Letter from EAAA member & farmer

Letter from EAAA member and farmer Rosemary Hook

I enjoyed reading the EAAA newsletter as always and was interested that Capra has co-authored another book; I am currently reading his book “Turning Point” which I am finding very interesting.  I was reflecting on his writings and your comment on his new book, as well as on the divide between ecological and “traditional” agriculture; the current political situation is also relevant.  It seems to me that there is now a need for much care in the use of the words “science” and “scientific”.  To address the political context first, we currently have a government that is not listening to advice from scientists, particularly in relation to climate and the environment more generally.  Indeed, the government is quite hostile to any knowledge that might hinder “making money” (or any implementation of their ideology) and is doing its best to render environmental science in any form irrelevant to our society.

At the same time, we have a very real divide within the scientific community between those who are influenced by the findings of 20th Century quantum physics, ecology and systems thinking and those who are still immersed in a reductionist approach. Given the political context, I think it important that the word “science” isn’t used as short-hand for a reductionist approach and then denigrated for its failings. “Science” doesn’t need any more detractors at the moment and there are very many who won’t make the distinction as to approach.  Also, quantum physics, ecology and systems thinking are very much part of science.  What is the answer?  My thought is that care should be taken to always spell out that it is a lack of a systems or ecological approach that is the issue, not “science”.  As you say, Capra is identifying the shift in focus from objects to relationships.  I think it is this difference in underlying thinking that needs to be emphasized so people become aware that there is a paradigm shift within science, not a negation of science.

Sadly, it’s difficult to easily indicate in a word or two that “agricultural science” tends to be dominated by the old paradigm.  In some ways, I’d like to see ecological agriculture called the “new agricultural science”, highlighting the fact that a reductionist approach has been replaced by an holistic one, and that the reductionist view is obsolete and has been superseded!  Scientists themselves are ignoring the findings of a whole body of science……how can we criticize the public?

These are just thoughts……I don’t know if anyone else has been contemplating this problem in language or even if they see one.

With best wishes,

Rosemary

Perhaps a suitable label might be Ecological Agriculture – The new agricultural science.

Your comments please.

Kerry Cochrane | Editor

*The books mentioned in the article:

The systems view of life: a unifying vision

The systems view of life: a unifying vision

The_Turning_Point_(Fritjof_Capra_book)

The turning point: science, society and the rising culture

 

Comments 1

  1. Dear Rosemary
    Thank you for your clear thinking in “Science”.
    In the interests of clarity in thinking by people, I suggest that there be a language division between the ‘people invented, doing sciences’, that build cities and city supply landscapes as technology and infrastructure in our day and Nature doing “Science” that repeatable ‘creates’ eco-structure by self-replacing all components of ecosystem .
    e.g. Engineering science, agricultural science, monetary economics, agronomy, etc.—– Repeatable Natural Phenomena interpreted correctly.
    The definition of “Science” is; The Study and Understanding of Repeatable Natural Phenomena, without human intervention. I think as a word and deed, “Science” might best stay that way.
    Agricultural Science is a figment of human imagination (as is agronomy and monetary economics) and was ‘created’ by University, government, commerce and industry in the early 1700’s in England, to form a “snobby” professional class of people, to oversee the production of food and fibre and commercialise and industrialise rural land. Agricultural science is not science, when applied to land it is just an industrial process, increasing desertification in every country where practiced, often in part, funded by government.
    Doing MORE of the same and expecting a different result, is the definition of insanity.
    Where as;
    The original meaning of the word ‘farm’ was ‘increase’ or a place to increase our food and water.
    I suggest that as language and its use is always in flux and often confuses issues for personal gain, that we return to the word “FARMING” to define our meaning of producing MORE soil, MORE food, MORE fibre, MORE water and MORE clean air naturally regenerating the land without the monetary cost of purchasing anything in, as input to land and water systems.
    Agricultural collages are in the ‘box seat’ in teaching “farming” using natural processes, broad acre, using farmers as tutors on the land who can increase ecosystems by ‘natural increase’. If “Farming” collages were to appoint students as apprentices and or in partnerships ‘on farm’ there would no longer be any need to receive government funding, for farming naturally is very lucrative and accumulating.
    Farming naturally (“Landsmanship” using the living practices of both plants and animals together) is the only business in the world with a FREE supply chain.
    The way I farm is to recycle through earth and water MORE of what grows to grow more of what we need and to sell– as MORE soil, MORE plant species, MORE animal species, MORE energy, MORE wild life, MORE water and MORE ‘habitat in common’. And I ‘educate’ my friends and family to make their own independent decisions, as the opposite to everyone trained by this present ‘education system’ that is now defunct.
    I was formally trained in Agricultural Science and I now completely reject the use of any agricultural practices on my own land.
    All the best,
    Paul Newell
    paulnewell@people.net.au

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