By Guy Dauncey PIBC (Hon); Rob Buchan Ph.D., FCIP, RPP; Jack Anderson MCIP, RPP; Heather Pritchard; Kent Mullinix Ph.D. August 2022
There’s a global food catastrophe coming our way, and we’re not ready for it. It’s being caused by a disastrous combination of climate-induced deluges, droughts and heat waves; the war in Ukraine; supply-chain disruptions; and food export bans by leaders who are worried about popular insurrections if they can’t feed their people. Meanwhile, farmers’ profit margins are being squeezed by the rising cost of fuel, fertilizer and animal feed.
by Guy Dauncey, March 27th 2020 Updated March 30th.
Our food chain in BC is hugely dependent on imports, making it extremely vulnerable. On Vancouver Island, 95% of our food arrives on the ferry.
BC has tens of thousands of acres of farmland that are lying fallow, or growing hay for horses that serve no agricultural purpose. In the Cowichan Valley Regional District there are 17,700 hectares of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve, of which in 2010 only 10,840 hectares were in agricultural production, and only 2,120 hectares were set up for irrigation.
The COVID-19 pandemic is growing in its reach every day. Now is the time to be planning for worst-case scenarios, including:
Guy Dauncey is founder of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, co-founder of the Victoria Car Share Cooperative, and the author or co-author of ten books, including The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming and Journey to the Future: A Better World Is Possible. He is currently completing The Economics of Kindness: A Ten-Year Transition to a Green Cooperative Economy. He lives in Yellow Point, on Vancouver Island, Canada. His website is www.thepracticalutopian.ca.
I premise my analysis on five statements:
The climate emergency is real.
The ecological emergency is real.
The inequality, household debt and affordable housing crises are real.
A new global financial crisis is lurking, caused by excessive corporate and private debt and banking deregulation.
We need a ten-year mobilization to achieve a rapid transition to a green cooperative economy that is human-friendly, community-friendly, climate-friendly and nature-friendly, leaving self-interested capitalism behind us.
There are massive forest fires in Siberia. Greenland’s melting is accelerating. Record heatwaves are roasting Europe. The world’s insects are dying off. The scary news keeps accumulating.
We are living on the edge of an emergency that is just getting started, and climate is only the half of it. There’s also an ecological emergency. How are we to respond? It’s easy to slip into complacency, or to be overcome by fear, followed by a sense of impotence. You know the crises are real, but the children are coming to visit, there’s a holiday to plan, and don’t get me started on the problems we’re having at work.
The first step to end complacency and neutralize fear is to put the crisis on your weekly to-do list:
Weed the garden
Visit your friend in hospital
Sign the kids up for karate/soccer/piano/dancing lessons
Do something to tackle the climate and ecological crises
I have captured the possibility of an agro-ecological future and compared it to the current reality in these two diagrams. They are too big to display, so click on each phrase below to see the full diagrams:
Throughout the world, in every culture, farmers have lived and raised their children in small farm villages.
Here on Vancouver Island, 95% of our food is imported every day on the ferries. At the same time, good farmland sits empty or grows hay, while younger people who want to get onto the land to grow food are unable to do so because of the incredibly high price of land.
They say we are self-interested, we’re always out to win. Always individualistic, though it used to be a sin. They say we need free markets, the better to compete, and the economy will flourish if we only think of greed.
This is Economics 101, the way it’s taught today. Not a word about nature, community, caring, sharing, or cooperation.
During the mid 19th century, advances in science, democracy, education, literacy, public healthcare, labour unions, technological breakthroughs, banking, and the power of fossil fuels to generate rapid economic growth certainly made it seem that after ten thousand years of economic stagnation the competitive pursuit of profit was improving life for all. In the 1760s it took eighteen hours of human labour to transform a pound of cotton into cloth. By the 1860s it took one and a half hours. Today, it probably takes five seconds.
This essay was submitted to The Next Systems Project Essay Contest, in which it won second place. “We received hundreds of submissions from 30 different states and 26 countries, proving that many around the world not only believe system change is necessary, but have thought long and hard about what a new system should look like and how we might get there.” http://thenextsystem.org/announcing-the-winners-in-our-essay-competition/
Our task is to fashion a political vision and a political narrative that is a compelling answer to neo-liberalism and the ideology of competition, free markets, and the primacy of capital. We need a political economy of cooperation, solidarity, of mutual benefit. – John Restakis, Civil Power and the Partner State, 2016
Our modern economy is in crisis. Can we build an alternative economy as our ancestors did in the transition from feudalism to capitalism? It’s a question that takes us deep into our values, culture, history, politics—and visions of the future.