[Image: John Constable, Seascape Study with Rain Cloud, 1824].
Almost exactly a year ago, the Guardian wrote that “huge tracts of Britain’s landscape should be reclaimed from farming and go back to nature to lock up carbon dioxide and counter global warming.”
This would mean, for instance, that “traditional farming would be wound down in marginal areas while some landscapes should be ‘re-wilded’ to absorb more water and reduce flooding downstream. Peat bogs, which can store carbon, must be conserved and restored.”
The change would not come quick, and it would be controversial, a government ecology expert adds; after all, “There’s a deep cultural resistance to the idea of land no longer being farmed,” even if that land does have “other values which are now probably much higher for society.”
Would similar strategies be useful here in the United States? Like some scene from a future, sci-fi-inflected John Steinbeck novel, we’d abandon entire corporate agribusiness complexes to leave those now-lost farms in a state of second nature, re-wilded, gone to seed, subject to a different kind of valuation.