Bio-mass, Speed and Acceleration

Yes, as we saw in the last chapter – pursuit of career, kills pursuit of truth. To pursue truth, we must step into wind, sunshine and rain – to which I may add, into famine, flood and storm.
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Even so, a walk in the woods, across fields, to the hill-top, along the shore… is a good beginning. To continue the verb metaphor, we will be walking climbing, descending, listening, scenting, touching… Only by that broken twig underfoot, the scent of bluebells, do we find truth. As a farmer, I can see the deepening, or paling of my crops – which indicate accelerating, or decelerating life – that is the mass, energy and velocity of life. Some of those deepenings, or paleings will follow the weather. Often, they may be reactions to my actions – to my appropriate, or inappropriate behaviours. Listen to those reactions. Nobody – no expert opinion, can change that truth. No one is closer to the cycling of life than the farmer. It is tragic that most farmers concede to utterly shallow, career-led academic advice, when true answers are revealed crop yield (present, past and planned-future) and in messages from the wider ecology, with which they are entwined.
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As I step, the Earth responds. Am I a functioning, or at least semi-functioning part of my ecology? Am I appropriate to it, or not? Legends of the Fall, keep hubris at bay. I step along the edge of the Garden and long to be part of a lost terrain. Here’s a lesson we can take from our own missteps – Never trust a school of thought entirely, when we cannot even trust ourselves. Also, never, ever trust an institutional consensus. Sometimes we concede to it, to keep our social bonds, but we must know that truth is not involved. We compromise for our companions. Weigh the effects compromise against the weight of sensual truth. We will have lived that truth and we will have loved our friends. Ridicule brings renegades back to the fold of friendship. As a farmer standing in my guardianship of soil, I can see a whole community of renegades. I am losing friends but cannot return to a renegade fold. I confess, my head is in my hands.
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What does zero carbon mean? Truly, zero carbon means extinguishing every man-made fire. Net zero means the gathering of pardons and indulgencies from a fanciful reading of life cycles and then subtracting them from our bad behaviour, to suggest that it is good. People call life cycles, carbon cycles. They are deluded. Life cycles have mass, energy and velocity – the energy being embodied in the mysterious thing we call life. Carbon is simply mass. Nobody, absolutely nobody understands what life is. For our purpose we must call it acceleration due to life – the energy that can transform mass at a variety of speeds. We have energy due to gravity, energy due to sun-light, energy due to sun-heat, energy due to fire, energy due to human labour – which, of course is a very small part of acceleration due to life.
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Everyone is measuring mass. Mass is good for pillage. It is (we think) also good to store, like money in a bank. It is dispensation-mass for life’s bargaining. We sequester carbon – we think, in quietude – enclosed like a dead idea – a book in a library, which no one needs to bring to life, by their own life – that is by reading it.
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But soil life has constantly changing and exchanging velocity, energy and mass. It cannot be sequestered for our peace of mind. It is one and the same with the plants and animals who tread separately to carbon deluded eyes and with the atmospheric gases, which that whole regulates. Gravity, heat and light make rigid energetic contribution, but living energy and mass cycle at a near infinite varieties of speeds, maintaining and healing the whole.
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However, oil, coal and gas were truly sequestered. The word is appropriate. It is not appropriate for soil. The ignition of many millions of fossilised and quietly sequestered years has out-done life’s balancing – bringing into the equation both the mass-destructive power of human endeavour – aviation, the family car, centralised distribution, pillage of natural systems, and a surfeit of atmospheric CO.2 – heating ecosystems to beyond their evolutionary range.
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We must leave the fossils, where they lie, quietly sequestered – also the anaerobic stillness of peat and we must extinguish our bio-fires – timber, oil seeds, sugar-cane, miscanthus…
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Earth is heating so fast (Yes, consider time, consider velocity) that we must shrug off our careers and urgently find ways to live as small parts of the biomass and biodiversity of the whole.
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We need, not the negative of zero-carbon cultures, but the positive of maximum biomass cultures. As we’ve seen in previous chapters, an ancient rainforest is a system in balance with an optimum biomass and complexity, which can constantly adjust and heal. It can provide no pardons, or dispensations for destructive human behaviour outside its borders. It can provide no licence to misbehave, stamped with the title – sequestration. But if we attempt to become a part of natural law, so that we also become a part of that optimum biomass – adjusting and healing…, then that mass may expand to become more resilient in energy, velocity – which may outweigh (in mass, energy, velocity) the contrary forces, which we call energy due to lifelessness – combustion gases, heat and ashes.
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A farm is an organism connected to the organisms of towns. They are one. We call it an agriculture. The farmer, standing in her crops is also a part of universal natural law – in her mind are temperature, wind, rain – the deepening and paling of crops (energy and velocity), networks of roads, rivers and canals to market and from the market (she hopes) “wastes” in return. Differing speeds are everywhere. Time is massive, dangerous, imperative…
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We are accelerating towards a lifeless planet. Shouldn’t the remedy be obvious?
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