Sir, – There are times in life, such as now, when a combination of events and circumstances make one reflect on where we are going and what we should be doing to ensure that is a good destination.

The strong scientific evidence is that our consumer society is damaging the planet and putting the very survival of our species at risk. It is also clear that going backward is not a good option. All is not lost, however.

Almost all food crops are still grown outside and have to contend with whatever weather and disease pressures come along. Even record-breaking crops only collect and store less than 5% of the solar energy striking the ground where they are grown and even today's commercial solar cells can supply more than double that.

It's not the crop's fault that they can only utilise some of the sunlight, some of the time. It is probable that solar cells will continue to get cheaper and more efficient, and it will then be feasible to 'grow' not just highly perishable salad crops indoors

under lighting, but staple crops as well. Already, wheat seed breeders have a seed to seed time down to about eight weeks using these methods.

Much of the fears for the natural world revolve around loss of habitat on land and in shallow continental shelf waters. Yet there are large areas in deep ocean water that are 'wet deserts' because they lack plant nutrients either blown off the land or up-welled from currents.

Large renewable energy installations could be sited in these areas and the energy transported by cable to food-producing places close to the centres of population (which show no signs of wanting to disperse).

Energy is much cheaper and more efficient to transport by high voltage DC current than any food commodity. Even fish may be produced from replicated food chains starting with plankton grown in conditions of nearly 24-hour artificial light.

Where will all that leave what we might call traditional farmers? As with organic produce and the like, there

will still be people who hanker after what they think is special, but much of that will be down to marketing.

It remains the case that if we need to feed a still growing population, allow room for wildlife and to tackle climate change effectively, something along the lines I have just described has to happen.

Sandy Henderson

Faulds Farm,