It might be a little futuristic, maybe a little lefty for many people’s preferences, but the concept of a “Plan B” economy contains proposals that could—and should—connect with animal agriculture and the producers who comprise the profession.
Basically, after filtering out the political rhetoric about rapacious corporations and oppressive regulators, the idea of Plan B is to create a comprehensive blueprint for a more sustainable system of economic activities.
Granted, “sustainability” is a term that carries more buzz than a beehive, but if the conventional definition, which involves utilizing renewal energy, minimizing waste and addressing resource limitations can be accepted, then there is some merit in analyzing what Plan B might involve.
According to the Earth Policy Institute, which has latched onto the phrase as its own intellectual property, the key elements of Plan B involve these key initiatives:
- Raising energy efficiency
- Developing renewable sources of energy
- Expanding the earth’s green vegetative cover
The first two items, for obvious reasons, are tied closely to farming and livestock production. I won’t argue for continuation of the ill-advised ethanol program, but it at least represents a direct response to the urgency of developing renewal energy sources. No matter how much confidence you place in fracking for natural gas or extracting shale oil from North American tar sands, the reality is that fossil fuels are not unlimited—nor environmentally benign.
The sooner they’re phased out, the better.
If farmers, growers and producers were more intently focused on energy production, even if only for on-site consumption, the use of methane, biomass, solar, wind and other “green” systems could collectively make a dramatic impact on national energy consumption. Maybe not enough initially to put a huge dent in the use of oil, coal and natural gas, but definitely the most promising way to ramp up production of renewable energy, and, it should be noted, a practical laboratory to test and develop experimental energy production technologies.
Green’s the game
The other aspect of Plan B, one related to mitigating climate change, gets only lip service from green groups and eco-activists boasting about how many trees they plant for every plane ride or construction project associated with the organizations,. But it’s one with which farmers and producers can directly engage: Maintaining—and expanding—grasslands and forests.