Myths and Misconceptions

Among the common misconceptions we are sold is that Nuclear Energy is ‘green’ energy, and the saviour of the future. Yet when Russian missiles fall close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear station in Ukraine the whole of Europe trembles. Why? Because we remember the devastation shed by Chernobyl, a sister plant not very far from Zaporizhzhia, and the problems it caused. But we are supposed to have short memories and to swallow the propaganda spread about this extremely dangerous fuel source.

This is only one of the myths the commercial world spreads to push its inventions on the rest of us.

Let us consider agriculture again. We are asked to accept the modern agri-industry as the best solution for the food supply. Tearing it apart what we find is that the agri-industry is steadily destroying life in its many forms around the planet. We know the plight of the Orang-utans, and most people in the West have never seen an Orang-utan outside of the movies. The loss of habitat, and thus of the creatures themselves, represents no loss for the majority of western people. Yet it was only 800 years ago that they were considered mythical creatures, inventions of Marco Polo, that intrepid explorer ridiculed by the Pope of the day and hounded by the Emperor of China.

But loss of habitat is only one of the results of the modern agricultural paradigm. The destruction of the soil is a hidden cost, yet scientists tell us that more than 60 % of the world’s soil has already been degraded by industrial methods.

When life left the sea it did so in the form of fungi which colonised rocks and somehow survived the periods of drought when the tides drew back. It spread from the seashore to the land and permeated the surface of the rock tilth in the form of a mycorrhizal network that expanded through the soil. This forms the underlying bed on which further life forms are supported. But modern industrial agriculture has invented ways of tilling the soil that mean the living vital surface area of the soil is buried beneath several inches of bedrock and sterile minerals deposits, thereby killing the very layer that holds life in its tenuous fingers. The suggestion is that deep ploughing like this is good for the soil and creates an even deeper level of tillable (and implicitly fertile) earth.

This is simply not true as ecologists around the world are telling us as loudly as their voices will allow, against the constant clamour of university educations and the might of the agri-pharma-arms industry adverts, which fill our supermarket shelves with second rate products in the affirmation that ‘this is what the customer wants’. Anyone who has eaten ripe fruit from the tree knows that the quality of these foods is terrible. Try eating tree fresh ripe apricots or peaches and then compare them with the bruised ‘ripen at home’ imitations you pick off the supermarket shelf.

To deal with the loss of the living structure of the soil, the humus, the agri-industry tries to convince us that all it takes to grow food are chemicals. Nitrates and phosphates make plants grow they say. This is errant nonsense since it is Sun and rain and moon and stars that allows life on Earth. Along with the mesh of mycorrhizal net that Life has cloaked the Earth with. These not only allow but actively encourage Life on Earth. Nitrates and phosphates do not do this. More often they cause explosions to life.

But, allowing for the myth they sell us, it becomes necessary to employ means to implement the myth. For this they invent huge machines which grind the soil into compacted sediment, freed from, not only humus (the mycorrhizal layer), but also water and air particles. This causes the soil to become so solid that the water, instead of penetrating the earth, washes off the surface, carrying with it the fine granules that would otherwise compose a healthy soil. The farmer, being sold this myth, goes into deeper debt with the banks to allow him to buy the equipment needed to implement the agri-myth. When horses tilled the soil they would place their weight across the land with an average pace length of 8 to 9 feet. A tractor’s wheel crushes every inch it passes over. A tractor wears out. A horse can reproduce itself.

Cattle, feeding off the land, fertilise the soil as they wander across the fields. Sheep similarly. But, in the case of cattle, the hunger for beef from such outlets as MacDonald’s and Burger King, creates a new animal husbandry. Besides the forest clearance of the Amazon, now animals are kept inside, fed on fodder which is inherently sickening for them, being addictive, with all their excretions poured into a slurry pit where it drains into the soil, in such a concentrated form as to burn the soil of its living content. From there it drains into rivers and kills the life in them. It is not human excreta alone that is ruining our rivers, it is the anti-life pursuit called industrial agriculture. The small farmer cannot make a living from his holding any longer as it is all geared to mass-production, with subsidies which mask the financial cost of production, and supermarket chains demanding lower prices and vast quantities.

Besides the washed away fertilisers and pesticides driven by the greed of the mineral companies, the very methods of animal production increase the infertility of the rivers. Many years ago a frog looked at me and told me it could no longer promise its young of future generations that the waters meant safety, which for the entirety of their evolution had been a refuge for all amphibians. Now the waters burned their tender skins.

But before anyone tells you that the heavy machines are necessary to keep the factories building them, and providing incomes for people, let’s remember that the drive within the manufacturing industry is for mass production through automation. A process in which robots and programmed machines do the manual work, while the former workers from the factories stand idle in dole queues, waiting for another handout from the government.

What does the government do? Instead of addressing the issue and seeking a solution by building the economy, it simply pays out masses of yet more borrowed money to alleviate a crisis of its own making, pledging the working people of Britain – and no doubt this is reflected in every other ‘advanced’ economy around the world – to years of servitude to pay off the debt. Have you noticed the change in selling software? You used to be able to buy a programme. Now you have to rent it. The ‘industry’ prefers you to pay it a subscription of some small amount every month for the privilege of using a piece of software once or twice in that month. Commerce seeks to perpetuate itself. It has no interest any longer in people, in the customer. It is solely concerned with ‘make more money this month than last’. And we buy into it!

As if in response to my comments above I received an email from Gaia Education advertising their new economic dimension which included this quote

“Polychroniou (2018) pointed out that, for Capitalism the accumulation of capital is everything. Capital does not care about the earth and its residents. In order to maximise profits, capitalism will not hesitate to creatively destroy the earth and constantly expropriate the natural environment, which is considered as a free gift to capital.”

We may come to reconsider what is free after all. The air is already gettinmg unbreathable in cities. Water so polluted it is undrinkable.

Author: Keith Armstrong

Dance teacher, writer, film-maker, educationalist, enthusiast.