Nature Past, Nature Present

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
How agriculture has impacted societal equality and lead to the desire for power and control - with a focus on food quality. I did this paper for a class!

Submitted: November 07, 2009

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Submitted: November 07, 2009

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The Rise of Agriculture
As environmental factors forced humanity to seek out desirable living conditions, the domestication of plants paved a way for humans to increase their survival. The domestication of plants, animals, and the landscape have lead to the negative impact on the natural environment ever since. It is a natural part of evolution for cells and organisms to congregate into larger and larger complex entities and communities. If you think about it, one human is a complete community of cells that function to maintain the survival of the organism. Multiple humans make up a larger community that operates together for the survival of the community, every organism, and every cell that makes up each organism. The homeostasis required for survival can withstand a tremendous amount of pressure before certain behaviors result in an irreversible death, whether it is at the cellular or planetary level. Unfortunately, human actions have caused great pressure on the homeostasis of all organisms and the planet itself. Through pollution and depletion of the natural environment, humans have devastated the home of countless species.
Humanity did not jump into agriculture living. Agriculture was preceded by the nomadic hunters and gathers knowledge to domesticate plants without the need to live stationary and sedentary lifestyles. The domestication of nature began the transition towards agriculture and the alteration of nature. Humans began interfering with the natural processes and customizing the plants, animals, and landscape for their own uses. The change from nomadic living that incorporated domesticated plants provided the necessary knowledge for humans when they were driven to live stationary lifestyles. Although the reason for transition is only proposed to varying factors, the impact of the transition seems to be mainly due to the motivation for survival. 
Despite the transition to agriculture for survival purposes, the lifestyle did not meet the needs of all members. According to Fred Spier, it took five thousand years of agrarian living before a division of classes arose. As people turned to agriculture to meet their needs, a sense of control and inequality was established. Status was created through the hierarchal structures of the states due to the organization of labor and distribution of resources. State formation was a consequence of larger communities forming and needing structure for organization. The formation of states led to the separation of equality from granting certain people responsibilities for deciding who was granted certain resources. This was the beginning of humans methodically abusing power over other humans through the use of resources and labor duties.
Food Issues & You & I
Collective learning has come with a price. With the ability to print language and exchange information through numerous networks, human knowledge has increased exponentially. This has led to the increase of human impact on the biosphere from dramatically fast changes in industrial and technological advances. These advances have severely destroyed the natural environment. The organization of states greatly impacted the escalating destruction to our planet. The gravitation of people to centralized locations has destroyed the surrounding ecosystems as a sacrifice for human living. Humans consume a fourth of all photosynthesis products. Man’s journey to pursue its own needs has interrupted earth’s natural cycles. Humans remain living in selfishness and ignorance until their actions become blindingly evident and their own lives become threatened. As a species, our selfishness to pursue power over the environment has declined the biodiversity and the life quality on this planet.
Pollution and depletion, the main consequences of human impact, are threatening the lives of all organisms. Fresh water is becoming scarce, which is threatening the lives of many species. Pollution in the water is altering the genetic makeup of all organisms due to the interconnection of the biosphere: nothing remains untouched by our destructive choices. Processes that take millions of years to complete are being exhausted for their resources at rapid rates. The carbon cycle and fresh water accumulation are two main examples. We are reaching our planets limit to support our species, while also threatening the survival of many other species to support ourselves. Our choices in agriculture alone have left the land in critical condition.
After learning to manipulate the natural environment, the quality of life declined for all species. The natural environment has taken a tremendous toll from the pollution and depletion of species and resources. The quality of life decreased for humans through poorer nutritional qualities from domesticated plants. Plant quality also declined due to the genetic changes that resulted from domestication and agriculture. Now companies are altering food at a genetic level, further decreasing the nutritional value.
Future of Nature?
People’s quest for power and control over nature and each other is regressive of the idea for improved quality of life. As some people are trying to make lives better for all species, some people are trying to find ways to own all species. Monsanto is an example of a corporation trying to take over the world. By altering seeds at the genetic level, Monsanto has found a way to own all seeds and offspring of their genetically altered plants; Monsanto has patented nature and has nearly no regulations to hold it accountable. Not only are people allowed to patent nature and all offspring, but they basically own parts of the earth. This is fundamentally different than real estate and people owning land. By the rules of patenting, the patentee owns all patented alterations of their product, and therefore owns all cross-breeds, which occur naturally and inevitably on other people’s property. Whereas ownership of land allows citizens to do as they please, but still have to obey certain regulations. In addition, this land can be seized by the government if not regulations are not met. However, the regulations for patenting are protecting the wrong people: the people desiring power and control.
This issue of patenting is crossing the line: how did the government allow nature to be patented? How is the government slowly allowing the ownership of nature and eventually people? If people consume these genetically modified organisms, their bodies take on the chemical qualities of these foods. Who is to say that people are not already property of these corporations through the patenting laws? I mentioned the regression of our society because the ownership of people has been abolished for over a century. Why are we now reverting to these old ways? What is it in man that continues to drive his desire for ownership, power, and control? I am not sure what it is but I know it exists, and I know the government is not innocent in its involvement. Prominent previous employees of Monsanto are now highly involved in government regulation, including the Environmental Protection Agency. Whose well-being are these people really trying to monitor and improve: the national and global community or their own pockets? Informed citizens need to stand up against these behaviors and alleviate the damage done to the planet and the people.
Patenting nature also concerns me deeply in regards to the alteration of nature. The idea of patenting is disturbing because of the permanent changes at the genetic level. Through consumption of these genetically altered foods, we are beginning to alter our own genes. Genetically modified organisms need to be labeled in the future. They are labeled in other countries, especially in Europe. Our country should be granted the same ability to be informed consumers. Without future labeling within the United States, citizens will continually be unaware of what they put into their bodies. Since people are essentially what they eat, this is not fair to people who would like to be conscious of what they put into their bodies. The awareness of labeling of genetically altered foods needs to be raised in order for more people to transform the current regulations of food practices.
Genetic changes are not the only changes our bodies are experiencing. The uses of pesticides, which have been derived from nerve gas, have also altered our bodies. Pesticides have polluted the environment along with bringing increased health risks to all species and the planet itself. Pesticides are not a sustainable practice and an alternative needs to be addressed. Agriculture has brought on many hardships for the planet. People need to confront the truth of what the earth is experiencing. It is not a fairytale, nor is it a hoax. Fortunately, there are communities and individuals who are living exemplar lifestyles. Vietnamese farmers use a closed circuit system that encourages no waste and multiple uses by everything on their farms. It is commendable that people, like farmers from Vietnam, can respect the earth as though it is not their property. We are not that different than plants and should stop treating the planet as though we are the superior species. Research shows that plants behave similarly to animals in that they possess similar neurotransmitters and can communicate via chemical responses. As a dominant species, we must apply our abilities to alleviate the pressure on the environment and preserve the existing biodiversity. We can also follow suit of the Macedonians who employed flexible and peaceful tactics to prevent war among people. The depletion of resources is going to create instability within communities and we must find a way to work together.
When we consider the laws of entropy and the accumulation of unusable energy, it is easy to wonder how order is possible at all. Eric Chaisson explains that despite the disorder in the universe, there are units of complex order that exist among the chaos: these include galaxies, stars, planets, and life forms. These “islands of ordered complexity” are following the laws of non-equilibrium thermodynamics: resources flow in, wastes flow out, and system entropy decreases locally while environmental entropy increases locally . Therefore, although the universal entropy appears to be inevitable, there is substantial evidence the local order is possible and should be respected. As a species, humans need to accept responsibility by confronting how our choices have destroyed many lives, from controlling nature to controlling each other.


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