And then I came across an interview with Wendell Berry, arguably industrial agriculture's greatest critic, on the Earth Eats website. Berry was holding forth on what it takes to be a proper critic of industrial agriculture, the role I've chosen as my métier. Berry said:
But you can't be a critic by simply being a griper and collecting instances of things that seem to demand griping about. One has also to be a proper critic to search out the examples of good work, good land use, and of simple goodness that can give you some kind of standard of judgment along with the ecological health that is also an inescapable standard of judgment.
Berry's admonishment reminded me that as grim as the Big Picture often seems, it isn't the whole picture. Sure, Big Oil lurches on, unimpeded by the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the slow-motion calamity of climate change. Nukes, too, will likely survive the latest proof that nuclear power concentrates too much risk to ever really make sense. Even so, millions of people are working across the globe to create clean, low-risk energy systems based on wind and sun, and community-sharing schemes like mass transit.