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Patricks Whitefield's Earth Care Manual - questions

 
Eivind Bjoerkavaag
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Hey Patrick!

I've had the pleasure of reading parts of your book from the library at the off the grid permaculture site Treesong, in southern Oregon. I agree with the staff review, and wonder what your comments are to the following: "no book is perfect. I loved the description of masonry stoves, but there was no mention of rocket mass heaters. I winced at the comment about energy saver bulbs and wanted to send a link to Paul's video. And I wasn't too sure about having the third ethic listed as 'fair share".

Thanks!
 
Patrick Whitefield
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Location: Britain
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Hello Eivind,

I didn't mention rocket stoves because they hadn't been invented when I wrote the book. I have just done an update but it was selective, mainly around the climate and energy chapters. I rewrote energy because it's a technology that's changing so fast. But what escaped me was that part of that technology is in the building chapter! I should have spotted that. My apologies.

I can't remember what I wrote about low energy bulbs. Can you remind me?

I agree about 'fair shares'. It has become the usual term over here in Europe and the publishers more or less required it. Personally I like to call it 'Limits'. It's a challenging concept in our culture and permaculture is nothing if it doesn't challenge us now and then.

Best wishes, Patrick
 
Eivind Bjoerkavaag
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Wow, is there anything else in the book you would have done different today?

Sorry, I can't remind you about the bulbs, allthough I'm at a library, they don't have your book. But I'll recommend them to get it. And here's the bulb video
 
Burra Maluca
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Ooops - I've a nasty feeling I've gone and stuck my big foot in it again. I'm not very good at thinking before opening my big mouth, so I'd better try to explain my rather chaotic thought processes...

I think the first thing to realise is that books and forums, whilst having a lot in common, also serve quite different purposes. The Earth Care Manual in particular is an amazing resource of tried, trusted and true information. Forums like permies.com are also a wealth of information, but are, as someone said to me a few days ago, 'a hot-bed of new ideas'. The moment a book is published, it contains all the wisdom of the author at that moment. But that moment passes. Permies.com is alive and changing by the second, and the ideas here include weird, wacky and almost unbelievable stuff. Some of that stuff falls by the wayside, while other ideas like hugelkulture and rocket-stoves inspire enough people to experiment with them that their worth is gradually realised and bit by bit those ideas spread and in time will become part of the tried, trusted and true information in the books of tomorrow.

I love new ideas, and I tend to be a bit Mollison-like in as much as I think I was being a gad-fly at the end of that review, trying to alert Patrick to new ideas to consider and new viewpoints on old subjects. Earlier today someone posted about how he thought that more CO2 in the atmosphere was a good think as it makes plants grow faster, and Patrick pointed out that the bigger picture, which considers the whole planet rather than just a greenhouse, might be a little more complicated. The same with low-energy lightbulbs (page 132 of the Earth Care Manual encourages their use) - at first glance it seems like a no-brainer to adopt their use, but Paul has researched things a bit more deeply and thrown some serious questions into the equation

The ideas and the sharing are the things I love most about permies.com, and I especially love being involved in these book promotions where I can invite authors of books I love to come here, let us pick their brains, and in turn expose them to the ideas we've been developing here. It seems like a way to extend the edge-effect between books and forums, creating a super-fertile place for us all to grow.

OK, I've waffled enough...
 
Patrick Whitefield
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I've had a look at the light bulb video. Most of it seems to be about what a bad idea it is to use cfl's in places where you only switch on for a short time, rather than about using cfl's in general. Well I would have thought it was a pretty bad idea anyway, without needing to watch a video about it. There may have been something about reasons for not using them in general in the last part of the film, but I'd lost interest by then. It's a bit like criticising bicycles for not carrying four people at a time. It's not what they're good at.

Don't get me wrong. I really like films, articles, posts etc which probe accepted orthodoxy and expose it to examination and, where apropriate, ridicule. If I'm the guy who spoke the orthodoxy in the first place I like it even more. But then the probe has to stand up to probing too.

CFL's are probably just a stage on the way to LED's. But they're not useless just because they're only suitable for 90% of your lighting requirements.

I appreciate Burra's comments on the difference between books and posts. As well as the timescale there's a difference in mood, too, at least I find that myself. I love to sit down in an evening and lose myself for hours in a good long book. But on a screen I get itchy if it takes me more than a couple of minutes to read something. I want to be off somewhere else, hunting and gathering. 'The medium is the message' - Marshall Mcluan - it was never quite true, especially in his day, but there is an edge of truth to it now.
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