Ending the Fight with Diversification

Soil, water, and air pollution.
Chronic disease epidemics (Heart Disease, Obesity, Diabetes….)
Chemical dependencies
Civil unrest
Food insecurity….

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one set of simple and affordable actions could address all of these problems simultaneously?

End-O-Fite Enterprises LLC was built on the premise that the most significant common denominator among all these problems is the uniformly regulated management of diverse and complex environments.  Widespread practices like utilization of gasoline and synthetic chemicals, continuous planting of the same few crop varieties, dietary practices biased towards the same primary foods (ex:  wheat, corn, soybean, beef, milk, chicken, and chicken eggs…), and regulations that reduce or eliminate biodiversity all place heavy demands on the same natural resources (air, soil, water, microbiomes and other biotic communities).  These natural resources form the foundation of human health, food security, and the economy.  When natural resource supplies are high, goods and services move freely, and supply exceeds demand.  As natural resources dwindle, food, energy, and healthcare prices climb, and the economy crumbles.

This link between natural resource availability and population demands for goods and services led the nineteenth century economist, Thomas Malthus, to observe that humanity was doomed to eventual catastrophe (war, famine, or disease).  Such catastrophes were deemed necessary to counterbalance excessive growth.  It should be noted, however, that Thomas Malthus lived in an imperialistic society which was dominated by beliefs that a few should rightly control many.  His work predated much of the natural history research that has since revealed biotic diversification in times of environmental stress.

A close look at both natural and human history suggests diversification offers a more palatable solution to the economic (and environmental) pressures of expanding populations than the Malthusean catastrophe one might observe in contemporary disease epidemics, economic failures, and global conflicts.  For example, we see many examples in prehistoric times where environmental decline (due to meteor impacts, glaciation events, and more) prompted the emergence of new species which were better able to utilize the changing pools of natural resources.  In microbial ecology, it is well accepted that increasing biodiversity (the number of species present on a site) can increase the nutrient cycling and waste removal processes that restore productivity to any environment.  Of course, this principle also applies at larger scales, where increasing biodiversity is a useful strategy for restoring ecosystem services to unproductive landscapes.  Crop diversification coupled with restoration of agricultural microbiomes has recently been recognized as a powerful tool for restoring food security.  By increasing biodiversity in our agricultural lands and natural habitats, we can restore clean air, clean water, and proper nutrient cycling in ways that combat climate change.

In ancient history, myths and legends like the Biblical tale of the Tower of Babel, and like oral histories from various Native American tribal groups suggest that linguistic and cultural diversification relieved the strains of a societies that had become too big to sustain themselves, just as biodiversity can restore unproductive ecosystems.

Even Adam Smith, regarded as the father of modern economics and followed by Thomas Malthus, taught that the individual serving his own interests would tend to keep prices low while still providing society with a variety of goods and services.  Viewed from a perspective of diversification, one can expect that serving individual interests as opposed to group (or corporate) interests would maximize cultural and economic diversity. In his classic, the Wealth of Nations, Smith warned against conspiracies and monopolies common in large governments and corporations.  Such organization, of course, would reduce diversity by aligning many in unified efforts, and in doing so, would hamper free enterprise.

When viewed from these perspectives, we can see that “diversification” at biological and socioeconomic scales should have powerful impacts on our environment and our economy that could improve the quality of life for many.   Ironically, efforts to stimulate economic growth, combat health and nutrition problems, and restore natural environments are often designed to consolidate efforts under uniform policies and regulations.   Such efforts are destined to create conflict because they exacerbate, rather than relieve existing problems.

To end these gridlocks, this fight, for resources, we must diversify.   We must diversify our ecosystems by reducing the chemicals that threaten beneficial microbes, insects, and other living species.  We must diversify our crop systems by choosing heirloom genotypes and local cultivars that allow improved yields in the specific environments to which they are adapted.   We must diversify our skills and interests by reducing those standardized curriculum and other acculturation forces associated with public education.  And we must diversify our workforce by reducing the regulations that create barriers for small business entrepreneurs.

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