The collapse of Rome, at least the Western Roman Empire, is marked when in 476 AD a Germanic soldier deposed the last emperor Romulus Augustulus. A multitude of reasons have been put forward: from moral decay and political instability to Germanic tribes and peasant revolts, malaria and lead poisoning. One rarely cites unsustainable food policies as one of the essential causes. Since the Roman conquest of Gaul in the first century, they introduced Southern cash crops to Northwest Europe, replacing or marginalizing the local crops. With the end of the so-called Roman Warm Period, the agriculture collapsed along with the local economy. Rome refused to modify its food policies and half-starved Roman military could no longer control the Northern regions, which revolted in a series of successions. In the 17th century at the height of the Renaissance, Paris was one of the largest and most important metropolitan centers in Europe. The architecture of Paris saw a dominating rise of classicism and urbanism on a gargantuan scale. Man was proclaimed to stand above nature and it was no more apparent than in the design of the gardens of Versailles: the aviaries, menageries and fountains were not just a mere exhibition of wealth, but an implication of the mighty man’s control over nature. During their heydays, the Gardens consumed more water than the entire population of Paris. The implemented water projects ranged from raising waters of the Seine to diverting the river Bievre and building a 160 km long aqueduct, eventually draining the King’s treasury. These two historical moments illustrate the workings of Liebig’s Law or the Law of the Limiting Factor – Any system at any time has at least one factor that limits its expansion or survival. Failure to recognize this seemingly insignificant factor at the time brought the mightiest of empires to their knees and vanquished great civilizations. Yet again, the adamant conviction that humanity is capable of engineering its way out of any ecological crisis makes us fail [...]
The relentless and seemingly purposeful gears of natural selection have shaped the resilient and peculiar nature of the Cannabis family since its divergence from common ancestors around 27.8 million years ago among the scenery of a magnificent Qinghai Lake hidden is the myriad of vocal collars echoing on a Himalayan Plateau.(1) The landscape of the planet was gradually giving in to the cooling effects of the Azolla event and the lavish vegetation of the steppes resembled little of what now is arid and desolate landscape. The climate with moderately warm temperatures and high CO2 levels was hospitable and conducive to an astonishing variety of C3 plants. 10’s of millions of generations later, cannabis slowly descended the Himalayas before it befriended humans 12,000 years ago and found its home in all the corners of the world. The humanity’s oldest cultivated crops (2) predates Agricultural Age by at least 500 years, which inevitably ignites a yearning to ponder why it took our ancestors so long to learn to cultivate other plants. Were they mesmerized by a symbiotic relationship? Were the cannabinoids and other mind altering plants responsible for a major shift of human consciousness?(3) The plant has been cherished by our ancestors not only for its utilitarian and medical qualities as it offered cherished moments of spiritual awakening, a brief feeling of content and hope that gave humans strengths to withstand the grinding wheels of harsh and confusing reality. Today cannabis has become one of the most valuable crops attracting business entrepreneurs, investors and rogue agents who are pushing their way into the industry, that is not fully developed or regulated yet. After a short-lived flux of capital in the sector, the market had a sobering moment and looked at the fundamentals: the revenue and profitability. As the recreational cannabis space turned crowded in many states with dwindling profit margins, the businesses started to gear their focus on the cost of the production. Cannabis cultivation is a labor and energy intensive process and [...]
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