The gap

Our future … in farmers’ hands?

I haven’t written a post for a long time, for which I apologise.

There was a reason for this, although it may sound strange.

In October, two jaw-droppingly important reports and pieces of research were published. The United Nations Special Climate Report spelled out the dangers of global warming exceeding 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and suggested practical measures, including changes to agriculture, to try stop that happening.

A study by Oxford University, Options for keeping the food system within planetary limits, issued a stark warning that people in the developed world will need to reduce their meat consumption by 90% and eat five times more beans, if a global climate change catastrophe is to be avoided. You can an explanatory article by the lead academic here, and also a general press article.

Since then, in February this year, another study has been published describing a catastrophic decline in insects, which are extremely important for pollination and to feed birds and other creatures. Habitat loss by conversion to intensive agriculture and use of agrochemicals are apparently partly to blame. You can read the study here.

Incidentally, one of the weirdest things about the publication of all of these dismaying studies is the extent to which they have been ignored by the world’s media. It’s almost as if they haven’t happened, and it seems many people are unaware of them. Burying heads in sand seems the most likely explanation.

Nevertheless, all of this stopped me in my blogging tracks.

My original plan was to learn about farming as it’s practised today in the UK, then try to communicate that information to anyone who cared to read it. A ‘learning together’ kind of process.

But how would a blog about current farming practices in a small corner of the world fit into this new and serious picture? How could I possibly begin to understand, let alone describe, the enormous, radical changes that agriculture will have to undergo, in this country and globally?

It seemed too big a task. So I just stopped writing.

But over the last few weeks, I’ve realised that there is no reason why I can’t continue the blog. I hope people will still be interested in knowing something about farming – they may even be more interested, given what’s at stake. I decided that I can still describe current farming practices, but also try to put them in the context of possible future changes.

There is a huge gap between where farming is now and where it needs to be in 10 – 20 years’ time, if our children and grandchildren are to live free from extreme climate events and with enough food to eat.

I would like to help explain how we might – just – be able to achieve this.

So, there you have it. This blog is not about to disappear just yet.

Send me a comment or a suggestion for a future post.

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