A morning walk with Angel passed a neighbor's garden with solar panels in the background.
A friend and I are having an e-mail dialogue. My reply starts with the merits of grass fed beef and then branches out to other territory. The ideas are borrowed from Richard Heinberg, Michael Pollan and a couple of others. The synthesis is mine though:
"Grass fed beef? Hell yes it is better for the environment! Bovine were not designed to eat grain. So when we feed them corn (as in finishing them up in those horrible, overcrowded stockyards) they create massive amounts of methane gas. If you've ever driven by one of these monster cattle yards (there is one on Interstate 5 that you can smell for miles and miles) the stench literally wipes you out. Makes your eyes water. Dangerous places. Methane gas is much worse than CO2 for warming the planet...
So the answer is: eat less beef. And when you do eat less beef, eat grass fed beef. Besides, the taste of grass fed beef is so vastly superior to stockyard beef. It is worth the extra cost, in my view.
I'm amazed that the number one red meat eaten in the world is goat!
The upcoming massive migration to rural America? I don't think it will take years. Obama has a new agricultural policy (the projected 2012 farm bill) that is really quite radical. It ends the subsidies for corn and other grains. It proposes a more regional agricultural system. I'm sure it will be a fight in congress with the big Ag Senators..but if it comes to pass (and I think it will), real changes will occur. Of course, I think this is all because Obama has figured out that we are at Peak Oil...and this just means good planning.
I think we are already in the new Food Revolution. Michael Pollan popularized it (have you read Omnivore's Dilemma?). Even Michelle Obama jumped on board with her organic garden. When the Soviet Union collapsed their population had a huge migration back to the rural areas. The result? 75 percent of their fruits and vegetables are now produced by family gardens. This has led to an exploding green revolution there that is much overlooked. Those Dachas have people living in them again---much to Putin's chagrin. There is a "back to the land" movement there that has been really strong since 92. They even have a popular Green spiritual component in a book called "Anastassia" that has sold 10 million copies in Russia. I've read it; it is quite good.
It all goes back to education and empire collapse. The Soviet Union created a very well-educated public. When their empire collapsed they needed to find a way to feed themselves. They didn't have the money to buy cheap grain on the world market. Hence the huge migration to rural areas.
Cuba is another case in point. When the checks stopped coming from Moscow they had to create a new food system. Now they are a world leader in organic gardening. 25 percent of their population left the cities for the farm. They figured out that in order to feed their population vis-a-vie a non-petroleum based agricultural system--they needed to have 25 percent of their population tending the turnips.
With the world recession, China has experienced a return to the rural areas from their cities. As jobs collapsed, people went home to their villages to tend their plots.
So I think this exodus to the rural areas will happen much faster than expected. The Department of Defense (who really controls most of the power in Washington) has stated that we will see oil shortages in 2015. Maybe even 2012. Don't look for them to release their clutches on Iraq. We needed a real client state in the middle east and not an unreliable monarchy like we have in Saudi Arabia.
So as our current food production system starts to collapse from the lack of cheap oil, the move to the country is inevitable.
So what would be a good guess? I'd say 2030. With noticeable trends by 2020 (that will be a very interesting census year, in my opinion).
I'm off to Napa today. Gotta make a living...