Archive for the ‘Ecofuturism’ 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

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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“Pied Beauty” by G. M. Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

    All things counter, original, spáre, strange;
Whatever is fickle, frecklèd (who knows how?)
With swíft, slów; sweet, sóur; adázzle, dím;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is pást change:

                                                Práise hím.

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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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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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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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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

+ “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”

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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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