The Most Important Things Have No Value

Hen and chicks looking for worms in the field.

Hen and chicks looking for worms in the field.

When you are outdoors taking care of chickens and crops, you realize how essential pure water, pure air, and non-toxic soil are. We need them. The chickens need them. The insects the chickens eat need them. All the plants need them. From the invisible bacteria in the compost heaps and soil, to the minute creatures which thrive on the bacteria, the insects, the earthworms, the moles, and on, we are all dependent on clean air we can breath, clean water to drink, environments free of toxins, those are the things that are most important to our health and well being.

But somehow we managed to create an economic and political system that puts no value on the things most important to us. We often hear the phrase jobs or the environment. Somehow we’ve come to accept the reasoning that in order for many of us to have jobs, we have to contaminate the things most important to our health and well being. And yet, if you consider the long term implications of this, if we have to keep making our environment more toxic to provide jobs, eventually the environment we live in will be so toxic that we won’t be alive.

In December, China reported that thousands of hectares of farmland were now too toxic to farm. According to this December 30, 2013, Reuters’ article, 3,000,000 hectares of land are now too polluted to farm. How is the destruction of 3,000,000 hectares of land accounted for in the balance sheet and profit and loss statements of the companies whose pollution destroyed this land? Oddly, it doesn’t show up. There is no value put on this tremendous loss of land.

Somehow, we’ve accepted an accounting system that puts no value on clean air, clean water, clean soil; the most important things not only to us but to all living things on this planet. The earth will still be spinning around the sun a thousand years from now, a million years from now, even a billion years from now. We need economic and political systems that will ensure that millions of years from now our air, water, and land will be even cleaner than they are now. Sadly our accounting systems are set up to only think three months ahead to what next quarter’s profits will be. In the context of a million years, next quarter’s profits are a pittance, but clean air, clean water, and clean earth are worth more than all the trillions of dollars recorded on balance sheets.

In a way, the compost piles I tend from the droppings of my chickens, is worth more than the profits of a factory filling the air with toxins. That compost pile is ensuring the purity of the earth. We need radically different accounting and political systems that revere chicken droppings and compost piles instead of plastics and pesticides.

No two hens are the same.

No two hens are the same.

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