Why Living Naturally is the Way of the Future
One of the ways to understand why living naturally is the only way of the future, and how our present way of life is unsustainable, is to look at this:
The Earth is 4.6 billion years old.
If you scale this to 46 years then the human race has been here for just 4 hours.
The Industrial Revolution began just 1 minute ago and...
in that time, 50% of the Earth's forests have been destroyed.
While we are on the subject of forests, let us look at trees as I recently read an interesting comment by someone on the internet in response to an article about the damaging storms in the USA where trees falling and branches breaking lead to so many power outages. The commentator pointed out that vegetation is dying off from exposure to air pollution but that many do not believe air pollution is a problem any more because the visible component of smog – SOx – has been reduced. So in the public's view: no smog = no air pollution.
However, it is the background level of invisible tropospheric ozone that is inexorably rising, even in rural areas, which is quite toxic to vegetation, including annual agricultural crops. This means trees that have cumulative injury are more vulnerable to insects, disease and fungus.
Controlled fumigation experiments in the US and Europe have proved that plants exposed to elevated (over natural) ozone – which is a pollutant derived from reactive nitrogen whether from burning fuel or artificial fertilizer – become significantly damaged. The first effect is that root systems shrink because the plant has to repair injury to leaves or needles. This makes vegetation less tolerant of drought. Then the second and another major effect is that plants lose their immunity to insects, disease and fungus.
He concludes that the now-ubiquitous and persistent background level of tropospheric ozone is the ultimate reason that trees all around the world are dying off, even though foresters and scientists blame whatever localized pest is most apparently attacking them. They don’t want to recognize a catastrophic, global decline of vegetation. Plants are damaged internally before visible injury appears. Ozone interferes with photosynthesis so they lose their normal color and eventually turn brown and shrivel up. In fact, apart from the trees and according to a UNEP report referenced at Climate Progress, ozone is responsible for the loss of 30 million tons of crop yields annually such as grains, corn and soy.
The apparent and deadly fate of our trees is just one aspect of why living naturally is the way of the future. But other people will be quick to point out that one of the main purposes of trees is that they absorb carbon dioxide while putting oxygen back in to the air.
Of course forests are just part of the problem as oil, water, energy and all resources are not limitless although they can be regenerated or recycled over time – a long time - and often need thousands of years. We are using up these resources so much faster than they can ever be regenerated and that speed gathers momentum every year with the increase in the world population and all that accompanies it. Every single person contributes to the consumption however well intentioned they may be – they leave a carbon or ecological footprint. In addition to using up these limited resources, we have poisoned the rivers, destroyed natural habitats, driven some wildlife species to extinction and altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere - amongst many other horrors.
So obviously changes have to be made.
Homes and food
Some people are fortunate enough to live off the grid where there is plenty of scope for building homes that are designed to be self sufficient and self sustaining. A house that naturally collects rainwater and utilizes it for drinking, washing, and irrigating would be the way to live naturally. Such a house would need comfortable temperatures, light, power, hot water, food and sewage treatment and be built out of natural and recycled building materials. The outer walls could be built of old tires filled with natural earth, or straw bales, that are then plastered to create a natural thermal mass capable of keeping a home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. There are many TV documentaries on such building construction. The inner walls can be built using dirt, sand, chopped straw, and other natural materials that are formed into a natural, earthen plaster material that is structurally sound and thermally strong. The entire structure can also be built into the side of a hill, berm, or bank with the back nestled inside the earth facing north, and the glass-covered front facing south (if in the northern hemisphere) towards the sun to collect natural solar energy and radiate in a passive solar system. The concept can be extended to allow for translucent materials to allow for improved lighting and even the growing of some food indoors in colder climates. It is always possible with a small piece of land to grow enough vegetables and to keep chickens and other livestock in an effort to be self-sustained. Ideally when living naturally with likewise neighbours, it is possible to barter foods and services. Such homes need space and land to function fully so are not feasible in a congested urban environment, making it much more difficult to live naturally in a city.
However, even if you live in a large town or city, it is still possible to do your part towards living naturally. You can walk, run or cycle instead of driving a car or using public transport when going to work or getting around. You can make sure your home is as toxin free as possible by recycling furniture and avoiding furnishings and fittings that off gas because they are brand new or treated with fire retardants; by changing to natural cleaning and laundry products; by making your own garden chemical free by using everything organic. You can wake up naturally instead of with an alarm clock, or a cell phone alarm, in a bed with organic cotton bed linen and natural wool blankets. You can shower with the help of a solar heated water supply; get dressed into natural fiber clothing, that breathes, in place of synthetic fire retardant materials; eat a natural healthy breakfast of farm fresh free range eggs instead of pouring something from a box. You can make a fuss about your work place and educate others – does it have to be lit by artificial fluorescent lights with air conditioning and bottled water? Investigate what can be changed while enlisting the interest and help of your work colleagues so they give it some thought too. Take your own lunch instead of supporting a vending machine and there will be no need for that visit to the expensive gym, if you derive your exercise by making your way home again by walking or cycling. Unfortunately, most people's lives have become one round of man-made culture.
Climate change has become a world wide business all of its own with governments and countries jumping on the bandwagon. You have to question whether they have a genuine belief in improving the situation, and even reversing the trend, while repairing and rejuvenating the massive damage sustained. Unfortunately, you cannot blame people for being cynical about their motives. And is there in fact time to make such changes or has the Earth already passed the tipping point?
Whatever the answers or the eventual outcome, we all have to make the effort to live more naturally. There is no alternative.