No Cities Without Farms

by Dr. Tim Ball on March 10, 2009

in Uncategorized

There are no farms in the cities, but there are no cities without farms. ~Tim Ball

I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural. ~Thomas Jefferson

Second to agriculture, humbug is the biggest industry of our age. ~Alfred Nobel

Whoever makes two ears of corn, or two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before, deserves better of mankind, and does more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together. ~Jonathan Swift

The farmers are the founders of civilization. ~Daniel Webster

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

For 17 years, I wrote a column titled Weather Talk in the Canadian farm magazine Country Guide. I was fired a couple of years ago. They would argue I wasn’t fired. They told me the magazine was shifting to a more business-oriented approach. I pointed out that this had already occurred under the previous editor; besides, what was more important to the business of farming than the weather? I consistently tried to provide basic understanding of weather and climate to help farmers make better management decisions. It appears my public profile and views opposing the IPCC science were politically unacceptable and the major reason for my termination.

Weather is more important to agriculture than any other segment of society, and agriculture is more important to society than any other segment.

In England, the Agricultural Revolution preceded the Industrial Revolution. A similar pattern has occurred in China over the last thirty years as increased food production preceded industrial and economic growth. In the late 1980s, I worked very briefly with a group of Chinese climatologists and agricultural experts visiting central Canada and northern US States to determine the potential for increasing food production in similar climate regions in northern China. Just like England, it caused massive migration from rural to urban.

This pattern of increasing food supply preceding urbanization is repeated through history. It is the prerequisite for forming or maintaining a civilization. Wikipedia defines civilization as follows:

A civilization is a society or culture group normally defined as a complex society characterized by the practice of agriculture and settlement in towns and cities.

Urbanization began with the change from hunter/gatherer sustenance some 9,000 years ago to sedentary agriculture. In dietary terms, it is an illogical step because hunter/gatherers had a wide variety of foodstuffs. Their problem was an unreliable supply and as a result they experienced what anthropologists call the boom or bust cycle. The switch to sedentary agriculture provided more reliable supply, but generally reduced variety of foodstuffs. However, it also increased dependence on weather.

The ideology of democracy that is the philosophical basis of the US civilization and the incredible wealth of ideas and products flourished on the most dramatic agricultural increase in world history. American agriculture is the most successful in history. Farmers are now just 2% of the population producing enough for the other 98% with surpluses exported to many other nations.

Everyone agrees the US has incurred massive debt and inflation at some level is inevitable. There is debate about when the recession will end and how long after before employment numbers improve. The consensus is that recession may possibly end in late 2009 but most likely 2010. Most of the Stimulus package does not come in to effect until 2010/11. Oil prices are rising, and that is expected to continue through the summer. So the latter part of 2009 looks like high unemployment, significantly increasing debt, and much higher consumer costs for everything. But the real damage to the Obama administration and Democrats is happening on the farm.

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