The problem is imbalance. This is the inevitable result of the logic of making mega-farms, mega-dams, mega-factory regions, mega-everything. Strip mines and deforestation. This is the result of mega-corporations. You kill the earth. You kill the ecosystem. You get imbalances and the spread of deserts.
The sand is compliments of China’s boom. Thanks to deforestation and overgrazing, more and more of the Gobi Desert’s grit, along with industrial pollution, is being carried by prevailing winds to Japan. In recent weeks, people in Japan have been Googling “PM2.5,” or fine airborne particulates that cause disease and premature death in high concentrations. They also are loading up on air purifiers as China’s environmental crisis becomes Japan’s.
The solution to imbalance is (surprise!) balance.
Instead of centralizing farming/food production/animal husbandry, distribute the process. Decentralize it. Break it down, and you will find to your surprise that the corporate fictions (created by clever use/magic of words written on paper to form “contracts”) that supposedly own the world we live and breathe and walk and wake up on, have no more place in the world. They are not only redundant, but harmful.
Have every human being take responsibility for a tiny part of the food production necessary to feed that person. That way, you have little areas in which you have: crops, gardens, livestock, water, homes, waste recycling— instead of incomprehensibly big areas which are either fertile or sterile or desert-ified (or just plain stinky) due to the way that land has been developed by humans.
I can hear you now, saying, “But big operations are so much more efficient than small mom-and-pop operations. Why till the soil with your hands when you can drive a GPS-equipped 16-row behemoth of a tractor like a snowplow through hot butter? That way you can cover 1000 times the land in the same time as Joe with a garden hoe.”
There is no proof that GMO crops, planted closely together and heavily fertilized with petroleum-derivatives (and related heavy metals) to make up for not practicing crop-rotation or dual plantings of multiple types of plants in the same area, is any better than when one human being plants, tends and cares for plants WITH LOVE and INTENTION. The food produced by talking to plants (metaphorically) is far more nutritious and good for you and yields far more than the food produced with machines and petroleum. The only reason to plant massive fields with only a single type of plant is to appeal to the mechanical harvesting methods of machines (or perhaps the perverse desire of certain farmers to see all their “ducks in a row”, unwilling to understand that nature chooses to bring forth good fruit in a slightly more varied manner than people may like to see).
If you plant rice seedlings far apart from one another, they have more room to grow lots of arms and leaves and stretch out and breathe the air and take in the beams of energy from the sun— which is key to the mystery of creation of energy that only plants can accomplish in our world. Mechanical (modern) harvest methods can’t handle plants that are stretched out all over the place, so they plant more seedlings closer together, in the mistaken pseudo-scientific belief that this will achieve higher yields. It MAY, but you will also get rice that is FAR LESS nutritious because each seedling is forced to compete for nutrients. You also need to weed, whereas in better farming methods you can LEAVE the weeds there and they won’t choke the plant and they can support each other in a symbiotic relationship.
Can you say “empty calories”? Can you say “keep eating until you feel full” and the tragic situation that modern human beings have placed themselves in, in which they eat machine-processed fluffy calories bars and chips and prepackaged meals sold with all the promise of a better life (low fat! low calorie! low price!) that have had all the nutrients (if there were any to begin with) and all the flavor (again, if any) sucked and bleached out of them, only to have their “functional equivalents” (FDA approved, to be certain) injected into the finished product to fool you into thinking that you were getting something that was remotely “fresh” or “flavorful” or “natural”.
Children getting fat. Children getting blood cancer. Children with cancer in their eyes. Adults experiencing tooth decay. Allergies. Autism. None of these things are in anyway normal. The solution is, again, balance. Moderation in all things. A sugar-heavy diet loaded with refined and processed (ie unnatural) foods is unsustainable. You will kill the body you live in, if you choose to enjoy such an imbalanced diet. You will throw your body’s natural and normal process of maintaining homeostasis out of balance, and thus cause your own illness.
Also, there is no proof that having all this free time gained by using modern farming methods is in any way conducive to your good health OR the good health of Earth!
The world is bonkers, has been for some time, and in some ways we were just blinded by “the bearers of false promises” and it wasn’t our fault in the past for letting corporations grow so powerful and so destructive to a healthy way of living life. But in some ways it is our fault, in that we could have prevented it, had we been doing our jobs as stewards of Earth, and not just living in our little Virtual Reality Cubicles ignoring the outdoors (and the fact our food has got to come from somewhere natural) in favor of Mass Media stimulus for our senses.
The health of our own bodies and minds depends directly upon the Earth staying healthy.
And what is the definition of health? It’s not stasis, but homeostasis. Look that word up in a dictionary. Every cell in an organism seeks homeostasis— a balance. We live in bodies and in a world that functions upon the continous creation/destruction paradigm. Our bodies contain molecules cobbled up from the soil, from the air, from the plants, from meat… we are 100% second-hand and mostly water to boot. And nothing is more recycled on this planet than water. The water we bathe in was yesterday’s urine– that’s just a fact. And those vegetables in your salad— that’s right, your urine went into the creation of those vegetables. And if it wasn’t “your” urine, per se, it was somebody or something else’s. Animal “waste” makes for a great fertilizer– especially chicken or bird droppings. In that sense, in the permaculture sense, “nothing is wasted, only reproduced” (to somewhat randomly quote the song Boys And Girls by Blur). Nothing needs to be waste; our thinking makes it so. Our thinking blinds us to the possibilities of a world where there is no need for landfills. A world where there is so much food that nobody needs to line up for bread from the government or non-profit groups.
In the USA, the schoolkids still learn that the native Americans taught the Pilgrims to plant a fish in the ground along with the corn (I can’t remember if it was per seed/seedling of corn, or per multiple). If not for the fish, the soil would not have had the nutrients necessary for the corn to grow at its best. If not for the natives who selflessly shared this knowledge of the native staple crop, the Pilgrims would not have had any success growing their kernels of stolen/borrowed corn.
We cannot pretend that we are separated from the very Earth we must constantly consume just to keep our physical bodies alive— well, actually, on second thought, we can pretend. It just won’t stop us from reaping what we have sown as stewards good or bad– bad, of course, defined as “any thing which inhibits life from growing and developing in complexity to its fullest potential.” I like to think that the ultimate “social contract” is the one between a human being and the Earth— all the other stuff about government and religion and contractual obligations and inoffensive demeanor can go take a hike. Some things really are more important than other things. That’s just how it is.