Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Permaculture Paradigm Shift

Toby Hemenway - How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and the Earth, but Not Civilization [Brought to you by Nicholas School of the Environment, at the Sarah P. Duke Garden.


Hemenway details the facts about how Permaculture - or sustainable horticulture (NOT agriculture) is likely the only way humans will continue to exist on this planet.  I found the lecture fascinating, and enlightening - and if you think Hemenway is full of baloney or hot air, I'd like very much to hear your argument and supporting evidence as to why.  The video IS one hour long - and I know in this age of twits twittering, and multi-tasking that an hour is a HUGE amount of time to spend focusing on just one subject.  (I ate lunch and checked email while listening to this)

Hemenway defines the 5 types of human cultures
Foraging (hunting & gathering)
Horticultural (gardening)
Agricultural (farming)
- pastoral agriculture (herding, nomadic)
- industrial agriculture (turning oil into people)

And using archaeological data from multiple sites, and very old historic literature, he illustrates the myths around the misconception that "modern" humans have come to believe as fact that "agriculture is civilization".  It's not.

- is not more healthy
- provides shorter life spans
- more degenerative diseases
- more epidemics
- smaller stature
- makes famine more common

Disagree on the famine/agriculture irony?  Look at Iraq's "fertile crescent". Look at Greece's austere landscape, without verdant hill sides and streams over-flowing with fish.   Look at the data from European famines Fernand Braudel chronicled:.
Famines  Century
7             15th
13           16th
11           17th
16           18th

"We've had a 10,000 year run, and we don't have 10,000 years more."

Currently, industrial agriculture is as sustainable (and as sane) as the South Park Underpants Gnomes business plan.  Sure is making a great deal of profit for the corporate and plutocratic hierarchy.  But what happens after all the underpants are collected?

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