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writing for godot

When the Earth is Sick

Written by readyatlast   
Friday, 28 August 2020 04:54

Since the spring flooding in the Missouri/Mississippi watershed, I have been haunted by an image I saw as a televised news flash: a farmer, a clean-cut white man in work clothes, standing on sorely cracked red clay ground. The news story was about flooding, from the picture we were to see that the farmer lost his crops, his field was bare.  Must be the weather.

Must be climate change.  Must be global warming.  But I see that picture of a man standing on a patch of sorry Midwest USA clay, and I can’t help but think, where have you been, man, for the last 100 years?  Because in the last hundred years ideas and tools proliferated in support of sustainable activities vis a vis the earth, the ground, the soil and water of our existence.  What you were thinking as you plowed and planted and harvested land along the lowland of the continent’s major artery?  Were you thinking about the miracle of soil, and the fragility of life?  Were you thinking about soil structure and water retention and drainage systems that honored the flow of water?  We saw the picture of your farm.

The earth is sick, that is clear. And now we are sick, too.

The territorial earth is rock. Covering the rock is a thin and fragile membrane we call the ground cover, an earth blanket, if you will, made of primitive living organisms, mosses and lichens and all of plant life in field and forest.  Part of that ground cover we call soil, a surface blend of mineral and organic matter that acts as a sponge to hold and disperse water and water borne elements, and also serves as the physical support to all of plant life. It is extremely complex, and when healthy, soil teems with life. Through the soil run arteries of water that carry forces of life through us all.

For over four thousand years, people have been working the earth’s soils, cultivating and harvesting crops to sustain regional populations, reaping the benefit of the work of millions of microbes over millions of years transforming rock to soil.

It  Is said that the Sumerians and the Chinese, early great civilizations on earth, were already thinking in terms of  substances they could apply when things got out of balance in their agricultural endeavors, using chemical concoctions to combat lice and mites and insect infestations in fields.

Through all the years since then, people have been looking at materials in nature and materials in laboratories that could be sprinkled or sprayed on the earth to shift the balance to our human  desires.

But then it became apparent to some people that humans were on the wrong track, that poor health was an inevitable implication of the ways we treated the earth, the Earth.  What to do?

In the early twentieth century, in 1924 in Eastern Germany, concerned farmers noticing a decline in vitality on their farms, turned to scientist and educator Rudolf Steiner who offered a series of lectures that stand as the foundational work in the practice of biodynamic organic agriculture.

“In this present time,” Rudolf Steiner said, “it is not only human moral development that is degenerating, but also what human activity has made of the earth and of what lies just above the earth.”

At about the same time, a British scientist named  Sir Albert Howard (1973-1947), discovered and began to promote composting as a revitalizing strategy for farm and garden.

There were others,  Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Lady Eve Balfour, J.I.Rodale, William A. Albrecht, Maria Thun, Viktor Schauberger, Rachel Carson, Charles Walters, Josephine Porter,  Hugh Courtney,  all strong characters in human history who studied nature and lectured, wrote and acted and inspired countless others.  For the past hundred years we have been developing practices of organics that seek to support life, and the practices such as biodynamics that seek to work with cosmic forces to bring additional help to our agricultural work with soil on earth.

Insects and disease are the symptoms of a failing crop, not the cause.

—Dr.Wm Albrecht

In the 1940’s agriculture experienced an onslaught of deadly chemicals coming through laboratories of scientists.  The coal industry produced chemicals that were a waste disposal problem until they were streamlined into agriculture, and toxic wartime chemicals emerged as well, freed now from military use and ready to infuse the chemical industry with sales and the farm land and farm population with toxic chemical contamination. Cs Chemicals became the foundation of huge corporate wealth, and no matter how many organic producers there were, the power of the organized agricultural industry world wide was being driven by the chemical industry, and they overwhelmed the land.

Let me be clear.  Agricultural chemicals play an important role in the degradation of the soil, that goes without saying. Organic agriculture offers great healing power, and chemical applications need to stop. Stop. Right now.  Roundup and its cousins need to come off the shelves in garden centers.  Right now.  We need to stop.

But the toxic chemicals have entered into just about every arena of modern life, not just farming.

The major extractive and toxin producing industries that bear responsibility for a huge weight of the burden our poor earth carries trying to support us constantly work to present new substances and new materials that enter into our daily lives. We now, for example,  have a class of chemicals called forever chemicals that are ubiquitous in modern life.

These chemicals break down very slowly and tend to stay with us, once released, for a very very very long time. They are in our  oceans, they are in our drinking water, they are in our bodies.  Interestingly enough, they seem to attach themselves to the proteins in our bodies, something that viruses do as well.

How Forever Chemicals Harm Ocean Life

“In 1946, “ Max Levy wrote,

DuPont introduced nonstick cookware coated with Teflon. Today the family of fluorinated chemicals that sprang from Teflon includes thousands of nonstick, stain-repellent and waterproof compounds called PFAS, short for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances.

PFAS are used in a staggering array of consumer products and commercial applications. Decades of heavy use have resulted in contamination of water, soil and the blood of people and animals in the farthest corners of the world. PFAS are incredibly persistent, never breaking down in the environment and remaining in our bodies for years.

DuPont invented the PFAS chemical patented as Teflon, but 3M became its main manufacturer. In 2001, a scandal erupted in Parkersburg, W.Va., after discovery of the Teflon chemical in the drinking water of tens of thousands of people near a DuPont plant. (The story is documented in the film “The Devil We Know.”)

A class-action lawsuit uncovered evidence DuPont knew PFAS was hazardous and had contaminated tap water but didn’t tell its workers, local communities or environmental officials. The lawsuit also triggered studies linking the Teflon chemical to cancer and other diseases.

Already in the 1950’s, chemical companies knew these substances pollute human blood, farmers knew the substances in their applications pollute the soil, and coal companies knew that their toxic emissions poison the water and the air.

No farmer can stand in 2020 and believably say “I didn’t know that the health of my crops depended on the health of the soil on my farm.”

But we have all been duped.  Overwhelmed by the greed of big companies, by the finance industry in our times and the fatal flaw of our own human nature, we have chosen what appears to be an easy way to live but really is the path to destruction.

Human beings on earth are in an EMERGENCY now, on so many fronts.  But we knew this was coming.  One hundred years ago reporters were documenting a noticeable loss of vitality food crops coming from farmland world wide.

The organic farm movement got its start in the 1920’s, and since then stalwart people have struggled to keep farms clean of toxic pesticides and herbicides as big business agribusiness operations have overblown the countryside.  We have inspiring  organic farmers and organic farming and marketing trade organizations.  We have leadership and practitioners in urban farm settings, in composting businesses, and regenerative agriculture projects.  We have writers and artists and activists.

They are tiny lonely voices in the wind shouting against the belching toxic presence of their fellow earth dwellers who see the planet under their feet only as something to support them while they make money.

And now we have a world wide pandemic.  We have people all over the world getting sick, dying,  and we are hustling and bustling around making money as we say we are developing a cure.  We are trying to make a pill we can take that will make this whole thing go away.  We are fighting with each other, but we are all caught in the materialist viewpoint that sees conflict and violence on every front and operates under the assumption that science can devise a solution.

In fact, quite a few people are depending on science to fix this whole muddle.  And then again quite a few people think science doesn’t have the last word because God trumps all.  And then that of course means another fight, science against not science, science against God, and none of it leads anywhere except that some people are slinging God’s name around and other people are wondering, why are they doing that?

In my work in journalism, agricultural work, and education, I have learned that a balanced mixture of essential ingredients is necessary for a healthy experience in any work place, any abode.  And despite those who do care for and tend the earth, human beings have proved to be capable of releasing almighty destructive forces, and with these forces we are tearing apart the earth.

In this whole of our earth, north, south, east and west,  human beings have so mined and poisoned our environment that we have created the disposition to be ill.  And now, with weak fields and woodlands, with sick rivers and seas, with polluted air, and with people weakened from poor nutrition, the coronavirus has moved in and as is the way with viruses, it is wreaking havoc and leaving people in thrall to their immune systems.

We want life to be easy.  We want our food to be blemish free in appearance, and we have given up thinking it would be better to look a little deeper and see that our food be nourishing and strengthening as well.  We want our fields to look uniform and green, and we have given up noticing that the ground holding up the plants is dead ground.  Vitality does not present in poisoned ground, and we have been too busy to notice that life has left our farms.

Now, 2020,

We identify a virus rampant in the world and we say that virus is making us sick.

No.  We have been sick, and the virus is just moving in for the kill.

In 1989 Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird released a book called Secrets of the Soil.

They wrote,

The main premise of early organic advocates, they wrote,

was that in soil properly nourished with adequate supplies of humus, crops do not suffer from disease, and so don’t require poisonous sprays to keep off parasites; that animals fed on these plants develop a high degree of resistance, and that man, nurtured with such plans and animals, can reach an extraordinary (and in fact quite natural) standard of health, able to resist disease and infection from whatever cause it may derive.

In Secrets of the Soil they documented many people and projects who though the years have been steadfast in the personal practices to help feed and sustain a healthy population on a healthy earth.  But even then, they saw that individual practices were not enough, and they called for the world’s air forces to overfly with homeopathic mineral applications to help bring balance world wide.

It is time for we the people to be calling for big movements from the big movers on earth.  International conferences address the importance of working together and combating ravaging of the earth.  Internationally, climate activists warn us we have to hurry to save the Earth from overheating.  They are opposed by climate change deniers who say who the hell do you think you are? Only God can destroy the earth.

In the U.S. we have lawmakers proposing “A Green New Deal.”  They are ridiculed and opposed.

Is climate change killing the Earth, or is killing the Earth casing climate change?

We have passed the time that this is a drawing room conversation.  It is time now to take care of our Earth. Demand our lawmakers act big to counter the ill health that comes to us from the ground up and will make any laboratory pill a bitter pill to swallow.

Now, it can happen, Rudolf Steiner said in his Agricultural Course,

that plant diseases may appear on our farms. I want to speak about them right now in rather general terms. People today like to specialize, so they talk about specific diseases.  In the pursuit of science, that’s all well and good, because you do need to know what each disease looks like, but in the end it is much the same as with a doctor; being able to describe an illness is usually not very useful — it is much more important to be able to cure it. be able to cure it.  Bringing about healing requires us to work from totally different points of view than we do when we are describing diseases.  We can achieve the greatest degree of precision in describing illnesses, and know exactly what is going on in the diseased organism according to the principles of modern physiology or physiological chemistry, and yet still not be able to cure anything.  You cannot heal according to histological or microscopic findings; in order to heal, you must understand the broad interrelationships.

Instead  of tearing apart the Environmental Protection Agency, as forces in Washington are doing now, it is time to ramp up. It is time to quarantine all toxic polluters.

It is time to demand that food, plant and animal, be grown with nutritive respect, and it is time to demand that human beings treat one another with that same respect. your social media marketing partner
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