Uncle Charley Marx once wrote about ending the divide between town and countryside. Following a reference in Ken Macleod's latest, I found this interesting stuff on vertical farming:
It seems crazy to talk about farming in a hi-rise; the vision it gives rise to is of a kind of student-residence crammed with pot-smoking hippies who've traded their carpets for wheat. In fact, the approach is pretty hard-nosed and industrial, with very high outputs as its aim. And here's where it gets interesting from the point of view of our ambition to rewild the country: in the study entitled "Feeding 50,000 People, Anisa Buck, Stacy Goldberg and others conclude that a single building covering one city block, and up to 48 stories high depending on the design, can grow enough food to sustain 50,000 people. This calculation doesn't require any magical technology; there's no fairy-dust being evoked here, we could build such a structure now.It would take about 1,200 such to feed the entire UK population - more sensibly, 150 to feed London. Now, I'm not thinking of "rewilding" but of opening up more space for us to live in, if we use less land for industrial agriculture, we can more in and garden the rest - I think the results would be equally eco friendly, and we could all spread out.
But, this would represent the conquest of the countryside by the city, the turning of farming into another factory/desk job with industrial scale feeding going on. Coupled with algae biofuel (which we could grow in some of the space abandoned from farming as well), a picture emerges that suggests we could return to the 1950's sci-fi vision of urban progress. Maybe we could build the megacities of the future. After all,t he algae might provide the energy source to make the whole shebang efficient...