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WORLD ORGANIC NEWS


Sep 10, 2017

LINKS

CONTACT:  podcast@worldorganicnews.com

 

More Trees Less Assholes

http://moretreeslessassholes.org

 

The Harappa

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harappa

Deforestation

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation

****

This is the World Organic News for the week ending 11th of September 2017.

Jon Moore reporting!

We begin this week with a quote from a Facebook post I saw.

Quote:

The forests are screaming and few are the people who listen to their cries.

End quote.

That's from the Facebook page More Trees Less Assholes. A link is in the show notes.

It could be, of course, be that many are unaware that they can even listen. As a species we are rapidly approaching the point where more people will be living in urban agglomerations than in rural settings.

For a species with an arboreal heritage, that relied upon wood as the primary fuel source and who obtained a large proportion of its food from trees, this is a major change in living arrangements.

Trees are, as we all know, the lungs of the world. Especially so when in contiguous forests. The synergy of a forest is remarkable. From the edges where the number of eco-niches is exponentially larger than deeper within the forest to the communities of animals living amongst the trees to the biota within the soil, forests have a balancing effect.

Sinks for carbon dioxide, they return oxygen as part of the ecosystem.

In massed formations they mitigate the speed of water run off in high rainfall events. This is a thing we humans have failed to see, basically, since we started living in sedentary communities. This is an oft repeated story. After the arrival of agriculture, (and how that started is whole other podcast) a culture establishes itself in a fertile river valley. The annual crops provide abundance. Usually during a prolonged period of good rainfall. The population grows, slowly at first and then exponentially. As the population grows, the pressure on the tree cover of the valley sides grows too. More trees are cut down to provide fuel for heating and cooking, the food supply extends into more marginal land as the tree cover is removed. You can see where this might be headed. Eventually there are no trees left for fuel within the valley. The neighbouring areas are accessed for fuel. With the removal of the tree cover from the hill sides, the incidence of mudslides, soil erosion and flooding increases. A point is reached where the soil loss is so great food production suffers, flooding increases and Nature then throws into the mix a prolonged drought. The drought is probably linked, in some way to the removal of tree cover and the huge amounts of water vapour a forest produces being lost to the local microclimate. There are any number of civilisations which have come and gone through this pattern. The Harappa culture is a good example. Link in the show notes.

Another example from the nineteenth century occurred along the Mississippi River.

And I quote for the Wikipedia page Deforestation:

Quote:

In the 19th century, introduction of steamboats in the United States was the cause of deforestation of banks of major rivers, such as the Mississippi River, with increased and more severe flooding one of the environmental results. The steamboat crews cut wood every day from the riverbanks to fuel the steam engines. Between St. Louis and the confluence with the Ohio River to the south, the Mississippi became more wide and shallow, and changed its channel laterally. Attempts to improve navigation by the use of snag pullers often resulted in crews' clearing large trees 100 to 200 feet (61 m) back from the banks. Several French colonial towns of the Illinois Country, such as Kaskaskia, Cahokia and St. Philippe, Illinois were flooded and abandoned in the late 19th century, with a loss to the cultural record of their archeology.[97]

End Quote

Nowadays we can overcome the effect of soil loss in one area by shipping food, primarily grains, around the world. But, and this is a big but, eventually we will be without sufficient tree cover if we are not careful. The rate of deforestation has slowed which is a good thing but that’s little different from saying, I’m losing blood at a slower rate so I should live 7 more minutes and not 3 after an accident.

And now to the quote I started with:

The forests are screaming and few are the people who listen to their cries.

To fully understand a forest and all it offers requires a change of perspective. The screaming can, indeed, be heard if only we listen. If we see a forest as x cubic meters of timber or space for y head of cattle we miss the point.

Bare with me as I introduce to some listeners a new concept: shinrin yoku. This is a Japanese term often translated as “Forest Bathing.” The idea is a person wanders into a forest space, sits and listens. Allowing the sounds, the breezes and the impressions of the forest to gently encompass them. It is diametrically opposed to “bushwalking” with its emphasis on getting to a point, a peak, a lookout, a stream and then coming back.

I will admit “Forest Bathing” sounds a little, “remember to wear flowers in your hair.” but I can confirm it is a practice with much to recommend it. Instead of charging across the landscape, climbing peaks and “conquering” in air quotes, the landscape, this practice, as I have discovered it, is far more about become a part of the forest. Whilst sitting, bathing is not too strong a word, within the arboreal embrace, I have seen many a bird come within arms reach, felt changes in temperature as breezes wafted by and on a number of occasions had macropods hop by without seemingly to see me some few feet away from them. Both wallabies and kangaroos, from juveniles to fully grown adults.

I have “felt/heard/perceived” older trees telling me their time was close, I have had great stresses lifted by simply sitting with giant eucalypts and angophora. I think we are the poorer for destroying these vast reservoirs of interconnected lives. I understand the imperative to feed people but we already grow sufficient food to feed everyone on the planet. Hunger is largely a matter of political will and transport. For that matter continued deforestation is largely a matter of political will and lobbyist donations.

Losing the forest cover of the world will lead to tipping points in climate on their own. With so much removed since the advent of the steam engine and so little being replanted we are with a much reduced ally in the fight against climate change. Whilst we remove mangroves for housing, Amazonian rainforest for cattle and soybean production, whilst we clear hillsides for wood chips, we are removing a ballast from the climate systems which would be mitigating the weather effects we currently observe. Trees are, after all, large lumps of carbon dioxide in a form modified by life forces. Hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons are all powerful weather events. Forestry on land and mangroves on the coast mitigate their effects. Mangroves absorbing tidal surges and forests reducing the speed of water runoff.

We are the poorer for forest losses, they are screaming for our attention, we need to take action, probably 50 years ago but we need to take action today. There are things we can do. Moving from trees for paper, housing and fuel to hemp for these products will have two effects. More trees, that’s a win! Better control of soil erosion given the massive root systems of hemp, that’s another win. A more productive system. Clearly hemp needs to be part of a rotation system of cropping, simply growing a monoculture of hemp will only attract pests and diseases, we are in a natural system called life on this planet. The rules are simple. Diversity brings a greater level of protection when compared to monocultures. The danger is the large immediate returns in the first few years of monocultural production. Once trapped into those returns, especially when accompanied with debt, leads to pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers to maintain the “magical” returns. These cost soil over time and then water quality. This should all sound familiar as it’s the same trap we’ve fallen into with cereals, pine plantations and fish farming.

We can change the current paradigm, indeed we must. If this decade’s weather has told us anything, it has screamed that we need to change. If we do not lead this change, if we do not heed the screaming of the forests, we will have change imposed upon us. As new points of equilibrium in ecosystems across the planet establish themselves, we may just find there is less space for our species and that would be a shame. Vile, despicable, violent as we can be so too can we produce poetry, music, harmony and love. I think I would miss us if we somehow managed to destroy ourselves.

And on that note, I’ll call stumps on this week’s episode.

If you’ve liked what you heard, please tell everyone you know any way you can! I’d also really appreciate a review on iTunes. This may or may not help others to find us but it gives this podcaster an enormous thrill! Thanks in advance!

Any suggestions, feedback or criticisms of the podcast or blog are most welcome. email me at podcast@worldorganicnews.com.

Thank you for listening and I'll be back in a week.

****

LINKS

CONTACT:  podcast@worldorganicnews.com

 

More Trees Less Assholes

http://moretreeslessassholes.org

 

The Harappa

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harappa

Deforestation

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation