For decades ecological anthropologists have warned that civilizations which abuse their topsoil, deplete their groundwater and destroy their biodiversity soon collapse as their systems of primary productivity inevitably fail.
Ever greater subsidies to the global agricultural system from fossil fuels — through technologies like those deployed in the “green revolution” and the “gene revolution” — can temporarily serve to prop up the illusion of continuous growth, but this strategy ultimately collapses as the natural fertility of the soil is destroyed and production levels can only be maintained with greater doses of toxic, petroleum-based chemicals and artificial fertilizers.
The most tragic and persistent illusion that has dominated the rise of complex civilization is that humans produce food. With the exception of women’s breast milk, humans do not produce food. We cannot. This is simply because we do not photosynthesize. For our food we depend on plants that do. Plants, in turn, cannot produce food without fertile topsoil and adequate water supplies. Our last, best chance for survival in complex civilizations is to learn how to build (not destroy) fertile topsoil and manage fresh water supplies (not pollute or squander them) so that plants can continue to capture the solar energy and produce the food we need to live.
This is basic science, simple ecology. We live on the second trophic level in a complex ecosystem. Civilizations that have failed to understand the role of humans in the Symphony of the Soil as part of Earth’s complex ecosystem have not prospered for very long in the past, nor will they in the future.
For further discussion see:
- Got a Carbon Problem? Fix it ! Part 2 – Global Crisis & Localized Responses
- Symphony of the Soil
Petty potentates and their appointed bureaucrats may think they can pass laws or choose to implement only that legislation that serves their immediate interests. In time, however, if these laws violate the laws of nature, all these figures will have accomplished is to hasten the collapse of their own civilization.