Agricultural Revolution Plus Social & Economic Reforms

Agricultural Revolution Plus Social & Economic Reforms

Prime Carbon’s Ken Bellamy predicts 2010 will see the beginning of the 3rd Agricultural Revolution and the decade ahead will be a period of unprecedented social and economic reform.    “In-soil photosynthesis will, I believe, allow us to work around some of the critical hurdles we face.” The Economist has its say on the subject, too.

Contribution and comments from Ken Bellamy:

“In my view, 2010 and the decade ahead stand to be a period of unprecedented social and economic reform.   2009 saw an international revisiting of the concepts of Social Enterprise at a governmental, commercial and grassroots level which has not been seen since the industrial revolution.

 “The Copenhagen discussions — where, for the first time in modern history, 193 nations gathered to discuss social issues ahead of political agendas, and went away agreeing that the social issues outweighed the political–was a milestone for what I see as a groundswell movement which will drive economic and political planning for the next century.

 “There has never been a time where our survival was so clearly challenged.  We feared our survival was under attack in the atomic age.  Nature is now showing us how much pedantry we have been engaged in.  We do not shape our ecosystem’s destiny, we participate in it — and affect it negatively or positively.  Our choice now is to follow the dinosaurs or reinvent how we live in this dynamic, integrated, randomly organised system of life.

 “A key feature of 2009, which I believe will gain burgeoning strength in 2010, is a re-look at the scientific method and how that construct has been hijacked over the past few decades to make us slaves to an ever-less relevant set of data-controllers.  There is a clear need for generalised, non-conformist thought as we face decisions and barriers which cannot be solved by the current scientific model and must be addressed by thought which goes beyond the manner of knowledge gathering which got us into the fix we are in. 

“Science itself needs a re-think.  Most important in this is the fact that everyone can know, everyone can contribute to what we all know and we must go forward collectively in our learning, not wait for ‘scientists’ (or their economic controllers to dole out what we should think).  The ‘gate-keepers’ of data have produced thinly distributed benefits to a privileged slice of our society–along with a series of destructive forces and constructs which now threaten our very survival (GM-based food monopolies, Green Revolution food dependancies, un-killable super-bugs, depleted soils, vanishing soils, food without substance and ever-more-efficient means to kill each other all fill this space).  I believe the rest of society will inhabit what happens next.

“2010 will see the beginning of the 3rd Agricultural Revolution.  In-soil photosynthesis will, I believe, allow us to work around some of the critical hurdles we face.”

Note from the Editor:

Ken Bellamy is the Townsville man we featured in a Profile in November, who has been hailed for a breakthrough in the biological enhancement of photosynthesis – thereby enabling plants to flourish with less water – and is also leading the charge for carbon farming in Australia and globally.

His early innovative work led to the establishment of VRM in 1997 as a biotech company offering an alternative to genetic modification in the management of biological risks.  VRM’s products and processes have gained respect in a range of industrial and agricultural situations since.

He also founded Prime Carbon (in 2004) as a vehicle to facilitate the quantification and sale of Carbon Offsets which directly support land management change to enhance soil quality on farms and other land. These measures for social and scientific support for landholders, has become a leading example of the power of community and business in dealing with the issues of climate change.


The Economist (30 December 2009):

FOR people who see stopping deforestation as the quickest climate-change win, Copenhagen seemed a success. Although there is still work to be done on the initiative known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), the deal struck in Copenhagen made it into a real thing, not just an idea. The notion of reducing net deforestation to zero was not explicitly mentioned, but it looks much more credible than it did two years ago.

As well as giving heart to the protectors of trees, this outcome is encouraging for people whose focus is not on forests but on fields. Climate and agriculture matter to each other in several ways.

On the downside, farming is a cause of deforestation, and also emits greenhouse gases in its own right—perhaps 14% of the global total. On the upside, agriculture can also dispose of heat-trapping gases, by increasing the carbon content of soils.

And because farmers (unlike say, coal-producers) feel the effects of the changes their activities may be causing, they have a role in adapting to climate change. Farms, particularly marginal ones, are the first to suffer when the climate shifts; increase their resilience and you help a lot of people. Whether the aim is adaptation to climate change or slowing it, there is an obvious need for more research on the benign contributions that agriculture can make. For people who are seized of this need, there was a welcome boost on December 16th when 21 countries pledged $150 billion to a Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.

One of the attractions of a focus on agriculture is that even poor countries have farms; in some cases credits for carbon newly locked away in their soil may be a more plausible way of attracting money than rewards for low-carbon industrialisation. A more remote possibility is that such countries will earn credits by hosting efforts to pump carbon dioxide out of the air and store it away.

Such “geoengineering” is still seen as far-fetched and in some circles misguided, but a reference to it was made in the Copenhagen documents. It was cited as a possible future direction for the Clean Development Mechanism, which provides credits for carbon-saving projects in poorer countries. In the aftermath of negotiations with a hint of slash-and-burn, new seeds may be taking root.


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