Fwd: [permaculture] RE: Major histocompatibility complex (MHC)

Marimike6 at cs.com Marimike6 at cs.com
Wed Mar 19 10:11:46 EST 2003


Many thanks for your post, footnoted below. I hope we can return to the main 
thread of a subject I find fascinating-- "weed" behavior. 

True, it is really the human race as a whole that is noted for its rapid 
spread and colonizing behavior that can instantly take over every ecological 
niche. This trait has gathered momentum in recent generations with advances 
in our technology and with the rapid and unsustainable increase in our 

When I was young the world was a fairly comfortable place of "only" 3-4 
billion. Less than five years ago we passed the six billion mark and we are 
already at six and a quarter billion. Clearly this uncontrolled proliferation 
is weedlike behavior in the extreme, and has grave consequences for the 
planet. I assume that everyone in this listserv came to permaculture with the 
feeling that the permaculture approach was the one best suited to enable us 
to coexist with the planet that nurtures us. Without it, what happened a few 
thousand years ago in places like the Middle East can happen to the whole 
planet. Eaten bare and not replenished, it will turn into bare hard-packed 
dirt. Soil nutrients, considered "waste" matter, will go out to sea with the 
bathwater, so to speak. Artificial chemicals will be called upon to do 
everything previously done by natural processes before they were disrupted, 
and while the fertilizer and herbicide manufacturers will become richer, the 
planet will become poorer. 

This trend is being counteracted by a minority of interested researchers. 
Here in North Carolina, for instance, we are seeking beneficial ways to 
utilize confined animal feedlot wastes, which in their unrefined form mostly 
burn the soil and contaminate our freshwaters. There is some progress,  but 
convincing people who have no innate respect for the planet is very slow 
going-- and these are the people who've always determined how farming is to 
be conducted. Old ways are hard to change, but it's getting harder now for 
people to make a living from the land the way they used to.

So I am very encouraged that people like NCSU and Smithfield Foods are even 
talking to each other. For the first time ever Smithfield (that's hogs) is 
sponsoring joint research instead of resisting any attempt to change old 
practises by calling us a bunch of leftist college kids who never got their 
hands dirty. 

Perhaps, since it is now a given that we will occupy and stress every mile of 
the earth's surface with misuse and overuse, we can at least educate the 
billions who come after us that they need to clean up their mess, and not 
take the planet's healing abilities for granted. 

Anyhow, just to return the thread to the "weedy behavior" analogy, it's not 
merely mankind, or humanity that has stressed the planet. Eighty years ago 
there were between 6,000 and 7,000 separate "primitive" languages spoken on 
earth, each representing a culture that had maintained some integrity and 
independence from modern life. Each lived in some close degree of harmony 
with its environment. Very few were expansionary-- cultures like the Zulu in 
18th and 19th century Africa were "breakout" cultures undergoing a 
modernization based on militarism. Most of the peoples who never made the 
news were just growing their crops and dying exactly as fast as they 
propagated. Without zero population growth, they knew they'd just end up 
hungry and at war with their neighbors.

All this behavior has been displaced in our time by Western Civilization, 
which expands into every niche, offering these people the hope of getting 
entry-level jobs and becoming newly aspiring Americans. 

I'm not saying that's bad. You can't just keep them in a kind of zoo, pure 
from outside influence. But it is changing everything on the planet, as they 
all prepare to save up enough money to buy their own cars and computers-- the 
billion point three Chinese for example. There's not enough raw stuff left on 
the planet to satisfy the demands all these people will be making on 
technology. So it's a problem worth paying attention to, and it's weedy 

My apologies again for using that ill-considered phrase "the white man" when 
I meant Western Civ. I tend to be a bit crude and even when making formal 
presentations, don't always remember to refer to hog shit as "animal 

I read last week in the Sunday Travel Section where there are eco-field trip 
vacations now to the Apa Tani Valley in Himachal Pradesh, which used to be 
the back of beyond--  nearly the most inaccessible culture left on the 
planet. For years the Indian government used to refuse to issue travel 
permits, to protect these people from outside influence (and protect tourists 
from them). Forty years ago they used to capture slaves, either selling them 
back to their relatives or working them in the fields. Now they wear 
hip-hugger jeans instead of nose plugs, watch MTV and all the kids have cell 

Times are changing, and we need to find better ways of utilizing what the 
demographers tell us will be our childrens' eleven-billionth piece of the 

Mike Elvin
Fuquay-Varina, NC
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