Water, energy and food are the absolute foundation of life on Earth. Without them we cannot live. By comparison, iPads, skyscrapers, bricks, asphalt and telephones are insignificant. Even cars and electricity, so often seen as indispensable, are not necessary for human life. As long as there is water, energy and food, people can be happy and full. The steady supply of these special goods must have been a topic of conversation among parents, elders and leaders since Adam was a boy. Through history, the comings and goings of civilizations speak to their primordial importance.
In the fifty or so years since the fully globalized world begin to operate in earnest, there has always been an accompanying counter-movement. While the dominant paradigm, spurred by the violence and urgency of two World Wars, catapulted headlong into a brave new world of technocratic industry, something else fermented deep below the surface of accepted orthodoxy.
From Chipko to Wounded Knee, Greenpeace to La Via Campesina, from the Zapatistas to the Gurindji, from Masanobu Fukuoka to Bill Mollison, Vandana Shiva to Wendell Berry, to Coline Serreau and Vladimir Megre, to the hundreds of millions of quiet, humble folk who went about life as their ancestors always did, a global idea remained, of gardens, country, and the connection to nature that provides everything we need. In every continent of the world, wise people spoke to one another simple words… Simple words that brought upon the wrath of technocratic destruction, but which nonetheless could never be subdued: humanity is on the wrong path.
And sure enough, the evidence only continues to mount. Any rational observation shows that we face certain catastrophe unless we change our ways. Yet global catastrophe has not come. Are we changing fast enough? Will we continue to change fast enough? Who will live, and who will be spared?
Enough people on the Earth are cultivating positivity. They, millions of humble folk, create a good and natural way of life. They grow their food, care for their environment, and over generations perfect the land around them. These people do not depend on international systems for their basic needs. They live a part of nature and like nature, they will survive no matter what might come, ejecting the destroyers and overgrowing the rot. Through these native souls, our civilization will survive.
Even so, regional disasters are still happening. Some people will undoubtedly survive—those who are self-sufficient and protected from the technocratic system. But others will die; some have already died.
Just as Siberians enjoy rising temperatures, Caribbean islands are devastated by hurricanes and south Asians by catastrophic monsoons. While Western countries enjoy cheap solar power, Africans suffer corruption, enslavement and degradation of their land. Rich people drive cars and consume imported goods, while the Middle East explodes in bloody oil wars. And just as wheat farmers in Russia and Ukraine benefit from higher prices (GMO-free), in Australia our farms are lost to desert.
Australia is absolutely not exempt from regional disasters. Hubris and optimism point to our huge land mass and ample natural resources, but poor economic management has scotched much of the advantage this fortune should provide. We have massive private debt, a hugely urban population, and an extraordinary reliance on imported technology for all our basic economic activity. Rivers flow backwards, salt rises, topsoil disappears, and growth is only sustained by massive future liabilities: mega-mines, poison GMOs and more debt.
Meanwhile, regenerative counter-movements, aiming to implement a stabler, more natural way of life remain too exclusive, esoteric or timid to make any significant change. Massive effort is devoted to replacing one destructive energy system (carbon / fossil fuels) with another (lithium / silica / rare earth metals), or to protect one stratum (boutique farmers) at the expense of another (urban residents). There is scant intellectual activity in Australia which comprehends the triple responsibilities of self-sufficiency, natural fertility and equality among human beings. Whereas natural conditions should place Australia as a world leader in 21st century sustainability, massive challenges face this generation.
So what are we meant to do? Plant permaculture gardens, detach from the grid and wait for the inevitable collapse? Or move among the people as missionaries of a new Earth consciousness, educating the people about sustainability and natural living?
As youngsters, what do we say when our elders have lost the way? When parents, professors, politicians and employers are enforcing a culture that leads to our inevitable destruction?
It is no longer acceptable to ignore the reality. That is a moral absolute and a categorical imperative that requires no further justification. Destroying our entire society, leaving our habitat destitute and our people starving, poisoned and dying, is not acceptable. The promise of technological salvation is ridiculous: an unfounded religious belief, supernatural and fictional, defied by scientific fact. Technology cannot save us. To the contrary, it has caused the problems we currently face.
We must protect a space for serious, rational discussion. How will we ensure the prosperity of future generations? What must we do?
In ages past, tribal or village elders led their people to a new place where food was more abundant, clean water flowed, and where the people could be nourished by the energy of a new homeland. This same impulse pushed the frontier of technocratic society to cover every corner of the Earth, trashing one place and then the next. Now, with an ever increasing global population, we cannot simply abandon our land and invade a new frontier. We must live within our means or become extinct. This is the very real consequence of “business as usual”.
We must sidestep the deception and conclusively dismiss what is wrong, never to be repeated again. As long as deceitful crooks stand at university lecterns and speak lies into television cameras, we must move past them, pursuing our own goals for prosperity. We should leave the mumbling devotees behind. As they recite the mantra of technological salvation they will be martyred in the scrapheap of their own digital mess. Rational discussion with these fanatics is futile, since they lie for commercial gain.
The Earth Guardians lawsuit, where a group of teenage citizens is taking the United States government to court over climate inaction, is blazing the trail for a new generation of action. Technocracy has already lost the battle. Where public officials continue to appropriate public money for destructive ends, we will sue them in a court of law where perjury is a crime.
In the modern age of global relationships, a serious conversation about water, energy and food is vital, timely and planetary. The topic has prompted broad research both in and out of academia, and increasingly is a top priority. Even without access to every possible piece of data, general observations show that humanity is facing a problem. Yet much of institutional academia is incapable of coming up with a coherent plan.
There is a growing amount of literature around the interrelated topics of water, energy and food security. It is broadly united on the understanding that all people should have access to these basic goods, and that current practice is not sufficient to ensure their supply in light of a growing population. Most of the literature is unable to present a coherent or credible solution to the challenges. Where solutions are attempted, they are either scientifically incorrect, or else partial, fragmented, or unable to comprehend the full multi-disciplinary scope of the global situation.
The family homestead idea presents a theoretical basis for sustainable development in Australia. The wide support and positive experience in Russia provides credible reason to believe the program will be beneficial.
Family homesteads require no government funding, and would not ‘shock’ major economic or industrial processes.
This idea gently provides individuals with the opportunity to pursue their own form of sustainable development, relying on the responsibility people feel for their own land to encourage efficient and effective management. There are probably thousands of Australians who are yearning to take up such an opportunity. Given the low risk and large potential for gain, the family homestead idea provides the best positive direction for future development in Australia.