This new framework favors a very different set of policies than those now in vogue. Eating the bounty of small-scale, local farming, for example, may be fine for denizens of Berkeley and Brooklyn. But using it to feed a world of nine billion people would consume every acre of the world’s surface. Big Agriculture, using synthetic fertilizers and modern production techniques, could feed many more people using much less land and water.
As the manifesto notes, as much as three-quarters of all deforestation globally occurred before the Industrial Revolution, when humanity was supposedly in harmony with Mother Nature. Over the last half century, the amount of land required for growing crops and animal feed per average person declined by half.
“If we want the developing world to reach even half our level of development we can’t do it without strategies to intensify production,” said Harvard’s David Keith, a signer of the new manifesto.
The eminent Australian conservationist William Laurance, who is not involved with the eco-modernists, put it this way, “We need to intensify agriculture in places that we have already developed rather than develop new places,” he said. “What is happening today is much more chaotic.”And, of course, we need to stop wasting good land growing corn as a biofuel, rather than as food. On top of that, everyone needs to eat less meat, so that land (and water) can be devoted to feeding human directly rather than feeding a lot of animals for slaughter.