Temperature records are being smashed across the US southwest. Last month Arizona set new record high temperatures three times, and as a result of the heat there have been many unfortunate consequences.
In addition to the humorous pictures of mailboxes melting, many people have died, and wildfires have damaged property across the state. As of yet the fires have not put major population centers into danger, but firefighters struggle to contain blazes in conditions such as these.
The extreme heat this summer isn’t limited to the United States, and in central Portugal a recent firestorm left an entire region devastated, and many dead. Due to the heat, and a series of violent electrical storms, the village of Nodeirinho was destroyed, and while 11 residents died, no one will return to their former home.
One native of Nodeirinho had to watch his brother burn to death in a car, as the firestorm rained huge balls of fire from the sky. The residents of the nearby village Figueira lost fewer of their friends and family, but the fires that engulfed their homes created incredible hardship, as well as fears that the end of the world may have been imminent.
A Growing Problem
The terror and destruction that rising temperatures has created is large for those who have lost loved ones, but the risks that they pose to global society are enormous. The world is struggling with an ever increasing population, and a agricultural supply chain that is already straining to feed the world.
Higher temperatures require more resources to produce the same amount of food, and past a certain point it is impossible to maintain agricultural production at current levels. This dynamic is amplified by the near monopoly status of the world agricultural companies like Monsanto, whose products are not made to endure the volatile growing conditions that are emerging.
In addition to the risks posed by the homogeneous nature of today’s food crops to the world at-large, there is little being done to innovate farming methods that pose a risk to life as we know it.
This may be due to the profit that is created by the current system, and the inability of farmers to sustain themselves economically unless they use the products that create outsized profits for Big Ag.
Oasis In The Desert
Geoff Lawton knows how to get results in dry conditions, and his recent success in Wadi Rum, Jordan is evidence of how much he know about creating value in some of the most challenging growing conditions on earth.
The Wadi Rum project stated with a barren piece of earth, and waste water from a nearby commercial farm. While his plan for the project was initially though to be ineffective, the crop failures were traced to planting oversights and omissions. Once his plan was followed, the results were amazing.
By using permaculture techniques, some of which he pioneered, his system created a viable farm in only four years. The water that feeds the Wadi Rum project would have been wasted, and these systems will be invaluable as the people of the 21st century cope with the myriad of oversights that we have inherited from the past.
The clear downside to permaculture is the inability to create huge profits for multi-national corporations, but it is hard to spend money when there are giant fireballs raining down from the sky.