Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Adapt or Die.....REALLY!

Found at Carolyn Baker's Speaking Truth to Power...

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Some think tanks are now calculating that sometime between 2030 and 2050 we will need two planet earths to provide the resources for sustaining the present trends of production and consumption. Though this seems rather sudden, there are people alive today that have seen world population double in their lifetime. We are not going to find another earth to exploit in time to prevent the inevitable explosion. We can see that the growing consumption of finite resources ends with the shattering of civilization and mass die-off (possibly excluding the remaining forager/hunter tribal groups).

Some feel the culprit is economics, some say it is politics, but the big picture is a mal-adaptation to the earth. Civilization's problem is biological. We live in a culture that extorts energy from the biological energy flows of the earth without a positive feed-back loop to replenish the source.

The food of the earth, sunlight, is consumed by the plant world to build biomass. Leaves, limbs, and other organic debris fall on the earth and are consumed by the millions of entities, both macroscopic and microscopic that make up the soil community. It is the excrement of these beings, that is in solution in the soil, that the plant roots take up for their nutrition. This then funds the drive toward more species diversity. Most plants require moderate to rich topsoil which accumulates at the rate of one inch per 300 to 1,000 years, in optimum ecologies. When the biologically maladapted human cultures of Babylonia and Han China began to "clear the land" six thousand years ago, for agriculture, the biological energy circulation ceased, because there was no longer an ecology on top to feed it.

In the Great Plains of the U.S., half the topsoil is already gone, and now the industrial farmer dumps herbicides and pesticides on the land which further kills the soil community. The farmer then replaces the soil fertility with artificial fertilizer generated from fossil fuel which is rapidly running out.

This is a small example of how the biological energy flows of the earth are being dismantled through agriculture, deforestation, desertification, pollution and building suburban houses on fertile topsoil.

Though humans have been very successful inhabitants of the earth for several million years, six thousand years of the culture that is called civilization has brought us to a catastrophe in which the human species might well become extinct, taking a large part of the life of the earth with it, ultimately by nuclear radiation.

We live in a culture that exists and grows by extorting biological energy out of the living planet, without giving anything back. This scenario presents us with choices. We can attempt to "reform" our existing culture or we can take the leap and create a new way of life, we will not have the option of doing nothing.

Adaptation to the biological energy flows of the earth is the live or die question for the human species. This is fundamentally the human predicament.


Our remote ancestors succeeded for eons of time in their biological adaptation to the life of the earth, and now if the species is to survive, we must create adaptation at the next turn of the spiral. We can't go back to wearing loincloths and eating roots and berries. The game animals are gone and the roots and berries are covered by towns. We will have to create a culture that facilitates the growth of life rather than its extirpation.

Human cultures are normally formed over long periods of time by the conditioning of the young through the generations. We do not have that luxury of time. Presently, we have tremendous amounts of information from many cultures which we can synthesize and use for ideas in creating new social institutions. We see over the past centuries a wide diversity of colonies and intentionally created communities that demonstrate creating new human culture is possible.

At the beginning of the 21st. Century the choice to live in a self- sufficient community, self- sufficient watershed, and self- sufficient bioregion, is both a survival solution and a choice to create a new reality of cultural and ecological restoration.

Given that civilization has seriously overshot its resource base and has no future, we need a new idea. Every member of the species taking biological responsibility for their existence on this planet is a new idea. If humans were becoming more responsible, we collectively could sponsor experimental self-sufficient communities in many of the earth's bioregions. These communities would be experimental in the sense that the central question of "living in balance with nature," would be addressed. We civilized are not skilled at this and experiments by different cultures in different ecological regions would move us forward.

These would be legitimate "growth" communities concentrating on the growth of living things rather than the growth of money and power over other people. If groups begin at the top of watersheds, commencing ecological restoration and slowly spread downward the test would be that clean water and air come from those areas.

Given the principle of the growth of life, ecological restoration would be the focus. Permaculture, which would grow more food per acre than the industrial system, while restoring the soil, would be used in areas near the habitation. The habitations would be hand-made from local materials.

Though this seems a tall order there are seed communities around the planet now doing this successfully (www.gaia.org). At the end of its time the old oak tree begins to disintegrate; as it does, an acorn sprouts. Our task is to encourage the sprout and to allow the old oak its passing.

Wm. H. Kötke is widely traveled and published. His most recent book, prior to Planet Garden, was the underground classic, The Final Empire: The Collapse of Civilization and the Seed of the Future. He may be contacted at wmkotke@gmail.com

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