One of the difficult things about any transition to a different model, whether in realms economic, social, political and especially one that overlaps all of these, is the extent to which assumptions based on business-as-usual are allowed travel in tact. We continue to hold fast to many assumptions, all the while slapping on all sorts of various goals for decreasing carbon footprints and lower emissions. It’s quite insane, by a traditional definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

This article about partnering industrial polluters with large landowners holds a few barely-opened pistachios about this transition and the kinds of changes in thinking that are required to begin living toward different ends.

The idea is to nurture food- and fiber-producing activities that are more climate-friendly. Over time, Collins says by phone from Washington, “Where we go from here will alter the discussion of how the country thinks about natural resources.”

The program will be similar to payments farmers currently receive to rest their land in order to preserve the soil, restoration of wetlands along rivers by municipalities to promote water quality and flood control,  and “biodiversity banks” in which landholders that affect habitat for endangered species are required to provide equal or greater amount of habitat elsewhere.

Bringing in a large, extraordinarily-tentacled and therefore quite sluggish bureaucracy like USDA alters the implications for how the policy will evolve. Once agriculture departments at colleges and universities begin to alter the way they think and teach on conservation and allocation of natural resources, especially with an abstract concept (ecology) becoming hopefully less abstracted as it gets integrated into curricula and policy outlooks, forecasts and long term models, then the beginning of the transition will be in sight. You factor out the ideology by attaching valuation on an objective plane, as seeing natural resources and related commodities as having greater value when considered as part of a larger whole. Sustainable then becomes a requirement instead of merely a goal.

Lest we forget, this is all in the service of not waking to that day when, as best summed up by the lyrics of a fourteenth-generation Indian killer, ” you can’t find an answer so you pray for a reason.”