Environmental Apocalypse or Ecologism: the Beginning of a New Era

As the global population continues to grow exponentially there are many new stressors put on the environment, the producers, and the general public. These three categories are the pillars of sustainability, and without balance between them there is instability racing through and challenging everyone’s way of life. As we have seen throughout past years, there has not been balance and the divide between developed and developing nations continues to grow, which is one indication for potential environmental apocalypse or the need of ecologism. There are four stages in which Western Industrial Civilizations grow in a life cycle. Stage I, where there is a strong sense of shared purpose and is denoted as “springtime”, activities and growth are self-regulated. Stage II occurs when there is weakening agreeance and loss of a shared social purpose, denoted as “summer”. “Autumn” is Stage III, when there is very little consensus and a shared social purpose is limited. Stage IV is “winter” and the collapse of all consensus and there is no clear social purpose, society begins to break down. I believe we are at the end of “summer” and soon to enter “autumn” as the divide in society is increasing and government is busy trying to regulate as much as possible, but soon to falter. Ecologism is a worldview centering on sustainable development in a society that understands and respects the importance of a strong and stable environment for the foundation of survival of society. It is the responsibility of each individual to fight for a sustainable way of living. If we as a society do not act now, we are expediating the environmental apocalypse, or Stage IV.

Something I am very passionate about is the implementation and incorporation of renewable energy. Unfortunately, this has become a controversial thing in the US. Prime locations of this technology are in tourist areas, such as wind turbines off the coast in the ocean or the mountains, or solar panels on the land around these destinations. Many people find them to be ugly and disruptive of the views. Personally, I think they are beautiful and would love to stare at wind turbines as I sit on the beach, watching as energy is being harnessed right before my eyes from literally the wind, which would have been blowing regardless of the turbine’s placement. I also believe if we want to avoid an environmental apocalypse then people need to get over seeing a few wind turbines or solar panels and accept changes in order to survive. However, out of trying to understand someone else’s views and opinions I have come to the conclusion that dual land use is the most important thing we as a civilization can do as we begin our sustainable progression.

Dual land use maximizes agricultural land by building either wind turbines or solar panels on current active crop or animal farming land. Every action requires the usage of energy and all energy comes at an expense. The agriculture industry consumes energy at an incredibly high rate, all while converting a fraction of that energy into food for people and animals. Non-renewable energy sources such as fertilizer and diesel made up more than half of the total energy consumed by agriculture in 2014 (Hitaj, 2017). This however does not need to be the primary source of energy for farmers, for dual land use can help bridge the gaps and make agriculture sustainable again.

Sustainable agriculture took hold in the first movement with “humus farming” in the mid 19th century which reflected on humus content in the soil. Many influential pieces of literature followed supporting the importance of a strong humus layer in soil. This first movement created a wave of others to occur. The second movement occurred in the early 20th century focusing on complex farming systems. This also had a few books that followed in response. Europe lead the third movement after R. Steiner’s lectures on holistic agriculture in 1924, an advocate for industrialization of agriculture. The fourth movement was about organic practices, referring to the farm as an “organism”, leading to many organic farming writings ensuing. Other key movements included the Green Revolution, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, and the Environmental movement, all three occurring in the 1960s. Food Security Act in 1985 was the first piece of legislature that acknowledged agriculture sustainability. Low-Input Sustainable Agriculture program formed next which is now called Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, and the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, the Conservation Reserve Program, and the Farm Bill in 2002, followed this trend shortly after. Sustainable practices, though not a recent concept, have yet to be embraced or taken on in large scale productions.

A team of scientists, Majumdar and Pasqualetti working within the Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area, reported their study of working on incorporating sustainable practices with agriculture and trying to find a way to make these practices easily attainable to farmers and commonplace in the sector. Their focus was on agrivoltic system development and dual land use in the Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The purpose was to find a way to preserve productive agricultural land and discover an alternative solution to energy shortcomings. Agrivoltic systems were first proposed by two German scientists in 1982, however only until recently has the practice taken hold in limited countries. Agrivoltic systems are photovoltaic (PV) modules that are placed in rows on productive agriculture fields. In between the concisely spaced rows of PV modules are either crops or animals. The slope of the land needs to be less than five degrees in order to be most productive, but the direction the land faces is not an issue because the panels can be tilted. The panels need to be built 12 feet above the ground in order for the land below to be easily cultivated, resulting in the panels receiving about 80% direct sunlight. Using PV modules creates shading on the agricultural land below, however the study showed that the crops were 60-70% more productive with the panels. This is partially due to the fact that about 14-29% of evapotranspired water was not lost, maximizing the watering practices preformed. Crops and livestock are also being protected from harsh weather conditions from the overhang of the panels. Additionally, the team of scientists were able to show that agrivoltic systems with dual land use practices benefited the farmers as well. With half density panel distribution in crops of alfalfa, cotton, and barley, each farmland can generate approximately 600 MWh/acre per year of energy. The energy inputted to grow these crops is one percent of the generated total. This means the farmers are harnessing more energy than they are putting into their crops. The profit from selling the generated energy to a utility company would provide the farmer with and additional 6,000 dollars per acre per year. This increased income can reduce financial burden on farms and increases property value.

In all, Majumdar and Pasqualetti, the team of scientists, concluded in their research paper that implementation of PV modules to agricultural land helps preserve the land, create carbon-free energy, meet growing needs, increase yield productivity, increase farmers income, increase land value, and create a more sustainable environment. However, doing so is a difficult transition to make and upfront costs can be intimidating to many farmers. As mentioned in the research paper, 85 percent of farmers in central Arizona believe farming is not only something that pays the bills, but in order to be successful, it must be a lifestyle (Majumdar and Pasqualetti, 2018). We need respect and aid for these farmers and support for them to implement this dual land use practice in order to begin living sustainably. I know this won’t solve all of the global problems, but this is a big step towards ecologism rather than waiting for the environmental apocalypse to hit and destroy civilization and prohibit future our generations from living.

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Environmental Apocalypse or Ecologism: The Beginning of a New Era. (2021, Mar 17). Retrieved September 19, 2021 , from
https://studydriver.com/environmental-apocalypse-or-ecologism-the-beginning-of-a-new-era/

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