We remain at such an early stage of repairing the planet that it is still refreshing to hear someone state the obvious, which is that, by now, we are all aware of the dangers posed to the planet, and to human and animal life. So much of climate awareness continues to centre on the notion that the vast majority of us are simply ignorant, or that we buried our heads in the sand long ago and, as a result, do not hold any comprehension of the enormity of the situation as it is in 2020.
So much of climate awareness continues to centre on the notion that the vast majority of us are simply ignorant, or that we buried our heads in the sand long ago and, as a result, do not hold any comprehension of the enormity of the situation as it is in 2020.
In truth, however, we are aware. None of us can plead ignorance anymore – we can only fall back on the fact that we are now suffering from, as Woody Harrelson puts it, “a state of paralysis” at the threat we all see, know, and feel growing around us.
The first major advancement in human life came when we broke the soil, and began to plant seeds and cultivate our own food sources as communities. Agricultural practices date back more than 12,000 years and, since then, they have gone through massive changes to reach the scale at which we now operate.
One of the most profound pieces of information to be garnered from the documentary is just how damaging to soil the process of turning over the soil (or ''tilling the land'') really is. The documentary points out that the topsoil area is the most carbon dense element of the land and exactly this turning over of the top soil that releases this stored carbon back into the atmosphere. Woody advocates a less intrusive method, which is to poke/puncture the seed into the soil, thereby leaving the topsoil intact and not turned over.
Regeneration Through Abundance
The beauty of this documentary lies in the total absence of sacrifice. The solutions put forth by Harrelson do not force upon us a single untenable or disadvantageous alternative to the ways in which we are used to living. Rather, the path forward is relatively simple.
The natural world has produced a bounty of food for living organisms for millions of years, which means that any solution to the damage in our soil necessitates a return to this pattern of organic production – the same pattern that gave rise to our species in the first place. Repairing the world and, by extension, ourselves never necessitates ‘doing without’, causing further interference to the natural order, or jeopardising our ability to thrive.
For instance, it is well-known that rearing livestock on industrial levels – particularly cattle – is incredibly damaging to the environment. What is less well-known, and expounded within Kiss the Ground, is the fact that cattle themselves – and, by extension, animal husbandry in general – are not part of the issue. In fact, cows can comprise a part of the solution.
Regenerative farming means working with the natural order. Not only can we ensure better, healthier food supplies around the world, but we can encourage the soil to resume its role within the natural ‘drawdown’ of greenhouse gases.
The documentary offers an incredible, wide-reaching view of the implications regenerative farming hold for the global community – both now, and into the distance future.
Passive Practises as the Solution
Just as the solution to the issues found within our soil involves a more passive approach to utilising it as a source of food, so too can every element of life shift toward a more benign approach. In essence, we can harvest and utilise nature’s existing offerings without mutilating them in the process.
In the realm of powering your home, for instance, solar offers the same brand of solution. The sun has been bearing down on the planet earth for well over 4.5 billion years, and rather than dimming its life-giving shine with pollutants and greenhouse gases, we can utilise it as a source of clean and renewable energy. This approach demands nothing more than implementing the right technology across the globe; domestic and commercial solar which can act as a benign intermediary between us and nature.
After that, we possess yet another way of living alongside nature-as-it-was-intended, rather than nature-as-we-made-it.
From the soil beneath our feet to the skies above, nature is operating according to laws and behaviours that have been creating, sustaining and altering life for much longer than human beings – and to greater effect. Left to our own devices, and wielding our power over nature, we have already begun to destroy it.
Nature is self-sustaining, but Woody Harrelson’s documentary demonstrates that we, as human beings, are not. We require nature, but we do not need to interfere with it any longer – except to put right what we have already damaged.
Woody Harrelson’s documentary, Kiss the Ground, is available on Netflix. It grants viewers a fresh perspective on the earth’s propensity to maintain order, and how we can adapt our role to facilitate that organicity. We would implore everyone to move it to the top of their Watchlist.