The permaculture chapter: immediate priorities

See HERE for the provisional contents page of the study,

which gives you a proper chronology of sections.

Note: the content below is all in first draft format. It will change considerably during the time it takes for the study to be completed (especially by way of more academic support, generally). I post now ‘for interest’s sake’.

Immediate Priorities

In planning for alternatives to Promethean endeavours characteristic of ACID (‘advanced’ competitive consumer capitalist industrial democratic dominion), one may observe the following “practical design considerations” provided by Mollison (1988: 15):

* The systems we construct should last as long as possible, and take least maintenance. * These systems, fuelled by the sun, should produce not only [for] their own needs, but the needs of the people creating or controlling them. Thus, they are sustainable, as they sustain both themselves and those who construct them. * We can use energy to construct these systems, providing that in their lifetime, they store or conserve more energy than we use to construct them or to maintain them.

These design considerations work alongside “a set of ethics on natural systems” (Mollison 1988: 7), a set of ethics that is very clear on what human action entails in the context of the ecological crisis:

In a world where we are losing forests, species, and whole ecosystems, there are three concurrent and parallel responses to the environment: 1. Care for surviving natural assembles, to leave the wilderness to heal itself. 2. Rehabilitate degraded or eroded land using complex pioneer species and long-term plant assemblies (trees, shrubs, ground covers). 3. Create our own complex living environment with as many species we can save, or have need for, from wherever on earth they may come.

This involves the following (Ibid):

* Implacable and uncompromising opposition to further disturbance of any remaining natural forests, where most species are still in balance; * Vigorous rehabilitation of degraded and damaged natural systems to stable states; * Establishment of plant systems for our own use on the least amount of land we can use for our existence; and  * Establishment of plant and animal refuges for rare or threatened species.

Mollison (Ibid) points out that permaculture is mainly centred around the third of the above points, but adds that “all people who act responsibly in fact subscribe to the first and second statements.” He encourages people to “use all the species we need or can find to use in our own settlement designs, provided they are not locally rampant and invasive.” Furthermore, people are urged to become “truly responsible conservationists” (1988: 7), which involves some very practical actions:

…truly responsible conservationists have gardens which support their food needs, and are working to reduce their own energy needs to a modest consumption, or to that which can be supplied by local wind, water, forest, or solar power resources. We can work on providing biomass for our essential energy needs on a household and regional scale.

Creating gardens indeed becomes a central activity, as again evident in the following (Ibid):

Even the smallest garden can reserve off a few square meters of insect, lizard, frog, or butterfly habitat, while larger gardens and farms can fence off forest and wetland areas of critical value to local species. Such areas should be only for the conservation of local species.

And amusingly in the following too (Mollison 1988: 6):

People think I am slightly crazy when I tell them to go home and garden, or not to involve themselves in broadscale mechanised agriculture; but a little thought and reading will convince them that this is, in fact, the solution to many world problems.

Mollison identifies in the aforementioned quote something that people should not do, namely “involve themselves in broadscale mechanised agriculture”; he again (1988: 9) points towards some examples of actions that should not occur in a context where sustainability is valued:

It is hypocrisy to pretend to save forests, yet to buy daily newspapers and packaged food; to preserve native plants, yet rely on agrochemical production for food; and to adopt a diet which calls for broadscale food production.