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Archive for the ‘Environmental conservation and protection (conservationism/environmentalism)’ Category

“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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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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An informative article about the importance of controlling soil erosion in the Midwest –“High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

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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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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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