Sustainable Agriculture – Interview with John Ikerd on 12/17/2014

The following are notes I took during the interview. I hope they give some sense of the feeling and scope of the conversation we had (Jeff Beller, John Ikerd and I). I suggest that you look it up in our archives and listen for yourself. It was an enjoyable experience for all of us and I think we might have brought out some ways of thinking about our common concerns by combining our thoughts that day.

Economic transactions:

  1. a means to an end.
  2. accrue to the individual.
  3. satisfy economic needs, impersonal.

These transactions are made to continue through specialization, which produces trends that are less and less diverse. Life thrives on diversity. The money economy creates an impersonal relationship between people – we lose sense of connectedness because there is seldom personal interaction during economic transactions. We don’t know who made what we buy, seldom know where it came from etc. Needs of Nature are not addressed. These needs must be addressed first.

Entropy – the opposite of Diversity. Diversity, the interdependent relationships of nature, must be better understood and imitated in our human systems.

‘Earth is here for us to manage’ is an attitude that separates us from Nature and lessens diversity. ‘God gave man dominion over the earth.’ Even religions appear to conspire against diversity and sustainability.

With the Human Renewable Energy Measure we are suggesting that this is a way to manage economics to the benefit of man and nature, not a way to manage the diversity of individuals or nature. We all agree that we cannot and don’t want to manage subjective thinking (what makes us unique) nor do we want to manage the diversity of nature. But the design of our economic system does not allow for any measure based on human survival needs. So there is no way to manage it to the benefit of all people.

Ultimately, we are suggesting an ‘Economics of Diversity’. Economic value, as defined by capitalism, is not sustainable. It does not consider nature or humanity. Society today lacks the will to restrain the ‘individual need’ economy (economics). We, as a people, must re-focus on being socially responsible. A consensus for real sustainability must be restored. Such a process will consider three questions:

  1. is it ecologically sustainable?
  2. is it economically sustainable?
  3. is it socially responsible?

Most people make contributions to society that are not valued by capitalistic economics. Yet, they contribute in profound ways – artists, inventors, parents, caregivers etc. We need to redefine work so that these contributions are valued and rewarded within the economic system.

Nature and its organisms, are selective about what we ‘let in’ and ‘keep out’. This is the functioning that we need to better understand and more closely imitate with our socio/economic systems.

Finally, we must do what we feel we ‘need to do’, that might contribute to the greater good. Each individual must decide for themselves. In this way, we are doing all that we can do. We are creating the needed diversity.