[permaculture] Peak-oil scenario fuels "go local" campaign

Marimike6 at cs.com Marimike6 at cs.com
Mon Oct 10 21:22:06 EDT 2005

<< Setting aside the Y2k-style nonsense of end-of-the-world scenarios due to
Peak Oil, what sort of fool would flee the suburbs for the country? One who
doesn't know that rural dwellers are even more oil dependent than city
folks. In the country, nothing is within walking distance, there's no mass
transit, jobs are far away, and all supplies must be trucked long distances.
The only asset is land. Yet there is enough land in and near all but the
largest cities to grow all the food necessary for the residents. The suburbs
will wither, but most rural people will be even worse off. Having lived in
the country, I'll stay in the city as the oil runs out. It's hard to go
local if there is no local economy, as is often the case in the country. >>

Toby--  You web site says "I make my living teaching, writing, and consulting 
about permaculture and related fields." But if you are teaching permaculture, 
and permaculture involves the craft of profitably living off the land and 
away from the oil-based economy, exactly what do you teach?

Prior to about 1930, everyone on earth except some city dwellers lived 
locally, sustainably and-- dare I say-- permaculturally. They didn't have a choice 
other than to live off the land. And now we have the benefit of so much more us
eful scientific knowledge than they did. Do you mean for some reason we just 
can't do it any more?

Later, you add "Many of the people I hear talking about peak-oil catastrophe 
say they will move to some land with some friends and be self-sufficient. I 
know a lot of people who've tried that over the last 40 years and not one has 
made it work. Plus, intentional communities mostly fail (i.e., it's a new and 
not well worked-out pattern that has built-in difficulties); throw in resource 
scarcity and the problems compound."

I would like to learn about how we can establish intentional communities, 
such as used to exist everywhere no more than a lifetime ago-- not about how most 
of them fail. And I can't help but imagine that cooperative, rural ventures 
have something to do with permacultural ideas, where non fossil fuel based 
inputs are maximized and reliance on store bought items in the city is kept to its 
barest minimum. Is this something like the definition you employ?

I don't like to be contentious, but this just does not square with what I 
conceive of as living sustainably from the land, with a minimum of purchased 
inputs. Please clarify.


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