Simms notes that science and technology give us an advantage over past civilizations. We have new monitoring and communications technology that let us study soil erosion, climate change, and our energy and agricultural carbon footprint. Will these help us determine which agricultural policy to adopt? He cites as choices, Sir John Beddington's Foresight Report, "which foresees a future of farming intensification, based on hi-tech and reliance on markets" and the agro-ecology of International Assessment of Agricultural Science & Technology for Development (IAASTD) report.
Interestingly, Simms concludes by citing Jared Diamond's Collapse, which states that "societies choose to fail or survive."
For more see: Simms, Andrew. "Farming and energy: lessons from collapsed civilisations," The Guardian, 1 March 2012.