Wes Jackson - The Problem of Agriculture vs Problems in Agriculture: Life in a Fallen World

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Wes Jackson, co-director of The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, speaking at Mankato State University. Jackson’s address was on the topic “The Problem of Agriculture vs Problems in Agriculture: Life in a Fallen World.” Jackson is author of "New Roots for Agriculture" and editor of "Man and the Environment" and "Meeting the Expectations of the Land". In his writing, Jackson has called for "an agriculture that will not destroy human or biological communities, that will minimize soil erosion and reliance on chemicals and fossil fuels, that will preserve the information contained in the genetic codes of plants and animals now threatened with extinction."

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

The title of this is the problem of Agriculture versus problems in agriculture. colon life in a fallen world now before I get into that. I want to talk about the nature of the Fall. You see we don't talk about the fall much anymore. But what I believe we live in a fallen world. If we look at the world in which we had most of our evolutionary history the ecosystems which shaped us. That world is very different than the one we started making 10,000 years ago with the invention of agriculture and I was mentioning to a class today that one of the things I want to find out when I die and go to heaven and I'm sure there's just no doubt about that whatsoever that well, I will die. There's no doubt about that. But I want to see the data on the number of worlds in the universe that produced intelligence is as high as ours and what percentage of them fell. And then of those that fell what percentage were able to extricate themselves, I want the numbers and if it means that high brains having brains as good as ours is essential to have a Fallen World then maybe the next time no brains. Well before we that's just kind of a fantasy and I don't know as I'll ever get to play it out because there's a lot of data that would have to be accumulated and I think angels are too busy paying attention to spot Fallen sparrows and things like that to really get the numbers. I'd like to talk about the nature of the fall for a little bit. There are really three categories that are associated with what it means to be a fallen species. Number one is our unwitting accessibility. Which I'll explain unwitting accessibility to what we call the world a second category is human cleverness and a third category is our limited accounting ability. Now first of all, unwitting accessibility several years ago on the last page of Life magazine. You know, they used to have that full page photograph at the back and there was a memorable photograph of Indonesian New Guinea tribesmen with bareback bare buttocks bare legs standing in a jungle clearing looking in an airplane. And the caption below it said that the Indonesian government has sought to bring these Savages into the money economy and have set up a stand on the edge of the Jungle and reportedly were doing a Brisk business in Beer soda. Pop and Tennis Shoes. Now we know what the consequences of that turned out be decaying teeth anxiety in a money system breakdown of the culture. That's one example of a creature that was unwittingly accessible to what the world had to offer. Now there's another account that comes out as Wallace stegner spook beyond the hundredth Meridian and I'd like to read it partly because stegner is Pros can't be beat however sympathetically or even sentimentally a white Americans viewed the Indian the industrial culture was certain to eat away at the tribal cultures like lie. One's attitude might vary but the fact went on regardless what destroyed the end in was not primarily political greed land hunger or military power. Not the white man's germs or the white man's rum, what destroyed him was the manufactured products of a culture Iron and Steel guns needles Woolen cloth things that once possessed could not be done without It was not the continuity of the Indian race that failed what failed was the continuity of the diverse tribal cultures these exists now only in scattered degenerated reservation fragments or among such notably resistant people's as the Pueblo and Navajo of the final persistent Indian country and hear what is protected them is aridity the difficulties in the way of dense White Settlement the accident a relative relative isolation as much as the stability of their own institutions, but even here a Hopi dancer with tortoise shells on he's calves and turquoise on his neck and wrists and a kernel of fine traditional weave around his loins. May wear down his back as an amulet a nickel-plated Ingersoll watch or a Purple Heart Medal one in a white man's War even here in Monument Valley where not one Navajo intend speaks any English Squaws May heard their sheep through the shed scale and rabbit brush in brown and white saddle shoes and Hollywood sunglasses or gather under a juniper for gossip and Bubblegum the lie still corrodes, even the resistant cultures. things that once possessed could not be done without Unwitting accessibility a psychological Factor associated with a fallen creature. now a second category human cleverness the ability to create the things that once possessed cannot be done without the ability to create the things that once possessed cannot be done without I've been reading Ananda coomaraswamy these book entitled Christian and Oriental philosophy of art awful sound and title but there's some wonderful content in there. He was the head of the Philadelphia Art Museum and kumaraswamy talks about what voluntary poverty it gives his definition of voluntary poverty. He says getting rid of any object that is not at once useful and artistic. Has to satisfy both those criteria and then getting rid of anything else. He says this is the only Culture by the way says this is the only culture of that in which we've had a division between the useful in the artistic human cleverness the ability to create the things at once possessed cannot be done without and the third is our limited ability to do a proper accounting of the consequences of our cleverness and appetites are limited ability to do a proper accounting of the consequences of our cleverness and appetites and I just came in yesterday yesterday. I was at a meeting all day of 32 Nations on the Greenhouse Effect and it's to hear the climatologists. It sounds awfully Bleak but sort of a shorthand summary of all of it. All is that the cost for the Industrial Revolution is beginning to come due. And we don't exactly know and what way and in what ways and how bad it will be but nevertheless our inability to have accounted for that and as the Greeks the Greek understanding of hubris was when you introduce patterns into the world of are making that disrupt the larger patterns. That are not of our making but that were dependent upon. That's the Greeks understanding of hubris introducing patterns of are making into a larger pattern. That's not of our making but that were dependent upon. All right. Those are the three characteristics Associated as I see it. There's probably some more of of us as a fallen creature and now I want to talk about agriculture as the cause and the consequence of the fall and the people that are into cybernetic language. They would see this as an example of runaway feedback. But let's consider now for a moment the who we are. What does it mean to be a human? And what it means in part is is that we have a history. We have been around anywhere from 200,000 to 100,000 years with the big brain. That is the Thirteen hundred and fifty cubic centimeter brain and there might have been a few foldings since but basically we are still creatures of the upper Paleolithic. Fact I had an awful argument one day with somebody that was contending that you know, what is nature and what is wild the very fact that we elect to have a heart transplant is giving credit to our wildness. In other words that heart had its evolution in a wild context. It's the mechanical heart that is new. And when we have a choice we go for the real heart, which is the one that is the wild heart. So we live as the consequence of a lot of wildness in us yet. So in the last two last eight to ten thousand years though, and if you take 10,000 and put it over 200,000 that's only five percent of our total evolutionary history is the big brain if you put that 10,000 over a hundred thousand, it's 10% So between 5 and 10 percent of our total evolutionary history with the large Brain we have been into agriculture. and I think that it probably happened when we expanded our patches to Fields when we change the scale of the operation and I would want to emphasize we were gatherers and Hunters not hunters and gatherers and I think that's an even rather important distinction well in thinking then of the history of Earth abuse through agriculture, We have records going back to the Fertile Crescent Babylon. You can go to there's Nebuchadnezzar giving the first state of the union message is telling everybody what a groovy place this is and because of him I says I've given you all of these streets and canals of the brick of the burnt bituminous Cedars of Lebanon. I've adorned with gold. This is just wonderful folks and it's going to be better and there's some profits that are some Hebrews that are in Exile that are sort of in the background saying this place is going to become a desolation of wilderness a place which no man dwelleth the place fit for wolves Loudermilk visiting the area in the 1940s actually saw a wolf in the old Palace grounds shaking his head as though he had a tickin. He's here the cannot the That was an important port and it's now about a hundred and eighty miles Inland and the canals are filled solid in they first planted wheat then start salt-tolerant barley then nothing. And then Plato lamented the demise of the mountains of Attica which were once prosperous, but now only fit for bees before that the biblical job moan that the waters where way to the stones and take away. The hope of man. The Temple of Diana is under 30 feet of mud the king of Tyre struck a bargain with to sell the Cedars of Lebanon 80,000 Lumberjacks to fell the trees 70,000 to Skid the logs. Maybe it was the other way around but it's quite a crew and so the history of Earth abuse through agriculture, you know just went Westward with Empire. Of course, it also went Eastward over into China but by the time of Charlemagne who was an enlightened ruler the onslaught against the forests in Europe was well underway. Spain used what forests soils they had to sponsor the Armada then came the defeat of the Spanish Armada in the North Atlantic as much by a storm. I guess is by by the British but then it was England's turned and it cost England her forests about 300 years to rule, you know to rule the waves for 300 years it cost England our forests and then the United States this continent beginning with the first tobacco planted at Jamestown as an export crop. It is from the word go that we were into exports and now we have what has to be the most rapidly aging continent in the history of the world. Well, I think there are really four great failures. Associated with the problem of Agriculture. The first is the failure of history and prophecy a few years ago. I wondered if we were to look at the record is that there were there were not enough people around and historical past that were eloquent impassioned or knowledgeable, but the record is pretty much complete there have always been the the Aldo Leopold's there have always been the John Muir's there have always been the Indian to come sir. There was Jefferson there was George Perkins Marsh you can find you can find wherever there is a history about agricultural accounts why the story is there so I call this the failure of history and prophecy. Well, then comes the first great experiment in modern government about 52 years ago. The soil conservation service was formed under the energetic and imaginative Hugh Hammond Bennett as the founding Chief. This is in the Roosevelt administration a letter to in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation here a few years ago said that from 16217 of the total federal budget once went to Soil and Water Conservation that's back in the days, of course of the CCC. I suppose they were counting a lot of that but nevertheless it does show the nature of our commitment to the conservation of soil and water and then there was a long with it starting in about 1940. There was an organization called friends of the land devoted to helping the newly established Soil Conservation service Wellington. Bring said that never in modern government. Has an organization been put together with more Esprit de corps for the common task of saving our soils all the way from the stenographers to the PHD in soil science and yet at the time it was formed there were about 3 billion tons of soil being lost. I believe that's in Hugh Hammond him Bennett's book and their various estimates, but among the lowest well before conservation Reserve there were about four billion tons being lost Nationwide so I can call that the failure of organizations. Then the third category is the failure stewardship. I've seen even on Amish and Mennonite Farms soil erosion Beyond replacement levels. Sometimes somebody is going to show up on a piece of land within a hundred year period in which and the ecological Capital will be lost in excessive what will be gained in the next hundred years with good? Irving and then finally of course is the failure of success. I mean how the world can you say that we are not as successful agricultural Nation you here in meeting after meeting was 30 bushels per acre in corn in 1930 1980. It was a hundred bushels per acre. We must be doing something right and look at the wheat yields and and so on of course, what we don't do is put on our carbon glasses that is our glasses where we're only able to see carbon and note how much of this is a carbon transfer out of the fossil fuel. Well heads into what what we can eat and I have no objection to eating oil by such a conversion process, but we at least ought to acknowledge the debt about 1.8 times as much fossil fuel energy is used for nitrogen fertility in America's Fields as is used for traction. See the night even though the atmosphere is about 78 percent nitrogen. The nitrogen bond is a very strong bond. And so you just natural gas as a feedstock for the nitrogen fertilizer. So anyway, these four great failures failure of history and prophecy the failure of organizations a failure stewardship the failure success. So in the modern world more obviously now than ever agriculture's major feature is the extractive economy. In fact, I think we can say that the extractive economy agriculture is embedded within the extracted economy economy. And in addition to that is in addition to the soil erosion in addition to introducing chemicals into the environment that our tissues have no evolutionary experience with in addition to the fossil fuel dependency is now genetic truncation. That is the genetic narrowing of our major crops about 30% of the American corn crop comes from for inbred lines. That's the same as Crossing two heterozygous individuals. So and I have a little digression here. If I was at Oregon State a few years ago and giving a talk in Agronomy and Professor came up and he says my major problem is figuring out how to spend the germplasm in my crop wisely. Now here is the extractive economy, which is pulling the using the fossil fuels here is the potentially renewable economy of Agriculture and renewable germplasm. Now, the renewable economy has been cannibalized by the extractive economy so that the renewable economy is playing by the same game same rules. Well, what's our response to all this our engineering we have for our soil erosion problem why we featured engineering with Terraces and so on now we do of course have leave more trash on our fields. We have grass waterways, of course, but by and large we're out to give water advice then our cleverness for Pest Control better pesticides more prudent use now talk about bio engineering Monsanto is is splicing into the soybean a gene for resistance to an herbicide. They produce So they can sell the herbicide and plus the soybean seed with the spliced in gene energy is another solution go nuclear or use the land in order to grow Fuel. And as far as our response to the loss of germplasm, we build a big storage unit at Fort Collins Colorado and in effect select seeds that can handle mechanical storage. You're there's selection for mechanical storage. Meanwhile, where corn had most of its evolution in Mexico the Mexicans now import corn for tortillas. So there have been a lot of these these problems that that we've tried to solve through an exercise of human cleverness. So the question then that I think we need to confront at least for as a way of concentrating. Our minds is agriculture therefore in the nature of a dramatic tragedy as the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead understood dramatic tragedy said that the essence of dramatic tragedy lies not in unhappiness, but in the remorseless inevitable working of things it is however through people that it's experienced as unhappiness. Let's see, but back up a little bit take a play like Othello a dramatic tragedy you go out before the last act to have a drink or a smoke or something and he's think it's really piling up in there. They're going to be bodies all over the state and you go back and bodies all over the stage. It's just sort of locked in and it has to do with the nature of things so is agriculture in the nature of a dramatic tragedy. I mean after all we have to have food if we're to live given the current population of people we have to have agriculture if it is to feed us if we are to eat and even though it undercuts the very basis of our existence is this what it means to have life in a fallen world. I think we can say that the corn plant as a product of modern Industrial Agriculture has destroyed more options for future Generations than the automobile. I think we can say that the ploughshare has destroyed more than the sword. Now not nuclear swords. They're having them happened yet, but we have to count. I think agriculture as the worst problem next to the possibility of nuclear Holocaust. Well, what are the problems that confront us? As we think about I mean, I'm an intellectual pessimist, but I'm a glandular Optimist and and it's a lot more fun to run on glands and it is on intellect. Well, first of all the age of the energy package we use is important. When we were gathers and Hunters, the average age of the energy package could be measured in the tens of years or less. Let's say that we had kill a deer. And the leg of that deer probably wouldn't be 10 years old be 10 or less the stick that we cook the leg of the deer with the branch that be measured in the tens of years that's contemporary energy. So to speak well, then when we get into agriculture the average age of the the soil carbon. In our Fields is in the hundreds of years. It's actually about 300 years the average age. Now, this is what we might call the young pulverized coal of the soil. That's in the hundreds of years. Then when we get into the fossil fuel epic the age of the carbon-rich energy package is in the hundreds of millions of years. And then when we get into the nuclear age, the age is in the billions of years as old as the universe. Now what's wrong with that if you as you widen your Loop away from the farm in distance. Or as you widen your Loop away from the farm or your local culture in time you your cybernetic feedback. Loops are weakened. In other words, when we were gathers and Hunters the spent carbon from that cooking that leg of the deer that would be returned to the system and we had evolved with that. We could handle that now you break open the energy package safe from coal. acid rain or you break open the energy package from nuclear. And you get Chernobyl in other words the older the energy package is in a certain limited sense. The more poisonous that package is as far as the human ability to handle it. So that's one that's one of the realities the age of the energy we use is is important a second consideration as a reality. I think that confronts us and this will take some spinning out. high energy destroys information of both the biological and cultural varieties and information of both the biological and cultural varieties is hard one now. Let me explain that. If you were to take the DNA out of a corn plant and just give it a tug and sit there and could type up the sequence of that code. And to type type levels type size you would have something about a string about a thousand miles long. If you were to wind it back and forth and put it in a book in books. It would feel about two-thirds of this room the the operating manual for the corn plant. Now if you were to go out into some native Prairie of Kansas that's never been plowed say a square mile around 200 and some species. And take the information biological information present in all those species that would fill more than all the libraries of the world. Now that's biological information. And it's hard one that information has been evolving over the millions of years of evolution and those happen to be the success stories left. A lot of deaths have been experienced in order to make that possible. That's why I say it's hard one. Now take cultural information. That's necessary for good farming. The intuition of a good farmer the lessons picked up from the parents those kinds of things that information was hard one to the whole ethical system associated with good farming that was hard one now. Let me see. This is gets kind of hard to explain. I know that prayer. There's a prairie there in Kansas a ranch that 6,400 Acres. And it's native Prairie. It's never been plowed aside from branding and castrating and loading and unloading that entire. 6,400 acres is watched over by one Cowboy that rides arranged in a pickup truck. The amount of cultural information that he has to carry in his head in order to make that operation work in all that much and I think we could say that nowhere on the land surface of the planet is the ratio of cultural information to pounds of red meat protein. Got it, the ratio of the amount of cultural information to pounds of red meat protein more favorable. But the amount of total by a information by time you factor in the biological those grassy species and Forbes and so on that are there plus the microorganisms in the soil that sustain that productivity of that ranch. That's extremely high a lot of information now hold that one on a burner and go with me now to Northern, Indiana. Where there are some let's say 80 Amish families on 80 acres each. The original vegetation has been more or less destroyed. But they've come in with crop diversity and cultural information for Good Farming. However, there is more biological information in the world than there is cultural. So I'm going to make a teeter you got a teeter here on with this end. We all have information on this end will have energy now on the information and we'll have another little Teeter biological and cultural you destroy the biological you try to compensate with the cultural. There's not enough there the energy in goes up. Now as you expand your scale, there's a strong imperative to destroy. the cultural and biological information and go with High energy, so then what's the consequence? You get a fossil fuel injection into your culture Farmers expand their operation. They can handle it with the big equipment the sons and daughters don't come back to the communities the cultural information then goes to Silicon Valley where it's wiped out. And we call that age the information explosion. When in fact it's an information implosion. If you tote it up and why is that trustable? Why is the biological and cultural information trustable cause it's tuned to a sun-powered world. And that that we substitute. In our libraries and in Silicon Valley for the technological array is tuned to the high-energy Society. So the law I think is that high-energy destroys information of both the biological and cultural varieties a third thing that confronts us is that the amount of energy and materials available from sunlight. To be harvested from the land relative to our level of consumption of food clothing shelter and transportation is extremely limited and then the fourth and this is the last thing we're up against so you can breathe easy after this. That's the last thing that I have the courage to mention. Our values have a way of rearranging the world in ways. We have not imagined all the way to the very broop blueprint of life itself right now in our major crops and this is not an attempt to be cute or anything else in our major crops are Chicago Board of Trade jeans and computer genes and Wellhead genes that is sequences of nucleotides arranged to accommodate. the Chicago Board of Trade now that's the consequence of our values. Our values are embedded in the DNA of holsteins and corn plants and wheat plants and Rye plants and barley plants and sorghum plants and so on. Now give you another example Gary nabhan in Mexico. He's an ethnobotanist observing observed an Indian woman outside her Hut with an array of corn that came from her field in front of her all the way from big ears of corn down the little nubbins and a lot of different colors. And she was shelling corn off each ear and putting it into a bowl and that's what she would plant for her. Next crop. He said to her. Why are you taking it off the little ears of corn? Why not off the big she said well corn is a gift of the Gods and if I didn't take it from all the ears, it would not be showing proper appreciation for the gift. Now what she was doing was maintaining the genetic variation that gave the resilience for insects pathogens drought any number of things for the future. Her values dictated the cheetah type of her crop. The very Arrangement so religion was the in this is an Odom line Howard Odom line religion was the encoded language of behavior to ensure that we can facilitate the transfer of energy through the system now, that'd be one there's more to religion than that. It isn't just an energy transfer mechanism, but in Odom's mind, maybe it is I doubt it. Well what's wrong with the fact that there has been you know, you say so what if they're Chicago Board of Trade jeans. So what if their computer jeans? Well, what we I'm afraid of done is develop what you might call genetic cul-de-sacs at the ends of one-way streets. You know and it just you don't just turn around and come back so easily. Well, what does this suggest when it comes to seeking Solutions? Where do we turn? So I'd like to summarize what I've said keeping in mind that we are unwittingly accessible to the world. Keeping in mind that we are clever that we have the ability to create the things that once possessed cannot be done without keeping in mind that the ability to do a proper accounting of the consequences of our cleverness and appetites is limited poor accountants keeping in mind that history and prophecy of failed us that organizations have failed that stewardship practice so far as inadequate and that success is our worst teacher. I didn't mention their fourth failure is success or I didn't mention that. Yeah. That's our worst teacher keeping in mind that the extractive economy of Industry dominates Our Lives. Keeping in mind that the age of the energy package we use is important. That high-energy destroys information of both the biological and cultural varieties. That the amount of energy and materials available from sunlight to be harvested from the land is very limited and that our values can penetrate to the arrangement of the nucleotides of the nuke of the cell nucleus. Where do we turn for solutions to the Renewable Power of the land? Then Humanity's primary subject is agriculture and we are back to the first work tasks given our forbearers to care for the garden. And what does that imply? And where is Our Hope? Number one, I think we will need lots of people on the land what I've called a high eyes to acres ratio. There's a book in your library by Howard. Tom Odom called environment power and Society. And on about page 43, I think he has he has some diagrams. He has a slide 3 inches long glass slide of water pond water from Silver Springs Maryland on that slide and on there a whole bunch of algal cells and a few little creatures that are concentrators. Of those algal cells then he has an aerial diagram looking down on Kansas with the wheat fields and here are the Farms. The Farms are the concentrators of the photosynthetic Harvest of the wheat, and then the third one is 00 of a rainforest looking down on the canopy. Here's here are all the leaves and then scattered around here and there are the trunks of the leaves that are the concentrators of the stored storing the sunlight now, what's interesting about those three drawings, is that the ratio of Of the biomass that is capturing the sunlight to the concentrator. In each of those three scales is about the same. In other words. There's a thermodynamic reality about the Harvest of sunlight now nature Falls more or less Democratic or sorry sunlight Falls more or less democratically on the land surface of the Earth and human concentrators are going to have to be they're picking it up. There's a wonderful or two stories. I don't know if I'd dare tell but one well, I'll tell one Wendell Berry told about how one of his neighbors said that his daddy said that the tiredest he ever was when he carried a hundred rabbits up the hill to Port Royal and he asked him why didn't he use the horse? He said well, we only had two horses and we tried to spare him every way we could In other words the sun the sun power it was they figured it was better to keep the horses maintain and for him to carry the rabbits up there rather than to spare rather and to spare the horses. So we will need lots of people on the land a high eyes to acres ratio people watching the land a second. Hope our hope lies in our Good Fortune to have a very strong Heritage in western civilization with some limited though important successes. In our judeo Christian world, we have a tradition that began at Sian. I well. Let me give you that story in case you've forgotten it if you're over 35, you probably know it if you're under 35 why you probably don't never trust anybody under 35 to quote scripture very well. I hope you know I'm teasing but kind of mean it. All right. Here's the story. The Jews have been in Egypt and the Pharaohs have been in charge of things. They get into the desert for 40 years waiting for people with a slave mentality to die off and thinking about what it's going to be like when they take Canaan now they're at Sinai and it's i&i. They're looking back to their experience in the desert looking back to the Pharaohs. And they thinking of those flash pots and their been all the murmurings and so on against Aaron and Moses and they have a choice at Sinai they can return to Egypt and be slaves and enjoy the freedom that comes from being a slave don't have to think or they can go forward into Canaan and become citizens and take on the responsibility now at Sinai they had three things they were going to do when they got their number one each was going to sit under this is a kind of a free translation each was going to sit under his or her own fig tree. Each was going to prune his or her own Vineyard and each was going to be his own his or her own priest. Now think of the symbolism they're sitting under your own fake tree. rest and contemplation pruning your own Vineyard work being your own priest work out your own relationship with the universe. That's the origin of the Jeffersonian ideal. It began in Sinai and that's us that's part of our heritage. Now along with that Heritage. There's this scripture where there is no vision the people perish and I understood that scripture. So in completely until recently window help me understand it Wendell Berry. If you are on your own place, or you have a sense of ownership about that place. You have designs on it put the orchard over there and we're going to have some ducks and we're going to have a little garden here and by golly going to have some cows and we're going to do this you think about your crop rotations. Your imagination is alive. If you have the sense of ownership your imagination or your vision is alive if you have a culture with those visions. You ain't going to perish. But if you've got a culture where you're working for a corporate Farm, then you're a hired man like you are into the Pharaohs. You're just into minimal compliance. And in the people will perish so that's part of our that is part of our heritage and then there is well another story which really is a Sermon on the Mount. Well, let me just say that quickly what the the value of The Sermon on the Mount just forget about whether it's Christian or anything else. The idea is how you're going to have a proper relationship with the universe What's called the kingdom of heaven? Number one when you give alms to the poor don't let anybody know about it be anonymous number two, When you pray get into your closet, you don't pray in public and number three if you fast clean up put some oil on Don't parade yourself. being anonymous before Humanity Is the recipe for getting you into contact with the larger universe which was the kingdom of heaven now the second half of that story on The Sermon on the Mount if you do this, everything will be added unto you everything else is a derivative. Of that relationship now consider successful farming magazine consider those that get the attention and one of the things that interest me greatly are the farmers that have been at work where if you'll pardon the expression only God is watching, you know, they haven't been doing it for attention or for Mammon Wendell. Berry has a story about an old couple that had a farm in a little Cove in Kentucky. He drove by every day on the way to the university and he said that they had the neatest garden and the neatest farm. This is in the unsettling of America they and the the barn was painted up and he had a good team of horses and a little patch it Tobacco and so on and Wendell stop by one day and was admiring it and admiring the horses. He says they suit me. He was obviously not a man used to being complimented nor feeling in need of being complimented his connectedness to the place. Now that is precisely the message out of the I mean that is The Sermon on the Mount in action and that is a part of our heritage. Well, what are the hopeful signs of fundamental change not the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. I mean, you know, I'm glad that we have it but does anyone really believe the Environmental Protection agency's going to clean up the American environment? Not the 1985 farm bill and the conservation Reserve program glad for that too. But that isn't going to save us from sin and death not the politicians that are starting to take the environment. Seriously anytime. You hear people talking about the environment. They don't understand much. What I think the hopeful signs are among them is the undermining of what we might call the bacon Ian Cartesian Paradigm of Science and how it is affected agriculture this placement of priority on part over whole I me explain we live in a world now of psychological reductionism reducing things down to their parts. There is another view that is beginning to emerge and that is this dialectical where we acknowledge the inner penetration between part and whole And that is getting some more credibility within our science and in particular our Agricultural Science where we've been used to looking at one thing and giving priority to those lowest things in the pecking order. Let me explain that. If you look at the pecking order within science. The physicists is right at the top. It used to be the physicists say you boys stand back. We're getting the building blocks of nature doped out and once we get that doped out all else is chemistry. They then comes next the chemist who's the closest to the physicist and then after that comes the cell biologist and in the run-of-the-mill biologists in the most pecked over the ecologist clear out here on the on the end. Well, in other words that we thought that there was a basement. We thought that you got down to the atom indivisible. Well, of course, they're finding out they keep breaking that Adam down. They have these ultimate Rex coming up now where they're going to put them in a put them in this Racetrack and Collide at twice the speed of light and just have a real over the place that'll last one ten billionth of a second and now they'll know more about the nature of the atom. Well, What they're finding is that there ain't no basement. And since there ain't no basement then one discipline is as good as another and that there are Basics to be learned at P W Anderson in the paper 1971 and science says that you know, as you go up that hierarchy of science, there are other disciplines with fundamentals yet to be discovered that are ever been as basic as physics. Well that I think is as a hopeful sign for the way we think about the world in Agricultural Science and maybe even on our Farms because I think Farmers have been contaminated by this idea from the scientific Community within institutions in molecular biology. Biotechnology a multi-billion dollar effort now I think is going to help. Break this notion. It's getting too much money. Now, you know they have they spliced a gene for human growth hormone into a hog. And it's leaner, it gains faster, but it's arthritic and cross-eyed and so well, they think they need to fine-tune that hog a little maybe more a few more human genes in there and we'll be ready to roll with it. But turn Hogs into humans rather than the other way around. We've had a history of that the the bovine growth hormone in milk cows 30 percent of the farmers that are they're predicting you're going to go out of business as a result of that. But after that's over, you know, they think it'll be business as usual. Well, this breaking down of the eat as bad news is that is I think it's going to lead to a breakdown of Francis Bacon's idea and Rene Descartes side idea of placing priority on part over whole and coming to understand the real world and I could give you some examples but I'm out of time finally the establishment of the ecosystem as a fundamental unit of study above organism. I think is a hopeful sign. Let me explain that several years ago of 1951 guy by the name of fiber woman developed What's called the laws of Integrative levels. And he says as you go from Adam to molecule to sell to tissue to organ to organism. There are twelve laws that have to do with that hierarchy of structure. Well, then biology said what comes next and some said species some said population and Jay Stan Rowan ecologist in Canada says know what comes next isn't species or population. What do these others have in common they have volume in common species don't have volume populations don't have volume. He gave us the volumetric Criterion for thing Hood. What is volume as ecosystem? And now once ecosystem was placed there it fit with five woman's laws. And so now this new discipline of what we as an awful name ecosystem ology, which is a discipline that I think ranks with these other categories now is the mother of agroecology and now we have the opportunity for the marriage between ecology and agriculture picking nature as the standard now, we're coming full circle in other words through agriculture the repudiation of nature dominate nature Now We're Coming Back To Nature as the standard but in a scientific sense, We're coming back to it. And so in that lies, I think a great hope because out of that psychological State can come some solutions rather than the solutions that have to do with. Some of the immediate fix it approaches. In other words, we're now I think we can look at it this way. There are two traditions in the judeo Christian history. One is the kind of a creation Story and Another is a kind of redemption. I think redemptions a neck a logical concept by the way, you know abusive Hillside the sins of the fathers of visit the sons to the third and fourth generation, but with loving care, you can redeem that Hillside. So redemption in a fallen World gives us the chance to be participants in the creation. But only if we acknowledge the original materials as primary. And us as only as subordinate. In other words as long as we have regarded ourselves as primary. And that now allows me to come back to the title for the talk that was publicized. Right after Moses delivered the law you always said make me this is at Sinai now make me an older of unhewn stone and put not a tool to it lest thou polluted. In other words your to be more mindful of the original materials of the creation than you are the artist or the scientist doesn't mean you're never to to shape the holder but it's a way of calling attention to the the original materials of the creation. Well so long as I think we keep keep that in front of us. Then then the possibility for Discovery can happen and one of the things that I think we can say is that that the discovery of America is still ahead of us. And so far we've only colonized 1492 is coming up the 500th anniversary. We ought to make that the end of colonization and the beginning of the discovery of a new world of thank you.


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