Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order.
We should not be living in human communities that enclose tiny preserved ecosystems within them. Human communities should be maintained in small population enclaves within linked wilderness ecosystems. No human community should be larger than 20,000 people and separated from other communities by wilderness areas. Communication systems can link the communities.
The nuclear peril is usually seen in isolation from the threats to other forms of life and their ecosystems, but in fact it should be seen at the very center of the ecological crisis, as the cloud-covered Everest of which the more immediate, visible kinds of harm to the environment are the mere foothills.
Elizabeth Rothra's excellent biography of Charles Torrey Simpson restates his philosophies about the intrinsic value of natural ecosystems like the Everglades. No one knew better than he the history of the plants and animals of South Florida or conveyed it with more humor and enthusiasm.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas
to undertake a gargantuan task: calculate the value of all the services provided by all the ecosystems, from the forest to the floodplains to the open ocean, across the world... they came up with a number- $33 trillion a year- a headline-grabbing figure that was almost twice the global gross national product.
What they [psychedelics] cause is what I'm advocating, a fundamental revaluation of cultural values, because culture as we're practicing it currently is causing a lot of pain to a lot of people, and animals, and ecosystems, none of whom were ever allowed to vote on whether they wanted this process to go in this direction.
We are the canaries in the mine. If we go, the last ecosystems go. So does the wisdom of how to sustain resources, live in balance with nature, and create communities based on cooperation, not competition. I think the rest of the world is searching for these values. I know we're here to share them. But we can only share them if we're here.
Your immune systems are comprised of all parts of the eco-system you know as yourself, and include not only every part of you, from your conscious and subconscious thoughts to your physical body systems, but also how you live and function in relationship with the larger ecosystems that surround you.
Robin Rose Bennett
The "developed" nations had given to the "free market" the status of a god, and were sacrificing to it their farmers, farmlands, and communities, their forests, wetlands, and prairies, their ecosystems and watersheds. They had accepted universal pollution and global warming as normal costs of doing business.
It's upsetting to me that so many people think of themselves as environmentalists and still eat meat and dairy products. I think it's something people should be considering given the emergency situation we're in regarding water supplies, global warming, and the destruction of ecosystems. There's a lot of overlap between animal rights and the environment.
We are surrounded by a lot of failed ecosystems; the moon being one, Mars, Venus. There 's evidence of water on Mars and rivers and it didn 't take. Also, we have planets to guard us like Jupiter and Saturn that take the hits of the comets. It is miraculous that we exist on this planet, that it took.
The realizations of anarchist ideas and practices are like sociopolitical ecosystems. Local versions resemble each other, but they are endlessly adaptive and everywhere different to meet their needs in their environments. Anarchism can be adapted to meet the culture, economics, ecology, and politics of various people or communities. That's the beauty of it.
Each of these [bacterial] species are masterpieces of evolution. Each has persisted for thousands to millions of years. Each is exquisitely adapted to the environment in which it lives, interlocked with other species to form ecosystems upon which our own lives depend in ways we have not begun even to imagine.
E. O. Wilson
One species on the planet, and one species only, has reached the point of being able to have an impact on the evolutionary fortunes of all other species and upon the functioning of all ecosystems. We also have, in a way that is not true for any other species, a relationship to the planet as a whole and to the future. We live with all life.
Walter Truett Anderson
Even if we act immediately, the world is doomed to lose many of its animal and plant species and this inturn will reduce the ability of ecosystems to deliver vital services to human populations. The Red List gives all of us a practical tool for raising awareness of the biodiversity crisis and for forging new partnerships within the international community.
I think one of the most important investments an organization like TNC [The Nature Conservancy] can make is in helping build local capacity - supporting the growth of a global network of small community-based entities. Help people who live within critical ecosystems help themselves and their neighbors to design a better future relationship between themselves and their natural resources.
The dominant culture eats entire biomes. No, that is too generous, because eating implies a natural biological relationship. This culture doesn't just consume ecosystems, it obliterates them, it murders them, one after another. This culture is an ecological serial killer, and it's long past time for us to recognize the pattern.
In other words, people should be placed in parks within ecosystems instead of parks placed in human communities. We need vast areas of the planet where humans do not live at all and where other species are free to evolve without human interference. We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion.
We don't think a sustainable society need be stagnant, boring, uniform, or rigid. It need not be, and probably could not be, centrally controlled or authoritarian. It could be a world that has the time, the resources, and the will to correct its mistakes, to innovate, to preserve the fertility of its planetary ecosystems. It could focus on mindfully increasing quality of life rather than on mindlessly expanding material consumption and the physical capital stock.
Whether we accept it or not, this will likely be the century that determines what the optimal human population is for our planet. It will come about in one of two ways: Either we decide to manage our own numbers, to avoid a collision of every line on civilization's graph - or nature will do it for us, in the form of famines, thirst, climate chaos, crashing ecosystems, opportunistic disease, and wars over dwindling resources that finally cut us down to size.
Humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel. This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth.
What we contemplate here is more than ecological restoration; it is the restoration of relationship between plants and people. Scientists have made a dent in understanding how to put ecosystems back together, but our experiments focus on soil pH and hydrology-matter, to the exclusion of spirit. We might look to the Thanksgiving Address for guidance on weaving the two. We are dreaming of a time when the land might give thanks for the people.
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Lack of accountability weakens the environmental and health rights of citizens; it damages peace- building and reconciliation initiatives; impedes the implementation of global health policies; leads to the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity; and weakens democracy, justice, human rights, and international security.
The reductionist measure of yield is to agriculture systems, what GDP is to economic systems. It is time to move from measuring yield of commodities, to health and well-being of ecosystems and communities. Industrial agriculture has its roots in war. Ecological agriculture allows us to make peace with the earth, soil and the society.
The great ecosystems are like complex tapestries - a million complicated threads, interwoven, make up the whole picture. Nature can cope with small rents in the fabric; it can even, after a time, cope with major disasters like floods, fires, and earthquakes. What nature cannot cope with is the steady undermining of its fabric by the activities of man.
I am beginning to understand that the stream the scientists are studying is not just a little creek. It's a river of energy that moves across regions in great geographic cycles. Here, life and death are only different points on a continuum. The stream flows in a circle through time and space, turning death into life across coastal ecosystems, as it has for more than a million years. But such streams no longer flow in the places where most of us live.
Climate change is not a major issue because it will cause sea level rises or temperature increases, since we know how to live at higher elevations and regulate the temperature within our homes. It is a major issue because ecosystems are finding it difficult to adapt to the rapidity of the climate and environmental changes and are dying off, thereby accelerating the species extinction that is already underway due to our consumption habits.
The Captains of Industry have always counseled the rest of us "to be realistic." Let us, therefore, be realistic. Is it realistic to assume that the present economy would be just fine if only it would stop poisoning the air and water, or if only it would stop soil erosion, or if only it would stop degrading watersheds and forest ecosystems, or if only it would stop seducing children, or if only it would stop buying politicians, or if only it would give women and favored minorities an equitable share of the loot?
The widespread abuse of prisoners is a virtually foolproof indication that politicians are trying to impose a system--whether political, religious or economic--that is rejected by large numbers of the people they are ruling. Just as ecologists define ecosystems by the presence of certain "indicator species" of plants and birds, torture is an indicator species of a regime that is engaged in a deeply anti-democratic project, even if that regime happens to have come to power through elections.
Compared to forest or aquatic ecosystems, grassland is unstable. It requires rather precise geological and climatic conditions, and if these conditions are not maintained-if too much rain falls, or too little-it quickly turns into forest or desert, both of which are dominated by woody plants. This instability is reflected in the spectacular but brief careers of various grassland faunas. Humanity, with its dazzling symbioses, preadaptations, and neoteny, is the most spectacular of these-and may well be the briefest.
David Rains Wallace
To achieve true sustainability, we must reduce our "garbage index" - that which we permanently throw away into the environment that will not be naturally recycled for reuse - to near zero. Productive activities must be organized as closed systems. Minerals and other nonbiodegradable resources, once taken from the ground, must become a part of society's permanent capital stock and be recycled in perpetuity. Organic materials may be disposed into the natural ecosystems, but only in ways that assure that they are absorbed back into the natural production system.
We discover too late that we have turned a blind eye to the extinction of a species that is essential to the balance of life in a particular context. Or we discover too late that the importation of a foreign life-form, animal or vegetable, has upset local ecosystems, damaging soil or neighbouring life-forms. We discover that we have come near the end of supplies-of fossil-fuels for example -on which we have built immense structures of routine expectation.
For proponents of ecosystem-based management,the good news is that another new book, Ecosystem-based Management for the Oceans, conveys the topic at its state-of-the-art level of development...both Marine Ecosystems and Global Change and Ecosystem-based Management for the Oceans are valuable troves that could profitably be mined, and any academic bookshelf would wear them well.
Environmentalists generally object to battery-powered devices and for good reason: batteries require mined minerals, employ manufacturing processes that leak toxins into local ecosystems and leave behind an even-worse trail of side effects upon disposal. Though when it comes to the largest mass-produced battery-powered gadget ever created-the electric car-environmentalists cannot jump from their seats fast enough to applaud it.
While ants exist in just the right numbers for the rest of the living world, humans have become too numerous. If we were to vanish today, the land environment would return to the fertile balance that existed before the human population explosion. Only a dozen or so species, among which are the crab louse and a mite that lives in the oil glands of our foreheads, depend on us entirely. But if ants were to disappear, tens of thousands of other plants and animal species would perish also, simplifying and weakening land ecosystems almost everywhere.
E. O. Wilson
There is no waste in functioning natural ecosystems. All organisms, dead or alive, are potential sources of food for other organisms. A caterpillar eats a leaf; a robin eats the caterpillar; a hawk eats the robin. When the plant, caterpillar, robin, and hawk die, they are in turn consumed by decomposers.
G. Tyler Miller
If the life-supporting ecosystems of the planet are to survive for future generations, the consumer society will have to dramatically curtail its use of resources - partly by shifting to high-quality, low-input durable goods and partly by seeking fulfillment through leisure, human relationships, and other nonmaterial avenues. We in the consumer society will have to live a technologically sophisticated version of the life-style currently practiced lower on the economic ladder.
Alan Thein Durning
Indeed, as we begin the twenty-first century, the money and traditional economies are slowly destroying their own support system. Increasing demands of the two economies are surpassing the sustainable yields of the ecosystems that underpin them. For example, one-third of the world's cropland is losing topsoil at a rate that is undermining its long-term productivity, fully half of the world's rangeland is overgrazed and deteriorating into desert, and the world's forests have shrunk by about half since the dawn of agriculture and are continuing to shrink.
Stuart L. Hart
Increasingly, we will be faced with a choice: whether to keep the oceans for wild fish or farmed fish. Farming domesticated species in close proximity with wild fish will mean that domesticated fish always win. Nobody in the world of policy appears to be asking what is best for society, wild fish or farmed fish. And what sort of farmed fish, anyway? Were this question to be asked, and answered honestly, we might find that our interests lay in prioritizing wild fish and making their ecosystems more productive by leaving them alone enough of the time.
Nature is flexible and resilient. Nature likes redundancy and dispersion. It is approximate and deals in gradients. All boundaries are permeable. Nature nests small systems like molecules within larger systems like cells, which in turn are nested in systems called organs, organisms, ecosystems. We grew from ancient one-celled ancestors. Nature likes mergers: we contain multitudes of other life forms within us. We stand at the crest of four billion years, bacteria molded into wondrous form, burning with a slow fire and about to take the next step.
Joshua Joseph has no real hatred of modern technology - he just mistrusts the effortless, textureless surfaces, and the ease with which it trains you to do things in the way most convenient to the machine. Above all, he mistrusts duplication. A rare thing becomes a commonplace thing. A skill becomes a feature. The end is more important than the means. The child of the soul gives place to a product of the system... For anything really important, Joe prefers something with a history, an item which can name the hand which assembled it and will warm to the one that deploys it. A thing of life, rather than one of the many consumer items which humans use to make more clutter; strange parasitic devices with their own little ecosystems.
We do not need to invent sustainable human communities. We can learn from societies that have lived sustainably for centuries. We can also model communities after nature's ecosystems, which are sustainable communities of plants, animals, and microorganisms. Since the outstanding characteristic of the biosphere is its inherent ability to sustain life, a sustainable human community must be designed in such a manner that its technologies and social institutions honor, support, and cooperate with nature's inherent ability to sustain life.
A large animal needs a large area. If you protect that area, you're also protecting thousands of other plants and animals. You're saving all these species that future generations will want - you're saving the world for your children and your children's children. . . . The destruction of species is final. If you lose a species, you lose the genes, you lose all the potential drugs and potential foods that could be useful to the next generations. The ecosystems will not function as they have.
Although it is tempting to think of these natural landscapes as reflecting a stability in climactic and geologic forces, long periods of climactic and geophysical stability actually result in a rundown of the energy available to ecosystems and people. Geologically young regions with recent mountain building and volcanism tend to be much more biologically productive and have supported large populations of people despite their vulnerability to natural disasters. Geologically old regions (like most of Australia) tend to have low biological productivity and supported fewer people.
Civic imagination and innovation and creativity are emerging from local ecosystems now and radiating outward, and this great innovation, this great wave of localism that's now arriving, and you see it in how people eat and work and share and buy and move and live their everyday lives, this isn't some precious parochialism, this isn't some retreat into insularity, no. This is emergent. The localism of our time is networked powerfully. And so, for instance, consider the ways that strategies for making cities more bike-friendly have spread so rapidly from Copenhagen to New York to Austin to Boston to Seattle. Think about how experiments in participatory budgeting, where everyday citizens get a chance to allocate and decide upon the allocation of city funds. Those experiments have spread from Porto Alegre, Brazil to here in New York City, to the wards of Chicago. Migrant workers from Rome to Los Angeles and many cities between are now organizing to stage strikes to remind the people who live in their cities what a day without immigrants would look like. In China, all across that country, members of the New Citizens' Movement are beginning to activate and organize to fight official corruption and graft, and they're drawing the ire of officials there, but they're also drawing the attention of anti-corruption activists all around the world. In Seattle, where I'm from, we've become part of a great global array of cities that are now working together bypassing government altogether, national government altogether, in order to try to meet the carbon reduction goals of the Kyoto Protocol. All of these citizens, united, are forming a web, a great archipelago of power that allows us to bypass brokenness and monopolies of control.
No settled family or community has ever called its home place an 'environment.' None has ever called its feeling for its home place 'biocentric' or 'anthropocentric.' None has ever thought of its connection to its home place as 'ecological, ' deep or shallow. The concepts and insights of the ecologists are of great usefulness in our predicament, and we can hardly escape the need to speak of 'ecology' and 'ecosystems.' But the terms themselves are culturally sterile. They come from the juiceless, abstract intellectuality of the universities which was invented to disconnect, displace, and disembody the mind. The real names of the environment are the names of rivers and river valleys; creeks, ridges, and mountains; towns and cities; lakes, woodlands, lanes roads, creatures, and people. And the real name of our connection to this everywhere different and differently named earth is 'work.' We are connected by work even to the places where we don't work, for all places are connected; it is clear by now that we cannot exempt one place from our ruin of another. The name of our proper connection to the earth is 'good work, ' for good work involves much giving of honor. It honors the source of its materials; it honors the place where it is done; it honors the art by which it is done; it honors the thing that it makes and the user of the made thing. Good work is always modestly scaled, for it cannot ignore either the nature of individual places or the differences between places, and it always involves a sort of religious humility, for not everything is known. Good work can be defined only in particularity, for it must be defined a little differently for every one of the places and every one of the workers on the earth. The name of our present society's connection to the earth is 'bad work' - work that is only generally and crudely defined, that enacts a dependence that is ill understood, that enacts no affection and gives no honor. Every one of us is to some extent guilty of this bad work. This guilt does not mean that we must indulge in a lot of breast-beating and confession; it means only that there is much good work to be done by every one of us and that we must begin to do it.