In this article in the NY Times, analysts correctly ascertain that climate change could result in threats to national interest. What is sad about this form of analysis–which as, of course, the FOXNews reporting eagerly highlights (Climate Change Could Warrant U.S. Military Action)–is the reactive mentality that this lends to the debate about policy and strategy. Instead of talking about methods of combating climate change in terms of establishing carbon emission reducing policies, funding ‘green’ technologies, and mitigation of climate change in those areas most affected, war hawks eagerly begin anticipating increasing weapons cachets and military budgets. But what good will it do to send in troops to areas devastated by climate change? That’s like trying to staunch a wound with a toothpick. The only effective measures we can take to address the potential threats to U.S. interests and security from climate change will be preventative: through policy, funding, and diplomacy. And that must happen now, not later.
“Sustainable development may be achievable in theory but not reached in practice if public policies and market forces do not lead to the needed investments.
We can summarize in the following way: the world is facing enormous ecological and environmental problems, but running out of natural resources is not the right way to describe the threat. Earth has the energy, land, biodiversity, and water resources needed to feed humanity and support long-term economic prosperity for all. The problem is that markets might not lead to their wise and sustainable use. There is no economic imperative that will condemn us to deplete our vital resource base, but neither is there an invisible hand that will prevent us from doing so. The choice will be ours to make through public policy and global cooperation.”
I’ve been undergoing a mild case of “writer’s block” lately, wherein everything that I attempt to write just comes out flat or completely uninspired. Frustrating, because then it drives me to playing mahjongg instead of articulating deeper sentiment (mahjongg here being the virtual “bottle” in which to drown my woes).
One of the things I’ve been constantly trying to write about but having trouble clearly spelling out is my perspective on enacting progressive change. I’ve discussed elsewhere my evolving views on politics and economics, and I’ve been trying to find a way to more fully explicate my new views while still embracing, intellectually speaking, the perspectives which I’ve developed out of, such radicalism, anarchism, anti-globalization, postcolonialism, etc.
Rather than present a cohesive thesis, therefore, let me just discuss what my thought process is at the moment vis-a-vis these general topics and maybe I can work my way over the obstacles I’m currently facing just by talking it through.
I think what I’m finding is that I can still relate very well to viewpoints such as socialism and anarchism because such perspectives are ultimately humanist, in that there is an idealistic attempt to extricate humanity from what are perceived as inhuman and oppressive structures. There is still a lot of misunderstanding out there about what “anarchism” really means, and you can see this quite powerfully in The Dark Knight as depicted by the Joker, as one current example. People think of chaos, terror, pimply youth in black apparel heaving Molotov cocktails as an expression of aimless hormonal angst. But anarchism is not about chaos and terrorism: it is simply a philosophical rejection of the need for institutionalized systems of governance. Extending out of this are many disparate branches of anarchist philosophy, but that is its central tenet. Contrary to being a negative and nihilistic perspective, this is in actuality an extremely positivist take on human nature, in that anarchists believe that human society will run much more efficiently and naturally when not subsumed to overarching systems.
I was drawn to anarchist philosophy because of this deep humanism, and some anarchist writing is the most well-articulated writing out there on politics. You don’t feel like you are being talked down to. Go here and browse through the library to see for yourself. It isn’t much at all about violence or chaos. It’s about believing in a world that can be better than what we are taught to accept.
However, one of the problems with this perspective is in answering the question: well, how do we get from here to there? There are many different answers to that, some of which I will agree with, but ultimately, what one comes to understand is that holding the highest of ideals makes it extremely difficult to come to terms with the existing state of the world, generating anger, bitterness, and violence and/or apathy.
I will devolve into an oblique comparison here: in a long-term relationship with another human being, you come fairly quickly to realize that compromises must be made between you and your partner’s ideals in order to live together. If your ideals are too high, it may be that instead of coming to terms with the human reality of your partner and accepting them as they are, you are rejecting parts of them in order to try to fit or mold them to your ideals. These high expectations can blind you to the beauty of the person that already exists right before you, if you could allow them to be themselves rather than what you want them to be. You both can work together on developing towards the ideals that you share and cherish.
This does not mean that you should accept a drab reality. What I am getting at is that there is a process in working towards ideals. There must be development and evolution in order for ideals to become reality. Perfect harmony does not just fall into your lap without extensive effort. So one could feasibly hold anarchist philosophy as the ideal state of human society, but still work within and around existing government and market structures in seeking to achieve that ideal.
That is fairly self-evident, I suppose, but as I talked about in my other post, it seems to me that there are a lot of idealists out there who are constricted, rather than motivated, by their ideals.
In any case, even though I sympathize with the philosophy of anarchism and of radical thought in general, I ultimately feel that it is misguided. Anarchists and other philosophies of dissent rightly perceive that there are problems with institutional and market systems, but they wrongly perceive the correct redress as being a complete rejection of these systems. To use another obtuse analogy, it is like looking at a fan which doesn’t blow air very efficiently or equitably about a room, and deciding that the solution is to throw out the fan. While such a solution might appeal to instinct, it would make much more sense to attempt to analyze the failure of the fan and seek to alter, jerryrig, or otherwise upgrade to a whole new model.
To say this, however, doesn’t mean that one couldn’t choose to live ones life according to anarchist or other radical ideals. One has that right and capability. But what I am talking about is being involved in the greater community, and subsuming some of those ideals to accepted law and policy in order to extend greater influence.
Another issue I think I see with philosophies that reject existing market and government systems is that they are often mired in a mentality of a bygone era. We have come into a time, due to the unforeseen confluence of technology and rapid information dissemination and sharing, in which civil society and individuals as a whole have a power and command that they did not once have. Civil society thus is becoming evolutionarily enabled to play the critical part in balancing and restraining and guiding the efforts of institutions and markets in providing a fairer and more sustainable society. Demonstrators and protesters, even when not covered explicitly by the big media outlets, have a strength that corporations and governments have had to pay close attention to. Anti-globalization protesters, though misguided in their conclusions (multi-national corporations and interconnected markets = evil), have had a tremendous and positive impact on drawing attention to economic inequity and iniquitous barriers to trade. Similarly, the increased influence and power of “bloggers” has given big media a run for its money. Due to this increased power of civil society and of individual citizens, people are not simply oppressed workers underneath the inhumane strictures of the one-dimensional demand of capitalism. In collaboration—not opposition—with public policy, the legal system, and economic investments and incentives, civil society, government, and the economy can work in tandem to address the problems that exist in society.
This is not an argument against dissent or protest. What I’m attempting to get at is that the process of speaking up and getting involved and asking critical and probing questions is in fact a necessary and positive aspect of well-organized and functioning social systems. It is not a movement against the “system” or against the “machine” or whatever one chooses to call government and business structures: rather, it is a movement that enhances, collaborates, and guides these systems into greater harmony.
I have argued elsewhere for the need to view these systems in the sense of design, with a holistic, whole-systems approach. This is especially apparent when it comes to entrenched issues such as the current failure of many of our public schools to adequately and equally educate all our nation’s children, irregardless of race, class, or gender. Educational policy, on both a federal and state level, often nobly, but wrongly, attempts to tackle their problems solely within the confines of the classroom by initiating misguided programs that work to increase performance on standardized tests. Obviously, there are circumstances outside of the classroom that are critical to a child’s success, such as family, friends, and wider local community support, in addition to institutional programs. It will take a multifaceted approach, addressing not only education, but furthermore socio-economic conditions, access to information and technology, not to mention access to healthy, positive, inclusive environments and public spaces for children to study and play in.
Our schools have become effectively segregated due to the seemingly innocuous effort by well-to-do parents to place their children in “successful” schools. The successful schools being the ones with money and community support. It is thus apparent that investments must be made simultaneously not only in education and the public school system in general, but furthermore broader investments must be made in low income neighborhoods, to provide access to healthy public spaces, to provide access to technology and information, to provide smart planning for a sustainable future in employment, etc. The more that the middle class divides itself from the poor, the greater problems will become.
What is evident in an issue such as this is the approach that I am talking about: a whole systems, collaborative approach. Civil society must do its part to draw attention to the problems. Government must do its part to respond with effective and unbiased policy changes. The market must do its part with directed investments and innovative micro-businesses. What is apparent, to me at least, is that we can’t rely on any one of these systems to do the job for us. The market is not going to solve any of our problems unless we direct it and harness it with policy and incentives. Government will not update its policy or open up funding unless it has its attention drawn to the problem. Civil society, NGOs, citizen organizations must agitate, petition, utilize the media, and organize to focus on the problems.
Furthermore, policy making and business governance and legal affairs cannot be over-specialized. They can’t be compartmentalized and vivisected such that they can’t work effectively across the fields of public health, education, fiscal tuning, management philosophy, environmental departments, etc. They need to be able to unite and work within these fields all at once.
This kind of approach demonstrates that no matter what ones particular ideals may be, what is the most important is a pragmatic and responsive attention to the current climate and issues in our society. Putting our heads in the sand, whether due to reactionary or radical or centrist thought, is simply unacceptable. Good management, governance, and policy practices are forged by looking ahead to the future, constantly and consistently. Our future lies in our children. Whatever our beliefs may be, we all want our children to be healthy, to be successful, to have access to the resources that will empower and enable them. We want them to be educated, to be well fed, to be well read, to be sound of body and of mind. We want them to be positioned to respond effectively to reality, to be positioned for a market that looks ahead to sustainability.
The process, therefore, in achieving an equitable and sustainable future is determined by the collaborative interdependence of differing aspects of human identity, mind, infrastructures, and society. Only when these multiple points converge and work together are effective and positive changes made. It is misguided to focus ones efforts solely in rejection and opposition to existing systems. The more positive approach is to focus on working across boundaries to enact changes beneficial to all.
Phew. You can see why I’ve had trouble laying this out. It’s kind of a big mess in my mind. I’m working on getting this out in a more concise manner.
As you can tell from my frequent subject matter, I am highly concerned with issues of personal, social, and economic development, focused specifically on issues of human rights, sustainability, poverty, and spiritual insight. One of the encouraging things I’ve been realizing lately is that many of the fundamental insights which I have developed in my own mind are already in application in the real world. Now that I’m at a point in my life where I am reaching out beyond myself, and can safely maneuver beyond my ego, stubbornness, and insecurity, I am finally recognizing the enormous amount of networks and organizations that are in existence, actively disseminating and applying information in their communities. I am now overwhelmed with the amount of learning that I have to sift through.
I admit that there is still a part of me that wants to reject others developments, so that I can find my own way, find my own insights and developments to claim. I want to have something powerful and uniquely my own, something new, something revolutionary. But of course, it is simple conceit to imagine that anything I could come up with hasn’t already been done, as well as to imagine that I could possibly create some philosophy to right all the worlds wrongs. Humbleness is required in affecting change.
Once I recognize this essential humility and get beyond my ego, I’m finding a lot of reason for hope and positivity out there. It’s easy to feel like you are isolated and that nothing is changing when you think of all of the world’s problems, especially when you read the daily news or just watch TV. But now that I’m looking around and reaching out, I’m realizing just how many groups, schools, non-profits, individuals, and even businesses are out there doing a lot of amazing work towards understanding the root sources of problems, guiding individuals into supportive communities, and finding methods and solutions that are practical and that work. It’s encouraging. And it’s making me extremely eager to start discovering the tools that others have been using and find a way to combine them and apply them in my own life and community. To get involved, get my hands dirty, get my heart dilated.
My goals: I want to find a way to connect public policy directly to individuals and communities and render its processes transparent. I want individuals to have access to funding to green roof gardens on their buildings, install rainwater harvesting systems, utilize graywater, and compost all of their communities’ foodwaste. I want everyone capable of starting their own business. I want plastic to reflect its true cost and become prohibitively expensive to produce. I want chickens and goats to infiltrate our cities. I want to combat poverty, rats, and pigeons. I want practical, immediately applicable, and effective solutions to all of my society’s problems, and I want them now.
Updates on how I am progressing towards these goals will be forthcoming.
In this day and age, as the perennial problems of humanity grow ever greater in the face of our increased global interconnectivity and environmental fragility, it becomes more evident that all of our problems are interrelated and cannot be solved without an enlightened holistic approach. We cannot tackle the problem of public health without tackling the problems of poverty, which cannot be tackled without confronting the issue of rampant hydrocarbon dependency, which cannot be conquered without resolving fundamental issues of human rights and freedom, and this goes on and on and on. It can also be phrased thus: we cannot ignore human rights abuses in Sudan, nor environmental degradation in China, for the cost will ultimately fall upon all of us.
While that may at first make resolving any of the major dilemmas humanity faces in the oncoming years of increased natural disaster and antibiotic resistant microbes seem especially daunting, these compounding converging problems in fact present us with opportunities to enact revolutionary structural changes that can work to harmonize disconnected and fragmented elements of humanity and bring them together in a greater, unifying global interconnection.
An example of this point could be taken quite literally down to the case of a human body. Our bodies eventually let us know when we have pushed them beyond their capacities of maintaining health, and some organ will fail, or a disease will take hold, or a heart will exhibit stress. At that point, we look at immediate symptoms and seek a means of addressing that sole symptom. Beyond that, however, we then seek to discover how to prevent a reoccurence of this problem, as well as to prevent other related issues springing from the same source, and we thus must seek manners of altering our lifestyles, our behaviors, and our perspectives in order to resolve more fundamental issues.
Our environment is letting us know that we are toeing the line–and may well have already significantly crossed–on the path to complete destabilization of all life supporting habitats. There is no doubt in the mind of any cognizant scientist, activist, politician, nor concerned citizen that we are facing some major problems due to global warming and widespread environmental stress. And so we are now looking at immediate ways to address these symptoms, such as by seeking alternative sources of energy, carbon emission cap and trades, and worldwide standards of environmental regulation. But as we begin to look beyond these immediate symptoms, we also begin to see that we must address even more fundamental issues in our societies, governments, economies, cultures, and perspectives, as they all stem from the same source.
So now is the time that we are really gaining the opportunity, as a human species, to deeply address issues that we have had since the birth of human consciousness, such as disparity between the rich and the poor, segregation and bigotry due to birth and appearance, and all other manifestations of hatred, division, and greed. Does that sound idealistic and glorifying of my own age and time? Undoubtedly. But what can also undoubtedly be stated is that the world we are living in, as of this writing, is a world quite unlike the world that it was a mere 50 years ago. We are globalizing, networking, trading, and traveling at an exponentially snowballing rate. And due to this global interconnection, all of our actions and behaviors become magnified in effect. So while once upon a time we were only destroying some land downstream, now we are destroying the entire globe. We cannot detach ourselves from the fate that we are creating. We cannot ignore the effect that our actions will have on our children.
Anyway, I could go on like this for a while. The point that I wanted to make is that all of these major problems that we are now facing can be seen as an opportunity for widespread positive change. Never before has humanity as a species been so positioned as to fundamentally address our disconnection from our planet, from each other, and from ourselves. The time is now.
I’m currently reading a book called The End of Oil, by Paul Roberts, which details the swiftly approaching demise of easy and cheap oil. And it’s interesting because the book is mainly written from the perspective of conventional economics, which is to say that growth equals profit. But what I’ve been realizing as I’ve been reading this book is that the author is not detailing simply the end of the age of oil—he is also detailing the end of a certain economic perspective.
It is true that there are no means of supporting current and expected future energy demands simply through alternative energies such as wind, solar, carbon captured coal, or otherwise. Which essentially means that we will no longer be able to support lifestyles such as we are enjoying right now in industrial nations. Our economic system, which is completely reliant on hydrocarbons at every level, will seemingly collapse. But here’s where the new economic vision steps in. We can make money, and we can have fulfilling lives, without burning MORE energy and without creating MORE waste. But this doesn’t seem possible according to conventional perspectives of economic growth through increasing supply and demand.
All one has to do is to look at nature to understand that value and resource enrichment does not entail endless growth and expansion. When an ecosystem is developing, then yes, it does expand and grow. But eventually, as in an old-growth forest, it stabilizes and simply replenishes itself through an endless recycling of its own resources. And this is exactly where our economic systems will need to be headed.
So our economy, according to conventional perspectives, is headed for disaster. But if you’re looking at it in terms of a necessary and natural evolution, then it is actually headed for transformation. It is hard for some of us to envision, as it is difficult to completely redefine all that you have known in the old paradigm of growth and expansion capitalism (also known as colonialism). This does not mean that we are not in store for some extreme turbulence. No transformation is easy. There will likely be much more blood shed and a desperate last minute scrambling for resources as politicians and corporations embedded in the old paradigm try to hold onto their sanity and power. But like King Lear, once the paradigm has shifted, they will be left destitute and bitter unless they learn to adapt now, incrementally, rather than suddenly later.
We have been tied to this tired old capitalistic game of endless growth and expansion (even when only self-imagined, ala Enron) for far too long now, and the earth is letting us know, in no uncertain manner, that we have begun breaching the limits of resource extraction and depletion. So it is high time that us human beings learned how to root ourselves in deep and truly live like trees, rather than like Kentucky bluegrass.
I’ve started a composting process of the food waste at my workplace using a bin that is passively aerated. It’s kind of a prototype, as I am figuring out what kind of mix of inputs will work, how much moisture it needs, etc. During the summer, our kitchen produces a huge amount of food scraps which gets bagged up, thrown into a room, then later heaved up by staff onto our dump truck, driven into town, dumped at the refuse center, where it is then sorted and transported out of the county to a landfill 70 miles away. It’s a ridiculously inefficient process of dealing with waste that generates yet more waste.
The small bin I have currently set up will fill up within a week, so obviously it isn’t anywhere near cutting much waste out. However, once I’ve demonstrated that it works and have figured out the proper mix and all that, I’m hoping that we can expand the operation to cut out a more significant chunk of waste.
The whole science and art of composting consists of a proper ratio of carbon to nitrogen, which ideally should be around 30:1. We have a vast amount of cardboard and newspaper on-hand which I will shred to serve as bulk carbon (further reducing the transport of those materials into the recycling center in town), as well as sawdust and, every now and then, pine needles. The food waste supplies the nitrogen, as well as moisture. I will also pick up horse manure from stables down the road and mix that in there as well to provide essential microbes. It remains to be seen what kind of compost such a mixture will produce—it may be somewhat deficient on nutrients as my main sources of carbon are bland.
I’ve learned already that I need to have my carbon sources on hand and ready to mix in with the food waste as it comes in, because it comes in fast. The amount of scraps that comes out of the kitchen is overwhelming. We’re not even talking about the waste that comes off of guest plates; we’re just talking about scraps that come from food prep in the kitchen.
So it’s been a learning process for me, but I’m excited to actually finally be putting my hands in the dirt after having come up with the proposal this past winter. Trying to figure out how to successfully enact a composting operation here hasn’t been as easy as it sounds, as while composting itself is fairly straightforward, when you begin talking about composting an institutional amount of food waste in enclosed in-vessel systems with a very small amount of space (must be enclosed cuz we’ve got bears, racoons, squirrels, and mice roaming about), then suddenly you’re talking about an initial start-up fee of $200,000 for a manufactured system. This obviously wasn’t going to happen.
After posing this unique situation to several different manufacturers of industrial sized composting systems, I was pointed to a small company called O2compost, which has a very simple but effective passive aeration bin design for horse manure composting. As a prototype for an eventual larger system, I am using one of their micro-bins to demonstrate that composting is possible, cheap, and saves resources and money. Hopefully on next year’s capital budget we can expand the system to compost as much food waste as possible, if not all. Unfortunately, however, I will no longer be working here at the time, as I’ve put in my notice already that I’m leaving at the end of October. Then I’m going to Colombia for 2 months, and then . . . God knows. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed that since I’ve already done the research and groundwork for starting the composting system here, that whoever comes after me will have the initiative to get the process going. After all, it makes sense on all levels: both to the bottom line, as well as to staff satisfaction. Nobody likes seeing so much waste (nor heaving the heavy bags up into a truck) every single day.
Eliminate the bad, extend the good. This could be said to be the mantra of humanity. It’s an understandable outlook, of course, given that it is in our biological nature. Problem is, people take it to the furthest extent possible, such that in doing away with all the bad (temporarily), we also end up eradicating the good things which originally and naturally kept the bad in check. We upset balances in favor of an idealistic and unachievable victory.
The problem is not simply that we are attempting to eliminate the bad—it is that we are attempting to address immediate symptoms instead of looking at the root causes. We do this in everything from agriculture to health care, from scientific research to judicial systems. Examples are:
1) In the attempt to eliminate all harmful insects from our food bearing crops, we blanket them with pesticides. We kill not only all bad insects, but also the good insects which prey upon them.
2) We attempt to eliminate all malevolent microbes by making everything as sterile as possible with toxic chemical solutions and through the flippant use of antibiotics. We destroy most of the microbes, for a short amount of time, until they mutate resistance, and then they come back even stronger than before.
3) We lock up poor adolescents who are selling drugs in the attempt to find means (as businessmen with little other option) of escaping the ghetto. We render all narcotic substances illegal, even if some narcotics have a proven medicinal use, or are simply relatively benign on their effects on society in comparison to accepted substances like tobacco and alcohol.
4) We incarcerate and marginalize prostitutes and people who are addicted to illegal substances, rendering their lives incredibly dangerous, as well as encouraging the spread of disease.
5) We go to doctors mainly to treat extreme sicknesses or injuries. They barely attempt to address underlying behavioral issues, diet change, and preventative care through education and a holistic approach. Rather, they have a tendency to be mere pill-pushers and organ vultures, as their main function is to treat immediate symptoms and then send you on your way.
6) We reduce and fight forest fires, upsetting natural cycles and balances, and creating extensive brush and fuel, such that we have generated a future of increasingly apocalyptic wildfires.
These are just a few examples of what the conventional outlook of “eliminate the bad, extend the good” results in. One could extend the idea yet further into issues such as rampant hydrocarbon use or conventional sewage systems.
This perspective is extremely childish, selfish, and short-sighted when seen for what it is. In taking a whole-systems, holistic approach to these issues, one begins to see that the simple treatment of immediate symptoms, and the attempt to eradicate all immediately manifested outbreaks of all things “bad”, only leads to deeper and broader problems. What must be done is to take a step back and look at the root causes, and seek a means to realign structures into a harmonized cyclical and balanced system.
Such an approach, of course, takes time and patience, and that is one thing most of us these days are in dire lack of. We want problems to be solved immediately. We are also overconfident in technology and man’s ability to eventually overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles through breakthroughs in technological ingenuity and innovation. But no matter how many immediate problems we may solve through such means, the fact is that our essential outlook is still skewed, and eventually the rooted causes of our suffering will become so magnified as to destroy us completely. Because no matter how advanced we become, we will never be able to completely eradicate “bad” things such as disease, substance abuse, violence, or poverty.
However, in balanced and well-designed systems, we can achieve a sustainable harmony, in which these “bad” things are naturally regulated and subsumed to a greater whole; they can be accepted into the fold, temporary eddies rendered inconsequential by their eventual flow back into the main stream.
Take as an example a well-designed garden (as modeled on nature): when “pest” populations begin to rise and threaten the flowers and herbs, natural predators slim them back down before they can pose a threat. When diseases break out on a microbial level, the nutrient rich soil and humus—which is full of life so dense that it can’t even be fathomed by science—naturally fights back, just as a healthy immune system will work to set itself back into harmony after exposure to malevolent microbes.
The reason such a garden is healthy and balanced is because it fosters diversity (as opposed to monoculture), complex interconnectivity of independent systems, and natural cyclical processes (as opposed to enforced dependency on chemicals).
Now think of our society in terms of this garden, and you may begin to get some ideas on what some root causes might be underlying such immediate symptoms as illness, apathy, war, and poverty. . .
The main problem right now in all of the world, including within each of our own lives, is waste. We waste our time, we waste our resources. Our social, economic, and political systems waste money, people, natural capital, time, and energy. We have all been taught to waste, because we have been taught—and we allow ourselves—to be blind, heedless, “good consumers”.
Businesses can strive to become closed loop production systems, in which they use a whole systems approach to reduce and eliminate waste. This ultimately saves them money and allows them to become increasingly efficient and agile in adapting to the market. So too in our individual lives we should strive to eliminate our output of waste as well as our input of short-term or function-less products.
People always seem to be confused about what they can do in their individual lives, aside from donating money to charity, to really enact change to regressive and repressive social, economic, and political systems. As in any grassroots movement, the real change comes from within. And then it begins to affect daily lives. And daily lives—the furthest downstream from centralized, sloth-like systems—affect everything.
So as an exercise, I thought it might be useful to attempt to compile a list of ways to reduce waste from our everyday personal lives. I don’t do many of these things myself yet, either, so take these as suggestions and goals. If you know of other ways that individuals can act to reduce their production and consumption of waste, please feel free to add more in the form of comments. Also, think of ways that you can mirror some of these actions within your community or workplace. Sometimes you’d be surprised at what you could change.
Please note also that almost all of the items detailed below will ultimately save you money, in addition to the social and environmental benefits, so please get beyond the dismissive mentality of labeling me as a “treehugger” or “hippie”—that’s the kind of perspective that lends itself to further waste.
1) Purchase from local businesses and food sources as much as feasible.
2) Reduce or eliminate the use of a personal vehicle. Walk, bike, and utilize public transportation. Delimit the sphere of your personal social needs to as localized an area as feasible.
3) Utilize your free time for things that make you feel good, foster interaction with other people, and that are productive. Reduce or eliminate mindless activities such as TV watching. Learn new things. Take classes at your local community college. Check out books from your library.
4) Make exercise a part of your daily existence, such as in biking or walking to work, or biking or walking to a bar or bookstore or cafe. Try to eliminate the perception of exercise as an accessory chore or activity to become more desirable.
5) Cook your own food. Mend your own clothes. Make your own coffee or bring your own coffee mug to coffee houses. Utilize whatever resources you have to do your own thing.
6) Eliminate the use of plastic bags at stores. Bring along a tote bag or backpack to carry items in whenever you go shopping.
7) Stop buying water bottled from municipal sources. Get yourself a Brita filter and drink tap water.
8 ) Buy produce directly from local (preferably organic) farmers; attend farmer’s markets or join food coops.
9) Make your own household cleaning solutions
10) Purchase only energy star rated appliances and lighting systems; convert all of your lighting to compact florescents
11) Insulate your house with energy efficient windows
15) Design and implement a greywater system
16) Reduce your use of paper and wood products; reuse paper as much as possible (double-sided printing) or eliminate altogether through the use of a computer. Use alternative woods, reclaimed wood, or engineered wood products whenever possible when designing and building structures.
17) Take yourself off of junk mail lists; utilize e-mail notification services where possible for bank notices, cellphone bills, etc.
A lot intelligent people swear off humanity, because people make a lot of stupid decisions, are easily misled by unscrupulous “leaders” like cattle to the slaughter, eat fast food, and watch stupid television programs and movies. The problem with such a perspective is that it does not take into account that when you are looking at a large mass of humanity, you are not looking at “people” per se: you are looking at the cumulative effects of social/economic/political systems. Humanity reflects the decisions that have been made in how their daily lives flow and in what direction they move. If they are unemployed, violent, and lazy, that is a sign of poor social systems, of bad decisions made by those interests which determine in which direction money moves, in what manner a city is planned, etc.
In other words, “problems” such as homelessness, poverty, and crime are systemic problems of design. Problems such as destruction of the environment, high percentages of needless waste in every sector of industry, and general unhappiness in career choices, are problems that can be solved through better design.
If intelligent people sat down at the drawing board and thought through plans before acting upon them, we could largely eliminate the vast amounts of waste that we each currently create every single day. We could eliminate global warming, pollution of groundwater, and destruction of topsoils. Yes, we could even eliminate world hunger. These are not the perennial problems of human nature, never to be solved. Slaves, illegal immigrant labor, third world underpaid underage workers, and suicidal smalltime farmers do not need to exist in order to support global economies. Homeless people do not have to wander through alleyways muttering to themselves and plundering dumpsters. Women and children and men of all colors and types and sizes do not have to be made to feel inadequate, ugly, and useless. Teenagers do not have to plot out acts of heartless rage. SUVs do not have to tear thoughtlessly through mile wide suburban streets.
We do not have to be addicted to hydrocarbons to lead fulfilling lives. We do not need myriads of multi-colored plastic packaged useless products screaming for our attention in the supermarkets.
In a well designed system, such as Nature’s, there is nothing wasted. What is one creature’s waste is another creature’s food. Everything is recycled, rebirthed, renewed.
American culture has been birthed on action, progress, manifest destiny. Without consideration of the later effects of our actions, we have moved forward to trample dreams, cultures, peoples, histories. 50,000 species of plants and animals become extinct every year, largely as a direct result of our and other industrial nations actions, our appetites, our businesses, our politics. We are indeed the world’s number one superpower, meaning that we are the world’s largest bully, the world’s largest devourer of natural resources, the world’s largest creater of waste. No, don’t point your finger at China. Don’t point your finger at India. Those nations take the exponential industrial growth of the United States as a beacon and guide, rather than as a warning.
Inaction, time devoted to thought, to attention, to observation is essential to action made with integrity. Without this space of critical focus, actions made will necessarily be destructive, flailing, meaningless. Our culture doesn’t live anywhere near “the moment.” We exist either in some state of longing for a golden age that never existed, or we exist in doldrum half-awake states of TV-movie entertainment suckling. To truly exist in the here and now is to go beyond partisanship, beyond political ideologies, beyond economic theories. It is to look at things as they most truly are, beyond yourself, within yourself, as a part of yourself as a part of a team as a part of a community as a part of the global network. Collaboratively, working as a team of designers, each special interest working with every other specialized interest, we can redesign, retrofit, and renew all aspects of social, economic, and political systems to more accurately reflect mental, spiritual, and biological reality.
“While we derive a great deal of wealth from natural resources, we have not found an effective way to reinvest in or preserve that wealth. We are losing those resources, because they are either controlled by private companies or by the state, and neither has proved successful in establishing long-term strategies for ensuring the enduring well-being of the commons. Governments the world over give resources to corporations that are not required to take care of them, and therefore do not. The reason . . . is the failure of the market to internalize fully all costs. If the market is rewarded for externalizing costs and extracting wealth, then individual producers can be expected to leave to the state, wherever possible, the job of restoration and clean-up. On the other hand, it is quite impossible for a state agency to maintain ecosystem health when its main function is to deal with aftermarket degradation. When you then compound the problem with revolving-door relationships between regulator agencies and the very enterprises they are supposed to monitor, the viability of the ecosystem is hardly a primary concern.
To argue today that the free market should control the extraction and sale of natural resources ignores the state of the commons and the free market. The market works to the benefit of the whole of society when it includes all costs and benefits. Only when the market accurately reflects the replacement costs of a resource (a virgin forest or salmon or Arctic oil) and the social costs of its consumption (tobacco being the most obvious) will society begin to respond to the market in a rational way.”
“In any endeavor, good design resides in two principles. First, it changes the least number of elements to achieve the greatest result. Second, it removes stress from a system rather than adding it. Bad design is pinning our hopes for environmental and cultural survival on a change in human consciousness and behavior alone, because we therefore depend on the highest number of uncontrollable elements—people—to undergo a great change. Likewise, bad design is having to institute several hundred thousand rules and restrictions under the jurisdiction of the government and expecting business to know them all, much less obey them . . . Good design for the commercial system accounts for and appeals to the innate behavioral modes of both governance and commerce. Let governance govern with a minimum of intrusion and with a genuinely “conservative” approach; let business be business at its best: humane and creative and efficient.
One of the ways to further this goal is to invert the old values and reverse the traditional cost-price incentives. We need a predictable and consistent market that recognizes the true, full costs of doing business and reassigns them to the marketplace, where they belong. We require a market economy that rewards the highest internalized cost, an economy in which business prospers when it is responsible both socially and ecologically. We need business to thrive by exceeding regulatory standards rather than by challenging or circumventing them. Businesses should literally compete to be more ecological, not only on moral or ethical grounds or because it is “the right thing to do,” but because such behavior squarely aligns them with their bottom line. In short, we must design a marketplace that obviates acts of environmental destruction by making them extremely expensive, and rewards restorative acts by bringing them within our means. If we do this, environmental restoration, economic prosperity, job creation, and social stability will become equivalent.”
In a post a little while ago, I attempted to introduce the concept of living life with the awareness of the potential of natural (and unnatural) destruction to your home and possessions. But I think this idea is necessarily vague, because exactly how, one would ask, are we supposed to stop living in homes? Should we live in mobile homes, or large communal spaces that we all own?
I think the problem is something else, that I was attempting to work towards, and sensing the pulse, but not digging deep enough. I’m thinking now that the problem is the whole structure of our society; everything from the way we make our money to the way we organize our communities. Again, this is vague, but let’s just stop and consider for a minute where current events like global warming, pollution of groundwater and oceans, peak oil, and depletion of topsoils is leading us. These dire symptoms of the dessication of the biosphere are the direct result of the way we live our lives right now. They are the direct result of the products that we manufacture, the food that we eat, and the lifestyles that we have grown to think are our birthright.
So to bring this back to something down to earth—when a natural disaster occurs, as I had said before, what we should be learning is not just how glad we are to have it be over with and to have survived—what we should be learning is just how disconnected we are from some of the most fundamental and basic of natural cycles. And these cycles are what we need to be mimicking and learning from in order to progress.
I am reading a book right now, called The Ecology of Commerce, by Paul Hawken (which I fully recommend if you’re interested in either economics or ecology at all), that elucidates these points very clearly in terms of business and the need for a new ‘restorative’ economy. The focal point of the book is to try to wake businessmen up to the fact that the economy must be altered to accommodate human beings and the earth. One point of Hawken’s vision is the need to recycle products nearly endlessly, as nature does, thus conserving resources, eliminating toxic waste, and building a sustainable economy that will produce fulfilling jobs.
What is insightful about Hawken’s book is that while we are all, understandably, pointing fingers at McDonald’s and Halliburton and Walmart, what we are failing to do is to begin considering, positively, how these corporations can be changed, and what kind of economic environment could be created that would reflect this change (which Hawken’s book addresses). What we are doing is pointing our fingers at symptoms of the structure that is failing, and labeling what is causing the world to fall apart as evil. Instead, we should be focusing our energies on what way the structure can be re-created sustainably and in tune with the lessons of nature. Almost everyone, other than the dinosaurs and rich idiots that have their heads stuck in the sand, recognize that there are problems. Now it’s time to start conceptualizing in what way these problems can be solved, and laying down the blueprints.
To bring this back to my immediate environment, right now the citizens of Lake Tahoe are pointing their fingers at the TRPA, the regional planning agency, which attempts (admittedly imperfectly, given that it is governed mostly by moneyed interests) to impose regulations on development in the region and keep the environment healthy. People are angry and blaming the agency as the cause of the wildfire, because they do not allow homeowners to cut down whatever trees they want, and restrict the wanton clearing of forest. This is obviously ridiculous. If you are building a home made out of wood in the midst of a dense forest, then you should be aware that the forest is subject to wildfire. Lightning is all it takes to set such an occurrence off, let alone idiots with cigarettes and camp fires, such as what set off this most recent and cataclysmic Angora fire.
So people are seeking to blame a governmental agency simply because their homes burned down and because there were a lot of dense trees on their properties. But obviously, the fact that trees are dense in inhabited areas has more to do with the very fact that humans are developing there in the first place—fires are suppressed and brush and trees are condensed with fuel. So the problem is much deeper. It lies in the very planning and design of human communities. It lies in the disconnection with natural processes that accompanies every step we currently make within our economic, social, and mental structures—from the food that was shipped from across the nation or globe to be wasted on our tables, to the tropical wood we used to build our kitchenette, to the conversations we make about ideas distant from what we actually feel.
When I talk about “disconnection with natural processes,” I refer to the whole conundrum modern society has placed us into with relation to the biosphere, from agri-business that depletes the soil and devastates insect populations and pollutes the groundwater, to the production of non-degenerative toxic substances to house a product that will last 2 months. We don’t know how the products we buy were made, we don’t know what the cow we ate in the form of a cheeseburger was fed, we don’t know how the stitches were sewn into the clothes that we buy. We are disconnected from the most fundamental aspects of how we live our lives. This is a form of arrogance compounded by ignorance.
And when a cataclysmic event like a wildfire or a terrorist attack occurs, it temporarily shreds this veil apart, and you see just how deeply the rifts that separate you and your society from the rest of the world are. And there’s two reactions to this: 1) you embed yourself even deeper in blind ideologies that will support your short-term comfort and complacency; or 2) you begin to seek how to address these rifts and heal the deeper wounds. Once you’ve made the obviously correct decision, then suddenly things don’t seem so bleak anymore. Yes, the challenges that are ahead of us are massive and possibly insurmountable; but they are also great opportunities for positive change, social mobility, and creative design. This is where the future lies: in intelligent and creative people hunkering down to work, with their minds clear, their visions unclouded, and their anger and bitterness released. The task at hand is much greater than any loss that you personally have ever undergone. The task at hand is the distinct possibility that human existence could be obliterated by our own past ignorance and current inefficacy.
So it’s about time to work past guilt, blame, and anger. It’s time to begin the building of a future. This will necessarily be in conjunction with governments, corporations, and everyday people—but only in new and completely altered forms.
Wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc are generally natural occurrences. We term these “disasters” in the context of their effects our lives. They destroy our homes.
We are never really quite prepared for these events, even when we know that they will eventually occur. It is hard for us to mentally conceive of events that could completely level all the structures that give us our daily existence. We like to think that it will not happen to us. It happens to people in other parts of the world, and we watch it on the news.
The tragedy, it seems to me, does not lie simply in the devastation of homes and personal possessions, although of course these are tragic to us when we are personally involved. The greater tragedy is that our lives have not been structured to accommodate natural cycles of destruction and renewal. Our lives have been formed on stasis, on day by day continuance of normalcy and homogeny. We build homes which are intended to be permanent. As individuals we accumulate possessions that are of such value and personal meaning that we are devastated by their loss.
But perhaps these accepted structures—normally so firmly embedded into our everyday psyche such that we don’t even think to question them—are not synonymous with natural movements and cycles. Forests periodically alight with flame. This is an inevitability. The earth periodically releases pent up pressure along surface fault lines and volcanoes. The currents of the air and sea form into torrents of wind and rain. These are all necessary and natural occurrences. And when they happen to us, we are devastated, because they lay waste to what we have structured our lives upon.
But the very fact that these are natural processes makes one think that perhaps mankind should be attempting to find a way to adapt our everyday habits and comforts to these distant portents of ‘disaster.’ In our efforts to build structures of commerce and habitation that are the most conducive to short-term stability, we lose sight of the possibility that there are forces much more powerful than us that sway our lives and that are beyond our control.
Our necessity to try to preserve our ways of life at all costs necessitates a constant battle against the forces of nature. Fire-fighting is a dangerous and strategically advanced undertaking, and the only reason that it is necessary is because we have structures intended to be permanent that we need to protect. Because we prevent forest fires and shrub fires from occurring as they would naturally, we have created unnaturally dense thickets of fuel and tinder, thus abetting the catch-22 of creating more and more dangerous and devastating fires that must be fought with an ever greater pooling of resources and manpower.
In the effort to create lives structured around permanency and constant stability, perhaps we are turning a blind eye to our own destruction.
What often is left out in all the trendy industry talk about environmentalism is that our current culture of rampant consumerism is completely unsustainable. What that means, in everyday terms, is that ethanol will not replace oil. Nor will solar and wind energy. In fact, no alternative energy source will support our current lifestyles.
This isn’t what people want to hear. People want to hear that everything will be the same, the course will be stayed, as long as we pass a few bills and start driving hybrid hydrogen fueled Humvees.
It’s heartening to see that talking about concern for the environment and making conscious decisions to reduce emissions and impact is now an acceptable political, ethical, and economic topic, and no longer relegated to hippies, fringe activists, and bitter apocalyptic visionaries. But it is at the same time disheartening to know that most of the populace still remains completely ignorant of the devastation of their current modes of existence coming their way to a reality near them. The only way we will survive this paradigm collapse is if we can adapt quickly to the dream that has been put aside in our hearts to make way for a flat-land one-dimensional world of commerce, cultural colonization, and mass produced franchise mentalities: the dream of shared plots of land, fresh vegetables, simplicity, and local community. You know, the things that we really want to think that we have evolved beyond, with no hope of return, distant in our immutable individuality and greed.
We’ve got to let go of a lot of the so-called progress we think we’ve attained. The progress of complacency, specialization, and homogenization. The domination of centralized sources of technology, media, and banks. We’ve got to re-wire our brains, re-wire our social relations, re-wire our currencies, re-wire our hearts.
A revolution can only occur synonymously with evolution. Are we ready? Ready to let go of our fears, let go of our illusory separations from each other formed from myths of class, race, and birthplace? Or do we want to keep blindly forging our ways like lemmings towards the cliffside of inevitable gravity from this pinnacle of consumption we’ve created?
World leaders mean nothing. Corporations mean nothing. Banks mean nothing. Nuclear weaponry means nothing.
We—collectively, byte by bit, our desires, our everyday decisions, our subconscious compulsions, our loves, our relation ships—are everything.
Just so as in a field in which the soil has been upturned, baring subterranean life to the cruel face of another world, so too in society we unearth, endlessly, the depths of what we cannot consciously understand. We look at these strange unintelligible truths we have unearthed in our cultivation, these creatures of a world before sight, and we are afraid. Because what we are destroying through our shallow misconceptions are the roots of our survival. We are wholly dependent upon the most simple and basic aspects of the earth, and we are destroying these structures like a man kicking at the essential pillars holding up his roof. And then we evince shock when we see our illusions crumbling? Shock that this civilization based on the myth that the earth is ours, that our minds are ours, that our bodies are ours, is falling all around us, leaving us as mere blind destroyers, simpletons sitting in the ravaged dirt?
(But perhaps this is our very function as a part of Nature, to serve as murderous wardens of restrictive mentalities. The dark to counterbalance the light. This is not for us to determine, either way.)
Again, go back to the field, the plot of land that has been blindly cultivated following tradition and convention. Weeds spring up at every turn, like viruses in a weakened immune system, and manufactured chemicals must be sprayed relentlessly, as weeds attack viciously like barbarian hordes. All along when in reality weeds are simple seeds attempting to capitalize on an open market, a market opened wide by methodical devastation. Insects infect the crops, capable of instantaneous destruction if not immediately ridden with poison. Poison leveling beneficial and invasive alike, like carpet cluster bombs in a city, like radiation in a cancer patient.
By creating environments that are based on the illusion that human life is the pinnacle and cream of all creation, we have set ourselves directly on the path of addiction and self-destruction. And we watch with confusion the nightly news repeats of murder, war, famine, suicide, refusing to draw the connections that would render ourselves complicit in all of this madness. The line that would link us to perversion, terrorism, and murder. The line that connects the dots of the individual and the masses. The line that swaths a path direct from innocence to guilt. From hunger to power. From resources to capital.
There is a reason why we fear certain things. These certain things are what we have created through our ignorance, by our deliberate ignoring of all other life that we are wholly dependent upon to survive. It is ok to be afraid. But it is better to be at peace with death. To accept that life is not the central meaning of the universe. That we are in fact nothing in the face of what we are a part of.
Once this fact has been faced, then we can get on with the tasks of enjoying dancing, enjoying breathing, enjoying eating, enjoying shitting, enjoying being alive, and fuck all of this stupid shit like fear.
I don’t usually discuss my work or my workplace usualmente aquí, pero tengo que porque I am very excited about some things in the year which are manifestly about to occur. After a period of personal study in the matters of permaculture and sustainable ecological design, I suddenly thought, why not attempt to apply these concepts to the beautiful environs where I am employed? It was one of those moments, wherein a horizon is unveiled that had never before been perceived, that is wider, deeper, and yet still inclusive of all of what has come before. Why not actually attempt to unite what I am actually deeply interested in with where I work?
So here are the coming attractions: I have made 2 bathouses in which to provide penthouse suites for bats, because during the summer mosquitoes are an everpresent nuisance: one bat can consume 1,200 mosquitoes within an hour. Much more effective than a zapper. Here’s me standing next to one of my bathouses:
Also, I have built 8 birdhouses, specifically built to house native birds to the region: chickadees, bluebirds, nuthatches, swallows, and northern flickers. I will mount these next week in the surrounding forest to further encourage birds to populate the region.
Throughout the year, in conjunction with these actions, I will plant native pollinator attracting species, such as phacelia, pennyroyal, lupine, larkspur, columbine, aster, goldenrod, and penstemons; and also plant bird attracting shrubs, such as thimbleberries, serviceberry, chokecherry, elderberry, and mountain ash.
The idea is to condense and enhance the natural wildlife of the area. To further the biodiversity. To foster the interrelationships of insect, bird, bat, plant, and man. To educate and enlighten those who come to visit on the deep webs that interlink all species into verdant existence.
Also on my agenda is the goal of eventually building a compost system to compost all of our food waste, and thus to have a wonderful medium to build up the soil of the area with—currently, our soil is just thin residual soils from glaciation, with a lot of exposed granodiorite rock, and dense pine trees and some dry shrubs like tobacco brush (great tinder for forest fires, those). My eventual goal will be to build up a moist, nutrient rich soil, with dense interplanting and abundant wildlife, even in the midst of invasive humanity.
In my particular department, I am also converting completely to all non-toxic solutions. There is absolutely no reason, I’ve discovered, to use a solution that is even remotely toxic. Vinegar is the most toxic you need to get. I am also converting all of our lighting to Energy Star rated compact flourescent lighting.
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that projecting a “green” image is fast becoming trendy amongst businesses. It’s not because there are more hippies in upper management, or because suddenly corporate humanity is growing a conscience. Rather, it is because sustainable business practices not only work to benefit the environment, but because sustainable business practices save more money after initial investments, foster positive employee and guest and community relations within the business, and push the business to the forefront of a new market and economy. It just makes sense, basically.
Have you heard about the honey bees? That they are dying in vast numbers, and nobody knows why? That’s kind of scary. First and foremost, because I love me my honey. Second, because they pollinate most of our flowers, fruits, and food plants.
There’s endless speculation as to the cause, such as that the bees are getting “stressed out.” Whatever. More like “they’re getting bombed with toxic chemicals.” Let’s face it, the agribusiness in this country essentially grows its plants on steroids and antibiotics. And it’s like we’re surprised when suddenly all the adults start getting cancer, all the children are born with some kind of disorder, whether physical or mental, and all the food tastes like crap unless you add some of that manufactured “natural flavoring.” And we’re in the midst of what is quite soberly termed an “obesity epidemic.” So the human signs are quite readily visible, if you realize what you’re looking at: the cumulative effects of years of growing and serving food based on business instead of health. And so I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising that now we’re beginning, inevitably, to see the devastating effects on animal, plant, and insect life. And microbial life, such as the growing amounts of “superbugs” that are completely resistant to any form of antibiotic. Forget global warming. I think this complete disassociation of human life from natural cycles is what constitutes the greatest danger to our survival as a species. We collectively have only the dimmest awareness that we are wholly dependent on biodiversity and connectivity with animals, plants, insects, microbes, and the soil.
In order to survive, we have to understand just how connected we are with everything around us.
Winter hath begun. We’ve been doing a “fuel reduction” project after the facility closed with the remnants of staff that remain, which entails walking through the woods with handsaws, clippers, and polesaws, and essentially gardening the forest. We gather the branches and dead trees and make piles and burn them. Because the forest is now a dense thicket of white firs and brush set amidst the older junipers, incense cedars, and white pines. Originally, back in the day when the natives came to this region for their summer vacations, forest fires were a cyclical process that cleared, weeded, and returned organic materials to the soil. The pines and cedar trees had ample space to grow. Now forest fires are cataclysmic events, spreading rapidly and destroying whole forests, rather than a small percentage of its undergrowth. All because Smoky the Bear, in his infinite wisdom, decided that fires, all fires, were bad, bad things. So for years the forest service did all it could to prevent all fires from erupting, thus effectively creating a forest dense with fuel. The natives, of course, understood the necessity of natural fires, as they understood many other simple things through observation. The industrial “revolution” and its subsequent detachment of humanity from nature created a mentality of manifest destiny, in which men decided that all of nature lay underneath their jurisdiction, that in fact nature needed to be controlled, regulated, and harnessed. Because they thought the forest couldn’t regulate itself.
Well, so now we seek to emulate what was once completely natural. We must prune the trees, thin the shrubs, collect all the dead materials and burn them. Because if we don’t, all that shit is just waiting to go up, and take our homes, and the entire forest, along with them.
There is always a tendency, in civilized (repressed) societies, to delimit everything to one-dimension, in which it is either totally bad or totally good, black or white. Complexities, subtleties, many faceted aspects of things are destroyed in our obsessive demand for appearance and immediacy. Doesn’t really matter what’s right or wrong, as long as we are reassured that it is right. Polls have demonstrated time and time again that George W. Bush strikes (or used to strike) a key note in the populace due to his “integrity”–meaning that he sticks to a plan of action, even if it is a completely misguided plan of action, even if the original intent behind the plan of action is false, even evil. In other words, we don’t care about true integrity, only the appearance of integrity.
Going back to the subject of forest fires, we painted all fires as “bad,” and so sought, quixotically, to put all forest fires out as soon as they began. And thus created a situation 20 times worse than anything we could have imagined. Through the attempt to control something that was already self-regulatory and natural, we created imbalances that now lead only to greater disaster and destruction.
I had talked earlier about how this misguided idealism, this noble attempt to control all nature and eradicate all bad, is leading to problems in the field of healthcare, such as antibiotics being rendered nearly completely ineffective. This misguided idealism is rampant everywhere in our efforts, whether it is the effort to make pest resistant or drought resistant food crops, or the effort to eradicate crime. We label things, one-dimensionally, as “bad,” and then operate based on these one-dimensional assumptions, while the actual reality grows ever more dire and destructive due to our own destructive, limited perceptions. Because–as any policeman or politician could tell you–things are much more complicated than they appear.
More on this topic later.