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Depressed about Pc, Peak Oil and Climate Change  RSS feed

 
Jeremy Stocks
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Does anyone out there feel they're banging their head against a wall?

I mean the whole permaculture thing seems to me like intuitive common sense given we know so much about ecology and plant communities, and yet the "outside" see it as "flaky" - I've just seen pc referred to it as such on another site. I see Pc as part of a wider philosophy of taking care of yourself, and it extends to medicine, energy and shelter

Likewise with Peak Oil. It seems logical that there's only so much in the ground for us to use and it is going to run out. Even if there were barrels of the stuff, isn't it sensible to grow as much locally as possible, and not to rely on ever larger supermarkets for our food supply?

The climate of the planet is changing, everyone agrees with that statement. Yet those in charge seem oblivious to its implications, and we're waiting for them to act for us.

I'm convinced myself of these above, yet it seems the wider world is wholly ignorant or even hostile to these points of view. How on earth can we ever hope to make a difference if the rest of the world drives past us to McDonalds?
 
                    
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Of course we all find ourselves at the bottom of a pit of despair at times.  Stuff sucks, to put it mildly. 

At those points it's especially important to seek out interactions with people who are actively changing their world by changing themselves.  This site is populated with a diverse group of people who are attempting to shift the collective consciousness away from thoughtless doom, and towards proactive solutions.  I don't think Paul allows people who poo poo permaculture to stick around very long, because they aren't part of the solution.  This site is about solutions. 

Dwelling on the fact that the problems are larger than any single individual will only suck you further down the pit.  Talk to people who believe in what they do.  We'll throw you a rope and gladly haul you back up to the sunshine of possibility.  Welcome home! 

Our future is only as bleak or as glorious as we create it.  That's the truth. 
 
Jeremy Stocks
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Marina - thank you. The fact that I'm in a conservative rich part of Germany doesn't help. It's a real struggle to find those with a similar mindset down here. I did indeed find someone through the Transition Network who'd even been to Findhorn but she lives a long distance away.

I'm wondering if this  awareness is more an Anglo-American meme, rather than the rest of the world, as it is historically "us" - the Brits and Americans - who adopted Reagan-Thatcherite ideals and exported them elsewhere. Perhaos we are at the forefront of the crash, and will get the cold and pass ti on as flu to the rest of the world. But as there are so many "aware" out there in the English speaking world, perhaps we're the ones already thinking about and debeloping the solutions which will filter down to the non-English speaking peoples of the world. Am I making sense here?
 
                              
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There are definitely non-English speakers at the for front of solutions as well.  They might not call it Permaculture, but they tend to support many of the ideals even if they haven't taken a trademarked permaculture design training course.

Take a deep breath.  I was feeling much the same depression not too long ago.  Then focus on what you can do.  You can only really be responsible for yourself.  So do what you can to lead by example.  Come to places like here to chat with like minded people so you don't feel so alone.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Roger, the good thing is that you care. And you care deeply. That is really cool.

I think Marina and TCLynx shared some excellent points. I have another angle about how I think each of us can make a difference along these lines.

I live in suburban America where folks are more worried about their hair, nails or how good their SUV looks than climate change or peak oil. Those topics sound like the rantings of hellfire and brimstone to them.

So, for the most part, I stay away from any topics that sound like crazy, flaky, hippy-love-sappiness to them. I just don't go there. Unless, of course, I purposely want to pull someone's chain. 

BUT. If a health topic, or a gardening topic, or a money-saving topic, or a pollution topic comes up, even the most shallow suburbanite can get behind saving money, being more healthy, and making our world just a little cleaner. That's where I'll chime in. Just yesterday, I explained to a gal how to make her own broth instead of using bouillon cubes full of MSG and ick.

Start small. Stay with the non-threatening. You can't go from what Paul likes to call "eco level 1" to "eco level 10" with just a conversation. No matter how passionate and convinced you are, people need to follow their own path to choosing to live a lighter footprint. Help them see little ways they can choose differently. Listen to them. Find a tiny chink in their lifestyle where you can make an inroad.

I know you'd like people to "get it" and get it now! It's just not realistic, and I think it will take gradual, repeated efforts to shift the cultural mindset. Bouillon cubes are not the path to lowering our carbon footprint, but finding ways to connect, learn, share and make changes, is.
 
                              
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
Start small. Stay with the non-threatening. You can't go from what Paul likes to call "eco level 1" to "eco level 10" with just a conversation. No matter how passionate and convinced you are, people need to follow their own path to choosing to live a lighter footprint. Help them see little ways they can choose differently. Listen to them. Find a tiny chink in their lifestyle where you can make an inroad.

I know you'd like people to "get it" and get it now! It's just not realistic, and I think it will take gradual, repeated efforts to shift the cultural mindset. Bouillon cubes are not the path to lowering our carbon footprint, but finding ways to connect, learn, share and make changes, is.


Yes!!!  So right.  Find the little things you can do and the little ideas you can plant in the heads of others.  Every journey starts with the first step.
 
Jeremy Stocks
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Jocelyn, that idea of yours - simply teaching how to make simple stock - is wonderful. It's quite possible I know more than I realised, and have gone further down the path than I thought.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I'm sure you do and are doing so, Roger!

Make it about them, and their needs, not your ideas. Call it what you will (servant leadership comes to mind...)...there is a true helpfulness and humility in sharing about daily tasks that says far more than any pontificating about science, doomsday or politics.

Oops. Except now I'm pontificating again.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I just happened upon this essay. I like it, and think it might be relevant.

http://www.zmag.org/zspace/commentaries/35

Have you ever broken a piece of tempered glass? I think most people's attitudes toward food and energy are like that. They seem very tough because of all the internal tension resisting any crack in the surface, but ultimately that tension can cause the whole thing to fly apart in short order.

Hang in there!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Yes, Joel, very inspiring! I like the reminder that what we hear about isn't always the full story of what's taking place across many fronts. 
 
                    
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RIP Mr. Zinn.  Thanks for the article. 

I really like what you had to say about the importance of basic practical advice, Jocelyn.  It might be a super eco suggestion, but when presented as a time/money saving device and spoken in a caring way, it's suddenly a really wonderful gift that you can freely pass along. 

The above represents some very practical advice I could certainly use. 
 
Jeremy Stocks
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I've been following this all week on and off:

http://www.livinginthefuture.org/index.php

and found it inspiring. I find this, LETS and Transition towns to be a positive way of regaining sovereignty over our own lives. I find protest against nukes, roads, and sit ins personally frightening, but admire those who do it.  They seem to be both sides of the same coin.

Oddly enough, although my wife is a nature lover, she can be very hard to convince of the value of many of my ideas, yet when she sees them in action (usually by someone else!) she suddenly "gets" them!
 
                    
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Showing by example is waaaaay more effective than lecturing with words. 
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Oh, and besides showing by example, you have the partner dynamic. Here's what I mean.

There's a long-time Northwest gardening celeb, Ed Hume, who is no longer on TV with his own show, but there are still lots of Ed Hume seeds sold around here.

It's rumored Ed Hume said that when you prune a tree, it takes two people. (Okay, I know some permies never prune; just go with it for this.) One person up in the tree doing the work, and one on the ground evaluating the overall balance and shape of the tree.

And...



...he said...



...those two should never be husband and wife. 

   

It's funny, and sometimes all too true that we don't always listen to those closest to us.
 
                    
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I completely agree with two people being best for tree pruning.  Maybe it works for my partner and I because we aren't married, or maybe it works because I usually want to stop a little too soon and he generally wants to cut off a little too much - and we can compromise. 

From what I can tell, the person on the ground's main job (other than to avoid getting hit by falling stuff) is "brush stacker".  Luckily I'm good at that. 
 
              
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Roger, I feel like I am banging my head against a wall all the time, but usually because i'm trying to nail down a headache.

I agree with you that a lot of people are flaky and lack common sense. They lack basic math and reasoning skills too. They are the same people that choose not to sit down and do the math on anything. It is similar to the million dollars today or a penny doubled every day for a month. I'd like to be the millionaire and choose option 1, only later getting mad when they find out they could have waited 30 days and had another 9.7 million.

Roger, know that not everyone who believes in permaculture believes in man made global warming, peak oil, and McDonalds. I am not a fan of bad food, not a believer in the global warming crisis, and not sure we will hit Peak Oil. I have reasons for my beliefs as you do yours. To me it is obvious a lot of these things are a joke. but…

I am a big fan of permaculture. Prefer things being efficient — vehicles, houses, life. It makes no sense to do all the maddening things we do as a society, unless people are trying to get others to act like dogs chasing their tails, so you can get away with whatever it is you are trying to do.

Hope you do not think I am wholly ignorant. Just thought I'd let you know there are people that differ with you on many issues but agree with you on permaculture.

For others sake, let's hope history does not repeat itself. Oh, who are we kidding . Hope they know how to feed themselves when the time comes and figure out where to get nutrients when they are made illegal. 
 
Jeremy Stocks
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What's quite incredible about Permaculture is that many of the ideas in it are not new - it's just that the ideas contained therein are now gaining prominence, perhaps as some of us (speaking for myself) got into gardening several years ago, then linked it up with cooking (Jamie Oliver At Home) and found a powerful synergy where none existed before. Becoming a gardener/cook involves asking very wakward questions about food and where it comes from and the knowledge is quite shocking when obtained.

Holmgren's ideas apparently were influenced by pioneers way ahead of their time like J. Russell Smith and Robert Hart, and indeed by the whole subject of agroforestry. (Arguably the new bearers of the torch are Toby Hemmenway and Patrick Whitefield). Many of the concepts of ecological gardening/farming predate peak oil and the current way of thinking - if I am not correct?
 
                                      
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hey roger,

it seems that you are at the point where a lot of us have been.

i know i have.

peak oil, global warming (at least partly) were a few of the topics i protested against (i do come from an activist background).

and yes a few years back i tought i reached the bottom of that pit.

only when i decided to (if i cant change the world) at least live my own life according to my own ideals and i discovered the world of permaculture and transition towns. (heck i sound like a 'born again ecoblah'

The fact that there is a very realistic and achievable alternative to the way we live now, that can actually be sustainable, we can actually maintain, a way to live that actually respects the world around us and others who live on it, is for a lot of people the most convincing to change their ways.

anyway, i second the advice to look for likeminded people, people who are doing it.

i don't know where in germany you live, but there are a lot of eco villages in germany. places like longo mai and sieben linden.

in sieben linden they will be giving a two week PDC (permaculture design course) which gives you the pd certificate. also, somewhere in april there will be a european transition conference.

i would really advise you to go to both, it is so inspiring, and you get a big boost from it. also you learn the basics for getting started yourself, and building the network.
 
Jeremy Stocks
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I live in Bavaria, which is quite a rich state of Germany.

Germany is way ahead of the UK/US in may ways. it is a social democracy so you don't have such disparities between rich and poor. There is less crime and the quality of life is all in all higher than in the UK in my case.

It's a leader in recycling - thanks to the Green Party influence, there are ever more organic retailers the number is growing in Bavaria, and I'm under the impression that solar energy is growing here. However it's not Utopia. The mentality here isn't quite the same as US/UK. None of this "Grow your own" revolution I keep hearing about. There are LETS schemes growing, and Transition is here, but in the north, near more progressive Berlin.
 
              
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I have not made it to Berlin yet. Seems to be an interesting city. I could move to München tomorrow. Love the beer there and the Germans I have met and know. Probably something to do with the blood. Nice to have all the paths down by the river, the beer, free school (maybe I should be a brewmaster ) etc. Impressed with a lot of things the Germans have done, even if they go about it a bit differently. Guess a lot of it is cultural.

Not a fan of democracies or forced social movements. Kind of like being free. Now, if I could only get people to know what that means.

Good to hear about the recycling stuff. In my experience with the green movement in the states, it has been a capitalist movement with a bunch of radicals doing the propaganda for the capitalist. At least that has been my experience. The money and the patents tend to say the same thing too. Going to be interesting what happens to the green movement if they can not get their hands on more rare earth magnets in the near future. But that's just looking at more or the big picture.

Hope we can chat more over a beer. If i could ever make it over for Oktoberfest. Could spend more time in the technology museum too. In honor of the Germans and Germany, I just cracked a pint of Weihenstephaner's Hefeweissbier Dark. Not my favorite brew from one of my favorite breweries. 1040 was a good year.
 
Scott Reil
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To the Reinheitsgebot! Germany's finest export!

Roger, your country is far ahead of mine (not much of an accolade; more a benchmark to start from), and the social movements around the topical issues (like Transition Town) are still young and growing. It's easy to feel swamped...

But assuming peak oil started to slide down the backside of the hill last year, and that the price will continue to skyrocket (June '88=$12 a barrel; June 2008=$140 a barrel), soon there will be no choice. The emissions will HAVE to reduce, and society will HAVE to realign itself to a local economy rather than a global one. This will be more than just market forces; our social movements like T-town and permaculture will naturally evelop into the leading paradigms because no one else has bothered to address the issue at all. Tar sands? Nuclear reactors? What about the cost of getting a loaf of bread from field to factory to family? This is not addressed by these stop gap factors.

But permaculture DOES address them, and will continue to do so, and eventually as the other ideas fade from view due to lack of planning, this will become the social meme. People change their ways at a geological rate, but they do change. We need to simply be patient and set good examples...

HG
 
Jeremy Stocks
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Scott - it took me years to get "into" Germany. The more I did the more I realised how more switched on they are. Every weekend I eat fantastic bread rolls "semmel" from a local bakery which I'm sure hasn't come from too far away. German bakeries are world famous - anywhere on the hippy trail from Ladakh to Mongolia you'll find one.

The concept of "community" has already existed long before Britain realised it had lost, rediscovered and reinvented it. Family structures are strong here.

Transition towns? The Germans have always had fabntastic mass transit systems here. When I once visited San Bernadino, CA I was told the nearest bank was ten minutes away. After 30 I hadn't found it and went back to the hotel only to be almost laughed at for walking...

It kind of makes me angry that the world is learning from here in a way.
 
Scott Reil
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But where would Germans be without angst? Nietschze, Jung , Hesse; not a cheery bunch, but informative... 

Our Green Party is a joke compared to the strides yours has made, your food production, forestry, retailing, etc, etc, are all decades ahead of us, and YOU'RE depressed?

You're crying about no shoes, and I have no feet, my friend...

But what good is all the angst? Unless you are writing Magister Ludi... You should be proud to be leading the way, instead of depressed. Even if we fail the planet, and it finally wises up and boots us off, you can have the satisfaction of blaming it on the Americans, and you will likely be right...

S
 
Jeremy Stocks
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Scott - I should add that I'm a Brit living as a stay at home Dad in southern Germany, married into an upper class German family.

You're right there's probably  a lot more I could explain here to all. One thing I love about Germany is the feeling for seasonality and tradition. The Germans love their special days, from "Three Kings" in January to raising the maypole, to St Martins festival in autumn, there's a real rhythm here which we have certainly lost in Britain. Halloween just tends to be a tacky load of rubbish bought from a supermarket in Britain for example. Check out my blog.
 
Matt Ferrall
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IMO people think permaculture is flakey because it is.A desighn system with no standards is ripe for abuse!It also promises too much-sustainability and profit!?That aside though,I used to be depressed but then I switched sides.Before,I wanted to save civilization.I conserved resourses only to disover others using more.Most people dont change unless they have to and my saving resources means they are not forced to change because those resources are available to them.
 
Matt Ferrall
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Global warming sounds bad but what better way to force us to be present with our relationship with the earth and what better way to destabilize civilization.Yes,as soon as I stopped trying to save this broken down,piece of crap,civilization and started rooting for collapse,every day has become a joy.The news is always filled with cheery stories about how its all about to fall apart.As soon as it does we will all be competing with eachother to see who can be the most truely sustainable.No more convering people either.If they want to be unprepared and die ,so be it.It is ,after all their choice,so lets have a toast and fill ourselves with hope.Hope for collapse!We cant lose!
 
Scott Reil
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Who can argue? Not me!

I'd just like to see us brake ahead of hitting the wall rather than running headlong, but I see no sign of it... 

So maybe MG is right...

And Rog. isn't it Guy Fawkes Day in the UK? Halloween wasn't much done when I lived there (just a wee bairn)...

HG
 
Jeremy Stocks
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Guy Fawkes? It's nothing like it used to be. When I was a kid we'd build huge fires and let off our own fireworks. Sadly "Health and Safety" have banned private fires and the fire brigade put them out. You have to go to an official fire now.  Half the excitement of Guy Fawkes was the element of risk.
 
              
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sounds like they have tried to take a bit of the fun out of life there too. after an incident with the fire department where I live, I quit stressing about their vague laws.

as for global warming, i really doubt that is what will bring civilization to collapse. my bet is on big government and big business. just look at the cause and effect of their actions and it's fairly easy to see. history repeats itself.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Mt.goat wrote:I used to be depressed but then I switched sides.Before,I wanted to save civilization.


I might come down in favor of, or in opposition to, civilization, depending on the definition used. Gandhi famously suggested that Western civilization might be worth trying some time, and while I don't think we've made much progress toward that goal since he suggested it, he's still probably correct.

Similarly, if "the world as we know it" is centered on consumerism and cheap fuel, then these few decades probably are the end of the world as we know it. The world as I know it is a little more permanent, and some of the best parts of it will not go away if gigantic distribution networks go the way of the dinosaurs that power them.

On a related note, here's a good article, by an author I enjoy even when I think he's wrong. My favorite quote from the below: "Of course we still have a long way to go, but this is where the action is, not on the Titanic but in the lifeboats."

Ran Prieur on organizing.
 
John Sizemore
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Take heart everyone.
I have been to 47 countries and let me tell you what I have observed. BTW until recently I had not bothered to understand it. Most of the world lives sustainably whenever they do not have any thing that the west is trying to sell them. IE USAID, IMF and so forth.
Our own oil addicted economies are only a generation from where we need to return. Let’s face it other than refrigeration what real thing do we need electricity for 90% of our lives.
When the time comes and the oil stops flowing then all those patents that the oil companies bought up to make oil obsolete will be marketed.
The people that have planted their trees and canned their beans will come through the initial tribulation just fine. Everyone else will have some struggles.
Peak oil will force all the changes that need to happen. So keep spreading the word so that when it comes more people will be prepared. But just look at what is coming down and what is being forced on the world. It will adapt.
 
                        
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Well, if you really want to feel less anxious about whether peak oil may happen in our lifetimes or not then, this website is pretty useful.

http://www.oil-price.net/

Cheers, even though I'm sadly an American too...
 
                        
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The price of gasoline in our area has gone from 90 cents a liter a year ago to $1.37 today.  I guess whether or not peak oil is happening someone has to pay for BP's spill and it sure isn't going to be their shareholders.

last trip to town I was trying to figure out where a person could tie a horse and cart while shopping...got the horse, now just need the cart....
 
Burra Maluca
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Pam wrote:
last trip to town I was trying to figure out where a person could tie a horse and cart while shopping...got the horse, now just need the cart....


You need a horse who does enough work that he's glad of the rest, and a good brake on the cart so he feels like he's tied up even when he isn't.  First time we went shopping with a three year old we'd broken in with a braked cart, the road was ever so slightly sloped outside the supermarket and the poor thing stood leaning into his collar trying to hold the cart steady instead of resting as he hadn't figured out what the brakes were for.  Two days later he was a pro and had learned to 'test' the cart to see if was safe to leave to it's own devices while he took a breather, and also to check if it was still on before launching himself into the collar to get it moving again when it was time to leave. 
 
                              
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Dr_Temp wrote:For others sake, let's hope history does not repeat itself. Oh, who are we kidding


Not to make you any more depressed than you already are, but...many intelligent and aware people believe that the second global culling(the first was the bubonic plague) of the human population may occur within our lifetimes, or even this decade, due to the massive dependence of people everywhere on "the system" for their day to day sustenance. 
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Roger, it looks like everyone has beaten me to the punch - if you want to feel depressed about permaculture, or the lack of, come to the U.S..  Germany is so far ahead of us in so many ways.

I lived in Weisbaden for 3 1/2 years, long before I ever thought about permaculture or any other sustainable anything.  Even then (early 80s) I was impressed by how urban planning was so inclusive of mass transit, pedestrians, greenspaces and the like.

  At that time there were no grocery bags in the grocery store, you brought your own or got the evil eye from all of the other customers – 30 years ago!

Dogs, horses, poultry and gardens all co-existing in urban areas in an orderly and well behaved fashion – that is a German mindset that I’m not sure Americans are disciplined enough to handle.

I wanted to stay there, permanently but the one thing that brought me back to the U.S. was property ownership.  At my income level I would never be able to own property in Germany but I knew I would be able to find a bit of dirt to call my own in the U.S..  I do miss Germany though – still.
 
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