The 29th Day
There is a French story about a farmer who purchased a beautiful new farm with a gorgeous pond. Each day, he would have his lunch at the pond and return to work re-energized! The first time, the farmer noticed a lily pad in the water. The pad sported a colorful flower and, as a frog jumped off the pad into the water, ripples spread across its surface.
The second day, the farmer ate there again and now enjoyed two lily pads. On the third day there were four such plants. He felt endowed with an increasingly wonderful life!
On the twenty-eighth day, the farmer noticed the pond was half full of water lilies. Being environmentally in tune, he thought, "Sometime in the next month, I will need to harvest most of the lilies. Otherwise, the pond will become full of plants and the area will be on its first steps to becoming a meadow."
It was good that the farmer was so sensitive. Many people might not have made the connection.
There was just one thing he overlooked. What was it?
Each day the number of plants was doubling. As a result, on the twenty-ninth day the pond would be full! This “29th day” scenario is similar to our awakening to the environmental challenges that face us—challenges in water, energy, clean air, ozone layer retention, farmable soil, food, species diversity, climate change, ocean health and more. We are actively concerned and, at the same time, think we have much more time to provide the things to meet these challenges than we do. Part of the limitation is that we tend to study each of these areas separately, rather than seeing them as an interconnected whole. When the challenges work together there is often an accelerated negative tolerance build-up effect: the changes build up more rapidly than we expect. An example is the ice in the Arctic Region: it is melting decades faster than anticipated.
To Be Human is Wonderful!
Professor Kenneth E. F. Watt, former zoologist at the University of California-Davis, wrote a book about energy and farming in 1974 called The Titanic Effect. In it, Dr. Watt notes that we each are each so talented that, if we will only look at how challenging a situation is, we will be able to transform the challenge completely, or will be able to significantly reduce its effect. The title comes from the fact that the owners and captain of the ocean liner Titanic were so sure the ship was unsinkable that they chose to sail though the edge of an iceberg region to set a new cross cross-Atlantic record. And they did! Just not the kind they were seeking.
We have the opportunity to build a wonderful biologically sound way of life, just where we are, through localization movements, gardening, planting trees, the building of thriving mini-ecosystems and many other activities. Added together, these initiatives can re-grow the entire Earth with an accelerated positive effect. Why not begin now by creating your own edible landscape!
In the future it should be possible to live better and have more qualitatively, based on many fewer resources—and in part because we will be using less!
Two interesting examples of this potential for living better lives with fewer resources can be seen in the past.
- The first, in 1976, the people in Sri Lanka had enjoyed a quality of living similar to, but different than that in the U.S. However, the average Sri Lankan annual income was about $200 per person, while that in the U.S. was about $12,000 – 60 times greater!
- The second, in 1998, in Russia, 40 percent of the food was raised on about 6.4 percent of the land on one-half acre dachas, or mini-farms, while it took 93.6 percent of the land in large farms to raise the remaining 60 percent of the food eaten. The difference in effectiveness was 9.76 times! We can do more and have a better life with less!
A Way to Succeed Qualitatively Immediately!
Jed Diamond, well-known psychologist and author has noted, "As we face the end of one way of life and the re-connection with a sustainable way that is the true heritage of human beings on the earth, how long we live or when we pass on is not as relevant. The real question is how will we live! When we commit ourselves to a life of service, sustainability, and love. rather than selfishness, greed, and fear, we have already made all the difference in the world! It’s nice to be walking this path together." Gandhi noted that it is the path, more than the arrival at the destination, that is important.
• What Men Live By by Leo Tolstoy
• How Much Land Does a Man Need? by Leo Tolstoy
• Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing
• Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country by Les and Carol Scher. 4th edition. Chicago: Real Estate Education Co.
• The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour. Faber and Faber. Incluces grains, livestock energy and skills such as spinning, metalwork and thatching.
• The Owl Pen Reader by Kenneth McNeil Wells. Doubleday. A fun read about farming.
• Homesteading Section in Bibliography of How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine by John Jeavons. Available from Bountiful Gardens.
Illustrations for "A World of Hope!" by Judy Chance Hope