The Long Lost Art of Permaculture #2: The Problems & The Solutions
Next, we'll focus on understanding the problems, so we can identify a solution. I believe there are many misconceptions about what is destroying Earth. Conversely, there are misconceptions about what we can do to solve it.
- Soil Erosion
The biggest issue we have is the fertility of our soil. Tilling (one of the main contributors to soil erosion) cropland on a large scale can cause serious repercussions for the soil including drying out the soil, loss of nutrient value, a higher rate of runoff for chemicals and fertilizers, and the reduction of organic matter in the soil (earthworms, ants, microbes). Topsoil has the most nutritious value, and when you loosen it up and/or remove plant root systems it becomes much easier to erode. In some cases, it can lead to desertification, which can leave the land unproductive for extended periods of time. Soil formation is a very slow process, so even though the degradation of our soil can be quick, the recovery could take hundreds of years. A solution to this could be a conscious re-design of our agriculture systems. Big Ag corporations won't be very keen to this idea because that means less short-term profit. If you're providing your own food system, then you don't need to rely on these entities that are abusing the infrastructure of our survival.
Forests cover about 30% of the world's land area. Ironically, the biggest reason for deforestation is agriculture. If you have ever heard of a food forest, you know it's possible to combine both agriculture and forestry. Trees serve many purposes like acting as a water stabilizer, fertilizing soil, use for shade, producing fruit, and many other very important roles. When you remove those from the ecosystem it becomes more unstable. Some of these problems also synergize, combining to creating a bigger problem. For example, when you remove trees from the ground, the soil is much easier to erode. So both deforestation and soil erosion is taking place.
Waste mismanagement is a relatively smaller problem compared to the first two, but still impacting. Approximately 40% of the lakes in America are too polluted for fishing, aquatic life, or swimming. Recycling and composting prevented 85 million tons of material away from being disposed of in 2010. The United States has the highest amount of waste generated per person of any country at an average of 4.6 pounds per day. It's obvious we can't continue to mismanage our waste, or use fuels that endanger our air, water, and land.
"Permaculture is based on positivism and is oriented toward solutions."
~ Geoff Lawton
The man says it all.
Thanks, @gameywatchman for the inspiration for this post. If you guys haven't checked out his introduction it's a really good one! Another thanks to @gardenofeden and @quinneaker for being who you are. A final thanks to all the people who've contributed to my last few posts. I really appreciate the community here.