Toward Democratic Eco-socialism
as the Next World System

16. Sustainable Food Production and Forestry

Book cover: The Anthropology of Climate Change by Hans A. Baer and Merrill Singer

A shift in food production away from heavy reliance on meat, particularly livestock, to organic farming, vegetarianism, and even veganism would be more environmentally sustainable and an important form of climate change mitigation. Drastic reduction of current forms of meat consumption and dairy production would greatly decrease emissions from food production, as well as health problems. Small-scale organic farming tends to be more fuel efficient than industrial agriculture, which relies heavily on petroleum, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. All farming requires water, but livestock production requires much more water than does growing crops. There is a strong need to shift toward agro-ecology, which relies upon farmers' extensive knowledge of local ecosystems and seeks to transcend dependence on chemical, oil-based agriculture. Crops such as maize, wheat, sorghum, millet, and vegetables can be grown in forested areas that provide shade, improve water availability, prevent soil erosion, and add nitrogen to soils.

Agro-forestry blends trees and shrubs with perennial crops and the production of cattle, poultry, and other animals. The Coalition for Rainforest Nations campaigns for cash incentives to be offered to developing countries if they agree to conserve their forests. Permaculture, which is a contraction for 'permanent agriculture', a term coined by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, seeks to integrate concepts from organic farming, sustainable forestry, no-till management, and the village design techniques of indigenous peoples. A shift toward vegetarianism could reverse deforestation for cattle production in the Amazon Basin with most of the meat being consumed not by Latin Americans but by Europeans and North Americans.

Book cover: Ecosocialism: A Radical Alternative to Capitalist Catastrophe by Michael Löwy

There is an urgent need to expand upon the urban farming that already exists in many parts of the world, particularly the developing world. Laws that prohibit farming in cities need to be repealed. Much urban farming can be done on rooftops, perhaps coupled with strategic placement of solar panels. Despite the horror stories associated with the enforced collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist era, Saral Sarkar [1999] in Eco-Socialism or Eco-Capitalism? asserts that the notion of collective agriculture needs to be revisited for a number of reasons, including economies of scale, particularly if it were based on decentralized planning rather than centralized planning that would not account for regional variation within a country.

Copyright © 2016

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