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"sustainable" means "barely staying ahead of death"

 
                                          
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For me, the definition  "barely staying ahead of death" refers to "subsistence"

A definition for "Sustainability" would be~ adapting my lifestyle to work , grow and produce in harmony with locally available resources. All we really need to stay alive is Food, water, shelter and a bit of warmth.
Music, beauty , spiritual gifts, family and community are the human elements we add for enrichment and fulfillment.

clear skies!
lcc
 
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Is it not nature to tend toward homeostasis or equilibrium? I think it was humanity's desire for more that led to excess in the first place. Wanting more than sustainability is an oxymoron. Alas, it is also human nature.
 
                              
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It is possible to thrive while still being sustainable.
 
master steward
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bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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all of life is just ahead of death..it is the nature of life...this tiny littel ball of rock we live on is just one big asteroid away from being two big asteroids...I am ok with "sustainable," on this scale, and how we use it...what I am not ok with is "Unsustainable," as in our large scale battery agriculture....that UN is a big step.
 
pollinator
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It's a matter of attitude and cultural perspective. What is 'staying just ahead of death'?? Living! And life is what it's all about. We can live deeply, richly, meaningfully, and beautifully while taking just what we need.

I get what you're saying...we don't want to be limited to spending all our time just eking out the bare minimum for survival. But, your linear scale to me implies a single variable (more something?) which I think is a serious oversimplification. We can enrich our lives, thrive, and prosper in many ways without increasing our footprint beyond what is sustainable. It doesn't have to mean getting more stuff, or drawing more energy and resources out of the earth system. We can live sustainably and richly. When we can feed our bodies without spending all of our effort on it then we can direct our human energies to stories, music, laughter, love, art...things that feed the soul. The only 'growth' that is sustainable is spiritual.

Any material or population growth rate in a finite system is inherently unsustainable. Even two percent. They all come with doubling times, and doubling times after that, and after that. You just need to do the math. Humans are really bad at conceptualizing the exponential function. The growth paradigm in modern economics is completely at odds with basic science and with the physical and biological realities of life on this planet. It's a train headed for a wreck.

You might enjoy this..

center for the advancement of the steady state economy
 
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I think my interpretation of what Paul is saying is that you could be sustainable, but not doing anything to undo all the damage that's already been done to the environment in the past (well, 200 years or so, especially). Not really moving forward, and we know that right now a lot of our planet isn't doing too well. So if each person magically became sustainable tomorrow, it still wouldn't be enough. But maybe we can do way better than that... regenerating the land, cleaning up our industrial mistakes, building soil, drawing down carbon from the atmosphere, increasing biodiversity, and even improving our own existences dramatically. Maybe we can get back to the 14 hours a week of the Tanzanians mentioned in Jared Diamond's article linked above (dead link, but I found it here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/2100251/Jared-Diamond-The-Worst-Mistake-in-the-History-of-the-Human-Race). If our land is all self seeding, self composting, self fertilizing food forests or pastures or wetlands or whatever, then all we have to do, besides some minimal management, is harvest. Or maybe we can train our animals to do that for us too.
 
pollinator
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I call it "environmental capital". "Environmental Capitalist" has a nice ring to it, although I may be talking to the wrong crowd .
 
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Perpetuable: adjective
1.
continuing or enduring forever; everlasting.
2.
lasting an indefinitely long time: perpetual snow.
3.
continuing or continued without intermission or interruption; ceaseless: a perpetual stream of visitors all day.
4.
blooming almost continuously throughout the season or the year.

example: I participate with nature to mold a perpetuable food forrest. Permaculture is by definition, perpetuable.
 
gardener
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sustainability is like treading water, it keeps you alive for a while, but when you run out of energy, you're no closer to the shore
sustainability is anti-evolution, trying to maintain the status quo rather than progressing
regeneration of the landscape so we're so are able to advance with evolution is the key
 
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Whenever I discuss permaculture I try to use the word restorative rather than sustainable.
 
gardener
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I personally don't think that sustainable means that I would be static. I understand that I have to have some input through energy expended to keep my gardens up. I evolve through replacing plants that don't perform with plants that perform better. So even though I am guilty of bastardizing the word I still use sustainable. Restorative isn't quite the right word either. Maybe Hippocratic land use is what I do.
 
Dave Bennett
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Robert Ray wrote:I personally don't think that sustainable means that I would be static. I understand that I have to have some input through energy expended to keep my gardens up. I evolve through replacing plants that don't perform with plants that perform better. So even though I am guilty of bastardizing the word I still use sustainable. Restorative isn't quite the right word either. Maybe Hippocratic land use is what I do.


It might not be the right word for you but there are lots of people with organic gardens that are in a sense "treading water." They are not damaging the land but aren't healing it either. My philosophy suggests that a system which doesn't require additions to the soil after it has been fully implemented will over time build soil volume and fertility. Restorative agriculture is a bit oxymoronic but restoring the earth is what we as permaculturists are attempting to accomplish. There are growing examples of just such an endeavor in various places all around the world. Replacing plants that don't perform well in what setting? In a row cropped garden? I ask because you weren't specific. There is no reason why food bearing plants cannot also be perennial nitrogen fixers and nutrient pumps that bring needed minerals to the top soil. It is about healing a very damaged earth and for me the word restorative works and extremely well indeed.
 
Robert Ray
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I'm doing more than restoring if I'm increasing food production. I don't mono crop, even on a raised bed scale. Once I planted/created my first hugel bed I evolved into something more than what would be described as treading water.
I'm not restoring, my property was untouched, though restorative is a component of what we do as permaculturists. My property was lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, a few wild currant bushes, kinick kinick. some camas root, so nothing that I could survive be sustained with.
The words flow and become interwoven. Permaculture has a component of sustainable built into it as well as restorative and organic. Just sustainable isn't enough and restorative without an eye towards increasing food production isn't enough, and organic isn't enough either. My planting berries, nuts and other items are allowing me to be more sustainable. So there are probably planes of permaculture enlightenment and I'm working my way to through them.
 
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Fred Morgan wrote:I like the idea of banking, when the bank is my land. Used to be the meaning when you banked up something. When I do something sustainably, it means that I am saving in something that won't deflate overnight, my land, my water, my infrastructure.



I like this. I say: My land is my bank. My stock graze my other asset. I gain interest, improvement in my soils, plants and animals, because I:

1) plant legumes that suck nitrogen and carbon dioxide out of the air and deposit them in my soils and as food for my animals.

2) plant non-legumes that suck carbon dioxide out of the air and deposit them.

3) buy winter hay with a portion of the money I make selling meat from my livestock.

4) the sun shines on our land growing said plants.

5) I terrace the land primarily using the natural action of soil deposition and livestock movement through contour fencing and this in turn captures water and prevents soil runoff.

There's more to it, of course.

Fred Morgan wrote:An example, I see people cutting trees down in a field that weren't crowded. The trees could have continued to grow, getting larger, but they cut them down to put the money in the bank. Weird, very weird. Better off to let them keep growing until they out grew their space.



I log, sustainably. Perhaps as a non-logger you don't see it but that tree out in the field may be at its optimal point for me to cut it and market it. That then pays the (high) real estate taxes so I can continue stewarding our land. As a forester I make judgements on each tree, millions of them, thinking about should they continue to grow, be culled, provide shade, provide habitat for wildlife, provide seed for the next generation, nuts for my livestock, etc. Just leaving the tree there until it falls down does not help make my farm and forest land continue. If I can't pay my taxes then the government takes away my land and gives it to someone else who builds condos. The trees are a crop and I farm them. A very long term crop that may take 70 to 100 years to grow, easily.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
 
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paul wheaton wrote:

In the broad spectrum of all the things that can happen, there is:

1)  fast death

10)  medium speed death

100) slow death

1000)  death that is really, really slow

1416)  sustainable - barely avoiding death, but no more

2000)  _________

10,000)  _______

100,000)  ________

1,000,000) ________

I would like to find the words for the blanks. 

Growth?  Prosperity?

Any ideas?  Surely there are some excellent words and they just aren't popping into my head right now.




Ok.. well I saw your post this morning (haven't read any other responses yet, not gonna lie) but I was just now taking a shower and it popped into my head again. So are you saying that someone on the "1,000,000" is basically so wealthy that they could pay anyone off (or buy anything that they needed) to make them a live longer, easier life?

Well, I'm a bit of a nerd and for some reason I thought "undead" would fit the bill, haha. I guess this goes along well with those "vampire capitalism" analogies about zombies and vampires being "undead" and living off the living. HA anyone else think that?
 
C Hopper
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so, here is why I like Sustainable. Without having to say a phrase or an entire paragraph, you can communicate that the system is not degenerative like most forms of agriculture. In my opinion, Sustainable does not specify whether the system has been restored from a lesser state to a homeostasis or if it simply doesn't waste enough of its profits to collapse.

When I hear/read the word sustainable, unlike anyother word so far, I hear, "not wasteful", "thoughtful", "planned", "having the ability to prosper", "with no further changes, being able to not self-destruct".

That being said I think that another adjective is needed, either with or instead of sustainable.

One of the great things about the English language is that if enough people use a word it becomes English. So maybe we should invent a word that means what we are looking for? Permaculture after all was invented by a forrester in the wilds of Australia.
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
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i like 'sustainable' too...and i really disagree that it implies ' barely staying ahead of death ', i still haven't figured out what paul means by that...

the problem with 'sustainable' is that it's been so badly co-opted by every interest group and politician imaginable, that it's really become meaningless. like 'organic' but even worse....or 'green' or 'eco-friendly'

first there was 'sustainability' and then 'sustainable development' and then 'sustainable growth'....and in a bunch of the blather from the Rio conference it almost always shows up as sustainable growth, or in an even more degenerate and useless phrase 'sustained growth' which has nothing to do with what anyone started talking about...

as in, 'before jetting home, and after eco-touring the endangered ecosystem by landrover, the delegates discussed sustained growth at the spa in their green eco-friendly luxury resort over a brunch of organic greens the caterer had flown in for the occasion'

 
Marc Troyka
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I read once that permaculture was heavily influenced by Christopher Alexander (the architect). Have any of you ever read his work?

I think his ideas may be a lot of what's behind the dissatisfaction with "sustainable". That, and when I hear "sustainable" I think "solar panels and poorly run organic farms underproducing big ag".
 
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1,000,000 = Nature

Lloyd George Wrote:
all of life is just ahead of death..it is the nature of life...



"We don't know what's going on here. If these tremendous events are random combinations of matter run amok, the yield of millions
monkeys at millions of typewriters, then what is it in us, hammered out of those same typewriters, that they ignite? We don't know.
Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow
take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what's going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question
into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise." - from Annie Dillard: "Heaven and Earth in Jest"

Forgive my rambling.
 
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I think the word that you are looking for would be antifragile, a term Nassim Taleb recently coined. We don’t just want to just be sustainable, robust, and survive, the booms and busts of life, we want to improve and be stronger because of them. Another word would be evolution.

Anyway here is a Taleb explaining what he means by antifragility

http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2012/01/taleb_on_antifr.html
 
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Sustainable is not a constant. What is bare sustenance for a thousand is a bountiful plenty for a hundred. In many parts of the world we are well beyond the 1000 level mark hence the deaths in Africa due to drought and famine. Until we approach reproduction as a responsibility not a right and learn to differentiate between need and want, subsistence is what we will turn the bounty of nature into.
 
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Back to the original topic, I think we already have a perfectly good word for 1,000,000. Permaculture. Why reinvent the wheel?
 
Marc Troyka
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Max Kennedy wrote:Sustainable is not a constant. What is bare sustenance for a thousand is a bountiful plenty for a hundred. In many parts of the world we are well beyond the 1000 level mark hence the deaths in Africa due to drought and famine. Until we approach reproduction as a responsibility not a right and learn to differentiate between need and want, subsistence is what we will turn the bounty of nature into.



I think the more important measure is how many farmers and acres of land is required to feed x number of people. If it takes 1000 farmers and a million acres to feed 1000 people, I wouldn't say you're doing too well.

EDIT: I think variety is equally important. There used to be over 130 different varieties of apples grown in the US, and now there are only about 12.
 
steward
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Walter Jeffries wrote:
I log, sustainably. Perhaps as a non-logger you don't see it but that tree out in the field may be at its optimal point for me to cut it and market it. That then pays the (high) real estate taxes so I can continue stewarding our land. As a forester I make judgements on each tree, millions of them, thinking about should they continue to grow, be culled, provide shade, provide habitat for wildlife, provide seed for the next generation, nuts for my livestock, etc. Just leaving the tree there until it falls down does not help make my farm and forest land continue. If I can't pay my taxes then the government takes away my land and gives it to someone else who builds condos. The trees are a crop and I farm them. A very long term crop that may take 70 to 100 years to grow, easily.



What do you mean, as a non-logger? I guess I am not a logger, I just employee those who do... I am own plantations of forests, which we planted. My comment was about someone cutting down a tree to put the money in the bank, though there was plenty of space for it to continue to grow. Notice, I didn't say anything about letting a tree grow till it dies. The increase in the value of the tree is more than you can normally get in a bank, or many investments, so it is wiser to let the tree just keep growing till you need the money.

But, if you need the money to pay your taxes, well then of course it makes sense - or even a well earned vacation. But to merely convert a growing tree into cash to store in a bank, that is just weird to me.
 
Max Kennedy
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M Troyka wrote: I think the more important measure is how many farmers and acres of land is required to feed x number of people. If it takes 1000 farmers and a million acres to feed 1000 people, I wouldn't say you're doing too well.

EDIT: I think variety is equally important. There used to be over 130 different varieties of apples grown in the US, and now there are only about 12.



I respectfully disagree. Current high intensity farming methods have done much to degrade soil and exhaust water supplies. Setting the highest productivity as our goal is what has led us into the realm of industrial agriculture and the Monsanto's of the world. Destroying our resources, as we are doing with our soils and water, is NOT a laudable goal. In the past farming practices acted to preserve if not enhance the natural fertility of the soil. Making the deserts of the world bloom and produce has depleted aquifers the world over, poisoned waterways with fertilizer runoff, and sown salt on huge tracts of land. What needs to be considered is how much productivity can be maintained indefinitely on any parcel of land given it's soil, water and climate characteristics. If we try to support more people than the land can support there will be an eventual balancing due to famine when the system collapses. It isn't a matter of if but one of when. In effect targeting maximum productivity is stealing resources from our children and grand children. More farmers on smaller farms can promote increased productivity through increased variety of produce grown at differing trophic levels on the same land. The negative is this comes at the expense of increased personal/corporate profit, our current and over-riding god.
 
Marc Troyka
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Max Kennedy wrote:

M Troyka wrote: I think the more important measure is how many farmers and acres of land is required to feed x number of people. If it takes 1000 farmers and a million acres to feed 1000 people, I wouldn't say you're doing too well.

EDIT: I think variety is equally important. There used to be over 130 different varieties of apples grown in the US, and now there are only about 12.



I respectfully disagree. Current high intensity farming methods have done much to degrade soil and exhaust water supplies. Setting the highest productivity as our goal is what has led us into the realm of industrial agriculture and the Monsanto's of the world. Destroying our resources, as we are doing with our soils and water, is NOT a laudable goal. In the past farming practices acted to preserve if not enhance the natural fertility of the soil. Making the deserts of the world bloom and produce has depleted aquifers the world over, poisoned waterways with fertilizer runoff, and sown salt on huge tracts of land. What needs to be considered is how much productivity can be maintained indefinitely on any parcel of land given it's soil, water and climate characteristics. If we try to support more people than the land can support there will be an eventual balancing due to famine when the system collapses. It isn't a matter of if but one of when. In effect targeting maximum productivity is stealing resources from our children and grand children. More farmers on smaller farms can promote increased productivity through increased variety of produce grown at differing trophic levels on the same land. The negative is this comes at the expense of increased personal/corporate profit, our current and over-riding god.



I disagree likewise. Current big-ag "high productivity" farming is only sustained by continuous government favor and subsidies (ie money stolen from other people) and taxes on foreign competitors. They aren't even profitable, let alone productive (huge losses to pests and disease); and in every scientific study I've seen, polyculture outproduces monoculture consistently. Permaculture techniques used intelligently are both cheaper and require less maintenance than chemical farms, and additionally increase productivity over time rather than degrading it. Finally, food grown locally has much lower transportation costs and is much higher quality than industrialized "food" that has to be trucked thousands of miles, however centrally planned cities always drive out market gardeners even though the city environment makes it especially profitable to garden there.

Any sane farmer whose land was his livelihood, assuming he paid for it and valued it, will take care of it so that it will continue to produce for him (and his children). It takes a lot of economic backwardness to create a farmer who can destroy his land and run a loss and still stay in business.
 
pollinator
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people are such do ers, everythings about what you do, and in this sense *sustainable* implies you are doing better things. ok, thats good, true, doing better things is more sustainable.....

to me though its actually more about what you DON'T DO...i suppose its too subtle for some, but doing nothing , and then more nothing, will actually be closer to the mark in relation to that original chart. and then when you do things, do them carefully and thoughtfully. its a true kind of "conservatism", and this builds up "re" sources. and because its become so extreme, i am not just saying do less, i am saying do nothing! at all. alot, constantly, if you can. once you get there it starts to get more obvious, the clutter and confusing elements fade away. in this way i think a human can easily see and become the ideal here, a being that fits within an ecosystem in a way that always increases and improves its environ

i agree that sustainable has come to mean less by those who distort its meaning, or dont take it far enough to be actually sustainable. in order to be regenerative and get higher up on that chart beyond barely staying alive, you have to do a whole lot of NOTHING. while you are not fussing over everything, nature bounces back often by being left alone and not interferred with.

the situation as it is now, is extreme though, there are things that need to be done, that can be done. but the real key IME, is to STOP doing things, nature, life, humans are all much more resilient than it seems, and things want to move towards alignment and true "sustainability". for some weird reason this seems difficult, but it should be as easy as breathing.

caught in the scarcity paradigm its not easy to see this, because you are still only thinking about things in a linear sense of taking and the finite becomes smaller and smaller, instead of expanding. its also about proportions, i think. and this too seems easy, once you oriented as such, to figure out...say how you can harvest in a way where the numbers of hardy plants are always increasing in amount, not depleting. humans living in those kinds of proportions, and then not doing much else, would fit within the context of the eco system in a way where it would bounce back.

sometimes its more- observing, allowing, assisting in small ways sometimes, but not by any one set of hands that nature bounces back and moves into that alignment. as it wants to do so, mostly its about not preventing it from self healing.

one of the biggest obstacles to this, imo, is the private property paradigms and such...which tell you that you are allowed to DO whatever you want within the borders of that land and only pay attention to it. well among other things, but private property as we know it...ah it is quite contrary to the thing i am saying. though having sanctuary, belonging, that way of owning things- which implies responsibility and deep grounding in the land- is a much different story. something many are not given, due to not being able to own land, actually, making them less connected ....

this is...well a HUGE can of worms to open, and to try to address that is huge....but to me its relevant, the private property paradigms, the illusions of private property and a false way of owning things is one of the biggest obstacles to nature s self healing. but its all connected, really...i suppose i cant say this is the CAUSE, its one of many causes, but i think they have a similar root. and i know there are certain points where...once that clicks...all the rest follows. the auto reboot, and automatic self healing processes...and this is something that unfolds rather than something you do. things become much clearer, and the kind of common sense ideas like permaculture become obvious. its not as hard as we make it, to gather enough re sources and food, build simple shelters, to just inch along making a life and not doing or having much- this is the proper proportions that a human could live within a context that was way beyond sustainable...where nature is expodentially increasing in sources and becoming more resilient.
 
Dave Bennett
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Fred Morgan wrote:

Walter Jeffries wrote:
I log, sustainably. Perhaps as a non-logger you don't see it but that tree out in the field may be at its optimal point for me to cut it and market it. That then pays the (high) real estate taxes so I can continue stewarding our land. As a forester I make judgements on each tree, millions of them, thinking about should they continue to grow, be culled, provide shade, provide habitat for wildlife, provide seed for the next generation, nuts for my livestock, etc. Just leaving the tree there until it falls down does not help make my farm and forest land continue. If I can't pay my taxes then the government takes away my land and gives it to someone else who builds condos. The trees are a crop and I farm them. A very long term crop that may take 70 to 100 years to grow, easily.



What do you mean, as a non-logger? I guess I am not a logger, I just employee those who do... I am own plantations of forests, which we planted. My comment was about someone cutting down a tree to put the money in the bank, though there was plenty of space for it to continue to grow. Notice, I didn't say anything about letting a tree grow till it dies. The increase in the value of the tree is more than you can normally get in a bank, or many investments, so it is wiser to let the tree just keep growing till you need the money.

But, if you need the money to pay your taxes, well then of course it makes sense - or even a well earned vacation. But to merely convert a growing tree into cash to store in a bank, that is just weird to me.

It seems to me that in most cases when considering logging, the serious damage is clear cutting. I grew up in the northeast where hardwood logging has been a way of life for over 100 years. The area where I lived has been selective cutting rock maple and white ash over multiple generations. I have heard that in recent years the white ash has been considerably depleted though. Those "logging families" have always made their living "working in the woods" and understood that cutting down large tracts was counter productive. There are alternatives to wood however and I for one have been doing my part for the legalization of industrial hemp.
 
duane hennon
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I think that some use the term "sustainable" to mean maintaining what you have (see my post above)

in this view one can try to maintain a perfectly manicured yard and garden.
it will take increasing more and more to keep it that way
trying to hold this "still picture" is what causes problems
life is like a movie and evolution the projector
we can sometimes slow down the movie, so the children have a place to play
but in the end change will come no matter how much time and effort are expended to stop it
rust never sleeps and neither does evolution
 
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Post-scarcity is the term coined by Open Source Ecology. This group, founded by Marcin Jacobowski, a Polish born Princeton educated physicist who wondered why elite American universities did not address urgent problems re: food, etc.) is creating a global village construction set at the Factor E Farm in Maysville, Missouri, and posting all the information free on their website to anyone who wants to build the machines. They created a compressed earth brick machine, a soil pulverizer, and tractor and then just built their fabrication lab out of the CEB. Marcin is showing that there is no crisis of scarcity - all we need is sun, rocks, air, dirt, and water. The GVCS includes a small foundry to melt down scrap metal, and all the tools to create whatever you need, including a small steam engine and a pelletizer to pellet anything you grow on the land to feed the steam engine, which generates electicity. The tractor and other machine have modular hydraulic power cubes which can be easily switched to another machine. A homemade 3-D printer prints out any spare parts needed for the machines. Marcin's idea is that any community can generate the infrastructure needed for it's food, energy, housing, etc. and have all modern conveniences while improving, and not harming, the environment. He is a TED fellow and also recently won the prestigious SHUTTLEWORTH Foudation grant which he has used to hire a farm manager and a video team to document everything.

http://vimeo.com/19950597

4 years in 4 minutes / Factor E Farm

I have also read reviews of a book called PLENITUDE that documents various endeavors along the line of OSE that show that it is toxic politics and not lack of resources that cause scarcity. I don't have the book yet.

I am thrilled to have found your site! I watched all the Sepp Holtser videos and they are fantastic. Thank you for your hard work in spreading vital information.

Patty
 
Marc Troyka
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Patty Hankins wrote:
I have also read reviews of a book called PLENITUDE that documents various endeavors along the line of OSE that show that it is toxic politics and not lack of resources that cause scarcity. I don't have the book yet.



Jim Rogers, Peter Schiff, Max Keiser, Ludwig von Mises and zerohedge could tell you that.
 
Max Kennedy
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After looking at this concept of post scarcity I cannot agree with it. If one applies everything spoken of to 7 billion people the math shows we would still do irreparable harm to the environment. Though toxic politics definitely plays a big role in exacerbating scarcity due to unnecessary poverty even without it there is simply not enough for everyone without a significant decrease in expectations regarding material, energy, mobility, food, etc. The thoughts that business as usual cannot be maintained is true but the replacement being presented is just as unsustainable. To be post scarcity we need a significant decrease in population as well as migrating from a disposable society to one of reuse and limiting resource extraction to sustainable levels.
 
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paul wheaton wrote:The word sustainable is used a lot these days, but it doesn't really fit what I want to do. 

In the broad spectrum of all the things that can happen, there is:

1)  fast death

10)  medium speed death

100) slow death

1000)  death that is really, really slow

1416)  sustainable - barely avoiding death, but no more

2000)  _________

10,000)  _______

100,000)  ________

1,000,000) ________

I would like to find the words for the blanks. 

Growth?  Prosperity?

Any ideas?  Surely there are some excellent words and they just aren't popping into my head right now.



I always hated the word sustainable. Not because it is overused, not because nobody really knows what it means (my own brother mastered in sustainable development[insert icon for face-palm here] and he has a very hard time defining it), but because it just doesn't in any form have a positive feeling to it. I also think that it was chosen for that reason on purpose.

I like "Perpetually Regenerative".

I would imagine that would fit somewhere on the 100,000-1,000,000 range of your scale.

How about that?
 
Walter Jeffries
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Max Kennedy wrote:After looking at this concept of post scarcity I cannot agree with it. If one applies everything spoken of to 7 billion people the math shows we would still do irreparable harm to the environment. Though toxic politics definitely plays a big role in exacerbating scarcity due to unnecessary poverty even without it there is simply not enough for everyone without a significant decrease in expectations regarding material, energy, mobility, food, etc. The thoughts that business as usual cannot be maintained is true but the replacement being presented is just as unsustainable. To be post scarcity we need a significant decrease in population as well as migrating from a disposable society to one of reuse and limiting resource extraction to sustainable levels.



It sounds to me like your talking more about your expectations rather than how the majority of people actually live. The entire world's population can live at my very sustainable standard of living. Even 1/10th could not live at some high unsustainable standard of living found in most cities. Fortunately, most people don't live at those high standards.
 
Max Kennedy
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No, I took sustainable to mean something different from subsistence. Doing the math in 3 scenarios, subsistence +20%, subsistence +35% and subsistence +50% and with efficiencies reducing materials and energy consumption by an average of 20,35 and 50 % none resulted in even close to a break even point. If I want to say subsistence that is the word I will use. Sustainable is not subsistence. I you want to go back to the dark ages peon diet, travel restriction, medication, education go ahead but a lifestyle reasonably above subsistence for 7 BILLION people is not do-able. Our population is unsustainable! Don't believe me, do the calculations regarding food calories, high-med-low tech agriculture, transportation, potable water, housing etc. Scarcity at this population level is inevitable! As one example look at the weather disruptions in NA this year and the effect on the food supply. Excess produced elsewhere? WHERE? Have people move? How many sub saharan africans can camp in your living room? Where will the energy come from to transport them there? Worldwide aquifers have been depleted and rivers drained dry, the Colorado no longer reaches the ocean and the chinese wells are being drilled up to 1/2 mile deep as well as 1000's of lakes disappearing. Do you remember the ARAL SEA, it is a memory!How about cod schools that could stop ships, can't even fish for them now. To say that simply a change in lifestyle or a redistribution would avoid shortages is a pie in the sky fairy tale! Finally if one goes to a subsistence level where are the people in the cities going to get theirs? Subsistence won't see enough excess in either calories nor energy to support cities and once those people go out into the countryside say by-by to biodiversity as every spec of ground gets converted to food production assuming all those migrating out of the cities actually survive and there isn't a tremendous population crash.
 
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well thats how it looks when you are caught up in that kind of thinking, is my opinion.
caught up in the illusion of scarcity.
but its true MOST, over whelming majority of, people on the planet are living very very lean, while a small percent are living way too big for their britches. if we were living lean like that, i do think there is more than enough to go around....

i dont think theres an over population problem, myself, though i realize many would disagree or think its really obvious...again caught up in the scarcity paradigm. its about proportions, its about people living within their means, and the means of the planet.

there are exactly the right amount of people, as it is always has been and always will be. it is quite possible, due to inequity and a bunch of weirdness that there will be a huge population drop, but its not because theres "not enough to go around"...

but no....not the way the top 10 percent of the world is living...at that rate and with all the waste and absurdity and using the wrong kinds of "re" sources...no the planet cant support that. but people living simply, and within proper proportions, using the correct sources...and cutting out a lot of unneccessary stuff...yes i think the planet could support the amount of people that are here.

i'm not saying i see this happening...seems that ten percent of people who like living in the luxury wont give that up easily, even with all of the damage they are causing with that "luxury" they can "afford"
 
paul wheaton
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I know I've mentioned this in podcasts, and I think I've mentioned it on these forums a couple of times: a study has recently come out showing that Sepp's techniques will feed 21 billion people without irrigation, fertilizer or any type of petroleum.

I kinda like the idea that this thread is more about vocabulary: the search for a better word.


 
Marc Troyka
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It's funny you should mention the Aral Sea, because I happen to be quite familiar with how it was destroyed.

When the communists took over Russia, they promised to end scarcity. "Scarcity", they said, "doesn't exist. It was created by the capitalists to enslave the workers!" so they claimed. "We can fix scarcity!" they promised, "By setting quotas on food and clothes and shelters and all the things people need to survive". And so they did, and they took over all of eastern europe and did exactly as they said. Workers were told where they would work and what jobs they would do. Quotas were set on how much food, clothes, and houses it was determined everyone needed, and farmers were ordered to grow that much, and train operators were ordered to ship it to where it was deemed to be needed, and new housing projects were ordered to be built in order to house everyone. With their "Great Transformation of Nature" project, rivers were diverted in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in order to grow grain, melons, and cotton.

And then grocery store shelves went empty everywhere, and people had to rush to the store and trample one another to spend their worthless rubles on the few goods that were available. And the houses built were ugly concrete ghettos only suitable to barely survive in. And people pretended to work, and their government employers pretended to pay them. And then the Aral sea began to dry up and deposit salty toxic dust all over the region. And then the Soviet Union violently collapsed under the weight of millions of angry people who had no food to buy. And then Uzbekistan was unwilling to give up their irrigation systems. And then the Aral Sea nearly disappeared in a poison dust storm.

Scarcity isn't an illusion; it's a cold hard fact about everything in the world. Metals are scarce, carbon fuel is scarce, labor is scarce, good farmland is scarce. Everything is finite, and for all of those things we use prices are the signals that tell us how efficiently we are using our scarce resources to meet demand. Prices tell us whether or not it is effective to build tractors or cars, whether to farm here or there, this way or that, and whether to grow this or that.

When governments try to cheat scarcity, as the USSR did, the result is always an amplification of scarcity because price signals stop functioning. In the US today, the huge scarcity of jobs is caused basically entirely by the government attempting to cheat scarcity. "Everyone gets a house!", said George W. Bush in 2001, signing into law his "free mortgages for everyone" bill. And then in 2007 house prices collapsed. And then all the big banks turned out to be bankrupt in 2008, and were accused of committing fraud and embezzlement. And the government printed them trillions of dollars to cheat the scarcity they had created for themselves. And now jobs are scarce.

Land is also capital, it can be built up and improved and made to do things that it was not previously able to do, and grow things that were not able to grow on it. But the government tried to cheat scarcity, by giving every farmer a handout just for playing along. And now topsoil is becoming more and more scarce, because the farmers who manage that land have no need of making a profit or managing that scarcity.

I don't know that permaculture could feed "21 billion", but chances are, if used properly (ie to improve the profits of farmland over time) the issue will sort itself out in the long run. Higher demand for food means higher food prices, which gives incentives for more people to grow food, and especially of the types people want most. If you ignore scarcity, and replace it with bigotry about how people who worked hard and saved for generations to become wealthy are just "overprivileged", then you ignore all the things that are necessary to bring the poor in Africa and the untouchables of India out of poverty.

Look at China today.. practically over a billion people just in one country, and yet their standard of living has been steadily increasing since they decided to let in capitalists and begin moving from communism to business. Now wages are rising in China and they're looking to build a strong service sector to improve their quality of life even further. Of course, China is still plagued by communism, and there are huge ghost towns that are entirely uninhabitable, built on the same premise as the McMansion plague that struck the US over the last 10 years; free money from the government fed it. And when the bubble in non-functional housing bursts, China will suffer the consequences of squandering scarce resources, just like the US did.
 
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I'd propose that the life or death of individuals has nothing to do with sustainability. All individuals die. Sustainability is a function of populations. So perhaps sustainability has very little to do with the various stimuli we respond to in our self created socioeconomic anthropocene, and everything to do with population dynamics. In which case... increasing human population doesn't work, and decreasing human population doesn't work. All that works is fluctuating population in a range within ecological carrying capacity. After that... all problems are solvable. I'd go further to suggest that sustainability is a human preoccupation, as the biosphere will continue with or without us, and thus is 'sustainable'. If an individual human thinks they are sustainable, it is irrelevant. All that matters are the dynamics of populations. So with that in mind. We are always sustainable, since we are as adaptable as rats, and will learn to survive, however unpleasantly, in the nest we build. So the question is really about quality of life, and what quality are your interested in, and what does it take to get there with everyone else.
 
Always look on the bright side of life. At least this ad is really tiny:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
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