• josefcarey

The 70% chocolate, spongey, carbon currency

There are a few words which in my opinion tend to get overused in the "green world", to a point where they cease to become meaningful. The vibration of a few vocal cords landing on a vast swathe of eco paralysed ears builds opinion in a cesspool of other opinions. With conflicting arguments from every conceivable angle, we lack the capacity to have any one, unified voice, instead focusing on discussions of how we are to move the deck chairs around of our sinking titanic. Sustainable is one, biodiversity another, managing complexity another. The list goes on and we do no justice to any of them whilst we as a culture don't understand the fundamental systems underpinning them.

I rarely tend to put forward arguments as a final position but there are exceptions to the rule. And this is one of those exceptions. "The complex issues we're faced with today are ultimately systemic, rooted in poorly educated decision makers". The prescription is clearly a systemic overhaul built around values which have got us to this point in time and space. Supporting relationships which support biodiversity.

The common denominating factor for us bipedal hairless mammals is this; we all need this dark, 70% chocolate coloured rich, spongey, crumbly, water holding substrate to grow plants in. Any grower, farmer, gardener farming this lovely substrate wins, big time! This is the stuff of dreams if you're a plant lover or plant eater (aka everyone). Plants grown in this stuff grow best, and humans that immerse themselves in substrates like this grow next best. It's the law of nature. So how can we develop methods around the building of this wonderful substrate?

The key is biodiversity. Biodiversity is what happens when you leave stuff alone. Nature abhors a vacuum, constantly working towards greater and greater levels of biodiversity and thus complexity. Democritus (a legend of a man by all accounts) profoundly stated "By convention sweet is sweet, bitter is bitter, hot is hot, cold is cold, and colour is colour. But in reality there are atoms and the void. ... Only the atoms and the void are real". Of course as a pre-socratic philosopher he's long dead and pretty much all of his work was destroyed by the Roman Catholics (mustn't grumble) so there's no work of his around to build on his insights. He's right of course (for the most part), our senses are picking up on a perceived order, the flower, the iceberg, the tangerine, the chanterelle, all of which have organised their atoms around a governed biological, physical and chemical parameters. Plants, fungi (not icebergs though) are working towards something, our role in the cogs of this analogue machine must be to cooperate, collaborate and to facilitate. Building biodiversity in an epoch of destruction comes with a certain amount of intentionality.

Biodiversity is key to productivity

It's not the acres you have at your disposal, it's the soil that is interwoven with your roots that is your true capital. To that end, ensuring the biological diversity of soil and plants are at the forefront of every decision making process must be paramount. The outcome of these decision making processes along with selection of good plant genetics will inherently be productivity. The more biodiverse any given system, the more productive (tailoring solar harvesting plants, not cash harvesting humans).

I find as my job, a teacher and a pioneer of sorts to myth bust frequently. What we are currently attempting is to replace the work of an earthworm, a saprophytic fungus and humifying bacteria with machine and synthetic fertiliser. Depending on how short sighted your definition of "works" is, we may choose a reproach. My own definition of what works comes from observing 650 million years of R&D we call plants and their beautiful, often harmonious and equally complex relationships they have built up with their soil dwelling compatriots. If our growing systems start with the intention to invest and support these relationships, the plants under our care will be as beautiful as the systems supporting them.

It's with these decision making parameters that can provide the stimulus and points of inflection for higher quality decisions to be made on a global level that can be the difference between an antagonistic and parasitic community of humans to that of symbiotic in nature. It's ultimately the humus building systems that we choose to invest in (or not) that define this very outcome. Your vote counts, invest in the carbon currency.

For a sweet gallery got to to make this argument less hot air and more 70% chocolate.

Until next week, peace out!

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