Thursday, 17 July 2014

It's WWII Out There

Crop Dusters:

Sounds like world war II out there,” a neighbour opined. Indeed. I remember the air training runs that continued for several years after armistice in 1945 – our farm was under the circuit. The planes had to come over our farm because the other direction put them too close to town. Touch and go, touch and go. Around and around they would circuit as pilots practiced the most crucial of their tasks, landing and taking off. (Anyone can fly a play, I'm told, once it is in the air.)

In this case, the plane skims a field dusting fungicides onto the crop leaves instead of landing. It is an elegant dance – swing low over the field, then pull up and circle around to do it again and again. And not risk-free. A young pilot lost his life a few years ago when his plane stalled during one of those runs.

It is hard to be generous with the needs and exigencies of farming when my thoughts are constantly interrupted by the noise overhead. Business as usual demands that the farmer stay ahead of pests and abreast of the latest biological and chemical means to produce crops in an uneasy market. As I ponder the unsustainability of the present practice – just as resistance develops to antibiotics, resistance develops among insect, bacteria and fungi to agri-biz's chemicals. Do we know what spraying fungicides does to the mushroom population? Sprayed fungicides do not stay exactly where they are put, especially in this watery world.

While the farmer is also heavily dependent upon the petroleum industry, another environmental bad guy in a time of rising carbon dioxide levels, I too drive and fly for work and pleasure. For every pass of the plane there is probably an environmentalist somewhere boarding a plane for a conference in some exotic country where they will talk about sustainability. We know that we can't keep being “fruitful and multiplying”, that we can't keep extracting limited resources from the world, that we can't keep exhausting the soil and that the economic model that requires endless “growth” is eventually destined to fail – or be replaced but we don't know how to do it. We don't know how to quit doing “business as usual”.

Unable to prevent the world's environmental trainwreck, I'll return to the subject of my concern and try to make life better for me. Since our yard seems to be on the overflight patterns from both spraying companies, could we ask that the pilots quit using our house as a landmark? There are tracts of land on either side of us without people living on them.

It's 6:00 am and it sounds like WWII out there.