Humanity at the 4th Agricultural Crossroads: A Choice of Cleverness or Wisdom

Harvard University Extension School

Humanity at the 4th Agricultural Crossroads:

A Choice of Cleverness or Wisdom

ENVR-120 Environmental Ethics & Land Management

Department of Environmental Management


Chris Oestereich


St. Louis, MO

December, 2011

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I’ve been dreaming of this moment for three years!

I spent the weekend at the Prairie Festival hosted by the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas.  While there I saw an amazing slate of speakers (Brian Donahue, Kamyar Enshayan, Lisa Grossman, Richard Heinberg, Wes Jackson, Naomi Klein, David Montgomery & Ann Zimmerman) discussing topics as seemingly diverse — but in reality tightly related — as dirt, the global economy, forests, engaging local government, climate change and peak oil.  I highly recommend making the trek to Salina next September.

One of the many points that stuck with me was made by Richard Heinberg, the author of Peak Oil, Peak Everything & most recently, The End of Growth.  In his talk, he made the statement that what we’re seeing is “capitalism trying to profit from its collapse.”  I returned home with this in mind and the very next day saw incredibly brazen evidence to support Mr. Heinberg’s statement:

After watching the previous clip, the following came to mind.

Fortunately, connecting with the speakers and attendees at the Prairie Festival has given me renewed hope.  The problems we face are pushing us into a corner, but good people are working hard on solutions.  As we continue to work towards those solutions, I’ll hold on to my favorite idea from the weekend:

“We know that society can turn ugly quickly, we need to believe it can turn kind.” -Naomi Klein