Sustainable – our favourite buzzword these days may be in disrepute. Well, as it applies to the natural world, anyway.
Growing wheat organically may seem like a sustainable and noble activity but if the farmer turns his/her back for a few weeks, weeds and bugs and all sorts of natural invaders will try to take the field back. The way of nature is to resist monoculture regardless of how green it is. In fact, the way of nature is to resist almost all our ‘modified foodstuffs’. An orchard will wither and die and another orchard will not grow up in its place. Wilderness will prevail in the long run. The natural world wants to sustain only wilderness.
Most of our so-called natural foodstuffs aren’t natural at all. We have domesticated them and adapted them to grow where they would never have grown before. We change the natural way of things in almost every thing we do.
So, how is that sustainable?
The only humans who were ever in total sync with the environment were hunter gatherers. The primal guys. They exploited what was there and, when it was there no longer, they moved on and let their impact areas heal naturally. Then they would exploit another ‘garden’ and do the same until the first one was healed enough to receive another assault. And they remained small in number, stature and limited in their impact on the planet.
Now that’s sustainable. Smart-phone living? Not so much.
“Dave, don’t be ridiculous We are not going to go back to hunting and gathering. And, anyway, farming is sustainable. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years!”
Well, firstly I am not saying that we should go back to primal living. We’d all die trying to do that. Healthy young people die all the time just hiking in the forest or skiing out of bounds. Hell, most old people would die without their TV or their car. Individually, we are not all that tough. So my best advice is to NOT go primal. We wouldn’t last long enough to get good at it.
My point is that no ‘human modified’ way of food production will ultimately be sustainable….at least not on an industrial scale and that is what is required if we are to remain a population of billions.
In the long, long, long run, we – as a species – may not be sustainable. Not in any kind of numbers, anyway.
Just a thought…