Free Essay on the Earth

Free Essay: Irrelevant Earth?

Today, a 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck off the north-east coast of Japan. As of yet, there are no concrete reports as to the extent of the damage. So far however, whole towns have been leveled by the earthquake, by the subsequent 10 meter (30 foot) high Tsunami or a combination of both. The news reports have been broadcasting images of a huge Tsunami carrying debris, cars, ships, burning buildings and the like on to the farmlands of Japan’s east coast. Some reports are saying that the death toll will reach the hundreds, and this is a terrible thing to fathom. This could be just a natural phenomena (in a way it is), that has been occurring since time began, seeing that Japan is on the Pacific Rim of Fire. (Watson, 1999) It can also mean that the Earth has had enough of our destructive activity, and is trying to tell us something through such natural disasters. Similar to when we have an itch, sometimes caused by tiny bugs, we scratch it, hoping it will do the trick. It is no surprise then, that from the onset of the Industrial Revolution, some 150 years ago, the environment around us has started to change drastically, and we are only now realizing the full impact. (McLamb, 2008) From such thinkers, movements arose, especially in the last 30-40 years, warning us that if we do not stop harming the environment we will destroy ourselves. One poet, Wendell Berry, argues that such single-issue movements are doomed to inevitably fail. Although he does have a point, it is these movements that will help heal, even save the earth from us, thus propelling the human civilization into the future.

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One cannot argue that Berry isn’t a great writer or thinker. His essay, titled The Distrust of Movements, argues that single-issue movements are doomed to fail. Taking, for example, the organic movement, Berry asserts that sooner or later such movements will be taken over by huge conglomerates, stamp a “we’re so nice and organic” label on the products, and that’s it; that this will be the end of the movement because it will become too commercialized and take on a commercial meaning of its own, essentially giving way to irradiation and bio-engineering of the food. (Berry, 2000) His argument centers around his assumption that the movements are “bound to fail because they cannot control effects while leaving causes in place.” He goes on even further than that.

Another point that Berry makes, is that these movements are not radical enough within themselves. That those participating in them are, in essence, hypocrites that do not practice what they preach. There, of course, is something weird and drastically unappealing about these people, usually wearing Teva sandals, shorts and tie-dye t-shirts everywhere. Obviously this is a generalization, but these are the people that will select a movement wanting to save the environment or something of that nature, but will always do, say or buy something that will eventually harm the environment in one way or another. Granted, we cannot leave the face of the earth willfully, so as not to harm it, we will always have some impact on it. But, we can do all that we can do reduce some form of our footprint on the environment.

So, what is the history of our agrarian movements as Berry calls them? This occurred over time, millennia, where out of necessity the hunter-gatherer tribes of our forefathers, eventually developed ways to cultivate the lands. Obviously this wasn’t to the extent like we have now with gargantuan corporate farms destroying our soil, but it was a step in the right direction to establish our civilization, like we have now. (Watson P. , 2005)

Unfortunately, or fortunately for us we have developed the capacity to save ourselves from ourselves, in a sense that, we have the power, the will and the financial might as a people to control what we put into our and our children’s bodies. Hence, a great example of the success of single-issue movements, while still holding on to their true ideals, is Whole Foods Market (WFM) and similar small shops all over the country that bring together what is truly good for us and the environment.

Where his argument eventually leads, is that these movements will become commercialized. In a sense, they will, and it is necessary not to forget that America is still the land of opportunity. Where one still has the power to make a profit. This is where the movements can still and do succeed. It is necessary for them to be centralized, however, and import a system of checks and balances. The people behind the movements must be true patriots, idealists and entrepreneurs that as much as they might like making a dollar (which, of course is necessary to take care of one’s family) still will have the courage to keep the movement and its members on the right path, not giving-in to the temptations and pressures of huge corporations looking to use them as labels on their products. Then, taking WFM, which is a for-profit corporation, publicly traded on the Stock Exchange, we can see that it has been working to take these individual, independent movements and use their power to provide healthy, delicious and environmentally friendly alternatives for the people. (Whole Foods Market, 2011)

Wendell Berry argues that it is the single-movements that will fail our environment. From green, organic to soil replenishment and clean water, these movements have no power within them, and will eventually be swallowed up by the corporate interests. It is true that eventually they will have to make a deal with a for-profit devil, however, he is wrong to say that they will fail. To the contrary, these movements are thriving throughout the country, and are serving many purposes, including, profit, environment conservation and health for our kids. It is for-profit organizations that can propel these movements forward, just as long as certain criteria, such as self-control, temperance and reason are followed, in order to maintain a healthy and sustainable balance with the earth.

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