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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Farming Fantasies!

Prometheus’ chains were heard clanking once more on BBC1’s Countryfile programme, which is becoming quite a regular feature of the programme. I am referring here to the edition transmitted on Sunday January 26 (2014) and the person bound to the rock of the past and whose chains were clanking, was Rory Stewart, a Member of Parliament, whose constituency is in the Lake District, which includes many sheep farms. And it was sheep farming that was being discussed, and the damage that the current dominant method is causing to the eco-system – the usual story of a system developed long ago without regard for the environment and nature, based on mono-culture, resulting in a desert with respect to bio-diversity, as well as many unforeseen damaging impacts for life, including human life. Discussed in the report were some of these damaging impacts, and what some organisations (in this case the RSPB) – those aware of the importance of the eco-system to our own survival – are doing to re-invent sheep farming, which includes elements of re-wilding, to find a way of undertaking this important activity in a way that co-exists with nature. The approach is to move towards diversity and not to have a single dominant activity.

Here now I will report verbatim, the derisory words spoken by this Member of Parliament about these efforts: clank, clank, clank ...

“Look at the entire fell-side behind me. You’re not going to be able to see a single sheep. This is a sheep farming area, but what’s happening is something really weird – essentially a group of intellectuals are imposing their fantasies on the landscape, and their fantasy is that they’re living in a wilderness, and they’re trying to create a landscape that hasn’t existed here for 3000 years. I think it’s a tragedy. I think there’s a place for bits of forestry, there’s a place for bits of bird sanctuary, but we have to protect the human.”

Clank, clank, clank ...

I observe here that this is a mis-representation of what the RSPB are trying to do, but this matter aside, what is interesting here are the fantasies underlying these comments.

The fantasies are clear: we can live without nature, and that nature’s place is in reservations and by implication, nature can continue to exist if we turn the planet into mono-cultures, with islands of bio-diversity where nature can continue as before. Moreover, we have a right to do this, and it is our place to decide. We can control nature, we can dominate nature. What is most important is human economic activity and if nature has to die to enable this, then so be it. When you sow the wind, you do NOT reap the whirlwind. Clank, clank, clank ...

These are more than fantasies, they are dangerous delusions, but at least he did not pretend, as many do, that somehow, in ways most mysterious, this mono-culture approach to farming can be made sustainable by implementing small changes.

Now perhaps, if you had not yet realised this, you see the scale of the challenge that we face and how people, not knowing, not understanding, not wanting to, will condemn future generations to live in a world that no sane person would want to live in. This will be our legacy to future generations if we do not now act to ensure that this does not happen. And there are ways in which we can all peacefully act that will ensure that this unwanted future does not materialise, and about this I will have more to say during 2014.

For the moment I limit my comments to this: it time to begin to understand, to make that journey of discovery that will lead to a realisation that alternatives are possible, which can result to a world and a way of life far better than the one we have now. And this is why I write and I am just on the verge of publishing a story about a person who thinks along the familiar lines that we are in control and that the risks can be managed. The book is called Moments in Time. This is a story about time, and that which is timeless and that which is not, which explores the delusions of one man, an icon of the modern world, an engineer, who, believing these things, ends up destroying everything of value in his life because of these beliefs. In the first chapter the central character observes that he has become like Prometheus!

The book will be published at the end of February and will be available open access so that people can read it on-line, for free. It will also be available in paperback and in eBook formats. I also have another book in preparation called Enigma. This deals with certain type of lunacy of the type found in the minds of people such as the Member of Parliament interviewed on Countryfile; a madness which can be found in many aspects of the modern world – in religion, and also in the religions known as science, engineering, technology and free market economics – which is, as I observe in my book called Encounter with a Wise Man, leading humanity to the creation of a hell on earth from which there will be no escape, where delusion will be the only way of living and coping with what humanity will have created.

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