Friday, February 22, 2008

Notes from a talk by David Holmgren

In August 2006 David Holmgren spoke at the local university. I went along and took notes... and then took those notes to heart.

They became the blueprint for how we prepared for peak oil.

Here is a copy of the notes I took - it was from his talk "Regional Sustainability in an Energy Descent Future"

One of the things he spoke about at length is the need for relocalisation and how Permaculture fits with that.

He spoke of the need for an ‘Earth stewardship scenario’ post peak oil – where we care for the natural resources of the Earth to ensure there will be enough bio physical resources for future generations. This isn’t some hippy dream – if we don’t have rainfall and living soil, we cannot produce food and the world will starve.

Care of the soil, water, air, plants… it all made so much sense and he presented such a positive scenario for the future, rather than the gloom and doom coming from our pollies, the media and science.

I made some notes and thought I’d add them to this site – they are paraphrased, I don’t do shorthand, but here they are…

The need for what he calls a ‘bottom-up’ movement in response to peak oil. Ideas and action coming from the grassroots in the community, rather than government. This mirrors what Professor Ian Lowe says – he uses the examples of the abolition of slavery, women’s right to vote and the inclusion of indigenous people in the Australian census as actions that have been driven by a groundswell in the community, not politicians.

Community gardens, Permaculture and organic gardening courses, networks, and sites just like this play a very important part in that movement.

A need for ‘connection’ and ‘transfer’ – bartering, knowing your neighbours, building networks within local communities, skills sharing.

He pointed out that rice uses 7459 litres of water per one dollar of value. Fruit and veg bought in the supermarket comes with a price tag of 103 litres of water per dollar value that you buy. He compared this with his own home food production which he has calculated to be about 20 litres of water per dollar value. Growing food at home saves water.

Holmgren also stated that the most energy efficient way to provide food security for the future was to learn how to grow food at home.

He urged us all to “resist the restriction of water use in home food production” – something I feel very strongly about.

Holmgren concluded his talk with an action plan of what we can all do to build more sustainability into our lives and ensure a better future post peak oil.

Network – for information and inspiration – Permaculture groups and community gardens are a great place to start.

Start producing your own (food, goods, services)and support local producers

Know your neighbours – establish bartering systems, LETS, PETS,

Teach children how to grow their own food (this is already well underway on the Sunshine Coast with lots of permaculture gardens in schools)

Reduce consumption – recycle, reduce, repair, reuse.. etc etc.

If you have extra space, take in a lodger, share your place, (also has economic benefits for you)

Share your car – car pool, organise a local group to share driving, make your trips count, do more than one thing on a trip

Work around impediments

Pay off your debts / work from home

Retrofit your home and garden for the post peak oil future, not for the $ value

Although Permaculture is so much more than gardening, Holmgren’s talk focused on food growing in the future as this is one thing that is not being addressed by governments in Australia. Apparently only South Australia’s sustainability planning includes any mention of food growing (then it is only two lines), no other State is preparing for the scenario of how we are going to eat when peak oil forces the price of fertilisers, refrigeration and transportation to affect the cost of food at the supermarket checkout.

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