This is not to say that weaning ourselves off fossil fuels and eliminating much of the waste we dump into our environment each day is not important, it is, but changes like this are focused on sustainability. Sustainability will not save us. Sustainability will only slow our descent to extinction. We are already too far removed from the necessary balance in the natural world to settle for slowing our inevitable collapse as a civilization. The only way to save ourselves and our world for future generations is through REGENERATION, not through sustaining an already bad situation.
It is said that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The story of our past is a sad one that has seen great civilizations crumble and die over and over again. What doomed the great empires of Egypt, Rome and Greece? Yes, there was turmoil between groups and cultures but the real threat has always and will always be not enough food and water for a growing population. There is nothing that can keep a starving society from chaos and eventual collapse.
When populations in a region are small, they do not put great pressure on natural resources. As that population grows, the pressure on natural resources increases as does the production of waste which further degrades the system. Where indigenous peoples learned to live in balance with Nature and considered it their responsibility to nurture and care for it in all they did, we civilized humans have been “takers”. We have constantly been making “withdrawals” from Nature while making few deposits in the form of repairs and refurbishment. As our population has increased we have been ever more demanding with a callous disregard for the depletion of the resources we need to survive. The crazy thing is that we do know exactly what needs to be done. Even crazier, it is not about “cost” because the changes needed will result not in sustainability but new abundance and life enhancing balance in our environment.
There is a very insightful report, “Conquest of the Land through 7,000 Years” by W.C. Lowdermilk (a former Assistant Chief, Soil Conservation Service) from which we can learn much about our history. From that report these excerpts…
A just relation of peoples to the earth rests not on exploitation, but rather o conservation – not on the dissipation of resources, but rather on restoration of the productive powers of the land and on access to food and raw materials. If civilization is to avoid a long decline, like the lone that has blighted North Africa and the Near East for 13 centuries, society must be born again our of an economy of exploitation into an economy of conservation.
Food comes from the earth. The land with its waters gives us nourishment. The earth rewards the knowing and diligent but punishes inexorably the ignorant and slothful. The partnership of land and farmer is the rock foundation or our complex social structure.
If the soil is destroyed, then our liberty of choice and action is gone, condemning this and future generations to needless privations and dangers. So big is this job – of saving our good land from further damage and reclaiming to some useful purpose vast areas of seriously damaged land – that full cooperation of the individual interest of farmers with technical leadership and assistance of the Government is not only desirable, but necessary, if we are to succeed.
When invited to broadcast a talk on soil conservation in Jerusalem in June 1939, I gave for the first time what has been called an “Eleventh Commandment” as follows:
Thou shalt inherit the Holy Earth as a faithful steward, conserving its resources and productivity from generation to generation. Thou shalt safeguard they field from soil erosion, thy waters from drying up, thy forests from desolation, and protect thy hills from overgrazing by thy herds, that descendants may have abundance forever. If any shall fail in this stewardship of the land thy fruitful fields shall become sterile stony ground and wasting gullies, and thy descendants shall decrease and live in poverty or perish from off the face of the earth.
(This report by Dr. Lowdermilk was completed in 1939. If more people had listened through the many years that followed we would not now be at the brink of global disaster)
Here are some scary statistics from where we are now:
- Average soil loss per acre of farmland in the US is 4 tons
- Average annual worldwide farmable land lost to degradation is 30 million acres
- 75% of land worldwide is already degraded
- 1/3 of farmable land has been lost to degradation in the past 40 years
- Over 20 major civilizations have collapsed due to soil loss
Clearly it is too late for a focus on sustainability. Our solution is not more or new technology although that can help. The only real solution is to restore our essential relationship with the Earth as stated in Lowdermilk’s 11th Commandment. We must restore and rejuvenate our lands and again live in harmony with Nature. It is a lesson we can learn from the indigenous peoples that were here before us, we must recognize that we are not separate from Nature, we are part of Nature. Our choice is whether to be a cancer or a healer for this small world of ours in the void of space.|