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The Atom and the Octave Chapter 1: The Problem

About 90% of the population of the British Isles in the year 2003 live in cities and whereas, at the turn of the nineteenth century, that population numbered about 40 million; now it has become around 60 million. This is an increase of a quarter in fifty years. The fact that 90% of these people live in an urban environment is largely the outcome of the Industrial Revolution, which got going some two hundred years ago, but, in this century, has accelerated beyond what could be imagined at its beginning.

These urban people know virtually nothing about the countryside, the land and how it is looked after, agriculture and the order of Nature; nor of what the people do, and their priorities, who live and work in that countryside and who strive to keep the biosphere in more or less good order.

Yet there is not a single living creature -- man, animal, bird, fish, insect, plant, tree -- that could survive for a single day if anything happened to upset the delicate equilibrium of that biosphere and if the vegetation cover of the Earth came, thereby, to be entirely removed or destroyed. The air we breathe, the oxygen we cannot do without, depends entirely on plants for its availability to us. Everything, therefore, depends directly or indirectly for its existence upon the green leaf, Nature's provision for the life continuity of all her creatures.

Most city people today are heavily orientated towards complete dependence on machines for their livelihood, in one way or another. They are so preoccupied with their own immediate pursuits that they seldom give a thought to what may be happening to their natural life support systems, nor to the impact of their own activities upon them for example, in the incidence of pollution from their factory chimneys and all other technological developments. They have lost the ability to relate cause and effect, to balance the different aspects of the life processes and to discriminate between what is biologically permissible in the overall scheme of things and what is not....


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