Saturday, December 15, 2012

Objectivity vs. Permaculture.

Over the last few years I've found a great deal of hope and solace in studying permaculture and have made quite the progress in building my own ecosystem here in the previously degraded forest. Things look great, and the promises of the joyful danger of "falling food" are in fact real. There is, however, a problem with whole strategy-- "permanent" agriculture has only limited means of remaining viable within a "transient" climate-- sure -- but a couple of years ago to the best of my knowledge I thought I'd be dealing with perhaps 3 degrees centigrade of warming over my lifetime-- dire for certain, but I felt with proper strategic preparations manageable. The problem is that according to the current research, to expect only 3 degrees of warming, say by 2050, is wholly unrealistically optimistic-- we've now lit off several feedback effects that promise to propel us to 16 degrees of warming -- a completely unsurvivable world by any normal means. And this will be fast, too. If this data and these projections prove reliable-- which we should know by seeing continuing heat records set-- more Sandy's and Bophas, immediately-- well, that's tits up folks, and we're headed for a terminal planet by mid century. And a really tough one before that.

Sorry, but no amount of hippy self reliance is going to protect you from this.

Unfortunately for the permaculture vision-- it began to be hipster only about 50 years too late. If we had adopted intelligent strategies a generation back-- when it was first discovered it was important to do so, well, we'd have a chance. Today, not so. No amount of composting will make up the difference. No amount organic this or that. See, we've got much bigger fish to fry-- as CO2 levels continue spinning up and up there comes a point not that far off where the ocean becomes so acidic that all of the phytoplankton dies-- and with it goes 60 percent or so of all the oxygen generated-- it's tough to mulch your way out of that one. Unfortunately as it's shaping up, the whole neo-"back to the land" movement is a complete blind alley-- to have a chance at survival you're not going to need nifty eco-shacks built of bamboo and lots of wheatgrass but rather a titanium bombshelter that can provide you with enough oxygen to breathe, keep you cool enough to not broil, and therein you'll be able to enjoy the various ways you can prepare GMO algae sludge for breakfast. It could probably be done, and there are those with lots of money who are trying. The budget versions of the "survival shell" may be a little grimmer than what the Walton family is working on-- but some of you with the technical skill to try may pull some extra years out. I've been mulling over such strategies for the last couple of weeks but in fact I have a hard time answering the whole "is it worth it?" question.

Sorry, this is pretty grim. I've mixed feelings about even discussing the issue anymore. Here's why I've raised the issue today.

I guess people have a right to know, in the same sense that your doctor has an obligation to tell you that the big blob on your x-ray probably can't and/or shouldn't be operated on. You can get second opinions, of course, and there's always going to be a doctor who is more than willing to take your money to give 'er a go.Or sell you some homeopathic cure. . .or a even a new Prius. What to do in circumstances such as this are among the most difficult-- or easiest -- decisions to make. A lot of it depends on perspective. For many people they'll find this sort of stuff impossibly depressing as the party is over-- and will continue to operate in their default mode of denial. For some of us, however, who have been aware and striving for years at great personal expense for a better world-- well, some of us will feel a bit of relief, in fact, as we're pretty well absolved of our responsibilities now-- really. I guess for us it means the party is just getting started.

What am I going to do? Heck, I don't know. Take up cigarette smoking? Well, considering there can only be a very few years left of relative normalcy I figure I'm going to spend a lot less time mucking around with chicken shit and more time dinking around with big guitar amplifiers. Go MESA. If I were able to get a few bucks ahead and received proper encouragement I might be tempted to weld up some bizarro complex underground bunker just for the hell of it-- the living accommodations would be a great deal like boat living frankly and few have the experience of confined space to make it work. Going outside for a stroll won't be too practical most of the time, so a lot of thought will need to be put into making things comfy and sane there in a dark tube in the dirt. Maybe I'll write a book about it called "bummersteading" or some such. . .In reality I'd encourage people not to do too much-- much drawing  on the "terminal illness"' model as there isn't much one can do-- hang in there, keep as cheerful as possible. . .treasure each remaining day. That won't come easy, and we're not accustomed to doing that-- precisely why we're in this mess-- but as far as I can see, that's all we've got left.

On other notes: see you there!