Over the past several years, I’ve had to listen to conservatives talk about “job killing environmental regulations” and how we should be doing more exploitation of fossil fuels. As they put it during the 2008 campaign, “Drill baby, drill!” Yes, if only we would wave aside all those “greenies,” open up public land and offshore areas to drilling, build the Keystone XL pipeline, and get out of the hair of those who want to frack new areas, we would hit the promised land of cheap gas and energy independence. Life would be good, right?
Tag Archives: employment
I was recently reading a very good series on West Virginia over at Al Jazeera. It’s the thing that you used to see from our media, but no longer. It’s a rather disturbing picture of what happens when an area is almost totally dependent on one industry, and one that is an “extractive industry:” Coal. The reports focus on one county, McDowell, which in the past was one of the major producers of coal. Today? Well, it’s not a very nice place. But there’s some lessons in there as well.
It’s officially “Spring,” according to the calendar, although the “look out the window” around here says “still Winter.” There are signs that spring will eventually get here, but exactly when is anyone’s guess. One of the evidences for climate change from my perspective is that “general predictability” has gone out the window in the past decade. There was a time when I could plan around when seasons would begin, within a week or two. Now, I have to guess within a month or so, and I’m usually wrong.
One of the first agricultural techniques, which is still practiced in many parts of the world, is “slash and burn agriculture.” It’s pretty simple:
Slash-and-burn is an agricultural technique that involves cutting and burning of trees and plants in forests or woodlands to create fields. It is subsistence agriculture that typically uses little technology or other tools. It is typically part of shifting cultivation agriculture, and of transhumance livestock herding.
It works by clearing an area, planting crops until the soil is depleted, and then moving on to the next area. Eventually, one may move back to the original area, after a period of allowing regrowth, but that isn’t always possible. Its use as a successful method depends on having a small population and a lot of land to move to. The problem with it is that it’s not a sustainable method of agriculture. Once you reach a certain population density, or have exhausted the land available, it becomes unsustainable. So, what does that have to do with the economy?
One of the things that amuses me is when I see the typical demographic of Tea Party or “true conservative” Republican Party members. Why does it amuse me? Well, I fall into that demographic as well. I’m in my 50’s, a rural white male. My childhood was spent in rural areas, and today I live in one. We were (and are) hard working, independent, “take care of yourself and your family” people. I had a strong religious background, in fact, many people assumed that when I grew up I’d be a minister. I went to college, joined the military afterward, and after leaving, went to work in the private sector. I even ran my own business for a few years. So “obviously” I should be a conservative Republican, not a liberal Democrat!