Knowledge for better food systems

Civilization Critical: Energy, food, nature, and the future

This book by Darrin Qualman argues that, to avoid the collapse of civilisation, the global economy must reshape its material and energy flows away from linear, extractive patterns towards a circular model. The book includes a chapter on food production.

Publisher’s summary

The modern world is wondrous. Its factories produce ten thousand cars every hour and ten trillion transistors every second. We carry supercomputers in our pockets, and nearly a million people are in the air at any time. In Civilization Critical, Darrin Qualman takes readers on a tour of the wonders of the 21st century.

But the great strength of our modern word is also its great weakness. Our immense powers to turn resources and nature into products and waste imperil our future. And plans to double and redouble the size of the global economy veto sustainability.

So, is our civilization doomed? No. Doom is a choice. We can make different choices.

Qualman demonstrates that a 19th- and 20th-century transition to linear systems and away from the circular patterns of nature (and of all previous civilizations) is the foundational error—the underlying problem, the root cause of climate change, resource depletion, ocean’s full of plastics, and a host of mega-problems now intensifying and merging, with potentially civilization-cracking results. In this sweeping work, Qualman reinterprets and re-explains the problems we face today, and charts a clear, hopeful path into the future.

 

Reference

Qualman, D. (2019). Civilization Critical: Energy, Food, Nature, and the Future. Fernwood Publishing, Black Point.

Read more here. See also the Foodsource chapter Impacts of climatic and environmental change on food systems and the paper Is green growth possible?

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Darrin Qualman's picture
Submitted by Darrin Qualman (not verified) on

Thanks for helping get the word out.  Just one correction, in the book there are several chapters on food, fertilizer, seeds, sewage, etc.  Thanks, again.  Darrin Q   Civilization Critical

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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