An end to fossil fuels and pesticides

Good news. While the vast majority of farmers still work with pesticides and other chemicals, it seems that many of them would prefer to work in a more environmentally friendly way. During a recent research, most farmers questioned said that using less intensive agriculture and livestock farming and fewer pesticides was high on their wish list. They see first hand how these practices deplete their soil and poison their ground, but the vast amount of debt they are often in makes it hard for them to actually make a change and turn to organic farming. The risks this would entail make it a daunting prospect for most. So perhaps the government can lend them a hand? After all, politicians talk about reforms all the time.  Is now the time they will finally step up? Several countries in the EU are taking action on climate change. The European Parliament passed a series of resolutions designed to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement.

By 2030, the biggest polluting sectors of agriculture, transport and waste collection should have decreased their emissions by 30% compared to 2005, but several countries are adapting laws that go further than that. Agreements that would eventually ban the use of nuclear energy, coal, oil or gas. Politicians with a vision; now there’s a reason to celebrate.

A skeptic might point out that fossil fuels will be depleted by that time anyway, and that passing such laws is therefore no more than a necessity. That same skeptic could also say that farmers know that their depleted land will yield less and less anyway. And that consumers no longer want their poisoned products. But that is what is happening in the world economy. The law of supply and demand. Only when fossil fuels are gone or become too expensive, it becomes viable to replace them with clean sources such as wind, solar and geothermal energy. Only when the chemical weapons on land (pesticides and fertilizer) are no longer effective, we will rely again on the power of nature.

Is that bad? No, the key question is whether we still have the time. Rather than burning it, you can do other things with oil that are more durable, so it is stupid to use it all up. And to continue emitting CO2  for years to come is also absurd in a world where we are already covering glaciers with blankets to slow down their melting (Rhone glacier in Switzerland). Just as absurd as continuing to poison ourselves and our children with vegetables and meat that is riddled with antibiotics. It is time for radical changes, not only in agriculture and politics, but also in our own lives.

This post is also available in: Dutch

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