Effect has a funny way of catching up to cause. It never fails. We live in a world of action and reaction. Put your hand in the cookie jar a few too many times and you’re going to get caught if not by the blue furry Muppet stalking it, then by betrayal from the stitching on your hip-huggers. It’s the universal law called “getting your just deserts”…or desserts in this case.
The expression dates back to the Late Middle Ages and is the subject of much misuse almost like the misuse that results in manifesting humanity’s just deserts in the first place. Although they both stem from human ignorance, they vary in degree. At the very worst, adding the extra “s” to the expression might offend the sensibilities of a linguistic snob, but the desecration that leads to our environmental “just deserts” is something to bust our seams about.
Our desire for the dessert does not equate to a desire for the desert. While “dessertification” may conjure up images of chocolate cake and french pastry buffets, “desertification” summons dark images of starvation and insatiable thirst. If you had the opportunity to pick your planetary exit strategy, which would you choose? I say…death by chocolate please!
As more and more land falls victim to human induced overgrazing, monocrop farming, slash and burn assaults, and overuse of chemical fertilizers, Gaea has grown so frustrated of being trampled on and fed crap that she has decided to blow us off and any remnants of fertile topsoil as well. You could even say that she is in fact…deserting us.
to desert (according to Dictionary.com): to leave (a person, place, etc.) without intending to return, especially in violation of a duty, promise, or the like…
…how about in violation of our duty as Stewards? (See What Is A Steward Anyway.)
Such is the manner in which we have come to experience our just deserts.
The days are closing in fast when we will be trading the chocolate brownie for the mud pie. You may be able to feed a gritty patty to a two year old, but only once. The little ones wise up fast. Even clever branding by giving it some fancy French name like “Galette Mojave” or “Millegraine Flambé” and sexy bustier-shaped packaging will not fool the seasoned organic palette. Only those who are used to accepting heavily salted cardboard as their culinary mainstay might develop a taste for it. Hey! I think we’re on to something here—a new franchise. Sweet. Whoops – I mean not sweet.
Actually isn’t that the kind of efficiency-focused mass consumption thinking that got us in this mess in the first place? The causes of desertification are due to choices we have made without full understanding of the effects. But we know better now and there are solutions. Allan Savory’s excellent TEDTalk covers one of them. Check it out.
I wouldn’t advocate turning ALL of the deserts into munching grounds for itinerant cows however, but it’s a start. Other solutions include ditching the monoculture-fertilizer co-dependency spiral in favour of polyculture (see my earlier article, Polygamy Rules, for a great video on the subject.)
What are some other success stories you have heard about?
You’ve probably heard the saying when life gives you lemons…make lemonade. So why not turn our just deserts into just desserts?
Screen shot from Allan Savory’s TEDTalk, How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change.