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From Oil Age to Soil Age

General Ideas

The Design Museum in London opens at its new home this week with, as its centrepiece, an exhibition called Fear and Love curated by Justin McGuirk. I contributed the following text to the book.

Schumacher Debra Solomon Tree copy

Above: Debra Solomon examines nature’s internet at Schumacher College in England)

Why we need a new story

In 1971 a geologist called Earl Cook evaluated the amount of energy ‘captured from the environment’ in different economic systems. Cook discovered then that a modern city dweller needed about 230,000 kilocalories per day to keep body and soul together. This compared starkly to a hunter-gatherer, 10,000 years earlier, who needed about 5,000 kcal per day to get by.

That gap, between simple and complex lives, has widened at an accelerating rate since Cook’s pioneering work. Once all the systems, networks and equipment of modern life are factored in – the cars, planes, factories, buildings, infrastructure, heating, cooling, lighting, food, water, hospitals, the internet of things, cloud computing – well, a New Yorker or Londoner today ‘needs’ about sixty times more energy and resources per person than a hunter-gatherer – and her appetite is growing by the day.

To put it another way: modern citizens today use more energy and physical resources in a month than our great-grandparents used during their whole lifetime.

It’s a shame, in retrospect, that Earl Cook’s easily-grasped comparison was overshadowed by the publication of Limits to Growth a year later. That book, based on a computer model at MIT, warned of environmental ‘overshoot and collapse’ if the perpetual growth economy continued unchecked.

The apocalyptic story in Limits generated plenty of fear – but it was also demoralising.

In the 45-year stream of films, books, and campaigns that followed its publication, the enormity of the challenges facing he planet contrasted starkly with the tiny actions proposed as a response.

Two simple examples: We were exhorted to take our shopping home in a reused plastic bag, and to feel good about doing so – only to be told later that the bag is responsible for about one-thousandth of the environmental footprint of the food it contains.

In the same spirit of every little helps, we were urged to turn off our phone chargers at night – and then it emerged that the energy thus saved was equivalent to driving a car for one second.

In retrospect, our design focus on messages and things distracted attention from the system behind the thing – the societal values, and economic structures, that shaped our behaviour in the first place. We committed to “do less harm” within a system that, because it must grow in order to survive, unavoidably does more harm as it does so.

This lesser-of-two evils approach has also compromised one of the alternative words to sustainability being proposed, resilience. Described by one commentator as “the ability to take a punch”, resilience planning has resolutely evaded an obvious question: “why did that guy – or system – punch you in the first place?”

The answer is an economic system whose core purpose is to produce, produce produce, and grow grow grow.

Signals of transformation

The good news is that, around the world, grassroots projects are proliferating that are shaped by a different logic. This global movement contains a million active groups – and rising.

Its ranks include energy angels, wind wizards, and watershed managers. There are bio-regional planners, ecological historians, and citizen foresters.

Alongside dam removers, river restorers, and rain harvesters, there are urban farmers, seed bankers, and master conservers. There are building dismantlers, office-block refurbishers, and barn raisers.

There are natural painters, and green plumbers. There are trailer-park renewers, and land-share brokers.

Their number includes FabLabs, hacker spaces, and the maker movement. The movement involves computer recyclers, hardware re-mixers, and textile upcyclers. It extends to local currency designers. There are community doctors. And elder carers. And ecological teachers.

Few of these groups are fighting directly for political power, or standing for election. They cluster, instead, under names like Transition Towns, Shareable, Peer to Peer, Open Source, Degrowth, Slow Food, Seed Freedom, or Buen Vivir.

These edge projects and networks, when you add them together, replace the fear that has so hampered the environmental movement with a story of love – a joyful new story about our place in the world.

In contrast to a global economy that degrades the land, biodiversity, and the people it touches, these projects signal a growing recognition that our lives are codependent with the plants, animals, air, water, and soils that surround us.

The philosopher Joanna Macy describes the appearance of this new story as the ‘Great Turning’ – and her voice is just one among many.

The Pope’s recent encyclical Laudato Si, for example, promotes the concept of ‘integral ecology’ – a reconnection between man and nature – to 1.2 billion readers.

The Pope’s transformational story has been echoed by the leaders of more than one billion Muslims, a billion Hindus, a billion Confucians, and 500 million Buddhists. The readership of these teachings adds up to 75 per cent of world’s population.

Of course, if everyone did what they were told by religious leaders, there’d be no sin in the world – and we’re not there yet. But a paradigm shift in science is adding secular credibility to this new story.

In studies at multiple scales – from sub-microscopic viruses, and slime molds, to trees and climate systems, the story is consistent: The essence of plants, animals, air, water, and the soils is to be in relationship with other life forms —including us.

A single teaspoon of garden soil, it;’s been shown, may contain thousands of species, a billion individuals, and one hundred metres of fungal networks – and this hidden world does not stop there.

Microbiology permeates other ecosystems, too – including our own bodies. As in the soil, so too in our stomachs, bacteria break down organic matter into absorbable nutrients. In the case of plants, nutrients are made available to through their vast surface area of root systems in the topsoil and rhizosphere.

For Patrick Holden, the healthy topsoil, thriving with microorganisms, which covers much of the land’s surface, is in effect the “collective stomach of all plants”.

Every action we take – from feeding soil bacteria and fungi with composts or manures, to the timing of grazing and cultivation – can enhance or diminish soil life.

And because microbial processes are inter-connnected, the health of the soil, and our own heath, are part of a single story, too.

From parts, to wholes

It’s one thing for Popes and soil scientists to tell us to care for living systems – but is asking city dwellers to empathise with earthworms too big an ask? Fewer than half of us ever see or touch soil, after all.

For long time, I harboured just those misgivings – until I had an epiphany on an island in Sweden.

soil-tasting B

Fifty designers, artists and architects, gathered together for a summer workshop, were asked to explore two questions: What does this island’s food system taste like? and, How does this forest think?

My concern that living soil would not engage designers proved unfounded. It was like pushing at an open door:

Having scrabbled around the forest of Grinda like so many voles, they then staged a Soil Tasting Ceremony in which infusions from ten different berries on the island were displayed in wine glasses next to soil samples taken from each plant’s location. We were then invited to compare the tastes of the teas and soils in silence. It was a powerful moment.

Systems thinking, it seems, becomes truly transformational when combined with systems feeling – which is something we all crave.’ “We yearn for connection with one another, and with the soul,’ writes Alastair McIntosh, ‘but we forget that, like the earthworm, we too are an organism of the soil. We too need grounding”.

This lesson works surprisingly well in city design.

When this writer meets with city planners or managers, we always start with two questions: “Do you know where your next lunch will come from?” and, “Do you know if that place is healthy – or not?”

These questions help shift the design focus from the dry subject of public service delivery towards a whole-system concern with the health of places that keep the city fed and watered.

Within this frame, the health of farm communities, their land, watersheds, and biodiversity, become integral aspects of the city’s future prosperity, too.

A focus on living systems acknowledges that we live among watersheds, foodsheds, fibersheds, and food systems – not just in cities, towns, or ‘the countryside’.

With food, especially, the opaque subject of living systems finally makes sense.

The presence of good bread – and the microbial vitality bread making invokes – is an especially reliable indicator that a city’s food system is healthy.

In dozens of major cities, real bread pioneers are creating shorter grain chains by connecting together a multiutude of local actors in ways that reduce the distance between where grain is grown, and the bread consumed: urban farmers, seed bankers, food hubs, farmers markets, local mills and processing facilities.

In London, Brockwell Bake grows heritage wheat on allotments, in school and community gardens, and with farmers close to the city. As this lattice-work of activity, infrastructure, and skills connects up, regional ‘grain sheds’ are beginning to take shape.

New distribution platforms pay an especiay important role. La Ruche Qui Dit Oui for example – ‘The Hive that Says Yes’ – is the brainchild of a French industrial designer and chef, Guilhem Cheron. La Ruche combines the power of the internet with the energy of social networks to bridge the gap that now separates small-scale food producers from their customers.

When someone starts a local hive, she recruits neighbours, friends, and family to join – the ideal number seems to be thirty to fifty members – and the group then looks for local food producers to work with. These farmers offer their products online at a desired price, and hive members pay 20 per cent on top that to cover a fee for the hive coordinator, a service fee to La Ruche, plus taxes and banking costs.

La Ruche makes money as a platform provider, but it is not an intermediary: the farmer receives the price asked for, and the system is fully transparent; everyone involved knows what happens to every cent transacted.

In food platforms such as La Ruche, the focus is not just on production; they embody a whole systems approach in which the interests of farm communities and local people, the land, watersheds, and biodiversity, are considered together – with stewardship as a shared value.

A focus on food systems leads to a new design agenda for cities. New kinds of enterprise are needed: food co-ops, community kitchens, neighbourhood dining, edible gardens, food distribution platforms.

New sites of social creativity are needed: craft breweries, bake houses, productive gardens, cargo bike hubs, maker spaces, recycling centres, and the like. Business support is needed for platform co-ops that enable shelter, transportation, food, mobility, water, elder care to be provided collaboratively – and in which value is shared fairly with the people who make them valuable.

Technology has an important role to play as the infrastructure needed for these new social relationships to flourish; mobile devices and the internet of things are valuable to the extent that they make it easier for local groups to share equipment and common space, or manage trust in decentralised ways.

The most important technologies are more earthly than virtual – those to do with the restoration of soils, watersheds and damaged land. The ClimateTECHwiki lists 260 promising techniques –from beach nourishment, to urban forestry.

From soil to skin

Clothes, are another daily life necessity in which alternative forms of design and production are emerging.

Thanks to the tireless work of activists and researcherss, millions of people are now aware of the harm wrought by textiles and fashion as industrial systems – from energy and water use, to soil depletion, waste, and toxic outputs from materials manufacturing.

But athough the fashion industry – famously sensitive to consumer attitudes – has developed sophisticated ways to measure these social and environmental impacts, exhortations to ‘buy less, wash less’ have proved ineffective, on their own, in an economy whose financial DNA compels it to grow at all costs.

Not a single fashion brand has told its customers to buy less.

Chastened, but not defeated, the new approach is to grow alternative networks at the edges of the mainstream fashion system. In California, for example, a project called Fibershed links together the different actors and technical components of a bioregional ecosystem: animals, plants and people, skills, spinning wheels, knitting needles, floor looms.

For Fibershed’s founder Rebecca Burgess, the priority to integrate vertically – ‘rom soil to skin’.

By design, the health of soils is an integral part of this whole systems approach. Rather than constantly drive the land to yield more fiber per acre, Lynda Grose helps farmers match production to the capacities of the land whose health and carrying capacity is constantly monitored; in this way, decisions are made by the people who work the land and know it best, and fiber prices are based on yields the land can bear, and on revenues that assure security to the farmer.

‘Growth’ is measured in terms of land, soil, and water getting healthier, and communities more resilient.

A new story of place

The design world has innovated a raft of alternative methods and frameworks as replacements for industrial mass production; they have names like cradle-to-cradle, natural step, living buildings, resilience planning, biomimicry, the circular economy., the symbiotic economy.

Although welcome, these approaches are limited by a persistent bind-spot: They take the ‘needs of the present’’ – and the economic system that currently meets them – as their starting point, and proceed from there. (Brundtland Commission definition 1987).

Globalisation, in particular, distracted us from a fundamental design principle: complex phenomena cannot be isolated from their context – and no two places on the planet are the same.

As explained by Joel Glansberg, a pioneer of regenerative design, ecological systems, through the forces of their geology, hydrology, and biotic communities, organize themselves around certain identifiable patterns that are unique to each place.

Social and cultural systems are part of the same story. Woven over time through human settlement, they too are shaped by the ecology of the landscape.

If the regeneration of social and ecological assets cannot be practised remotely, our design focus needs to shift from things, to connections – especially the connections between people and natural systems in places which have a shared meaning and importance – such as the bioregion.

A bioregion maps the abstract concepts of sustainability, or a ‘living economy’, to the real world. ‘The economy’ becomes a place, and the urban landscape is re-imagined as an ecology with the potential to support us: the soils, trees, animals, landscapes, energy systems, water and energy sources on which all life depends.

A bioregional approach, which nurtures the health of the ecosystem as a whole, attends to flows, bio-corridors, and interactions – inside cities, as well as in the countryside. It thinks about metabolic cycles and the ‘capillarity’ of the metropolis wherein rivers and biocorridors are given pride of place.

A number of design tasks follow from this approach. Maps of a bioregion’s ecological assets are needed: its geology and topography; its soils and watersheds; its agriculture and biodiversity. The collaborative monitoring of living systems needs to be designed – from soil health to air quality – and ways found to observe the interactions among them, and create feedback channels.

Many of these tasks entail diverse disciplines collaborating together – with design as the ‘glue’ that holds them together.

The reconnection of cities to their bioregion – their ‘re-wilding’ – is not much about the creation of wide open spaces and new parks; it’s more about patchworks, mosaics, and archipelagos.

When parks were built in past centuries they were called the ‘green lungs’ of towns. Decades of over-development have put an end to those expansive days; this new approach is all about nurturing patches, some of them tiny, and linking them together.

There are cemeteries, watercourses, avenues, gardens, and yards to adapt. There are roadside verges, green roofs, and facades to plant. Sports fields, vacant lots, abandoned sites, and landfills can be repurposed.

Abandoned buildings and ruins, empty malls, and disused airports need to be adapted – not to mention the abandoned aircraft that, before too long, will be parked there.

In Vienna, the design firm Biotope City develops ‘micro green spaces’ that transform neighbourhoods. And in the Jaeren region of Norway whose landscape has been battered by the footprint of the oil economy, the architect Knut Erik Dahl teaches young designers to look for and appreciate the tiniest examples of biological life in among the people, goods, and buildings: solitary plants, rare lichen, rare insects. It’s low-cost, hands-on work. They call it ‘dirty sustainability’.

In a project called Dartia, a coalition of statutory organisations and local people are stewarding the Dart Valley bioregion in South Devon. Based on a detaied scientific analysis of the river’s social and ecological assets by the West Country Rivers Trust, Dartia coordinates diverse physical activities such as the repair of river banks; monitoring what’s being put down drains; and the creation of rain gardens that use storm water run-off.

The health soils near the river, and flora and fauna, are monitored. Drinking water purification stations are being established. Access access to the water is being improved for kayaks, and restricted for cows. A wondrous variety of rivershed stakeholders are working together: a large estate; farms; a water treatment plant; a plant nursery; a pub; a supermarket; a restaurant; a school; house and boat owners; a dock, and more. The Guild helps the region’s citizens see Dartia through new eyes and generate new ways to realise its contribution to a local living economy.

A care economy

In the new economy that’s now emerging care – for the wellbeing of social and ecological systems – replaces money as the ultimate measure of value.

Growth, in this care economy, takes on new meaning as the improved health of soils, plants, animals – and people. And because the health of all living beings is the property of unique social and ecological context, the innovation we do is necessarily situated.

Money will not disappear as this new economy unfolds – but it will only part of the picture. in the care-based economy that’s existed throughout human history, relatively few of the ways we’ve looked after each other, and the land, involved paid-for work; trust between people, commoning, and shared ownership, and networked models of care, were just as important – and will be again.

The notion of a care economy can sound poetic, but vague. Where, you may ask, is its manifesto? Who is in charge?

These are old-fashioned questions. The account given by Joanna Macy – of a quietly unfolding transformation – is consistent with the way scientists, too, explain how complex systems change.

By their account, a variety of changes, interventions, disruptions, and oppositions accumulate across time until the system reaches a tipping point: then, at a moment that cannot be predicted, a small release of energy triggers a much larger release, or phase shift, and the system as a whole transforms.

This between-two-worlds period of history contains myriad details of an emerging economy in which the very word ‘development’ takes on a profoundly different meaning.

Its core value is stewardship, rather than extraction. It is motivated by concern for future generations, not by what ‘the market’ needs in the next months. It cherishes qualities found in the natural world, thanks to millions of years of natural evolution. It also respects social practices – some of them very old ones – learned by other societies and in other times.

This new kind of development is not backwards looking; it embraces technological innovations, too – but with a different mental model of what they should be used for.

With every action we take, however small – each one a new way to feed, shelter, and heal ourselves, in partnership with living systems – the easier it becomes. Another world is not just possible. It is happening, now.

The above text is published in Fear and Love. It edited by Justin McGuirk to accompany his major exhibition at the Design Museum whose new home opens in Kensington, London, this week.

Fear and Love exhibition catalogue, with essays by @bruces @johnthackara @SaskiaSassen JM Ledgard and others. Design by @OK_RM


Doors of Perception

18 Comments on "From Oil Age to Soil Age"

  1. Revi on Mon, 12th Dec 2016 2:36 pm 

    Great article!

  2. Survivalist on Mon, 12th Dec 2016 2:43 pm 

    Here’s an interesting survival skills podcast for those interested

  3. makati1 on Mon, 12th Dec 2016 5:50 pm 

    It will definitely be “oil to soil” as most of the seven plus billion humans will return to the soil in the next few decades. Under it, that is.

    I scrolled to the bottom to see who wrote this verbiage before I started to read. Glad I did. More dreams from the unicorn hugging, feel good crowd. Didn’t bother to read more than the first few paragraphs.

    I wonder if they feel guilty about taking money for this stuff? Nah! The gullible will lap it up like they do all the other feel good propaganda ideas. Red herrings as the world dies. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  4. Davy on Mon, 12th Dec 2016 6:33 pm 

    This stuff idefinitely matters and is profoundly important. Yet, we must scale it and place it in its proper dimension. In the big picture it is insignificant and dwarfed by our modern industrial world. This existential meaning related in this article only has meaning and force becuase of the status quo. Nothing today self-replicates outside of our modern system. We destroyed that world. Even small oasis of sapience exist becuase of the security found from a functional status quo.

    That said and understood we can then say this movement is the seeds for who comes after modern man. These people are the monks of human survival and their knowledge the monastery. We live in the here and now clouded with fantasy of the future from our large brain. If we can somehow come to terms with the future and live now these attitudes and lifestyles represent what is truly human. They represent what came before us and much of which was rejected in the name of progress and efficiency. We must return to our roots if we want to save what is left of our species. If what is left is only our sanity becuase we are gazing into the abyss of extinction then that is a worthy enough reason.

  5. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 3:21 am 

    The earth can be saved by having more backyard garbage fires. This avoids the need to truck the garbage long distances, or use rail transport.

    There are too many old soda pop plastic bottles, mattresses, old televisions, and La-Z-Boy recliners.

    The ashes, laden with leftover plasticizer chemicals, will be good for nourishing the soil.

  6. Hubert on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 3:53 am 

    Our world is coming to an End much quicker than we think.

  7. makati1 on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 5:10 am 

    Hubert, we are on the hockey stick part of the extinction graph. Deniers like to think some humans will survive the coming cliff. Climate change says they won’t. Or not for long.

    I bet there would have been some dinosaurs who also thought they would be around for another 150 million years. That is, if they had the brain power to think. Which they did not.

    The die off has already begun. Longevity in the U$ is already decreasing and will decrease faster and faster as living conditions get more difficult. Murders will increase. Suicide will increase. Death from disease and drugs will increase. Food and water will be less and less safe as governments stop inspecting and enforcing standards. And on and on…

  8. makati1 on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 5:18 am 

    “The impact of four degree temperature rise”

    “Met Office Hadley Centre’s HadCM3 computer model and shows that the 4C rise would not be spread uniformly across the globe. … These projections demonstrated that the land would heat up more quickly than the sea whilst high latitudes, particularly the Arctic, would have greater temperature increases. In this case, the average land temperature increase would be 5.5C”

    “U.S. death rate increases for first time in two decades, as overdoses, car crashes, gun deaths rise”

    ” Life expectancy in the United States fell last year for the first time since 1993, as a record high was seen in deaths from drug overdoses, along with disturbing spikes in car crash fatalities, and gun-related homicides and suicides.

    From 2014 to 2015, the age-adjusted death rate for the total population increased 1.2 percent. … Most of the retreat in life expectancy came from increases in deaths from heart disease, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and suicide, according to the CDC. Those causes, along with cancer, influenza and pneumonia, are the leading causes for death in the U.S., responsible for about three out of every four fatalities.

    The total number of fatal drug overdoses increased by 11 percent last year to a record of 52,404, fueled by what is an epidemic of opioid use, both of prescription painkillers and heroin.

    Fatal ODs’s surpassed the number of car crash fatalities, which increased 12 percent to nearly 38,000. Deaths from car crashes, which had been declining for four decades, in 2015 saw the biggest increase in 50 years.

    Deaths from gunshot, self-inflicted or otherwise, were close behind car-related deaths, increasing 7 percent to more than 36,000.”

    And the beat goes on…

  9. Cloggie on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 5:30 am 

    Massive increase life expectancy in the Netherlands…

    …and world wide:

    A Dutch 2016 new born life expectancy:

    girl: 93
    boy: 90

    Further increase of 3-4 years expected.


    girl: 74
    boy: 69

  10. Cloggie on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 5:43 am 

    Met Office Hadley Centre’s HadCM3 computer model and shows that the 4C rise

    For $40,000 I’ll write a computer model that predicts 10C increase. Or any other on-demand temperature increase.

  11. makati1 on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 6:26 am 

    Cloggie, you really need professional help before you hurt someone. They lock people away that are more sane than you. You are so delusional you make Boat look like Einstein.

  12. makati1 on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 6:41 am 

    Just for you, Cloggie:

    “In the Netherlands, a state-funded hotline, run by the anti-discrimination bureau MiND, said that it could not act on a complaint about death threats against homosexuals posted to an online forum, in which the Muslim poster called for homosexuals to be “burned, decapitated and slaughtered.” The reason why this anti-discrimination watchdog group could not act on the complaint was that, “The remarks must be seen in the context of religious beliefs in Islam, which juridically takes away the insulting character.” MiND concluded that the remarks were made in

    “the context of a public debate about how to interpret the Quran… some Muslims understand from the Quran that gays should be killed… In the context of religious expression that exists in the Netherlands there is a large degree of freedom of expression. In addition, the expressions are used in the context of the public debate (how to interpret the Koran), which also removes the offending character.”

    So, while Geert Wilders was prosecuted in the Netherlands for talking about “fewer Moroccans” during an election campaign, a state-funded watchdog group says that threatening homosexuals with burning, decapitation and slaughter is just fine, so long as it is Muslims who are making those threats, as the Quran tells them that such behavior is mandated. This might be one of the most astounding examples of voluntary submission to sharia law in the West thus far.”

  13. Cloggie on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 7:36 am 

    Cloggie, you really need professional help before you hurt someone. They lock people away that are more sane than you. You are so delusional you make Boat look like Einstein.

    You said I was on your ignore list, I told you I wasn’t. So who was right?

    You once asked rhetorically: “what is wrong with communism”. So you basically support a system where people were locked away because they didn’t comply with the party line, in your case that would be the climate religion party line.

    I know that you want to see me locked up (not going to happen). The idea of a discussion forum is not to throw threats around, but to argue.

    So, since you are from Manila, I am going to make the point once again, this time slowly:

    where – exactly – am – I – delusional?

  14. Cloggie on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 7:49 am 

    Regarding your reference to these leftist Mind clowns…

    I never said that being a member of the US empire didn’t suck big time. But I guarantee you: it won’t be long until every leftist official who was once loyal to the pre-Trump US will be rammed down the political status ladder a rung or two, in the best case, exactly how these USSR vassals in Eastern Europe were treated after 1989. I only have to read your posts to learn that you think that the US empire is about to implode, right? And every broken clock is right twice a day.

    Regarding these Sharia clowns, I must remember you that we Europeans are very good at putting folks on the train who we don’t like, a vigor you folks can only dream about (the reason why you had to flee to the Ps to escape the coming civil war in the first place). We did it to the chaps who wanted to impose communism on us and we’ll do it again to the folks who want to impose Sharia law on us.

    We in Holland already make fun of the coming “Islam uitzwaaidag”:

    (Islam waving goodbye day)

    If you are on the lookout for a good investment opportunity, I would advice shares Orient Express:

    (especially third class personal transport)

  15. JuanP on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 8:05 am 

    “… a New Yorker or Londoner today ‘needs’ about sixty times more energy and resources per person than a hunter-gatherer – and her appetite is growing by the day.
    To put it another way: modern citizens today use more energy and physical resources in a month than our great-grandparents used during their whole lifetime.”

    I reached the third paragraph and realized this guy was lost in his own mumbo jumbo and couldn’t tell a month from a year. Things are not as complicated as this guy thinks they are. No need to write a book. There are too many people in the world and we consume too many resources and produce too much waste. Wow, it took me a whole sentence to explain our problem! I guess I will never write a book then. If you have a lot of free time and nothing better to do then buy this guy’s book.

  16. paulo1 on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 10:26 am 

    Juan pretty much nailed it. This guy is beyond out of touch. My relatives were all farmers. Somehow, I can’t see them meeting and tasting the soil. They were too busy working their asses off trying to survive and put clothes on their kids.

    When industrialisation collapses so will most of us. Hopefully, it will be a slow process with a bit of time and room for adjustment. We grow our own vegetables big time, heat with wood, and catch mucho fish. Along with growing chickens and layers, we could probably delay starvation for awhile. We do have a lot of potatos. We also have the land paid for, building skills and tools, and time to putter about doing so, plus pensions that pay the bills. But lets not delude oursleves into thinking this is sustainability. It is a good lifestyle but one hell of a lot of work for very very little return. It works only because of our pensions.

    This year I was going to purchase a side of grass-fed beef from our valley’s one and only local beef producer. He works his land with his brother. They both have full-time jobs; one drives a logging truck and the other is a school bus driver and school custodian. When I logged on to their website to put in my order, I got as far as page three where the price was listed at $5.90/lb. I had planned to buy the side and parcel it out to family as a kind of an add-on to Christmas. Not at $5.90 per lbs. Plus, they basically mine the soil by haying fields and other people’s fields and never spreading manure. The fields are gradually declining. I figure when these guys are a few more years older (they are both in their mid sixties), that will be the end of local beef production in our valley.

    We used to raise sheep on our property. Katahdins. Predation from cougars put an end to that, though. We locked them up at night, and cougars would get them in the day or tear apart the gates to get in.

    I somehow don’t think my work clothes would make it from loom to closet. I guess we could sit around and make parafin sand candles and drink herbal tea everynight and talk about this stuff. I can’t see it happening in LA.

  17. antaris on Tue, 13th Dec 2016 11:19 am 

    Paulo, in LA it will be guns and roses, er sorry, dandelions.

  18. oracle on Wed, 14th Dec 2016 9:09 am 

    “The good news is that, around the world, grassroots projects are proliferating…”

    The bad news is that, no matter what we do, the planet is going back to only about one billion humans, if we’re lucky.

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