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The Great Adaptation

They’re now calling this “The Great Adaptation,” which brings to mind “The Great Simplification” described by Jason Bradford (in The Future Is Rural: Food System Adaptations to the Great Simplification); the crisis is described this way as well as by Richard Heinberg (in The Party’s Over), by Joel Salatin (Folks, This Ain’t Normal), and by practically everything published by the Post-Carbon Institute.

The vulnerability that comes with our mutual interdependence is being driven home, not only by the indifference of the spread of Covid-19 to geographical boundaries, but also by collapsing global, national, and regional supply chains.

Now imagine that the nations of the world had long ago designed their political and economic systems properly. Among other things, hydrocarbon extraction would be very expensive, because prices (+ taxes) would reflect both the user costs of depletion of a limited natural resource and the enormous environmental costs of most uses of hydrocarbons. This alone would mean that most long-distance trade would never have been considered as economically rational. Industrial agriculture, with its CAFOs, (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) processed foods, toxic emissions, excessive land use, and rising industrial concentration, would not have developed. Densely populated mega-cities would never have been built. Locally-produced food and renewable energy would instead be the norm. And there would be few opportunities for rent-takers to bribe government officials to get them to serve private rather than public interests.

The people of the United States might never even have heard about a virus outbreak in some faraway city. And a threat at home would be addressed by a responsible and functional government.

image: karsten-wurth-UbGYPMbMYP8-unsplash


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