Reading an online article about how part of the Fertile Crescent has become desert wasteland in recent years, has helped me congeal a basic significance involved, which is equally applicable to us Americans too. Wording of this in some effective form, I came up with:
- The individual human need's acquisition and utilization, and the individual's responsibility to the resource system of which he/she partakes: how to adequately balance those two interrelated requirements for long term survival? The mechanism for providing that "balance" is a major question here. -
The tendency has been to just let the individual partake of all that he/she can manage to acquire, without any further concern about it all. Competition, rivalry, deception, skill, knowledge, all are tools to obtain one's portion of the resource base; but there is no awareness of responsibility for the resource base's continuance and replenishment.
Deserts, such as where I live, are deserts due to insufficient water from the skies, to grow luxuriant vegetation that provides the food base for animal life including humans. Importing water is thus necessary to bring the desert to productive life. Here there are hydroelectric dams and lakes behind them with an associated irrigation canal system to water the deserts. And there are many deep wells which draw up underwater water, in this case water that came from the ice age, and most likely cannot be replenished short of another long ice age. Lots of water for the town to drink at present time, but huge amounts of this non-replenishable water in the desert is used by farmers to water their crops. It is a matter of taking from the common pool of underground water reserves, limited only by the farm's water needs and availability of electricity. The food grown on the farms is, in the overall picture, that which enables people's life in the town, too. No doubt people here just assume whatever resources that are here that they can access, is theirs, and if the resource base dries they will just move on to some place that still has adequate resources. We still have hunter-gatherer roots in our minds.
The online article points out that their (Syria and Iraq, in the article) similar underground water reserve wells have had to go ever deeper, then finally water turned salty and had to be abandoned, along with the associated farms. One country's oil reserves are also about depleted, reducing national income from its sale, so it is harder to import supplies to make up for what is no longer able to be produced in their individual countries.
The "resource base" has both local and ever-widening areas involved, finally to the planetary resource base and eventually hopefully even to space resources.
But right now, the news article points out that hundreds of thousands of people have abandoned their farms and towns and homes, which have all turned to dust; there is no water nor electricity. This is not fantasy, this is fact of life for those people.
In this desert agricultural area where I live, it looks all too potentially similar. Except that the shifting long term weather patterns that have brought desert to Syria and Iraq in the past four years, have at the same time brought amazing amounts of precipitation here, a place where historically it never rains, just 15 days a year it would have fog or snow. The houses in this town, such as my 60 year old one, have no rain gutters on the roof, for example.
The article claims that the desertification of the historically Fertile Crescent is as much a matter of human mismanagement as of drought. The weather we may have little or no control over - I won't deal with the CO2 issues here - but the "human management" factor has potential for solutions. Governmental regulatory function is currently a hot issue in American politics, so it is at least getting some attention. So in this blog post I have been looking at that question too, avoiding getting trapped in some "politically incorrect" bind in the process. As I said above, the problem boils down to "the individual human needs acquisition and utilization, and the individual's responsibility to the resource system of which he/she partakes: how to adequately balance those two interrelated requirements for long term survival? The mechanism for providing that "balance" is a major question here." It is an effort to get beyond the hunter-gatherer mentality, even that of tribalism. In the big picture, we are all on the same boat, as it is said.
One thing that seems to be forming out of this chaos is a need to measure and evaluate the world's resources and their locations, acknowledging that these resources are ever changing, too. We mine copper ore; the mine does not replenish itself and eventually no longer functions as a copper mine anymore, the resource has then changed, for example. Historical rain that has watered agriculture, stops coming anymore. Or overwhelming amounts of water come where it has not happened before, wrecking lives with too much water. Mankind has prospered where they unite to utilize natural resources over a wide area so that it is harnessed responsibly for the larger group's available resources, such as the hydroelectric dams here that provide electricity, store large water runoffs, and provide lakes for irrigation of deserts, for example. Can the whole Earth be considered for such utilization? Huge numbers of people, very powerful people, will say their current grab of the resource base is all theirs, to plunder as they see fit, end of subject. For example, oil is found under a farm and then drawn out making the folks wealthy and living high, nevermind any other consideration. Potable well water is found under a farm and used to the maximum for watering crops and a little for household use, nevermind that the water level is going down and cannot be replenished by nature in practical time spans.
But do we want some bunch of control freaks to have implacable rule over who gets to use what resource how much? Such power over life and prosperity nearly always eventually attracts those who crave to rule others without consideration of the well being of those ruled.
So my thought here is to establish impartial measuring and evaluation agencies from local regional and worldwide resource bases, and make that data available in understandable terms to everyone on the planet. I would like to think that people have a tendency to be responsible to others, given a chance to do that. If they have the knowledge, then they have a chance to deal far more responsibly with how they utilize parts of the worldwide resource base.
With such a knowledge base, how do we prevent such business games such as buying up all of some limited resource (remember soybeans) and raise the price to those who need it - all to make the businessman rich without having added to the value of anything. Such practices are considered honorable in America, too, shrewd business practice. One thing is that with the worldwide resource system in detailed availability to all people, then it is possible those people will all observe the business trickery hoarding a resource to force price uppage to provide wealth without corresponding value added, and the world of people would then know the nature of the tricky businessmen doing it, and deal with them accordingly, somehow.
Or, unfortunately, it is possible that various groupings would be formed and play hoarding power and control games with each other - much of this is already ongoing even in America, not only as in the article's mention of Syria. The customers, those in need of the resources, are the losers in such manipulations, because wealthy empires can be created that way without adding any value to the resource base, and that wealth comes out of the livelihoods of the customers that need the resources.
Yet there is the hope I have that with every person's full knowledge of the total resource base and one's effect on it, that in general people can and will act more responsibly to their neighbors both next door and around the planet.
Then there can be more focus on the utilization of the world's greatest potential resource, the vast human resource. We humanity could be doing such incredibly more than we are doing now, and managing the world's often finite natural resources as a major part of that, for long term viability. The planet is covered over 70% by water, why have drought anywhere on land, needing only a tiny fraction of that water? The area of half the planet at any given time is receiving a thousand watts per square meter of solar power for free 24/7, why are there energy shortages anywhere, why burn dwindling forest material to cook in the hot desert, when a cheap solar oven will work? There is great potential for water conversion and distribution; and solar energy utilization and form conversion, for example. Put our six billion strong human creativity smarts and industriousness to work, fitted into the big picture, and maybe we will be amazed at what we can do.
And that also seems like lots more healthy fun kinds of drama, to me.
(The referenced news article that stimulated this blog post:https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/14/world/middleeast/14syria.html?_r=1&hp