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Hollywood: "Three of our monocultures have failed, we're all doomed!"  RSS feed

 
Dan Boone
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I recently saw the science fiction movie "Interstellar" and thought it pretty decent for what it was (don't think too hard about the black hole gravity mumbo-jumbo). But one of the plot drivers, of course, is that The Earth Is Dying And We Are All Doomed. (No spoilers here, that much was telegraphed in the advertising trailers.)

What made me laugh and smite my forehead were the farming failures that were chosen to illustrate why human life on Earth was doomed. In short, the sequence of monocultural collapse presented was as follows:

Step 1: All wheat crops were destroyed by blight. (Prior to events shown in the movie.)

Step 2: The blight moved on to okra. "The last okra crop ever" was described as roughly contemporaneous with the beginning events in the movie.

Step 3: During the movie it was stated that "all that we have left is corn." Shortly after that we were shown a laboratory with failing corn plants inside it, with dialogue suggesting that the blight would soon begin attacking this last available crop.

And that was it! No more wheat, no more okra, corn is next, we're all going to die. Illustrated by visuals of very impressive dust storms.

We don't expect nuance from Hollywood. But I thought that was pretty ridiculous and funny.

No joke, a lot of people would go hungry if a bunch of our important "big ag" monocultured food crops were to start failing. There would be famines and possibly loss of life on a scale never before seen. But the loss of three crops -- even important ones like wheat and corn -- is so far from that! And even if the industrial farming went away entirely (taking billions of lives with it) humanity itself would not be at risk for so long as *anything* would grow than an animal could eat. Given plant genetic diversity, a "blight" that kills every green thing (which was not being even suggested in the movie) seems vanishingly unlikely. Thinking that humans are doomed if we lose two cereal crops and one veg? Even for Hollywood, that's lame.

 
Dale Hodgins
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I saw the movie and also found the monocropping strange.

Realistically, in north America, if we have a huge failure of some of those key crops, there will be cattle and pigs who go hungry. They are the prime consumers. Prices for meat would rise and people would be forced to eat lower down the food chain.
 
R Scott
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Idiocracy was a documentary.

And it had an equally valid point about relying on machines and poisoning the ground with chemicals.
 
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