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Dr Sarah Taber on Twitter: "it's happening folks time to talk about agrarianism in the United Federation of Planets send tweet" / Twitter
[also here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1200166974292140033.html?refreshed=1575055374 ]

“it’s happening folks

time to talk about agrarianism in the United Federation of Planets send tweet

Ok so first off there are little nods to agrarianism- the idea that farming is the ideal lifestyle, and that there are “rural values” that are both different from those of urban areas and also inherently better- all over in Star Trek.

Who’s the smartest person on Starfleet Academy campus?

Boothby the gardener.

Giving the Federation a gardener for its moral guidance is an aesthetic choice. It says “this might be sci-fi where we’ve eliminated survival labor, but somehow we’re still down to earth.”

Gardeners are great, but I had this job for a while and let me just say we are also subject to moral foibles.

I would live for a sci fi universe where space captains get their moral guidance from plumbers. “Tell us what to do when the shit hits the fan, pipe daddy” they say.

Ok I’m actually gonna digress on plumbing for a minute

Plumbing is arguably MORE key to life support than farming, esp on a starship. But in the Star Trek universe it’s treated like a joke. This is a reflection on real life where farming’s revered but sanitation is unspeakable.

Anyway back to agrarianism in Star Trek

Captain Kirk is from Iowa because that tells us he is down-to-earth. Like, a REAL man. It’s v important to the theme of TOS that Kirk is the Most Authentic Guy Ever, & Iowa is a symbol of authenticity (see also: US presidential primaries).

Let’s look at some pics from the reboot. Kirk was born in 2233, so this car chase takes place around 2240-2245.

While y’all were watching the FX I was checking out the cornfields and let me tell you, THE IMPLICATIONS ARE STAGGERING

[annotated image from show]

*also this corn is weird, it’s short but already tasseling

chalk it up to future superdwarf varieties idk

1) Iowa is still dominated by corn monoculture in 2240. The scene where Kirk motorcycles to the Enterprise being built IN A CORNFIELD (0:25:00, iTunes won’t let me screenshot) clearly shows straight rows w no intercrop, confirming corn monoculture still in place in 2250-2255.

2) Corn monoculture in the 2250s implies we haven’t figured out any better way to do it, which is kind of a bummer. The current corn/soybeans regime feels eternal & inevitable, but it’s only been around for about 100 years. “How did the soybean become such a common crop in the U.S.?” https://www.agprofessional.com/article/how-did-soybean-become-such-common-crop-us

3) Corn monoculture implies bulk markets for starch, fuel, alcohol, &/or livestock, in a Federation where these needs are theoretically met by replicator & advanced engines. Not only is corn a platform @SwiftOnSecurity, it’s still a platform in the 2250s.


3) Small sample size (we only have a couple shots of 2250s Iowa farm country), but no soybeans are seen. Where did they go? Do we just … not need to eat protein or rotate crops anymore?

4) Corn pollen is sterile above ~95°F. Small rises in average global temperature may keep midwest corn from setting a crop.

Corn in 2250s Iowa implies either climate change has been reversed (good if true), or the Federation pays farmers to grow Potemkin crops for the aesthetic.

5) Midwestern corn monoculture is aided by a private property-based land tenure system. (Corn monoculture can exist *without* private land ownership, but in the event of a different land tenure system, other cropping methods are more likely to emerge.)

This implies that while the Federation is a moneyless society, it is NOT a property-less society. Land ownership is a zero-sum game. The existence of people who own real estate, especially large plots when population is high, implies the existence of haves & have-nots.

In short, the agrarian realities of Federation-era Earth suggests cracks in its post-scarcity public façade. However, the agrarian politics of Iowa merely *suggest* cracks.

It’s the Picard family vineyard where shit gets downright dystopian. STAY TUNED

*also does anybody have population estimates for Earth, either in the TOS/Kirk era or the Next Generation? I’m having no luck at all

ok time to talk about the Picard wine estate

*deep breath*

Slightly belated: just gonna put this out here for the folks in the replies suggesting “maybe folks keep farming in a post-scarcity economy because it’s ‘recreational’”

In “Family” (s4 e2), Captain Jean-Luc Picard goes home to recuperate after being turned into a Borg

and then you start to wonder why because that whole family situation is a shitshoooowwww

Setup: the way it’s played is the older brother, Robert Picard, is the dutiful son who stayed home to tend the vines like their father. He’s grumpy about how Jean-Luc “left” and won’t stop bitching about it.

HOWEVER. If you know anything about land tenure and how it’s passed on for multiple generations, this situation is even more messed up than it looks.

If you divide up a family plot among all the kids (or even all the sons), within a few generations you wind up with tiny useless postage stamps that nobody can live on. That’s especially true after a few generations of post-scarcity population growth, e.g. TNG-era Earth.

France traditionally dealt with this through primogeniture: the oldest son inherits the entire estate intact. Younger sons get a stipend if the the family’s very wealthy.

More usually, younger sons get bupkus.

Under primogeniture, younger sons typically went into the military, priesthood, or (later once colonialism got underway) maritime trade. Those were the only institutions that had space for them. The core economic, political, & social power structure- land ownership- didn’t.

Some young sons added a martlet (modified swift or martin) to their family crest. It had feathers instead of feet because they believed these birds never land. It represented how the crest’s owner would spend their life wandering to satisfy a shitty land inheritance system. [image]

The fact that Picard’s extremely French family still has an estate at all in 2367 heavily implies they’ve been using primogeniture.

Jean-Luc Picard leaving home to join Starfleet fits the younger-son-in-a-primogeniture-family to a T. He left home to join an exploratory/military/semi-priesthood-y force complete with livery and never being able to start a family, much to his regret.

Which makes his older, estate-inheriting brother Robert’s constant bitching about “whaaa you worked hard and left us” EVEN MORE HORRIFYING THAN IT LOOKS. [GIF]

This also drags up all kinds of systemic questions about how post-scarcity Star Trek Earth *works.*

Private land ownership appears to be alive & well.

Per @joeinformatico: why do the Picards own a lil slice of France, but Sisko’s dad only has a 2-story building in New Orleans?

This implies ongoing wealth inequality- of a potentially very serious degree- in Federation-era Earth.

Nobody ever mentions Robert Picard having a day job. He just twiddles around FEELING the vines (not the most responsible use of time for an estate owner) and day drinks.

He makes his wife do the cooking & won’t let her get a replicator.

Perhaps most appalling, his vineyard’s still using furrow irrigation. That’s when you run water down a ditch between rows. Super simple, but super wasteful. Lots of water soaks down past roots or evaporates.

[annotated image from show]

Hahaha and they pass off this caustic, day-drinking, controlling train wreck of a man as a “guardian of tradition”

agrarian values my ass, he’s just a jerk. it happens
Anyway, irrigation-wise, 3 things to consider:

1) grapes tend to prefer dry regions (not much water available period)

2) Earth’s population is 8 billion-ish by 2367

3) more efficient irrigation methods like microjet are already the norm in many/most wine regions in 2019.

Who the hell ARE the Picards!? They can command so much fresh water*, they’re just squirting it around. Look at how many gotdang weeds are between their grape rows. That’s what happens when you furrow irrigate, and they don’t even care.

Conclusion: the Picards are water barons

*Even in Star Trek, you CANNOT just make more fresh water through desalination. That process leaves behind a concentrated brine. It sinks & kills the shit out of whatever’s living on the ocean floor. Theoretically you could transport the brine away … to kill someplace else.

So if one wants to just wave plentiful fresh water away w “desalination,” that means there are giant toxic dumps of brine somewhere. It’s not very punk rock. Not very Federation. tl;dr water is a limited resource & the Picards are using it to mud wrestle out their issues 🤔

The picture painted here is one where hereditary wealth is still the rule, & the consequences are pretty grim for most people involved. Land & water are subject to the wealthy’s whims. Women in landed families have limited power. We don’t even know how the villagers are doing.

Systemic questions abound. Who owns the Iowa corn estates? (assuming they’re still grow corn by TNG … but given replicators need a feedstock, that’s prob still corn.)

Where do corn farms get their operating funds? It may be post-money, but it’s not post-resource allocation.

Given that 1) everyone seems to have basic needs met but 2) private land ownership is still alive & well, this implies the Star Trek economy is “fully automated luxury gay space communism” in the streets,

“UBI gone horribly wrong neofeudal patronage nightmare” in the sheets

This is all a very silly exercise. But it’s good practice for looking critically at how a society portrays itself vs what’s really going on, especially re: agriculture.

It’s also a really good thought experiment for how “fundamental needs are met” =/= justice or sustainability.

Really not entertaining any comments about how … [more]
sarahtaber  startrek  agriculture  land  water  future  economics  inheritance  farming  agrarianism  monoculture  iowa  picard  desalination  waterrights  technology  ubi  universalbasicincome  chinampas  forests  forestry  agroforestry  wetlands  dams  damming  rivers  government  blm  bureauoflandmanagement  subsidies  indigenous  amazon  grazing  livestock  bison  megafauna  europe  northamerica  us  scifi  sciencefiction  science  food  fooddeserts  klamathriver  klamath  california  colonialism  salmon  nature  naturalresources  wild  culture  stewardship  futurism  restoration  rewilding  publicland  ownership  libertarianism  earth  health  diabetes  diet  orchards  ecology  landmanagement  indigeneity  tenochtitlan  terraforming  cornfields  gardens  gardening  fire  money  inequality  capitalism  preservation  bias  amazonrainforest  klamathrivervalley  timber  justice  sustainability 
12 days ago by robertogreco
I wrote a Wikipedia article about the Severn-Trent flyway, a migratory bird route across Great Britain, that passes…
mywpcreation  birds  WestMidlands  rivers  rivertame  rivertrent  riversevern  humber  from twitter
25 days ago by pigsonthewing
Cuyahoga River
The Cuyahoga River (middle) watershed is located northeast of Akron, Ohio and covers portions of Portage, Summit and Stark Counties. The study area drains 135 square miles and extends from the Lake Rockwell reservoir located northeast of the city of Kent and flows through the urban areas of Kent and Munroe Falls. The downstream boundary is Waterworks Park in Cuyahoga Falls, a suburb of Akron. The study area is upstream of the Little Cuyahoga River and the Gorge Dam. Tributaries include Twin Lakes Outlet, Breakneck Creek (and tributaries), Plum Creek and Fish Creek. This portion of the Cuyahoga River is situated within the Erie/Ontario Lake Plain ecoregion and is characterized by glacial formations and in general, low gradient and velocities. Soils are mainly derived from glacial till and lacustrine deposits and tend to be light colored, acidic and moderately to highly erodible.
cuyahoga  rivers  epa 
9 weeks ago by madamim
Gorge Dam - Cuyahoga River AOC
The Gorge Dam was constructed in 1913 by Northern Traction & Light – which later became Ohio Edison. It operated as a hydroelectric power plant until 1958. The reservoir behind the dam provided cooling water for a coal power plant until 1992. The power plant has been dismantled, but the dam remains.

Remarkable geology surrounds the dam, with the Cuyahoga River dropping 200 feet in elevation in less than two miles. The dam interrupts the potential for 2.5 miles of continuous Class III – Class V whitewater. Summit Metro Parks sponsors kayak trips in the pool, although it is closed for swimming. ​

The dam lies within the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern and is the major source of water quality problems on this section of river. About 832,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment are trapped in the reservoir behind the dam. In concert with ongoing restoration efforts, the remediation of this site will restore beneficial uses of the river to the communities of Northeast Ohio, facilitate fish movement, and increase habitat quality.
cuyahoga  rivers 
9 weeks ago by madamim

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