( – promoted by buhdydharma )
On this Earth Day, I thought a few graphics might be in order, in honor of our planet…or home…the place where we all live. And to make it a little bit more interesting than just some pixels fighting for your attention, I shall all some words to go with (as we used to say in Milwaukee).
There will be quite a few new graphics and a few old ones, like the one over to the right. It only seemed fitting that I start off with a planet, since we live on one.
As always, clicking on one of the graphics should open a larger version in a new tab.
We (Women’s Studies) are offering our students here at Bloomfield College (just outside of Newark in northeastern New Jersey) free t-shirts today and the materials to paint their own shirts. If it weren’t for the fact that I had meetings to attend today, I’d go take pictures and share them. But I do have an important meeting (the first I will attend with the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, which I am moving to in the fall…or maybe I am moving there today, at least psychologically).
On Tuesday we offered Dirt: the Movie. I’ll be adding some words about our war against that which brought us to be and which we still need to sustain us: the soil under our feet.
It seemed only right to start with a poem, written for another occasion:
If we don’t change our ways, we may end up living like this: in isolated environments on soil-free rock in the middle of the ocean. And where will our food come from? How many people could be fed long term from indoor hydroponic gardens?
The soil is what gave us life. As it says in the movie, the soil is more alive than we are. A handful of it contains many millions of micro-organisms…and a few larger ones, such as worms, which keep up the production of that dirt.
And what are we doing to the dirt? We bury it under concrete. We poison it for monoculture farming, often with genetically-modified crops. And when the crops fail, as they eventually must with monoculture, farmers die. In India
More than 17,500 farmers a year killed themselves between 2002 and 2006
They do it because they have failed or are failing to support their families. And it is getting worse.
The molecules in the soil came from Sol and other stars. We have been reusing the same molecules for eons. Those molecules are the same molecules that our bodies are made from. We are dirt. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Dirt to dirt. After we die, we can look forward to becoming dirt once again.
It’s the Cycle of Life.
When we cover the dirt with concrete, we separate ourselves from the soil which gives us life. We also raise the temperature of the planet. When we blow the tops off mountains, we destroy a major source of our soil.
Why do we do it? So that a relative few people can profit off what they consider to be precious stones. The truth is that there is nothing more precious than the soil.
The greed of those few will kill us all, eventually. And the real shame of it is that they seem totally oblivious to the fact. Or they just don’t care. Probably the latter.
If the rest of the Earth’s organisms could vote, it is likely they would vote us off this planet. We have become the deadliest virus ever known.
So what can we do? We need to renew our compact with the ecosystem. Stop destroying the forests in order to do more monoculture farming. Stop paving every bit of open space we see.
There was an interesting story related in the movie, about a few people who removed 4 feet of concrete, asphalt and oil to get to the soil beneath it, so that they could reclaim it. People asked them, “Where are the children going to play?” Like nobody ever heard of children playing in the dirt?
The majority of the people on this planet build their homes out of dirt. Or at least they did…before the land started to die and they all headed for the city to look for employment. Now they live in shacks in slums.
One billion people worldwide live in slums and the figure will likely grow to 2 billion by 2030.
What is the fighting about in the Sudan? It’s about who controls what little arable soil is left. And while the fighting goes on, the soil is festering and dying.
The dust bowl days of the 30s are going to seem like paradise compared to what may be coming. Global warming will seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the death of our soil.
Can’t we just fertilize the soil? Those nitrate-rich fertilizers get into the ground water and end up in our rivers, to be washed to the sea. There they are feasted upon by algae, which blooms toxically, killing everything but the jelly-fish. South of New Orleans is a huge Dead Zone. There are similar ones at the mouths of many of the Earth’s rivers.
We know how to avoid the catastrophe. We know that Waste is not waste until it has been wasted. We know how to reduce, reuse and recycle. We know how bad for the environment it is to bottle water in plastic. We have all the knowledge.
What we lack is the will to do something. We lack the motivation to change the way we live. We can do better. We must do better.
Narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis and written by Bill Logan, Dirt contains the thoughts and words of the following contributors:
For us, mud is not just the matrix of life in which we grow our plants, it’s our building structure – it’s our very sense of who we are.
Clothe the earth – put on the skin, a dress. A green dress, like trees, like vegetation. And then, when the earth is covered with green, with vegetation, it looks very beautiful. And in this age of climate change, can you imagine how happy the planet would be?
Wes Jackson, The Land Institute
Here’s this 120-year window in which we find ourselves and it’s probably the most important window in the history of homo sapiens.
Sebastiao Salgado, Instituto Terra
In all this land around this planet, if we started to replant – in ten years there would be no more dead land.
Lelia Deluiz Wanick Salgado, Instituto Terra
These old growth forests come from the soil that’s so thin beneath my feet. The soil originated after the last ice age over 10,000 years ago, when the glaciers receded and scraped away most of the soil down to barren rock… Mmmm… That smells good, it really does.
If we don’t take care of the soil which is just the first five centimeter layer of life that is on the earth, our future is totally condemned.
Africa is not poor. Ethiopia alone, if properly cultivated, could feed the entire African continent.
This is a fabric of life being torn apart that can never be put back together again.
Major Carter, Sustainable South Bronx
You don’t have to move out of your neighborhood to live in a better one but you sure do have to fight if you want to reconnect your life into a more natural state that actually includes poor people.
When we talk about dirt, we’re not just talking about dirt, we’re talking about the spiritual as well as the physical attributes of one’s life, so it’s no longer dirt, it’s a metaphor for a healthy life.
Fritjof Capra, Center for Ecoliteracy
The living organisms on earth have used the very same molecules of air, water and soil over and over again. Not just the same types of molecules but the very same molecules.
What we often call dirt, you know, the stuff you are trying to wash off our car or wash off our driveways, are really these soils and sediments that are vital to keeping our biosphere healthy, which is all about keeping the plants and animals and ourselves alive. Soils and sediments are really more like a living skin on the earth, and they are the stewards of our planet.
Alice Waters, The Edible Schoolyard
The experience in nature is so comforting to these kids who have never had their hands in the ground before. They just need to be here. They want to be in the garden.
With the amount of species that live in a teaspoon of dirt, I think it’s very obvious dirt might be more alive than we are.
Our wealth is imaginary. It comes from soil.
Dirt is very much alive. It probably has in it and around it all of the kingdoms of life.
Someone needs to start thinking about the long-term future of our dirt. If not us, who? If not now, when? It certainly isn’t going to be the greedheads who are going to do it.
We can make a difference. We can plant something. We can compost (which makes wonderful dirt out of garbage). We can advocate for reclaiming concrete-covered land. We need what is under the concrete to sustain life.
We can teach others in our communities. And we can teach the children. We can teach the children well. Their father’s hell, will slowly go by. At least we can hope so.
On this Earth Day, let us commit to saving the dirt.
As sometimes happens, I ran out of words before I ran out of graphics. I hope you have enjoyed the ones which have gone before and will enjoy those which follow.
Bless the Cycle of Life.
I found the trailer for Dirt at Youtube: