By: Raymond Greiner
At the river daily I see the Heron wading. Classified as an aquatic bird; the Heron is equally reliant on land. The riverbank offers access to food sources, building its nest in a high tree relying on its roots for stability and safety. Land is the Heron’s base.
Humans are affixed to land, upright, mobile terrapins. Human interaction with land has changed radically over long historical times. Early cultures embraced the land differently from modern times. For thousands of year’s hunter-gatherer cultures assimilated with Earth’s natural tides flowing in unison harmoniously blending in a minimal manner. As human progression gained momentum land connections were altered becoming a commodity. Civilization’s expanded moving from hunter-gathers to agriculturally based cultures followed by urbanization, installing cosmopolitan environments. Land now equated to wealth. From this point forward, land exploitation continued. Government’s formed geographically identifying borders often resulting in conflict. This condition became the genesis for large-scale wars amassing armies designed for conquest. Land conquest became obsessive reflecting, “more land yields more power.”
Abundant examples reveal human land exploitation. One such example is the occurrences of the “dust bowl” years. During this time modern agriculture was in full swing upward infusing modern farm machinery to a new level. Farming moved from subsistence to a profit seeking business model. Fiscal gain moved to the forefront of farming becoming a massive enterprise. As new farming practices grew in dimension the flat, expansive U.S. prairie was a temptation that could not be ignored. Large sections of easily tillable land, occupied by thousands of acres of green prairie grass triggered the wheat farmer into action. At no time in history has so much land been turned under by the plow. Tractor power developed allowing gangplows to increase speed and volume tilling soil. Land was purchased in a frenzy, farms expanded and money was flowing like water as the demand for wheat escalated from the effects of WWI selling at a premium price. Then wheat prices fell to an all time low and farmers were pressed into a survival mode. Adding to this condition came unsurpassed drought. The entire wheat crop died from lack of water and total financial devastation occurred. With the soil retaining power of the prairie grass plowed under the loose soil formed immense dust clouds as dry storms ravaged the prairie causing severe lung health issues. This condition represented the largest single environmental catastrophe solely by human complicity. Farms were lost and the farmers were forced to vacate. It was known by scientists that the prairie historically experiences long droughts, but the intervals may be hundreds of years. So, how did prairie grass survive these drought periods? Prairie grass evolved, adjusting, anticipating drought. Prairie grass has deeply penetrating root systems; therefore, able to sustain enough moisture to endure long periods without rainfall. Wheat cannot, with very shallow roots.
It would seem logical that as an advanced culture we can use our intellectual abilities to regain balance and harmony that once existed within human, Earth interactions. Modern farmers are drawn to chemical farming practices to gain yield, efficiency and profit. Organic farming is more labor intensive yielding less profit per acre but may represent solutions beyond values offered by the use of chemicals. Spreading toxins on soil and crops creates negative long-term effects and the toxins must be periodically increased in toxicity as weeds and insects mutate in an attempt to gain tolerance to the chemicals. It’s an example of technology’s dark side.
Tampering with food has resulted in widespread negative health issues. Questionable processing, preservatives, and additives are commonly applied designed to stimulate overconsumption, promoting food as an emotional comfort device. Foods harvested directly from the Earth, unprocessed and organically grown offers the most return. Scientific modifications designed toward profit orientations can be redirected discovering methods of food enhancement toward nutritional consciousness. Overall gain would offset fiscal loss ultimately creating evolutionary new and improved dimensions of life.
As we continue advancing technologically it will behoove us as a collective to view all aspects of our land use and its degree of impact, long term effects and how we as a species can improve and discover the importance of maintaining our land’s feasibly uniting with worth and purpose, gaining balance with our planet and ourselves.
The Earth is a graceful place, teeming with endless varieties of life, surviving, multiplying and harmonizing. As the dominant species we are challenged to apply responsibility directed toward preservation and longevity. We can improve and it can be graceful. (hinterland)