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Archive for the ‘Industrialism and post-industrialism’ Category

In order to solve the current economic crisis we need to put many unemployed and/or underemployed people back to work rebuilding small/medium-sized towns, farms, villages, and hamlets.  There are hundreds if not thousands of small to medium-sized towns across the USA with declining populations that could be revitalized with an influx of people in to them (from America’s overgrown cities) which would revive local/regional markets.  People keep cramming in to cities/suburbs (major metro areas) where the employment market is vastly over-saturated and this only serves to exacerbate employment problems.

Small and medium-sized farms which surround towns and villages should be re-started to provide employment opportunities and secure America’s food supplies for the future.  We should also work to revive local/regional factories and artisan shops in towns and cities, rebuilding America’s domestic manufacturing base.  There are far too many paper shufflers in the American economy and as such we must begin to revive key hands-on industries – agriculture, manufacturing, focus on long-term ecological sustainability, etc – which actually produce things locally and regionally.  The USA manufactures more than it ever has yet industry/manufacturing has become so overmechanized that one machine now does the work that dozens (even hundreds) of people used to do by hand; as such, we may also need to begin to de-mechanize certain manufacturing sectors in order to provide more jobs, i.e. begin to make and produce more things by hand as in the past (artisans of yore like the local butcher, baker, and candlestick maker) instead of relying too much on machinery in far away places.

This economic crisis and only be solved by de-centralization, re-localization, and re-regionalization of people, industry, artisanry, manufacturing, and especially agriculture.  In a mature American market facing the typical and predictable capitalistic crisis of overproduction, oversupply, and overmechanization (along with almost total agricultural and industrial monopolies), so called ‘green collar jobs’ are the only way to fix the current mess now and in the coming decades/centuries.

Cousin Charles’s feeling about the depression is that it serves the “industrialists” right. He pointed out in a magazine article seven years ago that the present trouble with the country was that the cities were getting overgrown – Megalopolis, as Spengler calls it. Strange that it should have been left for a German to diagnose our American disease. But the effect of the depression should be salutary, because it ought to make the government get rid of the high tariff and send people back to the land. There’s always a living on a farm – and he himself has been a dirt farmer, not a white-collar farmer. – http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA01/White/anthology/tennessee.html

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Even the apologists of industrialism have been obliged to admit that some economic evils follow in the wake of the machines. These are such as overproduction, unemployment, and a growing inequality in the distribution of wealth. But the remedies proposed by the apologists are always homeopathic. They expect the evils to disappear when we have bigger and better machines, and more of them. Their remedial programs, therefore, look forward to more industrialism. … Opposed to the industrial society is the agrarian, which does not stand in particular need of definition. An agrarian society is hardly one that has no use at all for industries, for professional vocations, for scholars and artists, and for the life of cities. Technically, perhaps, an agrarian society is one in which agriculture is the leading vocation, whether for wealth, for pleasure, or for prestige-a form of labor that is pursued with intelligence and leisure, and that becomes the model to which the other forms approach as well as they may. But an agrarian regime will be secured readily enough where the superfluous industries are not allowed to rise against it. The theory of agrarianism is that the culture of the soil is the best and most sensitive of vocations, and that therefore it should have the economic preference and enlist the maximum number of workers. – http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA01/White/anthology/agrarian.html

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It is increasingly obvious that American suburbs – as well as the suburbs of other nations – are environmentally and socially unsustainable on many levels.  As such, an immediate mass-retrofitting and greening of American suburbs must begin in the coming years due to the increasingly unsustainable American transportation system, food production system, and so on; this retrofitting must begin to transform suburbs again in to centers of production instead of solely centers of consumption.

Each suburban neighborhood must begin to think of itself as a village of sorts, as a semi-self-contained town within a town.  Suburban neighborhoods should immediately begin to incorporate a certain amount of walkable retail space as opposed to solely residential space — a few houses from each neighborhood could be removed to build a few shops or a neighborhood mall of sorts which carry the basics and essential goods and services needed for each neighborhood, i.e. food, tools, childcare, local shops and places of employment, etc.  Each house ought to plant to a garden – or the neighborhood as a whole should have a well-kept community garden or gardens – to supply a steady amount of fresh local produce.  Land surrounding the neighborhood, if available, could be used to raise a certain amount of livestock, thus supplying fresh local meat.  Additionally, as solar panels and wind turbines come down in price due to increased production in the coming years each house ought to also become as self-sufficient as possible in terms of energy production, producing a certain amount of energy on-site via solar panels, windmills, water wheels, and so forth.  The cars found in suburban driveways in coming years ought be filled with electric cars, electric-gas hybrids, 2-seater smart-cars, and other fuel efficient automobiles.  All of this would serve to create jobs and also stimulate lagging local and regional economies.

It is especially essential that suburban retrofitting occurs in the USA in the coming years due to the possibility of shortages of gasoline and fuel as well as the unsustainability of shipping essential foodstuffs thousands of miles for consumption.  Again, it is imperative that each suburban (and urban) neighborhood begin to think of itself as a village of sorts, with consumption at least equaling production as much as possible therein.  This would not only help to revive local and regional economies by producing many millions of local green-collar jobs which are unable to be outsourced but would also increase community cohesion.

The concept known as agriburbia (written about here numerous times before) is beginning to take steps in this direction, though it is not nearly enough in a rapid enough time frame.  The founders of the agriburban movement ought to also focus on retrofitting and greening existing neighborhoods instead of solely building new developments.  Overall it is clear that suburban retrofitting and greening must begin as soon as possible to provide jobs and increase local/regional socio-environmental sustainability.

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As referenced in a recent post, the USA and other nations must begin to build ecovillages, ecotowns, and ecosuburbs for a substantial portion of its population due to the growing instability and over-reach of petroleum-based living systems.  This is especially important for the growing underclass in the USA and elsewhere, not just the middle classes.  This is due to the fact that large numbers of the underclass are in many senses unfit for working and living in any other manner — the modern techno-industrial world has grown too complicated for large numbers of the population (especially the underclass), and thus they must be encouraged to live in ways that are more fit for their skill-set and socio-cultural mindset, i.e. in ecovillages, ecotowns, and ecosuburbs (or ‘agriburbs‘).  Green-collar jobs are the only way forward for a substantial portion of the population and as such many nations must begin to create such jobs en masse as soon as possible.

This large underclass labor pool can be intelligently utilized to repopulate and rebuild various rural and suburban areas, improving and repairing the Earth in many ways by growing or raising local/regional food, improving degraded soils, cleaning up polluted waterways, installing alternative energy sources, replanting and managing forests, rebuilding a local business/artisan base, and overall beginning to work again in many ecologically-focused sectors that have been neglected or forgotten in the past few decades of hyperindustrialism.

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From Lester Brown, an important movie: Journey to Planet Earth — Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization –  http://video.pbs.org/video/1864227276

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We need to begin building communities such as these all over the USA in appropriate areas ASAP: http://www.myfox8.com/videobeta/ab826a4c-4558-47dd-a27d-0a958e9ce035/News/Buckley-Report-The-Farmstead

An article in the Salisbury Post about the agriburban community being planned in the area: “Agriburbia©: Combining rural living with urban culture

A similar community is currently being planned in another part of NC: Mountmor Farm

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In many respects America is falling behind certain European nations and increasingly various Asian countries when it comes to the physical condition of its cities.  In order to continue being economically and socially competitive the USA must embark upon a major social, political, and economic campaign to clean up and modernize its cities, to bring them up to 21st Century standards.

Due to the current recession there are large number of unemployed/underemployed people in America who could be employed in a multitude of projects to clean up and modernize American cities.  Doing so would ensure a stable supply of jobs for millions of Americans for decades to come, including tearing out the old and building the new, installing solar panels and solar hot water heaters in homes and businesses, setting up more sustainable agriburban communities in appropriate areas, intelligently revamping cities and suburbs to in order to build better public transportation networks, building high speed train lines linking up major cities, and dozens of other green-collar jobs.

Due to neglect or mismanagement over the last few decades many American cities are not as functional or aesthetically pleasing as they ought to be when compared to cities in other countries.  Many of America’s cities are sprawling, auto-dependent, and more suburban in nature than truly urban, and this could be gradually and intelligently modified to help concentrate more people in true urban areas that are cleaner and more efficient than endlessly sprawling suburbs.

Overall it is clear that the USA must embark upon a major 21st Century campaign to clean up and modernize its cities in order to provide a better quality of life for many of its citizens.

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From the blog ‘Religion News’:

+ “Little more than a year after cutting the ribbon at a new factory in Devens built with more than $58 million in state aid, Evergreen Solar said yesterday that it will shift its assembly of solar panels from there to China…” – http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2009/11/05/evergreen_shifts_work_to_china/

+ “Two recent announcements from the U.S. solar industry indicate that low-cost manufacturing capacity in China is affecting the viability of production in North America.  General Electric (NYSE: GE) last week confirmed plans to close a solar panel manufacturing plant in Glasgow, Delaware, according to a report by The New Journal.” – http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/19196

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A great article: read “How Relocalization Worked

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A recent news-story from The Denver Post entitled “‘Agriburbia’ sprouts on Colorado’s Front Range: Combines Homes and Harvests.”

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If the current American government, the Obama Administration, is serious about increasing the number of people with ‘green-collar’ jobs, they ought to start by initiating a massive reforestation/afforestation plan which is organized on a local/county basis.  More Americans also ought to be trained in forestry and related environmental fields instead of ones which are mostly useless or even harmful to society such as banking/usury, paper-pushing, unnecessary legal jobs, etc.

A nationwide reforestation/afforestation plan would be rather simple to do, and it would also employ very many Americans who are currently unemployed and/or underemployed.  Trees ought to be replanted everywhere possible in an organized and methodical way.

Trees help to control the loss of vital topsoil to erosion, and they also preserve water/moisture in soils.  Additionally, trees absorb excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and use it to produce oxygen (which is of course a necessity for human existence).

Deforestation causes droughts — believe it or not, the trees and other natural vegetation of a region often ‘interacts’ with the localized atmosphere to produce rain, humidity, and other beneficial weather patterns. Thus, when you cut down most of the trees in an area and clear the land for houses, parking lots, shopping centers, skyscrapers, factories, etc, the land will eventually become a desert or semi-desert if trees are not eventually re-established in to the habitat.

Did you know that much of Italy, Spain, and North Africa used to be heavily forested back a few thousand years ago in ancient Greek/Roman times and of course long before that? Now widespread desertification has occurred in many areas of those countries since the ancient inhabitants of those areas often cleared the land of trees (to make room for farmland, pastureland, and towns/cities) and thus a lot of the rain eventually left those areas as a result of the loss of vegetation.  Over time, incessant winds (which were once mostly blocked by trees or other vegetation) have loosened or blown away the topsoil which also became increasingly dried out from the sunlight beating down on it constantly due to the lack of a forest canopy to protect it from getting sun-baked on a daily basis during the hotter months.  Whenever it rained heavily a lot of topsoil was washed away due to the lack of trees and associated vegetation, the roots of which once served to hold that precious topsoil in place.  Thus, over a period of centuries after an area had been deforested, entirely new deserts or semi-deserts were formed where once lush forests thrived.

The USA and other nations ought to learn from the catastrophic mistakes of past civilizations instead of repeating them.  I propose that a nationwide program of reforestation/afforestation is needed in order to make sure that we do not slowly turn large swathes of North America in to a desert-like environment in the coming centuries due to irresponsible and unsustainable levels of deforestation.

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Just a bunch of random links (some new, others old), many of which have been sitting in my email inbox for a quite a while.  I might revisit some of the news stories and/or info contained within these links sometime later on this blog.

+ An excellent collection of e-books related to agriculture, environmental history, ecology, sustainability, and other related topics is located HERE

+ Links from Lester Brown:

- Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester Brown [FREE E-BOOK!]

- “Learning From Past Civilizations” by Lester Brown

- “Our Global Ponzi Economy” by Lester Brown

+ A few links from the increasingly notable ‘eco-philosopher’ John Michael Greer; his blog is the “The Archdruid Report“:

- BOOK — The Long Descent: A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age

- BOOK — The Ecotechnic Future: Engineering a Post-Peak World

- E-BOOK — Star’s Reach: A Novel of the Deindustrial Future

- “The Coming of Deindustrial Society

- “The Long Road Down: Decline and the Deindustrial Future

- “How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse

+ “Tennessee Agrarians” by Edmund Wilson – “Cousin Charles’s feeling about the depression is that it serves the “industrialists” right. He pointed out in a magazine article seven years ago that the present trouble with the country was that the cities were getting overgrown – Megalopolis, as Spengler calls it. Strange that it should have been left for a German to diagnose our American disease.”

+ “Census: Big Cities Now Growing Quicker” (AP)

+ “Relocalization may be the key to not exterminating ourselves” by Pamela White

+ “The Oil We Eat: Following the Food Chain Back to Iraq” by Richard Manning

+ “Green Investment Plunges Worldwide” by Sandy Shore

+ “The Rural Brain Drain” by P. J. Carr & M. J. Keflas

+ “The Green Case for Cities” by Witold Rybczynski

+ “An ‘agri-intellectual’ talks back” by Tom Philpott

+ “East German Trabant to make unlikely comeback as eco-car” by Hilary Whiteman

+ Another one from Lester Brown which I will quote: “Throwing Out the Throwaway Economy” — major cities such as NYC are daily exporting their uncountable tons of garbage, waste, sewage, and pollution to more ecologically sustainable and less crowded areas of the USA:

- “One of the first major cities to exhaust its locally available landfills was New York. When the Fresh Kills landfill, the local destination for New York’s garbage, was permanently closed in March 2001, the city found itself hauling garbage to landfill sites in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and even Virginia—with some of the sites being 300 miles away. [ED:the state of Kentucky receives a lot of NYC's garbage, also]

Given the 12,000 tons of garbage produced each day in New York and assuming a load of 20 tons of garbage for each of the tractor-trailers used for the long-distance hauling, some 600 rigs are needed to move garbage from New York City daily. These tractor-trailers form a convoy nearly nine miles long—impeding traffic, polluting the air, and raising carbon emissions.

Fiscally strapped local communities in other states are willing to take New York’s garbage—if they are paid enough. Some see it as an economic bonanza. State governments, however, are saddled with increased road maintenance costs, traffic congestion, increased air pollution, potential water pollution from landfill leakage, and complaints from nearby communities.

In 2001 Virginia’s Governor Jim Gilmore wrote to Mayor Rudy Giuliani to complain about the use of Virginia for New York City’s trash. “I understand the problem New York faces,” he noted, “but the home state of Washington, Jefferson and Madison has no intention of becoming New York’s dumping ground.”

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This is just a post mostly for my own future reference as well as for anyone else who might be interested in great writing and important ideas written by a group of erudite, traditional-minded Americans.  The following is the entire introduction to the book I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition published by the Twelve Southerners in 1930.

I referenced the book in a previous post on this blog, and stated that the critical issues raised in the book still loom large even now in 21st Century America (and in other nations which are currently industrializing/urbanizing in modern times).  Especially interesting is the way in which the current milieu of American socioeconomic stagnation and ennui eerily mirrors exactly what was occurring when the book was originally published at the beginning of the Great Depression in 1930.

I am reposting the introductory essay here just in case it one day disappears from the internet entirely and/or the current website containing it goes down for some reason.

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“INTRODUCTION: A STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES”
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THE authors contributing to this book are Southerners, well acquainted with one another and of similar tastes, though not necessarily living in the same physical community, and perhaps only at this moment aware of themselves as a single group of men. By conversation and exchange of letters over a number of years it had developed that they entertained many convictions in common, and it was decided to make a volume in which each one should furnish his views upon a chosen topic. This was the general background. But background and consultation as to the various topics were enough; there was to be no further collaboration. And so no single author is responsible for any view outside his own article. It was through the good fortune of some deeper agreement that the book was expected to achieve its unity. All the articles bear in the same sense upon the book’s title-subject: all tend to support a Southern way of life against what may be called the American or prevailing way; and all as much as agree that the best terms in which to represent the distinction are contained in the phrase, Agrarian versus Industrial.

But after the book was under way it seemed a pity if the contributors, limited as they were within their special subjects, should stop short of showing how close their agreements really were. On the contrary, it seemed that they ought to go on and make themselves known as a group already consolidated by a set of principles which could be stated with a good deal of particularity. This might prove useful for the sake of future reference, if they should undertake any further joint publication. It was then decided to prepare a general introduction for the book which would state briefly the common convictions of the group. This is the statement. To it every one of the contributors in this book has subscribed.

Nobody now proposes for the South, or far any other community in this country, an independent political destiny. That idea is thought to have been finished in 1805. But how far shall the South surrender its moral, social, and economic autonomy to the victorious principle of Union? That question remains open. The South is a minority section that has hitherto been jealous of its minority right to live its own kind of life. The South scarcely hopes to determine the other sections, but it does propose to determine itself, within the utmost limits of legal action. Of late, however, there is the melancholy fact that the South itself has wavered a little and shown signs of wanting to join up behind the common or American industrial ideal. It is against that tendency that this book is written. The younger Southerners, who are being converted frequently to the industrial gospel, must come back to the support of the Southern tradition. They must be persuaded to look very critically at the advantages of becoming a “new South” which will be only an undistinguished replica of the usual industrial community.

But there are many other minority communities opposed to industrialism, and wanting a much simpler economy to live by. The communities and private persons sharing the agrarian tastes are to be found widely within the Union. Proper living is a matter of the intelligence and the will, does not depend on the local climate or geography, and is capable of a definition which is general and not Southern at all. Southerners have a filial duty to discharge to their own section. But their cause is precarious and they must seek alliances with sympathetic communities everywhere. The members of the present group would be happy to be counted as members of a national agrarian movement.

Industrialism is the economic organization of the collective American society. It means the decision of society to invest its economic resources in the applied sciences. But the word science has acquired a certain sanctitude. It is out of order to quarrel with science in the abstract, or even with the applied sciences when their applications are made subject to criticism and intelligence. The capitalization of the applied sciences has now become extravagant and uncritical; it has enslaved our human energies to a degree now clearly felt to be burdensome. The apologists of industrialism do not like to meet this charge directly; so they often take refuge in saying that they are devoted simply to science! They are really devoted to the applied sciences and to practical production. Therefore it is necessary to employ a certain skepticism even at the expense of the Cult of Science, and to say, It is an Americanism, which looks innocent and disinterested, but really is not either.

The contribution that science can make to a labor is to render it easier by the help of a tool or a process, and to assure the laborer of his perfect economic security while he is engaged upon it. Then it can be performed with leisure and enjoyment. But the modern laborer has not exactly received this benefit under the industrial regime. His labor is hard, its tempo is fierce, and his employment is insecure. The first principle of a good labor is that it must be effective, but the second principle is that it must be enjoyed. Labor is one of the largest items in the human career; it is a modest demand to ask that it may partake of happiness.

The regular act of applied science is to introduce into labor a labor-saving device or a machine. Whether this is a benefit depends on how far it is advisable to save the labor The philosophy of applied science is generally quite sure that the saving of labor is a pure gain, and that the more of it the better. This is to assume that labor is an evil, that only the end of labor or the material product is good. On this assumption labor becomes mercenary and servile, and it is no wonder if many forms of modern labor are accepted without resentment though they are evidently brutalizing. The act of labor as one of the happy functions of human life has been in effect abandoned, and is practiced solely for its rewards.

Even the apologists of industrialism have been obliged to admit that some economic evils follow in the wake of the machines. These are such as overproduction, unemployment, and a growing inequality in the distribution of wealth. But the remedies proposed by the apologists are always homeopathic. They expect the evils to disappear when we have bigger and better machines, and more of them. Their remedial programs, therefore, look forward to more industrialism. Sometimes they see the system righting itself spontaneously and without direction: they are Optimists. Sometimes they rely on the benevolence of capital, or the militancy of labor, to bring about a fairer division of the spoils: they are Cooperationists or Socialists. And sometimes they expect to find super-engineers, in the shape of Boards of Control, who will adapt production to consumption and regulate prices and guarantee business against fluctuations: they are Sovietists. With respect to these last it must be insisted that the true Sovietists or Communists-if the term may be used here in the European sense-are the Industrialists themselves. They would have the government set up an economic super-organization, which in turn would become the government. We therefore look upon the Communist menace as a menace indeed, but not as a Red one; because it is simply according to the blind drift of our industrial development to expect in America at last much the same economic system as that imposed by violence upon Russia in 1917.

Turning to consumption, as the grand end which justifies the evil of modern labor, we find that we have been deceived. We have more time in which to consume, and many more products to be consumed. But the tempo of our labors communicates itself to our satisfactions, and these also become brutal and hurried. The constitution of the natural man probably does not permit him to shorten his labor-time and enlarge his consuming-time indefinitely. He has to pay the penalty in satiety and aimlessness. The modern man has lost his sense of vocation.

Religion can hardly expect to flourish in an industrial society. Religion is our submission to the general intention of a nature that is fairly inscrutable; it is the sense of our role as creatures within it. But nature industrialized, transformed into cities and artificial habitations, manufactured into commodities, is no longer nature but a highly simplified picture of nature. We receive the illusion of having power over nature, and lose the sense of nature as something mysterious and contingent. The God of nature under these conditions is merely an amiable expression, a superfluity, and the philosophical understanding ordinarily carried in the religious experience is not there for us to have.

Nor do the arts have a proper life under industrialism, with the general decay of sensibility which attends it. Art depends, in general, like religion, on a right attitude to nature; and in particular on a free and disinterested observation of nature that occurs only in leisure. Neither the creation nor the understanding of works of art is possible in an industrial age except by some local and unlikely suspension of the industrial drive.

The amenities of life also suffer under the curse of a strictly-business or industrial civilization. They consist in such practices as manners, conversation, hospitality, sympathy, family life, romantic love-in the social exchanges which reveal and develop sensibility in human affairs. If religion and the arts are founded on right relations of man- to-nature, these are founded on right relations of man-to- man.

Apologists of industrialism are even inclined to admit that its actual processes may have upon its victims the spiritual effects just described. But they think that all can be made right by extraordinary educational efforts, by all sorts of cultural institutions and endowments. They would cure the poverty of the contemporary spirit by hiring experts to instruct it in spite of itself in the historic culture. But salvation is hardly to be encountered on that road. The trouble with the life-pattern is to be located at its economic base, and we cannot rebuild it by pouring in soft materials from the top. The young men and women in colleges, for example, if they are already placed in a false way of life, cannot make more than an inconsequential acquaintance with the arts and humanities transmitted to them. Or else the understanding of these arts and humanities will but make them the more wretched in their own destitution.

The “Humanists” are too abstract. Humanism, properly speaking, is not an abstract system, but a culture, the whole way in which we live, act, think, and feel. It is a kind of imaginatively balanced life lived out in a definite social tradition. And, in the concrete, we believe that this, the genuine humanism, was rooted in the agrarian life of the older South and of other parts of the country that shared in such a tradition. It was not an abstract moral “check” derived from the classics-it was not soft material poured in from the top. It was deeply founded in the way of life itself-in its tables, chairs, portraits, festivals, laws, marriage customs. We cannot recover our native humanism by adopting some standard of taste that is critical enough to question the contemporary arts but not critical enough to question the social and economic life which is their ground.

The tempo of the industrial life is fast, but that is not the worst of it; it is accelerating. The ideal is not merely some set form of industrialism, with so many stable industries, but industrial progress, or an incessant extension of industrialization. It never proposes a specific goal; it initiates the infinite series. We have not merely capitalized certain industries; we have capitalized the laboratories and inventors, and undertaken to employ all the labor-saving devices that come out of them. But a fresh labor-saving device introduced into an industry does not emancipate the laborers in that industry so much as it evicts them. Applied at the expense of agriculture, for example, the new processes have reduced the part of the population supporting itself upon the soil to a smaller and smaller fraction. Of course no single labor-saving process is fatal; it brings on a period of unemployed labor and unemployed capital, but soon a new industry is devised which will put them both to work again, and a new commodity is thrown upon the market. The laborers were sufficiently embarrassed in the meantime, but, according to the theory, they will eventually be taken care of. It is now the public which is embarrassed; it feels obligated to purchase a commodity for which it had expressed no desire, but it is invited to make its budget equal to the strain. All might yet be well, and stability and comfort might again obtain, but for this: partly because of industrial ambitions and partly because the repressed creative impulse must break out somewhere, there will be a stream of further labor-saving devices in all industries, and the cycle will have to be repeated over and over. The result is an increasing disadjustment and instability.

It is an inevitable consequence of industrial progress that production greatly outruns the rate of natural consumption. To overcome the disparity, the producers, disguised as the pure idealists of progress, must coerce and wheedle the public into being loyal and steady consumers, in order to keep the machines running. So the rise of modern advertising-along with its twin, personal salesmanship-is the most significant development of our industrialism. Advertising means to persuade the consumers to want exactly what the applied sciences are able to furnish them. It consults the happiness of the consumer no more than it consulted the happiness of the laborer. It is the great effort of a false economy of life to approve itself. But its task grows more difficult even day.

It is strange, of course, that a majority of men anywhere could ever as with one mind become enamored of industrialism: a system that has so little regard for individual wants. There is evidently a kind of thinking that rejoices in setting up a social objective which has no relation to the individual. Men are prepared to sacrifice their private dignity and happiness to an abstract social ideal, and without asking whether the social ideal produces the welfare of any individual man whatsoever. But this is absurd. The responsibility of men is for their own welfare and that of their neighbors; not for the hypothetical welfare of some fabulous creature called society.

Opposed to the industrial society is the agrarian, which does not stand in particular need of definition. An agrarian society is hardly one that has no use at all for industries, for professional vocations, for scholars and artists, and for the life of cities. Technically, perhaps, an agrarian society is one in which agriculture is the leading vocation, whether for wealth, for pleasure, or for prestige-a form of labor that is pursued with intelligence and leisure, and that becomes the model to which the other forms approach as well as they may. But an agrarian regime will be secured readily enough where the superfluous industries are not allowed to rise against it. The theory of agrarianism is that the culture of the soil is the best and most sensitive of vocations, and that therefore it should have the economic preference and enlist the maximum number of workers.

These principles do not intend to be very specific in proposing any practical measures. How may the little agrarian community resist the Chamber of Commerce of its county seat, which is always trying to import some foreign industry that cannot be assimilated to the life-pattern of the community? Just what must the Southern leaders do to defend the traditional Southern life ? How may the Southern and the Western agrarians unite for effective action? Should the agrarian forces try to capture the Democratic party, which historically is so closely affiliated with the defense of individualism, the small community, the state, the South ? Or must the agrarians-even the Southern ones-abandon the Democratic party to its fate and try a new one? What legislation could most profitably be championed by the powerful agrarians in the Senate of the United States? What anti-industrial measures might promise to stop the advances of industrialism, or even undo some of them, with the least harm to those concerned? What policy should be pursued by the educators who have a tradition at heart? These and many other questions are of the greatest importance, but they cannot be answered here.

For, in conclusion, this much is clear: If a community, or a section, or a race, or an age, is groaning under industrialism, and well aware that it is an evil dispensation, it must find the way to throw it off. To think that this cannot be done is pusillanimous. And if the whole community, section, race, or age thinks it cannot be done, then it has simply lost its political genius and doomed itself to impotence. (1930)

+ SOURCE = http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA01/White/anthology/agrarian.html

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All over the USA and in many other post-industrial nations there is environmental blight and ecological devastation found nearly everywhere, especially in many cities and suburbs.

Thus I propose that we engage in a long-term phase of ‘constructive destruction‘ wherein we tear down very many of the old, useless, and decrepit buildings, shuttered factories, decaying neighborhoods, and so on and put better things in their place or even return those areas to natural greenspace.  Luckily this is occurring in some areas of the USA, but not at nearly a quick enough pace.  This will serve to create many jobs, since it would take literally decades to remove, rebuild, and/or retrofit many of the old buildings and areas which were rashly built in the last 100+ years of mass-industrial fervor.

This is already happening in some American cities; read: “US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive: Dozens of US cities may have entire neighbourhoods bulldozed as part of drastic “shrink to survive” proposals being considered by the Obama administration to tackle economic decline

For instance, if we take an old factory which has been closed down for decades, a building (or buildings) which is nothing but an ugly scar on the landscape that attracts crime and creates pollution: we could employ dozens if not hundreds of people to descend upon the site and tear the old factory down, being very careful to fully recycle any potentially reusable materials.  After the process of destroying/dismantling the site is finished, local/community planners could be employed to find various ways to re-utilize the newly opened up space.  If there is no need for new industry or jobs in the area, the site could simply be turned in to ‘ecodense’ housing (if it is needed), or a public park, or it could be reforested, or a school could be built, or a local lake/reservoir could be dug there, or even large public garden(s) or orchards could be created, and so on and so forth.  The possibilities are literally wide open, because obviously anything is better put in the place of ugly, blighted, and abandoned buildings or old factories.

The main point of this process of ‘constructive destruction’ is to remove as many of the now useless buildings and abandoned eyesores which were built in the past but which now are worthless and serve no real purpose whatsoever — in doing this we would in turn create millions of new jobs merely by cleaning up the hideous industrial wreckage of the past.  There are plenty of new ways in which almost all of these blighted areas could be reused, and many people in the local areas where these abandoned buildings or neglected sites are located would certainly have many ideas for things which could be created or put in their place.

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The best hope for the future of job growth in the modern post-industrial USA are so-called ‘green-collar jobs.’

The fact is that all economically prosperous nations suffer from a major and unavoidable overproduction and oversupply of goods and services as we in the USA are now experiencing — this is a natural outcome in all advanced post-industrial economies, and this means there are less available jobs for people to do because all necessary human needs have already been met and all economic niches have been filled. There are less people needed for factories because one machine can now quickly do the work of many people; similarly, there is less demand for various goods because most people already have all that they need and thus do not need to buy more and more stuff…same with very many services. We can only consume so much, and overconsumption is very bad for the environment anyhow.

We are in a major period ’stagnation’ or economic leveling-off because of all the economic successes of the past; much of Western/Northern Europe has been in this leveling-off stage for at least two decades now. Economies and countries cannot grow forever because the human population is limited due to the fact that necessary resources and space are also limited on this finite planet.

The best hope for the future is the growth of various ‘green-collar jobs’ which will help to undo some of the environmental damage which has happened since the advent of mass-industrialism in the last 100+ years. Instead of training even more near-worthless MBAs, accountants, lawyers, bureaucrats, tax collectors, bankers, and other mostly parasitic paper-pushers, why not train more people to be ‘green-collar’ workers who get good and environmentally-beneficial things done in the real-world, workers like on-the-ground eco-conservationists, soil scientists/anti-erosion workers, forestry experts, small/medium-sized farmers and master gardeners, solar panel technicians, animal husbandry experts/livestock veterinarians, water protection officials, wind-turbine constructors, recycling experts, botanists, ecologists, green-energy scientists, and other similar jobs?  We should also encourage more people to be nutritionists, physical fitness trainers, and so on in order to whip more people back in to decent shape after years of degenerating behind desks.  Four-year Bachelor degrees or Master/PhD degrees which cost tens of thousands of dollars to acquire and thus saddle students with large debts are not required for many of these jobs or careers — local community colleges should be expanded and/or retrofitted to begin training large numbers of people in these types of fields, as 2-3 year technical or Associate degree programs can thoroughly prepare people for many of the aforementioned jobs.  What we need now are more societal SUSTAINERS because we are an advanced nation and thus nearly everything that we need is already built; the idea of ‘perma-growth’ is a fraud, as is the paper-shuffling banking/restaurant/retail/entertainment and outright gambling economy that the USA is (unsuccessfully) trying to sustain itself upon.

In the USA and elsewhere, the primary problem with the housing industry, the auto industry, the retail industry, the restaurant industry, and even many of the service-sector industries such as law, medicine, banking, and so on in the USA and elsewhere is massive overproduction, oversupply, and overcapacity.  However, the general public remains woefully ignorant about this very crucial fact. Even many mainstream economists are unaware of this or worse yet they try to hide this fact with their incessant obscurantism and useless theorizing.

Mass-industrialism and advanced technology always tends toward a huge oversupply of goods and services — which is exactly what we are ‘suffering’ from now in the current economic malaise.  Far from being tapped out, the American economy is full to the point of bursting.  There is no ‘shortage’ of anything, not cars or housing or food or or clothing or electronics or medical care or educations whatever — in fact, there is a massive oversupply of all those things plus more. The manipulative money-masters are, as always, trying to fool the ever-nervous masses with the ILLUSION OF SCARCITY. But there is no scarcity of anything, and there never was. As I said before, we here in the USA and in all other economically advanced nations are ’suffering’ from our own economic success, basically. We have thoroughly solved the problem of PRODUCTION, and now we must solve the problem of DISTRIBUTION. This is the great challenge which now faces us.

Overproduction is the ‘dirty little secret’ of modern society that the international bankers, fat-cat plutocrats, the lying mass-media, and other assorted rip-off artists want to keep hidden from the public because if people really knew the superabundance amongst which we live there would be riots in the streets and the everyday workers would begin to demand the goods and services which they themselves produce and provide for much cheaper.

There is no shortage of anything except decent, well-paying jobs in which people are not forced to become heavily indebted neo-serfs because they are being paid near-starvation wages.  And as already I stated there is only a shortage of jobs because of the mass-mechanization of labor which has been occurring in the last 100-150 years since the Industrial Revolution which has resulted in the gross oversupply/glut of goods like cars, houses, food, clothing, and all of the various services such as medicine, law, banking, education, etc.  Nearly all technologically-advanced/industrialized nations have high unemployment because of the incredibly efficient overproduction/oversupply of goods and services which they produce via the use of advanced technology and the efficient utilization of labor…that is the natural outcome of the mass-automation and mass-mechanization of labor. In other words…”the machines took our jobs!

I will say it again: ‘green-collar jobs’ are the only hope we have in reviving the American economy any time soon.  We must begin to consciously build societies and nations which are much more environmentally and ecologically sustainable in the very long-term.  These ‘green-collar jobs’ should serve to clean-up and repair the massive environmental damage and mess which we have created in the last 100+ years of feverishly disorganized and reckless mass-industrialization/mechanization, urbanization/suburbanization, and over-technologicalization.

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I’ve noticed a few of recent stories about locally/regionally-based agriculture and sustainable/green living in the news recently in my area, which was very good to see and hear.

+ Up around the small North Carolina town of Granite Quarry located in Rowan County, the ‘neo-agrarian’ concept of ‘Agriburbia‘ is taking root in a planned community/village called ‘The Farmstead‘ which is slated to be built there in stages during the coming years.  Good radio interviews with the planners of this ‘Agriburban’ community can be heard HERE as well as HERE.

Basically, the concept behind ‘Agriburban’ developments such as ‘The Farmstead’ in Granite Quarry are extremely similar to various ideas which I have been thinking about and formulating for quite a few years now.  It involves a neighborhood, or village, or small town, and/or simple cluster of sustainably-built homes which are located adjacent to shared farmland, orchards, pastureland, and so on.  Each home would also be built with personal/familial gardenspace located in their backyard (if they chose to utilize it).  Thus, anywhere between 1/3-1/2 (or even more) of the neighborhood’s plant-based food could be grown right there on-site, with some left over for sale in local or regional markets.  Additionally, some local shops would also be located in the neighborhood or village to facilitate  neighborhood commerce.  Overall, these ideas seek to create more sustainable, cohesive, and self/communally-sufficient suburban and/or small-town developments, in effect semi-mimicking the pre-industrial villages or towns of yore though with all modern technological amenities still available.  Instead of being highly dependent ‘bedroom communities’ wherein the residents must seek all sustenance away from their neighborhood or community, these ‘Agriburban’ developments are instead focused on being comparatively ‘mixed-use,’ i.e. they incorporate residential and commercial/mercantile space with local agricultural space.  This is a great idea, and one which I wrote about a bit on this blog HERE — I’ll definitely have much more to say about these ideas on this website in the future.  In the meantime, read the following articles on various ‘Agriburban’ projects which are currently underway in the U.S. state of Colorado HERE and HERE, plus one located in Illinois HERE.

+ Relatedly, back in July the local public radio station had a show on the topic of local agriculture — in interested, that radio show can be heard HERE. On the show was the author of a book about reviving local/regional agriculture; the author’s name is Aaron Newton and the title of his book is A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil. I very much hope to buy and read Newton’s book soon, because from what I heard during the radio interview his views are very much similar to my own.  Also check out the website Know Your Farms, which is devoted to getting people in the Charlotte area more in touch with some of the local farmers who live in the region.

+ A June story from The Charlotte Observer entitled “How a Cabarrus Farm is Growing the Next Generation of Farmers” notes some very encouraging developments related to local agriculture (aside from the fact that, to quote the article, “North Carolina leads the nation in its loss of farms”).  On this particular farm in Cabarrus County a few people are (re)learning some of the necessary agricultural/agrarian skills needed to usher-in a new generation of younger American farmers.  Also, a more recent news-story from The Charlotte Observer about how “North Carolina is a state in transition” which is caught between its mostly rural heritage and the growing urbanity which is increasingly found therein.

+ A few years ago Central Carolina Community College (which is a community college located in Chatham, Harnett, & Lee Counties, NC) started a two-year Associate’s degree program in Sustainable Agriculture.  I think this is an excellent idea, and it would be great if every single community college in NC (or even the entire USA!) started offering a similar degree program that could be tailored to the specific climate and local soil profile of the particular county in which the community college is located.  Central Carolina Community College also offers a two-year Associate’s degree program in Alternative Energy Technology/Biofuels.  Overall, that community college seems to be far ahead of other colleges when it comes to the ‘green education curve’ by offering fairly low-cost educational opportunities to nearby residents who can certainly put these very useful skills to work in their local communities.  I wholeheartedly encourage other local community colleges nationwide (as well as larger colleges and universities) to begin offering similar two-year degree programs as soon as possible at a reasonable cost just as CCCC has done.

Related to the aforementioned news-stories, far too many modern Americans (even the majority of very highly educated historians of American history) often forget that the USA was founded as an ‘agrarian republic‘ and existed in that form for much of its history, i.e. nearly all of its citizens up until the 20th Century (which was the century when urban industrialism generally became ascendant in the USA, particularly in the post-WWII era) were involved in local and/or regional forms of agriculture in one way or another, and indeed many of the most important American Founding Fathers were prominent agriculturalists, farmers, and/or planters as well who were strongly influenced by the agrarian philosophies of an 18th Century French group of proto-economists who were called the ‘Physiocrats.’

It’s a shame that the USA has lost contact with its original agrarian/rural roots, but hopefully we Americans who still care deeply about agriculture and the ‘life of the soil’ can help to at least partially revive agrarianism in the USA and at least partially take it back from the handful of mega-corporations who currently dominate it. We ‘neo-agrarianists’ aren’t technology-hating ‘Luddites‘ and we clearly aren’t seeking to entirely do away with industrialism, urbanism, and high-technology (because that would clearly be absurd and counter-productive), but rather we seek to put American citizens back in contact with the more natural, localized, and agricultural principles that this country was founded upon along with the agrarian way-of-life which most of their American ancestors lived.  We ‘neo-agrarianists’ also seek to reverse the terrible neglect that has occurred in many of America’s rural areas by bringing much-needed attention back to the extraordinarily pivotal role which settled agriculture has played in building and sustaining human civilization for over 10,000 years now.

Back in the 1920s/30s, the Southern Agrarians tried to warn (to no avail) a rapidly industrializing/urbanizing USA about the dangers and pitfalls inherent within the burgeoning urban-industrial system. They published their scathing critique of urban-industrialism on the cusp of the Great Depression, during socioeconomic as well as political circumstances which were eerily similar to the ones which confront the modern USA — indeed, many of their statements were quasi-prophetic and clearly illuminate many of the problems that heavily industrialized/urbanized nations now face at the beginning of the 21st Century. If you have some extra time, read the excellent “Introduction: A Statement of Principles” to their brilliant book of essays published in 1930 entitled I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition.

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A few recent links about the possible future course of humankind on Earth if we do not begin to change our unsustainable ways:

+ “Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?” by Lester Brown (in Scientific American – May 2009) – this article posits that the increasing fragility of the world’s food supply could lead to shortages that would further destabilize many developing (as well as developed) countries
- Also see: “RETHINKING FOOD PRODUCTION FOR A WORLD OF EIGHT BILLION” by Brown (July 2009)

+ “What the future looks like” by Martin Rees (in The Guardian – May 2009) – a rather gloomy assessment of the socio-environmental situation that could lead to major problems by 2050.  In relation to the burgeoning world population and the impact that this is having on the environment, the article states:
-

“But there are some trends that we can predict with confidence. There will, barring a global catastrophe, be far more people on Earth than today. Fifty years ago the world population was below 3 billion. It has more than doubled since then, to 6.7 billion. The percentage growth rate has slowed, but it is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050. The excess will almost all be in the developing world where the young hugely outnumber the old.

If population growth were to continue beyond 2050, one can’t be other than exceedingly gloomy about the prospects. And the challenge of feeding such a rapidly growing population will be aggravated by climate change.

The world will be warmer than today in 2050; the patterns of rainfall and drought across the world will be different. If we pursue “business as usual”,

CO2 concentration levels will reach twice the pre-industrial level by around 2050. The higher its concentration, the greater the warming – and, more important still, the greater the chance of triggering something grave and irreversible: rising sea levels due to the melting of Greenland’s icecap; runaway release of methane in the tundra.”

+ ABC News ran the TV special “Earth 2100” back in early June 2009 – it also paints a grim portrait of Earth overwhelmed by major economic, political, and socio-environmental problems by the year 2100 if humanity does not soon change course and begin upon a more ecologically/environmentally sustainable path. I didn’t hear about or get to watch the program when it first aired, but I hope to watch a rerun of it on the internet sometime soon when I find the time.
- Also see the following related links:
“Earth 2100: the Final Century of Civilization? – Planet At Risk: Experts Warn Population Growth, Resource Depletion, Climate Change Could Bring Catastrophe in Next Century”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_2100

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The following is something that I wrote nearly two years ago, back in August 2007; as the title of this post suggests, it promotes ‘localism,’ the belief that many people should return to more locally-focused ways of life in order to build stronger, better connected, and more sustainable local communities. Here it is:

Live locally:

- build strong community relationships and form deep local/regional roots
- buy locally and regionally as much as possible (goods and services)
- grow food locally as much as you can: start community gardens and/or small to medium-sized farms in cooperation with other people in your local area
- use well water and/or local water sources, avoid bottled water
- plant orchards on local unused open-land (for fruit, nuts, etc) and/or bushes for berries
- revitalize local pastureland and local livestock raising for meat and milk/butter/cheese
- raise a few hens and have a constant supply of fresh eggs
- work with neighbors to tear down one or more old and decrepit houses in your neighborhood and try to plant an orchard and/or community garden in its place
- start revitalizing local small, medium-sized, and family-owned businesses
- start local/community banks
- stay around your home and local community more (use less fossil fuel) and get to know your neighbors very well
- find a way to make your family and friends your neighbors for closer local networking
- read more books & listen to more music to enrich your mind: watch much less TV because it destroys your mind
- start local/small neighborhood schools and educate your community’s children in both intellectual as well as technical/practical skills (don’t forget the physical exercise, too)
- start a neighborhood health clinic using local medical volunteers or staff
- if you can afford it, get solar panels on your roof for electricity plus a solar hot-water heater
- learn useful crafts and skills like basic woodworking, electrical work, home repair, auto repair, local agriculture, etc
- learn how to sew or knit and try to make or repair some of your own clothes
- travel and explore locally and regionally (not just globally)
- pay off all outstanding debts and then forever stay out of debt; also try to help others in your local area to get out of debt
- start strong community groups in order to protect local interests and preserve local/regional safety (2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – revive local militias)
- avoid the big corporate national mass-media (cable TV, Hollywood movies, trash journalism)
- avoid mass-retail stores, malls, chain restaurants, etc and revitalize local businesses and restaurants
- conserve and preserve local greenspace, farmland, forests, pastureland, orchards, and so on
- drive less & you will pollute less
- be a community activist: work to eradicate crime, loneliness, alcoholism, drug addiction, neglect of the elderly, and other social ills in your local community
- talk more with people (especially kids) and watch less TV
- walk and/or ride bicycles around your local community when weather permits
- eat more fresh and locally grown food and avoid factory-farmed meat
- learn how to cook well
- exercise more
- reject too much globalization and internationalism because those trends homogenize and even destroy local/regional cultures and decrease overall diversity
- use less, consume less
- recycle more, conserve more
…be a LOCALIST.

Are you sick and tired of corporate-driven globalization and the promotion of profits over people? Are you distressed by the decimation of local businesses and communities by mega-corporations? Would you one day like to achieve community self-sufficiency as opposed to the current model which overtly seeks the maximization of centralized/corporate economic growth with a total disregard for the continuous loss of local ecological sustainability, social solidarity, and cultural integrity of the community? Then be a LOCALIST.

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Yesterday I posted the entire essay (albeit broken up in to many separate posts) from a college class that I just completed. While that essay forms the nucleus or basis of this website, I will now begin to post on various topics related to the environment (problems and some possible solutions), sustainability, ecology/environmental science, social problems (especially as they relate to the environment), enviroeconomic/ecopolitical issues, simple/slower living, and many others.

Stay tuned, y’all…

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While a rather bleak picture of a decaying humanity barely clinging to a near-permanently wrecked Earth has been described in many of the preceding pages, it certainly doesn’t have to turn out that way. We still yet have some time in which to begin on a better and more stable/sustainable course. We are going to have to harness and accurately direct all of the ingenuity, willpower, idealism, and intelligence we can muster in order to make it through the coming socio-environmental storm, but the Earth’s eventual environmental recovery is nearly assured if we stay focused on and keep working to solve the immense problems that now plague us.

This is no time for admissions of defeat, resignation, hopelessness, pessimism, or negativism – it is a time for positivity, perseverance, optimism, hope, and joy at performing the necessary work which is currently confronting our species. So let us all begin to look ahead and start to do the intense thinking, the difficult planning, the passionate debating, and the undeniably vital work which will serve to carry our species as well as our precious home planet in to a newer and brighter epoch of advanced life in our small corner of the vast universe.

+ NOTE: check out the book Ecological Utopias: Envisioning the Sustainable Society for a good overview of a few historical as well as modern “ecological utopias” as imagined by various Western thinkers, writers, scientists, activists, etc.

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If we do not begin to change course within the coming decades and start taking better care of our Earth, we might face problems which may eventually become insurmountable and or even fatal to our species. Some areas or regions could be forced to confront a full or partial environmental/ecological collapse, which may trigger even more widespread chaos outside of the affected area(s) as people flee the desolation they have wrought in search of new habitats.

Resource depletion/exhaustion is another distinct possibility, with humanity eventually running out of resources with which to ‘keep the motors of civilization running’ so to speak. This would surely cause human culture as we have come to know it to grind mostly to a halt as we find ourselves mostly stranded or marooned in our local areas which may not provide all that is needed to maintain life. Rising nationalistic and/or ethnic-racial tensions will likely reach a fever-pitch as different groups fight non-stop for the scraps of a gradually more resource-scarce planet. Regional, continental, or even worldwide wars over scant resources could also break out, leading to further interruptions of human civilization.

In the worst of all scenarios, a major population crash could occur, causing the death of untold millions or billions of humans and thus the utter decimation of our evolutionary success as an advanced species on Earth. Even the near-total extinction of humanity might result from this catastrophic chain-of-events, meaning all of what we humans worked so hard for in the last few hundred thousand years of evolution might all come to naught. This is clearly unacceptable and must be prevented. Therefore, as stated, we must start now in order to build a more secure and sustainable future for humanity on planet Earth.

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Many obstacles, hurdles, and setbacks will confront humankind in our quest to build a better world. Foremost among these is going to be social, political, and economic disorganization, which is obviously no surprise considering it was/is rampant disorganization that has likely contributed the most to the modern socio-environmental crisis. We are going to have to do much better in this regard – no more excuses or dissimulation, no more procrastination or lollygagging, no more avoidance of difficult decisions, no more arguing and disagreeing over petty and ultimately inconsequential issues. In some respects we are going to have to force change upon ourselves whether we are willing to accept it or not. We must realize that the environmental future of Earth is at stake, and thus to continue to delay the inevitable changes we must make could spell the end of modern human civilization.

Removing language-related hurtles would help to expedite the processes of planning and enactment of the agreed-to plans – a universal world language or global lingua franca (likely English given its current international ubiquity) will need to be utilized as much as is achievable so that as many people as possible can remain on the same linguistic wavelength in terms of the widely accepted vision, as well as stay united during the planning and enactment stages. This would in no way necessitate people abandoning their local language(s) or dialect(s), only supplementing them with a universally-recognized global language so that all can listen as well as speak and be heard during the planning and enactment/execution stages.

We must not let political, economic, religious, and/or other socio-cultural complications stand in the way of ultimate success. All people must be made to understand that the health of our planet, which is so vital to the continued existence of the human species, depends on accepting the non-debatable primacy of our environmental requirements, i.e. the maintaining of a stable, clean, and sustainable Earth capable of supporting and nourishing the permanent survival of our species. All must accept the fact that without a livable Earth to support a healthy humanity no other issues matter…not cultural beliefs, or political opinions, nor even religious doctrines – for who will be on Earth to support various political parties or follow certain religions if we eventually render the Earth uninhabitable?

Humankind must come to the blunt realization that nothing else matters if we do not have a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment in which to live and thrive – to repeat: without a decent/habitable environment in which to live nothing else matters because without the environment humanity has nothing. Must it be stated again? To wit: all of the secondary and/or tertiary issues which so preoccupy us will not mean anything unless we have an environment in which to live because our environment (the Earth) contains all other things.

A major complication is that humans seem to have not yet to evolved quickly enough (both mentally and possibly even physiologically) to cope with the radically different living conditions we now find ourselves in ever since the dawn of the Industrial Age and the spread of its associated socio-environmental shifts. Many of us in the most technologically ‘advanced’ nations have become little more than over-consuming automatons almost completely dependent upon the hyperindustrial and hypertechnological system for our most basic/everyday needs. This overdependency clearly reveals a major weakness of these most ‘advanced’ nations, for we have slowly become too far too reliant on unsustainable forms of technology to support and maintain our way of life. It is still going to take quite a bit more time for humans to evolve the necessary skills and coping-mechanisms that will help us to better deal with our drastically changed world.

Over-competitiveness, non-cooperation, and the ongoing tensions/ belligerence between all of the various peoples, groups, regions, and nations will have to be minimized as much as possible in order for humanity to move forward and work fruitfully together in the formation of a better world for everyone. As stated, the spread of a universal or near-universal language will likely assist in bringing people together much closer than they have ever been before and should help to resolve many of the issues which will arise between all of the groups and nations which inhabit the world. We should have faith that the creativity, resourcefulness, hardiness, and intelligence of our species will help to lead us through these problems.

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Human intelligence and ingenuity is a blessing as well as a curse. The intelligence, creativity, and willpower of our species has brought us this far, and because we’ve come so far there is clearly no turning back now. A better, safer, cleaner, more stable, as well as more sustainable world is not only possible, but is in many respects a requirement if humanity is to continue to thrive in the coming decades and centuries.

We must start working toward these goals now or else we’ll likely begin to enter in to an era of gradual environmental and civilizational decline as the world continues to degenerate in to a cesspool of near-unlivable pollution and filth, or else becomes a giant free-for-all Darwinian battlefield engulfed in perpetual wars fought over increasingly scarce resources. We must get organized and keep moving forward at all costs with intense optimism and vigor instead of stagnating and languishing in the widespread ennui, hopelessness, and negativity which has unfortunately been invoked by our current plight.

It all starts with a vision of a better world, a vision held by individuals as well as humankind as a whole. From that vision the planning and organizational phase will progress, and then of course the true work will begin: the work which will in due time lead humanity toward a much brighter and more sustainable future.

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I.    Working Toward a More Sustainable and Stable Future
a.  Must start NOW or else we’ll likely enter in to a very unstable period of civilizational decline

II.   Obstacles Likely to be Encountered Along the Way To a Better World
a.  Social/political/economic disorganization
b.  Over-competitiveness, non-cooperation, and ongoing belligerence between various groups, regions, or nations
c.  Rising nationalistic and/or ethnic-racial tensions: the never-ending competition for resources
d.  Unknown variables

III.  The Dire Consequences for Humanity and the Earth if We Do Not Begin to Change Course
a.  Partial ecological collapse?
b.  Resource exhaustion?  Worldwide wars over scarce resources?
c.  Population crash?  Near-total human extinction?

IV.  Utopian Visions: Humanity’s Innate Willpower, Idealism, and Intelligence Will Hopefully Persevere in the Future

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Though the discussion of overpopulation is taboo in many quarters, understanding the pivotal role that population and demographics plays in relation to the advancement (or contraction) of human civilization is essential.  To be frank, it is clear that many parts of the world are overpopulated to a frightening extent and as such we must begin to take various steps that will eventually lead to the stabilization and normalization of population levels.

The best step we can currently take is to make birth-control options more easily available for everyone, i.e. either very inexpensive or even entirely free of cost.  We also must start to educate and inform every single person on the extreme importance of maintaining healthy, sustainable, and stable population levels in relation to their local environment as well as in the world at large.

These are sensitive issues to many people – despite that, humanity can no longer afford to continue to brush them aside as too controversial because the very future of Earth’s environment hinges on humanity reaching stable and sustainable population levels.  The most reasonable opinion is likely that everyone has the right to replace themselves (replacement level fertility), but everyone does not have the right to have a large number of children they cannot take care of and thus must rely on governmental assistance or other means of support.

The heated debate surrounding overpopulation as well as human population issues in general will of course continue to rage on, but we must realize that the debate cannot continue forever lest we fail to take some kind of definitive measures sooner rather than later.  If we wait too long we might be forced to take severe or drastic actions that could have been averted had we acted earlier.

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The best way to move toward more sustainable modes of living would be to utilize our advanced organizational skills to begin constructing environmentally-friendly ‘ecovillages,’ ‘ecotowns,’ and ‘ecocities.’  Actually, we wouldn’t have to construct much of anything because much of the needed infrastructure is already in place for such development – more retrofitting and intelligent planning rather than raw construction would be in order.  In doing this, we could all live much more locally, and thus more cleanly and sustainably.  We could easily relearn many very useful and practical skills which have mostly been lost in the confusing industrial shuffle of the past century.  This would necessitate ending the ‘division of labor’ and extreme economic specialization, thus allowing people the time and freedom to learn how to do many different things satisfactorily.

We should all get closer to food production (as much food as possible should be locally-produced), building construction and maintenance, making clothing, repairing machinery, and so on.  All of this would allow the natural development of people who are much more well-rounded in terms of their knowledge and skill-sets rather than forcing people in to becoming non-thinking, quasi-robotic automatons completely dependent on their particular socio-economic niche to survive.

We desperately need to return to simpler and slower (but still technologically-connected) lifestyles with an emphasis on long-term sustainability. There should never be too much population density in one area (dense overcrowding) or anonymous urban living.  We also need to be in much more contact with nature (especially our local environments) in order to cultivate and inculcate a sense of environmental responsibility within ourselves. We here in the United States could possibly consult the Amish and other related groups in this regard and learn much from them in terms of how to bring back some of the ‘old ways’ – however, we would of course still retain the cleanest and most useful labor-saving technology which they shun.

We’ll of course still need many factories to produce the basic and easily mass-manufactured consumer goods needed for sustaining large human populations, as well as weapons/munitions for local and national defense.  However, industrial manufacturing should be de-centralized as much as possible to avoid concentrating environmental degradation in certain areas; it needs to be spread it out thinly in order to more lightly distribute the bad environmental impact of heavy-industry. This also applies to human population levels which have become unsustainably large in too many urban areas – as such, a certain amount of de-urbanization is likely going to be needed to bring those population numbers back down to sustainable levels.

We must promote and return to more local forms of agriculture, local livestock raising, local hunting/gathering, local fishing, and so forth.  We should start to use the landscape and its precious resources more intelligently and sustainably, including shared greenspace, gardenspace/farmland/orchards, pastureland, and fishing/hunting areas.  Every home should have adequate space to plant a garden or gardens if they so choose.  This would all need to be planned very well, researched exhaustively, and ruthlessly revised or improved when needed.

The concepts of ‘New Urbanism’ as well as ‘ecodensity’ should be tested and widely implemented if they prove successful.  We must also examine the so-called ‘Blue Zones’ found in select spots around the world where people have lives that are so often a great deal better than average and attempt to replicate their success if possible.

In the future, we will clearly need to have totally oil-free societies, civilizations which are as sustainable, clean, and free of pollution as humanly possible.  They should be run entirely on various forms of cleaner/greener alternative energy (this is still dependent on future technological breakthroughs). All of these ecovillages/ecotowns/ecocities will need to be intensively connected with environmentally-friendly mass-transit, and very clean ‘greencars’ should be cheap to buy or rent for basic traveling; ideally, much of the everyday local work, travel, or recreation would be done on foot or via small vehicles in your local area within a few of the surrounding square miles.  Pollution-free forms of transportation for traveling long-distances should be made available to everyone so that they can travel anywhere needed at any time.

Also, these ecovillages/ecotowns/ecocities would have to be connected to the internet and other modern forms of communication technology in order to promote cooperation, trade, and commerce between them, but even then they should remain mostly self-sufficient in terms of food production and the other basic necessities as much as is possible.

In order to facilitate information-sharing and the formulating of solutions to various problems, all books, articles, newspapers, and other material that has ever been written, as well as all other forms of human knowledge, should be digitized and subsequently loaded on to the internet, totally free for anyone to browse, read, and learn from.  This totally comprehensive internet should forever remain completely open and uncensored in terms of use, research, and discussion; internet servers must be decentralized in order to prevent the possible monopolization or censorship of the internet by various interest groups who might grow too powerful.

Banking and monetary policy should also be de-centralized as well in order to prevent the overconcentration of wealth, power, and influence in certain areas at the expense of all others.  The media should be decentralized too, but it could still nationally aggregative.  Also, the laws and rights of states must always trump national/federal ones, with local (town/city/county) laws and rights even more important than state ones.

We must work to end the insecurity of ‘economic nomadism’ and forced economic rootlessness by encouraging people to work more in the immediate local area(s) in which they have been born or raised.  People can only begin to care about their local area or community if they are intimately and deeply connected to it, and the constant shuffling around of people via immigration in search of economic opportunities is not at all conducive or favorable to sustainable/stable economic or environmental policies – in fact, it is entirely inimical to it.

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As stated in the previous section, we are going to need to re-localize, re-regionalize, and de-centralize in order for people to get more effectively organized.  It’s much easier to organize a few hundred or a few thousand people and implement various agreed-upon changes among them than to try to make sweeping centralized changes across the board in the lives of millions.  We are going to need to scale down life in order to make it more manageable instead of continuing to allow faraway people, businesses, or organizations to dominate the current social, economic, and environmental milieu.

We should all seek to live more simply/slowly as well as frugally (the old saying ‘back to the basics’ has never been more needed than right now), including less consumption, less commuting, and less overall complication.  Not only would this help to slow-down the environmental damage done to the Earth by reducing the non-stop transportation and consumption of valuable resources that should be conserved, protected, and intelligently utilized for the long-term, but it would also allow us to begin to focus on the more pleasurable aspects of life that are often neglected as a result of the overconsumptive and ultramaterialistic lifestyles that have become all too common in the last century.

Simplifying life would leave much more time for constructive and enjoyable activities like socializing with family/friends/neighbors, learning/reading/research, creating art, landscaping/gardening, and many other pleasurable cultural activities or hobbies.  Why have we worked so hard to solve the many problems related to the production and dissemination of material goods and services if we aren’t taking the time to truly enjoy the fruits of our labor?

We who reside in the most ‘advanced’ nations should take a step back, slow down, and realize that we have in some senses moved beyond the raw stage of socio-economic development and have entered in to an age of improvement and maintenance of what we have already achieved.  Too much commerce, too much ‘progress,’ too much industrialization, too much consumerism, and too much development is obviously undermining the Earth’s environment and as such must be sharply reigned in to more sustainable levels.  This process of ‘reigning in’ is actually not a problem because we already possess everything that is needed for a materially-secure existence – we have largely solved the problem(s) of production and thus we must move on to the more pressing issues of distribution and sustainability.

Let us again start to focus more on building up and improving our overall culture as well as our planet — which is of course what makes all human culture possible – rather than continuing to obsess over our personal bank accounts and the superficially decadent luxuries that money can buy.

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In order to begin to implement the changes needed for a better and more sustainable world, all societies, cultures, and countries are going to need to get more socially, economically, and politically organized.  The internet offers amazing new possibilities and an array of opportunities for getting more organized on both a micro as well as macro level.  The internet allows people to find and learn about many different ideas and solutions to various dilemmas that they likely would have never formulated on their own.  It also allows people to share virtually unlimited amounts of information without having to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to do so.  As such, the invention and spread of the internet could not have come at a more critical time, and it is going to be instrumental in helping humanity to build a better world.

More important though than even the internet, local and regional communities are going to have to be re-activated and become much more connected just as they were in the past.  Using the internet to research solutions to some pressing problems or issues is one thing, but it can in no way substitute for the face-to-face human contact in which the true work gets accomplished.  Thus we need a return to ‘localism,’ that being local communities working together as much as possible for the overall well-being and continuity of their local area instead of depending on far-flung authorities, businesses, or governments to solve their problems.  We need much better town/city/county/state planning and coordination, as well as much more community involvement in the implementation of agreed-upon solutions.

In this highly uncertain era of globalization, many will find that returning to their local roots can help to alleviate much of the uncertainty of a rapidly changing and evolving world.  Additionally, this scaling down will greatly assists in reducing complexity, making it much easier to deal with the problems confronting many areas.  We need local/regional people working on solving local/regional problems, not anonymous bureaucrats or other detached officials dictating orders and regulations from hundreds or thousands of miles away.

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In order for humanity to begin on a more sustainable path, there are many changes that are going to have to be made to our way of life.  In fact, we must begin to make these changes or else we risk further damaging the Earth’s environment and entering in to an unstable period of human history that may not be a bountiful or prosperous as the one we have been experiencing for the past one or two centuries.

Many people are ready and willing to make the needed changes and adjustments, yet they are hampered by the disorganization and passivity of the society at large as well as the individuals or community that surrounds them.  However, it must be made clear that we no longer have the choice as to whether we must change or not – there is no doubt that we must begin to change our ways soon or else we will begin to decline.

This section will explore a few of the socio-environmental changes we could make that would help to put humanity on a more sustainable social and environmental path.

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I. Yearning for Solutions: Either Change or Decline

II.  Getting More Socially, Economically, and Politically Organized
a.  The internet (plus other modern forms of communication) offers amazing new possibilities for social organization and community coordination
b.  Re-activating and re-connecting local/regional communities – better city/county/state planning; much more community involvement

III.  Re-Localization, Re-Regionalization, De-Centralization, and Possibly Even Partial De-Industrialization/De-Urbanization
a. Scaling down life – much simpler/slower living, less commuting, less consumerism, etc – this would leave much more time for constructive leisure time activities like socializing with family/friends/neighbors, learning/reading/research, creating art, landscaping/gardening, and other pleasurable activities/ hobbies
b. The ‘ecovillage,’ ecotown,’ or ‘ecocity’ option – living much more locally
c.  Relearning many useful/practical skills which have been lost (ending the so-called ‘division of labor’)
d.  Getting closer to food production, building construction and maintenance, making clothing; more efficient local transportation networks; the ‘Blue Zones,’ etc.
e.  Using the landscape more intelligently and sustainably; ‘ecodensity’ and New Urbanism; shared greenspace, gardenspace/farmland, pastureland, fishing and hunting areas, etc.
f.  Ending the insecurity of “economic nomadism” and forced economic rootlessness by encouraging people to work more in their immediate local area(s)
g.  Undoing the overconcentration of wealth/power/influence in certain areas

IV. Implementing Major Environmental Improvement/Conservation Programs
a. Widespread water/soil/air improvement: locally, regionally, and nationally
b. Training many more people/workers in ‘green-collar’ fields like sustainable/organic agriculture, soil science, sustainable forestry, water conservation/protection, landscape/ecosystem restoration, sustainable animal husbandry, etc.
c.  Retrofitting old buildings to be much more energy efficient and building new buildings to be very eco-friendly and energy efficient
d.  Major initiatives in energy conservation and waste reduction/recycling
e.  Temporary transportation solution = mass-production of very energy-efficient small ‘smart cars’ will immediately slash overall consumption of ‘dirty energy’ until new cleaner transportation technologies can be invented

V.  Controlling Population Growth
a. Making birth-control options much more easily available (entirely free of cost and/or very inexpensive) and educating people on the extreme importance of maintaining healthy/sustainable/stable population levels

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Is it not at all possible to accurately predict (or even roughly formulate) an exact timeline and/or likely scenario as to when all of the socio-environmental problems facing us will become too much for humanity to bear and thus threaten the continued existence of our species here on Earth.  Attempting to merely synthesize or systematize all of the problems we currently face is a daunting task unto itself, never-mind trying to actually get enough people to work together toward solving them.

However, one issue that sorely needs to be dealt with is the question of globalization.  We need to have brutally honest discussions and debates as to whether globalization and internationalization is sustainable and in the best interests of humanity and the global environment as a whole.  Far too many unanswered questions and perplexing problems have popped-up ever since the world started to become economically globalized, and thus far no adequate answers or solutions have been forthcoming – in fact, the problems and questions keep piling up deeper and higher as a result of the staggering mega-complexity of our current globalized economy, gnarled transportation systems, confusing supply chains, overtaxed communication networks, and so on.  This ‘massification’ of the world economy, while a major advantage for some nations and/or regions, has left others far behind.  Moreover, the seemingly never-ending shipment of resources, raw materials, and finished goods around the world has contributed to near planet-wide degradation of the environment on a scale never before seen.  As such, globalization is a major unresolved issue that deserves far more critical examination.

The danger of over-contentment, procrastination, neglecting to act in time, and general human laziness also present major problems which will likely delay our adoption of a better and more sustainable socio-environmental system.  Too many in the most ‘advanced’ industrialized countries are suffering from a rather severe epidemic of over-contentment due to our recent material successes and seeming triumph over much of nature.  Many have clearly forgotten how to best live in balanced harmony with our environment (neither asking nor taking too much from it without putting enough back in to it).  We have been led astray from the path of sustainability.  Socio-environmental harmony must be restored lest we slowly start to lose the very environment which has allowed us to progress so far and on so many different levels.

Though it is very unnerving to ponder, humanity could eventually be confronted by sudden environmental catastrophes and/or slow-motion ecological disasters that could possibly lead to the wholesale environmental/ecological collapse of certain ecosystems, various regions, specific nations, or even the entire world if the degradation went deep or far enough.  The collapse of varied cultures and societies have of course happened numerous times throughout human history, but what sets the current possible collapse scenario(s) apart from all the others is the sheer scale and size of the modern world as compared to the comparatively sparsely-populated civilizations of times past.  A socio-environmental collapse/dissolution in modern times has the horrific potential to be incalculably more destructive, disruptive, and unsettling to human civilization overall than those which occurred in the past.  The stakes are clearly so much greater nowadays due to the sheer interconnectedness as well as dense settlement of the world.

It is tempting to think that there is likely no hope of a bright future for humanity on Earth, that the problems are just too great, too unfathomable, too convoluted, and almost entirely insurmountable.  However, humans are an extremely intelligent and adaptable species that has proven itself able to survive (or sometimes thrive) in even the most difficult of environments and circumstances.  The raw human will to survive, combined with our collective intellect as well as the ingenuity and resourcefulness that stems from that intellect, will likely see humankind through even the harshest of times.  The next section will offer some possible solutions to the current socio-environmental crisis.

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When it comes to energy, humanity has in many respects painted itself in to a precariously tight corner.  Humankind has become dangerously over-reliant on modern forms of dirty energy (such as oil, coal, natural gas, and so forth) in order to merely move around both ourselves as well as the goods and services we rely on.

The supply-chain(s) for water (often piped-in to many areas from many miles away), food (shipped, flown, and/or trucked in from hundreds or even thousands of miles away), and even the supplies of energy itself are under incredible stress and strain in this modern age.  Many communities rely on ‘just in time’ delivery for even their most fundamental requirements.  Stupidly, a massive amount of irreplaceable energy is wasted daily around the world because of economic, social, and/or political disorganization.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the this maddening and confusing scramble to secure our meager ration of daily bread, we too often forget that in doing so we are soiling our own nests through the irresponsible overuse of these dirty forms of energy.  Concurrently, we continue to deplete the world’s precious reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas, with some even presaging a coming period of ‘peak oil’ wherein the worldwide demand for oil or other forms of energy starts to outpace available supplies.  This is a troubling development, and if/when ‘peak oil’ occurs (even if gradually) it would certainly cause a host of new problems.  Put simply, without enough oil to go around, massive chaos and possibly even isolated incidences of societal collapse would likely occur as we are plunged back in to the pre-oil age for which so many modern humans, especially those most used to the ease and creature-comforts which are so ubiquitous and easily obtained in the most ‘advanced’ nations, are wholly unprepared.  This is a deeply troubling scenario which must be avoided and prevented at all costs.

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Modern human civilizations only exist because of the advent of agriculture during the Neolithic Era.  The soil under our feet is literally the foundation of humankind as we now know it.  For most of history humans were small enough in number that they didn’t affect or alter the Earth’s surface all that drastically for either good or ill.

However, that has of course changed in the last two-to-three centuries as humans have grown in number and settled all ends of the Earth.  The vast majority of humans currently depend on agricultural crops for their existence, and this too is now in danger due to overpopulation.  Topsoil, the most critical and necessary layer of soil needed for productive agriculture, is being lost all around the world at a dizzying and disturbing rate.

Unfortunately, there is no way to wait around and allow topsoil to be naturally replenished.  Soil scientists have proven that it takes about one century for only an inch of topsoil to be reformed once it has been over-farmed, eroded, polluted, or otherwise degraded and rendered unusable.

Uncontrolled/unchecked erosion, as well as inept soil management, has been out of control in the last few centuries due to over-plowing and working far too intensively on certain land which has lead to massive erosion of valuable topsoil.  The cutting away of trees or other plants which once served to hold invaluable topsoil in place and thus prevent erosion is also continuing to occur with frightening rapidity.

The soil in many areas has also become progressively more contaminated and/or polluted because of too much industrial development in concentrated areas, often rendering it near-useless for future agricultural purposes.  Just as the world’s oceans are being over-fished to very worrying extent, much of the best soil/land around the world is being fervently over-farmed in many areas, rendering that soil mostly sterile, organically exhausted, and devoid of the necessary nutrients needed for productive agriculture for perhaps centuries to come.  Far too many farms are increasingly relying on a toxic myriad fertilizers, chemicals, and pesticides just to keep their fields even minimally productive.

The local, regional, national, and international mismanagement of our all-important soil, which is so necessary to the continued existence of modern human civilization(s), clearly does not bode well for a future in which perhaps many billions more people than currently exist on Earth will need to be fed on a daily basis.

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There is no doubt among astute observers of the current human situation, especially those of a realistic, rationalistic, and forward-looking mindset, that humanity is spiraling out of control on many levels simultaneously, especially in terms of our critical inter-relationship with the environment here on Earth.  This is not limited to just one country or even a few, though the current social and environmental dissolution we are obviously living through is certainly more evident in some countries or areas than others.

Even though humankind currently finds itself in a rather difficult position on a multitude of levels, it is not desirable or acceptable for people to adopt foolishly fatalistic attitudes of pessimistic resignation regarding the eventual destiny of humanity, to become raving prophets of ‘doom-and-gloom’ or Jeremiah-esque figures bemoaning the imminent collapse of humankind.  Humans have obviously proven to be an extremely intelligent, adaptable, and forward-thinking species, and we can work through the current crisis just as we have worked through and resolved many others in the past.  In fact, as evolution has clearly proven, the difficulties and obstacles we constantly encounter and overcome will, in the long-run, make us a smarter, stronger, and more flexible species, one more willing and able to confront the deepening socio-environmental problems which plague us and thus work toward solving them once and for all.

However, the current socio-environmental threat that is increasingly making itself apparent should in no sense be minimized and/or underestimated.  Human civilization as we have come to know it since the Renaissance, the Age of Exploration, the Enlightenment Era, and the most recently the Industrial Revolution is currently in a great deal of trouble, and many (likely radical) steps are going to have to be taken if we are going to be able to protect, preserve, and improve upon the incredible advancements which the human species has made in the last 250-500 years.

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The Human Sustainability Plan (THSP)

OUR EARTH

PERSISTENT PROBLEMS – SOME SOLUTIONS – INACTION IS IMPOSSIBLE

It is increasingly difficult to deny that humanity is spiraling out of control on multiple levels.  As such, this website seeks to offer commentary on and possible solutions to the current socio-environmental crisis.

I particularly seek to provide a gathering place for links to other websites and/or pertinent research resources which are focused on the modern ‘green/sustainability movement,’ human/environmental sustainability, environmental conservation/protection, all aspects of environmental science, ecology, enviro-economics, ecopolitical issues, natural resources, simple living, agrarianism, localism, and a myriad of other related topics.

If you know of more good websites, books, or any other sources of information pertaining to environmental topics please put them in a comment here or in another post so that I can take a look and then possibly add them to the links section of this website if they prove informative and helpful.

Also, please don’t be shy in terms of criticizing the ideas contained on this website, as well as correcting the grammar, word usage, and/or stylistics of my writing if you catch mistakes.  Any and all criticism is very helpful and is fully welcome here.

I’m adding the entire categorical structure of this website to this particular post (see directly below) so that readers can get a sense of what topics this blog will focus on.

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