I was thrilled to hear the crew of the Planet Normal podcast (Planet Normal on Apple Podcasts) turning their steely eyed focus on the subject of Net Zero. As a mixed farmer in the North of England, working hard to produce good food in a sustainable way I am increasingly frustrated by the superficial oversimplification of the climate debate. This has seen the global oversimplification of farming practice and its impact to produce a situation where it is becoming culturally more acceptable to import avocado pears, soy beans and almonds across the planet where the production of local sustainably food produced is demonised.
We are becoming fixated on the “easy” part of the carbon cycle to the detriment of the myriad of other cycles and systems that make up this complex and wonderful world in which we live. Many of us like almonds as a guilty pleasure, but an understanding of the impacts of their production in context must raise questions about whether Almond milk is less damaging to the local ecosystem than sustainably produced dairy. Just because they impact a different part of the complex ecosystem or have an impact thousands of miles away. By the way, I’m not taking a swipe at Almond production here per se, merely pointing out that different contexts have different impacts.
Nor is rewilding the only solution. It does have a part to play in some areas and has produced some incredible examples of ecological restoration, but is it a way to feed the population if deployed on a widespread basis – especially if increasing numbers of said population have been persuaded that meat eating is not good for the environment? I am very fired up by my Agroforestry, Mycology, Biochar and Permaculture projects – these all have lot of promise at farm scale – though again each has its own limitations. It is becoming clear that any credible solution will lie somewhere in a complex context specific mix. This doesn’t make good news however, and does take some effort to consider.