The possibility of a looming oil shortage is seen by many to be too massive to solve, however Wednesday’s Distinguished Lecture Series speaker doesn’t see it this way.
Famed ecofeminist Vandana Shiva said there is a solution to this problem, and this same solution can solve world food shortages and help with global climate change.
The solution, according to Shiva, is a switch to an ecological and organic way of producing food.
She said we could improve our food output and save tons of fossil fuels by switching to less machine- intensive farming practices on local farms.
“If you’re running out of oil you better start doing things that don’t depend on oil, and one human activity that in fact improves when you get rid of the fossil fuel imputes is agriculture,” Shiva said.
Shiva advocates switching to a local-based farming system instead of the large corporate farms that operate across the world today.
Industrial farming is actually less effective than organic farming, which helps protect and restore the environment. This would help with climate change and food shortages across the world, Shiva said.
“Industrial agriculture is a very inefficient way of producing food. It uses 10 units of energy to get one output, and we could be using one unit of energy to produce two units of output, and through that we would actually be rejuvenating the environment and rebuilding rural areas and getting healthier food to eat,” Shiva said.
Shiva added genetically engineered food is limited in what it can do, and it is causing more harm to our food system than it is helping. She also said studies have shown genetically engineered food is not producing more food as was first thought.
“The only two traits that have been introduced are toxic traits. Any technology that introduces more poison into your food system is not a very smart technology,” Shiva said. “And further, a technology that within a short lifetime is failing even its narrow object it claimed.”
Shiva is an environmental feminist and author of several books. She has received a number of awards for her work and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
University of Wisconsin graduate student Joel Creswell said he thought Shiva’s critique of world agriculture systems was accurate, and she was one of few who is championing the cause, but her language, such as “love the land” and “feel the soil,” sometimes came off as too “touchy-feely.”
“Honestly I think the language of ecofeminism, which I think is an important philosophy, has a lot of really valuable things to say about the world, but I think the language is sort of off-putting for a lot of people,” Creswell said.
UW graduate student Adrienne Shelton said some of her alternative ideas, like getting rid of all machinery, might not work with the general public, even if they agreed with her.