Fertilizer-Producing Island Cannot Grow Vegetables. It's a Lesson for Us All. (Video)


Image credit: NewsOnABC

There has been a lot of talk about the difference between resilience and sustainability of late—with the notion of resilience becoming increasingly important as we realize just how fragile our cultural and economic systems may be. But in a world where peak oil looks ever more likely, and where peak fertilizer may not be far behind, could there be anything less resilient than an island economy that is reliant on phosphate mining for fertilizer; imports all of its fresh veggies by plane; and cannot grow veggies in its soil due to a root-eating pest!?

But fear not. Apparently compost may come to the rescue.

While the details of the "new composting" technique outlined above are too thin to comment on in any detail, and the detailed discussion of soil-borne pests is beyond my expertise, the notion of being able to farm and grow produce on an island with a fragile, non-diverse economy and (apparently) no means of sustainable veggie production should not be underestimated.

But it occurs to me that the example of Christmas Island has much broader value as an (admittedly extreme) example of why our fossil-fuel powered economic systems are inherently unsustainable. From the monocultural, fertilizer-hungry corn fields of Indiana to the British supermarkets flying in shrimp from India, we are all—to a greater or lesser degree—Christmas Islanders.

With the potential for serious disruptions to our food and fuel sources looking ever more likely, we would do well to build resilient, local farming systems; diverse, efficient clean energy networks; and, perhaps most importantly, strong, resilient economies based on real-world relationships and actual wealth. Not numbers on a spreadsheet.

In the meantime, Christmas Island might want to look into aquaponics too.

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Tags: Agriculture | Australia | Economics | Farming | Peak Oil