Geoff Dawe, Byrrill Creek
At a level there is awareness, even if it is just on the border of consciousness, that whatever causes the initiating of the sustainability of the society will be very different, even radical, from what is known now.
The healing of the bases of life of soil, water and air begin with the sustainability of agriculture – human food supply. Sustainable agriculture is a baseline for the sustainability of the society.
Broadacre agriculture struggles with sustainability because though it can become organic, it cannot maintain economic sustainability by diversifying (polyculture) or by reducing oil use. Local marketing is part of agricultural sustainability too, for it is the impetus for the diversification of farm produce that reduces the need to export produce. Using local markets, rather than exporting afar, helps to close nutrient cycles.
Most people assume agricultural sustainability will occur with the hybridisation of tractors or whatever, and technology will save us again! But embodied energy cost studies leave out cost of diluting toxic compounds back into the environment or recycling them when a product has finished its service. The cost too, of dislocating the original people of sustainability – the Indigenous people – probably cannot be reasonably computed. When these costs are added to the other embodied energy costs of any technology, we will find no technology can be afforded; all technologies deteriorate the environment; environmental technology is an oxymoron. As the famous Spanish cellist Pablo Casals once said, ‘The situation is hopeless. We must take the next step.’
The expectation lying just below consciousness of the radicalness of the initiation of sustainability is that most of the population need to be engaged in food (and fibre) production, and that takes place on the land immediately surrounding where one lives.
The ruckus with the E2 and E3 zonings has its genesis in this misunderstanding. Sustainable agriculture in the future will take place with many people gardening on smaller farming blocks than is now the case with broadacre farming. Furthermore, biodiversity conservation has as its foundation human food supply, and not primarily bush regeneration as is currently presumed and practised. Elucidation of this last point has been, and is being given, in the weeds articles page of The Nimbin Good Times.