Political Agroecology by Manuel González De Molina

Political Agroecology by Manuel González De Molina

Author:Manuel González De Molina
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: CRC Press
Published: 2019-09-15T16:00:00+00:00

5Scaling Agroecology

After describing the twentieth century’s abrupt environmental changes on a global scale, especially after the Second World War, John McNeill (2000, 4) concluded that humanity was involved in a “gigantic experiment without control”. A few years later, Rockström et al. (2009a) showed that the anthropogenic pressures on the terrestrial system had surpassed certain thresholds that guaranteed ecological dynamics on a planetary scale. From an economic standpoint, Piketty (2014) showed that the recent evolution of global economic governance had generated levels of concentration of income and social inequality that were comparable to those of the nineteenth century; furthermore, the trends were clearly worsening. As we saw in Chapter 3, the current crisis is the corollary of all these tendencies, and a singular crisis, in which multiple crises converge, has been shaped (George, 2010), exposing the limits of modern civilization (Garrido Peña et al., 2007; Toledo, 2015).

The notable growth of global instability since 2008, as economic, political, social, environmental, and climatic turbulence has intensified, has been identified by Wallerstein (1974, 2005) as evidence of the terminal crisis of the world-system that emerged around five centuries ago, in the era of European expansionism (Braudel, 1995). Then, the rapidly expanding frontiers of ecological appropriation and social exploitation led to unprecedented levels of accumulation of capital and power, paving the way for the institutional foundations of capitalism. The symptoms of the current crisis suggest that we are witnessing a phenomenon hitherto unknown that will not be solved with the same pattern of response adopted in the cyclical crises of the past, i.e., “by putting nature to work in powerful new ways” through “new technologies and new organizations of power and production” (Moore, 2015, 1).

The magnitude of the transformations needed at this time of “historical bifurcation” may have had only two precedents in the course of human history: the neolithic revolution, with the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago; and the Industrial Revolution, a process that begun some 300 years ago, and a close source of the current civilizational crisis. These two “revolutionary moments” gave rise to large-scale and far-reaching transformations in humans’ integration in the biosphere, as well as in the corresponding societal configurations (González de Molina & Toledo, 2011, 2014). Everything points to the fact that equally radical socioecological transformations will be necessary to deal with both the causes and the effects of the – now inexorable – climate changes, as well as the other symptoms of the global crisis corroding the foundations of modern societies. However, unlike the previous crises, which arose locally and spread globally, the necessary changes in the “age of globalization” (Giddens, 2000) and the “Empire” (Hardt & Negri, 2000) are going to require profound transformations related to the governance of food systems’ metabolism at different scales, from local/territorial levels to a global scale.


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