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1.2 ETHICS (Care of Earth)  RSS feed

 
Cj Sloane
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I'm actually interested in just the first ethic for this thread:
CARE OF THE EARTH: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply

I just have a little problem with the word "multiply." It implies a continuation of the whole growth theme which seems not very permaculture. I sort of which it either read like this:
Provision for all life systems to continue
or
Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply or contract as necessary
or maybe even
Provision for all life systems to continue to evolve.

 
Dale Hodgins
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You could take that to mean that the system produces a surplus of plants to be used in expanding the area under management. This could be to areas of your own land or to the neighbors. Continued expansion makes total sense until all agricultural land is managed well.
 
wayne stephen
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Evolution is the multiplication of life from simpler to more complex and diverse forms . I hope we can help it do so . We are now doing a good job of decreasing the diversification already created .
 
Cj Sloane
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wayne stephen wrote:Evolution is the multiplication of life from simpler to more complex and diverse forms .


My dictionary totally agrees with that definition but I don't! I think evolution can go from complex to simpler if there is an open niche that requires that adaptation. Actually, that's the theme of the book I finished re-reading last night - Galapagos by Vonnegut - my favorite book of all time!

So many times during that read, I paused and wondered if Permaculture could really succeed in preventing us from ruining everything.

Big sigh......all we can do is try.....stay tuned.
 
John Polk
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I don't see the 'multiply' issue as just continuing our expansion.

I look at it as you or I have a plot of land (be it a 1,000 square foot garden, or a 5 acre farmstead) that we are developing into a sustainable eco system. That is the first step. Now, if we can get our friends and neighbors to take that step, and they can get their neighbors...then we are multiplying in a positive direction.

Our healthy neighborhoods are expanding and multiplying. Our local environment is evolving back into nature. That's the easy part.
Now, how do we get the 90 million acres of cornfields in the US to follow in our footsteps? That would be true evolution.

 
Cj Sloane
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I don't know, Dale. I think care of Earth is bigger than just areas under management.

I'm kind of thinking it relates to how we plant say 5 support trees to every productive tree - with the foreknowledge that eventually the system flips to 1 support tree to every 5 productive trees.

Dale Hodgins wrote:You could take that to mean that the system produces a surplus of plants to be used in expanding the area under management. This could be to areas of your own land or to the neighbors. Continued expansion makes total sense until all agricultural land is managed well.
 
Cj Sloane
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John Polk wrote:
Now, how do we get the 90 million acres of cornfields in the US to follow in our footsteps? That would be true evolution.



1 acre at a time.
My goal is to keep reducing the amount of grain/corn I must purchase to feed my animals. That would take out 1 acre of monocrop grain production!

Ideally it'll be with perennials but I really need to try more annuals to fill the gap till the perennials come online. Next summer!
 
Cj Sloane
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Having evolved ethics, we can then devise ways to apply them to our lives, economies, gardens, land, and nature. This is what this book is about: the mechanisms of mature ethical behavior, or how to act to sustain the earth.
Page 3

That really gets to the heart of the matter!
 
Miles Flansburg
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Cj Sloane
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That thread has got a bit of an angry edge to it but it's got it's points.

It's an interesting question:
Can Monsanto claim "Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply" if they:
1. sell anything that ends with the suffix "cide" (herb, pest, whatever)?
2. claim to "own" a seed/plant whatever - preventing a farmer from saving seed would appear to violate that whole providing for the continuation of life bit.
 
Cj Sloane
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In that thread Paul states:
My point is that if embracing the ethics does not set a clear path away from chem ag, then these words aren't helping.


But if we look at the book, a clear path away from chem ag is explained thru:
the RULE OF NECESSITOUS USE:
that we leave any natural system alone until we are, of strict necessity, forced to use it.

We then follow up with RULES OF CONSERVATIVE USE:
Reduce waste, hence pollution;
Thoroughly replace lost minerals;
Do a careful energy accounting;
Make an assessment of the long-term, negative, biosocial effects on society, and act to buffer or eliminate these.

I think that's a good argument for at least looking at the ethics in the original context.
 
Peter Ellis
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Cj Verde wrote:I'm actually interested in just the first ethic for this thread:
CARE OF THE EARTH: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply

I just have a little problem with the word "multiply." It implies a continuation of the whole growth theme which seems not very permaculture. I sort of which it either read like this:
Provision for all life systems to continue
or
Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply or contract as necessary
or maybe even
Provision for all life systems to continue to evolve.



Replace "multiply" with "reproduce" and it should erase your conflict. In this sentence multiply is being used as a synonym for reproduce.
 
Peter Ellis
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Generally, with regard to the ethics, some people see difficulty in applying them. I find this worse than confusing.
It is a very straightforward and direct decision making tree.
At the very top are the ethics.
If a choice is incompatible with any one of the three ethics, it is eliminated from consideration. You proceed to consider your options, always with an eye to which best fit the ethics. Ultimately, you arrive at a course of action that appears to be the optimal choice for the situation, the one that best embodies the ethics, that best provides for earth care, people care, and reinvestment into more earth and people care.

I think that some people short circuit the process, because they start from a point where all of their choices are encompassed within the ethics and forget how they got to that point. They proceed to their optimal choice without consciously considering the ethics. They look at optimizing microclimate, for example, to optimize a given plant's success. They want the most food for the least effort and least impact and are not thinking about the ethics.

Yet every step along their path complies with the ethics and is founded upon them. They are the bedrock, the foundation upon which all the rest is built.

It is possible for a person to pursue nothing more enlightened than their personal best interest and fall entirely within the permaculture ethics because the ethics encompass what is in the genuine best interest of each of us as individuals. I do not think that person is practicing permaculture. I think recognizing and following the ethics is what makes one a permaculture practitioner, not simply the end results.
 
Cj Sloane
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Peter Ellis wrote:
Replace "multiply" with "reproduce" and it should erase your conflict. In this sentence multiply is being used as a synonym for reproduce.


My concern is with not addressing contraction.
 
Matu Collins
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John Polk wrote:Our local environment is evolving back into nature. That's the easy part.
Now, how do we get the 90 million acres of cornfields in the US to follow in our footsteps? That would be true evolution.



During the 1800s my town and most of my state, Rhode Island, were completely deforested. We were the breadbasket for new England. Farmland covered the state, especially the south where I live. Once the west opened up and transport from faraway farms became faster and cheaper farmers here couldn't compete. Our soil is full of rocks deposited by retreating glaciers and it gets pretty cold in winter. Our growing season is relatively short. So, a relatively wonderful thing happened! People gave up on a lot of farms and the reforestation began! Wild turkeys, bobcat, so many birds and animals that had left the area came back. Our good topsoil, some of the best on the eastern seaboard, is mostly still here. Carbon is being sequestered, moisture is being pumped through the water cycle.

So maybe the thing that can stop the vast sea of corn and turn us toward care of earth is a relatively-wonderful-in-the-long-run economic collapse!
 
C. Letellier
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I think you are trying to hard on the definition. If we followed your definitions then permaculture would be for encouraging small pox and polio for example because of your all life forms and their continuing to grow and evolve. There needs to be wisdom in our stewardship of the world around us. I am going to say the only place those life forms belong is in a lab and if we can eliminate them we should. There also needs to be a recognition that we will not always agree on what that best course is. For example most hard core permaculture people are for avoiding any concrete in home construction. Personally I think it is a valuable tool and it needs to be used wisely and I happen to consider its energy expenditures to be acceptable because of it long life expectancy and lack of maintenance when used wisely. On the other hand I was surprised at how cavalierly people here were treating the use of pearlite and vermiculite. Here we have a limited non renewable resource that is fairly energy intensive to make. It is natural igneous rock with a high natural water content in its chemistry but it still has to be "popped" to give it its light structure with pores, which takes energy. Only some rock has the right chemistry to make it meaning the supply is limited.

 
Cj Sloane
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Matu Collins wrote:
During the 1800s my town and most of my state, Rhode Island, were completely deforested.


My state, Vermont, has the same history. In the 1800s it was 20% forested and 80% cleared and now it's the reverse. Lucky for us it's reverted back so quickly, it'd make a horrible desert.

Matu Collins wrote:
So maybe the thing that can stop the vast sea of corn and turn us toward care of earth is a relatively-wonderful-in-the-long-run economic collapse!

Yes, I really like one line from page 1:
What we have done, we can undo


Now there's looking at contraction head on!
 
Cj Sloane
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Actually, chapter 1 ends with a strong emphasis on contraction:
...the end result of the adoption of permaculture strategies in any country or region will be to dramatically reduce the area of agricultural environment needed .... and release much of the landscape for the sole use of wildlife and for re-occupation by endemic flora


I guess you could read that as contraction or expansion ...depending on your POV.
 
benjamim fontes
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C. Letellier wrote: If we followed your definitions then permaculture would be for encouraging small pox and polio for example because of your all life forms and their continuing to grow and evolve.

C. Letellier,
do you think it really?
Thanks for editing your first message.
North Portugal
Benjamim Fontes
 
Peter Ellis
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Cj Verde wrote:
Peter Ellis wrote:
Replace "multiply" with "reproduce" and it should erase your conflict. In this sentence multiply is being used as a synonym for reproduce.


My concern is with not addressing contraction.


It is unnecessary to address specifically. It is implicit in allowing life systems to continue and multiply.
 
Peter Ellis
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C. Letellier wrote:I think you are trying to hard on the definition. If we followed your definitions then permaculture would be for encouraging small pox and polio for example because of your all life forms and their continuing to grow and evolve. There needs to be wisdom in our stewardship of the world around us. I am going to say the only place those life forms belong is in a lab and if we can eliminate them we should. There also needs to be a recognition that we will not always agree on what that best course is. For example most hard core permaculture people are for avoiding any concrete in home construction. Personally I think it is a valuable tool and it needs to be used wisely and I happen to consider its energy expenditures to be acceptable because of it long life expectancy and lack of maintenance when used wisely. On the other hand I was surprised at how cavalierly people here were treating the use of pearlite and vermiculite. Here we have a limited non renewable resource that is fairly energy intensive to make. It is natural igneous rock with a high natural water content in its chemistry but it still has to be "popped" to give it its light structure with pores, which takes energy. Only some rock has the right chemistry to make it meaning the supply is limited.



Was that addressed to me?
I do not think I am "trying to hard" at all. The language is clear and straightforward. And yes, it contains some conflicts. Life systems are laden with "conflicts". Grass competes with forbs, cows eat both. The plant that gets eaten does not exactly benefit from being eaten. We, and other predatory creatures, eat the cow, and on it goes.

Where life systems conflict, we get to choose "care of people" and take steps to prevent another life system from damaging ours.

Choosing to rewrite the ethics rather than working to understand them as written seems, to me, to be missing the point.
 
C. Letellier
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No it wasn't addressed necessarily to you. The problem comes from definitions that are not clear. Then people are forced to make their own definitions in the system to make it work. I was simply trying to show the extremes of where the definitions could lead.

To me permaculture is about doing the least damage and the most good to the world around me. To ideally leave a system to the next generation that has more resources and more ability to support all life than the current one. That does not necessarily mean that I require all life in the system though. "All" is being used differently between those two. In the first it supports possibilities and in the second it is an absolute requirement. Then it was my intent to show that even if we somehow agreed on the perfect definition we might not agree on how to get there. To me at least the ethics are better expressed as a set of goals than as an absolute definition in this case and that is what I meant by trying to hard.

When you try to get to absolutes you can stop making wise decisions. For example take one that was discussed at sprinkler irrigation class put on by the power company. Environmentalists looked at the fact that under certain conditions that variable frequency drive motors could save 1/2 or more on power and got legislation in requiring they be used for all pumping in certain federal programs. The catch is that while they save boat loads of energy in situations where the load is widely varying in situations where the load is nearly constant and almost never turned off a standard old induction motor is actually more efficient. So now the law requires the far more expensive, less reliable and less efficient motor in all situations even when the cheaper, more reliable motor is actually the better answer.

Lets encourage wisdom and not absolutes.
 
Dave Burton
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The Ethical Basis of Permaculture:
1. CARE OF THE EARTH
2. CARE OF THE PEOPLE
3. SETTING LIMITS TO POPULATION AND CONSUMPTION


I agree with these ethics, and we have a ways to go before these changes are implemented in society. I am particularly interested in Bill Mollison's discussion about how a permanent food system is necessary for a stable society. I find this to be correct because is various societies throughout history, when food starts to disappear, well, social order flies out the window! And with it, so does the value of money, reputation, honors, statuses, and titles. The only things that matter in a crisis are fulfilling your immediate needs and storing a little for the future.

I also don't particularly like the idea of working 40 years for a "career" so that I can retire. It just seems to me to be such a waste of time b/c I'll die anyways, sometime or another, and since I don't believe in an afterlife, what use are valuables when I'm dead? I would much rather leave my mark by building forests and helping people, and have nothing to pass onto heirs but stories.

One of the ways I think care of the earth and care of the people could be addressed is by simply growing our own food in our own backyards and interacting more with our neighbors. This relates to Ken Peavey's discussion on the Power of 200 Organized People. I share a similar view from growing up in Louisiana, where we had Southern Hospitality and talked more with our neighbors and happily shared things with each other- at least before the oil industry took over the town. One of my friends who also moved from LA to TX talked about how she went back to Mandeville and how many of the trees got chopped down. >.< Makes me want to cry. The trees were one of my favorites parts of that town... Also, the people!

Bill Mollison wrote:The real risk is that the needs of those people "working on the ground", the inhabitants, are overthrown by the needs (or greeds) of commerce and centralzied power;

This quote really gets to the heart of why I have issues with the current system because I just don't get it. You have the power. I have the power. We all have the power to "just say no" and do something else. If enough people "say no" what of the rules and laws? No one is going to mass arrest or mass sue a city for violating HOA rules. No one if going to go after the village when everyone is in agreement on a course of action. Organized people are powerful1 Organized people are the power!
 
Howard Story
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We can’t do it by clinging to the past definition of progress, profit-seeking, technology-can-fix-it ideology of fossil-fueled capitalism. We can’t do it by trying to control the future. We need to learn to let our current civilization die, to accept the mortality of the past ways of planetary exploitation and our existence and practice humility. We need to work together to transform a global order of meaning focused on accumulation into a new order of meaning that knows the value of limits, transience and restraint.
We stand today on a precipice of annihilation that even Nietzsche himself could not have even imagined. There is little reason to hope that we’ll be able to slow down global warming before we pass a tipping point. We’re already one degree Celsius above preindustrial temperatures and there’s another half a degree baked in. The West Antarctic ice sheet is collapsing, Greenland is melting, permafrost across the world is liquefying, and methane has been detected leaking from sea floors and Siberian craters: it’s probably already too late to stop these feedbacks, which means it’s probably already too late to stop apocalyptic planetary warming. We are creating an oven in which we will bake our future into crispy critters. Meanwhile the world slides into hate-filled, bloody havoc, like the last act of a particularly ugly Shakespearean tragedy.
Yet it’s in crisis that humanities drive to make meaning reappears as a salvation … if we’re willing to reflect consciously on the ways we make life meaningful — on how we decide what is good, what is bad, what our goals are, what’s worth living or dying for, and what we do every day, day to day, and how we do it. Because if it’s true that we chose our ethics, morals and meaning, and this makes/gives our lives meaning, to ourselves and not through revealed wisdom handed down by God or the Market or History, then it’s also true that we hold within ourselves the power to change our lives — wholly, utterly — by changing what our lives mean. Our drive to make meaning is more powerful than oil, the atom, and the market, and it’s up to us to harness that power to secure the future of the human species. (see Gerard Diamonds "Collapse")
We can’t do it by continuing to cling to the progressivist, profit-seeking, technology-can-fix-it ideology of fossil-fueled capitalism of the past 100 years. We can’t do it by trying to control the future. We need to learn to let our current civilization die, to accept our mortality and practice humility. We need to work together to transform a global order of meaning focused on accumulation into a new order of meaning that knows the value of limits, transience and restraint and yes sharing the surplus (if for no other reason than peace).

Most important, we need to give up defending and protecting "our" truth, our perspective, our Western values as "the" truth just like "our" religion is "the" only truth and understand that truth is found not in one perspective but in their multiplication, not in one point of view but in the aggregate, not in opposition but in the whole. We need to learn to see not just with Western eyes but with Islamic eyes and Inuit eyes, not just with human eyes but with golden-cheeked warbler eyes, coho salmon eyes, and polar bear eyes, and not even just with eyes at all but with the wild, barely articulate being of clouds and seas and rocks and trees and stars.

We were born on the eve of what may be the human world’s greatest catastrophe. None of us chose this, not deliberately. None of us can choose to avoid it either. Some of us will even live through it. What meaning we pass on to the future will depend on how well we remember those who have come before us and what needs to change, how wisely and how gently we’re able to shed the ruinous way of life that’s destroying us today, and how consciously we’re able to affirm our role as creators of our fated future. Accepting the fatality of our situation isn’t nihilism, but rather the necessary first step in forging a new way of life. Between self-destruction and giving up, between willing nothingness and not willing, there is another choice: "willing our fate". Conscious self-creation. We owe it to the generations whose futures we’ve burned and wasted to build a bridge, to be a bridge, to connect the diverse human traditions of meaning-making in our past to those survivors, children of the Anthropocene, who will build a new world among our ruins and only thru ethics and morals can a changed direction towards a different future be redirected. Without adoption of these touchstones a new future is unattainable.
 
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