[permaculture] Yeoman's book
Marimike6 at cs.com
Marimike6 at cs.com
Tue Jan 30 11:40:41 EST 2007
Not that I've read much of the younger Mr Yeoman's pronouncements, but I
think we can separate the grain from the chaff. His ideas on the general radiation
level sound a little shaky to me, so let's set them aside and move on.
He delivers a fine message about increasing the organic fraction of the soil.
Certainly this approach can sequester a considerable amount of carbon. But I
think we have to be realistic, and assess the relative strengths of two trends
along the timeline of the next generation-- that is, to 2030.
The first tendency is the momentum of the carbon based economy. Six and a
half going on nine billion people are all striving toward American-style
consumerism. I don't think they are going to be denied their feeling that they are
entitled to a personal vehicle. It will be relatively easy to scale their desires
down from gas guzzling SUV's to sensible little Cherys (the Chinese answer to
VW). But still, quite a lot of exhaust fumes will be coming from those five
or so billion tailpipes.
Plus, this increasing demand for gasoline, combined with the depletion of
easily accessible sweet crude, is going to force us to develop dirty sources,
like tar sands and oil shale deposits. These are going to be an order of
magnitude more harmful to the environment. The Canadian deposits, for instance, lie
beneath the Athabaskan forests of northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. The
Veneuelan deposits lie under the Orinoco Basin-- one of our largest remaining
Plus they will want electricity to run their washers and DVD players and
whatnot, and the only technology able to feed that demand in anything like the
volume required will be coal. I think we all know that even "clean coal" is very
dirty. You have to dig it up, for instance, and put the overburden somewhere.
Plus, they'll all have to live somewhere. And experience shows this will
result in converting large amounts of prime farmland into urban and suburban
landscape. The new neighborhoods are going up adjacent to growth centers, usually
large cities. And these are almost always in the midst of rich farmland. So-- a
big net loss in acreage devoted to farms and forests. A net gain in lawns and
Plus, they'll all want to buy furniture. And the nice stuff is made of slow
growing hardwoods. Already China is angling to cut a huge swath in the
remaining Malaysian rain forest for marketable timber. The orangutans have been outbid
for this resource by Chinese industrialists. The prognosis for virgin forest
is not good.
So those are the tendencies undercutting the availability of acreage for
sequestering soil organics. Against this trend, we do see a countertrend for
increasingly wise use among enlightened individuals. But where do the two growth
lines cross, so wise use becomes the majority trend?
Unfortunately that's way off up in the future, far beyond the point where
we've reached the climate tipping point. Sorry to say this, but it's true.
So what's plan B? I think a good approach to follow would be to utilize the
ocean. It comprises 71% of the planet's surface area. And its potential for
biological growth is nearly unlimited.
At the base of the food chain are the phytoplankton-- little nano-plants that
create organic substance from chlorophyll, sunlight and trace minerals. I
would suggest that science needs to start looking at the global phytoplankton
population and do what it can to make it healthy. With commercial fish stocks
already near depletion, it's also the only way we're going to save the life of
the ocean-- by giving whatever fish have been able to survive something to eat.
Many if not most existing stocks are suffering malnutrition to some degree,
and are noticeably underweight.
Plus, of course, the overall design of the system is they scoop up CO2 to
convert it into fish.
Meanwhile, of course, save your compost and study your soil science. We need
to keep up with local developers, who begin every new subdivision by scraping
off and burying the topsoil in the area they want to plant in houses and turf,
or freeway interchanges and shopping centers.
At least that's the view from this ivory tower. What do you think?
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