new video
hot off the press!  
    more about rocket
mass heaters here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

the existing empire strikes back  RSS feed

 
duane hennon
gardener
Posts: 763
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
45
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

they do have some good observations


http://skepteco.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/the-cult-of-perma/

The Cult of Perma
................
"OK then, so here we are waiting for all these new ideas and eager to put them to the test. What we got was more like a cult…..

“A cynic would say this lack of quantitative testing is not accidental, because it might reveal that many favourite notions are false, or at least not what they are cracked up to be. Most people attracted to Permaculture are young, dreamy idealists looking for some kind of system to structure their activities and impart meaning. It does not matter much whether things ‘work’ because you are not obliged to depend on them. It is their symbolic value that counts. I have encountered numerous ‘permaculture gardens’ with abysmal levels of productivity that have nevertheless persuaded their creators that they are virtually self-sufficient in food. A few measurements and numbers would quickly dispel this illusion, but Permies just don’t do numbers."
.........................

"This is the crux of the matter: any measurement or controlled studies that the permaculture movement might conduct itself will only be re-inventing the wheel and will hardly be able to add anything significant to the body of agronomic science we already have. Just as “alternative medicine” that works is just called “medicine” so anything that could be shown to work in what is called “permaculture” is simply “good farming”, “good design” or “good engineering”.
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
104
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The Cult of Skepticism ! When they viewed the undocumented and untested dreamy eyed Permies' garden did they test the abysmal yields or just assume they were abysmal . When has alternative medicine that works ever been called just medicine . When has anything Fukuoka , Sepp , Mollison and Lawton ever designed been called just good farming or just good design . I don't see that their assumptions about permaculture are based on any evidence . More like pseudoskepticism .
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
104
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some thoughts about pseudoskepticism -

On 08-31-1869 Swiss philosopher Henri-Frederic Amiel wrote in his diary :

"My instinct is in harmony with the pessimism of Buddha and of Schopenhauer. It is a doubt which never leaves me, even in my moments of religious fervor. Nature is indeed for me a Maïa; and I look at her, as it were, with the eyes of an artist. My intelligence remains skeptical. What, then, do I believe in? I do not know. And what is it I hope for? It would be difficult to say. Folly! I believe in goodness, and I hope that good will prevail. Deep within this ironical and disappointed being of mine there is a child hidden — a frank, sad, simple creature, who believes in the ideal, in love, in holiness, and all heavenly superstitions. A whole millennium of idyls sleeps in my heart; I am a pseudo-skeptic, a pseudo-scoffer"

Later , a more applicable use of the term -

In 1987 Marcello Truzzi revived the term specifically for arguments which use scientific-sounding language to disparage or refute given beliefs, theories, or claims, but which in fact fail to follow the precepts of conventional scientific skepticism. He argued that scientific skepticism is agnostic to new ideas, making no claims about them but waiting for them to satisfy a burden of proof before granting them validity. Pseudoskepticism, by contrast, involves "negative hypotheses" - theoretical assertions that some belief, theory, or claim is factually wrong - without satisfying the burden of proof that such negative theoretical assertions would require.[5][6][7][8]

In 1987, while working as a professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University, Truzzi gave the following description of pseudoskeptics in the journal Zetetic Scholar (which he founded):

In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded. The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of proof and that science must continue to build its cognitive map of reality without incorporating the extraordinary claim as a new "fact." Since the true skeptic does not assert a claim, he has no burden to prove anything. He just goes on using the established theories of "conventional science" as usual. But if a critic asserts that there is evidence for disproof, that he has a negative hypothesis—saying, for instance, that a seeming psi result was actually due to an artifact—he is making a claim and therefore also has to bear a burden of proof.

— Marcello Truzzi, "On Pseudo-Skepticism", Zetetic Scholar, 12/13, pp3-4, 1987[5]

Truzzi attributed the following characteristics to pseudoskeptics:[5]

Denying, when only doubt has been established
Double standards in the application of criticism
The tendency to discredit rather than investigate
Presenting insufficient evidence or proof
Assuming criticism requires no burden of proof
Making unsubstantiated counter-claims
Counter-claims based on plausibility rather than empirical evidence
Suggesting that unconvincing evidence provides grounds for completely dismissing a claim

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Truzzi
 
James Koss
Posts: 74
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I personally don't see any problem with Permaculture being a cult. The idea that all cults are "evil" is nonsense. A cult, as in a following, just means that we all follow certain ideas, together.

Having a moral position and joining into a group that reflects that position is normal and healthy. That's how we protect ourselves from predators and maintain a lifeline in times of need.

Being a cynic, however, /is/ evil. Simply seeking to negate an idea, or dismiss the importance of experimentation, always leads into conflict and self-destruction. That's why the cynics /failed/ as cult! Hmph.
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
104
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Remember that Fukuoaka , Mollison , Savory are all educated scientists and developed their ideas in the course of their scientific work . They all had epiphanies in the same fashion as Einstein , Newton , and Michael Valentine Smith . Grok ?

Bill Mollison in an interview talking about the origins of his ideas -

London: When did you begin teaching permaculture?

Mollison: In the early 1970s, it dawned on me that no one had ever applied design to agriculture. When I realized it, the hairs went up on the back of my neck. It was so strange. We’d had agriculture for 7,000 years, and we’d been losing for 7,000 years — everything was turning into desert. So I wondered, can we build systems that obey ecological principles? We know what they are, we just never apply them. Ecologists never apply good ecology to their gardens. Architects never understand the transmission of heat in buildings. And physicists live in houses with demented energy systems. It’s curious that we never apply what we know to how we actually live.

London: It tells us something about our current environmental problems.

Mollison: It does. I remember the Club of Rome report in 1967 which said that the deterioration of the environment was inevitable due to population growth and overconsumption of resources. After reading that, I thought, "People are so stupid and so destructive — we can do nothing for them." So I withdrew from society. I thought I would leave and just sit on a hill and watch it collapse.

The ethics are simple: care of the earth, care of people, and reinvestment in those ends.
It took me about three weeks before I realized that I had to get back and fight. [Laughs] You know, you have to get out in order to want to get back in.

London: Is that when the idea of permaculture was born?

Mollison: It actually goes back to 1959. I was in the Tasmanian rain forest studying the interaction between browsing marsupials and forest regeneration. We weren’t having a lot of success regenerating forests with a big marsupial population. So I created a simple system with 23 woody plant species, of which only four were dominant, and only two real browsing marsupials. It was a very flexible system based on the interactions of components, not types of species. It occurred to me one evening that we could build systems that worked better than that one.

That was a remarkable revelation. Ever so often in your life — perhaps once a decade — you have a revelation. If you are an aborigine, that defines your age. You only have a revelation once every age, no matter what your chronological age. If you’re lucky, you have three good revelations in a lifetime.

Because I was an educator, I realized that if I didn’t teach it, it wouldn’t go anywhere. So I started to develop design instructions based on passive knowledge and I wrote a book about it called Permaculture One. To my horror, everybody was interested in it. [Laughs] I got thousands of letters saying, "You’ve articulated something that I’ve had in my mind for years," and "You’ve put something into my hands which I can use."

London: Permaculture is based on scientific principles and research. But it seems to me that it also draws on traditional and indigenous folk wisdom.

Mollison: Well, if I go to an old Greek lady sitting in a vineyard and ask, "Why have you planted roses among your grapes?" she will say to me, "Because the rose is the doctor of the grape. If you don’t plant roses, the grapes get ill." That doesn’t do me a lot of good. But if I can find out that the rose exudes a certain root chemical that is taken up by the grape root which in turn repels the white fly (which is the scientific way of saying the same thing), then I have something very useful.

Then again , {Me } most permies are gardeners , farmers , herders , beekeepers and do not have research dollars to spare . Bill Mollison also speaks -

"As non-scientists, most gardeners deprived of atomic-ray spectrometers, a battery of reagents, and a few million research dollars must look to signs of health such as the birds, reptiles, worms, and plants of their garden-farm. For myself, in a truly natural garden I have come to expect to see, hear, and find evidence of abundant vertebrate life. This, and this alone, assures me that invertebrates still thrive there. I know of many farms where neither birds nor worms exist, and I suspect that their products are dangerous to all life forms."

{Me} As for myself , if ever an invited group of folks showed up to my place with a demand to test my yields vs. Monocrop Joe next door or some such demand of proof my reply would be akin to : " Get the Hell off my property and don't let the tube gate hit you in the ass on the way out . "
 
chip sanft
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
32
bike books dog urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
These articles raise some points worth considering, including things like the place of spirituality in permaculture that I've read and heard Paul criticize too. The articles are also quite different in their approaches to criticizing permaculture. But I do see some shared weaknesses in the expressed thinking:

* The articles in some places really fail to understand what permaculture techniques are trying to do in. For example, one of the points from "Permaculture: The Big Rock Candy Mountain" is,

Another idea I found attractive was that of using more perennials. An annual plant has to get sown in a prepared seed-bed, fussed and pampered, and then you have to do it all again the following year. Perennials start the season raring to go, with their root systems already fully operational and able to exploit a far larger volume of soil. They should be more productive. Shouldn’t they? Yeah, stands to reason, let’s try it. But when you actually do, it is very rarely the case that perennials out-yield annuals. The fact that this is still widely believed suggests the PC movement runs on Nice Ideas rather than evidence.


This fails to take into account a huge benefit of perennials: you don't have to replant them. Their relative productivity compared to annuals isn't the point. The point is that with no further input of time, you get food. Perhaps one could get a higher yield if one intensively farmed annuals with many inputs and much work. Fine. But a perennial plot will produce food while the gardener goes and spends time on other things. Such as napping. Annuals don't allow for that.

* The articles point to a lack of scientifically verified results. The problem is, such testing is very resource intensive in terms of both time and money. If such testing had been done and negative results published, I assume the authors would cite those negative results. They don't, so I assume that what we have is hypotheses that experienced gardeners accept but that have not yet been tested. That doesn't falsify the experiences of those gardeners; it just means more work remains to be done. I think many people would agree that permaculture is still developing and if somebody wants to invest the resources in testing it, great. I've seen this exact point expressed in the forums here many times.

* Permaculture literature is aimed at a particular, popular audience. Books for popular audiences often don't give full citations to scientific literature. Many ordinary gardening books don't give those citations either, or they give very very few. Books cost money to produce, references take up a lot of space, and most readers of popular books aren't interested in those things anyway and those who are probably know how to find them. If you want science, read science; don't read popular literature. That's like criticizing Hawkings' _A Brief History of Time_ because it doesn't have enough equations in it.

* On the other hand, if permaculture is just remixing things that have been proven in other contexts, so that they are merely "good farming" (another criticism), doesn't that speak for permaculture and not against it? If we are taking the best of proven techniques and then combining them in a particular way because experience tells us that it works, isn't that a step toward improvement? I don't see the problem.

I could go on but my fingers are getting tired.
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
104
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"Order is found in things working beneficially together. It is not the forced condition of neatness, tidiness, and straightness all of which are, in design or energy terms, disordered. True order may lie in apparent confusion; it is the acid test of entropic order to test the system for yield. If it consumes energy beyond product, it is in disoder. If it produces energy to or beyond consumption, it is ordered." - Bill Mollison

" Science ! I can smell the chemicals ! " - Thomas Dolby
 
duane hennon
gardener
Posts: 763
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
45
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

hi all, a good discussion
but remember it's not the choir we have to convince

as far as

Truzzi attributed the following characteristics to pseudoskeptics:[5]

Denying, when only doubt has been established
Double standards in the application of criticism
The tendency to discredit rather than investigate
Presenting insufficient evidence or proof
Assuming criticism requires no burden of proof
Making unsubstantiated counter-claims
Counter-claims based on plausibility rather than empirical evidence
Suggesting that unconvincing evidence provides grounds for completely dismissing a claim

remember to these critics and third parties, permaculture is the pseudoskeptic making claims against "standard agriculture"
so the burden of proof lies with those claiming permaculture is better
and any claims need to be backed up by some evidence
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
104
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's poignant that Mollison , Fukoaka , Savory are all scientists and formed their ideas while conducting "true field research" . After that they spent more time trying to convince farmers and villagers than fellow scientists. The "Show Me" people not the "Prove it to Me" people. {Ex-organic types or ex-permie types that become skeptics remind me of recently divorced men who go through a misogynistic period. They need to go cool off by themselves before they interact with others.} Watch this TEDTalk by Alan Savory and note the photographic evidence . I assume the African villagers , Chilean pastoralists , and the 3 generation Southwestern American family are more "convinced" than any skeptic demanding data will ever be.

 
duane hennon
gardener
Posts: 763
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
45
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


Wayne,

you're missing the article's point.
first we have Mollison's permaculture - forest gardens, guilds,etc

the article is asking about the claim of perennials and food forests
and whether they are superior to standard agriculture in feeding the world's population

Fukuoka, Savory, Yeomans, Holtzer, ruth stout, Mark Shepard, etc weren't conducting field trials on permaculture
none of them ever heard of Mollison or permaculture when first starting out
none of them had to take a PDC before they designed their systems
they were conducting trails on "best practices"
permaculture claimed them "after the fact"
so we would still have these technologies without "permaculture"

Mark Shepard would probably agree with most of the article

Permanculture -what is it?
it has gotten side tracked with issues of global warming, peak oil, population control, new age woowoo

one should take this criticism in the article as a indication that the information being
sent out from the permaculture community to the public may be confusing
a positive approach would be in improving and clarifying the information
rather than trying to shoot the messenger






 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
79
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would like to point out that global warming is not a "side track". The more climate science you know, the bleaker the outlook for the future climate. Right now, the effects of global warming are being felt in a few places, but not enough places to disrupt the world's agricultural system. The country of Syria has had its agricultural system disrupted in a large part due to global warming and climate change, but so far other countries are coping. That will change as time marches on.

Permaculture, because it stresses independence from external inputs (fertilizer, pesticides, fuel for tillage, etc.), is the only path that leads to food production in a warming world. Modern industrial agriculture is a dead end, running up against peak oil, peak fossil fuel use, and other brick walls that block the way.

Permaculture can never be science because science studies cause and effect, studying a small number of observables dependent on a small number of controlling factors. Permaculture is the study of the entire system, with all the cycles turning and moving. It is observation of all of the effects of a certain action, linking two previously unconnected effects, such as the increased susceptibility that bees exposed to neo-nicotinoids have when subjected to varroa mites. Science is way behind permaculture, because it takes time to set up an experiment, measure levels of neo-nicotinoids in bees, control for the exposure to varroa mites, not to mention all the variables inherent in a foraging insect. Permaculture is acting on incomplete information that this might be a problem, while science is gathering more information to complete the picture.

Permaculture is holistic. It is concerned with all life, both alive and growing, and dead and decomposing. In permaculture, decomposition is extremely important, whether it is the ratio of browns to greens in the compost pile, or how the biogas digester is working, or which fungi are doing the decomposition in the pile of wood chips. Dead and decomposing material is of no importance to modern industrial agriculture. At most it is a partial offset to the amount of N, P, and K that will have to be applied to the field next year.

Permaculture is as removed from biological science as browsing the Web is removed from the physics of semiconductor junction devices. While science is at the very core of both web browsing and permaculture, they are many orders of complexity removed.

Permaculture is really ecological engineering, trying to construct a living edifice, whose output is the sustenance of human beings. As with all engineering, you have to know a lot of scientific principles and apply them when trying out a new engineering design. Sometimes you overlook a scientific principle or two, and when that causes you to get a poor result, you decide that there is more science that needs to be applied. When climate change really starts taking our ecological systems off in a new direction, it will require a lot of permaculture type thinking to get those systems to support the people that are depending on them.
 
duane hennon
gardener
Posts: 763
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
45
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator



<http://www.salon.com/2013/09/26/study_everyone_hates_environmentalists_and_feminists_partner/>

Study: Everyone hates environmentalists and feminists

Why don’t people behave in more environmentally friendly ways? New research presents one uncomfortable answer: They don’t want to be associated with environmentalists.
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
104
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would suggest for anyone that is intent on proving or disproving claims made by permaculturists to set up their own studies . Go ahead and learn well the technique you will study - do a study - and get back with the results . I think also that your study should be open to a review by peers . So publish your study in a scientific journal - then publish it here and let all of us review it . Might be fun . I also have a skeptical mind but know that idealism , aesthetics , quality of life are as or more important to me daily than subjecting every movement I make to "scientific scrutiny " . I am a gardener trying to think like a farmer .

"Most biologists," (says Vogel, 1981) "seem to have heard of the boundary layer, but they have a fuzzy notion that it is a discrete region, rather than the discrete notion that it is a fuzzy region." - Bill Mollison quoting Vogel

“Modern research divides nature into tiny pieces and conducts tests that conform neither with natural law nor with practical experience. The results are arranged for the convenience of research, not according to the needs of the farmer.” - Fukoaka

Imagine if you will a hypothetical permie science fair and you only have an hour to attend . Booth one is a group of academics with clean fingernails and little calculators who have gobs of data to reveal to you with their comparative study of mulching techniques vs. no till-glycophosphate mono-crop yields . Booth two is a little old lady from Kansas gardening naked . Hell , life is short . I'm hanging out with the old lady .
 
duane hennon
gardener
Posts: 763
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
45
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


hi Wayne,

so what do we want permaculture to be?
a closed group of cultists "doin' their own thing"?
or something that is relevant to a wider audience
(which might be of interest to those trying to build an empire)
is the empire to be formed of only already like minded folks?

I am not criticizing the efficiency of permaculture practices
I am suggesting that how it is presented to the public may be "less than perfect"
feedback from the outside is what matters (not what the choir thinks)
concerns from this feedback needs to be addressed
or one loses potential converts
 
Dawn Hoff
Posts: 503
Location: Andalucía, Spain
26
bee books chicken greening the desert rabbit trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think the article has many good points. I grew up in a hippie/communist community in Denmark (closely linked to Christiania which geoff lawton is so fond of), and when I moved away from home I did not want to hear another word about spiritual adobe houses or compost toilets. The whole permaculture movement - or the whole Eco movement - is so closely linked to a specific ideology, and still is in some areas, that I defies science and becomes ideology in it self.

But that does not mean that permaculture doesn't work...

I think there is plenty of internal critisism. I've only been a permie for about a year and I've heard plenty. I've heard Rosemarry Morrow say "sometimes swales aren't the answer", Paul Wheaton discuss sheet mulching, people in here discuss the efficiency/ecology of recycling paper etc.

But to me the most important point is this:
"What is missing here is obviously that there is a hierarchy of yields. Even one apple might be valued more than a ton of apples if it brings a smile to a child’s face; but what value is that smile as a “yield” if the child goes to bed hungry? If you need to pay the bills and earn a living as a farmer, your higher apple yields are all-important; if you are hungry, or live in a country blighted by hunger, the total amount of food you get today- and every day- trumps any feel-good factor of “being holistic”. Happiness and job satisfaction come second after a full belly, every time."

He compares the "yield" - a child's smile with the difference between a lower output from less pruning than the higher output from more pruning... But that is ludicrous! Yes a farmer might get a smaller yield from not pruning, fertilizing and using pest control - but he has also not spent time or money on this. So he can get multiple yields, with co-planting or have a second job - or spend time watching his kids smile. Farmers are going bankrupt across Europe (guess it's the same in the states?), in India etc. in spite of huge government subsidies. Any one in their right mind can see that this is not sustainable? Even if it is environmentally sustainable (I doubt they could prove that though). It is not economically sustainable.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
3
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Most people attracted to Permaculture are young, dreamy idealists looking for some kind of system to structure their activities and impart meaning. It does not matter much whether things ‘work’ because you are not obliged to depend on them. It is their symbolic value that counts. I have encountered numerous ‘permaculture gardens’ with abysmal levels of productivity that have nevertheless persuaded their creators that they are virtually self-sufficient in food.


While I certainly fit the profile of a not-so-young-anymore dreamy idealist with abysmal yields, this is a luxury afforded only to first world permies. The author should take a good look at the success of permaculture in the 3rd world. Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Latin America...
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame wrote:
Most people attracted to Permaculture are young, dreamy idealists looking for some kind of system to structure their activities and impart meaning. It does not matter much whether things ‘work’ because you are not obliged to depend on them. It is their symbolic value that counts. I have encountered numerous ‘permaculture gardens’ with abysmal levels of productivity that have nevertheless persuaded their creators that they are virtually self-sufficient in food.


While I certainly fit the profile of a not-so-young-anymore dreamy idealist with abysmal yields, this is a luxury afforded only to first world permies. The author should take a good look at the success of permaculture in the 3rd world. Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Latin America...


What is interesting is most gardens I find here by the Costaricans are permaculture in nature. Not 100 percent pure, but basically, learning to make things work together. And I appreciate people thinking I am young, dreamy idealistic. Been a while since anyone thought I was young... perhaps someone will proof me in the grocery store some day... rather doubtful since my hair and beard is white. lol

I think perhaps the question is whether large scale farms are sustainable. My family had a 300 acre vegetable farm on one side of the family, and a 300 acre dairy farm, on the other side. Large money making operations like that would be interesting to see if they can be done with permaculture. The problem is that most industrial farms are of the nature of "just add water". And they are farmed, till the land is used up.

I actually am at peace with this. Land recovers rather quickly after it goes back to forest - and unless it turns into a desert, when it can no longer be farmed, it will be abandoned, and when abandoned, eventually be a forest again. How many people survive is another question. I honestly wonder if the human race as a group is capable of making long term decisions, or will it forever repeat the tragedy of the commons.

The promise (and delivery) of permaculture is food production without a huge amount of labor. Currently, we are dumping in 10 calories of fossil fuel to create one calorie of food or so I have heard. Obviously that is not a good idea. We are consuming millions of years of storeage of the energy of plants per year to grow food.

Any comparisons of yields from various methods of growing food must include all the inputs, especially if one of those inputs are not sustainable, like fossil fuels.

Never mind the mined fertilizers which are finite as well.
 
Dawn Hoff
Posts: 503
Location: Andalucía, Spain
26
bee books chicken greening the desert rabbit trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What he is also missing is that the 3rd world subsistance farmers can't afford the GMO seeds, the fertilizer or the pesticides - let alone the machines and fuel needed to run these "highly efficient" monocultures.

And I will also question the so called efficiency of these huge monocultures - though I have no scientific evidence to back it up - compared to a small subsistence farm.... The output pr m2 of farmed land, then I will bet that the small fincas down here (South of Spain) with a mixture of fruit and nut trees, pumpkin and watermelon underneath and chickens running wild a few rabbits in a cage out the back, produce far more calories pr m2 than an orange farm with hectare upon hectare of oranges with bare soil underneath. No the fruits cannot be picked by a machine, and for a large farm to function this way, the number of employees would have to be huge. That is not feasible if we are to pay minimum wages, but maybe the the solution is not bigger farms and more machines but smaller farms?
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3729
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
86
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Another idea I found attractive was that of using more perennials. An annual plant has to get sown in a prepared seed-bed, fussed and pampered, and then you have to do it all again the following year. Perennials start the season raring to go, with their root systems already fully operational and able to exploit a far larger volume of soil. They should be more productive. Shouldn’t they? Yeah, stands to reason, let’s try it. But when you actually do, it is very rarely the case that perennials out-yield annuals. The fact that this is still widely believed suggests the PC movement runs on Nice Ideas rather than evidence.


I read this critique a few months ago and I thought, "Hmm, where are his numbers proving that annuals out-yield perennials!"

In fact, the article was sent to me be someone dabbling in permaculture who is perhaps disenchanted. He may think the whole thing is a crock because his hazelnuts aren't yielding (though they were not well placed or on swales or on contour or....) yet he just collected a shit ton of apples which most likely out yielded all of his annuals combined!

I know that the free apples I've collected along my road have out-yielded all my annuals and perennials (which are young) because I do, in fact, keep records! As of today, 673 lbs of free apples v 260 lbs of annuals. The main thing I learned from this? My reluctance to grow high carb plants like potatoes/pumpkins was stupid because I could feed them to the pig/chickens/turkeys just like I do with those apples!
 
Dawn Hoff
Posts: 503
Location: Andalucía, Spain
26
bee books chicken greening the desert rabbit trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes - how does he measure it? I can get up to 50 kg of olives from one tree - how many calories of wheat would I be able to get from the same surface area? And how much work would be needed?

In the Mediterranean area they used to grow olives and wine on the wheat fields, with cichory, ruccola or dandalions underneath. After the wheat harvest (and possibly also harvesting some of the herbs below) they would run goats or sheep over the fields. So they had 4-5 crops in one field. The method was abandoned because the olive grows were too closely planted for machines to get in and the workers were moving to the city to work in the new factories. So now they have olives in one field, grapes in another, wheat in a third, the salad greens in the green house and the goat and sheep in a 5th place. Would he compare the wheat output from the old fields in Tuscany with modern day wheat fields? Or would he compare the sum of the crops pr. m2?
 
duane hennon
gardener
Posts: 763
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
45
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

I think this typifies what skepteco on The Cult of Perma was talking about "cult"




the comments seem to agree


"To may fascists commenting on this video,I want the right to rub mud into a woman's breasts."

LOL
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
104
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is a video that might convince some real farmers . Go ahead - call these guys woo-woo :



 
Dawn Hoff
Posts: 503
Location: Andalucía, Spain
26
bee books chicken greening the desert rabbit trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
duane hennon wrote:
I think this typifies what skepteco on The Cult of Perma was talking about "cult"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGURz1WE7yE


the comments seem to agree


"To may fascists commenting on this video,I want the right to rub mud into a woman's breasts."

LOL

Too many childhood memories ...
 
duane hennon
gardener
Posts: 763
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
45
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
wayne stephen wrote:Here is a video that might convince some real farmers . Go ahead - call these guys woo-woo :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWXCLVCJWTU



indeed but nowhere did anyone mention permaculture, spiral haircuts, diggerdoos, or mud fights

this didn't evolve out of permaculture although permaculture wants to claim it
these farmers didn't have to go to a PDC


it was sponsored by USDA-NRCS !!

the narrator mentioned the old adage

"If you can not measure it, you can not manage it"

and permaculture claims it can't or wont measure
so how impressed would these farmers be with that
since their livelihood depends on it


again, this is about the permaculture image as seen by the outside
 
Seth Wetmore
Posts: 158
Location: Some where in the universe in space and time.
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The idea of a name as relavent to the function of the idea is rediculous. Bill Mollison could care less what you call the system as long as it works. He uses the word permaculture to associate a idea to a function that is all. He has made it plain and clear that the name of a thing is meaningless as long as the thing works. the only way to make what he was doing legal and relevant was to copyright the name thus non pdc people can not claim to be using permaculture. Or the company can sue for copyright infringment. This was to protect the core of the idea from being used by people who were not fully educated in how why or when the system would work. Pay the $1,000 dollars take the 72 hour course and decide if it is worth calling names. Many mainstream religions are still only large cults with many followers. So you decide do you want what you do to be labeled with a negative because once you announce your Religion or what ever political system you are avowing too you open your self up to slanderous attack. The only legal protection is the law suit. Have a nice day. Who ever you are and whatever you are about. Hopefully no one sues you for slander. Hopefully you are protected by the law
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1014
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is an important topic that is going around and being discussed, I think for good reason. One wants to be sure that the promises made are in fact, real.

The article does make some good points that I feel need to be worked out, and the basic nudge of the article is both "open yourself to scientific inquiry for the sake of demonstrable results" or at the very least "do more rigorous testing yourself". I don't see anything wrong with that suggestion. I think there is a movement in that direction in any case, it's just in it's infancy.

Locating a set of metrics by which permaculture should be judged perhaps is another way forward.

I think another global issue raised here is, which the article gets wrong (and here I'm paraphrasing a recent post by Toby H. elsewhere) is that Permaculture is not, and never was intended to be, a bag of tricks.

Permaculture's only "original" concept is the food forest, as much as that can be said to be original (it was done by native americans), the study of which in Edible Forest Gardens is a first step in the direction of science-based, results-based (whether tested or documented) permaculture. Beyond that, permaculture accepts everything as being permaculture -- as long as it works within the spirit of the principles and ethics.

The fact that other things get "co-opted" by permaculture, a recurrent idea in this thread, is of no consequence.

Permaculture is not a list of techniques, some bearing a stamp of permaculture and some not. Permaculture is first and foremost a design science based on observation of nature and the use of principles and ethics to provide directives for action. If the directive for action is "plant a cover crop," or "make a swale" or "do keyline plowing" or "plant a lasagna garden" or "do yoga" or "dance with gnomes and garden-winks in stratfordschire" -- whatever the proposed action -- IMHO it must be contextualized within a design and the principles and ethics that motivate the proposed action must be acknowledged.

That process of decision-making is what makes permaculture what it is and it forces people to think -- not in terms of whether a certain technique is objectively "good" or "bad", "permaculture" or "not permaculture" (terms that have no grounding in reality whatsoever) -- but in terms of what is good for the specific ecosystem they are trying to harmonize with.

People that are stuck in a "permaculture is technique" mode will become very disillusioned when they discover that nearly all the techniques belong to other disciplines and unfortunately they will miss out on what I think is the best part of permaculture, designing your way out of catastrophe.

All the best,
William
 
Bryan Jasons
Posts: 62
Location: Maine
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'll make this quick.

PROS: A quality polemic, complete with an extensive, vitriolic use vocabulary. The criticism of organic farming is spot on. The dark side of hippiedom exposed.

CONS: "I'd love to see the evidence" - well, the real strategy here is to be such a dinkweed nobody would talk long enough to present any. No mention of Geoff Lawton or sepp holzer. If you want to see the evidence you will, since it's out there in plain sight.

"If you dont accept Peak Oil, you reject the basis of “Permaculture”: Holmgren even wrote a whole book (Energy Futures) about it." - SkeptEco
Permaculture is vague enough to use strawman arguments like this easily, and this is obvious to him yet he does it anyway - how disingenuous. The argument that without peak oil, permaculture is not economical and thus pointless is wrong because 1. It is economical, e.g. Holzer and Lawton and 2. Not all human activity is economically motivated.

A polemic can be fun, but when someone like this appears to believe it I'm a little unsettled : "I would be very surprised if you manage to feed yourself more than a small fraction of your needs, even if you are an enthusiastic “permaculturalist”. But even if you were mainly self-sufficient in food your abilities to grow it would still depend entirely on science and technology, most importantly plant breeding, not to mention tools from swivel-hoes to tractors." - SkeptEco
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1014
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In case people haven't seen this. It's kind of like a more researched approach to the problem. One of it's major conclusion is that the resistance toward scientific inquiry and whatever solid foundations it can provide is more of a hinderance to permaculture then a benefit.

http://liberationecology.org/2013/10/25/permaculture-agroecology/

http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs13593-013-0181-6.pdf

William
 
It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!