Monday, October 08, 2007

We're All Dustbowl Children...Again

I had planned to get all worked up and do a big splash on IBMA tonight, but I'm having a hard time getting past the fact that it's October, I live in Ohio, and I'm not running the heat. I'm running the a/c.

On Saturday morning, I strolled across the lawn abutting the Hilton Nashville Downtown (best room for the buck, spacious and great for families) to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, an expansive piece of real estate with an impressive and surprisingly well curated collection of memorabilia and artifacts from the earliest roots of country music. I skipped along through the items and anecdotes about these early guys like Roy Acuff and Jimmie Rodgers and how tough it was during those years when Middle America farmland, the very soil, was gasping for life.

My God, I thought.

Dust bowl.

I stood there, realizing no one could see my mind racing. We're repeating, or about to repeat, a period in our history that was so noted, revered, reviled, sung about, poeticized, and despised that it's nearly impossible to imagine it could sneak up on us like it has. The drought. The economic roller coaster ride. The demise of farmland -- not just to the climate but to mindless and endless development. That's our goddamn food supply, you morons. It's 80-plus degrees on an October Monday night in Ohio, and you're putting a frickin' three-car garage, four-bedroom, three and a half bath piece-of-shit McMansion on a third-acre of America's food supply. Aren't we smarter than that?

Evidently, not.

While visiting family we talked about this disaster in the making. We're all so taken with the disaster in Iraq that we don't even see the disaster of food and water dwindling. We're spending tens of thousands of acres on soybeans to feed a few hundred cows we'll kill and send out for butchering so that some processor can pack burgers and sell them to Sam's club complete with e-coli, when we could probably use that same farmland to grow healthy disease-free food for humans at a higher nutritional quota and lower cost. If nothing else, we could grow half the damn soybeans to keep the cows happy, and feed a third world country with whatever the hell we grow on the other half.

Dr. Don has said it before and I'm afraid he's right. Humans are mean, greedy, stupid creatures with an endless hunger. Endless. Frickin' endless.

Peter Rowan and IBMA 2007 Guitarist of the Year Tony Rice released an album last year called Quartet featuring the talents of bassist Bryn Davies (Hey Bryn, I nominated you, what happened?!) and mandolin maven Sharon Gilcrist. It featured a track titled Dustbowl Children, previously cut on an album of Rowan's from 1990. The tune has been on my mind, not only because of its relevancy, but because I can't help but wonder how people might have recorded this part of history without old time, country, or bluegrass music to set it to.

And the crops won't grow, and the dust just blows. And the green fields are gone, the green grass growin fields are gone.

If this tune doesn't give you a chill or at least make you pay attention...well, Mama always said, if you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all.


At October 09, 2007 1:18 PM, Anonymous world citizen said...

I like dustbowl children, good choice - of music! No a/c in the dustbowl.

Many leading environmental organizations, including the National Audubon Society, the WorldWatch Institute, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, have recognized that raising animals for food damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do.

Fortunately there is something you can do -- switch to a plant-based diet.

The meat industry causes more water pollution in the US than all other industries combined because the animals raised for food produce 130 times more excrement than the entire human population--86,000 lbs per second. A typical pig factory farm generates a quantity of raw waste equal to that of a city of 12,000 people.

The livestock population of the US consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed more than 5 times its human population. 90% of all corn and 80% of all grains and beans grown in the US are used to feed livestock animals.

According to the nonprofit group Greenpeace, all the wild animals and trees in more than 2.9 million acres of rainforest were destroyed in the 2004-2005 crop season in order to grow crops that are used to feed chickens and other animals in factory farms.

According to a 2006 UN report, the livestock sector causes more greenhouse gases worldwide than the entire transportation sector.

Nitrous oxide is about 300 times more potent as a global warming gas than carbon dioxide. According to the U.N., the meat, egg, and dairy industries account for a staggering 65 percent of worldwide nitrous oxide emissions.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the run-off from factory farms pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined. The EPA reports that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement have polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.

It takes 16 pounds of grain and 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat. One average meat eater could consume that pound of meat during a meal, while 16 people could have been fed on the grain it takes to produce that pound of meat.

Every 2 seconds, a child starves to death somewhere in the world. Countries such as Ethiopia and some Central American countries use their farmland to supply the United States with cheap burgers instead of growing healthful grain foods for their own starving people.

-THAT is just the tip of the iceburg [will there be any iceburgs left in 100 years?]

So what are you gonna do about it?

Expand your consciousness, free yourself from conditioned thinking and behavior.

It's up to you, you have a choice you can stop participating.As you move in a positive direction the world moves with you.

Be Empowered!

At October 10, 2007 11:30 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

Mando - Thanks for the plug! With all due respect to World Citizen, the number of vegetarians has grown considerably but will never be more than a minority of the population. Humans are omnivores. Our teeth and digestive systems are not ideally suited to an exclusively pant based diet. Not to mention that raising plants for food is not without it's problems. The potential scarcity of water affects plant cultivation as well. Organice farming is not going to be used on a mass scale by most commercial farms so you are still going to have runoff problems from pesticides, etc.

Instead of trying to change human nature, which will invariably fail, we need to acknowledge human nature and figure out ways of dealing with it. Technology to increase yields has helped as well as genetic alteration to improve drought tolerance and pest resistance. These things will enable us to grow more food in smaller and more difficult areas. The U.S. currently grows far more food than we eat or export.

The problem is that another intractable quality of humans is that they resist any real change until it is forced upon them. We will not seriously address global warming until the beaches of Florida and California disappear. We won't address obesity until the economy is crippled by medical costs from diabetes and other associated illnesses. We won't address the un- or under-insured until there's a mass uprising of the middle class. But that won't happen because the government keeps us happy with cheap, novel, electroninc goods to distract our attention.

It will not end folks. This is who we are. We are doomed to make the same mistakes over and over and over. So, who wants pie?

At October 10, 2007 12:23 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

I have to say that you're probably right. Now, I have also made a lot of lifestyle changes along the lines of those suggested by world citizen, and it probably can't hurt as my kids and I will likely be a little healthier. But otherwise, it's like, here we are, standing on the shore as the great tidal wave of environmental and economic disaster is about to wash over us.

My sister only partly jokes about how her place just outside of metro Nashville will be a nice piece of beachfront property sometime down the road. That's certainly a long way off, but in the meantime, we just shake our heads at the enormity of deep human arrogance and stupidity as people just buy bigger cars, throw away more land, waste more food, and use up more resources than they possibly could ever replace even if they intended to. Which they don't of course. Because they're pigs.

Al Gore, I still believe in you. Bless your heart for trying. I'm up for pie if y'all want to come watch "An Inconvenient Truth" which my sister with the Nashbeachfront property gifted me over the weekend.


At October 10, 2007 6:18 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

Mando - Well, I'm always up for pie but I found "An Inconvenient Truth" to be a complete bore. And if Gore wins a Nobel prize I'm going to vomit. This is not a slam on Al. He's an okay guy but his name and Nobel prize do not belong in the same sentence. As for movies, I liked "Who Killed The Electric Car" much better.

At October 11, 2007 4:08 PM, Anonymous concerned citizen said...

Our teeth and digestive systems have much more in common with herbivores than carnivores.In fact the human digestive system is an herbirvore digestive system. Investigate it for yourself, you will see that it is true.

Carnivores have fangs, have you ever noticed? Have you noticed that the digestive systems of herbivores are slow moving and have a long digestive tract, while carnivores have a short digestive tract, and in fact digestion happens much more quicky in carnivores than say, humans for instance?

Eighty percent of India's population is vegetarian, I'd say that is a slight majority?

I could go on and on with much info/many facts, but that may not be of any help to you, as the info i have presented here may do nothing to help you see.

-Instead of trying to change human nature, ah, that statement comes from the living dead. sorry, no offence to you personally, society as a whole is at a very low level of consciousness, as you thoughtfully point out.

However, i remain positive and will continue to make intelligent shifts in my behavior and thinking, and continue to promote intelligent change in the collective consciousness of humanity.The minority of intelligent people is growing, more people are waking up and taking responsibility for their existence here on Earth.

A point for you to consider,
once the world was flat.It was a fact!

Change begins with you. Can you see it?


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