Letter from EAAA member and farmer Rosemary Hook
I enjoyed reading the EAAA newsletter as always and was interested that Capra has co-authored another book; I am currently reading his book “Turning Point” which I am finding very interesting. I was reflecting on his writings and your comment on his new book, as well as on the divide between ecological and “traditional” agriculture; the current political situation is also relevant. It seems to me that there is now a need for much care in the use of the words “science” and “scientific”. To address the political context first, we currently have a government that is not listening to advice from scientists, particularly in relation to climate and the environment more generally. Indeed, the government is quite hostile to any knowledge that might hinder “making money” (or any implementation of their ideology) and is doing its best to render environmental science in any form irrelevant to our society.
At the same time, we have a very real divide within the scientific community between those who are influenced by the findings of 20th Century quantum physics, ecology and systems thinking and those who are still immersed in a reductionist approach. Given the political context, I think it important that the word “science” isn’t used as short-hand for a reductionist approach and then denigrated for its failings. “Science” doesn’t need any more detractors at the moment and there are very many who won’t make the distinction as to approach. Also, quantum physics, ecology and systems thinking are very much part of science. What is the answer? My thought is that care should be taken to always spell out that it is a lack of a systems or ecological approach that is the issue, not “science”. As you say, Capra is identifying the shift in focus from objects to relationships. I think it is this difference in underlying thinking that needs to be emphasized so people become aware that there is a paradigm shift within science, not a negation of science.
Sadly, it’s difficult to easily indicate in a word or two that “agricultural science” tends to be dominated by the old paradigm. In some ways, I’d like to see ecological agriculture called the “new agricultural science”, highlighting the fact that a reductionist approach has been replaced by an holistic one, and that the reductionist view is obsolete and has been superseded! Scientists themselves are ignoring the findings of a whole body of science……how can we criticize the public?
These are just thoughts……I don’t know if anyone else has been contemplating this problem in language or even if they see one.
With best wishes,
Perhaps a suitable label might be Ecological Agriculture – The new agricultural science.
Your comments please.
Kerry Cochrane | Editor
*The books mentioned in the article: