Friday, 27 November 2009

Civilization rest's on Top Soil /மேமண்ணாலான நாகரிகம்

மேமண்ணாலான நாகரிகம்
Actor Eddie Albert, long a champion of ecological causes, recently gave a speech—at a tree-planting ceremony—on topsoil and erosion. In the following excerpts, he points out just how dangerous a game we are playing with the razor—thin skin of earth that stands between us and total disaster.

Every morsel of food we eat . . . our clothes . . . our houses and most everything that's in them . . . each scrap of paper, from birth certificates to books to dollars . . . our fuel . . . even the very oxygen we breath: All of it comes from plants, trees . . . and topsoil.

When our European ancestors arrived on this continent, our topsoil averaged around 18 inches in depth. With our intensive agricultural practices, we've eroded it to around eight inches . . . that's all that's left between us and world disaster. When that eight inches goes, you and I go.


There are innumerable examples of civilizations which have already traveled this route. Trees were always the first to go. As the local populations grew, timber was needed for warmth, cooking, housing, and lime burning. Solomon cut the famous cedars of Lebanon for his great temples. Rome deforested southern Europe from Spain to Palestine. The whole of North Africa was cleared to plant more wheat for the expanding Roman population . . . and replanting was unheard of.

When the trees were gone, the topsoil-exposed to rain, wind, and sun-lost its organic matter, its humus, its soil life . . . the spongy quality that gives the earth its ability to hold water through droughts. The soil dried out and became dead dust. The next wind blew it away, or the next rain washed it down the river . . . and the earth died. The climate changed as the rain cycle slowed down as a result of deforestation. The wild grass that came up was soon demolished by hungry goats, roots and all . . . and the once glorious lands of trees, lakes, rivers, cities, palaces, universities, families, artists-millions upon millions of healthy, creating, achieving people-quietly blew away. Splendid civilizations collapsed and are now visible only as footnotes in the history books or a few fragments of pots on a museum shelf.

The cycle is always the same: Man comes . . . the trees go . . . the topsoil goes . . . the desert comes. We are following that path.


It takes centuries of the weathering of rocks to grow an inch of topsoil, and thousands-even millions-of years to create a deep, fertile layer. But on shallow, sloping hillsides one great rainstorm can gash and gully a slope down to bare rock in an hour. When nature's protecting cover of plants and trees is cut down-or the carpet of grass with its interlocking roots is sliced open by the plow-the destroying power of rain or wind is multiplied a thousand times.

We Americans are destroying our earth many times faster than any people who ever lived. Man, deforestation, soil erosion, abandonment . . . that's the cycle, Another word inevitably follows: famine.

Our population explosion is at the heart of the problem. We can't increase food production as fast as the world population increases. There are three new mouths to feed each second . . . 230,000 new mouths to feed each day. But with each passing day we have less land to work with. To meet this growing demand, farmers are forced to put unbearable pressure on the soil . . . pressure it's unable to sustain.

In the past 30 or 40 years, the heavy use of synthetic fertilizers, anhydrous ammonia, nitrates, pesticides and herbicides, DDT, etc. have doubled and tripled the yield of grain per acre . . . but at the expense of the organic matter in the soil.

Rotation of crops has been replaced with monoculture: corn, corn, corn, or wheat, wheat, wheat. Everyone knows this method exhausts the soil and increases pest infestation, but people are hungry and the cash register is jingling. Yet for every bushel of corn we harvest, we lose two bushels of topsoil.

The practice of allowing the fields to lie fallow for a season, to rest, to restore the erosion-slowing organic matter, is also disappearing. Terracing and contour plowing, both of which are water-holding and erosion-preventing practices, are being dropped. The big new machines, you see, are too wide for terracing.


Then, too, because of the current high price of grain, there has been an appalling rush to put under cultivation millions of acres of the wrong terrain-marginal land, we call it-and farm it in the worst, non-conservative way possible. By marginal land we mean grassland, for example, meant only for grazing stock . . . or sloping land . . . or land with too little rainfall, requiring heavy irrigation.

On May 11, 1934, 350 million tons of Oklahoma's tired marginal topsoil, hit by a duster, exploded in huge clouds up into the transcontinental jet stream. Ships 300 miles out at sea were covered with Oklahoma. Twelve million tons hit Chicago alone. In Washington, D.C. dust particles seeped in through the windows and settled on Congressional desks. This disaster, the result of cultivating marginal land, took-in one day the equivalent of 3,500 hundred-acre farms out of food production.

As a result, the government ordered millions of trees to be planted-green belts that would slow down the eroding wind and protect the topsoil-and for nearly 40 years the trees did their job. However, when the high grain prices hit in 1973, the Secretary of Agriculture ordered the green belt cut down. "Plant fencerow to fencerow," he said.

Between '73 and '74, 51 million acres were taken out of the federally subsidized soil bank program and converted to cropland without soil preparation or good conservation practices. Soil losses from 50 to 200 tons per acre resulted. Now much of the land is even ruined for grazing cattle. It will take 25 years to restore the green belts, and in many areas all the topsoil will be blown away in that time.

Three or four years ago, we added around nine million more acres of marginal land, but less than half was put under good conservation practices. The following year we lost, through the resulting erosion, 60 million tons of rich, vital topsoil . . . gone forever. Sixty million tons!


Each day we're losing 30 hundred-acre farms down the river . . . 10,000 farms a year . . . 15 tons of topsoil a second . . . a yearly loss of one ton for each person on earth.

We in America have lost about one-third of our arable land since we arrived here. At the rate we're going, we'll lose another third in the next dozen or so years, while the population almost doubles. Today, each acre feeds barely one person. At the turn of the century, 20 years from now-with the loss of acreage and our increased population-not one, but three people will be trying to eat off each acre that's left.

There are moments in the history of the world when a new time begins. Usually it's during a period of desperate crises. We are at such a moment of great change in our history, and we must be aware of it. We have a choice. We can stand off, let history repeat itself, and watch the death of our hard-earned country . . . or we can pull ourselves together, go into action, and solve the problems of food and soil. We have the know-how, the technology. We need discipline and courage, both good American words, but we also need a new awareness and greater vision.

Our task is . . . to rebuild the earth.
Can you calculate how many starving children could live off that?


Saturday, 7 November 2009

நெல்லுக் கிறைத்தநீர் வாய்க்கால் வழியோடிப் புல்லுக்கும் ஆங்கே பொசியுமாம்

நல்லார் ஒருவர்க்குச் செய்த உபகாரம்
கல்மேல் எழுத்துப்போல் காணுமே - அல்லாத
ஈரமிலா நெஞ்சத்தார்க் கீந்த உபகாரம்
நீர் மேல் எழுத்துக்கு நேர்

அட்டாலும் பால் சுவையில் குன்றா(து) அளவளவாய்
நட்டாலும் நண்பல்லார் நண்பல்லர்
கெட்டாலும் மேன்மக்கள் மேன்மக்களே; சங்கு
சுட்டாலும் வெண்மை தரும்

அடுத்து முயன்றாலும் ஆகும்நாள் அன்றி
எடுத்த கருமங்கள் ஆகா - தொடுத்த
உருவத்தால் நீண்ட உயர்மரங்கள் எல்லாம்
பருவத்தால் அன்றிப் பழா

நீர் அளவே ஆகுமாம் நீர் ஆம்பல் தான்கற்ற
நூல் அளவே ஆகுமாம் நுண் அறிவு - மேலைத்
தவத்து அளவே ஆகுமாம் தான்பெற்ற செல்வம்
குலத்து அளவே ஆகுமாம் குணம்

நல்லாரைக் காண்பதுவும் நன்றே நலமிக்க
நல்லார்சொல் கேட்பதுவும் நன்றே - நல்லார்
குணங்கள் உரைப்பதுவும் நன்றே; அவரோடு
இணங்கி இருப்பதுவும் நன்று

தீயாரைக் காண்பதுவும் தீதே திருவற்ற
தீயார்சொல் கேட்பதுவும் தீதே - தீயார்
குணங்கள் உரைப்பதுவும் தீதே; அவரோடு
இணங்கி இருப்பதுவும் தீது.

நெல்லுக் கிறைத்தநீர் வாய்க்கால் வழியோடிப்
புல்லுக்கும் ஆங்கே பொசியுமாம் - தொல் உலகில்
நல்லார் ஒருவர் உளரேல் அவர்பொருட்டு
எல்லார்க்கும் பெய்யும் மழை.

கான மயிலாடக் கண்டிருந்த வான்கோழி
தானும் அதுவாகப் பாவித்துத் - தானும் தன்
பொல்லாச் சிறகைவிரித்(து) ஆடினால் போலுமே
கல்லாதான் கற்ற கவி

அடக்கம் உடையார் அறிவிலர் என்றெண்ணிக்
கடக்கக் கருதவும் வேண்டா - மடைத் தலையில்
ஓடுமீன் ஓட உறுமீன் வருமளவும்
வாடி இருக்குமாம் கொக்கு

ஆழ அமுக்கி முகக்கினும் ஆழ்கடல்நீர்
நாழி முகவாது நால்நாழி - தோழி
நிதியும் கணவனும் நேர்படினும் தத்தம்
விதியின் பயனே பயன்.

உடன்பிறந்தார் சுற்றத்தார் என்றிருக்க வேண்டா
உடன்பிறந்தே கொல்லும் வியாதி - உடன் பிறவா
மாமலையில் உள்ள மருந்தே பிணிதீர்க்கும்
அம்மருந்து போல்வாரும் உண்டு

இல்லாள் அகத்திருக்க இல்லாதது ஒன்றில்லை
இல்லாளும் இல்லாளே ஆமாயின் - இல்லாள்
வலிகிடந்த மாற்றம் உரைக்குமேல் அவ்வில்
புலிகிடந்த தூறாய் விடும்

நற்றாமரைக் கயத்தில் நல் அன்னம் சேர்தாற்போல்
கற்றாரைக் கற்றாறே காமுறுவர் - கற்பிலா
மூர்க்கரை மூர்க்கரே முகப்பர் முதுகாட்டில்
காக்கை உகக்கும் பிணம்

சாந்தனையும் தீயனவே செய்திடினும் தாம்அவரை
ஆந்தனையும் காப்பர் அறிவுடையோர் - மாந்தர்
குறைக்கும் தனையும் குளிர்நிழலைத் தந்து
மறைக்குமாம் கண்டீர் மரம்.

---ஔவையார் - மூதுரை