Sunday, March 10, 2013

On poisons, farming and nature

I was following an interesting blog discussion on 'Nature' and what it means to different people. The subject of farming and the sort of disdain farmers and those who work on the land or sea tend to get from city dwellers who probably never produced a grain of food themselves. Now farmers are not saints. There are plenty of cruel, stupid, shortsighted dimwits out there, wrecking the land, although less of them than commercial fishermen (it's your land. it's not your patch of sea. That tends to make mindsets quite different, when it comes to foresight and thinking of tomorrow). But there are farmers - and fishermen - and hunters who leave the land and the animals on it better off than they would be otherwise. And - and here is the crunch - everyone of those urbanites making comments about dumb farmers and squalling about how they shouldn't do this or that would starve in a week and their city would start to die in two days without those farmers. I know the island could do without them for months, and would never starve, although we'd miss some of the things we get. I am also sure that given a choice of lets say mulesing sheep or going hungry, or not having the money to stay in their home, 99% of the squalling mass would do precisely what those 'cruel' and 'nasty' farmers do. And if they had a choice of take all the fish today, or leave them for Fred to take all of tomorrow, I know what most of them would do.

I try to live sensibly and sustainably, take what we need and not waste. Leave the land a bit richer than when we started. But I know what it means to sweat and work for a crop that you desperately need to feed yourself and family and how 'I won't use pesticides' becomes a stupid idea when it means you will merely fill a bug/mouse's belly instead. I know that in 2015 they will stop the poisoning of wallaby. I know one of my farmer friends - and he is one of the saints of farming - who looks on this with despair. He's spent a fortune on fencing, and tried every passive means he can to keep them out of his pasture. The wombats make holes. Wombats are protected. He hates the poisoning - but... he has a mortgage and a family. The alternative is shooting -and that means many hours and 1500 kills - with poisoning every third year. Rat and mouse poison are nastier... but people in town have rats and mice. You can't ban those.

Yet they've put a stop to it in some cozy office, just as they have to fruitfly poison. And the consequences they will not bear, but food will come from some other country where the poisons are cheerfully used. I doubt if it's going to make 'nature' here any better, and I suspect more people will leave the land and go to the cities, and farms will get bigger, more automated... and probably more destructive. You can't apply local knowledge and exceptions to massive projects, and bulldozer will destroy thing a bloke with a spade leaves alone.

1 comment:

  1. Old post, so I don't know whether you'll see this comment.

    I was in a debate on a bulletin board about the sustainability of the planet and at what point the population will max out to a stable number. I had a very difficult time convincing people that the key ingredient is water. They kept going on about desalinization (however that is spelled) as if cost were no object, transportation difficulties didn't exist and drinking water were the only issue.

    There is no more depressing issue in environmental law (at least the US kind) than water law. The western U.S. has never had enough water, really, and with changing weather patterns it's probably going to get worse (or maybe not--one of the things about global warming is the effect on individual locations is impossible to predict).

    Lisa S. in Seattle