Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jobs or the environment? It's a no brainer. Farm jobs!

When President Obama killed the Keystone Pipeline (hopefully permanently), millions of people celebrated, including anyone who had marched at the call of Bill McKibben and/or gotten arrested at the White House for standing on the side walk.   I am proud to say that I was one of those  1,253 arrested (my first arrest!), and later one of the ten thousand that came back to hold hands around the White House in a big protective, hope filled hug! 

Fighting the nasty Tar Sands Pipeline was not just an environmentalist action, it was a human species action. Indeed, it was a member of the planet Earth action.  We dodged a bullet as members of this planet. A carbon bullet that would not just put us over survivable Carbon levels in the atmosphere, we're already well over that for ocean coral, it would set in motion an ecological catastrophe that would not be remedied  for maybe thousands of years.    The ocean can only clean up so much of our messes before she begins to acidify and she's starting to acidify NOW.  A Tar Sands carbon bomb would put her right over the edge.  A moving but alarming documentary, A Sea Change, shows how fragile the oceans really are.

That's why when I started hearing people whining about the jobs lost because of Obama's, maybe only temporary, decision, I did a double take.   You just dodged an end-of-the-world bullet and you seriously are complaining you're upset that jobs were allegedly killed?  Are you kidding me???
First of all the jobs "killed" were paltry at best.  The overestimation from the FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY & FRIENDS stated something like 250,000 jobs potentially

Really? 250,000?  Sounds really great!  All those jobs and taxes would be a great loss. But it sounds too good to be true, and you know when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  
A recent CBS story (see previous link) showed a Cornell University Global Labor Institute "finding that the pipeline would add only 500 to 1,400 temporary construction jobs. The authors of the September report also said that much of the new employment stemming from Keystone would be outside the U.S."
So, why are people whining about 500 jobs outside of the U.S.?   Because the FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTY TOLD THEM TO DO SO!   I can't imagine any other reasonable reason because no person in their right mind would exchange 500 jobs for the survival of our species.   You would have to have been mind controlled by the fossil fuel industry to whine about this.   Either mind controlled or just seriously and deeply misinformed. 

No, but seriously.  If you have any conscience about the state of the planet's health and the future of our great, great grand children, and their great great grandchildren (it could take about that long for the oceans to de-acidify),  you have to seriously consider why you'd be worried about 500 jobs outside the U.S.  
The fate of the planet versus 500 jobs outside the U.S. ?
To me it's a no brainer no matter WHERE those jobs are or how many.   I'll tell you why. Me and nearly half the Earth's population are moms or moms to be... We have to think about how to feed our kids and we often think about their kids. We all want to be grandmas someday and most likely we will be.  But all those little grand-babies add up.
We're talking 7 billion people today and in 100 years that number goes up exponentially.   You do the math.  Terrifying.  Just think of all the Facebook friends I'd have to reply to invites to!  Auuuggh!

It took a hundred years for the planet to grow from a few million to 7 billion. With more mouths to feed and fewer farmers and farms every day, I know what jobs we really should be creating and it's not a paltry 500 unskilled laborers hired to clean up a leaky pipeline.   We are going to need an army of millions of farmers across this country and globally if we are going to meet the growing population's needs.   Unless of course famine is an attractive option to most. Can anyone say Darfur?  Already we are seeing the impact of climate change on crops.  Texas pretty much lost all it's corn this past summer.  You can look at that loss a couple ways, God is punishing them for electing Rick Perry as governor, or the Earth is punishing them for ignoring climate change. You chose.

Ironically, I sense Texans are the ones whining the most about these lost 500 jobs that were going outside the U.S. Perhaps since the pipeline was due to end in Houston at a refinery there and the fossil fuel companies there will lose out on its profits. But they can afford it, I think.
Though I don't think this Texan will be disappointed: David Daniel in a youtube video I shot down in DC getting ready for our first Tar Sands action. He was forgotten since he would not benefit from the refineries or the shipping of this sludge.  The little people are always forgotten in the rich and powerful's lust for more power and riches.
Forgotten also were the millions of people from Canada to Texas and their one water source, the Ogala aquifer that provides drinking and irrigation water to millions across the central U.S. all in the path of the leaky pipeline.  I say leaky, because there is a section of it already built. Yeah! Go figure! The exuberance of the fossil industry!  And that short length of pipeline has leaked consistently once a month the past year.   Like Old Faithful...
Those people have jobs, most of them at least, and some of those jobs require the use of water.   Once that pipeline starts leaking though, and the aquifer is permanently contaminated, you can bet those jobs are going away.  I'm not talking about car wash jobs, or dish washer jobs, I'm talking about farm jobs, the very jobs we are needing MORE OF!!
Farmers are an endangered species, maybe even more than the coral which is dying due to elevated CO2 levels.  In the U.S. there used to be mostly farmland, and 80% of the population farmed even if it was just a little bit on their own property.   Today that percentage is down to 1%.  The improved farming technologies have helped make up the difference in the shrinking numbers of farmers to meet the exponentially rising numbers of population.  But there's a new catch.  An unexpected turn of events, well maybe not so unexpected by folks like John Muir, has caused the unprecedented decline in arable and fertile land.  The cause? Mainly Climate change and erosion but also urban sprawl.  There are 7 billion mouths to feed with fewer farmers, less land, and more unfriendly climate.  And people are whining about 500 jobs?  Mayor Bloomberg laid off 6000 teachers (mostly highly skilled women) last year.  I didn't hear these people whining about those jobs.
Tens of thousands of more highly skilled and exceptionally educated women teachers are being laid off across the country this year.   I don't hear the job whiners complaining about that.   I won't go any deeper into the irony that teachers also seem to have been disproportionately blamed for the country's economic woes, despite that they aren't bankers or Wall Street executives and pretty much had their hands full educating our nation's kids: a godawful, thankless job with no bonuses at the end of the year and no golden parachutes like CEO's do when they screw up and run a business into the ground.

 But I digress.  Farm jobs.  

Right now there is little to no incentive for a young person, or old, to take up the plow and hoe. Despite the subsidies available and the property tax breaks, the life of a farmer is hard and often lonely. Long hours, hard work, little pay back for the input, make it not one of the most desirable careers to go into, noble though it is.  Fortunately a very brave, young army of farmers has taken up the challenge and joined the fight to save the planet and our food supply by becoming Organic farmers, Permaculture farmers and Biodynamic farmers.  I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity this past week (1/21/12) to attend a conference of the North East Organic Farmers Association of NY (NOFA NY) in Saratoga Springs and meet some of these farmers. 
About two hundred plus folks showed up from the state to share in workshops, lectures and seminars on farming methods from growing grain, to orchard care (what I took), to raising chickens, to preserving food.  A rich variety of people were there of all ages and all types, some looking all business and others along a mix of bohemian & hippie.  Even though I'm not an official farmer, though I've gardened and grown food for two decades or more, I felt quite at home amongst these joyful, tanned, sturdy and amazingly well educated folk.  They made conscious decisions to take the path of Organic farming not because it pays well, but because it's the right thing to do.  The fossil fuel used in traditional farming is a major reason these folks either switched methods or became Organic farmers.  They know the high levels of CO2 are changing the planet, and the way food needs to be grown has to change also.  On the NOFA NY website page for Policy work there is an interesting list, a hint of our battles to come.

Current Policy Sub-Committee Areas Include:
Raw Milk
Meat Processing
Gas Drilling
Food Safety

These are each critically important subjects to all of us, not just to Organic farmers, but it is our Organic farmers who will make the difference for us.  If we continue to worry about 500 allegedly lost unskilled jobs that would not benefit us in any way, we will forget the 200 plus highly skilled NY Organic farmers who are working slavishly behind the scenes to secure our food by making it safer and healthier and more local.  And water is a big part of that equation.  You can't have farms without water.  And what doesn't mix with water and never has is oil. 

We dodged a bullet and so did all our farmers across the nation.  Let's not worry so much about the made up job numbers the fossil fuel industry gives us, like the hyped job numbers we're also getting from the hydrofracking industry,  let's focus on the real jobs that exist, the farm jobs,  and that need us to support them so that they can keep feeding us and in turn teach US how to grow food too.   Organically! 

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