Re: A tale of two Irelands.
Food security is something that has become more and more interesting to me Morticia and I am increasingly seeing that subject as a kind of landing pad for other emerging issues.
Originally Posted by morticia
Given what is happening internationally and the pressure coming on the fairly luxurious long supply lines for food based on a diminishing resource (oil) I think this is going to be a huge issue shortly. Perhaps the biggest iceberg on the horizon.
I see traces of this issue in a number of other policy/political subjects.
(1) Ireland is one of the few European nations with a land and ocean resource that can actually feed its people- mainly because our population halved because of the famine and emigration and because we haven't become an urban overpopulated environment. Our cities are small relative to European cities generally.
(2) We don't have a large industrial base like other European nations which we've always seen as a negative- this may shortly become a positive as it means by default once ghost estate rezoning is returned to agricultural use we'll have even more foodland relative to concrete.
(3) More to the OP we have become used to a relatively luxurious lifestyle in terms of our surroundings- or at least what you might call the lower middle class to upper middle class has become used to driving into town while living in more pastoral surroundings. People want to raise their kids in the countryside while earning city salaries. This aspirational financial model is now coming under pressure for lots of reasons, mostly economic. It means that people demand urban services in a rural area and that is really unsustainable and this is what is being flexed through cutbacks. I'm not agreeing with the policies but just saying we are in a phase now between the realisation of the unstustainability of this luxury model and the response in rural areas which is going to have to be provision of rural services possibly by rural communities setting up their own services to replace missing central government provided ones. This is going to be painful and will lead in addition to decimation of the rural population of young people via emigration and a move to remaining economic activity in the cities.
It sounds a very bleak prognosis for rural areas and services but what it is is the middle period between provision by central government and the learning by rural communities how to be more self-sufficient again. I can't see any other dynamic at play for years if not decades.
To a certain extent I'm alarmed by how convenient Ireland's natural resources must look very attractive as a political food allotment to the UK for example. We may be seeing a re-run of the 17th century attitude there that Ireland is a resource of good farmland which can sustain and supply a lot of people and that may be the view from a neighbouring island overburdened with an industrial concreted land and a population of 65million and a creaking import system for food.
I think this basic truth (and historically speaking not a new one in the relations between UK and Ireland) is what is behind the recent charm offensive by the UK political establishment toward Ireland. The royal visit and so on with a sudden increase in 'England friendly' activity among certain groups of people in and around the fringes of the Irish media.
The good news- Ireland can feed itself and probably export more than it needs. But we need to stop chasing this improbable rainbow of an industrial Irish powerhouse as it is not a natural model for us and speaks only of yet another attempt to copy other countries instead of looking realistically at what advantages we have and leveraging those.
I'm fairly spooked by the emerging possibility of food supply problems in the UK in the not too distant as all supply lines there depend heavily on oil prices and the availabity of cheap energy to import.
I think this is the main strategic threat and at the same time a massive opportunity for Ireland as long as we get the balance right. Which means being too much of a risk to take but being organised enough to be a good supplier. But we need to be wary of the UK- make it a good customer but not become dependent on it. We can supply the Netherlands and Germany just as well in times to come when imports from outside Europe are too expensive and Europe is trying to feed itself again.
Anyway- back to the OP and I think that at the highest level across political Europe which would include our lot in Dublin they know what the emerging dynamics are for Europe in a world with less and more expensive oil and what it means for agriculture and this feeds into policies in Ireland and elsewhere around the urban and rural communities.
The model which says you can have urban style services in rural communities is for the moment broken.
Think National. Act Local. Oh- and superstition is just the dark matter of human history.