In addition to attending the Urban PDC, I am doing independent reading to ground what I learn during the PDC in philosophical theories. The field trip coincided with my reading of David Schlosberg’s book on environmental justice. The juxtaposition of the brown and the green hills brought home his arguments: The thoughtless destruction of the forests on the hills is unjust. It is environmentally unjust – current generations are paying for the overgrazing of past generations – and it is ecologically unjust – it disrespects a functioning ecosystem. The beauty of permaculture is that we can slowly undo the damage by regenerating the soil. It will take time and work. But it can be done.
The brown hills aren’t the only damage, though. The droughts that we are experiencing are also, at least partly, created by the destruction of the hills. We know that trees on ridges can help us create rain. By cutting down the trees, we are breaking that cycle. Worse, we expose the hills to the full power of the rain, when it does come. The water runs downhill without being slowed starting a ripple effect: Soil erosion, which then makes soil even less able to capture the rain, drying it out more, causing more soil erosion. This is known as a negative feedback loop – spiraling down into completely useless brown hills. So, the injustice of destroying and not regenerating the hills goes further: We are altering the climate, not just with CO2 emissions. Again, it’s important to break this loop – not only because green hills are pretty. It’s the just thing to do!
What do you think? The tools are there, so do we have a moral obligation to regenerate the soil to undo the damage? If not, why not? If yes, why?
(Cross posted here).