DIRECTORS STATEMENT

Return To Eden” is so simple at its core. Don't fix CO2. Just make sure our soil is healthy and keep the responsibility of it local, and that’s it!

 

However, changing the system we created - which is blocking the solution - is much more complex…

Since human memory began we have had the urge to control our lives, our environment and preferably each other, based on a good principle, preventing chaos. Structuring and protecting our lives with as much certainty and safety as possible was never intended to be a bad thing. However, the differences between caring, control and manipulation are razor-thin and therefore always being questioned critically.

The science has never been as advanced as it is today. We’re in a golden age of technological, medical, scientific and social progress, and the benefits are considerable!

The urge to control in this technological era has led us to ground-breaking inventions, but can be a  blind spot of our superior arrogance and thus/so be abused by psychopaths in power.
 

PHOTOGRAPHY AP

MOST OF US WILL DIE IN HARMONY WITH NATURE  

The title ‘Return To Eden’ could suggest that we must step back and live in harmony with nature. But in a matter of fact, we should avoid it. Because most of us will die in harmony with nature. It’s untamed and for those who like the experiment you should respect your child’s gruesome death at the hands of a grizzly bear, an average life of 30 years and the constant threat of deadly diseases or infections within your family. The origin of nature is dirty, merciless and absolutely brutal. Over the course of human history we made our lives safer, longer and made nature clean and much safer to live in, by engineering and regulating it.

 

The quest I pursued for the last 5 years was to discover to which extent we should engineer our efforts to control Earth’s ecosystems without losing the principles of preserving it. We should engineer it with respect, and always stay strongly connected with nature in order to understand it. If we don’t understand the problem, there is no way in the world we can fix it.
 

Whether believing in man-made global warming or not, climate change is there and should be there. It has never stopped changing and will continue to do so. However, in my opinion, there are two main questions with rather unstructured answers.

[A] Whether the change will be harmful in the future and
[B] to what extend humans are contributing to it.

The scientific answers are “Highly likely” and “more than 50%” These are not really accurate, and there is a reason for it.

PHOTOGRAPHY VOLKER M SCHMIDT

SLOPPY PREMISSES

Computer models have difficulties in representing the complexity of our climate and it’s unrealistic to project their results towards trustworthy predictions. Lots of natural variabilities like clouds, trees and volcanos are unpredictable and have a major impact on climate. Don’t blame the science for distorting it into “political agendas”, rather blame those who hijacked the data, created the slogans and spread fear and chaos. The whole enterprise has become political, dividing the public into right and wrong, with both sides claiming a monopoly on the truth. With this confusion I started my quest.

Physicist Freeman Dyson offered me helpful guidance on how to deal with the polarisation in the climate debate: “Climate Science has become too political and therefore it’s no longer science. So you’re on your own. There are basically two kinds of truths, Theories and Observations. You don’t have to believe the theories, but you should believe observations.”

The ‘so-called’ consensus in science, based on these models, has become an established tool to wipe out other perspectives and the scientists holding them, and even to be preferred over what is actually observed in nature.

SLOPPY SOLUTIONS

We’re using unproven subsidized [ read political ] technologies and experiments in the urge to control the climate. A whole new market has been created and the old market needs to be destroyed in order to “save humanity”. Therefore the solid, reliable and human flourishing technologies, like coal and oil, are being demonized and deprecated.

Let’s not forget, the prosperity using these resources gives us means we live longer and are safer from climate extremes than ever before. And our low-cost on-demand energy supply provides the freedom to flourish and progress with a large amount of independence.

The use of oil is dramatically improving the overall progress of humanity, enhancing life expectancy and income globally. Climate-related deaths fell by 98% over the past 80 years, because we’ve simply made our lives much safer and more climate-proof, mainly due to cheap and reliable energy on demand.

Energy is our most powerful means of transforming our environment to meet our needs. It has increasingly helped to protect societies against a  naturally hazardous climate over many decades. Energy poverty is huge in western societies. In third world countries much more. About one billion people do not even have access to electricity.

The fundamental ingredient to deliver the developing world from poverty is cheap and reliable energy on demand, to separate labor from the means of production. This alone is an extremely good reason to ask questions, not on a symptomatic level, but rather on a fundamental level.

PHOTOGRAPHY MARIJN POELS

FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS

Oddly enough, we do not even understand how oil precisely is being formed. Yes, there are theories but they don’t fully back up the facts, only the premises. It’s however important to know facts in order to validate the pros and cons. You can’t manage something if you don’t know what you are managing. But we pretend to, to justify "taking action".

Is it crazy to accept the possibility of abiotic oil? Not really. Sometimes simple premises are so natural in belief because they’ve simply survived a long period of time and therefore the disputability blurred out and the premise becomes self-evident. And over the years a huge web of interests, progression and markets have built their revenue model on that premise. Until we ask ourselves the fundamental question of whether that premise still stands strong? Imagine the pain in the market…

Whenever the premise is shown to be wrong, and the alternative better and cheaper at the required scale, the whole market – built on it - will be useless and collapse. So the lobby powers behind the status quo will do everything they can to save their business and to moralize the question and ridicule the person to shut down questions and debate. 

So, let’s give that different perspective a change – As Professor Vladimir Kutcherov explained to me: “If we could determine the speed of the process with which oil formed [in the case of a-biotic] we then can make our machinery perfectly in line with the natural production. As Kutcherov calculated we must make our machinery more efficient by only 16%  to achieve a balance.

PHOTOGRAPHY VOLKER M SCHMIDT

If we knew the rate at which we are polluting the atmosphere by burning coal and oil we can balance the production with the pollution”. But we don’t, because we're stuck with the fossil premise proclaimed time and again by the revenue models.

“Oil is scarce, running out…” And therefore it has a price and the values can change whenever they shout the slogan.
For the last 100 years, we took note of the alarmist slogan that the world would run out of oil. But it didn’t. Ever! Why? Well, that’s a good question… Because the science behind the premise holds too much uncertainty to predict the future. How come? Because we still do not understand the exact origin of oil.

The urge to replace oil by other forms of energy is a great aim, and we should pursue it. However, we must always place the aim in the context of a holistic human/natural balance in which both can thrive. Therefore we should, first of all, understand the fundamental characteristics of a resource that can deliver the requirements of society.  

 

PHOTOGRAPHY VOLKER M SCHMIDT

SCIENTIFIC MIRACLES

We should accept that nature is often still a miracle to us. And we’re just at the beginning of understanding it. There are lots of natural dynamics within a complex interacting system that we don’t understand, where research is needed. A great example: we can slice a flatworm into four pieces and it transforms itself into four complete new flatworms. Nobody is able to explain the science behind it yet. It’s a miracle.

Back to the ‘oil-story’ - Changing the oil theory into hard facts is quite a challenge. Because in the case of abiotic; it’s happening 150 km beneath the surface. And in the case of fossils, we don’t have clear records from dead dinosaurs morphing into oil. It stays a miracle, and is therefore debatable!

PHOTOGRAPHY VOLKER M SCHMIDT

ARE SCIENTISTS, MEDIA, NGO'S AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS ALL WRONG?

Institutions are so strangled choked with political, social and economically interwoven interests, creating a snake pit of complexity, that a purely rational scientific answer to a problem is very unlikely. Biologist Allan Savory explains it extremely simply and accurately. “You can put thousands of brilliant thinkers in a group to solve a problem. But due to all the individual interests present in the group [social, economic, cultural] they ultimately make compromises and do stupid things. In America we grow crops to produce fuel for the tractors used to help grow crops for our food. You don’t need to have any degree to notice the stupidity! It’s however an excellent example of Savory’s idea of institutional stupidity.

Lots of these premises and solutions are backed up by our media, who are repeatedly propagating a translation of government management into moral narratives. When Media repeatedly moralize over recycled premises, the premises become more important in the human brain - because they now attach the premise to a moral. Eventually they burn deep enough into our cognitive perception that we accept them as the facts they never were.  


Ultimately emotion beats reason and theories become “facts”. This soo strongly that we don’t see the stupidity anymore, and every critical opinion becomes socially immoral.

PHOTOGRAPHY VOLKER M SCHMIDT

ARE GOVERNMENTS MANIPULATING ON US?

 

Government management today is based on safety and risk prevention and thus the control and regulation of people. Government risk and safety legislation do not go well together with personal freedom.

 

Why? Because in order to prevent chaos, you need to put the chaos in a box and guard it, so it can be regulated as efficiently as possible. Those in charge will decide which ingredients they put in the box to keep the system safe and how to steer “the cattle” in a specific direction. The end game of management as such is to “take care of” people with full surveillance, trackable, measurable and informed by a state media. People’s cognitive perception of ‘being free’ then morph into the idea of ‘being safe and secure’. This "precautionary principle" is effectively the end of progress, driven by fear of any change, good or bad, managed by a bureaucracy that denies innovation.

Generally most people don’t give away their personal freedom unless the managers have a very good reason for it. A global crisis is the best management tool to achieve such a task, because a real crisis will threaten our lives and the lives of others. It makes you a selfish and immoral person when you are not a part of that crisis-saving-movement. Secondly, a global crisis takes away our democratic right to participate in the debate. Because the crisis needs an urgent solution. The governments present themselves as our crisis managers and whatever global crisis there is, the solution is always to give away our personal freedom.   

 

What’s the problem? Isn’t it great that we are safe and secured? Sure, to some extent. But when this security-management over-regulates, our freedom of thought will be restricted and creativity, innovation and out-of-the-box-thinking will be seen as potential danger against this form of management.   

PHOTOGRAPHY VOLKER M SCHMIDT

FOREST AS METAPHOR

 

Humans are in essence chaos, as nature is. And this has a meaning, to create a balance for the common good. As much as possible, ingredients, perspectives, identities and emotions are working together to find the progress they need to flourish as a whole.


Just walk into the forest to understand the principles of chaos. A diverse forest collaborates with miles of extremely intelligent fungi network that connects individual plants together and transfers water, carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients and minerals to trees and plants. They are all connected and always in search of the right balance to support the forest in a certain climate. The fungi takes whatever it needs out of the soil to support the forest. When the forest is healthy it will provide the soil that supports its fungi.

Whenever the local climate is changing the fungi react to it, not to prevent the change but to work out how to adjust. On this principle the great jungles flourished. If you zoom out, those jungles are the fungi of our atmosphere cooperating with the dynamics to maintain the natural cycle.

If we don’t want a certain species to grow or live anymore we can kill it with different tools (chemicals / weapons), with success. But this “success” therefore also changed the biological reaction and breaks the cycle. The tools are becoming a part of the cycle, and therefore need to be managed and regulated.

It’s not wrong to manage our desired cycle and change it. It’s happening all the time, naturally. But the moment it happens, the change becomes a part of the cycle and should comprehend its role in the balanced cycle. And, more importantly, its counteraction. Whenever the tool spreads its tentacles too deep into the roots of politics and economy, it doesn’t support the cycle anymore but it’s economically / politically driven. Than real problem-solving will face far-reaching and complex implications.
   
For me the ultimate metaphor. We – humans – are in some sense (or should behave like) a Fungi art. It lives between boundaries depended on the climate where it can balance best within its own culture. We, humans, should re-connect much more with our fungi-chaos, which has been politically re-framed as populism, but in practise it’s nothing more than a counterforce reacting towards the natural or organic balance.

Through the eyes of government management, human chaos is unpredictable and therefore dangerous in view of the political goals: “protect and secure”. Thus governments are regulating human behavior to emphasize a certain direction, which is to some extent not a bad idea. Societies need a leader and a common direction. But the direction should always be in the interest of “the forest” and not of the manager.

PHOTOGRAPHY VOLKER M SCHMIDT

THE UNNATURAL BECAME NATURAL

In history we often crossed that line. During and after World War II we’ve started intensification of the use of pesticides to win the battle against pests and parasites. Also increasing the use of chemicals to make agriculture more efficient to escape hunger. Successfully! But the salvaged method disconnected humanity more from its ecological origin. The chemical industry flourished and wrapped its revenue model around the moral face of the public to protect its existence. The emergency plan became the business model, took root in politics and is nowadays the standard. The unnatural became natural. We nowadays struggling to fight its counter-reaction but barely even touch the cause.

With overconsumption and agricultural chaos as a result. The holistic concept of people, planet and profit shifted into borderless capitalism. Monocultures and lack of management degraded over 60% of our arable land. Agriculture in many of these regions collapsed and become dependent on the world market. The interweaving of geopolitical and economic interest became too strong whereby our food chain nowadays have become a political tool detached from its natural ability.

When food becomes too political we face risks that our agriculture, culture and identities are encrypted in a matrix wherein humanity facing the risk of becoming the tool.   

The context of “Return to Eden” is to create holistic solutions to find a balance and understanding between biodiversity, agriculture and climatic instability, which is a fact of life since farming began 8,000 years ago, upon which  specific local and regional economies can flourish, and where politics, institutions and media will reconnect with “the forest” again.

 

- Marijn Poels (last update 06-10-20)

 

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