The natural balance of our planet is an endless cycle of disruption, reaction and moderation. The disruption can be as subtle as a fluctuation in the sun or as violent as a meteor collision. The reaction can be extreme beyond the size of the disruption. Whether the reaction is a mini-ice age or near extinction of all life, the planet will struggle with restoring a balance of moderate existence. Each year will have a spring, summer, autumn and winter. There will be wet times and dry times, but not enough of any to overwhelm the other.

Life forms on this planet are equally desirous of moderation and balance as well. Animals struggle to maintain territory that provides survival of their species and space to pursue harmony within their family groups. Humans seek to fulfill the same primordial balance with ever increasing technology and disassociation from the natural world. This in itself is a disruption with extreme consequences.

Societies that have a high infant mortality rate have more births than necessary to assure that some will survive to adulthood. As a country “develops”, the health of the people improves, life expectancy increases and infant mortality declines, but the birth rate stays the same. The country experiences a population boom. Their society has not had time to adapt to a lower birth rate and their former necessity creates a future nightmare.

While coping with their population issues, the concepts of zoning and land use go out the window. People settle and attempt to continue the same practices on land that is unsuitable for their accustomed farming or grazing. They don’t know any other way of living. What worked before might not work on the newly cleared and settled land.

Where there were once adequate grazing and woodlots available to support their previous population, they are now faced with a land use imbalance. The pastures now have houses and roads and the woodlots have been cut to build and cook in those new houses. The herd animals are grazed on the worst land (that gets even worse) and there is a shortage of wood for fuel. Eventually, all of the woody material is stripped from the countryside. They will inevitably be visited by drought and famine, two unintentionally invited guests that are loath to leave.

This scenario can go two ways, like Bangladesh or like India. With improved education and the pressures of population growth, successful societies adopt a birthrate that replaces at the same rate as the national mortality rate and the population gradually stabilizes.

In Bangladesh, the population growth was not countered with education or stability and the expansion went unchecked. What began with potential has become a disaster. In India, the people themselves have become a marketable resource, either through exporting or importing of mental or manual jobs. They are using their human resources to buy enough time to find solutions to their environmental imbalance.

The raw materials for a comfortable, modern lifestyle must now be imported and trade in the most fundamental items has become commonplace. I can now buy water from Fiji in rural Alabama, USA. Luxury goods can be bought in an economy that is now based on manufacturing of items using imported raw materials or generation of intellectual properties, but they still need fuel, food, clothing and resources that their own territory can no longer supply.

Carbon sequestration is a way to moderate human disruption, but, how do you make this a desirable enterprise for countries struggling to modernize and emulate the successful, technologically wealthy countries. (Some of those countries grew wealthy on profits from forestry.) This can seem like asking them to go back to rural poverty in order to “save the world”.

Countries struggling with environmental imbalance have the opportunity to “develop” into resource rich suppliers to countries that have paved all of their forests and pastures. They can supply what all of the technological advances are still unable to match - fresh fruit, clean water and beautiful wood that is fragrant to the touch.

Technology that assists the natural processes allows humans to stretch their hands back into the earth and feel the direction of balance.