[permaculture] what about lubrication?

Harmon Seaver hseaver at gmail.com
Thu Apr 3 08:53:35 EDT 2008

Robyn Francis wrote:

> I think the Cuba experience most relevant here - over 11 million people on a
> small island suddenly deprived of fuel, ag fertilisers and chemicals, and
> the 80% of their food which was imported. There was hunger until the gardens
> started producing but no-one died of starvation - largely due to the food
> rations for staples and the natural neighbourliness and generosity of the
> population. 
    Nobody starved to death, but the average Cuban lost 20 lbs or more.

    Cuba is an excellent example of what can be done. I bought the DVD
put out by The Power of Community

some time ago, and heartedly recommend it. There are some significant
differences however. For one thing, Cuba can grow food 365 days a year,
unlike most of the US. For another, the hadn't poisoned most of their
cropland, and also because they had a pretty authoritarian government,
there wasn't a lot of time wasted in politicians arguing what to do.

> Cuba largely feeds itself from small organic farms and urban agriculture -
> still imports around half its rice and cooking oil.
> I think the intellectuals have forgotten food production existed before
> modern fossil fuel agriculture - 

   Yes, humanity fed itself with agriculture for at least 10,000 years
before chemical farming became the norm. But those chemicals have
poisoned the soil and destroyed the natural fertility so nothing much
grows without them. Ask the farmers in India who bought into the "Green
Revolution" and now cannot afford the chemicals and are now committing
suicide at the rate of 20,000 a year or so because they can't feed their
families and are losing their land.
   But also remember what Toby said recently: "But the neocons told me
the free market was the answer, not the problem! We can thank the Green
Revolution. When you use oil to create food to breed a couple billion
extra mouths, the bill's going to come due some day."
   So we have all these extra people, and the cheap oil is going fast.
And, in fact, any sort of agriculture, even the non-chemical sort, has
created a population explosion. Read Richard Manning's great book,
"Against the Grain: How Agriculture Hi-Jacked Civilization" or his
excellent article in Harpers "The Oil We Eat."

    Permaculture and sustainable organic agriculture is obviously a
major part of the answer, but I don't think at all that it is going to
be near enough to feed everyone, let alone clothe, house, and keep them
    Remember also that we have vast areas of this planet that used to be
very fertile farmland, and which is now desert or otherwise
non-productive land. Look at Iraq for instance -- the Fertile Crescent
-- it's one of the major areas where both civilization and agriculture
began. Now the soil is mostly gone, eroded down to bare rock in many
place, in other the soil poisoned with salts not from chemical
fertilizer, but simply from irrigation. And that should be a lesson for
many, but somehow it's not, people still are using irrigation all over
the world, slowly destroying the land that feeds them.

Harmon Seaver

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