Whether it is the most recent financial crisis, political instabilities or never ending environmental disasters, life in the 21st century has become a succession of calamities one after the other. This is further complicated by the fact that globalization has intertwined our economies to the extent that a crisis in one part of the planet could severely affect communities halfway around the world. The most recent drop in oil price is a perfect example of this interconnectedness. Recent changes in the output production of oil, made by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), have devastated the province of Alberta among other places. According to Alberta premier Jim Prentice, “Things have turned so dramatically that we’ve gone from a $1.5-billion surplus in November to what looks like a $500-million deficit based on today’s projections”(CBC News, 2014). In the face of such overwhelming challenges, not to mention the ever loom global crisis of climate change, many are beginning look to themselves and their local communities for long term viable alternative to meet their most basic of needs. One such approach has been the application of permaculture as a means of becoming self-sufficient and self-reliant.
So, What Exactly Is Permaculture?
The term was first coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the mid 1970s who saw the need to drastically change the way things were done. Their concerns grew from the understanding that our monocrop production methods, global environmental degradation and wasteful consumption habits were not sustainable and would eventually lead us to certain doom. Thus they came up with permaculture which was a meddling of “permanent agriculture” and “permanent culture” (Greyson, 2007). Permaculture can be defined as “the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and nonmaterial needs in a sustainable way” (About Permaculture, n.d).
Example of how permaculture can save the world
The second permaculture principle is energy cycling (Principles, n.d) and is concerned with the recycling of energy by capturing and storing this energy for use on site. The idea here is to mimic natural systems as close as possible so that energies that follow through a site can be utilized to perpetuate life. For example in nature, in autumn when leaves fall from a deciduous tree, they return back into the system through decomposition providing nutrients to insects and microbes. If we can recreate these natural cycles through permaculture design, then we can establish a system in which energy is cycled efficiently and requires minimal input.
Permaculture is catching on and it is spreading around the globe. Some people are going it alone and others are cooperating. So before you decide to surrender and give in to the world as it is today, give permaculture a try. What do you have to lose?
CBC News. Alberta now facing $500M deficit due to dropping oil prices. (2015, January 9).
Grayson, R. (2007, July 26). A short and incomplete history of permaculture. Retrieved, from http://pacific-edge.info/2007/07/a-short-and-incomplete-history-of-permaculture/
About Permaculture. (n.d). Retrieved, from http://www.permaculture.net/about/definitions.html
Principles. (n.d). Retrieved, from https://www.permaculture.org.uk/knowledge-base/principles