Friday, March 31, 2006

Growth Poleaxes Africa; The Death of Farming

If you like the phrase "starving children in Africa," don't worry, it'll be around and in use for quite a long time. Today's news reveals that overfarming in that dark heart of the planet has rendered 75% of arable land unusable, "afflicting" 240 million souls with hunger (whatever that means...probably some reporters required usage when writing about starvation). Essentially, no crop rotation and little rest for the soil is a formula for disaster in agriculture. (So is overuse of nitrogen-based fertilizers, but that's another story). The study recommends modern "Green Revolution" techniques, brought upon by copious donations (because lack of infrastructure makes transportation very expensive) from Western nations. Interestingly, the story is absolutely devoid of any mention of the underlying problem: too much population growth. Chaos suggests that a population control program would be far more sustainable, at least in a world of limited resources. Neither the reporter of the story nor the authors of the study referenced therein were able or willing to challenge the structural underpinnings of modern society. For clarity, here it is again: if the human inhabitants of Gaia do not stop unlimited growth and the corresponding overconsumption of its limited resources, Gaia will teach them to, in her own harsh way.

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