The Contents page of NI 523 stated that Alex Sager’s article ‘imagines a world where borders have finally been banished’. But that’s not really what it did, as it referred to a system of open borders and free movement, which assumes that the borders still exist.
A real borderless world would have no nations and no passports, with the very idea of migration being meaningless. It would also have to be a classless world, with no division into rich and poor.
Re: ‘What if... a socialist became president of the USA?’ (NI 523). It would go a long way towards restoring my faith in humanity... which has taken a beating because of capitalist cynicism.
Re: ‘What if... cities became car-free?’ (NI 522). What if we stopped pretending that everybody is able-bodied? All these ‘no vehicle’ models assume everyone is self-powered. There are a lot of people (not myself, but I’m not a narcissist) who can’t walk (I walk everywhere) or can’t keep a vehicle moving. Disease, congenital issues, health, age, accidents... things can prevent people from being able to move themselves. Please try to keep in mind that when writing about how everyone will bicycle everywhere, in all weather.
All time high
I think Vanessa Baird’s Who owns the sea? (NI 521) is the best issue in nearly 18 years’ reading. It was clearly written with a wide range of accurate information.
Every time someone starts talking about getting the world to turn vegan, they seem to always miss several key issues.
The grain used to feed animals is not human-consumption grade. I agree that grain should not be intentionally grown purely for stock feed on such a large scale as it is now. However, grain grown for human consumption will often be downgraded in quality due to poor growing conditions which are out of control of the farmer (eg low rainfall), so there will always be grain on the market for non-human consumption. If everyone went vegan, this grain would be wasted and farmers would not get any return for it.
Growing stock feed on land usually used to grow food for direct human consumption allows farmers to be more sustainable and have a better farming system. In my area of Western Australia, farmers grow lupins (primarily a stock feed, but can also be used for human consumption) as a break crop adding nitrogen to the soil.
Additionally, grazing animals provide an important role in farming (provided they are appropriately managed) helping with weed control, nutrient cycling and increasing biodiversity and diversity on the farm, improving overall quality of food produced as well.
Stock also provide non-food products such as wool and leather, possibly more sustainable than synthetic alternatives and definitely more comfortable.
And then, what about our carnivorous four-legged companions? I’d hate to think about the vet bills that you’d get for sickly vegan cats or dogs! And they eat the bits and pieces of meat products we don’t.
So my argument is that we should still eat meat, but less of it, and grow it sustainably (ie not in intensive feedlots) as part of a mixed farming enterprise to improve farming sustainability or in areas where cropping is not suited.
The caption for the ‘Who's going where?’ graphic in the Freedom to Move edition (NI 523) should have said that the numbers of people represented on the graphic were in units of ‘tens of millions’, not millions. So, 1=10 million.
Why I... challenge our economic model
Currently, economics is used, all too often, to defend vested interests and protect the status quo. This is particularly so in aviation. My book Fly and be Damned (Zed Books, 2012) exposed the stupidity of a short-term blinkered view and shows how the transition to green aviation is not only possible but highly desirable for everyone – except the industry. The aviation industry tries to suppress my argument but we can all join a ground-swell call for change to force our politicians to change the model. We need economics to be subservient to the higher order policy of sustainability. We have the power to do so, but not if we act alone.