Yet as we approach our ninth year of war and occupation in Afghanistan and our eighth in Iraq, Americans have seen security at home eroded by financial collapse, a neglected infrastructure, a hemorrhaging job market, anemic social services and public health care crisis, volatile energy and food markets, and the complex realities of climate change.
In the face of home foreclosures, bankruptcy, and unemployment with many Americans’ income flat or falling and funding for basic civil institutions like public schools, libraries, and parks in decline, the question screams: “What is real security?”
When parents cannot keep their jobs, children cannot go to school, and families cannot stay in their homes, who in America today feels secure?
Typically in the United States, “security” is viewed in terms of freedom from violence, war, or the threat of terrorism. Throughout Bush’s two terms, Americans were incessantly told that preemptive war and victory in Iraq and Afghanistan were “vital to our national security.”
But if America’s embrace of militarism and a vast new untrackable surveillance culture is meant to reassure citizens that their security is being protected, at a minimum, Nidal Hassan, Faisal Shahzad, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, and Najibullah Zazi have all demonstrated that sending well over 1 million U.S. troops to fight and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, and spending over one trillion dollars on two wars since 2001 has not made us more secure, but less.
During the Cold War, President Dwight Eisenhower said: “We need an adequate defense, but every arms dollar we spend above adequacy has a long-term effect upon the nation and its security.” On another occasion, Eisenhower was quoted saying, “We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.” Following the September 11 hijackings, America’s airports were swept up in a new atmosphere of absolute insecurity.
Like his predecessor, President Barack Obama regularly talks about security as it relates to the military in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan and at 770 U.S. military facilities in 39 countries around the world. Speaking before 2010 graduating cadets at West Point, Barack Obama said: “You go abroad because your service is fundamental to our security back home.”
Paik, born in California but raised in South Korea and Guam before moving to Kauai in 2000, spoke of the importance of viewing Hawaii from a Pacific island perspective. “We always hear Hawaii being described as ‘out in the middle of nowhere’ or as ‘the most isolated place on the planet,’ but these descriptions are from a staunchly continental perspective.” “The ocean,” Paik said, “connects us all into a single blue continent.” Stressing the cultural, historical, and linguistic ties between all Pacific peoples, Paik said, “We need to see the connection between Hawaii and all the Pacific islands because the military certainly does.
In Search of Real Security: Part Two
Ea O Ka Aina: In Search of Real Security - Part Two 8/31/10
By Gene Park on 28 October 2010 in the Star Advertiser -
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Alan Kay granted NCSoft's motion to dismiss half of the eight charges, allowing the lawsuit to proceed. Smallwood, who did not return a call for comment yesterday, alleges that the 2003 release "Lineage II" caused "extreme and serious emotional distress and depression."
Smallwood, who says he is a disabled veteran, also alleges that he has been "unable to function independently in usually daily activities such as getting up, getting dressed, bathing or communicating with family and friends." He claims to have been hospitalized for three weeks and that he now needs treatment and therapy three times a week because of the game. In his Aug. 4 decision, Kay dismissed the charges of misrepresentation/deceit, unfair and deceptive trade practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages. NCSoft still faces counts of defamation, negligence, gross negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
"Lineage II" is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game with a medieval fantasy setting. Smallwood claims he spent more than 20,000 hours playing the game from 2004 to 2009. "NCSoft is discretionary and discriminatory in its applications of the rules," Smallwood said in his original October complaint. "Often they will allow certain players to break rules ... while they enforce these rules on others."
Smallwood asserts that he continues to this day to have a "compulsive urge and need" to play the game, that he never received any warning from the company about the danger of addiction and that he would not have bought and played the game if he would become addicted to it. Local law firm Bronster & Hoshibata, which represents NCSoft in the case, said Smallwood "fails to properly allege facts that would support each element of the emotional distress claim.
As such, Smallwood has failed to properly give notice to NCSoft of the claims levied against it." NCSoft also claims that Smallwood was banned from his game accounts because of his involvement with real money transfers, which is forbidden by the user agreement and rules of conduct of the game.
Island Breath: Syntheic World Apocalypse 12/19/05 .
I emailed Marie before we left and we were able to stock up on muffins, cookies and brownies the first morning after our arrival. Of course, we went back later in the week for more! Marie is also very helpful with information about where to shop and dine on Kauai, and I feel like I have a new friend on the beautiful Island of Kauai.
At her recommendation, we ate our one meal out at Verde’s. It is set in a strip mall behind the Shell station in Kappa. What was lacking in atmosphere was made up for in delicious Mexican food. This is authentic Mexican food, not your taco bell type, in huge portions. They were also very knowledgeable about all of the ingredients and cross-contamination. You can eat at the restaurant, or order carry out.
There are other places to eat out on Kauai, but we had the rest of our meals at the condo – getting ready to travel yourself? Here was our condo menu:
Breakfast – Sweet Marie muffins (so many muffins we do not need to eat any for a long time); eggs, yogurt, fruit, a box of Koala Crisp cereal
Lunch – (usually ate at the beach) salami, cheese slices, fruit, chips, quinoa salad, ham and cheese rolls ups (take a slice of ham and roll it around a mozzarella cheese stick)
Dinner – quesadillas with Food for Life brown rice tortillas that I packed; pork chops, Lundberg farm risotto and veggies; Bi-aglut spaghetti with some bruschetta bread from Bavarian Mills; grilled lemon chicken with Bi-aglut noodles and a salad; Pizza (Kinninnick now sells mini square pizzas that were perfect for traveling); Cobb salad and hot dogs for the kids
What I brought along – Food for Life tortillas, bread, Kinninnick bagels and pizza crusts, Bi-aglut pasta, Lundberg Farms risotto, bruschetta from Bavarian Mills, quinoa, tamari soy sauce
Grocery list when we arrived – olive oil, cheese, salsa and chips, pork chops, chicken, hot dogs and hamburger meat for the spaghetti sauce, spaghetti sauce for spaghetti and for the pizza, butter, eggs, ham, cheese sticks, yogurt, avocados (for guacamole) onion, tomatoes, lettuce, two lemons, mustard and green onion, plus miscellaneous snacks like ice cream!
For more on traveling gluten free, check out my website at Gluten Free Mom.com. So how do you travel gluten free?
Sweet Marie's Hawaii Inc.
4-788 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, Hawaii 96746
Contact: Chef Marie Cassel
Hour of Operation: Tuesday-Saturday 7 am. -2 pm. or until sold-out .
Please call in advance 808-823-0227. Mahalo!
1) That we have a reasonably large stockpile of critical goods in case of a temporary disruption of flows,2) that what we rely on for our survival be by and large renewable, and3) that our demand for renewable resources would come into balance with the supply we can reasonably expect--considerably less than fossil fuels have provided.
Krugman to the Rescue
First off, in fairness, we have to recognize that Paul Krugman is a liberal. His blog is called the Conscience of a Liberal, so I take him at his word.
I can understand his ideological stance with respect to wanting to relieve the American people who have lost their jobs and their homes. I can understand his railing at Tim Geithner (Treasury Secretary) and Ben Bernanke (Fed chairman) about the stupidity they are showing in not providing a stimulus to the economy that will relieve the pain and suffering (rather than a stimulus to the bankers and Wall Street to help their managers earn even bigger bonuses).
Krugman has heart, I'll give him that. But here is what being stuck in a liberal ideology gets you: This Is Not a Recovery, 26 Aug. 2010. The remedy, for Krugman and every other neoclassical economist is growth.
I'm afraid I have to say, for one of the smartest economists in the world he sure is dumb!
He gets that the so-called economic recovery is a sham. He gets that what the government is doing is appallingly weak compared to what it should be doing under historically relevant conditions to truly stimulate the economy to produce jobs and get people back to work. What he doesn't understand is that these are not historically relevant times. This isn't the same situation as existed in 1932. What he is proposing is exactly the wrong thing to do if you care about the long-term.
He wants to return to a growth economy based on consumer spending*. The pain he wants to relieve includes that which the American public is suffering not being able to go to Wallmart and shop to their hearts' content.
What, oh what, will it take to get people like Krugman to see reality? This question is especially cogent since reality is slapping us all in the face. You would think that Nobel Prize winners would be able to know when they are being slapped in the face and wake up to see that reality. “Thanks, I needed that.”
George, Get With the Program Man
No doubt if we did get back to a growth economy, in the range of 5+% annual, that this would help create more jobs and drive the unemployment numbers down. That has been the historical case. But exactly what is going to be growing? In other words, what in the economy would be able to grow to make the GDP grow by 5% a year?
Would it be primary manufacturing? Not likely. Labor in China is still a lot cheaper than it is here, for the moment.
Extractive industries? Maybe coal, but most of our mining operations are worked out.
Retail maybe? If we could get cash into everyone's hands they would go buy more stuff and that would boost the retail industry.
But wait a bit, many people today are going to pay down their debt from past shopping extravaganzas, many will divert the cash to savings.
Services then? We have to ask what kind of services? Flipping burgers, that's a service. But the fast food business is just another form of retailing. How about beauty parlors, maybe we could treble the number of chairs and hair dressers. That is a needed service.
Wait, there is a service area that could easily expand and create some really high paying jobs — the financial services area! It is simple. The government lets the banks and Wall Streeters create many more creative financial instruments and sell them to ‘investors’. They will literally create more money, more value, and more transactions. That will look good in GDP numbers.
If we were to completely kill all financial sector rules and regulations the GDP would soar and a significant number of financial service workers would then get rich. Here is the best of all. They need to buy hamburgers, get hairdos, and buy lots of expensive stuff. Thus retail and the rest of the service sector will expand once again. And when it does somebody has to raise or import the beef, shampoos, and fancy cars. Boy, this is sounding better all the time.
All we need to do, and I bet anything Tim Geithner already knew this, is we let the financial movers and shakers go to town and everything will be hunkydory once again. The recovery will be complete. We will be growing once again. Surely this last little hiccup in the economy due to financial (including mortgages) bubbles won't happen again. The free market will prevail.
Economic Growth Solves All Problems
Actually it does seem to do so as long as you look past real human happiness and measure problems solved in materialist terms (like GDP). It has been the case in the past and why would we think there is any reason why it wouldn't work that way now?
Well one comes to mind: We've reached the limits of energy and material resources and you can't grow beyond those limits. I has turned out that the physical limits of our world really do define a fixed size pie that has to be sliced into thiner and thiner pieces if everyone is to get some (oh yeah, some don't so that others can get bigger pieces).
Our whole understanding of what the economy is, how it works, and what it takes to give a majority of folk a shot at living reasonably comfortable lives is bound up in a system that is always growing. We simply cannot conceive of any other way to organize things.
People need jobs to earn incomes. Those incomes have to be sufficient to pay for necessities of life and some discretionary goods and services so as to have some enjoyment in life. Jobs come from firms constantly needing labor and management to produce goods and services on a continuous basis. The latter is supported by customers in sufficient numbers to put a continuous demand on the firms.
Where do customers come from? Well, we need to have more people needing the goods and services; the customer base has to expand (births plus immigration). We can also build shoddy stuff that falls apart after awhile so that the customers need to continue to replace them. Or design new models that make the old models so obsolete that customers are embarrassed to be caught with the old models (Apple comes to mind).
Ah, but when the customer base is growing that means there are also more people needing more jobs. So we have to grow firms so as to meet the demand and create jobs. Why does this look like a vicious cycle to me?
Its a positive feedback loop that perpetuates the need for more jobs, stuff, and people (consumers and workers). And all positive feedback loops, if they predominate in any system, will lead to an eventual blowup. Unless, of course, the expanding system runs into resource constraints which is exactly what is happening today.
At our present rate of consumption (world wide) we are reaching the ends of economically extractable energy and material resources. We are even depleting our potable water supplies! How do you deplete a completely recyclable resource? We managed it. These limits are going to be felt most painfully in the depletion of fossil fuel energy sources. At least if we had more energy we could find ways to solve material resource depletion. We could find ways to recycle and substitute for quite a while longer. But the truth is that once fossil fuels start be take more energy to extract than they provide for other economic work we will have hit the wall.
Actually it is already underway. You can point your finger at the financial meltdown, the housing meltdown, the jobs meltdown or any number of proximal causes for the global economic recession (everywhere except China, for the moment). But there really is a single underlying cause of all the problems that we have great difficulty recognizing because we've always had the luxury of taking it for granted. Net energy is now in decline. And it takes net energy to run the economy, even if it weren't growing.
A growing economy requires a growing flow of net energy into the system. That means we have to find and extract much more fossil fuel each year than the year before. And we have to extract so much more that we can pay back the increasing energy costs of doing that extraction. We haven't been doing this. The peak of oil extraction marks the start of decline in total energy extraction. But more importantly, the peak of net energy came many years ago, before the peak of fossil fuel. This is because the energy costs of extraction have been increasing (exponentially, actually) leading to declining net profit to apply to other economic work.
We are no longer in a growth economy because we are no longer in a growing net energy environment. We aren't even in a steady state net energy flow so the potential to construct a steady state economy is no longer an option. Put rather rudely, we are now in a contracting economy, and will be for as long as we care to consider. There will be no new jobs created because there will be decreasing energy available to do the work. The so-called “knowledge-based” economy is an illusion. It is true that we need and use knowledge to run the economy, but the only real base of any economy is the food we produce to keep ourselves alive, followed by the construction of goods that support our living in temperate and cooler climates. And all of those base activities require a lot of energy. Knowledge isn't worth a dime if you can't eat it, or live in it.
The longer Krugman and Geithner and Obama and every one is committed to the notion that the only way out of our situation is to recover the consumption/growth economy the worse we are going to find ourselves when it finally becomes so obvious what is happening that even these geniuses finally get it. Then it will be too late to try to adapt and reconstruct an economic model based on biophysical realities instead of one based on so-called American dreams. You can't dream yourself satiated, unless you're in delirium from starvation!
* One alternative to the consumer-based economy is the export economy. We would presumably make our money by providing some kind of needed goods or services to the rest of the world. We would need some kind of competitive advantage. Some economists think that our knowledge-workers will provide knowledge services to other places in the world. A little reflection on this idea will soon turn up any number of reasons why it is stupid, not the least of which is that other countries are rapidly developing their own knowledge workers. Besides, the geniuses are still thinking that growth in sales (of exported somethings) is a necessary part of the scheme.
Introduction This essay provides a framework for understanding the ideological roots of the current global crisis that I believe is more useful than the now tired Left Right political spectrum. I use this framework to provide a commentary on current political machinations around Climate Change and Peak Oil. Building from the same energetic literacy that informs Permaculture and Future Scenarios, it challenges much of the strategic logic behind current mainstream climate change activism. Like the Future Scenarios work, this essay is intended to help environmental and social activists better avoid the obstacles to effective action in a chaotic age.
David Holmgren is best known as the co-originator of the permaculture concept. He lives with his partner Su Dennett at Melliodora, a permaculture demonstration site in Hepburn, Central Victoria.
[This posting at EB consists of selections from the original essay. The PDF of the complete essay can be downloaded from David Holmgren's website in the "Writings" section.]
The unfolding climate/energy/economic crisis is heating up a very old rift in global industrial politics. This rift derives from two core beliefs on what constitutes the source of wealth. Does wealth come from human creativity and innovation or is it found in the natural world? Is human capacity the source or a by-product of real power?
I believe two alternative (and mostly complementary) paradigms that are implied by these questions, have shaped the history of the modern world perhaps more so than the Left-Right political ideologies. I characterize these increasingly conflicted paradigms by the following shorthand: faith in wealth and power from “human brilliance” (meaning “faith in human brilliance to overcome physical limitations.”) verses faith that wealth and power emerge from control of “holes in the ground”, ie. physical resources.1
In a world of energy descent and climate change, both these beliefs are failing and increasingly we see the believers of both paradigms at war in a futile battle for control of the world.
Understanding the nature of this ideological battle is as critical for environmental and social activists as is the understanding of the science behind Climate Change and Peak Oil. Because this ideological divide and battle has been little recognized by historians and social commentators, it is easy to come to the conclusion that one of these paradigms is benign while the other is lethal, without really understanding the nature and implications of these respective ideologies.
Climate activists in particular tend to focus on the fossil energy industries as the “enemies” (both for generating greenhouse gases and funding climate change denial), but naturally see any parties accepting the new climate change agenda as allies. I believe that many of the global players promoting the climate agenda are as dangerous as those denying that agenda. How can this be so?
Ecological perspectives on human brilliance
I should first acknowledge my perspective in this rift. I believe that the current peak in global oil production represents an effective (net) energy peak for humanity and that we are entering an era of ongoing and effectively permanent “energy descent.” The scale of this change is without precedent in human history. A transition to a world of less energy requires widespread “energetic literacy” so that we can learn how to work with less and avoid some costly mistakes when we can least afford them. The era of extraordinary energy growth and abundance has left the populace and the politicians of the industrial world without an intuitive understanding of energy, since, by its very excess we have not needed to appreciate its nuances.
... Consequently this essay more strongly critiques the unrestrained faith in human creativity and innovation to overcome physical limitations, than the equally doomed faith in digging wealth out of the earth, since the latter, if becoming outdated, at least acknowledges the significance of energy resources.
Faith in Human Brilliance
Faith in human brilliance to overcome physical limitations is widespread and pervasive in society.
Since the European Enlightenment, the marvel of increasing cultural and technological complexity has created a cultural hubris about human achievements that has displaced the humility of older spiritual traditions about the power and mystery of nature.
For example many social justice and environmental advocates, as well as bureaucrats and diplomats believe the construction of regulations and rules based on negotiation and compromise are the fundamental keys to collective wealth and its wise control. Technologists, educators, and journalists also tend towards the belief that thinking, discussion and debate are the way to solve problems. Economists and business entrepreneurs tend to share this faith in human brilliance and have been much more powerful participants in focusing the tools of science to create real wealth though production and market transactions. While there is obvious merit and some truth in these perspectives, they are incomplete insofar as they ignore the energy base which makes these perspectives possible.
... Our money and markets are the most complex products of this deeply ingrained faith in human brilliance. And just as their foundational beliefs are incomplete, so is their expression extremely dangerous. ...
Wealth from Nature
While faith in human brilliance might be to the dominant paridigm, a significant and number of influential people in modern society hold the opposite belief: that wealth comes from nature (in which I include the belief that wealth comes from “holes in the ground”). Because so few people in modern urbanised societies have intimate experience of the ways in which we depend on renewable and non-renewable natural resources, the intuitive basis for these beliefs has been in decline for hundreds of years.
Farmers, forest workers and fishermen along with more self-reliant rural dwellers are natural adherents to this view of the world. Miners and engineers dependent on and responsible for the exploitation of nature’s non-renewable wealth also tend to hold this view for fairly obvious reasons. The military services are another sector of society where this world view remains common. Those who recognise this potent power from nature often conclude that the power of the gun is ultimately what guarantees control, especially of the “holes in the ground” that yield the fantastically concentrated non-renewable energy and resources. Unlike capitalists and socialists, many of those with faith in power from the ground, are less concerned whether the total system is growing, stagnant or declining, but more focused on how to remain on the top of the heap, whatever its size.
... As I have pointed out, faith in human brilliance can focus on individual and entrepreneurial capacity (Right) or alternatively, collective and co-operative capacity (Left). Similarly faith in power from nature can lead to the conclusion about “survival of the fittest” (Right) or co-operative sharing of limited resources (Left). ...
History of beliefs in energy and money
To understand how conflict between money and energy in modern society is shaping the climate/energy/economic crisis, we need to explore its historical origins. I believe this exploration using the lens of ecology is part of a larger process by which we begin to tell a new story of human transformation relevant to the energy descent future after fossil fuels.
The ancestry of the first force – the belief that wealth comes from “holes in the ground”, i.e. physical resources we mine from the earth – can be seen in the feudal lords who presided over tracts of fertile farmland and productive forests that were the primary sources of material wealth before fossil fuels. These feudal elites had an intimate knowledge of the estates that were the source of their wealth and power and so maintained a sort of “energetic literacy” even if they regarded the productivity of the land as primarily a gift from god. The successes of European medieval societies based on the limited but renewable resources of the land eventually came up against ecological limits that were expressed through loss of forests, wars between sovereign nations, and disease (the Black Death). ...
Wealth from Human Ingenuity
The ancestry of the second force, the belief that “human brilliance” is the source of wealth, can be traced back to the urban intellectuals and merchants of the European Enlightenment who believed that human ingenuity and organization were the critical forces in wealth creation and control. While wealth from colonized lands provided the material wealth for European expansion, cultural factors associated with religion (the Protestant reformation) and capitalism (sovereign corporations and modern banking) were critical in facilitating the process. Central to this thesis were the ideas of Adam Smith and others who eulogized the “invisible hand” of the market and castigated the medieval guild economies that Smith saw as impeding progress. The guilds regulated their respective trades or professions to maintain traditions and high standards of craft while controlling competition and discouraging radical innovation. The fact that the guild economies were adapted to the steady-state economy of the middle ages has escaped the notice of most of the academic cheerleaders for market-based economies of continuous growth.
Marx is of course the great ideological counterpoint to Smith’s adoration of the role of capital in creating wealth. Marx saw that human labor and cooperative capacity were the undervalued sources of wealth that capitalists exploited to convert natural resources to real wealth. I see Marxism and societies designed on Marxist principles – both mild and radical variants – as simply different expressions of this same tendency to believe that human labour, creativity and organization are the sources of wealth.
This faith in “human brilliance” in both its capitalist and socialist forms must be acknowledged as drivers of the growth in European economic power and organizational complexity that overpowered the older land-based feudal power.
...The IT revolution was the key factor in the final push towards a full spectrum globalized economy dominated by corporations, but it was the ballooning virtual economies of finance and investment services that benefited most from the IT revolution. While much was made of the individual and social network empowerment potential that eventually emerged after the turn of the millennium, vastly more IT capacity is taken up by porn than is used by wikipedia, and the breakdown of communities of place and isolation of individuals most likely exceeds the gains from the extraordinary but fragile network communities made possible by the internet. All of these processes expanded the power of money at the expense of awareness of the role of energy in feeding the machine of economic growth.
... It is clear enough that the dominance of the West over OPEC, Russia and the Central Asian republics reinforced the faith in the power of markets over crude resources from holes in the ground. In the 1990s analysis suggesting resource rich countries were more likely to have dysfunctional economies, corrupt governments and conflict than resource poor countries, was perversely interpreted as showing how marginal these resources were to the human progress. The alternative explanation, that this pattern reflected the hegemonic control of an oppressive geopolitical order by the resource consuming countries, was less widely acknowledged. Both interpretations reinforced faith in the power of human creativity and money over resource wealth.
This is part of a collective mythology of modernism, that wit and cunning (of the city trader) always outsmarts honest hard work (of the farmer).
Peak Oil and Resource Nationalism
The turn of the millennium saw new factors at work. Rising oil prices, increased gas production and dependence of European countries on Russian gas has provided a strong base for resurgent Russian economic and political power. Under Putin plundering of Russian resources by the oligarchs to feed the West was replaced by a resurgent Russian nationalism that shocked western corporations and media.
In the US, the Bush administration, controlled by oil men and military strategists, sidelined the diplomats and the bankers that held sway during the Clinton years with a renewed focus on control of the oil resources of the Middle East and the gas resources of Central Asia.
9/11 provided the green light to shock western democracies from their slothful assumption about resource security through total war. Judging by their actions, and various statements, it seems likely that many key advisors and actors in the Bush administration were better informed about the parlous prospects for global oil and gas production in the coming decades than the most gloomy and best informed of Peak Oil researchers and communicators to whom I was paying attention in the late 1990’s.
But to portray the Bush administration as just representing the forces of energetic realism would be false, because domestically, the “Mandarins” of Treasury and the Federal Reserve were freed to blow the most spectacular bubble economy in history. These masters of money created castles in the air of unprecedented proportions based on real estate speculation and consumption debt. The partial collapse of this bubble economy can be seen as the most important factor in the demise of Bush administration, rather than the loss of civil rights, or abuse of international law in pursuit of its fantastic “war on terror”. The timing of the collapse of the bubble economy acted to distract the media and the public from the likely concurrent peak of global oil production, and the contribution of oil (and other resource) price spikes to the global recession. ...
Permaculture: harmonizing energetic realism & design creativity
While my analysis of the more basic forces at work behind the current political machinations may be interesting, my purpose is not simply armchair analysis. The love of money and greed for energy are both monstrous cancers of our culture. We need to better understand both so we can predict their moves, and plan our own actions for resilient transition into a new culture not beholden to fossil energy or money. The idea that we have to choose between allying ourselves with either of the dangerous wounded monsters is a false choice.
My aim is to empower environmental activists, social entrepreneurs and humble householders to be most effective in three simultaneous domains of action.
- Help their families survive and thrive through turbulent times.
- Contribute to a better society than would otherwise have been the case.
- Contribute to the preservation and development of skills that will be useful to future generations grappling with the realities of energy descent.
The idea that we have to choose between allying ourselves with either of the dangerous wounded monsters in their life and death struggle for control of the declining era of fossil fuelled industrial culture, is a false choice. We should heighten our awareness of the nature of both of these monstrous cancers of our culture, so we can better predict their moves, and plan our own actions for resilient transition into a new culture not beholden to oil or money.
I see permaculture, especially when it is understood through its ethics and design principles, as providing a framework for creating that culture, based on the regenerated cycles of nature. Anyone who is familiar with permaculture ethics, design principles and strategies will understand that my equal rejection of the respective power from fossil energy, oil and money does not indicate that I see no useful core of truth in these primal tendencies driving our waning global industrial culture.
In using the term “energetic realism” to describe one of these forces, I am acknowledging see the living and non-living elements of Gaia as the foundation for any human wealth. Through my teaching of permaculture, I have always emphasised that fossil fuels are not bad, but a gift from nature, that we have wasted. Permaculture earthworks designs make use of the raw power of fossil fuelled machines to shape the land in ways that allow us , and future generation,to enhance the biological productivity of landscapes. We have the unique opportunity to use that fossil fuel to create those structures that future generations will be able to maintain (by hand if necessary).
In using the term “human brilliance” to describe the creativity that includes concepts as complex as money, I recognize acknowledge human creativity and flexibility to adapt to changing circumstance is the best asset we have. While we do not have the power to rewrite the laws of thermodynamics that limit and shape human realities, we do have a remarkable capacity to reshape our individual and collective conception of reality in ways that facilitate rather than hinder cultural evolution. Money is simply a collective mental construct that we can redesign from first principles to reflect energetic realities, ethical values and change.
The old saying that it is the love of money rather than money itself which is the source of evil in the world is worth repeating. that ye ou[You lost me here, ]This saying can be further interpreted to mean money that is arbitrarily created, without being tied to real wealth from nature, and that every day earns interest, that must be repaid by growth in our extraction of real wealth from nature, has embedded the love of money as central to our culture.
Permaculture strategies for creating household and community economies using gift, barter and simple non-interest bearing local currencies, are examples of how we can design new forms of money to allow appropriate exchange of goods and services in resilient and relocalized economies that will grow at the margins abandoned by the dinosaurs of the declining global industrial culture.
Let’s not waste our effort or emotions on hoping that either of the dinosaurs will save us; rather, let us get on with our tasks while we keep an eagle eye open for any threats from both fossil energy oil and money.
• A PDF of the complete article is available on David Holmgren's website in the "Writings" section.