[permaculture] horticulture isn't the answer either [a climate spinoff]

Paul Cereghino paul.cereghino at comcast.net
Mon Jan 22 22:50:39 EST 2007

Some more hearsay.. sorry for the lack of citations... this thread just 
triggered some memories.
A colleague recently reported a study to me that looked at native tree 
establishment in the W. Washington climate (from naturally dispersed 
seed).  Tree regeneration (and the tricky establishment period with our 
dry summers) was correlated with short term climate cycles (north 
pacific decadal oscillation?).  Another piece... in pre-Columbian times 
there were huge areas of Douglas-fir forest in W. Washington, and based 
on investigation of the remnant patches, in many stands the oldest 
cohort were similarly aged 500 year-old giants.  The 500 year timing 
corresponds with a mediveal warming period, and some researchers are 
looking for other evidence indicating a period when the climate got a 
little hotter and drier, and the landscape was swept with catastrophic, 
stand-replacing fires, resulting in large swaths of land covered by 
relatively even ages stands of pioneering Douglas-fir.  Standing biomass 
can also look like a lot like fuel when the climate changes.
Paul Cereghino

Toby Hemenway wrote:

>The Anasazi, including those at Chaco, are firmly considered by
>anthropologists to be agriculturists. They farmed corn for their mainstay
>and had large irrigated fields. Farming in a desert is very risky. No
>horticultural society generates the surplus necessary to build a settlement
>the size of Chaco; it's way over Dunbar's number. And, sure, every society
>is vulnerable to climate change, or any number of dangers. I'm not sure that
>horticulture is sustainable, but it's more sustainable than plow
>agriculture. We only got about 10,000 years out of agriculture before we
>trashed a planet. We might get 100,000 from horticulture, which might be
>enough time for us (all of us, I mean) to figure out how to live here.
>I'm reading a great book right now called "The First Farmers" by Peter
>Bellwood. He cites data showing that from about 90,000 years ago until
>11,500 YA climate was incredibly unpredictable, cold, dry, and volatile
>(picture a really jagged graph of temp and rainfall, with generally cold
>temps). Then, boom, 11,500 years ago the graph smooths out, things get
>stably warm and moist. And that's when farming started. There's evidence
>that several grains were domesticated and farmed about 14,000 years ago, but
>climate was too  unstable for those cultures to make it work. They reverted
>to gathering. It's possible that farming was simply impossible until the
>climate allowed it. So if we lose both a stable climate and a massive fossil
>fuel subsidy that lets us ride out drought and low fertility, farming isn't
>going to be viable. Plant your trees now.
>Learn permaculture in at a tropical food forest in Belize this February.
>Details at http://patternliteracy.com
>On 1/19/07 7:14 PM, "Rain Tenaqiya" <raincascadia at yahoo.com> wrote:
>>While I agree with Toby's promotion of horticulture, and appreciate his
>>sociological distinction between it and agriculture, most horticulural
>>socities are (mostly were) not inherently sustainable, either.  A classic and
>>extreme example is in the US Southwest, where most of the areas inhabited by
>>pre-Columbian Native Americans were deforested and turned to bare desert after
>>a few generations of farming (the Anasazi and the people that built at Chaco
>>Canyon are the most famous).  It appears that the only people that survived as
>>horticulturists are those that were lucky enough to occupy ideal sites, with
>>dependable water sources and a forgiving ecology.
>>Small-scale integrated farming dependent mostly on humun labor and no major
>>inputs (off-site energy, biomass, nutrients, poisons, or water) is definitely
>>part of the solution, I believe, but only along with ecologically informed
>>decisions based on long-term monitoring and self-restraint, especially with
>>regard to population reduction and control.  The scientific method, and the
>>technology we now have to implement it, is relatively new and is crucial if we
>>are to properly understand and manage the ecosystems of which we are a part.
>>Past societies generally couldn't perceive the creeping changes that took
>>place over generations, though warnings from prophets such as Plato and
>>Mencius (who saw massive deforestation turning the hills into eroded rocks in
>>Greece and China, respectively) didn't seem to have any more effect than
>>modern scientists warning about global warming, today.  Without
>>self-restraint, there is no hope.  I guess we need a new religion (which will
>>create more problems).
>>permaculture-request at lists.ibiblio.org wrote:
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>>Today's Topics:
>>1. Re: VABF Conference (Keith Johnson)
>>2. Re: "How to Save the World" - Biodynamics in India (Steve Diver)
>>3. Keeping up with the Colemans (Toby Hemenway)
>>4. Re: "green" affiliates (Martin Naylor)
>>5. Ode to Indian Farmers Whose Land Was Confiscated For
>>Industrialization (sustain_ability at 123mail.org)
>>6. Re: Ode to Indian Farmers Whose Land Was Confiscated For
>>Industrialization (Lawrence F. London, Jr.)
>>Message: 1
>>Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2007 12:57:09 -0500
>>From: Keith Johnson
>>Subject: Re: [permaculture] VABF Conference
>>To: permaculture 
>>Message-ID: <45AE6375.9010805 at mindspring.com>
>>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
>>Peter Bane attended this event last year and said it was very good. This
>>year he will be a keynote speaker (and book / mag seller).
>>Steve Diver wrote:
>>>The VABF conference is excellent, so if you're within
>>>3-5 hours it can be worth the trip.
>>>Often the biggest thing you get from these bio-regional,
>>>sustainable ag, and organic ag conferences is the opportunity
>>>to meet kindred spirits and fellow land managers, as well as
>>>to share stories that range from living on the land to raising
>>>little kids and nanny goats, onwards to organic farming methods
>>>including tools and equipment and composting and keeping
>>>chickens on pasture.
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