Wednesday, April 18, 2012

David Holmgren on Permaculture as Response to Decline

This is an excellent video by David Holmgren on permaculture as a response to the decline of societies (over the next few generations), to climate change and extreme weather events, and as a design for rethinking suburban living. He discusses extreme weather events as 'tipping points' in climate change vs. rise in global average temperature. He discusses the probability that before we reach critical stages in both peak oil and climate change, societies will experience financial and socio-political collapse. At the end he lists the 12 principles of permaculture. Throughout he stresses that societies will have to be in a posture of continuous adaptation, rather than trying to achieve a fixed state of 'sustainability', that opportunities for adaptation are found at the margins of society, not at the centre, and that many such adaptations will be 'small and slow' responses.


  1. Very good video. It is always a risk to start watching lectures like this, because at the end it can be either very well spent time or badly spent time. But this is really worth watching. I especially find the concept of re-localization very interesting.

  2. I like the way her presents Permaculture as a mode of continuous adaptation. At this point, the term "permaculture" is almost a misnomer, implying that we can arrive at some permanent "steady state" that will enable us to survive declining conditions. The word "sustainability" has the same effect. "Resilience" almost has the same connotation, implying that we can assume a posture toward change that will enable us to survive anything and "continue normal functioning." In fact, we will have to be in a mode of continuous adaptation to cycles of decline, some gradual, some crisis-driven. Daily lives will focus on maintaining "necessities", as a lifestyle demanding more than that becomes unaffordable or unobtainable.

  3. There is no end state. We are not going anywhere. There is no place that we are arriving at. There is no Judeo-Christian-Marxist-Thoreauvian heaven or 'worker's paradise' or 'sustainable society'. We are in a process of constant and continuous evolution. Everything we experience, everything we do is part of the path of evolution. Sometimes evolution ends up badly for many species, including, possibly, homo sapiens. Conjecturing about the past and future are only important for understanding where we are in the present. And the present is a state of continuous adaptation and evolution, towards no particular end state, but the continuation of life in the present.