Monday, June 23, 2008

Another idea to save the world

As most people are now aware, there needs to be a sincere and strong push towards addressing the climate change issue. However a deeper look at the situation shows that climate change is perhaps but a symptom of a much deeper problem. This problem seems to be the underlying structure of our society itself.

I have set up a Facebook group called "What the hell is happening to our world?" where some information about this problem has been presented and where I hope this problem can be discussed. But for those who are already aware and at all decided about it, I think I have PART of a solution.

Much of the conversation about the environmental aspect of this problem is in regards to reducing our "carbon footprints". Another keyword that is far more important, however, is "sustainable". The real push, probably the only real solution, is in a deep emphasis on sustainability, and an acceptance of the "interconnectedness" of ecosystems. This means requiring that even our global economy is predicated on sustainable practices.

In researching sustainable living, I came across a very interesting project in the UK, the Hockerton Housing Project (this can be google searched very easily, and I will add a link on my group). I saw how this project was set up on an acreage type plot, and I realized that it could be expanded into a communal or cooperative agricultural operation.

I also realized that such an operation (in the current economic situation) would have to generate fairly significant income. Obviously no families get rich from farming, therefore it would have to encompass some sort of industrial operation as well. In some areas, part of this industrial operation could well be in the form of windfarms (with grazing land below). Anther possibility is large scale greenhouse systems which could provide basic organic produce to a local market, year round.

The main area I would like to focus on, is joining the push to develop industrial hemp into a massive global economy. As many are advertising, the industrial potential of hemp is staggering. The capacity for sustainable paper-making alone could allow a shift from destructive logging, to fields of carbon sequestering and renewable hemp plants. It's dietary potential might be of great benefit as well, given how robust a crop plant it is and how significantly nutritious are the seeds.

A good example of a company working at this, is Stemergy Inc. in Ontario (google Stemergy).

A significant aspect of my belief in the need for this kind of change is sociological. I believe, from my own experience, that an agrarian lifestyle instills a deeper connection with nature than urban living (certainly now) does. There is reason to believe that this deeper connection is intrinsically more healthy, mentally and physically, than that currently available though urban living...even with urban advanced medicine. The truth of the matter seems to be that our advanced healthcare is ok at treating us once we are sick, but not too good at prevention or often at actual healing...especially in terms of mental health (the World Health Organization estimates that at least 1/4 of the global population is clinically depressed). This is not meant to be an attack on doctors or nurses or anything like that, tho I am happy to attack big Corporate Health. It is simply a broad assessment of the current state of affairs as a whole. But back on the direct topic, it would seem odd that so much of humanity has abandoned agrarian living.

The migration to cities has been primarily out of the search for a higher standard of living. The reality is that agricultural practices have not advanced much over the last couple thousand years. Farming remains hard and relatively poor work so the biggest change has been the constant migration of humanity from farming villages to city living. Most western agriculture is now either corporate (BAD!!) or by the family that is willing to do what it takes to retain that lifestyle as long as possible. Both of these approaches have left very few people living on the land. And those who do, do so largely unsustainably. The use of technology has usually only meant even less people were living on the land. This will be discussed in much greater detail in the project outline, but I want to make some attempt at keeping this brief.

Basically, I believe that hope for the future lies in making our considerable technological advances work alongside ancient tried and true practices. Considering this overall necessity, while trying to come up with a viable plan for the future of our family farm, led me to trying to create a project to investigate the potential of reforming a village type society in our world. This is not to replace, but to supplement the urban aspect of society.

Technology now seems to be at a point where larger groups of humanity could return to existing directly on the land, interacting with nature and still having the ability for significant social activity. We actually could choose to abandon the current system, for one based on sharing (of work and profits) and free time for self education or just plain leisure.

I'd love to know what others think. If you are or know anyone who might be interested in knowing more, or being involved with developing this idea...either let me know, or send them my way.

I should also mention that the project here would also involve the preservation and restoration of a major Northwest Alberta marsh lake which is home to thousands of birds and other kinds of wildlife. The local County is currently developing and expanding their landfill site which is directly on one edge of this lake.

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