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>> This really great example is


happening
in Lake Victoria, in Uganda and Tanzania,
where pressure by the government, as well
as banks and in private investment, have
turned
what was once an artisanal fishery into
a largely commercial enterprise, where the
local
fishers are no longer in charge of the
resource, or in charge of the operation.
And the countries are doing this because,
it turns out, that, fish exportation to
Europe now provides the greatest source of
international revenue, for both Tanzania
and Uganda,
that is exceeding revenues from coffee and
tourism.
And the, the thing that I'm doing research
on, right now, which is really
counterproductive, is, the fishery is
bringing more
money into those two countries than the
fishery
ever has.
But at the same time poverty is increasing
in the fisher communities, as well as
increasing malnutrition.
>> Mm-hm
>> Because, when it was an artisanal
fishery, people were
able to bring home part of the catch for
their families.
>> Right
>> Now, to pay off loans and meet
bank obligations or whatnot, or just
working for
people, they can bring none of it home,
even the bycatch, because it's sold to the
pet industry for food.
>> So if this has going on for such a
long time, the destruction of,
of, public, or common resources, I, I
suppose one could make the argument that,
that it's, it's part of what humans do.
In other words, that, get back to the
is it inexorable, that it's, it's just
going to happen.
People see forests and they cut them down.
They, you know, this is, they, they, they
see resources and they try to, you
know, there's a logic of depletion, and
this gets back to Garrett Hardin, I
suppose.
That it's, it's, it, it's not just as a
conspiracy of bad
companies, it's the way people are in con,
when confronted with common resources.
I have a feeling you don't see it that
way.
But what's,
what's wrong with that picture [LAUGH]?
>> I would resist that view.
I hope it's not true, it might be true
simply because, I have
particularly looked at agriculture or
forests and a little bit fisheries.
>> Mm-hmm.
>> Because of where I did my first
field
work on this, on, on the Bay of Bengal.
And there were these artisanal fisher,
fisher people
when I first went there in 1975.
They were eating, they were doing exactly
what you described.
And now, I mean, very quickly, it
happened.
they, they got impoverished, bad
nutrition, because everything is being
sold.
>> Exactly.
On the market, and by these trawlers and
it's, of course, depleting the shoals of
fish.
>> Yes.
>> And it's
happening in Karala, Karala, I don't know,
but I'd
read about, but in [INAUDIBLE], you know,
[UNKNOWN], it's happening.
>> Mm-hm.
>> But agriculture, to my, my view, of
course, I don't, I don't study evolution.
So maybe I should, pay more attention.
But my horizon
is much shorter.
And what I have witnessed, or
what I've learned, about agriculture
forestry fisheries,
is that once you bring in the market
system and the nation
state, that's where the trouble begins.
>> Mm-hm.
>> And that in all these fields, I
mean, they have been very well studied.
>> Yes.
>> You know, how the, the forests were
preserved.
How agriculture in the Gangetic Plain was.
>> Mm-hm, that's right.
>> Extremely sustainable for millenia.
>> Yes.
The fisheries the same.
They've been doing that for millenia, as
far as we know.
>> Right.
>> And all of a sudden, very quickly,
in a matter of a few years.
It just goes to hell and you have all
these problems.
So that's, that's my horizon and my
understanding and,
of course, you know, the, the, the, plenty
of people
have written about this.
I mention James Scott, but there, you
know, there are others.
And being an anthropologist, I mean, you
know, we, we look at the idea, I mean,
Hardin's is, is, is,
his case has to do with open access, free
access, which never exists
in a non-modern collectivities.
>> Right.
>> Never.
And, what, in particular, I have
focused on is the, that in all these
non-modern
collectivities, the non-human, be it the
forest,
the soil, the sea, the fish, the animals,
the plants, a part of the collectivity,
the commons, are human,
non-human, and this commonality is, is
concrete-ized
and made powerful through beings.
>> Mm-hm.
>> That such as spirits, deities,
ghosts, demons, et cetera.
That embody that entanglement of the
human and the nonhuman and make very
strict rules that people respect,
because otherwise, you have the the
spirits, or the
deities, on your back.
And people respect all that, you know.
And then, of course, things happen.
>> Yes.
>> And that falls apart.
But, if you, if, if, if one takes,
let's say, from well, I, I shouldn't speak
like that.
But certainly, you know, what happened
with the British and the forest,
and agriculture, has been a disaster.
I mean, the Green Revolution
has been not only an ecological disaster,
but a social disaster.
Total social disaster.
>> In, in what sense?
>> In India.
To make the green revolution work, you
need much more input.
You need irrigation.
>> Mm-hm.
>> You need you know, certain economies
of scales.
>> Yes.
>> Inputs agrochemicals, pesticides.
So you've had great development of dams
and irrigation, in Punjab, let us say.
Well, that has lead, ecologically, to the
salizin, salinization of a huge amount of
land.
>> Yes.
>> Huge amount of land.
And then, socially, the, the, the small
farmers was bought out by the big farmer
who had the cash to expand
and make economies of scale, and and what
has been happening
in India for the last two decades, is an
epidemic of suicide, of farmers.
Because they get so indebted for all these
inputs.
And, you know, there's such a push from
the
government extension agent to buy the
hybrid and genetically modified.
>> Mm hm.
>> And then they have to buy.
And, and, of course, there's no
regeneration.
>> Right.
>> You know?
They are suicide seeds.
That got invented
in Iowa in the 1920s.
[LAUGH] And that's the heart of the green
revolution.
And you know, that goes against practice
of farmers, millenarian
practice, of saving seeds and creating, of
course, a market.
So, with, you know, having to buy all
these
imports, they can't make it.
>> So that sustainable and, and
meshing that you first described is, is,
is
disruptive, disrupted by these market and
political forces.
>> Exactly.
>> And then those get called natural.
Then the only way, the, the, the, the way
it has to be.
But in fact, what, what researchers have
shown in, in many
of these contexts is, no, there are other
modes of sustainability.
>> There are other modes.
>> That were working, prior to their
disruption.
>> Absolutely.
>> And that sounds like
you've studied.
>> Right.
>> Similar kinds of patterns.
>> Yeah.
Let, let me just put a point on
what Frederique had said, and then I'll
frame things
in a way that, maybe, disagrees a little
bit, or takes a slightly different point
of view.
But in India, for example, for the last
five to
ten years, India has been growing an
excess, excess food.
And yet, the rate of malnutrition and
people who starve to death
is huge, in the multiple millions of
people per year.
>> Like your fishery example, before.
>> Exactly, it's the same thing.
So more money's coming from agriculture,
but
yet, starvation and malnutrition increase
because of both
distribution and because people are too
poor to
buy the food that they once grew
themselves.
So, let me look at your question about,
is,
about whether it's human or not.
>> Mm-hm.
>> And how we relate to the commons,
and I'll first start with that quote from
Karl Marx that said nature is nothing if
not for the bounty of man.
And so, we have this philosophy, but
people
have looked at it for a very long time.
Lots of work has shown that the original
aboriginal peoples who
inhabited Australia ov, over 14,000 years
ago, took a continent that
had mature forest with large animals, and
burned it to the ground.
The desert outback that we see today is
due to the fact that
these people denuded that entire landscape
and turned
it through a positive feedback loop into a
very, very large,
dry desert or arid area.
>> Yeah.
>> If we think about, I, I would like
to think, in a thesis that I'm working on,
and,
and it certainly supports the examples
that Frederique has
brought up, but, but then puts a
limitation on them.
Is that, I think people live sustainably,
we
can find examples of sustainable living,
with the landscape,
where productivity exceeds the number of
people living there.
So in the Gangetic plain and through the
Ganges, until the
number of people were so large, and
certainly before the commercialization.
>> Yeah.
>> The number of fish being produced by
natural processes exceeded the demand on
those items.
But let's, now, go to the high areas of,
of Bolivia and
at the edge of Peru, to the Altiplano,
which, of
course, was also a high deciduous forrest
until 1,500 years ago
when, Chip Stanish at UCLA demonstrated
that, the people cut,
cut this down and it led to this very dry
plain.
But the farming around Lake Titicaca by
Mayan and other Incan ancestors
shows, very well, that what the people did
was, they farmed in a way that was
unsustainable, increased salinization of
the soils, through there, and then moved.
And what happened was is, all these people
were moving around the lake, destroying
the areas
that they had lived in, and when they
came in close proximity, these big wars
started.
Again, the work of Chip Stanish and, and
others.
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And so, the whole point is, I think that
there's lots of examples of people having
unsustainable practices.
I think part of being human is like,
actually,
every other organism on the planet;
everything modifies its environment.
And I think, this takes the guilt off of
us.
What we're doing today is actually
happening
at a faster rate because of current
technology.
But as technologies have progressed
through human time, the rate of
modification of these landscapes,
diminution
of common resources, has just accelerated.
>> But, let me make sure I understand
one thing because,
about population growth, I mean eh, that
was Hardin's big word right?
In other words that, sure, everything
would be okay
except that the demand by humans is
going to exceed
the planet's capacity because, because
there's just more of us.
And, in your examples, that's seems like
you
say, because when population was lower, it
was okay.
But once population, is it population that
puts the pressure on, on humans to go from
these more sustainable practices to things
that are,
are going to be, in the long run,
counterproductive?
>> Well I think it, that's a, it's a
combination of things.
The, the examples
in olden times, when populations were
lower, is just that people had
unsustainable
practices but there was, there were a lot
of resources to move into.
>> You know, just go to the next one
over there [LAUGH].
>> So, just go to the, just go to
the next one, and, and either it recovers
or didn't.
So in, in, around, Titicaca, it hasn't
recovered, but in places like
the Amazon, you can go everywhere and
anthropologists and ethnobotanists have
determined that peop, what we see today,
even in the
most, in quotes, pristine form, has been
modified by ancient humans.
>> They've, they've lived everywhere.
But it recovered in some sort of a way.
But what happens now is that, A, we're
running out of space.
B, the amount of pressure on common
resources, soils, water, food to
feed a larger population is exacerbated by
state demands for
international trade for making profits.
So to take
more out of the resource than just
sustenance or maintaining it.
Because if you think about the modern
articles
of incorporation with investors, it's to
maximize the profits.
>> Right.
>> Or, to the return to
an investor.
And that says nothing about perpetuity or
sus, sustainability.
>> Well this gets, gets back to your
first example, right?
>> Exactly.
>> Right.
>> Where you had the confluence of
state forces and commercial, or corporate
forces.
>> Exactly.
>> And my guess is, from what you've
said so far Frederique, that for you it's
those accelerators or of, of
unsustainability, they may
be more important than population growth
in terms
of screwing up this, this, what had been a
manageable system.
>> I, I, I agree, I mean, as Barry
pointed out, in India, so, so now,
you have enough food to feed everybody,
but
you have the same number of people
starving.
>> Yeah.
>> so, it's not the, we do have enough
food to feed everybody.
>> Mmhmm.
>> It's the system and how it
distributes them or doesn't
distribute it.
I mean, inequality is growing everywhere.
In the global north, in the global south,
in the US.
>> Yes.
>> I mean, that's what Occupy Wall
Street was all about.
>> Mm-hm.
>> So, I think what we've talked about,
so far,
has been very helpful in both helping us
all see
some of the things we know about the
commons and,
and why we should care about the
destruction of the commons.
I mean, you've both given very important
examples about the, the really poisonous
effects that the undermi, that
undermining the commons have on
communities
in different parts of the world.
>> With this, the think tank, I'm
engaged in writing, for
the first time, a book not for an academy
class [LAUGH].
>> I see, so what are you writing
about?
>> Well on, on recreating
this pre-Columbian, Amazonian soil of
millenarian
fertility, that is still fertile today.
It hasn't been touched since the inv, the
Spanish invasion.
So it's really the most sustainable soil
in the world.
>> Huh.
>> And it's, of course, it's totally
rewriting the history of the Amazon basin.
>> Amazing.
>> So I'll tell that story, because
it's working.
I haven't been tested by scientific means,
but the crops are four times.
>> The crops are there [LAUGH].
>> Four times the size.
>> Wow.
>> On degraded land.
>> I see.
>> That, where the forest would not
regrow.
And, of course, it's permanent
agriculture.
Because the local agriculture in Sweden is
slash
and burn, there, which is bad for many
reasons.
So, so I want to tell that story.
But for the think tank, I'm
particularly, I, I would like us, I think
Barry mentioned at the
beginning, that, you know, so much of our
thought, I tend to
think of it as modern, sort of, since the,
since the 16th, 17th
century, that we think of humans, that,
that nature is out there.
>> Yes.
>> It's a given, there it is, and it's
a background to our action.
That's the mainstream view of history.
>> Yes.
>> We need to change that.
We need to make, to make it graspable and
and motivate people.
>> Mm-hm.
>> We have our being through this
constitutive outside, so-called outside.
We're part of it.
>> Yes.
>> And, you know, the water, the soil,
the sun, the air,
everything, is part of us.
And once, and we need to, to communicate
this in an effective way.
And in a, in a way that moves people.
>> Yes.
>> I mean, yes, the head is necessary,
but not sufficient, in my view [LAUGH].
>> No, I have, it's a very good point.
>> We need the head, but if we cannot
move
people and make them, you know, their
kishka, their guts,
[LAUGH] it's not going to happen.
>> Well, this is the why the, the, the
why we should care part, you know, for us
too.
And, and, and I think that's been a big
part of the College of the Environment
from the beginning.
>> Yeah, I mean, our mission, simply,
is to change the world.
And, you know, part of the outcomes of
this think tank are not only wonderful
articles
being published by each of the members, as
well as a collective book that that is
being spearheaded by Professor Gosling
who's, sort of, heading up the think tank.
But our goal, really, is to bring these
issues
out and, and what we can do with this
worldwide.
And I think that there is a lot for
indivi, that
individuals can do around the world to get
involved in this.
And one one of it, one of the most
important
ways, is to work with people who are
associated with these common resources.
And try to talk with them about their
relationship to those resources
and to mobilize political pressure for the
rights of individuals
to have access to those resources in a way
that's sustainable.
So,
for example, we did this with Bolivian
fishers by showing them, in fact, that
their catch depended on maintenance of the
forest along these big river systems.
And, and then these Bolivian fishers
banded together to actually demonstrate
to the government and prevented the lumber
companies from deforesting the
areas that were affecting these river
systems and the reproductive capacity
of the fishes that they depend upon.
So that was very effective.
But the other thing that we need to do,
so that's one level where individuals can
can work.
But another really important level is, we
need to
find ways, in both our education systems
and in,
through our elected or unelected leaders,
to have discussions
at, at different governmental levels to
ask the question
about, what are, what is the social
contract between individuals
and the government, and where do these
resources lie?
And how do we come with a fair
distribution
of equity?
It's true that companies are not going to
invent new ways of interacting
with these resources, in many ways, in a,
in a sense, to protect them.
A conundrum, for example, is, if we can
grow
agriculture in a more effective way in the
lands that
are already committed to agriculture, then
we don't have to
destroy other types of natural area to
increase the crops.
Which just makes
the biochar and these black Earth systems
so appealing,
is because it's done without hydrocarbons
and fossil fuels.
So, it's, it's cheap, it's not a dependent
way.
So I think we really need a multi-pronged
approach, both at the level of working
with the artisanal people to learn to
protect their own resources,, and also
working with our elected leaders or even
un-elected leaders,
to start discussing this relationship that
the state has in,
with people and with the resources upon
which the people depend.
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