If you've been watching the news at all lately, you're aware of the world wide interest in Brazil's Amazonian fires. The new president is being blamed for not enforcing regulations but the biggest direct culprits are allegedly cattle farmers and logging companies.
I never assume I'm getting accurate information on these things so I won't dip into the who said she said aspects. What I know is that if indeed the culprit is cattle and logging, neither of those is necessary from that region.
While I understand the plight of the impoverished in the region and their desire to exploit their resources for economic gain, that is symptomatic of a much broader socio-cultural issue. The fact that these poor folks see this as their only alternative for remuneration is a failure much broader than harvesting timber and cattle. And I won't even start on the big companies.
What I want to bring to the discussion is how the failure of rich countries to properly steward their resources creates undo pressure on non-rich societies to further exploit theirs. Right now, the U.S. spends some $5 billion a year fighting wildfires. That does not count the loss of property and life in these fires.
Both grazing and strategic timber harvesting would stop or greatly abate this devastation. While our rich country elitists ban grazing that could prune biomass and reduce fire hazards, companies offer poor folks in the Amazon a market for their wood. That is wood that could come from America's forests and cattle that could come from ecologically-enhancive grazing on both public and private lands.
Those of you who have attended a Polyface Lunatic Tour know that one of my favorite stops, what I call "the heart and soul of the farm," is the carbon shed. I explain the truly integrated carbon economy, using open land and forest land symbiotically to grow soil and enhance manure. In that discussion, I point out that all of our North American forests are weedy. They're overgrown, over-dead, over-junked with crooked and diseased trees. Especially wilderness areas.
Pre-European occupation, they were thinned by strategic fires. Today, we have chippers and chain saws to be more precise and offer better management than just fire. As a rich country, we now fail to steward our own resources and foist the shortfall onto those less able to make good choices. That is a moral ecological outrage. If you don't like the fires in the Amazon, look in the American mirror.
Another stop on these farm tours, of course, is the salad bar beef. I point out that with our mob stocking herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization, we're beating the county average productivity on grasslands by about 400 percent. Folks, we don't need the Amazon to grow nutrient-dense beef. We can double the world's production of herbivores without cutting a single Amazon tree simply by using our technology (electric fence, plastic pipe, shademobiles) to increase our management.
Here at Polyface, we get that additional production not by planting seeds, not by buying chemical fertilizers, and not by using pesticides and herbicides; we get it by moving the cattle every day to a different paddock. This rests most of the farm all the time, allowing the forages to go through their juvenile growth spurt before being pruned again. It's not rocket science.
In all their hand wringing and condemnation toward the folks destroying the Brazilian Amazon, why don't these finger-pointers demand that American cattle farmers move their cows every day? Why don't they demand that we graze overgrown areas in California? Why don't they demand that we fire up the chain saws and harvest declining, mature trees for both lumber and chipping (compost)?
The easiest thing in the world is to point fingers and assign blame. The hardest thing is to accept responsibility, appreciate our culpability, and make internal changes. That's acting like an adult instead of a child.
Do you agree with Al Gore that the chainsaw is the worst invention ever?
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