Submitted by Luke Eastwood
Burning Down The House: Land, Water & Food
I’m sure when Talking Heads wrote “Burning Down The House” that they didn’t exactly have financial collapse and environmental degradation in mind. Although with a verse like “Hold tight wait till the party's over. Hold tight we're in for nasty weather. There has got to be a way. Burning down the house” it’s hard not to see that song as strangely prophetic.
What we are now doing to the planet and to human society is exactly that – burning down the house while we are still living in it. Everyone needs fuel, especially during a bitter winter, but only a mad man starts deconstructing the house in order to burn bits of it in the stove or fireplace.
Almost as mad as that is stealing bits of other people’s houses to burn, but that at least is not soiling your own doorstep – well not at first. In a world of limited resources and limited space we’ve now reached the point where raiding our neighbours’ houses is the same thing as raiding our own house, because the net effect is the same – disaster on an unprecedented level.
Of course it’s easier to live in denial and keep on cannibalising the world’s vital resources at an ever-increasing rate and pretend that it’s business as usual, but in reality it is anything but that. The alarm bells from commentators from all sectors: science, economics, religion etc. are getting louder and more frequent, better argued and with the raw data to back it up, but we are still not listening.
Of course, the alarm bell was being rung fifty or more years ago by people such as Admiral Hyman Rickover in 19571, the now retiring Lester Brown2 and the late Rachel Carson3 (author of Silent Spring). Nobody really listened that well back then, although governments paid lip-service to these troublesome do-gooders. Now we know that what they said was entirely true, that we are headed for disaster and yet will still only get the tired old lip-service, as before or Koch Brother inspired denial.
The evidence is clearly there that we are depleting all of our resources far too quickly, especially the land we use to produce food and draw raw materials from4. In part a consequence of this, the fresh water supplies that are even more vital are also being depleted way too fast.