April 29, 2017

Note on the Rising Ecological Science and Practice


An example of the right idea and correct design.

In most cases where anyone talks about renewable energy it’s still completely in the service of the wrong idea: Extreme energy consumption toward general productionism and wasteful consumptionism. “Renewable energy” is merely supposed to replace (in reality, supplement) fossil fuels toward the goal of feeding the extreme consumption maw.
And then this wrong idea automatically drives bad design. Renewable energy is conceived in terms of concentrated solar panels and industrial wind farms, all of it of course under corporate control. (And all of it dependent on a foundation of continued fossil fuel extraction and burning.) Massive electricity production, massive electricity consumption, all to be used as wastefully and destructively as possible. They even want to continue with the personal car, even though this requires using the propaganda meme of “renewables” in the service of what are really fracking cars, coal cars, nuke cars. Social and engineering design doesn’t get more stupid and pernicious than wanting to use electricity to power such self-indulgent luxury transportation in the first place, and it was inevitable that the whole thing would be nothing but a pure fraud. A Prius is exactly the same product as a Hummer and exactly as ecologically and culturally destructive.
We know the corporate science paradigm generates only waste and destruction. What kind of science and engineering will be constructive for the human and ecological future? This goes with the question of what constitutes real science and in what way science can be restored to its proper, constructive role as a tool for the benefit of humanity and helpmate of human well-being.
Science and engineering must focus on the most constructive result within the framework of low energy consumption, low greenhouse gas emissions, low-maintenance technology, resiliency, robustness, and which does not destroy carbon sinks or in any other way harm the environment. Optimally, it’ll contribute to rebuilding sinks. This is the science which will be constructive and beneficial toward the necessary ecological human future.
These criteria are dictated by the finitude of fossil fuels, surging climate chaos, the acidification of the oceans, the mass eradication of biodiversity, the imminent collapse of the soils, and other looming environmental collapses. We must learn to live harmonious with the ecology or die. We’ve also learned that humanity cannot co-exist with corporations and therefore with any technological deployment which is inherently high-maintenance and hierarchical. Science and engineering which would benefit humanity would focus on inherently low-maintenance, decentralized, democratic technologies. As Auden wrote at the beginning of WWII, a war which never ended, “We must love another or die.”
Obviously these criteria rule out “hi-tech agriculture”, which is mutually exclusive with all of these, as well as any development or deployment of high-maintenance technology. It rules out anything which assumes globalization, since modern globalization is mutually exclusive with low energy consumption and low emissions, and as the most fully developed form of corporate domination it’s mutually exclusive with human innovation and freedom.
Agroecology is the gold standard for a fully developed science and set of practices which superbly fulfills all these necessary specifications.
I write about the future of agriculture and food as Peak Oil, climate chaos, environmental collapse, and extreme cultural and political volatility impend. Others must take up the corresponding tasks to propagate the necessary ideas for other essential sectors.
Help propagate the necessary ideas.

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