We were terribly sad to learn of the recent death, after a short illness, of Patrick Noble, a long-time Feasta member and frequent contributor to the Feasta website.
Patrick’s stimulating and provocative writing made extensive use of direct references and allusions to history and the arts, which gave it a vast richness. This made it a lot of fun for me, as the Feasta website editor, to find accompanying images to include with his blog posts – there always seemed to be an infinity of human culture to dive into.
Patrick enjoyed exploring the meaning of words and showing how terms like ‘capitalism’ and ‘conservatism’ have been distorted from their original definitions, or have hidden dimensions which are generally swept aside or ignored – both by their (supposed) promoters and by their detractors.
His passionate stand against the corporatisation of organic farming and the hollowing out of local economies led him to sharply criticise many aspects of the ‘mainstream’ green movement, as embodied by, for example, organic vegetables in supermarkets. He also took strong issue with the idea that carbon can ever be ‘drawn down’ to a sufficient degree by human agriculture to be able to offset the emissions caused by the burning of fuel elsewhere.
It’s well worth reading his autobiographical essay ‘Diary of a Baby Boomer Nobody’ to get an idea of the human being behind his commentaries, and it’s fascinating to note the somewhat random and fortuitous way in which, in an earlier era, he came to be an organic farmer in northern Wales.
It’s striking that Patrick had very little formal education, and yet the depth and breadth of his vocabulary was astounding.
Although some may have considered his views contrarian, he never took suggestions for edits or criticisms of his writing amiss, and his emails to me were always well-dosed with gentle humour.
I doubt if I ever agreed one hundred percent with the arguments in any of his articles, but they always helped me to think.
On behalf of the Feasta trustees and staff, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Patrick’s wife Joyce and his sons, Owain and Huw.
Rest in peace, Patrick, your work will be valued and drawn from (not drawn down!) for decades – and hopefully centuries – to come.
Featured image: Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Bruegel, circa 1558, featuring what Patrick described as a ‘beautifully oblivious ploughman’, with Icarus falling into the water behind him.
Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members.
Caroline Whyte has been involved with Feasta since 2002. She studied ecological economics at Mälardalen University in Sweden, writing a masters thesis on the relationship between central banking and sustainability. She contributed to Feasta’s books Fleeing Vesuvius and Sharing for Survival. Along with four other Feasta climate group members she helped to launch the CapGlobalCarbon initative at the COP-21 summit in Paris in December 2015. She is also an active member of Feasta’s currency group . She is a Director of the Irish Environmental Network, is Feasta’s alternate representative on the Environmental Pillar, and is one of three Pillar members of the Irish National Economic and Social Council (NESC). She lives in central France, from where she edits the Feasta website.