12 May, 2021

Harappa On My Plate

When the Anthropocene winter does come, what will it do to our food?

Flemish master Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Hunters In The Snow (1565) evokes Europe’s Little Ice Age
Illustration by Pieter Bruegel
Harappa On My Plate

The good thing about the future, you must agree, is that it’s in the future. And if you spool the tape fast enough, and long enough, it’s also very fuzzy—new science notwithstanding. Likewise, the good thing about the past, mostly, is that it’s in the past. And if you spool the tape long enough, in the opposite ­direction this time, it’s just as woolly. A happy felicity, ­really, for all manner of people…historians and politicians, scientists and quacks, religious fanatics, and feckless fabulists like the writer of this essay, who fears that the 21st century is an inflection point. One that may or may not break humankind’s free fall into a future that looks suspiciously like its past—a 4,200-year-old past fed by the ­waters, and myths and (perceived) realities, of the Indus and the Sarasvasti (or Ghaggar).  

In other words, could it be possible that the 21st century is the modern equivalent of the mature Harappan phase—to be precise, when it began to go on the wane? That it’s poi­sed—in...

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