Exploring tomorrow’s low-carbon countryside

  • MERL annual lecture 2007, delivered by Jonathon Porritt.

Speaker at a MERL lectureAn audience of over 300 invited guests and members of the public were inspired by Jonathon Porritt's informative and enthusiastic speech on October 10th, when he gave the MERL Annual Lecture in the Great Hall. Jonathon Porritt is Founder Director of Forum for the Future and is a leading writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development. Jonathon chairs the UK Sustainable Development Commission.

Jonathon began his lecture, entitled 'Exploring Tomorrow's Low-Carbon Countryside' by noting that his brief visit to the Museum of English Rural Life was a perfect reminder of the time before agriculture became so reliant on the intensive use of fossil fuels and that modern agriculture is a product of easy access to those fossil fuels.

Jonathon presented a series of challenges that will be faced by farmers, landowners and consumers to do with resource issues. With modern agriculture reliant on massive consumption of oil and water to get food to our supermarkets, climate change will impact on the availability of food and the production systems used. It seems that there will be uncomfortable decisions to be made by producers and consumers alike, involving organic farming, biofuels, and GM foods that will lead to a new and very different kind of food economy.

Jonathon's undeniable commitment to and enthusiasm for the cause left the audience in no doubt that incredibly profound changes are taking place and that the foundations on which modern agriculture is built are being questioned.

The lecture was followed by a lively question and answer session in which Jonathon spoke on issues as wide ranging as learning from Cuba's efforts to farm with limited resources, the increasing use of polytunnels and the future of organic farming.

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