[permaculture] Major histocompatibility complex

Marimike6 at cs.com Marimike6 at cs.com
Thu Mar 20 09:05:10 EST 2003

In a message dated 3/20/2003 2:56:00 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
georg at websuxxess.com writes: 
> >is weedlike behavior in the extreme, and has grave consequences for the
> >planet.
> this is peoplecentered exaggeration. no need to worry for the planet, not
> even for gaia, the living, humid film on its surface. its just a small
> fraction of all species, that is threatened by peoples foolishness - namely
> big animals and plants, and of course humanity. but the biggest parts of 
> the
> web of life consists of insects, fungi, protoctista and bacteria - most of
> them are quite safe.
> >demographers tell us will be our childrens' eleven-billionth piece of the
> >planet.
> yep, that is the main point we need to worry about - the future of our own
> genes, of our species. so there is no need for apparent altruism, plain 
> good
> old egotism, farsighted egotism will do.
> georg

Hey, Georg--

Wow!  You really take the long view when it comes to Gaia, don't you? I'll 
admit that by comparison I'm pretty people-centered. Would it be all the same 
to you if we had a nuclear winter or an asteroid strike that wiped out all 
life above the level of slime mold? It's true the total weight of biomass 
might stay the same, but to me it would just not be quite the same. I'll 
confess a fondness for the warm fuzzy things-- like the birds, mammals, 
flowering plants and the like. I hope they stick around for a while.

Hence my concern for our proliferation. This is obviously a system out of 
balance, where nearly every ecosystem on the surface of the globe has been 
subverted from its original function to be made over in the service of homo. 
We are creating monocultures and exterminating diversity, even when we just 
grow lawns that have to be 100% fescue or we're just not happy. A lot of the 
planet's best land is now in use as suburban lawn. If a native wildflower 
pops up, we have to get out the Black Leaf to eradicate it.

A good example on a large scale is the tropical forests. Japanese money for 
instance has converted nearly the entire Malayan rainforest into that very 
pretty patterned chipboard you see in the stores. Left behind has just been 
that ugly slash that you have to walk in the flesh to be able to truly 
appreciate. Not much in the way of islands has been left for radiative 
recolonization to occur. And now that the virgin forest is nearly gone, I'm 
sure they are beginning to plant it in tree farms, with huge uniform stands 
of the fastest growing species they've selected.

So in time there will be about the same quantity of biomass there as there 
was before, but it won't quite be the same. No tree frogs, no birds of 
paradise, no hundreds of varieties of mushroom.....  There will still be a 
few of the hardiest beetle species, but nothing like the insect diversity 
there was. That's why I'm less philosophical about it. I see this as a 
problem that education can go some way toward alleviating.

Right now in North Carolina there is a crisis in farming, and I suspect there 
is where everyone reading this lives as well. Farmers can no longer make any 
money doing what they have been doing for the past few generations, so we are 
at what the educators consider to be "the teachable moment". 

The problem is not that good methods of farming without degrading the land 
have not been developed. The problem is that not enough ways to make decent 
money from farming this way have been developed. One can be a purist and take 
the high road if you like, electing to eke out a humble but pure living, 
close to the soil, but we're not going to make many converts that way. We 
need to get real if we're going to have any impact.

The problem is Americans, and everyone else on earth who plans to live like 
an American. We demand high incomes and have expensive kids we need to put 
through expensive colleges. We like to drive expensive sport utilities that 
can seat six in the cab and have room on the bed to haul a septic tank. So to 
me, it matters little that a small group of purists can live fulfilling lives 
while leaving the lightest of footprints on the land-- they are maybe one or 
two percent of the people using the land, and can't make that much impact on 
the planet by just living the good life for themselves. We also need some 
people who can convince Big Agri-business that they can make better money by 
using better methods.

I'm trying to teach the hog industry that their waste (ten million hogs and 
growing, in this state) is a valuable resource to be used wisely, and not 
just a pollutant they need to bribe politicians in order to be able to easily 
dispose of. I like to think I'm doing God's work with projects like this.

I wish some other people could jump into this conversation and add their own 
observations. There are a lot of you out there who are reading this and not 
contributing your own knowledge or opinion. Do you think this is an important 
approach to husbanding the planet that we need to be taking? Please let us 

Mike Elvin
Fuquay-Varina, NC

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