[Permaculture] "Forward" and "Back"/ Discussing Solutions

eric + michiko emstorm at metro.net
Fri Jul 2 10:52:09 EDT 1999

Good comments Scott.  Thank you.  I agree with Larry about the staement on

Scott wrote:
> Just as sometimes allopathic radical surgery is more effective to save the
> patient than say herbal medicine, the same is true with big equipment.

I agree, and didn't mean to imply that using large machinery is never a
good idea.  It's the "sometimes" in your statement that I am pointing out.
There are times when large machinery is not a good idea.  I specifically
have small projects in mind done by people who are intending to "do Pc" but
don't think much about how they carry out their desgin.

> There are huge areas in the world that swaling for water harvesting would
> revegetate and begin the restoration of vegetation and therefore the rain
> cycle. . .  There are many alternatives. . ., but while we
> wait for this to happen another desert is created and millions of people are
> starved and dislocated.  In this case to me the only "ethical" choice is to
> use the technology at hand to create the greater good.

Again, I agree that there are cases when large machinery is the way to go.
If the benefits hugely outweight the environmental costs, the
"environmental mortage" I mentioned would soon and easily be paid off.  My
point was that this equation is not always considered.  Instead I think
many people who can afford it, choose the easiest and quickest way, even
when other more labor intensive methods are adequate and possibly more

> >. . . I was glad to see that Bill Mollison included ethics in
> >Permaculture, but I do not see them consistently applied or even
> Bill didn't only "include" ethics but used them as the foundation of the
> design system called permaculture.  I don't know what is meant by
> "consistently applied, or even considered."  Certainly every graduate of a
> permaculture certification course hears about ethics ad nauseam if they are
> being taught from the curriculum developed by Bill.  There may be some
> inconsistency depending on ones understanding of earth processes but for the
> most part the inconsistencies are a product of ignorence not intention.

I don't know enough about the process Bill went through in coming up with
Permaculture.  Whether or not the ethics came first and were therefore the
foundation, I can not say.  It is also possible that they were the natural
outcome of some other thoughts and observations that were his starting
points in the process.  By "include" I didn't meant to imply any lesser
value to the ethics.

By "consistently applied, or even considered" I was referring to people,
graduates or not, who do things they consider to be Permaculture without
much thought given to the ethics and how they apply to the things they are
doing.  They may very well be able to recite the three Pc ethics, but as is
oftent  he case in our society ethics are often not consistently applied to
action.  When someone makes a chicken tractor or herb spiral, to use two
cliches of Pc, do they always stop and think about how the ethics apply?
Or do some people see them as Pc techniques and assume that they must
therefore fit the ethics regardless of the person's unique situation.  So,
I agree that most of this is "a product of ignorance not intention."

> The three permacuture ethics - 1. Care of the Earth, 2. Care of all people
> (or species), and 3. A return of all excess to the benefit of 1. and 2. -
> sounds simple until one realizes that in order to follow those ethics one
> has to have a profound understanding of biological, geological, and social
> processes. One has to remain contantly vigilant and a bit paranoid. . .
> So no matter how hard
> we try to educated ourselves to maintain our ethical standards somethings
> slip through and it is only later that we find out that we haven't taken
> "Care of the Earth" as well as we once thought.  
> The bottom line for me is intention - If we mean well and do our best to
> follow our ethical beliefs that is better than most of the masses of
> mankind, particularly those who only practice their ethics on Sunday

I agree that intention is the bottom line, but I include the vigilance you
mentioned as an obligation to good intention.  Ignorance, especially when
from a lack of reasonable effort, works against good intentions.  In our
society, we teach people to think only on the surface; we are not good at
seeing the deeper issues and interconnections and often do not look for
them.  Being "better than most", while it _is_ better, it is also not that
difficult.  I would hope that our current society and Sunday morning ethics
are not the only standards we judge ourselves by.

Eric Storm

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