[permaculture] Are we a weed?

Bob Howard rmhoward at omninet.net.au
Sun Mar 23 09:11:20 EST 2003

Marimike6 at cs.com wrote:

> Today's world is so well mixed that I think it would be very hard to
> find a virgin population with no immunity to the usual worldwide
> diseases, like the flu. In 1891 this would have been much less so.
> Most influenzas are incubated in the pig and duck-tending populations
> of southeast Asia, so it may have been that the Australians had
> periodically been exposed to the flu where the Anglo colonists may not
> have been at the time. That's just a speculation.


My Broomehill example (1891) reported only on the deaths of europeans -
the equal number of deaths amongst Noongar attending the show went
unremarked. As you note yourself isolation is the issue not race

> The striking fact is that weeds have hardly ever gone in the other
> direction. American volunteer species taking hold on the European
> continent are quite rare, and hardly ever spread aggressively enough
> to be a nuisance. I wonder why.

Try South American Fire Ants, wallabies, tomatoes,  the plague. Arrgh!!

We are not weeds. I share Toby Hemenway's unsureness, the analogy is

IMHO We are locusts experiencing our first plague.

Toby perseveres with the weed analogy

     "Weeds can only move into a limited set of conditions:
     disturbed ground, where there is little resource competition.
     But later
     colonizers move into many types of occupied ground, find or
     create niches, and leverage into dominance (there's your East
     Indian motel owner: not a weed, but a late-succession
     specialist). As a general rule in ecology, the later a
     successionary phase, the more specialized or aggressive an
     invader's resource exploitation must be, as all the "easy"
     are taken. Only those species able to find resources can move
     in, and as time goes by the niches get smaller or require
     innovation to create.

This take on ecology ignores the importance of parasitism and symbiosis
to succession. In fact it is the complexification (see Teillard de
Chardin) of the web that is the hallmark of succession. there are often
in complex webs one or two 'capstone' species upon which many creatures
depend. Long term stable cultures like Aboriginal ones have often
developed complex relationships with there resources. Local Noongar
people where i live, for instance, had no watercraft, the Southern Ocean
is too hostile a place and the fish rich shoals in the inlets and
harbours are only knee deep. Nevertheless they knew the name of 60
species of fish and how to catch most of them. They were capable of
using dolphins to heard the salmon (N.B. this is not the same fish as
atlantic salmon) and fish inshore into the surf break where they could
be speared..

like locusts or any other animal that becomes plague like - we have
tapped into an unexpected source of energy. In our case oil, in any
case, a perturbation that is amplified and feeds upon itself. the rules
of population dynamics demand that there exist positive feedback
mechanisms upon which a dynamic equilibrium can evolve.

Mike Elvin wrote

     The problem is Americans, and everyone else on earth who plans
     to live like an American. We demand high incomes and have
     expensive kids we need to put through expensive colleges. We
     like to drive expensive sport utilities that can seat six in
     the cab and
     have room on the bed to haul a septic tank. So to me, it
     matters little that a small group of purists can live
     fulfilling lives while leaving
     the lightest of footprints on the land-- they are maybe one or
     two percent of the people using the land, and can't make that
     impact on the planet by just living the good life for
     themselves. We also need some people who can convince Big
     Agri-business that
     they can make better money by using better methods.

There are two ways to get rich - earn more or need less.

     I'm trying to teach the hog industry that their waste (ten
     million hogs and growing, in this state) is a valuable
     resource to be used
     wisely, and not just a pollutant they need to bribe
     politicians in order to be able to easily dispose of. I like
     to think I'm doing God's
     work with projects like this.

Peace be with you...

Nick routledge wrote most beautifully

     Broaden the temporal perspective in particular
     and thingz make much more sense. In other words, cultural
     pathologies hold
     the seeds of their own inevitable destruction. Just because
     Reckoning in her great and terrible glory ain't yet apparently
     over into the dark lives of the anonymous managers and
     generals among us,
     doesn't mean it ain't happening or, indeed, that the
     observable trend may
     not accelerate somewot suddenly, "annihilating all that's made
     To a green
     Thought in a green Shade" as Marvell bifurcation-pointedly
     puts it.

Indeed - it has always seemed reasonable to me to see Breshnev's USSR as
the equivalent of the current state of the USA. The collapse of state
communism will be mirrored by the collapse of state capitalism. Or more
correctly, global capitalism as Marx originally predicted. The pensions
and subsidies that feed amerika's fetish of consumption. It does strike
me as quite remarkable that US citizens writing today find the fetish of
consumption such a difficult thing to come to terms with when not more
than 40 years ago it was being challenged in the streets. It's as if
everybody has been dumbed down or numbed down over he last 30 years.

Mike green wrote:

     I travel and see empty office buildings everywhere, abandoned

     in all the cities in the USA, everywhere.

     It is very possible that a severe economic depression is
     coming in the

     near future.

     In that case, permaculture groups should consider that food

     and long term storage methods should be examined now, on these

     farms and information on this second stage of food  production

     (i.e. the first stage being the growing and production of
     foods), the

     storing of foods to maximize quality and food value, is at
     least as


Exactly my point and there aint nobody "awed and thundered" yet in this
part of the world so a war aint gonna help - most likely it's gonna make
a hard landing harder. Watch the rest of the world go "Yeah sure George,
we'd love to help you out!" when the dollars run out. and they
inevitably will (half of them forged anyhow). The hyperinflation will
give the Fourth Reich heart. I was reading Ferment and Nutrition today
and thinking the real problem is how to make do - for instance making
vinegar requires a glass or earthenware container. OK if your in the
Third World but your stuffed if your in slums of New York or any other
western city. We need to look at the experience of the Argentinian
people in forming local community, neighbourhood groups as a way of
dealing with the coming famines.

Sure those with property and capital will be able to market there
permaculture goodies to the rich - but only if they can afford the
guards. Better to be discussing the value of local barter, LETS schemes
and of voluntary poverty, good will and neighbourliness in the
community. For a God fearing country Americans sure as hell don't seem
to pay much attention to what Jesus actually said. Let alone what women
have been saying for centuries about war. (check out Lysisistra etc.)

Capitalism requires a world of infinite resources, a contradiction that
Marx required no degree in ecology to foresee. A sphere is a finite
space. We are locusts become mindless with bloodlust in a last final
frenzy of fornication, a communal suicide bomb or potlach, a burning up,
our guilt must be consumed in a fire of sorrow until at last we are

The fatal flaw of christianity is it's bargain with guilt, that enables
people to purchase their penance in piousness or in pennies. Shame is
the raison d'etre behind Aboriginal law. A law that does not change but
which changes men.

bob howard
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/private/permaculture/attachments/20030323/085f9c82/attachment.html 

More information about the permaculture mailing list