Is energy use an achilles heel for agriculture? webinar #8 recording

In this webinar scientist Craig Anderson explored future food production trends which typically focus on ‘sustainability’ and technology augmented production. But are these visions sensible? What will the future look like if we realistically analyse today?

Will future vegetable production occur in sterile indoor environments? Will your future burger be yeast-based and grown in a vat? Will future food production chains be tracked and traced via modification resistant blockchain cryptography?

Stepping back to examine what underlies all economic activity and most modern technology we find that energy is the keystone. Technological solutions to food production might save emissions on the farm but increase our energy and resource consumption – which is more problematic and what is the best use of our scarce resources?

Given the current cascading environmental problems, Craig argues for the need to pause for breath so that we can start to sensibly apply our knowledge and technology in order to restore our relationship with the environment. Net energy analysis is one way we might achieve a more realistic assessment of the best paths forward without getting caught in the hype.

Craig is a scientist within the Cropping Systems and Environment group at Plant and Food Research (PFR) in Lincoln. He is passionate about environmental renewal and trying to decipher the microscopic foundations underlying the functioning of the earth’s ecosystems. He also advocates for broader thought about the implications of scale so we can sensibly apply knowledge and technology.

This is the eighth in the nine part Economics of Enough webinar series. It was live on 7 April 2021.