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.