food gardening hub.  Expect to see chickens wandering around!  Keep vehicles well away from the community area.  Include large geodesic greenhouses with pleasant seating and year round picnic areas.  Include fish tanks.
2)  Redistribute the land.  The current allocation of millions of acres to a few rich families and individuals is a hangover from the enclosures of the middle ages-basically theft of the land by the barons!  A limit on farm size and acreage needs to be established.
3)  Release substantial areas of land back to wilderness and include some of the very best forestry practices to establish the beginnings of old growth forest as well as returning some land to nature without interference form humans.
4)  Restrict access to areas of outstanding natural beauty to those who can walk in or cycle.  This includes electric bicycles but not electric cars.  The exception is for the elderly and disabled who should naturally have full access to everywhere.
5)  Introduce permaculture and food production into every curriculum in every educational establishment.  It should be central to learning along with the responsibilities of citizenship/health and healthy relationships/sexual relationships and identity/ Botany/ Biology/ Low impact building/ Meditation/ Self-defence/ Bushcraft/ Outdoor Pursuits/ Maritime skills including fishing/ Maintenance of your bicycle.
This is, of course, a curriculum which values human beings.  The present division between a small percentage of highly educated private school children introduced to the levers of power, against the majority of children introduced to a mindless useless collection of mostly meaningless knowledge preparing them for a future of debt and zero-hours contracts.  Modern industrial education is an unhappy place.
So what do we need?  Just a revolution in our thinking!
Simples!!!  Innit!!!


5 comments:

  1. I think your mad manifesto missed something out-gender neutrality.

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    1. Mad? Gender neutral? Please let me know more of your thinking on this post.

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  2. A good post with thought-provoking alternatives as to structural reforms. Query: is the country ready for these alternatives? Should it be?

    I am pleased my Norwich allotment made its way in :D I do miss that oasis. I think, however, the Monbiot point hasn't been sufficiently tackled - and there is a ripe opportunity to given your preference for dialectic. His argument, which is shared by the "Vegan horde", is that meat consumption should stop - absolutely. There is credence to this view, in particular when we consider the number of sentient animals that serve our meaty desires, which in addition to food includes inter alia clothing and scientific experimentation. The levels of suffering experienced by subservient animals on a daily basis are incomprehensible. This is a powerful argument, and will without doubt be looked on unfavourably by future generations.

    But will "Monbiot and the Vegan horde" have provided a balanced viewpoint? I'd like to read your unpacking of that, discussing Monbiot's speciesist point. There was a mention of it when you wrote: "Every housing estate should be re-designed to include a community food gardening hub. Expect to see chickens wandering around!" Is this about the extent to which meat consumption may be *potentially* justifiable given our position - as Sapiens - in the foodchain, or is it about your insatiable desire for free-range, roaming chicken?

    Nevertheless, great piece; so are the ones which get you thinking.

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    1. Great response. Thank you so much for taking the time. A raging debate on this blog would make me so happy.
      So response? Well a detailed outline of how we will address agribusiness impacts would take many moons of research before the required writing and there are many better writer specialists on this topic than me. A blog is about bite-sized chunks aimed at provoking thinking.
      But really this whole food production crisis, exacerbated by massive population growth and global climate impacts from primarily fossil fuel use and probably from neo-liberal capital arrangements is what is known as a 'wicked problem.' That is: requires multi-factorial solutions from a range of stakeholders who may hold widely divergent views of potential solutions. My quick permaculturist solution benefits from the twinning of solution with good design-also think the great Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller. So, as an example, we hear a lot about the need for physical activity-gyms/food/aerobic-anaerobic exercise/moving the body and so on and so forth. It's become a torrent! It's an obsessive of the 'Hey ME!' generation. Industrial fitness. Muscled body as hyperobject. The triumph of image over substance. Hollywoodology! Mostly hijacked by bullshitters but then, good health is also a no-brainer, and prizing it is an act of simple intelligence.
      So my design solution is 'bike to work'. You have to use your body to get to a place. You get a good workout twice a day. Once initial outlay made-the expense is minimal. It gets the serotonin moving and that creates joy. I remember sometimes singing with joy while cycling to work.
      The point is that the fitness derived from such activity is a byproduct of getting to work to earn a living. That's permaculture-in essence. That's just one possible contribution to the ovearching climate change debate. A tiny little one. But the essence is the same. Multi-layered possibilities taking into account rainfall, solar impact, land fertility, social relationships, human and non-human harmony, political dimensions, social and habitation arrangements, working arrangements (or production arrangements!) as well as creativity and joy and capacities for collective sorrow as well as spiritual opportunities.
      And all of that is just about the onions on your cheeseburger! Like I said-Wicked!

      Some refs:
      Lean Logic by David Fleming
      Surviving the Future by Shaun Chamberlain
      The Dark Mountain Blog
      Search permaculture on the net and Permaculture Magazine-very localised with design courses available in your area
      Ecosophia-The blog of John Michael Greer. Essential, but be warned, John will always use five thousand words rather than five hundred!
      Wicked and Wise: How to solve the world's toughest problems by Alan Watkins and Ken Wilber. Great intro to the Integral perspective.

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    2. Sorry I forgot to add-I love chickens. Busy, industrious little gardeners! And they taste great!

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