Children at Play in the Forests of Arabia

Kenneth Boulding was a pioneer in a subject most needed in today’s confused and endangered world, ecological economics. Boulding’s most famous quote was as follows: “Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever is either a madman or an economist”. Here in the United States, it sometimes appears as if madmen are everywhere. Most of them work for think tanks or are columnists for large establishment newspapers. But they all believe in global capitalism; they all believe in exponential growth, because capitalism requires such growth.

Just this week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its most dire report to date on the impact of carbon-based fuels and their extreme consequences on our weather and environment. Without a 90 percent decrease in our current energy composition — coal, oil, and natural gas — the weather and fresh-water water systems of the world could collapse, the IPCC reported. This would leave billions of people vulnerable to famine and forced ecological migration. The study published by thousands of scientists worldwide concluded that civilization had until the year 2050 to make these dramatic energy adjustments.

I predicted earlier this year that global capitalism simply wasn’t interested in achieving such a monumental energy transformation. In a commentary, I wrote: “The ecological critique (Marx) of perpetual growth and debt (Minsky) is the most salient aspect of our current historic impasse. The global capitalist political system has neither the time nor the desire to arrest catastrophic climate change. Both US political parties are obviously to blame because they have long supported a system hell-bent on continuous economic growth and massive urbanization”.

In order to attain the required transformation recommended by the IPCC, a constant-state, sustainable economy — which will be need based, agrarian, and on a human- ecological scale — will be necessary to literally suck the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. My further commentary went on to say: “Our cosmopolitan capitalist civilization (based primarily on fossilized carbon energy) is not only politically collapsing; it will also lead us to extreme natural disasters (super hurricanes), potential famine, lack of social cohesion (inequality) and the prospect of geopolitical turmoil (Syria).”

To sustain the earth and maintain its fertility will require an ecological value system in complete contradiction to global capitalism and its necessary compulsion toward human replacement (efficiency), deforestation, soil desertification (chemicals), massive mechanization, and land monopoly. Only major land reform can save our planet from the ravages of climate change and false development policies (mass urbanization). What the world really needs are billions of small farmers to care for the soil and open new lands for sustainable agriculture and reforestation. Only with a rural-based and ecologically friendly system of subsistence agriculture — immersed within a value system of respect for all life — would we be able to alter our current failing dominant trajectory over nature.

My earlier commentary continues: “Humanity’s vital linkage to a balanced ecosystem is treated cavalierly by capitalist civilization. Our best hope is to trap carbon organically by a buildup of soil humus and the mass planting and careful growing of trees. This will require a world rural renaissance based on small holder farms, organic production, dietary changes (vegetarianism) — to open land for energy crops and alternative, locally-owned and decentralized energy production (solar-hydrogen).”

The bulk of the wealth from of all energy production should go to the masses of small holders, cooperative farms and energy laborers — and not to a super rich clique of non-productive “owners.” Food, trees and energy should be the basis of the world’s new and ecologically balanced global economy. “Think globally, but act locally” should become a universal motto. Biblical injunctions against greed, usury and perpetual debt must again become the cornerstone of social and economic thought. If humanity is to be saved, the ancient wisdom of the Hebrew Bible must be followed as the primary source of human values. The economic cycles of debt reduction (without interest) and Jubilee equality — in seven and 50 year time spans — are now needed. The Torah of the Jews is much more alive today (with its economic injunctions} than most of the claptrap espoused by the global capitalist establishment.

As I emphasized in my earlier commentary: “We must return to a more direct form of self-reliance through decentralization, community values over self-interest, and an intense concern for our youth and future generations. Economic Liberalism — both the progressive form based on a massive state apparatus (fiscal insanity) and the conservative version based on unlimited individualism and greed — has failed to meet the ecological challenges of the 21st century. Only a dramatic restructuring of social values can work to shrink the state and end the corporate monopoly of wasteful and dangerous production. Democracy can only survive on a scale of organic community, civil cooperation between actual neighbors, and a locally-based component of economic justice. Nature will survive one way or another. But as the Hebrew Bible teaches, our human niche is precarious and requires careful stewardship”.

In the Middle East, Israel must work closely with all its neighbors to prevent the looming disaster of water shortage and modern agricultural and social collapse. The Muslim world — from South Asia to the Atlantic — must cease its emphasis on hegemony and the defeat of Israel. It’s either one or the other: Work against Israel or work with it.

Israel’s hydrogen advancements hold the hope (and real possibility) of opening all the deserts of North Africa, Arabia, South and Central Asia and certainly Australia to a revolution in energy production, distribution, and land reformation. Deserts can be turned green with water, and hydrogen advancement will mean, turning salt water into fresh with an ease of distribution. A new ecological development model is waiting to be born. The IPCC report must force all of us to act. This is especially true of the Arab world and Iran. Water shortages can only worsen.

A huge undeveloped place like Arabia (inclusive of the Levant) can become a carbon-holding sink through the planting of billions of trees, with crops and small pasture land, on countless oases with millions of people in small communities. The production of wind and solar energy — which can then be distributed globally through Israeli-designed auxiliary cell formations — will help to meet the ninety percent reduction in fossil fuels required by the IPCC report. I can envision an Arabia full of hope, with children at play, within its new abundance of small forests. These children will grow strong and educated in the renewal of the religious principles of humility and limitation. With G-d’s help, anything is possible!

About the Author
Steven Horowitz has been a farmer, journalist and teacher spanning the last 45 years. He resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. During the 1970's, he lived on kibbutz in Israel, where he worked as a shepherd and construction worker. In 1985, he was the winner of the Christian Science Monitor's Peace 2010 international essay contest. He was a contributing author to the book "How Peace came to the World" (MIT Press).