Food Security for Succulents

One of the greatest challenges of climate change is uncertainty. The systems upon which we rely today may not be viable in the future, as natural resources are strained and distribution networks are disrupted. For this reason, food security is a global concern.

What is true for humans applies equally to other species. Even the most successful survival strategies, evolved over eons, may lose their effectiveness in the radically altered environmental conditions of the Anthropocene. For photosynthetic organisms, food security depends on the availability of sunlight, which could be significantly diminished by factors including air pollution and solar radiation management. Plants may therefore benefit from access to alternative energy sources, deriving nourishment from wind or river currents, perhaps even geothermal or nuclear power, as solar energy becomes less dependable.

At Emerge, experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats will present novel technologies to provide plants with food security, focusing on native Arizona succulent species. His innovations will be developed using a strategy he calls reciprocal biomimicry, in which human technologies are adapted to benefit other species (as opposed to the standard procedure in which humans plunder the inventions of other creatures).

Food Security for Succulents is a practical exploration of technologies that might benefit plants—and ultimately also provide food security for animals including humans, since plants are our primary source of nourishment. The project is also a philosophical provocation, providing a starting point for considering the underlying causes of, and more encompassing solutions to, the present environmental crisis.