bruc33ef Hatfield

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since Jun 12, 2009
Suwon, South Korea
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Recent posts by bruc33ef Hatfield

Ludi wrote:
What is throwing a wrench in the advance of science?  Not permaculture, I take it.


What exactly do you think the green revolution is??
7 years ago

Ludi wrote:
Does permaculture endanger industrial agriculture in any way, or limit its activities?  Can you give some examples of the dangers of permaculture to industrial agriculture?



Who said permaculture endangered industrial agriculture??
7 years ago

Ludi wrote:
Just want to point out that plant breeding, soil science, and organic methods were known and pretty well developed before the Green Revolution.  There was definitely the opportunity to head in the organic direction, if society had chosen to do so.



Depends on what you mean by "known," "developed," and "opportunity."  Land costs money.  Resources to grow things costs money.  Labor costs money.  Industry requires markets.  (Where was the market for organic produce back then and the studies that reveal  it is more beneficial than conventionally produced goods?)  Producers and investors require a return on their investment.  Where was the logic that screamed out back then that we should have turned toward organic?  It just would not have been realistic.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

And, as the "math lessons" author points out, who's to say that an unbridled organic revolution wouldn't have led to excesses of its own such as gobbling up pristine land for cultivation.  If you believe that every movement carries within it the seeds of its own destruction, then that was certainly a possibility... and still is. 
7 years ago

Ludi wrote:
I don't see the Green Revolution as a success.  It led to overshoot in world population,an epidemic of metabolic disorders in the US, destruction of untold ecosystems, and a host of other ills.  Seeing the Green Revolution as a "success" seems to me to be the cognitive dissonance.  Being able to recognize that our decision to engage in the Green Revolution may have been one of the worst decisions ever made in human history does not seem like cognitive dissonance to me, it seems like an ability to appropriately evaluate results.
Awareness of germ theory was at least as much to account for the increase in human longevity (actually life expectancy) as the Green Revolution was.



First, all the results are not yet in.  It is not a good idea to throw a wrench into the advance of science because of certain unwanted, unplanned, unexpected occurrences when so much is at stake and there is so much promise for the future.  We are still in an early stage of agricultural science.  How many people died "unnecessarily" while modern medicines and techniques of surgery were in their infancy who don't die today, to cite merely one example? 

Second, the green revolution was not exclusively to blame for any of the maladies you mention.  And what do you mean by "led to"?  Do you mean "caused"?  Do you mean "responsible for"?  Do you mean "preceded"?  You see "population explosion," while others see "a drop in infant mortality rates" or "saving untold lives."  And this, too, is not an either/or situation.  Many variables were/are at play, including some ancient human, non-modern variables like greed and power.  The scientific method is a tool.  Permaculture design is a tool.  Tools are controlled and manipulated by people.  There is nothing inherently evil about science or any other tool.  There are people who are using the label of "permaculture" to do all kinds of disagreeable things.  It doesn't mean we abandon permaculture.  I say again, let both paths evolve.
7 years ago

Old hammy wrote:
I'm not sure I understand. If the road we've taken since WWII will possibly "undermine and reverse the benefits... and maybe life itself" can you really call the journey a success? And why would I have a vested interest in ignoring the fact? I'd rather be open about it and move away from it.



I'm not sure I understand your question.  You don't see that short-term successes can turn into long-term failures?  And you don't agree that it's human nature to dismiss positions that don't support your argument?  I'm not getting it.
7 years ago

Ludi wrote:
Which inconvenient facts are permies ignoring, in your opinion?  And what is their interest or benefit in ignoring them?



The economies and efficiencies of conventional agriculture after WWII at a time when workable alternatives were largely unknown and undeveloped; advances in agricultural and biological science; part of the gains in population health and longevity, to name a few. 

We permies tend to de-emphasize, minimize, and even ignore such successes because, I think, we have been made so brutally aware that the dangers that have ensued from these very triumphs are threatening to undermine and reverse the benefits... and maybe life itself.

Understandable way to deal with cognitive dissonance.  But let's face it -- we have our blind spots as much as they have theirs.  I think we can give the devil his due and still make our case.
7 years ago

Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
I think the Times is dependent on advertisements from national brands. In a recession, the food and alcohol sectors of the economy tend to be the only ones that experience much growth, and the more localized the food system is, the less money will be spent on national ads for food brands.



That's no doubt true to my way of thinking at least, but when you start questioning motives it becomes a slippery slope.  Permies could also be said to have a vested interest in ignoring inconvenient facts.  Fortunately, the truth value of a statement is independent of the source.  So let's just present solid arguments and the weaker ones will fall of their own weight.
7 years ago

Ludi wrote:
Gardening, not farming, is the most efficient use of land, with the most productivity per land unit.



You know, that may be the best response of all to this guy.  He's simply comparing one type of farming to another (conventional to organic) but they're both monoculture systems.  Gardening doesn't require driving 5 miles for a head of lettuce at all.

Also, he says nothing about the health and nutrition of conventionally produced foods vs those produced by gardening with natural methods.

His one decent point, though, is that local itself isn't better than trucked-in foods.  It depends on how the local food is produced.
7 years ago
Interesting article in the NY Times today with that title: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/20/opinion/20budiansky.html

Basic points:  The smallest use of resources comes from growing things where they grow best.  Also, that shipping a head of lettuce, for example, across the country actually adds next to nothing to the total energy bill.  Same with fertilizer and other chemicals. 

Choice Quotes from the article and his blog:

"The real energy hog, it turns out, is not industrial agriculture at all, but you and me. Home preparation and storage account for 32 percent of all energy use in our food system, the largest component by far... Agriculture, on the other hand, accounts for just 2 percent of our nation’s energy usage; that energy is mainly devoted to running farm machinery and manufacturing fertilizer."

"You could cover the energy cost of shipping several thousand lettuces a year across the country with what you'd save by upgrading one home refrigerator [to an Energy Star model]."

"on’t forget the astonishing fact that the total land area of American farms remains almost unchanged from a century ago, at a little under a billion acres, even though those farms now feed three times as many Americans and export more than 10 times as much as they did in 1910."

"In return for that quite modest energy investment, we have... spared hundreds of millions of acres for nature preserves, forests and parks that otherwise would have come under the plow."

"The best way to make the most of these truly precious resources of land, favorable climates and human labor is to grow lettuce, oranges, wheat, peppers, bananas, whatever, in the places where they grow best and with the most efficient technologies — and then pay the relatively tiny energy cost to get them to market, as we do with every other commodity in the economy."

"The fundamental fact is that we have an inescapable choice in our food system: use small amounts of energy, or vast amounts of land."
7 years ago

Joop Corbin - swomp wrote:
...starting out on a garden without any knowledge of the design tools makes it hard to develop skill in applying them  (of corse it is possible for some, like sepp and bill, to develop knowledge, deep knowledge on natural principles and how to apply that designing our own systems, but i tend to welcome a lifetime of learning from others that proceeded me.)
...i do welcome any theoretical or practical knowledge that is available with open arms and thus started reading every tekst and watching every movie i could get my hands on, as well as trying everything i learn out on a 50x25 meters lot. ( btw i think money is not necessary, the internet provided me with most info, allthough in time i started buying books that are actually available by downloading)

...for me theory and practice can complement each other (i sometimes read theory that makes me understand something happening in the gardens better, but also sometimes experience something in our baby-foodforest that makes me understand something ive read better.)



Forgive me for slicing and dicing your quotes here, but I think these passages together are very true and the right approach to take.  Whether you start bottom-up or top-down is probably immaterial; there are feedback loops in both directions.
7 years ago