"an article published in _Choices_ magazine (First Quarter 1997, p.
10-13), [in which] Mr. Avery ... says that we do not have enough organic
nitrogen to support organic
production. He suggests that the only way to get the necessary N is to
clear forests to plant more legumes. "
This kind of argument seems to me to be based on some simple single
direction ideas of how systems work - as in the trophic pyramid description
to show humans at the top of the heap, eating vast resources, from which it
is at times argued that humans should be vegetarians, not carnivores.
All organisms produce wastes and these contain high quantities of nitrogen
and lots more; systems are immensely complex, our organic approach to the
soil is based on a view of the importance of the organic life in the soil.
We benefit not just from all these nice little folks being in the soil, but
from the little deposits they leave behind.
If we stopped piling our own organic waste into rivers and oceans, stopped
adding heavy metals and other poisons to it and took our own and other
organisms' wastes seriously, we'd realise that the total cycle of products
of organisms in any ecology should be sufficient to maintain that ecology.
Urban society apparently has enough to swim in. We make a start on all this
at our farm with a composting toilet and bottles for the boys, rather than a
septic tank imitation of blush free, flush and forget urban human waste
I think we can really trip ourselves starting with the mathematically
simplistic laws of thermodynamics. Systems do not necessarily proceed
towards entropy (though this may be the perception of someone who wants
another order than that towards which the system is heading). Many reactions
may travel in one direction, but whole system pathways can find their way
back to where they came from and to better things.
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