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Greta says "How dare you?"

 
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A little over a year ago Greta came to the US and I was asked to give a presentation at the local university about cutting one's carbon footprint.  The idea was to be part of a week long "Greta Week" cuz she was in the country.  I made a special presentation just for them.  

The day before, Greta presented to the UN.  This video is just one and a half minutes long.



My favorite part is "We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!"

I am to present in a theater that holds about 150 people.  Nice. I'm looking forward to this.  I do much better with a big crowd.

I get there and there are nine people.  

Further, I was asked to prepare a presentation for 45 minutes, but when I got there I was asked to stretch it out to two hours.   So I ask the audience to be sure to ask lots and lots of questions!

I think there is video of the whole presentation somewhere on facebook.  



The reason I am writing this today is I encountered a bit of a bump in the road in that presentation.  In the middle of the presentation a young gal had a question for me.  My memory is that she thought all of the stuff I was presenting on would be solved with socialism.  So she didn't need to know about heat and transportation and light bulbs.  Socialism would solve global warming - so why is she wasting her valuable time listening to me blather on about carbon footprint.  

At that moment, I wanted to throw Greta's quote out

 

"We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!"  



...  but I had not yet memorized it.  I still have not memorized it.  Maybe I have to copy and paste it another hundred times.  

Plus, I can barely spell "socialism".  I got the impression that more than half of the people attending this presentation came from a class where they talked about socialism as the cure for everything all day long.  

I thought to write this today because today somebody felt the need to lecture me on capitalism.  So I am connecting today's thing with the thing from over a year ago.  I suppose I could try to say what I think "capitalism" means, but I would probably just get 10,000 different people telling me that I am wrong, and then I would get 10,000 different definitions and 10,000 commands that I obey their plans for me rather than my plans for me.  

A few years ago, some guy seemed to dedicate his life to writing about what a stupid fuck I am.  He called me a "permacapitalist."  I think what he really is trying to tell people is that he wrote to me and commanded me obey his plans for me rather than my own.  And his plans had something to do with "not capitalism."  Since I did not obey, I am, therefore, a "permacapitalist."



My plan for me is to tell people about things that they can do to add luxury to their lives and put more money in their pockets.  And these same things will dramatically cut their carbon footprint.  I am hopeful that these ideas will go viral and PRESTO!  Greta is pleased.

In a cold climate, 65% or more of our carbon footprint comes from home heat.  I wish for people to be luxuriantly warm while saving thousands of dollar which also happens to dramatically cut their carbon footprint.



And I have my ongoing experiments here at the labs.  I need to do the ATI test.  And now the greenhouse wofati test.   More food with less effort.  Gardening gardeners.  Junkpole fence.  

I have plans to make water appear from dry land in seven different ways.  Each of those needs many rounds of experimentation.  

The willow feeder systems, round wood timber framing, natural building that costs less than conventional, curing cancer, giving people magnificent substance to their lives, helping people get out of debt - maybe dodging that debt all together ...     THESE are the experiments I want to do.  This is the path I am scrambling on.    I suppose if the "socialism v capitalism" stuff is some sort of battle, I am simply not interested.  My plate is already overflowing with the things I am interested in.  



Annual carbon footprint of

    advocating socialsim but doing nothing else    30 tons

    being a boot at wheaton labs    2 tons



And I am looking at that "2 tons" and working on how to get it to "negative 100 tons" - so people in the city can continue to argue about "fairy tales of eternal economic growth" while we work on real change in the here and now.

I wish Greta would give a shout out about some of the stuff we are working on.  Maybe my book.  Or maybe even just rocket mass heaters.


 
pollinator
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Back when you first got into Permaculture, I recall you stating that one of the big draws to you was the fact that it provided positive, creative, and constructive ways in which we can direct our energies for the betterment of humanity and the world we live in.

It stands in contrast to getting angry at bad guys, shouting, breaking and burning things... all which simply serves to propagate division, conflict, and further the agenda of the bad guys.

Political and ideological belief systems that advocate intolerance of people who have different views are tools created by the same bad guys whose purpose is to create and multiply division and conflict.

What I think you are experiencing is a reaction to a monoculture of thought. Universities are especially vulnerable to this because they are essentially factory farms that produce intellectuals who think alike and act alike. and you know that anything that is adapted to a highly simplified system is inherently unstable and fragile.

If I take a pig out of a factory, or a plant out of a hydroponic production facility and "set them free" in a highly complex inter-connected natural environment how long do you thing they would last? Not very long right? Unfortunately there are a ton of people who live in human factory farms both physically and mentally. What I struggle with is 1. Can they even be reached? and 2. Can they even survive a transition? and 3. Is my time and energy better invested in developing more fit for purpose individuals that are seeking and wanting my help?
 
pollinator
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I've mentioned Dr. Zach Bush before, but I just listened to a recent interview that he did with Acres USAs tractor time podcast and one thing that he talked about was the insane potential of our soil to be THE key carbon sink, and in so doing, restoring it to the role of central source of human health and thriving. I'd strongly encourage anyone here to listen to it as a great reminder that increasing our self (and community based) sufficiency, improving our soil, and eating food we grow with love from our newly invigorated soils is a great way to save money (on groceries and the doctor) while doing the actual work of restoring the cycles that support life in this realm.

Keep up the good work Paul!
 
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Without Capitalism I wouldn't have the variety of seeds I'm planting this year. Without Capitalism I wouldn't be able to purchase my tiny urban homestead, or pick from a variety of ducklings, a variety of tools, etc. I look at Capitalism as not good or evil, but a system. What we do with it, what business owners do, what consumers do.. that is our choice and choices have consequences good and bad. We don't have to hoard and over consume to keep Capitalism. We don't all have to be wearing, eating and driving the same things with Socialism. What it's really about is freedom of choice. I don't want our freedom to start a business, to purchase what we choose from where we choose, to travel, to survive independently taken away. It's happening already. I'm into Permaculture because I don't want to over consume. I want to control the quality of my food, my personal safety and my health. We need freedom to make those choices.
 
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Howdy,

         This was such an interesting topic, I had to comment on it. First, often these days, many people have already made up their minds (and hearts) about what is and what the answers are to the problems they are aware of to the exclusion of anything else. This used to be recognized as being closed minded, at the present moment however, it is valued as something else entirely. On another, and much better note I think, is that for me personally I have come to the believe that governance, that is to say governments are not the answer to the problems which lie before us, whatever style one might prefer. This is not to say we should abolish government however, and this is my point, culture has always been a better answer. This website is an example of it; cultural change arising from the necessity of the situation. People adapt to situations, governments not so much and when people adapt culture reflects it. One of the things I love about Permaculture is we can simply begin it and grow and do it and when enough people are engaged in it problems will have been solved. It's a matter of cultural change not of governance. Here's to all the men and women who are changing themselves for the better and bringing that change to the world. And Paul, that's a great plan. Do that!

     Thomas,    Mitama Farm


      p.s. if you read this, Paul, have you posted your ideas on gathering water? I'm interested in that.
 
paul wheaton
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If people wish to talk about the many flavors of capitalism and socialism, please take all of that to the cider press.  

 
paul wheaton
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if you read this, Paul, have you posted your ideas on gathering water? I'm interested in that.



I am pretty certain that I have.  I would go look for it and provide links and stuff, but I only have a few minutes before a meeting and it seems that I have created a massive moderation problem for the all volunteer staff - so I really need to clean up this thread first.
 
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I wonder why only 9 showed up? why didn't the room fill to capacity? How could we have attracted more to attend? Listen to Greta or listen to Paul? Sorry Greta your message had no solutions that were actionable by regular people.
 
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For context, it's important to note that Greta Thunberg's speech was not given to a room filled with "regular people". It was given to a room filled with world leaders at the 2019 United Nations Climate Summit, i.e., people who in theory are in a position to take significant action.
 
pollinator
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paul wheaton wrote:

I wish Greta would give a shout out about some of the stuff we are working on.  Maybe my book.  Or maybe even just rocket mass heaters.




To make that happen she has to know about these things, and she may or may not. She's Swedish, right? Anyone have any permaculture contacts in Sweden?

If I recall correctly someone above mentioned the difference between a full room and 9 people and how do we fix that. We fix it slowly, because minds are changed one at a time, and that's the best way to make change that lasts. Or we look into doing permaculture PR. There are good reasons not to do the latter, very good reasons. We don't want to turn permaculture into a fad that people will pick up because it's trendy, only to see most of them get bored with it and drop it (like gluten-free diets for people who don't actually need or benefit from them). The issue is visibility. The media love people who look good on camera and tug on the heartstrings. But those people do not always stay in the public consciousness. With 24/7 coverage via the internet and other innovations, a "star" can fizzle out as quickly as they rose. There should be something between the constant inching forward and the flash in the pan that burns out. I'm sure there is, but it has to be thoroughly considered first because there probably is not a perfect solution, and the consequences must be thought out in advance.

Paul, Permies is amazing and fantastic. How long did it take from when you first started it to when you hit whatever you consider to be a major milestone in terms of membership levels and influence in the permaculture world? In other words when did this forum go from small potatoes to the big cheese? Sorry. Writing while hungry = food references.

As to the suspected socialist in the crowd, it's really very simple. She wanted to look at politics, which generally takes a top-down approach to change and depends on a handful of people (elected or otherwise) to do things right and not get greedy,  whereas you were talking about REAL solutions that can be done by REAL people in a more bottom-up movement. In terms of creating lasting change without much destruction, bottom-up is the way to go. You were coming from such opposite directions that unless the other person was willing to look at things from another perspective (something that apparently is rare among humans), there probably wasn't going to be a meeting of the minds there.

We live in a culture/world where intolerance of other views is getting worse. That presents a very real challenge in communicating ideas effectively and not getting blunt objects thrown at our heads. But...if one of those 9 people who attended your talk went home and started doing research, and talking to others, that's good. The message will spread. The challenge is to find ways to spread it faster without losing the message itself. My brain is all fuzzy because there's a snowstorm coming and I have fibro, so I have no specific suggestions at the moment, but I think all of us at Permies are already on the right track because we've talked about this. The thread with ideas on what you can do with 12 BWB books, for example is excellent.

And if all of this seems overthought, or complete gibberish, I blame the fibro.
 
paul wheaton
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My political position is:  we have what we have and changing stuff at that level is just not my thing.  I choose to try to move forward despite the political obstacles - make the best of it.  

I agree with the position that changing the political framework probably won't solve the carbon footprint issue.  But the things I advocate WILL solve the carbon footprint issue despite the political framework.  



When political people tell me how wrong I am, they seem to advocate that 100% of our energy comes from solar panels - with zero change in their electric bill.  And their plan is to switch to electric heat that is running on those solar panels.  That is a lot of solar panels.  Especially for the winter.
 
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When I first saw that video of Greta, two things struck me:
  1. she was extremely sincere about her feelings
  2. she had no hope

My reaction to that video was extreme sadness. Here she is, so young but so hopeless. And NO ONE had given her a reason to hope. But that's what permies.com and permaculture offers - HOPE. Some folks love to argue politics, but arguing produces nothing positive. Its chief fruit is division - which resolves nothing. And this is why Permies and Building a Better World are so important. They offer a doable plan and HOPE. Government isn't going to wave a magic wand and make all the worlds problem disappear. But if each one of us begins to make changes in our own lives, change will occur. And if others observe us and see that we're enthusiastic and happy with our lifestyle changes, they'll get interested. Who would you rather follow? Someone who's giving you doom and gloom and saying you have to tighten your belt and make sacrifices? Or someone who is excited and happy about life? Each one of us has the power to offer one or the other.
 
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I find Greta far too angry to listen to.  She seems so miserable all the time.  What a terrible way to go through your young life.
 
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A different take: "A Dearth of Carbon" on Youtube (interview with co-founder of Greenpeace).
 
pollinator
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To get back on topic (hopefully) - I'll comment on the two videos shared by Paul in his original post.

How is "eternal economic growth" a fairy tale? Isn't that what permaculture is all about?

I remember one of Geoff Lawton's videos/documentaries in which he visited a "Transition Town"; one of those that try to be as independent and sustainable as possible. From supporting local farming to creating a local currency.
Basically, every permaculture teacher says, that every permaculture homestead requires less work and produces more yield over time.
How is that not eternal economic growth?

I have a family member who is an economist and a businessman. The typical "big fish" who spent most of his life making money. He's not even close to being a really big fish, but he's not a small one for sure.
He also lived through extreme poverty as a child, which traumatized him for life. I suppose that this was his motivation to choose the career that he had; later on he became sort of addicted to it too, like many businessmen I think. They're all gamblers (a trait he shares with his two siblings, who never got this rich, but they succeeded in other areas, in a similar fashion).

Then I have a number of artists in my family. The tree huggers, dancers, painters, hippies. Typically, they look like the ones who might be more attracted to permaculture, who will join Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, and whatnot. They care about books and arts more than they care about money. They don't kill spiders and they make friends with strangers, they save water and walk barefoot.
One might think that the second type will be more attracted to permaculture, because all the "work with nature", "care abouth the Earth", "less is more", etc, is right up their street. And it's true; so that's what I talk about, to them.

However, it's the businessman uncle who really *gets it*, I think.
Because when I talk about permaculture to him, I say: you can't have unlimited growth on a planet with limited resources. Guess what: he knows what limited resources means, more than anyone else. He knows how important the accessibility of resources is, and their actual cost. He knows how risky it is to put all one’s eggs in one basket. So when I explain permaculture to him, I pretend to be another economist ;) and then he's like: wow, that actually makes sense. He's retired now, but I'm sure there is a lot of more active economists and businessmen who know and understand these things too; they're intelligent people after all.
The real "bad guys" are the lazy ones, who just want things to be cheap and easy, and maybe also the sociopaths and other freaks who for some reason have too much power in their hands. But even with them, the positive motivation ("I want to do something good") is usually better than the negative, and then everyone is different, and diversity of people is actually good; so we just need to speak to those various kinds of motivation.

 
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Flora Eerschay wrote:To get back on topic (hopefully) - I'll comment on the two videos shared by Paul in his original post.

How is "eternal economic growth" a fairy tale? Isn't that what permaculture is all about?



I don't think so. It works the land up to their long term sustainable possibilities, it opens up lands that apparently are productive no longer. But once each ecosystem is at it's maximum yield, it can increase no more. Once we are at the maximum load capacity of the system we can grow no longer, as it happens with natural ecosystems.

The only way to surpass this limitation is by acquairing new technologies that can be used for increasing the efficiency or for gathering energy or materials from a new source. And that's good for a while, but if these new energy sources are non renewable, it won't be permanent.
 
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Flora Eerschay wrote:

How is "eternal economic growth" a fairy tale? Isn't that what permaculture is all about?




Eternal growth is not possible in a world with finite resources, or on a part of that world with it's finite resources. The same for a permaculture system, the first "growth" is easy and as  you get your system working better and better growth slows down and eventually if you got everything perfect no more growth is possible. Think of a single tree, when you first plant a tree and get it's first harvest that is a huge spike in productivity, over the next many years the tree will continue to produce more and more but at some point it becomes mature and then although it is still producing there is no more growth to be had, no more increase in yield from that tree is possible. The problem I feel with our modern system is to fund everything we want we have to have economic growth, and to keep that growth going in countries that have "matured" we pillage from places that have not.
 
Flora Eerschay
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Abraham and Skandi, what I was suggesting is to redefine economic growth. By what you're saying, it means "making more money by producing more items to sell (or use)". In this sense, yes, it's always limited within any given systems.  
I'm thinking of it more as an evolution.
However, permaculture systems are constantly evolving, as are human needs and structures. Yield is not only sellable items, but also knowledge, opportunities, energy, technologies, experiences. Think of "items" that are of high value to people, but they don't physically exist at all.
No one would produce more of the same crop, once the need for it is satisfied. And permaculture was never about producing just one kind of thing, and producing more and more of it over time.
 
Abraham Palma
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Flora Eerschay wrote:Abraham and Skandi, what I was suggesting is to redefine economic growth. By what you're saying, it means "making more money by producing more items to sell".
In this sense, yes, it's always limited within any given systems.
However, permaculture systems are constantly evolving, as are human needs and structures. Yield is not only sellable items, but also knowledge, opportunities, energy, technologies, experiences. Think of "items" that are of high value to people, but they don't physically exist at all.
No one would produce more of the same crop, once the need for it is satisfied. And permaculture was never about producing just one kind of thing, and producing more and more of it over time.



However, there are still limits. We are in the ultimate layer limited by the amount of energy we receive from the sun (more accurately, the energy flow), and the whole amount of materials found in Earth. Since our technology currently does not allow us to exploit the 100% of the available, there is apparently room for new technologies to increase these proficiencies. But we are already at a very high level of efficiency, so increasing it is very hard. Moreover, there's a limit on how efficient things can ever be, the most clear example is the thermal machine, no matter how well designed your machine is, there is always a theoretical limit. Even knowledge is finite. It takes work to produce, classify and store knowledge, so we have to redirect some energy flows towards this activity. Think of the medieval monks who spent their lives copying books. This was the way to preserve knowledge, and it took the work of several human lives during centuries to keep it alive. Our current knowledge is massive in comparison, our ways to store it infinitely more efficient than copying written books with a duck feather. But what if we lose the ability to produce hard disks? You know that they have a short life. Every ten or fifteen years you have to replace them, and they use rare elements, and are affordable only because they are mass produced. Without computers, the internet, the hard disks, how much knowledge do you think we will be able to preserve?
 
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