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Our Sick Earth
By Annette K. Scott
James McWilliams recent July 11, 2011 article about “conscientious carnivores” pushed a whole bunch of buttons for me. In my last post, I addressed his lack of imagination as to how alternatives to factory farms and CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) could manage to meet a growing need for humanely raised meat.
Again, as before, I continue to find myself frustrated by McWilliams’ oversimplification and dumbing down of an incredibly complex topic in the attempt to make an emotional point. In doing so, he fails to address a number of truly key points about how we get our food and its inherent impacts on the environment.
Let’s start with a critical and simple point – if 10, 20 or 30% of us decided to change the way we ate, much less all of us, there would be pandemonium. And that’s because there’s too many of us overall.
At the end of my last blog I promised to address one of our culture’s sacred ‘cows’ which brings me to talk about population control. Most commentators avoid this topic because it is so heavily overlaid with emotion. And historically, we have never had to think about this issue on this scale so there are no readily available, simple solutions.
But there is no way around this kernel of truth – we need to self-regulate our growing numbers. The very idea of sustainability (no matter whether we’re talking about the sustainability of a system or of our species) holds within it – inherent to the concept itself – a premise of manageable numbers.
And yet, already someone reading this is thinking about nationalism, or their religion’s stance (and that particular religion’s notion of god and his/her stance) on the edict to bring forth children, or personal rights and/or blood lines, not to mention the quagmire of how we might actually practically apply this concept on a national, much less global scale. Most all these generally fall into the, “Sacred – Do Not Touch” bucket and for the most part, no one does. The fear of reprisal is heavy.
But I would be grossly remiss, however, if I didn’t start here. I am fully aware that references such as this exist in Genesis: “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” and while I am no theologian I am sure that similar sentiments exist in most every other ancient religious text.
And if we, as a collective, were to be honest with ourselves and take a look at a wide variety of markers of how we are doing with that stewardship, we might have to admit that in our unchecked fruitfulness we have done way more than subdue and rule…We have desecrated. If we, as the thought goes, were actually given stewardship of the earth and all that moves on it, I think we’re about to get a pink slip.
Here’s just a short list of why:
1. Increasing numbers and sizes of ‘Dead Zones’ in our waters and oceans – caused largely by run-off from the chemicals we use on our lawns and from the way in which we grow most of our food (pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer use) but we can’t forget the growing numbers and size of the floating plastic debris swirling en masse in our oceans. One of them is the size of TEXAS.
2. Mass extinction of plants, animals, fungi, fish – basically most of the earth’s diversity is currently in gross decline as a result of our increasing numbers and need for more land. It’s not all bad apparently – zebra mussels, kudzu, city pigeons and rats are doing well as a result of our continued “progress”.
4. Increasing toxicity of the environment as evidenced by toxins in breast milk, umbilical cord blood and in the baby’s tissues itself, not to mention the growing numbers and frequency of cancers (genetic mutation of cell structure), skyrocketing rates of asthma and autism to name a few.
5. Loss of forests, their accompanying habits, and the increasing imbalance in the carbon cycle which has a whole array of secondary effects which are way too vast to address in this blog post but suffice it to say that none (that I’m aware of) are orientating the planet toward renewal and abundance.
But to return to the topic of population control, I too have no idea as to how we affect this change and yet, I know that it will have to be a part of our solution going forward. Of course, I have my own fears about how we would achieve this change – one of which is humorously captured in the film Idiocracy. So maybe after this sobering and bleak recounting of where we are as a species, you should watch a bit of comedy….Thanks, as always. for reading and your thoughts on this are welcome!
For more information visit, www.annettekscott.com
Tagged with: abundance • ancient religious text • autism • birth control • cancer • change the way you eat • conscientious carnivores • dead zones • earth stewardship • how we get our food • loss of potable water • mass extinction • our sick earth • over population • renewal • self-regulate • sustainability • topsoil • toxicity of the environment
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