Our future on the head of a pin

I’ve posted quite a bit lately on the struggle to protect farmland on the west coast of Canada from industrial and suburban development. I now turn your attention to the ruckus caused by the Ontario government, who has designated the Oak Ridges Moraine north of Toronto, Ontario, out of bounds to greedy developers. Farmers are screaming blue bloody murder

By now, George and Iva had hoped to be spending dinnertime arguing over whether to move to a condo or bungalow when the sale goes through on this 80-hectare dairy farm, which George’s parents bought in 1918, six years before he was born.

…Without the possibility of developing the property, the "dickering" with real estate agents, as George calls it, abruptly stopped.

The couple are now angry that the sale of their land, which was to be their retirement fund, has, they say, been sabotaged by a government more interested in protecting pretty countryside than the fate of the farmers.

And though the government says it won’t happen, the Evanses want compensation.

Oh really?

Dave Pollard has written as excellent essay on the subject, This is the way the world ends.

As for the farmers, who lauded the Oak Ridges Moraine act, they’ve shown their true stripes in their violent opposition to this new bill which was designed to protect their livelihood.

Farmers do have it tough, there is no doubt. But as I see it, the issue of whether George and Iva should be able to retire to a condo in Florida is a tiny pixel in a much bigger picture. Populations are exploding all over the world, and arable farmland that is not gobbled up to accomodate more people is slowly (but not slowly enough, unfortunately) being sucked dry by global warming and the insatiable human demand for water. The net loss of thousands of acres of farmland each day worries me; multiply that by just a couple of hundred years and humans of the future will be reduced to growing vegetables on, much like George and Iva’s concerns, the head of a pin.

Now, before you dismiss me as alarmist, consider this: Humans have been dependant on farming to feed themselves for the past 10,00 years, and I like to operate on the assumption that we will continue to exist for at least another 10,000 years. Barring some kind of bizarre evolutionary adaption, I’m also operating on the assumption that homo sapiens will continue to need to eat. If Canada, of all countries, can’t get its act together to ensure its own food security for the future, what country will? The one we hope to buy food from for the next ten millenia? Oh yeah, I’m putting my money on that one.

People, in this case farmers like George and the real estate speculators, seem to operate on the basis of this philosophy:  "Forget the consequences, I want what I can get for my own comfort today, because the world ends when I die.  If it doesn’t — well, who the hell cares anyway. I’m dead." As Dave Pollard says, this is the way the world ends.

Let’s hope it’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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