Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Soil issues’ Category

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

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

As discussed in the previous section, the soil responsible for feeding much of the world is already severely damaged and facing even more severe problems in the coming decades.  In a related sense, the world food supply is all the time growing more unstable, unhinged, and unable to keep up with the growing demand.  Too many around the world depend on food grown in far-off lands just for their basic sustenance, and if this food was withdrawn widespread food shortages, famines, and even mass die-offs would likely be the result.

The absurdity of constantly shipping, flying, and/or trucking food around the globe and then around the specific continents will no doubt become even more unsustainable and precarious in the future as energy supplies become gradually more strained and unstable.  We moronically continue to waste non-renewable forms of energy and create huge amounts of pollution in this constant worldwide flow of goods.

Industrial agriculture as well as factory-farming is unsustainable in the long-term as well as morally reprehensible in its present incarnation.  The widespread loss-of-knowledge regarding food production is now very widespread in the most ‘advanced’ countries, turning the people located there in to permanent dependents/ neo-serfs of various businesses, organizations, and corporations who seem to care first and foremost about their short-term profitability instead of the well-being of individuals as well as the overall health of our irreplaceable planet.

Also, overdependence on automation and machinery in the food production process has introduced yet another precarious layer in to the already wobbly food chain.  The general artificiality and over-processing of various foodstuffs is causing an increasing number of people great worry about where their food is coming from and how healthy it is.  It is also apparent that the general health of the overall population of many countries has been on the downslide ever since the industrialized food-system has become common-place.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

I. The Current Human and Environmental Crisis: A Call to Action and Overview of Major Problems

II. Population and Demographic Issues
a. Overpopulation and the resultant overstraining of vital resources

III. Water: The Basis of All Life on Earth
a. Increasing freshwater depletion/pollution
b. Massive wasting of valuable freshwater
c. Ocean pollution and overfishing

IV. Soil: The Foundation of Human Civilizations
a. Topsoil loss: widespread erosion and soil mismanagement
b. Soil contamination/pollution
c. Over-farming/soil exhaustion
d. Over-reliance on fertilizers/pesticides/chemicals/etc

V. Food: Everyone Has To Eat
a. Very unstable food supplies
b. Industrial agriculture/factory-farming is cruel to the inhabitants of Earth (both humans and animals) and is entirely unsustainable
c. The widespread loss of knowledge regarding food production due to overdependence on automation and machinery for food production

VI. Air: We All Breathe
a. Air pollution
b. Weather/ozone problems: climate change/global warming, etc
c. Deforestation: the collapsing lungs of our Earth

VII. Living Patterns: They’re Going to Have to Change…Drastically
a. Unsustainable overconsumption/waste
b. Social (dis)organization is reaching near-anarchic levels in some countries
c. Widespread disconnection/alienation from nature is fueling nihilism and other pathological behaviors

VIII. Energy: It’s What Makes the Modern World Work
a. Soiling our own nest: too much dirty energy (oil, coal, natural gas, etc)
b. Increasing depletion of oil/nat-gas/coal/etc: peak oil?
c. Widespread energy inefficiency/waste

IX. Transportation: Moving People and Stuff Around
a. Increasingly obsolete transportation networks for the current (and still growing) world population
b. Fragile, polluting, and unsustainable supply chains for necessary resources and consumer goods

X. How Long Does Humanity Have to Start On a More Sustainable Path?
a. Is so-called ‘globalization’ sustainable or even desirable?
b. The danger of over-contentment, procrastination, neglecting to act, and general human laziness
c. The specter of regional, national, or even global collapse/disintegration

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »