Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

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daylen
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by daylen » Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:03 am

Rainwater harvesting can sustain small-scale, permaculture-like farming in many places. This does not add water to the system, but adding a reservoir flattens the distribution of water supply over the yearly cycle.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:24 am

@daylen:

Right. I would further note that it is not entirely sensible to transfer metrics from one system such as conventional agriculture, or high-tech hydroponics to another system such as permaculture. For instance, when you compare water usage in high tech hydroponics to water usage in permaculture system, you need to include the water necessary to produce/depreciate all the high tech components of the system. Otherwise, it is kind of analogous to 100 Item Minimalist Lifestyle in terms of hidden dependencies. Another example would be confounding the water usage of free range hogs in a permaculture orchard with water usage of factory raised hogs in a more conventional setting.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:12 am

@7w5

I read the one straw revolution. Same problem as all the other permaculture stuff. Great system thinking about his fields, no understanding of anything outside his fields, wrong about economics, and his success is based on slave la..., Eh hem, student and volunteer labor.

The "industry won't listen to my brilliant plan" motif works to sell books. But if industry won't listen, it's because your system isn't better. If it were, your system will change industry.

I'm not sure substituting labor for tractors is a better way to feed people. It's different, and it will be handy when we stop our current practices, but better is just a value judgement, until you can get better results.

What permies need is a team of engineers, a few billion dollars for development, and a budget to build the systems to do things the way they want, without simply replacing tractors with labor.

Otherwise, all you are doing is paving the way back to serfdom.

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daylen
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by daylen » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:37 am

Riggerjack wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:12 am
What permies need is a team of engineers, a few billion dollars for development, and a budget to build the systems to do things the way they want, without simply replacing tractors with labor.

Otherwise, all you are doing is paving the way back to serfdom.
Permaculture is basically an ethic that promotes small and diverse operations. It is no wonder that permaculture cannot compete with our current system.

Perhaps the way is already paved for serfdom, and permaculture is the best option available when the tractors start to fail.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:58 am

Perhaps the way is already paved for serfdom, and permaculture is the best option available when the tractors start to fail.
Could be. In which case, I have a hard time getting excited about it.

If it's not better, just different, why should anyone care?

A system is better, in the ways it is better. Permaculture seems to be trying to ensure the future nobility has a more stable set of practices to more firmly tie the serfs to the land.

Maybe that will lead to less conflict, but I doubt it.

When the efficiency gains of permaculture allow one to feed oneself and another in under 1000 man hours per year from a wheelchair, then I will be interested. We seem to be going the other way, though.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:00 am

Riggerjack wrote:I'm not sure substituting labor for tractors is a better way to feed people. It's different, and it will be handy when we stop our current practices, but better is just a value judgement, until you can get better results.
I don't entirely disagree. I would just note that "better" very much depends on what results you are measuring, and your choice of which results to measure very much depends on your values. In fact, the desire to have a straight-forward metric is in itself reflective of all the values associated with "modern" perspective.

That said, one of the 12 Principles of Permaculture is "Obtain a Yield" AKA "You Can't Work on an Empty Stomach." However, I will concede that it is one of the principles most likely to be ignored in much current practice. It is much more difficult to try to create and maintain a complex system through use of all 12 Principles, but I absolutely believe that over the long run it is better practice than simple adoption of "Maximize Current Yield" or "Maximize Current Efficiency."

Also, I don't give a fig about convincing industry about anything, except to the extent that I do not wish to see other humans suffer when it inevitably fails due to mathematically known ghosts in the machine. I wish I could explain better, but I only understand enough of the math myself to know that it is correct.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:42 am

Okay, I can't stop myself, so I am going to try to explain how permaculture can be more efficient. If you know what you are doing, it can be very easy to grow or gather mixed greens for your dinner salad within barefoot travel distance from your kitchen sink. When you have that knowledge or skill, it becomes very inefficient to get in your car, drive 2.5 miles and buy a bag of salad greens instead.

A big centralized agricultural system is really no different than a big centralized governmental system. When a big centralized agricultural system is combined with a big centralized governmental system the result is school children being fed free snack plastic wrapped nutri-muffins. When small intelligent, agile agricultural system is combined with small, intelligent, agile governmental (authority) system, I smile when the street urchin who is helping me in my garden, eats some fresh raspberries.But, that doesn't mean that my system is necessarily dependent on organizing street urchin labor. It just does a better job of following another principal of permaculture which is Make the Problem Its Own Solution.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:53 am

@7w5

I understand your math, and your concern. I am speaking more of the general permie culture.

I grew up with mother Earth news, and homesteading fantasies. But homesteading hasn't changed much since the 80's. It's still the same fantasy of freedom meets the reality of lots of hard work. And the sellers of that fantasy haven't been very truthful about the work part, and those that bought into the dream aren't loud about their failures, because people don't like to admit failure, and they don't want to break faith with the rest of the dreamers.

I love the dream, but this is no way to make it a reality.

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daylen
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by daylen » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:15 pm

Sure, there will always be work. Individual skill is the primary factor for efficiency, and the spectrum is wide.

mature food forest + experienced individual + systems thinking = excess yield + part-time job

raw land + inexperienced individual = negative yield + full-time job

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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:40 pm

@Riggerjack:

I think if you spent some time reading on Paul Wheaton's Permie Forum, you would discover that there is a huge variety of people and perspectives on the practice. Some of the folk there are very much hard-nosed pragmatists,whereas others are a bit more woo-woo spiritual minded. I am, obviously, more the type who spends too much of her time expanding her model to include the entire universe, and not enough time actually digging potatoes. Luckily, I managed to round up a project partner who is more inclined towards results over theory-lol. Our joke is that if he hadn't come along, I would have been forever stuck at Principle 1- Carefully Observe What Already Exists in Your System. OTOH, I am the partner who is more likely to know all the reasons why we shouldn't clear out most of the borage from the hugelbed near the Alpine Strawberries, and I can even attempt explanation without resorting to use of words like "Stupid-Head-Boy." So, I am fairly confident that there will be something resembling an actual reasonably successful system in place by Harvest 2022, although it will not be as ideal as the ever-expanding design in my head.

I should note that although one of the criteria I set for success of system is that yield should be obtained at reasonable hourly wage rate equivalent for me, that does NOT in any way mean that anybody/anywhere could simply copy my system with same results, and it also does not in any way mean that the system is infinitely straight-forwardly scale-able. This is because knowledge, skills and experience of humans engaged in the system MUST be part of the system. For instance, anybody/anywhere hoping to create successful permaculture would have to be as well able to identify a self-seeded tomato within a patch of borage, and thousands of equivalent tasks. The upside is you won't be just a cog in a machine. The downside is that you absolutely can't be just a cog in a machine. Mindless manual labor is NOT what permaculture promotes for anybody.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:46 pm

@daylen:

Thank you for expressing in much more succinct form.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:20 pm

@ daylen and 7w5

I think we are pretty close to agreement, and any further criticism I may have should be expressed as a demonstration. That should keep everyone safe from me for a few decades, I'm thinking. :lol:

Augustus
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by Augustus » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:02 pm

What you're all really saying, is that we need to figure out how to make a star trek replicator. Problem solved at that point. I hope someone somewhere is working on that.

Edit: I hope these guys aren't full of shit: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericmack/2 ... 077aef520f

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Can permaculture feed 7.5 billion people and counting?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:45 am

@Augustus:

Here's another article on another alternative process with a helpful diagram.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/06/ ... oxide-fuel

The problem is that there is never such thing as a free lunch, and the factor that is most usually neglected in the discussion, especially when coming from a source such as Forbes, is the cost of I=intelligence/information/innovation. Let's say you could design a series of perfect filters, perhaps imagined to be like a very deep fan of crystalline punch cards, and the wind would push the air through the filter and drops of liquid fuel would emerge at the other end. Still, the energy necessary to create the filter, and the rate of degradation of the information stored in the filter would have to be taken into account.

If the problem is how to feed 10 billion humans, then a system that makes some use of the intelligence of all or most of these humans, might be preferable to a system that only makes use of the intelligence of a small fraction of these humans.

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