Monday, April 21, 2008

Exploitation and Gardening

Paul Krugman has an op-ed piece in the NY Times called “Running Out of Planet to Exploit.” The basic thrust is to question whether rising oil and food prices are a sign that the human population is hitting the proverbial brick wall in terms of resource exploitation.

What would greater discussion of that view mean for future biodiversity policy? Will such perspectives create greater interest in conservation, and foster development of alternative agricultural techniques? Maybe that is too optimistic. . . . Perhaps if the view gains momentum, it will simply create greater hoarding and a more devastating rush to exploit?

Over in NYT Magazine's "Green Issue," Michael Pollen has an article asking why an individual should bother living a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle. An article that ends with a call to garden.

Juxtaposing the two pieces creates an interesting impression. We may be reaching the apex of the planet's ability to sustain our lifestyle, for reasons far beyond one individual's choice. Yet, perhaps it is time to pay more attention to the little bit of planet each of us lives on, and to draw just a bit of our sustenance directly from it, because, in Pollen's words,

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.



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