Jul 17, 2008

David Holmgren - Future Scenarios

David Holmgren and Bill Mollison coined the phrase "permaculture" back in the '70s. Basically saying that if we can re-shape the way we farm, garden, settle, co-habit, exchange goods etc by mimicking as closely as possibly a natural ecosystem then it will be sustainable (aka 'self-sufficient').

David Holmgren has recently released this website/thought exercise looking at what the possible outcomes might be for human populations in the event that Peak Oil and Climate Change both occur in the same time frame. He has simplified this huge task by taking the two ends of each scenario and combining them, coming up with four distinct outcomes.
  • Brown Tech: (slow oil decline, fast climate change)

  • Green Tech: (slow oil decline, slow climate change)

  • Earth Steward: (fast oil decline, slow climate change)

  • Lifeboats: (fast oil decline , fast climate change)

It made for thought-provoking reading. As he says, it is a valuable thought-exercise, not a display of prophecy. But it is always good to think through different outcomes and options, and to be thinking about how we as individuals can plan and prepare on a regional, community and individual level.

The conclusion I personally came to was to keep on with what we have been doing - local food production is key to local survival, and the less reliant we are on others to feed, clothe and house us, the more resilient our communities will be in the event that the others fail us for whatever reason.

Was also a good reminder to be actively building community in our neighbourhoods. This is just the right way to live, regardless of climate change etc, but it is so easy to be isolated and insular. But from a purely selfish/paranoid perspective, the neighbour you know well enough to ask to clear your mail while you're away, and whose rabbit you feed while they're away, is a neighbour less likely to aggressively raid your veggie garden and eat your chickens if times get hard.

It's also just good sense to look at various options for the future, even the ones you think are unlikely. I personally don't want to be one of the people going "Oh no! I never saw this coming! What on earth do we do now???!!" Much prefer to be saying "Oh no! I never really thought it would happen! Oh well, let's get out the solar oven, and ask so and so about how they purify their tank water for drinking..."

Now, for the nay-sayers among us, I am not wanting to debate the truth or fiction of climate change or peak oil. Perhaps another day, but not today :) For your own enlightenment, there's a fantastic series of You Tube video seminars exploring what our response to climate change ought to be, regardless of our beliefs. And just google peak oil yourself. It just makes sense to me that a finite resource will, at some point, become too expensive to bother extracting for every day usage - FYI 'Peak Oil' doesn't mean that oil deposits run out, just that they have passed their peak performance - there are years in the old fellas yet, but from now on every hundred thousand barrels will be harder and more expensive to extract than the previous hundred thousand.

hat tip to Rhonda Jean

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