So here’s a topic I haven’t touched on in a while – as we’re getting off of fossil fuels, I think we should also invest in indoor farming infrastructure, particularly in cities. A well-run indoor farm can recycle water, keep out pests and pathogens, and generate a constant level of food production year-round. That production can be maintained regardless of temperature or drought, and without the need for anything like the level of pesticides and herbicides used in modern industrial agriculture. More importantly, it’s a way to grow food in population centers, which would dramatically increase a city’s resilience to all sorts of disasters. Fortunately we are seeing an increase in the indoor farming industry, so we may be closer to that slice of the future than most of us expect:
I noticed a couple things while watching this video.
The less important one is the difference in life experience between Aki Ito and myself. It was a bit of a surprise to hear that the crop that’s like nothing I’ve ever had before is sorrel, which I grew up eating on a fairly regular basis when doing stuff outside in New Hampshire. I’m actually a little bit jealous that I don’t get to taste it for the first time as an adult, and it’s nice to think of it being appreciated more widely.
The more important point relates to the farm in the video, in which most of the work is done by robots. The pattern throughout history has been that as technology advances and replaces some jobs, it creates other new ones in a way that means unemployment doesn’t seem to change much even as jobs are lost to automation.
The danger, I think, is that with the global supply chain being what it is, more and more of those new jobs are showing up in terrible, exploitative conditions exemplified by the innovation of suicide nets for Apple factories in China. As we respond to climate change, and work to build a more ecologically sustainable world, it’s important to remember that we also need economic policies that encourage fair, safe, and dignified working conditions all the way down our supply chains. Even in our current state, America has a massive amount of economic influence around the globe.
I think that part of the fight for a stable climate must also include an end to the unrestrained looting of the planet’s resources, at the expense of the poorest among us. In the end, living up to the ideals of liberty and justice for all may be what it takes to save us from disasters of our own creation.
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