About the Book
Climate Change will dramatically alter how we live and is already affecting the lives of the world's most vulnerable people.
In Soil Not Oil, bestselling author Vandana Shiva connects the food crisis, peak oil, and climate change to show that a world beyond a dependence on fossil fuel and globalization is both possible and necessary. Bold and visionary, Shiva reveals how three crises are inherently linked and that any attempt to solve one without addressing the others will get us nowhere.
Condemning industrial agriculture and industrial biofuels as recipes for ecological and economic disaster, Shiva's champion is the small, independent farm. What we need most in a time of changing climates and millions hungry, she argues, are sustainable, biologically diverse farms that are more resistant to disease, drought, and flood. Calling for a return to local economies and small-scale food production, Shiva outlines our remaining options; a market-centred short- term escape for the privileged, which will deepen the crisis for the poor and marginalized, or a people-centred fossil-fuel-free future, which will offer a decent living for all.
About the Author
Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned environmental thinker and activist. A leader in the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) along with Ralph Nader and Jeremy Rifkin and the Slow Food movement. Shiva won the Alternative Nobel Prize (the Right Livelihood Award) in 1993.
Director of Navdanya and the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy, she is the author and editor of many books, including Manifestos on the Future of Food 6- Seed (South End Press, 2007), Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace (South End Press, 2005), Globalization's New Wars: Seed, water & Life Forms (Women Unlimited, 2005), Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit (South End Press, 2002), Protect or Plunder? Understanding Intellectual Property Rights (Zed Books, 2001), Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply (South End Press, 2000), Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge (South End Press, 1997), Ecofeminism (co-authored with Maria Mies, Kali for Women, Zed Books and Spinifex Press, 1993), Monocultures of the Mind (Zed Books, 1993), The Violence of the Green Revolution (Zed Books, 1992), and Staying Alive:
Women, Ecology and Development in India (Kali for Women, 1988). Before becoming an activist, Vandana Shiva was one of India's leading physicists.
Two hundred years into the fossil fuel era, CO2 emissions have created a greenhouse effect that is responsible for global warming and is leading to a climate crisis. An all too likely increase in temperatures of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius will result in the melting of the polar ice caps and glaciers, and the intensification of floods, droughts, and cyclones. Some of these effects are already being felt. If we do not halt the temperature increase the climate crisis will dramatically change how we live.
And it will decide whether we live or perish. Besides the problematic "gift" of climate chaos, the age of oil is up against another limit-peak oil. Conceptualized by M. King Hubbert in 1956, peak oil refers to the point at which the world reaches the highest possible level of oil production. After that, oil production must necessarily decrease. Decreasing production will mean increasing prices. The unprecedented increase in oil prices in 2008 is a sign of an emerging oil crisis. Experts such as Jeremy Leggett and Dr. Colin Campbell of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil say we may have already reached the peak, but even if it is a few years off, it will occur.? As Heinberg has put it, "the party is over."
Peak oil and the end of cheap oil make it imperative that we change the way we live. We need to move beyond oil. We need to reinvent society, technology, and economy. We need to do it fast and we need to do it creatively. We can.
Climate chaos and peak oil are converging with a third crisis- the food crisis. The food crisis results from the combined impacts of the industrialization and globalization of agriculture. The very forces and processes that have promised cheap food are pushing food beyond people's reach. Prices of food are rising worldwide. More than 33 countries have witnessed food riots.
In early June 2008 an emergency meeting of the UN was called to address the crisis of climate change and the food crisis. As expected, the same corporate interests that have created the two crises tried to offer the disease as the cure-more fossil fuel-based chemical fertilizers, more non-renewable genetically engineered and hybrid seeds bred to respond to the intensive use of chemicals, more corporate control of food, and more globalized trade.
The food crisis reflects a deeper crisis-the creation of "redundant" or disposable people and, alongside them, the potential for violence and social and political instability.
Disposability of people is built into the denial of food to millions as well as the destruction of rural livelihoods by the substitution of human energy with machines powered by fossil fuels. The very definition of productivity in the industrial paradigm is labor productivity, i.e., the fewer human beings involved in production, the more "productive" a process is, even if it uses more energy and more resources and produces less per unit of energy and resource inputs.
While wide-ranging wars, colonial expansion, and slavery- among other things-have long resulted in human-generated misery and destruction, never before have the actions of one part of humanity threatened the existence of the entire human species. We are now facing a triple convergence of crises, each of which threatens our survival.
Climate: Global warming threatens our very survival as a species.
Energy: Peak oil spells the end of the cheap oil that has fueled the industrialization of production and the globalization of consumerism.
Food: A food crisis is emerging as a result of the convergence of climate change, peak oil, and the impact of globalization on the rights of the poor to food and livelihood.
Of the three crises, the emerging food crisis poses the most immediate threat to the survival of the poor. The food crisis emerges from two historical processes, one long-term-the industrialization of agriculture and the uprooting of peasants and family farmers from the land-and one more recent-the effects of globalization and trade liberalization of agriculture on food security and food sovereignty. The impact of climate change on agricultural production, along with such false solutions to climate change as industrial biofuels, which divert food and land from the poor to the non-sustainable energy needs of the rich, further exacerbate the food crisis.
We can and must respond creatively to the triple crisis and simultaneously overcome dehumanization, economic inequality, and ecological catastrophe.
The energy and climate-change crisis stands as a unique social and ecological challenge. First, the very survival of the human species as a species is threatened. Second, no other challenge is so global in scope. There is no place to hide. Third, climate change is impacted by diverse human activities-how we shop, how we move, how we live, how we eat. Solutions cannot be restricted to one or two sectors. They will touch all aspects of our lives. Mitigation and adaptation must happen across all aspects of our lives. Fourth, climate change results from what is done to the land, and its impacts transform the land. Air, water, land, biodiversity, and energy are intertwined elements of climate change-its cause and solutions. Fifth, those least responsible for climate change are worst affected by it. Peasants, indigenous peoples, and artisans who live outside the industrialized globalized economy, who have caused no harm to the earth or other people, are the worst victims of climate chaos. Over 96 percent of disaster-related deaths in recent years have taken place in developing countries. In 2001, there were 170 million people affected by disasters around the world, of which 97 percent were climate- related.' Sixth, resistance to the limitless destructiveness of the industrialized globalized economy is coming precisely from those least responsible for climate change, the women, the hawkers, and street vendors who stand in front of the juggernaut of fossil fuel-driven, energy- and resource-intensive "development," refusing to be uprooted, refusing to be turned into disposable people, offering another paradigm and world view-of power and wealth, of nature and culture.
Climate change demands that we reduce fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions. It also demands that we "power down" through decentralized and decreased energy use. Peak oil and the end of cheap oil demand a paradigm shift in our conception of human progress-we need to imagine how we can live better without oil. The emerging food crisis will add another billion people to the billion who are already denied their right to food and condemned to hunger and malnutrition. The disposability and dehumanization of the poor and the marginal demand that we focus on the dignity of work and the relevance of ecological work. The dominant model of development and globalization is inherently violent because it deprives the poor of their fundamental right to food, land, and livelihoods. By bringing back dignified work based on human energy and living energies we can mitigate climate change and make a transition to a society beyond oil, while ensuring food security and good food for all.
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