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Big Farms, Bad Rap

Farm consolidation has some big benefits.
Don't overlook them.

Farm consolidation has been having a moment in national conversation, and it casts small family farms as the victims of industrial behemoths. But the real conflict isn't between farms big and small — it's between large farmers and very large agricultural processors, like Cargill and Tyson.

The long history of agricultural consolidation (which dates back more than a century), in fact, has corresponded with increasing farm productivity and environmental efficiency. Thanks to big yield growth, the amount of agricultural land each person uses is down by half since 1960, which has massively reduced emissions and habitat loss. Furthermore, while poor labor conditions are unfortunately ubiquitous across the board (large or not, organic or not), they may be marginally easier to improve on large farms. 

An undeserved bad rap >>>

We Need to Plan Ahead
for the Narwhal Slope

How to meet future energy demand

Last month at Breakthrough’s Ecomodernism 2019 conference, UCSB’s Professor Leah Stokes presented two graphs — quickly dubbed “the narwhal” — visualizing the sheer magnitude of the clean-energy buildout needed for the United States’ electric grid to meet climate goals set by former Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee.

But the real challenge for curbing climate change is both subtractive and additive: we need to replace existing fossil fuels and provide enough clean power to meet future energy demand. And it's this additive challenge (meeting tomorrow's needs) that will overwhelmingly decide whether our future is low-carbon.

We must climb the hill >>>
An Elder Millennial's Climate Journey
New on the Breakthrough Dialogues podcast
Julian Brave NoiseCat self-identifies as a “capital C, capital P” Climate Person. Formerly of 350.org and now at Data for Progress and the Natural History Museum, Julian is fueled by work that is wide-ranging and topical: we cover his feelings as an “elder millennial” in a climate movement led by energetic youth, how he wishes Kanye West would intervene, and whether it’s more important to focus on bipartisanship or a better-articulated Democratic climate plan.
A "capital C, capital P" Climate Person >>>
📚This is what we're reading this week 📚
As fires tear through California, both north and south, it's becoming increasingly important to learn to adapt. One possible solution? Fight fire with fire.

An interview between Grist's founder and Jay Inslee. Inslee says: "Take my climate plan, please."

A new study on firm low-carbon resources evaluated nearly 1,000 cases covering varying CO2 limits, technological uncertainties, and geographic differences in demand and renewable resource potential.
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