Member Profile: Susan Kirk

Susan Kirk is a nationally published writer, with a degree in journalism and TAFE qualifications in horticulture.  She has written for many different publications but lately writes extensively for Rural Press publications including Good Fruit and Vegetables and Australian Horticulture.

She wrote a number of the Taste booklets (Global Food and Wine) which showcased Australian produce and producers and even did a stint as a restaurant critique. She loves growing, cooking and consuming food so over the years the interest in ornamental plants turned into an interest in food plants.

She has just recently started a herb nursery with her partner Bob on the Sunshine Coast hinterland, aptly named, Hinterland Herbs, concentrating on culinary and medicinal herb plants.

She is a member of the Media Alliance, Horticulture Media Association and is a member of and the Queensland web editor for the Australian Science Communicators.

Member Profile: Past President and Life Member, Robyn Williams

Robyn Williams is a past president and life member of the ASC. He is a science journalist and presenter of Radio National’s Science Show (since 1975), Ockham’s Razor and In Conversation.

Robyn is as prominent on radio as he is on television, having narrated programs such as Nature of Australia, and Catalyst, and appeared on World Safari with David Attenborough.

He has conducted countless interviews with scientists for ABC TV and he hosted a link between leading scientists of Australia and the United Kingdom at the Grand Launch for the Royal Institution of Great Britain, attended by David Attenborough and the Queen.

Robyn Williams is highly respected in the academic world. In 1993 he was the first journalist elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. In 1988, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Science from the Universities of Sydney, Macquarie and Deakin. The ANU awarded him a Doctorate of Law, and he is a Visiting Professor at the University of NSW and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland.

He was appointed AM in the 1988 Australian Bicentenary Honours list. He was elected a National Living Treasure by the National Trust in 1987 and even has a star named after him by the Sydney Observatory. Robyn has served in various positions including President of the Australian Museum Trust, Deputy Chairman of the Commission For The Future, and President of The ANZAAS Congress. He is an Ambassador of the Queensland Museum Foundation.

Robyn Williams has written over 10 books, three of which are on the Higher School Certificate reading list. In 1994, Robyn Williams took up a Reuters Fellowship at Oxford University where he wrote his autobiography And Now For Something Completely Different, in deference to one of his most popular interviews with John Cleese on psychiatry. His book, Future Perfect, focuses on cities, transport, communication, education and science.

Although Robyn Williams graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in England, he admits to having spent as much time acting as he has studying. Early in his career he made guest appearances in The Goodies, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Dr Who and stood in for Tom Jones for four months in his TV series.

Next week Robyn celebrates 40 years since joining the ABC Science Unit.

See Robyn address the ASC National Conference on Monday 27 February.

Post of ASC Assistant Treasurer – seeking applicants

Assistant Treasurer, Australian Science Communicators
Location: anywhere in Australia with broadband internet access
Honorarium: $300 per year.

The ASC is seeking applications from members interested in the post of Assistant Treasurer.

The Assistant Treasurer will assist the ASC Treasurer, David Ellyard, to manage the financial matters of the Association. The position offers opportunities to increase one’s financial skills and to be exposed to wider aspects of science communication and to the activities of the ASC.

The Assistant Treasurer position has been created as part of the succession planning for the management of the Association. It is intended that In due course the Assistant Treasurer will take over the full Treasurer’s role.

The Treasurer will induct and train the Assistant Treasurer. In the short term, the Assistant Treasurer will be responsible for a limited number of the Treasurer’s duties. Over time the Assistant Treasurer will gradually learn all the tasks of the Treasurer.

Duties of the Assistant Treasurer include:

  • Keeping the books under supervision of the Treasurer. (David Ellyard uses Quickbooks but other software (eg MYOB) could be used.);
  • Assisting the Treasurer prepare monthly accounts for reporting to the National Council and Executive;
  • Taking responsibility for the payment of invoices under the direction of the Treasurer.
  • Serving as a non-voting member of the National Council and Executive to contribute to discussions of programs and policy beyond their financial aspects.

The key selection criteria for this role are:

  • Demonstrated ability to be methodical and to keep financial records up to date;
  • Evidence of an interest in increasing one’s financial accounting skills;
  • Evidence of an established interest in science communication;
  • Computer and internet literacy. The successful applicant will be trained to use accounting software but it is desirable to have familiarity with Quickbooks, MYOB or similar accounting software;
  • Capacity to commit ~5 hours per month to ASC financial tasks;
  • It is desirable that the applicant is interested in the role of Treasurer in the context of succession planning of the ASC.

The Assistant Treasurer will receive an honorarium of $300. The Treasurer is allocated an honorarium of $1000.

Applications are invited by e-mail no later than 5 pm on 5 March 2012 for the attention of Jesse Shore, ASC National President at:

Please include a brief CV (two pages maximum) and a statement addressing the selection criteria with contact details of two professional referees (one page maximum).  Applications must be submitted in PDF or Word 2003/2007 format (.doc or .docx). Candidates must be current financial members of ASC.

If you have any technical questions about the role, e-mail David at:

Additional information:

ASC Treasurer – statement of duties (as provided by the current Treasurer).

1. Prepare monthly accounts for reporting to the National Council and Executive, and provide an explanatory commentary.

2. Prepare and oversight the budget.

2. Provide advice to the National Council and Executive on the money dimension of ASC policy and programs (eg the national conference).

3. Pay bills (not many of these; e.g. Executive officer’s fee is done by a periodic direct transfer). Mostly done by EFT since the Treasurer is the only signatory at the moment.

5. Do the banking (not a lot. Most income is from membership fees which come via YourMembership, our membership registration company).

6. Organise the annual audit (this takes a bit of time) and present the accounts at the AGM.

7. Prepare and submit the Annual Return to the authorities (Treasurer has done this as it mostly deals with the accounts, and eases the task of the ASC Public Officer).

8. Keep the books. (David Ellyard uses Quickbooks but other software (eg MYOB) could be used. This would be a key task of the Assistant Treasurer)

9. Maintain liaison (eg with President, Executive officer, YourMembership).

10. Serve as a member of the National Council and Executive to offer advice on programs and policy beyond financial aspects.

11. Circulate monthly bank statements for accountability.

12. Pay capitation by 1 July of each year. Capitation is set at 10% of the membership fees of the number of members in a branch. An additional 10% may be paid on application to the Executive (e.g. to fund a special project).

Past President and Life Member Profile: Alison Leigh

From Alison Leigh:

I didn’t grow up dreaming that one day I would be …. the Editorial Director of the World Congress of Science Producers. No such thing existed. Now it does and like the best things in life – it evolved.

I emigrated to Sydney from the UK in 1988 – bicentennial year; fully expecting my on-screen career as a BBC TV and radio reporter /presenter to continue to flourish here. Wrong. I was “too old” and “too English”. Yikes! What to do? Try my hand at producing? My current affairs credentials landed me the job of Producer, Media Watch, with the task of getting series one to air. Next thing I know after that baptism of fire, I’m being courted by the Executive Producer of “Quantum”- to be the Series Producer – i.e. day to day manager of that show. Saying yes to that job changed my life – and my focus.

For several years I was Series Producer and then Executive Producer of the ABC TV Science Unit. This gave me the privilege of being closely involved in the development, production and commissioning of dozens of science TV programs in addition to Quantum:  Hot Chips, What’s your poison?, The Future Eaters to name a few. I was also closely involved in the development of major initiatives that have enhanced the celebration and understanding of science in Australia such as National Science Week and of course, our very own ASC – I was a founding member. We were a small group then and now look how far we’ve come.

As Executive Producer of the ABC TV Science Unit, I used to represent the ABC at a small somewhat chaotic annual get together of science producers and broadcasters hosted each year by one or other public broadcaster somewhere in the world.

My great good fortune is that just as I left the ABC in 1998 to go freelance, the science broadcasters decided that their annual get together, or congress as it was now called,  should become a professional conference. In 1999, they asked me to be the programmer of the event, the role I’ve held ever since.

The World Congress has grown into a unique forum of presentations and discussions, where television producers and executives from all over the world come back year after year to catch up with world trends in science and factual programming, to talk passionately about program-making, and to be inspired. The convivial and informal atmosphere creates lasting friendships which lead to binding business relationships and co-production partnerships, and the all important deals to be made down the track.

It’s not a full time job:  in addition to my Congress commitments, I freelance as a science and health writer when the project interests me enough. Everything from scripts for TV series and documentaries to health articles for magazines  and most recently I co-authored the book “Eight steps to happiness” to accompany the ABC TV series “Making Australia Happy”.

But it is my dream job. Fancy being paid to watch science films and science television, to keep abreast of innovative and exciting trends in the industry, to keep in touch with some of the smartest most creative people on the planet and even to travel to exotic places to meet them all face to face. Can’t be bad. Yet if it hadn’t been for some racist and ageist attitudes way back when, it might never have happened!

ASC AGM outcomes

The first ASC AGM held in Perth was well attended and lively with discussion of many matters. Most of those present offered comments and questions which revealed the insight and enthusiasm of ASC WA members.

In brief, the main reports of this meeting held on 30 November were:

From the President:

  • Progress toward planning the 2012 national conference
  • The activity of the branches with ACT, SE-Qld and SA being especially active and WA running the enormous Astrofest event (attended by 3000 people)
  • Networking with the Tall Poppy Campaign and supporting science communication events run by other organisations
  • Maintaining contact with the National Inspiring Australia team and some of their state and territory representatives
  • Upgrades to the ASC website and news of major improvements planned for 2012.

From the Treasurer:

  • The Association remains in a sound financial position
  • Membership dues remain at $88 for an individual membership for a full year (dues were last raised 5 years ago) and student membership at 40% of the individual rate
  • Branches will receive capitation at 10% of the dues income from their members and up to another 10% for special projects on submission to the Executive;

The main outcomes were:

  • Election of 2012 ASC President: there was one nomination for President and I was elected.
  • Motion to amend the Constitution: the meeting approved the proposal for a minor change in wording to specifically mention that branches may have rules. The previous clause only mentioned branches having Constitutions.

The meeting ended promptly at 7.15pm and the David Ellyard’s third consecutive end-of-year science trivia quiz got under way. Forty five people formed numerous teams for a spirited evening of well-played competition. Last year the AGM made it to Adelaide for the first time and the decision to travel further west once again proved sound.

Jesse Shore
National President

Life Member Profile: Barbara Hardy AO

Barbara Hardy has been working in the environment field in a voluntary capacity since the early 1970s.   During this time she spent five years at the Flinders University of South Australia studying the Earth Sciences (1974-79), following a Science Degree at The University of Adelaide in 1947 (majoring in Chemistry).

She has been a Commissioner of the Australian Heritage Commission, President of the National Parks Foundation of South Australia (now the Nature Foundation SA), Founding President of the Investigator Science and Technology Centre, and Chairman of the South Australian Landcare Committee amongst a number of other roles.

Barbara Hardy was appointed an Officer of the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1987, an Honorary Doctorate of the Flinders University in 1993, as well as an Advance Australia Award 1991, SA Great Award 1992, Institution of Engineers Medal 1992, ABC Eureka Award for the Advancement of Science 1994, and was named South Australian Citizen of the Year in 1996.  She is now a Companion of the Institution of Engineers Australia, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Energy where she is a member of the Hydrogen Division.

In October 2001 she was appointed as the Member from Australia in the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED), a major international project initiated and funded by the Japanese Ministry for Environment.   APFED “aims to propose a model of equitable and sustainable development for Asia and the Pacific Region”.  Barbara has now stood down as the APFED Member from Australia, as of July 2006, and her place was taken by Greg Bourne, CEO of WWF Australia.

In August 2009 the University of Adelaide presented Barbara with a Distinguished Alumni Award “in recognition of her lifelong commitment, and significant contribution to the advancement of Science Education, Science Awareness, and Environmental Conservation”.

In November 2009. The University of South Australia established the Barbara Hardy Centre for Sustainable Urban Environments.   This organization later became an Institute.

In April 2010 the University of Adelaide admitted Barbara to the Degree of Doctor of the University (honoris causa).

Barbara Hardy’s principal interests are in ecologically sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, environmental valuation, renewable energy production and use, and in business and industrial matters especially as they affect the environment within which we all live.

Member Profile: Chris Krishna-Pillay

Chris Krishna-Pillay is one of Australia’s most prominent science communicators and performers. His writing and performing credits include, Howard Florey – a Tale of Tall PoppiesSomniumPre-CoitalDante’s Laboratory and the Great Big Science Gig. He recently directed Faraday’s Candle for re-science.

Chris has performed across Australia, as well as in the UK, New Zealand and Japan. Recent engagements have been with BHP Billiton, Bunnings, ABC, Siemens, State Library of Victoria and CSIRO. Chris has experience in television, drama, musicals, stand-up comedy and radio (an extensive listing of performances is available on request).

Chris was science consultant for children’s television series Wicked Science (Network Ten), and has appeared on television on TodayScope and Totally Wild. He is also a regular guest on popular radio programEinstein A Go Go (Triple R radio).

Chris has worked for CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation – Australia’s national science and technology organisation) for more than 17 years and is Victorian Manager of CSIRO Education (note that the opinions expressed on this website are Chris’ own and not those of CSIRO (or anyone else). Chris is Secretary of the National Science Week Victorian Coordinating Committee and is a member of the Victorian Science Drama Awards Committee. He is a member of the Australian Science Communicators and has presented at education and performance conferences in Australia, the UK, the US, South Africa, Japan and New Zealand.

Please note opinions expressed on this website are Chris’ own and not those of CSIRO.

The Transit of Venus

From Nick Lomb:

The transit of Venus on 6 June 2012 will be the last opportunity for all of us to see this rare and significant astronomical event. It is of special importance to Australians as James Cook’s first voyage that led to the colonisation of the country by the British was to observe the 1769 transit from Tahiti. Australia will be one of the best places from which to view the 2012 transit for it will be visible from beginning to end from most of the country.

To give people an appreciation of the long history behind transits of Venus, I have written a book, ‘Transit of Venus: 1631 to the present’ that is published by NewSouth Publishing in association with Powerhouse Publishing and is available from 1 November 2011. The book relates some of the adventurous journeys undertaken by astronomers to view past transits and explains why the astronomers regarded the transits of such great importance that they were willing to risk their lives to observe them. The book has numerous illustrations including some beautiful original illustrations of the 1874 transit from the archives of Sydney Observatory.

More information at and at

Dr Nick Lomb

Phone: 03 9570 8418
Mobile: 0403 892 778


Virtual Farm Project

By Julian Cribb

Here is an Australian science communication project with potential to make a difference to human history.

It’s called the Virtual Farm and it proposes the universal sharing of the word’s food production knowledge in real time and at lightspeed, in order to prevent famine and food insecurity.

I have lately been discussing it with leading European banks, the Vatican, the Gates Foundation, key NGOs and aid agencies and certain heads of state.

I’m looking for highly talented science communicators, especially with skills in IT and virtualisation, and a strong sense of commitment to the human future, to help make it a reality.

Read a text only version of the Discussion Paper here or email me for a full copy.

If you’re interested, please contact:

Julian Cribb FTSE

Julian Cribb & Associates

ph +61 (0)2 6242 8770 or 0418 639 245

Virtual Farm Project – Discussion Paper


By 2060 the world needs to double its food production – in a time when all the main things we use to produce food are becoming scarce: land, water, oil, fertiliser, technology, fish, capital and stable climates. The only way we will achieve a sustainable food supply in the mid century is through the greatest knowledge-sharing effort in human history, reaching out to 1.8 billion farmers and food producers globally in real time and at the speed of light.

The goal is achievable.  This paper outlines how.

The Virtual Farm

Throughout the history of agriculture most farmers gained most of their farming knowledge from other farmers – rather than from scientists, extension workers, companies, teachers or publishers.

The Virtual Farm is a place where farmers from all regions, nationalities, cultures and climates can meet in real time to share their knowledge with one another at lightspeed, using the internet. These meetings can be ‘face to face’ using the avatar technology now universally employed in internet gaming and scenario development.

The Virtual Farm is a place where farmers can visit one another’s ‘farm’, exchange experiences and ideas, discuss mistakes and try out different farming approaches and methods in a virtual environment, where there are no penalties for failure. Where advanced farmers can share their technology experience with smallholders in developing countries – and smallholders and organic producers can share their own farming wisdom with advanced farmers.

The Virtual Farm is a place where scientists, agricultural input suppliers, advisers, extension workers and farmers can gather for farm ‘field days’ to discuss and learn about new techniques and technologies and again, learn from one another’s mistakes – without leaving their farms, homes or offices.

It is, in short, a continual online worldwide conversation about how to produce more food, more efficiently, healthily, sustainably and safely.

Left: screenshot of a virtual farm in Second Life. The VF version will be more complex, based on real farm planning software.

The VF is open to anyone who farms or who works in the food sector – or, indeed, anyone who eats.

The main barrier to entry is the local availability of the internet – and this can be overcome through aid and philanthropic investment, almost anywhere on Earth.

This conversation can be carried on verbally, in written form, via videolink and through the sharing of data. It is accessible to farmers both literate and non-literate. It enables the sharing of common agricultural knowledge across common language groups globally.                Virtual cropping scenario.

 The Farm Knowledge Bank

The Virtual Farm contains a library or knowledge bank which aggregates the best available farm extension material and advice from the world’s best agriculture departments, agricultural input corporations, farm advisers and teaching institutions. Whatever is available within countries or internationally now can be aggregated and made searchable to any participating farmer, for free. It will need a very powerful, farmer-friendly search engine.

It can also be an archive of all of the world’s public-domain agricultural science. It will not establish this de novo, but rather by aggregating what is already available on the internet and making it accessible.

This is, in effect, a ‘Library of Alexandria’ of the world’s most trustworthy and up-to-date farming knowledge, technical and scientific information.

It can be coupled with a blogging system which allows individual farmers worldwide to discuss and report their own experiences with different systems, technologies and approaches, thus sharing practical field experience of new (or even old) methods.

Left: Global knowledge hub compiled for the poultry industry. The VF would aggregate similar sites globally.

 Who can use it?

Any person with access to the internet can use the Virtual Farm.

It is founded on the ethical principle that human knowledge belongs to humanity and should be freely available to all.

That to solve the massive food challenge that lies ahead, we need to co-operate in knowledge sharing, rather than exploit one another through exclusivity. That new times demand new models for knowledge management and dissemination, not those of the C19th and 20th.

The virtual farm

The Virtual Farm itself is a place where all the best public domain farming software is available, free, for any farmer to use in planning or managing their enterprise. This would include everything from paddock histories and livestock breeding records, fertiliser records, marketing information, farm business management software, farm planning software and, especially, farm modelling software.

This will allow farmers to create virtual models of their own enterprises, large or small, which enable them to test different production scenarios or enterprise combinations and see what they deliver in terms of income and sustainability – without having to first run the risk of a real-life experiment. They can discuss the outcomes online with colleagues, farm advisers and experts.

Left: example of farm planning software

It is also a meeting place, where farmers can gather in groups of shared interest – for example  producers of the same crop or commodity, a local catchment group, a group interested in a new crop, technology or farming system, a group interested in co-operative marketing or buying, a group interested in developing links with like-minded farmers (and consumers) all over the world.

These meeting can take place in text, as in the Twitter #agchat sites, as avatars using a suitable program (based on current gaming technology) or via videolinks such as Skype.

With the ubiquitous availability of camera technology in mobile phones, farmers can exchange images and video of actual farming systems and experiences to share their learnings.

The value of mistakes

Most farm extension tends to emphasise the benefits of success – but in reality most farming knowledge is founded on mistakes and what farmers learn from them.

Real-time knowledge sharing allows farmers to compare personal experiences and share them with audiences of dozens, hundreds or thousands of their peers, locally, nationally and globally.

By sharing our agricultural ‘mistakes’ globally and at lightspeed we can potentially dramatically improve farming efficiency and sustainability.  This is especially important in cases such as lifting water use efficiency in irrigation systems, preventing soil loss and degradation, improving carbon storage, increasing nutrient efficiency and managing grazing pressure.

In irrigation, for example, the best farmer often achieves up to seven times more food per unit of water than the least efficient farmer. If the ‘secret’ of how this is achieved, and the pitfalls to avoid, can be shared at lightspeed, progress worldwide in saving precious water will be faster.

Speaking with experts

The virtual farm makes the world’s leading technical and scientific experts and farm advisers available, potentially, to farmers all around the world, instead of just within a country or local area.

It enables them to run farmer field days, conferences or group meetings locally – or globally.

It enables agricultural input suppliers to introduce new products, equipment and technologies to producers globally – and received direct farmer feedback on their experiences from different regions and climate zones.

It supplements the crippled agricultural extension services of both developed and developing countries with a new, more rapid and efficient way of sharing knowledge and technical information.

It supplements the crippled agricultural education systems of both developed and developing countries with a new paradigm in education – one where farmers educate one another, facilitated by teachers, farm advisers and technical experts or scientists.

It allows the experts to reach the ‘early adopters’ among farmers much faster – while the R&D is under way – to dramatically reduce ‘lag’ in the >20 year process of developing and adopting a new farming system or technology. It then allows the early adopters to share their experience of new systems and technologies with the other 95% of farmers at a much faster rate and much more widely. It thus telescopes the whole process of knowledge diffusion within agriculture.

The virtual farmer’s market

The virtual farm also allows farmers to buy and sell things globally.

It allows groups of farmers to form internationally to purchase farming inputs in bulk at more affordable prices, thus reducing their on-farm costs.

It allows groups of like-minded farmers to ‘shop around’ for the best corporate customer for their commodity or product and cut the best deal.  Such deals could include requiring the purchaser to supply capital or technology for the further development of efficient sustainable agriculture – thus obliging large food companies to take a more active interest and position in sustaining efficient farmers and farming systems, instead of merely exploiting them and the environment that produces the food.

It allows farmers globally to negotiate the sale of their produce and supply it direct to users and consumers, such as restaurants, buying groups or even individual households. This is very important in redressing the current serious erosion of farmers’ market power by global corporations and middlemen, and returning sufficient income to farmers to enable them to safeguard the world’s soils, water, biodiversity and other scarce food resources.

Left: example of an online farmers’ market, where consumers can order low-priced and organic foods direct from producers.

It also allows agribusiness suppliers to network with increasingly large groups of farmers worldwide, rather than one country at a time, so increasing the rate of technology diffusion.

Collateral benefits


The Virtual Farm has the potential to revolutionise the existing, centuries-old, educational paradigm replacing the pupil-pedagogue-classroom model with one in which people learn in ‘communities of interest’ or profession, worldwide, via the internet.

This does not exclude the teacher, but allows them to evolve into a different role, as guide and facilitator and include other experts such as scientists, farm advisers, agribusiness, finance and technical experts into the ‘virtual classroom’. (In fact the word education is derived from the Latin educo, meaning “I lead out”. Contrary to common practice, it is not derived from intrudo, which means “I thrust in”). The Virtual Farm is all about reaching out to fellow farmers, food producers and specialists.

Right: virtual class in Second Life, with the avatars of real people taking part.


The objection will be raised that farmers speak many thousands of different languages, and this too can be pointed out of Facebook, Twitter and SMS (texting). However as people become more accustomed to using these tools for global communication they are also evolving a hybrid language which enables meaning to be shared even though the interlocutors speak different tongues. As “farming” is in a sense already a common language (in that there are common concepts, principles and practices in most regions of the world), it is not hard, over a generation or two to imagine the main language groups used on the Virtual Farm merging into a lingua franca that enables greater dissemination of food knowledge.


Since war is usually a product of fear, and fear is often a product of ignorance about other countries and cultures, an ongoing worldwide conversation among farmers can contribute, in no small way, to dispelling tensions, hostilities and misunderstandings. After all, one in five of the world’s people are farmers – and they share many experiences in common.

There is thus an unquantifiable, but real, peace dividend to be reaped from the Virtual Farm. Most recent wars have taken place in regions which are food-land-and-water insecure: conversely there have been virtually no wars in regions which are food secure.

It will be of material value in helping to bridge the gulf between different nations, cultures and creeds, and of bringing humanity to a common focus on one of the greatest challenges to the future existence of civilisation: the sustaining of a food supply sufficient to feed 10 billion people over more than half a century.

Development and prosperity

The antidote to food insecurity is knowledge. The antidote to poverty is knowledge.  The antidote to bad government is knowledge.

No country can establish a stable government, or a democracy, if it is food insecure. Food insecurity brings down governments (eg Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, Rwanda) quicker than almost any other factor. Conversely food security and a successful agricultural system lead to stability, improving governance, development, reduction of poverty and ultimately prosperity. It follows that farming knowledge is the best way to found the stability necessary to govern well.

As most of the world’s very poor are farmers, agricultural knowledge is key to ending poverty and initiating the development cycle.  The economic miracles of China and India today are founded originally upon agricultural success which laid the ground for wider industrial and economic progress.

Sharing knowledge among the world’s farmers at lightspeed will make a material contribution to ending global poverty, broadening sustainable development and achieving the MDGs.

Conclusion: towards a new humanity

Universal knowledge sharing in farming and food is one of the great opportunities to unify and harmonise humanity in a century of growing resource scarcity and climatic instability.

The knowledge already exists.  It is mostly free. All we have to do is create the vehicle or vehicles to share it – and the technology to do this now exists in the internet and social media.

In the second trimester of a baby’s gestation a marvellous thing happens.  The neurons, axons and glia in the embryonic brain begin to connect – and cognition is born. A mass of cells becomes a human being capable of thought, imagination, memory, feelings and dreams.

Today individual humans are connecting, at lightspeed, around a planet – like the cells in the foetal brain.

A higher understanding, and potentially a higher intellect, is being born – capable of tackling and solving our problems at supra-human level, by applying millions of minds simultaneously to the solutions and generating wider, faster consensus on what needs to be done.

It is entirely fitting that agriculture, which first gave rise to civilisation by enabling one person to feed many, should be the place where Homo sapiens reinvents itself as a wiser being.


NOTE: The ideas expressed in this document are personal views, and not those of any corporation, government, organisation or creed. If you share this ideal and have ideas, skills or funds to make it a reality, I’d love to hear from you.

Julian Cribb

(Author of “The Coming Famine: the global food crisis and what we can do to avoid it”)