[permaculture] Global Food Supply Near the Breaking Point

Sean Maley semaley at yahoo.com
Thu May 18 14:49:37 EDT 2006

--- Bart Anderson <bart at cwo.com> wrote:
>> Toby H. wrote:
>> alive: oil-based life support for a terminal population."

> Most  oil is currently used for transportation, not food.  The US and other
> industrialized countries use many times the amount of oil as Third World
> countries.  In the US, our political choice is -- do we continue being
> oil-hogs, or do we start to become more sustainable?

The problem isn't whether or not we have oil, unless your only concern is for three billion human
lives.  It just so happens that permaculture remedies the oil issue, if you really want to state
that oil is the one true issue.  I see the problem as a fundamentally culturally issue that allows
us to believe we are some how separate from nature and that we, as humans, hold dominion over what
should exist and where it should exist.  We pick out weeds.  We pick out pests.  We claim they
somehow don't belong and nature keeps interfering with our food production.

It's permaculture, because it ain't agriculture.  A similar name serves to tell the listener about
a similar role, but it's different somehow.  Agriculture culturally sustains us and was a
compelling story for thousands of years.  Today, it is much more obvious that agriculture must be
stopped.  I know it's been said already, but agriculture will one day be outlawed.  Where in the
world has it been practiced for thousands of years that isn't desert today?  Agriculture proves
that even a forest can be turned to sand.  Even with "sustainable" agriculture, the economic
system eventually forces farmers into un-sustainable harvesting to keep up economically.  Read
"Arator" by John Taylor, the first Senator from Virginia, for how this was happening prior to the
expansion west.  Why did everyone "go west"?  Because they fell to the bottom of the pyramid and
the land just wasn't producing the way it did for their ancestors.

Yes, oil makes the magnitude of the problem different and sounds more dire, but the problem is
that we keep trying to produce more food for those poor starving people that don't know how to
hold a job.  How come we need jobs in order to have food and shelter?  If industrialization made
it so we didn't need to work much in the fields and housing was faster and easier to produce, then
why do we still have starving homeless?  Oil depletion helps us understand a glaring contradiction
within our culture:  it isn't about food/oil, it's the fact that we accept sending surplus to the
owner, instead of to those who need it.  The dominating economic system is unethical in the
Permaculture context.


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