Green Writer for BBC, Guardian, Demands: End Farming, Dismantle Civilization.

Dr John Feeney is a prominent green campaigner who has written for the Guardian newspaper, the BBC, and many other Green journals and websites. He was the winner of the 2007 ECO award. In 2009 he received the Global Media award from the Population Institute for his work.

Now this award-winning Greenie has joined the growing list of ecologists and activists who are saying that the root of the problem is agriculture, which enables humans to “circumvent” nature’s sacred limits and build earth-destroying civilizations. Like many others, he accuses us of being in “denial” over the need to return to a hunter-gatherer way of life:

The problem of agriculture is in part a problem of human numbers. Before farming hu­man population size had been regulated by the same process that works for black bears, dingos, bonobos, rainbow trout, and long-tailed parakeets. It works for all species, gener­ally keeping their numbers within carrying capacity. It’s simple: Population follows food supply. Normal oscillations in available food exert multiple small, cumulative, typically painless infuences on fertility and mortality. With agriculture we circumvented this process. Growing and storing food we could go on growing our food supply. The result has been predictable: more humans.

Canyon County Zephyr. Agriculture: The End of the World As We Know It.

Ah, yes. Overpopulation. At the heart of the global warming movement, just like the rest of the so-called crises, is the deep and abiding belief of Greenies that there are just far too many of you.

Feeney believes that farming has caused “a steep decline in health” as well as “social hierarchies, sexual inequality, fam­ine, slavery, time clocks, money, and a massive upscaling of violence”. He agrees with Jared Diamond’s characterization of farming as “the worst mistake in the history of the human race” and with Paleontologist Niles Eldredge’s comment that to develop agriculture is “essentially to declare war on ecosystems.”.

Feeney believes that once  civilizations crumble “a better future” awaits us as hunter-gatherers “beyond civilization” –

It is of course not only our numbers which will come to an end. Civilization is made possible by agriculture. Agriculture is unsustainable. If it weren’t obvious already, you can see where this is going. There’s no predicting the timeline of civilization’s collapse. Techno-fxes and any resiliency industrial society possesses may draw it out. No matter, a better future, indeed the only future for humanity and the rest of Earth’s inhabitants is one beyond civilization.

Feeney believes that this shift is unlikely to happen voluntarily and says “hard choices”, possibly involving “the loss of life”, will have to be made by those who understand that we cannot allow civilization to continue:

But despite converging ecological catastrophes we show few signs of such a massive, voluntary shift. Those with vested interests in the status quo see to that. So writers such as Zerzan and Derrick Jensen advocate a purposeful resistance movement designed to hasten civilization’s end . . . Says Jensen today, “Systems of power are created by humans and can be stopped by humans. Those in power are never supernatural or immortal, and they can be brought down.”  Though this raises the frightening specter of triggering loss of life before it would happen other­wise, the argument is that bringing down civilization sooner would leave more life intact than would a delayed and drawn out collapse. We face hard choices.

Though Feeney is pessimistic about a voluntary shift to end civilization, he takes heart from the work of fellow activists who “acknowledge a collapse of civi­lization is inevitable and work with zest toward a shift to a tribal, wild way of living.”

He concludes with the thought that however the collapse of civilization and the end of farming is achieved, it must happen, as it’s not sustainable –

Whatever our course, we have only to consider the agricultural origins of our ecological crisis to understand civilization is an unsustainable trap.

John Feeney lives in Colorado with his family. Presumably not just on nuts, berries and whatever they can hunt down, as he has an internet connection. He is the creator of the PopulationSpeakOut website.

38 responses to “Green Writer for BBC, Guardian, Demands: End Farming, Dismantle Civilization.

  1. If the Greens are so terribly concerned about what they describe as overpopulation they should all congregate somewhere and top themselves. It would be a win-win. They would help reduce the population and we would be rid of their lunatic rantings.

    If Dr Feeney wants us to revert to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle then I offer this suggestion to him… after you Doc.

    • Or why not just lead by example and take his family somewhere where they can live the hunter-gatherer lifestyle “beyond civilization” that they seek. Why try and force everyone else to do what they want?

      As Feeney wears glasses, though, and looks a bit weedy (to be frank), I don’t think he’d last that long in the new stone age.

      • I just finished reading the WDM Bell memoir Karamojo Safari (published 1949, a narrative of a 14-month ivory hunting safari in British East Africa just before WW I). Rousing good adventure — and one learns a great deal about the natives’ lifestyle.

        By all means, give Dr. Feeney two iron-tipped spears (the iron traded from Arabs for hides) and drop him naked in central Africa for a while. Do him a world of good.

  2. “Normal oscillations in available food exert multiple small, cumulative, typically painless infuences on fertility and mortality.”

    This may be relatively true for fertility, for some species, but death by starvation is not exactly “painless.”

  3. Dr Feeney fails to account for development (in the broadest sense; essentially ingenuity) as the counter-balance to the ‘unsustainable’ nightmare he postulates.

    But then, you must if your position is anti-humanist in the first place and you endorse ‘a purposeful resistance movement intended to hasten civilisation’s end’.

    Oh dear.

  4. The great benefit of agriculture was that it provided humans with some degree of certainty over where their next meal was coming from. This resulted in less time being devoted to obtaining nourishment and allowed for the development of other aspects of humanity, leading to our modern civilization today.

    Feeney and his green buddies are correct – agriculture is indeed the foundation upon which our society rests, it allows for all our modern specialisations – including climate doomsaying. It would be nice to see the doomsayers access to academic and public funding cut so that they would have to devote a higher proportion of their time figuring out where their next meal wqas coming from!

  5. This seems an appropriate moment to remind ourselves that, as recently as 250 years ago, long after agriculture had taken hold, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, writing in Emile declared that it was “Nature’s law” that half of all children would die before their 8th birthday. As recently as 250 years ago, an educated gent like him thought it was pointless to imagine an improved state of affairs.

    manuscript here, see p. 17

    And Feenie wants to regress us way, way further back than 250 years – to the hunter-gather stage, because he imagines that natural checks on population will be supposedly “painless”? Like dying in childbirth? Or burying your four-year-old beside her six-year-old brother? What a load of rubbish.

  6. Donna Laframboise is as on-the-nail as ever.

  7. They always claim unsustainability, yet we are sustaining and improving every year. This is senseless claptrap.

  8. It is frightening that there are people like this in our midst. However, talk like this has been going on for many years.

    From Malthus, through Erlich and Holdren, Prince Philip, Jonathon Porritt and, lately, even (very disappointingly) David Attenborough, these anti humans and their ilk preach and hope for the end of mankind.

    Fortunately, their witterings have had no influence whatsoever on population, there have been no culls of humans because of how many we are, and I trust this will remain the case ( although I accept that millions have died through war, famine, genocide etc) .

    I saw a programme about a certain German Chancellor a night or two ago. The narrator noted that ‘Where madness rules, the absurd is not far away.’
    And these sort of rantings are absurd in the extreme.

    As for civilisation collapsing, it will do so in its own time, if at all. I believe in human ingenuity. We didn’t come out of the stone age because we ran out of stone.

    These are sad, unhappy people, and, like Autonomous Mind, I say ‘You first…..’ Just leave the rest of us the hell alone.

  9. These fools are all for population reductions as long as they don’t have to be one of folks being depopulated.

    Because some pigs are smarter, better and sooooooooooooooo much more progressive than other pigs and should be the ones who decides who lives and who dies.

    Go the Left, you live, to the Right, you die.

    I can almost hear the trains and the barking dogs.

  10. “Though Feeney is pessimistic about a voluntary shift to end civilization, he takes heart from the work of fellow activists who “acknowledge a collapse of civi­lization is inevitable and work with zest toward a shift to a tribal, wild way of living.”

    This guy’s rantings kind of give me a creepy “Mosquito Coast” kind of vibe.

    Crazy scientist thinks society and civilization is beyond hope and would like for us (not just his family in this case) to go “native”.

    That little experiment didn’t end too well for the family in the book however.

  11. Over the past couple of months I’ve been noticing a correlation between the green movement and death cults of the dark and middle ages. Mostly with the constant predictions of apocalypses that never happen. But I’ve never really said or thought too much about it because I thought calling people like Feeney death cultists is a little irresponsible and a tad bit on the hyperbole side.

    But with the recent talk of Genghis Khan being a green warrior, the black plague being a good thing and the general anti-human rhetoric lately it’s seeming more like a modern death cult by the day. Most death cults hate civilization and humanity in general. The 10-10 video was the first thing that brought the death cult like patterns to mind.

    Like I said, calling the green movement a modern death cult probably is the very definition of irresponsible and hyperbole, but I just can’t help making the connections. All the signs are there though. Disdain for civilization and advancement. Uncaring to contempt of human life. Constant predictions of apocalypses. Death cults have been around since the dawn of civilization and probably even further back. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that those tendencies still are with us.

    At the height of the Holy Roman Catholic empire the death cults were mostly Christian sects. These were educated and well learned individuals. They often dreamed up gruesome apocalypses as a sort of demented fan fiction. We live in an age where science dictates what people think and believe. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that this mentality would use science as a sort of weapon against itself. These people are starting to get scary.

  12. It’s Holocaustrians like Feeney that turn genuine environmentalists into deniers.
    Their level of hate-crime is an obscenity that is publicised and left, not only, unchallenged by “respectable” sections of the Mainstream establishment, but is endorsed by the awarding of prestigious  honours!
    Meanwhile the rhetoric continues to produce actions. Millions of third worlders, predominantly children, meet their makers prematurely because of first world policies that oddly support the spiteful philosophies of the Holocaustrians.
    I’m sure you love your kids Feeney. How about a bit of compassion for other peoples children?

  13. Colorado seems to have a lot to answer for.

    I suspect this chap missed a evolutionary step somewhere before the development of agriculture (I ssume here he means the sort of agriculture that seems to have started about 15,000 years ago or whatever the date is this week.)

    I suspect it goes back longer than that to the point where humanoids started to make things. Once in that mindset – and as rudimentary technology developed – the need to create stuff clearly drove a few humans onwards and upwards. Farming and permanent settlements were just a step along the way. I could imagine that once people learned how to build things in times where naturally groing food was plentiful and there was plenty of daylight leisure time to be filled they didn’t want to leave all that effort and move on. So farming was a way to establish some permanency without starving too often.

    Presumably that subsequently allowed a more consistent exchange of knowledge thus leading to education which in turn accelerated the development process. Transport evolved and so trading became an objective and led to conflict. The development of boats and ships furthered expansion of humanity and trade and shared knowledge and, eventually, great reductions in the number of trees around the world as they were cut down to build ships and houses and stuff.

    For a while it looked like diseases cadging a lift on the back of mobility and trade, might keep things under control with the help of a number of conflicts but then medicine developed and led to interests in sanitation and so on. The success of sanitation pretty much confirmed (although not often quite as expected by the consensus) the medical concepts and between them health and sanitation can be blamed for much of the remarkable succes of humanity and population growth over the past 150 years or a little more.

    So, in the spirit of offering soluti0ns to problems it seems to me that the easy way to reverse the process would be to start with a few wars and then destroy sanitation and remove medical support entirely. A couple of generations should see a dramatic improvement in population levels and should it become apparent that susptanability was possible with higher numbers than Dr. Feeney seems to be suggesting the entire process could be wound down and an equilibrium established to provide a ‘one out – one in’ population for the future.

    Problem solved.

    Should I add the smiley here?

  14. I particularly like the “Agriculture: The End of the World as We Know It” tag. No, an agriculture-based world is the only world “we” know. The large majority of the human population has been living in an agriculture-based world for thousands of years now. “We” really have no clue what a hunter-gatherer life is like.

    As with others, I’m struck by the “typically painless influences on fertility and mortality” line. Yes, starving to death because you have no stored agricultural surplus to get you through the bad year is painless. It’s very likely that the agricultural “model” took over from the hunter-gatherer model precisely because those societies could get through bad times without all starving to death. Yes, there were and are tradeoffs, but to focus only on the downsides of your own society without examining the downsides of your proposed alternative is just idiotic.

  15. To be fair, the title of the linked article is actually “Agriculture: Ending the World as We Know It”. I still don’t think they have any clue as to what the world they say they want would be like.

  16. I think the writer of the piece good do with a good month’s hunting holiday in New Zealand. I can put him in touch with some excellent guides.

    Do a bit of pig and thar hunting, shooting a skinning the beasts, dragging them back home for several hours on your back.

    Most people who do this are very happy to re-engage with what we call civilisation. A hot bath, a cold beer, and feet parked up in front of the telly.

    One suspect that the proponents of this hunter gatherer lifestyle have no idea how hard it really is.

  17. To be fair, it seems misleading to say the article is actually calling for loss of life. Read it carefully and it’s saying civilization is destined to collapse, and so we have a near impossible choice: (a) do nothing and see a massive loss of human life as the process draws out, or (b) intervene to hasten that collapse, thereby saving some of the life (human and otherwise) that would otherwise be lost. It’s like a philosophical choice. If you were faced with the option of killing one innocent person, knowing it would save a million innocent people from dying, would you do it? It’s a bind. I see nothing in the article actually urging one choice or the other. It’s more reporting, I think.

    I disagree with some of the comments here on the idea of hunting and gathering. If you believe hunting and gathering was so awful, so difficult, then would you say it simply isn’t conducive to human happiness? If so, then you’re saying humans were never happy for something like 200 thousand years. And what about other animals? They must all be miserable. Let’s put the animal rights groups on this one! Other animals need the comforts of civilization too, eh? 😉 Also, from what I understand starvation was rare among hunter-gatherers.

    • I cannot believe anyone would try and defend any of the points in this article.
      In giving it any agreement at all, you’re saying you’re happy with the hypothesis that we’re better off living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. That people back then were happy. They probably had, in some cases, maximised their happiness. But I’m prepared to go out on a limb and say if you had introduced them to a 5 star hotel and a tray of McDonalds, their old levels of happiness mightn’t have cut it anymore. We’re all familiar with happiness being a marginal game.
      Try starving for a while because it’s raining. Try starving because there’s a drought. Try burying 50, 60, 70% of your kids. Sitting in the dark, wondering if you’ll last the week/month/year. Think you’ll be happy?
      Ever found a stray dog fending for itself? Yes, it is miserable. Nature is a miserable place. Seen Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Modern human happiness and contentment is something even the kings of old would have traded all for.
      You are just as bad as James Cameron – insisting people in the Amazonian wilderness get left alone. Without refrigeration, medicine, reliable transport, storm-proof shelter. All because you think it is somehow a more pure way of life.
      There is no ‘destiny’ in civilization collapse. You’ve fallen for the end-of-the-world cult and taken it as a given. Barking mad lunatics, all of your ilk are.

  18. To be more precise, I should say that the choice I described above is what the article suggests we face IF we don’t voluntarily dismantle civilization. In theory we could do that, but I guess I’d have to agree that it seems unlikely, to say the least.

  19. Hunting and gathering necessarily means killing animals.

    What would the vegan and vegetarian greens do in such a society?

    • No, no, no, you don’t understand. The “green” hunter-gatherer caveworld is different. First, you can’t chip sharp spearpoints from flint because your few surviving children might hurt themselves on them. Second, you of course can’t have fire because it emits CO2, not to mention particulates.

      So everything is just fine. Raw grass, herbs, and native fruit. See?

      Do these people honestly not realize that any halfway rational human would regard them as clinically insane?

  20. Ok, I agree that we return to a hunter-gatherer society. I bags first crack at hunting him.

  21. He’s right in the sense that any economic input-output analysis (showing inter-industry inputs and outputs over an entire economy) *always* places agriculture, including animal husbandry, as the most vital foundation for any economy. Without agriculture almost no other economic development is possible.

    So, if we hadn’t “learned” agriculture we would indeed all be hunter-gatherers, with a typical life expectancy of perhaps 35 (while we are able to hunt efficiently, for the 30% or so who actually survived infancy – then we die of disease), living in mud-huts without sanitation where witch doctors have the only “medical” knowledge. Dr Feeney, you and your fellow travellers are welcome to this lifestyle: good luck to you all – and by the way there is no dentistry either, if you need a tooth pulled!

    But the genie is out of the bottle. We can’t “un-invent” knowledge – and what is wrong with being the most adaptive and successful species on the planet? The population numbers are now converging and expected to top out at about 9 billion. We can feed all of those sustainably – see

    With global land area of 1.49E+08 km2 (Wiki) the 9 billion of us (as, then, average families of 2 adults and 2 children to replace us) would each have an average 258 x 258 meter square of this land area as our accommodation, for sole use by our family. Enough room I would have thought, as most of us tend to congregate in cities at higher densities anyway.

  22. The real fear is that all of this new overpopulation narrative is part of a softening up exercise. Place this hypothesis alongside recent scare stories of “chemtrails”, small “killer” asteroids, pandemics, wars – conventional, nuclear, terror and guerilla; global financial collapse, the UN’s Agenda21, not to mention the dreaded climate change myth and you have something to keep you awake at night. It seems that just about every “thinking” person is worried about something or other catastrophically changing their lives, could it be possible that we are all wrong? Was Moonraker really fiction?

    • One of the more interesting aspects of the current mass of fear memes delivered in bulk is that people are very likely to give up, and stop listening.

      Now, if someone had wished to introduce the concept of mass conflict to be seen as a natural state and allow that impression to develop in order to desensitise the masses they it would seem to be succeeding.

      If acceptance of conflict is indeed what they have in mind we have to? wonder why. And maybe, who?

      On the other hand is this really intentional or is it merely another example of the unintended consequences that seem to be endemic to human activity.

  23. It is a direct consequence of “life” that every living thing alters its environment. Some may call this “entropy.” Some living things survive because they are able to willfully alter their environment to their advantage, like nesting birds. This is called “adaptability.” Humans are just supremely more adaptable than any other species that has ever existed. To forfeit this critical survival advantage is to volunteer for extinction. Perhaps we are coming to a time when humanity will speciate into two or more distinct groups, of which only one will eventually survive.

  24. The fact that Feeney and others who share the same brain are not all suddenly dropping modernity like a hot potato to live a neo-tribal lifestyle is all the proof we need that his ideas are not going to work.

    The fact that Feeney seems to be asking us all to join him in something he himself won’t participate in [because if it was just him, his family and anyone else who wants to enjoy the benefits of a modern stone-age lifestyle it’d be pretty damn lonely] is even more proof that neo-tribalism is a guaranteed no-sale.

    He should be brought out into public and thoroughly humiliated for such pebble-brained ideas.

    And then cut off from the internet. And a warm house and clean clothes. And all the things that horrible, evil modernity brings with it.

  25. When people like Feeney call for a cull of the human race please be aware that he does not want to be a cullee, he wants to be a culler.

    Not so much Pol Pot, but Crack Pot. But still with a tendency to be dangerous, as nutters with plans for pipe bombs might take his blatherings seriously.

  26. I’d love the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but i’m a complete wuss so i don’t think I’d last long!

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  28. This is pure greenie nonsense. It’s meant to save other species… not humans of course! Unbelievable. It’s humans that count. So what if we knock off other species to improve our own lives? Personally, I don’t need them. If our human lives are made better, that’s what counts. As far as I’m concerned we can get rid of every last one of the other species. (The exceptions being cows and chickens and corn and such.) It won’t hurt anything. The greenies don’t get this simple point!

  29. Matt above who said “he wants to be a culler, not a cullee” hit it on the head. Greenism is the new refuge of the murderous fiend.

    Strip him naked, take the glasses, and toss him out into the woods. Or better yet, the Gobi.

  30. “Population follows food supply”…

    And CO2 is the food supply of the entire planet. No CO2, no life.

    I suspect Dr Feeney has never worked a day in his life: has contributed nothing to society – but taken far more than his share, or his worth, and probably hasn’t even managed to have an original thought. His ignorant, vile ravings are those of a monstrous, ungrateful child. He is clearly unfit to dwell amongst decent, civilised, productive people, and I doubt the world would miss him if he left.

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