An Inconvenient Truth: Its Cities Stupid

The core reason rural landscapes are despoiled is cities. From clear cut forests to mono-crop industrial agriculture, its to feed the cities. Don’t get my wrong, I love cities: the energy, vibrance, food and culture. But as an interconnected culture we need to look at ourselves in the mirror sometimes.

The Short Story

Towns, suburbs and especially cities cannot take responsibility for their own existence. Everything is imported from far and wide. City populations control the political process by the numbers. They first send the troops and then the corporations to bring back the food, resources and energy. Cities give back garbage and pollution. It is not a fair trade for despoiling other people and species’s landscapes.

Everything civilization touches replaces the wild. I was walking through an actually well preserved forest near Coquille, Oregon today. To a trained eye though, what I was seeing was an almost complete replacement for the original wild forest. Gone were almost all of the cedars, replaced by re-growth maples and alders. Deep erosion gullies have been cut because the clear cut of the old growth forest sped up the water flow and the trapping out of the beavers removed their dams. The moss was pretty though but deceiving on what was really missing, the whole forest.

Flying over much of the U.S. reveals mile after mile of agricultural squares, gone is the prairie as tall as a man on a horse. The water supply now poisoned by ag chemicals. I can almost tell you where I am just by drinking the water blindfolded from Minneapolis to Denver because of how polluted the water is. I don’t know how the people who live there put up with it.

Some Positive Examples

The fews exceptions are Cuba and Russian. About 50% of Havana, Cuba’s 2.2 million population is supplied by local urban agriculture, in which 140,000 people are employed. 40 Percent of Russia’s food is home grown from ‘Dacha Gardens’. There is hope.

So What is the Point?

Sending $35 bucks to the Sierra Club is not going to cut it any more, especially since David Brower is no longer the Executive Director. Start a conversation with your friends about how to turn the direction of large population centers around and making space for the local. Begin making statements at city council meetings like:

We have to start taking responsibility for ourselves and not put the burden on others.

Is it too much to ask to give incentives like free farmer’s market space, reduced property taxes for urban agriculture? How about tax credits for affordable roof-top solar?

The Elephant in the Room

No one has the balls to talk about family size, ironic. The truth is, for every human, I don’t know how many, thousands of species can’t live. That would be an eye opening study. We can’t breed like locusts anymore just because we want to. From a distance cows look like aphids and act the same on the landscape up close.

We do not inherit the earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children.” —David Brower, 1912–2000

Enlightenment: Looking at the World Through New Eyes and Seeing it for What it is, a Bad Cartoon.

The problem is not humanity, its our “civilized” social organizational system. At some point enough people will start saying, “This is stupid, I am not going to trash the place anymore just to live.”

I want people to realize that recycling or being a green bean will not save the world. Its pointless. We have to start creating new working models that can take care of themselves without trashing the country side. Let’s take the best from the past and present and make something that has never been seen before.

Once we have the right meme, it will go viral. Of course there will be lots of old school dominator resistance but eventually the levy will break and enough people will have walked away.

Maybe the sustainable cities of the future will be virtual instead of physical: an online network of fellow like minded friends. The internet is already teaching us that we can have more in common with someone many miles away than the person right next door.

The Only Thing That Will Work

Truth be told, recycling or driving a Prius Prime will not save the world. Things will continue to get worse as humanity and its cities continues to expand across the earth like metastasized cancer. The only thing that will cure our ills is one child families. Its that simple. No matter your cause, its a lost cause until you reduce population.

One child families will bring population down from 7 billion to 1 billion in 100 years.

Getting snipped after your first kid sounds a little Orwellian but there is no other way unless you don’t mind trashing the planet but most people honestly don’t care. Sadly, civilization supporting religions encourage or ignore larger families. That was useful 2,000 years ago but its counter productive today. Over population makes things worse for everyone including your own children: fewer resources, species die off, more pollution, greater inequity, “But hey, I have more kids.”

Three More Things That Don’t Work

  1. Dominion of each other and Mother Nature.
  2. Allowing binding decisions by giving away our sovereignty.
  3. Trashing the countryside to concentrate a lot of people in one place.

Think on and talk with your friends about these things. Start imaging a world that has none of them, a world with no control system, no one in charge and room enough for all life. The best way to overcome a bad meme is to imagine a better one.

Its not that we are for or against anything, it is just that the rest of the 30 million species on the planet without a human voice have just as much right to live as you and I do.

Ho Hey!

Chuck Burr