Green Is History.

To home page.

Versed sample mainly of Clive Ponting's A Green History Of The World.


The Sphinx and the pyramids


In 'love of power... thru greed and ambition...
violent fanatics' professed public vision
'to win the prizes themselves.., their one standard...
the pleasure of their party' still answers
since Thucydides' city states began grow.
Gathered food is not to water, store or hoe.
More births meant more arms and hands
to pay nature's death toll and fight raiding bands.
But fruits of the wild will only support
small wide-spread tribes of nomads and their sport.
Land-owners took power over all lives
forcing folk move to a few city hives.
Priests' social ladder controlled mass labor squads
building grandiose temples up to the gods

In sacred precinct of Uruk was found,
on baked clay tablets, the first true script,
in the poems of a priestess, unbound
from its use to keep track of fairly strict
rations, while keeping track of that star-specked
shell of heaven, ever rolling on seed-
time. Displays of wealth, rival cities decked
themselves in, drew bigger armies to feed.
Watch-towered walls grew of enormous girth.
War leads to more central control and dictate.
Army chiefs took-over by right of birth
in a palace on a private estate.
A class system of nobles, commoners
and slaves, made law, was to freedom averse.

Gentle seepage, into under-ground springs,
tree-felling, in the hills, to violence brings,
with muddy flood, mass drowning, buried port.
Blocked water-course spills marsh, to court
the malarial mosquito, tho sky-laked
clouds cease form over soilless and sun-baked
wastes. The land that's left is to irrigate.
Records, of more barley than wheat, relate
to salt-water tables' rise till 'the earth
turned white.' A native and animal dearth
was preyed-on, where the ancients' ancients stirred
to the cock crow in Mosul that could be heard
in Basra. From our earliest history
the world's deserts were a man-made folly.

Going on records since Babylon, the dune-
based Arabians' star charts navigated
for voyages to the deserts of the moon.
The Third World, till into nineteen hundred,
was the whole world, for short lives of famine
and plague. Disease-prone, too few kinds of plant fed
just enough, dully, if weather stayed fine.
Europe's rulers hogged half the food, poorly stored.
Thru the Black Death of one human in three,
England and France fought their hundred years war.
Leaders in Beijing had to over-see
grain, to builders' and armies' Great-Wall wide
defense, by one thousand two hundred miles
Grand Canal: a million mouths more in the files.

While the Khmers lake-fed Angkor's forest temples,
China, the most literate culture, for example,
nine-plus in ten, of two thousand years, since
records made, had famines in one province
at least. In the Roman empire, six men
owned half North Africa. Cicero then
decried 'so utterly stupid' British slaves.
Rich-quick plantations, and mines, were graves
left by imports, for a revived Europe,
killed self-sufficient ways of different crops
not risked by one pest, and each in their own niche:
gardens, orchards or small-scale water-reach.
Hand-tending and terracing reduced soil
disturbance. Natives had land but not toil.

Aztec millions, shrunk to one from twenty-five,
the paternal Inca, made puppet, came alive:
You Christians have made us slaves. You took our wives
and daughters... stole our property, burning lives
and tearing us with dogs.
Food-fleeced, a quarter
were left, diseased, and their llama flocks slaughtered.
North American Indians were forced West
in series of broken treaties that pressed
them to reservations, on a trail of lost
lives, till, to desert, this sub-class was tossed.
Like Pacific islanders, they were distressed
by alcohol, disease and cultures suppressed.
Like Aborigines, who did not grasp land
owning, they were killed, degraded, banned.

Ivory and gold empires south of the Sahara,
theocracies of Ghana, Kanem, Zimbabwe..,
slavery wrecked. Racist contempt made peasants scratch
as landless labor, forced have cards to catch
them with, and passes hold them to a job,
to pay hut and poll tax, cost Thatcher's job.
Import duties, against natives, the more
made massively unequal incomes for
settlers, with fall in locals' numbers.
In nineteen sixty-seven, the rumblers,
of officials, found out genocide
by disease of Brazil's Indians. To hide,
too, Indonesian pressure of living,
on the outer islands' tribes, became killing.

Bolivar's revolution 'plowed the sea'.
Conquistador politicians plot on,
great houses' near-serfs born to debt-slavery.
New World plantations of sugar, cotton
and tobacco all rapidly exhaust
the soil. Needing many hard workers there
spread the use of slaves West, as partly forced
Civil War. Southern States gave way to share-
croppers. Hands stayed landless in West Indies.
Fewer controlled sugar, moving from land-
lords to mill owners to firms. Oft absentees,
South-east Asian lords or rice mills' command
were financed for low-wage plantations, that let
the peasants, to compete, fall into debt.

Britain's tea is as cheap as its labor.
With poor workers' barracks and high price store,
the companies alone can risk finance
long-term schemes like tropical tree plants
of coconut, oil palm, sisal, coffee,
rubber and cacao. Bananas cost fee
of planting, transport, fridges. Big firms bossed
market and supply, to small-holders' cost,
at mercy of world price fluctuation
in a few- or one-product nation.
Export facilities but drained its growth.
Ghana's and Guinea's cheap energy sources, loath
firms were to use, for smelters, and to build
processing plants that filled the West's coffers.

For all the new land in the world being pressed
in, more's broken, some by land 'reform' givers.
The pine moth infests China's new forest.
Erosion is why the Yellow River.
Fifteen billion tons a year of top-soil
are lost in the US, old Soviet Union,
China and India, from half the earth's crop-soil.
In the Thirties drought, Great Plains grass, to dunes gone,
raised -- far east -- choking black-outs blowing in.
By the Seventies, the States missed highly
one-third their soil. Dust, from spring plowing in
China can be detected in Hawaii.
Jungle, with no way thru, two millenia
ago, is the Thar desert in India.

'Stones grow in fields' of Haiti's once 'green island.'
Less than forty years halved the tropics' stand
of South America, South-east Asia
and, causing chronic drought, West Africa,
so afflicting below the Sahara.
Forest is burned down in Amazonia,
to squander a medical treasure house
of species, for vast ranches cattle browse
quickly to ruin. Settlers are welcome,
to fend-off land reform. Pollution not safely
checked, Brazil, China and India's grandiose
projects prescribe Earth's fatal over-dose.

China's Great Wall of trees against the Gobi;
the greening of Vietnam; rice paddy fields'
most efficient of farming inputs grow by
fifty times. Modern cereal farming yields
at best twice the energy that we eat:
to fertilize, kill pests and run machines
are ever rising costs. Factory meat
uses two to three times the energy it gleans.
This becomes twenty times, to have fish froze
for man's plate. To process and move around
food takes three times the energy that goes
to grow it. All food produced, and to mound,
in the industrial world devours more wealth
than it makes and fails to conserve soil health.

Rich importers of wheat export famine.
Half the Earth's food, the modern quarter dine
on. One quarter their grain feeds less, for meats.
A quarter of all US food no-one eats
for waste at some stage. Half the human race
under-nourished, four hundred million face
stunted lives and health risks. Forty million,
year on year, hunger or its ills kill on,
like three hundred jumbo jet crashes each day,
half the passengers, children, falling away.
All twentieth century famines faced withheld
food: Russia, the thirties and nineteen twelve,
Bengal, 'forty-three; eighties Ethiopia,
the Sahel and the Horn of Africa...

Over one billion folk lack basic needs
like food, drink and housing, so their lives' sum's
half as long. Earth's poor seven in ten pleads
to fifteen per cent of personal income.
Industrial countries' poor four in ten gets
sixteen per cent national income. First
two hundred firms wrest one-third the planet's
wealth. The biggest boast turn-overs to worst
nearly all Third World nations. In their strong
market position, they dictate the ware
made and sold with frills, things that dont last long,
are costly to run and you cannot repair;
to hook on maintenance bolsters profits.
Tv adverts show no falser prophets.

Each day, over half mankind's foul water
takes twenty-five thousand to the slaughter.
Indonesia on fire needs Czech kids' gas masks.
Dead lakes, scorched trees tracked acid rains' kiln flasks.
Poison detergents waste power for gain's pursuit.
Silting dams cost fertilizers that pollute.
Near Paris, five per cent only, of eight
hundred species, that suffered a sad fate
from pest killers, did crops harm. They 'pest' kill
twenty thousand folk and make badly ill
three-quarter million a year. Skin wont heal
from cells burn the living waters for their meal.
Of seventy thousand chemicals, plus
a thousand a year, half are dangerous.

Cousteau thought man's aggression wont sustain
eras-lethal 'atoms for peace'. Three-mile
Island cost a billion dollars to contain.
Some hundred thousand, from Chernobyl's pile,
grow most sick or lead lives cancers shorten,
and for ten thousand square miles no-one goes.
Chemical plant accidents did for ten
thousand in slums, and left blind or maimed, twice those;
or laid one hundred-twenty river miles bare.
New York's nine million tons yearly drastic
sea dumping adds to lifeless hundred square
metres toxic sludge. Five million plastic
holders a day, thrown from ships, in wait lie
for one million sea-birds a year to die.

Rise in sea levels and glacier retreat
matches a half per cent rise in the heat
and the air's increase in green-house gases.
From both poles, the ozone hole advances.
Global warming by at least three degrees clears
any in the last hundred thousand years:
Trees may not adapt to such fast climate
displacement, blowing too dry or too wet.
Drowned islands, fertile deltas and plains, floods
in the growing seasons and reduced goods
mean more famines, migrations, hate's out-break.
Man in nature must give as well as take.
Man's his own war prisoner, like caged Lorenz,
the psychologist observed by rodents.




Richard Lung




Back to top of page.

Back to home page.