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Agroecology, capitalism and climate change

Agroecology, capitalism and climate change

“Agroecology proposes the agroecological conversion of production systems, and the creation of alternative networks of healthy and accessible food for all people. Agroecology capitalizes on the experience of thousands of peasants who use polyculture and agroforestry systems that minimize risks in the face of climate change. "

Greenhouse gas concentrations have reached levels never before detected. As a result, temperatures in the oceans and land are ~ 1 ° C higher than in the pre-industrial era, and rainfall becomes more variable and more extreme. These changes already have tangible impacts on several planetary biophysical processes (ocean acidification, extinction of thousands of species, scarcity of fresh water, etc.) and also put agricultural production in check, especially large industrial monocultures, which are part of the problem, but they continue to expand despite self-destructing by undermining the ecological conditions of production: they produce 30 percent of greenhouse gases and given their genetic homogeneity they are extremely vulnerable to climate change.

Although there is awareness of the emergency that climate change represents, carbon emissions continue to increase and there are no actions to stop global warming. The problem is that the root cause of the ecological challenge is the capitalist system incapable of ensuring respect for the environment and it is not convenient for capitalism to implement urgent cuts in carbon emissions, since these measures threaten its very existence. Stopping emissions before reaching the 2 ° C threshold (which would lead to a state of climate irreversibility) requires a revolutionary change that goes against economic growth and the hegemony of multinationals. To stay below the threshold, rich countries would have to cut their emissions by 10 percent per year, threatening the levels of consumption and well-being they enjoy. The necessary agricultural changes would require not only breaking monoculture with agroecological strategies, but also dismantling the control of multinationals over the food system, the oil-based production system, and the neoliberal agrarian policies that protect it.

The response of the great interests is that technology combined with the magic of the market can solve climate problems, promoting the illusion of unlimited economic growth that does not impact nature. Agribusiness takes advantage of these crises to restructure itself with the same strategies but disguised under the name of climate-smart agriculture. The practices they propose prioritize mitigation based on carbon markets over socio-ecological resilience and food sovereignty. Carbon credits favor the most polluting farmers and farmers who follow practices that sequester carbon, sell their credits to polluting multinationals.

Agroecology proposes the agroecological conversion of production systems, and the creation of alternative networks of healthy and accessible food for all people. Agroecology capitalizes on the experience of thousands of peasants who use polyculture and agroforestry systems that minimize risks in the face of climate change. Evidence shows that these agroecological systems are more resistant to the impacts of droughts and hurricanes than monocultures, therefore they constitute models that offer a range of management designs to reinforce the resilience of modern agroecosystems.
Agroecology presents a radically different vision to globalized food systems based on homogenization, specialization, industrialization and short-term economic measures. The new agroecological systems are based on small-scale, local, biodiverse, autonomous family systems, embedded in territories controlled by communities and supported by supportive consumers who understand that eating is both a political and an ecological act.

By Miguel Altieri, Emeritus Professor of Agroecology, University of California, Berkeley


Video: Fighting Climate Change with Capitalism. Roger Ballentine. TEDxFoggyBottom (June 2021).