Starfish and Moral Imperatives

In a recent post, Ed over at The Slow Cook brought my attention back to an issue that most of us have know to be brewing as soon as we starting to do the math of the Great Ethanol Push. Basically there really isn’t enough farm land now for the world population, despite the arguments to the contrary, and converting ever increasing amounts of crop land to put fuel in Excursions is an idea bound to send someone to Hell

The “Crime Against humanity” comment was a month ago, and the FAO started backpedaling within days, but now the  truth is out. The poorest of the poor are much, much worse off thanks to Bush’s ill conceived push to use corn and wheat to make fuel to greenwash GM’s Hummers rather than make hard descions (some call it “leadership”) and push for efficiency and Real Change.

In the mean time, our soft drinks and McBurgers will go up some in price, but millions will find it even harder to feed their children. Triage appears to be beginning, and the debate about local food production is rapidly becoming less academic in the face of Moral Imperatives.

Even in my darkest moments, I never thought it would cause huge impacts within the first year after Bush stated that Ethanol was our Savior. Suddenly my debate between which of the plots I am considering on using for my market garden seems incredibly arrogant. Here I am with enough access, resources, and leisure time to debate where I want to grow my surplus food.

The mission is now changing. If I can get enough helpers, it will now be about how much we can grow in the county. Not on my one 1/4 acre, but on dozens. Every pound of food we produce locally makes a difference. This was a 5 year goal. It just got bumped.

One of the favorite stories I tell my children seems appropriate:

Once upon a time, a boy found starfish washed up on the beach after a big storm. He began throwing them back into the ocean, one by one. His grandfather told him that there were too many, that he could never make a difference. The boy calmly threw another into the ocean and said, “I made a difference for that one.”

I can’t save the world… but I can try. Always for me, the best antidote to despair is action. Food Banks here in America are also going empty. Hunger is hunger.

Be the Change.



Whew! Looking at the comment storm from today, apparently I need to get internet access at work!

First off, thanks for keeping the discussion from becoming an argument, which is very, very easy when discussing core values.

Allot of good points were made. Personally, I side much more with E4 and Matt, but that is not overly surprising as we have discussed this matter a bunch this past year. We need to lead by example on this one and our consumption is driving China’s emissions. It is cold fact that we are exporting our pollution. If all the Cheap Plastic Crap that LA consumes was produced in their valley, the air would be unbreathable.

Jonolan, I agree with you in so far as that a growing population has a right to a high quality of life, but I will agree to disagree with you that that quality of life entails emissions at the current rate of the developed world. We have the technology today to provide very high quality food, transportation, and structures with drastically less impact than is currently the norm in the First World. True Global Leadership will push the world in that direction. That leadership may end up coming from a mass grass roots movement as Matt and the representative from New Guinea suggest.

I also contest your assertion that helping the 3rd and 4th worlds achieve their basic human needs has no impact on the environment. If my children are starving I will do WHATEVER it takes to get them food, so would you, so would any of us. I will burn forests, destroy wetlands, or start wars. Until we have basic human rights-and I consider having enough shelter, food and clean water to feed your children a Human Right-we will never have a Sustainable Society.

The motto of this blog is Being the Change. That means on the individual level to begin acting on your convictions to model the way that you wish the world to be. If you believe something to be Right; to be Good, then act in a way to Make It So.
Each of us has the power to make a difference. This is not a partisan issue. It is the defining crisis of our time.

The technology exists. The wealth exists. The only item lacking is political will to make the change before we lose our generation’s window of opportunity.


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