Saturday, November 22, 2014

Our rightful place in the world

Anyone who's visited our farm and knows a bit about my philosophy is likely to assume that I think the answer to our ills is for everyone to assume an 18th century farming lifestyle.  That's not really the case.  I'm much worse than that!

The answer to our ills, in my rarely humble opinion, is to return to our rightful role in the biosphere -- the same one we've been in for 99.9% of our existence, and the only role which is truly sustainable over the long term.  I'm thinking of the ecological niche such as that which the Native Americans thrived in for 10,000 years.  They -- as well as my own European ancestors if we travel back in time a few thousand years -- lived within their means, utilizing only the energy that was directly available from the sun.

Everything about us says that this is how we should be living. The further we venture from this historical niche, the worse our physical and mental health becomes. 20% of the US is on anti-psychotic medications, with the CDC saying that mental health is trending to become the leading root cause of death by 2020.  10% of the population currently has diabetes, and my son's generation is expected to develop it at the rate of 1 in 3.  A third of us are already obese.  Cancer rates are at 50% in the US, and it's now the leading cause of death in China.   Do you think we have a problem?  These are not diseases we can "fix" with modern medicine.  Don't get me started on the asinine "Race for the Cure".

Examinations of pre-industrial societies (and pre-agricultural in particular) suggest that each of these diseases were all but unheard of.   Over at The Hipcrime Vocab you can read a much better analysis than I can create, where the author did a 5 part series on "The Longevity Deception".   His suggestion that hunter gatherers lived longer than we did (even if our life in calendar years is greater), is an eye opener for anyone who has subscribed to Thomas Hobbe's widely accepted take on pre-industrial life.

As it is now, we've burned a lot of bridges.  The conventional wisdom of the 20th century said we'd never need them again.  That's why you'll see cars in my driveway, and why I'm not living in a bark hut and wearing buckskin as most of my ancestors likely did.  It'll take us a while to get back to this ideal, but it's the only road that leads to a future.

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