Permaculture: A solution in disguise?

At this moment, we are all witness to environmental degradation and widespread pollution. We are also witnessing the rapid disruption and alteration within our planet’s biosphere. The biosphere, which is very resilient, can absorb a finite amount of damage in a finite frame of time, but not an infinite amount.

Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), global warming, or climate change, it does not matter what we want to call it or if we believe in it or not; it is happening and it will drastically affect every man, woman, child, and living organism on Earth.

The climate is changing for all sorts of reasons and we currently are caught like a rabbit in the headlights facing the car crash. Perhaps we are already passed the tipping point and perhaps we can’t change the climate, but we can do so much more to protect our environment.

That being said, there is no single solution to combat climate change. We need something which is an aggressive combination of approaches that will fully address the issue. Permaculture is one such thing because it literally has all the solutions we need. It consists of a whole encyclopedia of ecological wisdom that we need to survive for thousands of years into the future.

If we are going to survive this biggest threat mankind has ever experienced, we need to shift our perspective towards ecologically functional design for cities and towns. We can rehabilitate large scale degraded landscapes and create food forests that can provide food security that is resilient to climate change. All this can be done with permaculture design.

Permaculture is not extractive, unsustainable or favouring non-renewable technological solutions over renewable and self-replicating biological solutions. The fundamental point of permaculture is to design a system that is indefinitely sustainable. Any technology that uses finite non-renewable resources, produces harmful waste and/or is not completely recyclable at the end of its life, isn’t really permaculture. We need to make people aware that we are emitting a lot of carbon dioxide through our energy use. Burning fossil fuel is the major driver of climate change which warms the earth There is literally no way to burn fossil fuels, or even mine fossil fuels, without putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We can’t compromise with the laws of physics. But right now, right today, we can stop looking for new opportunities in fossil fuels, stop expanding our fossil fuel business through new pipelines, through fresh investment. Right now, right today, we can stop giving tax benefits and government welfare to fossil fuel corporations, and use the money instead to develop a broad-based renewables system, including nuclear energy, sustainable on the only planet we have available.

Moving forward, using nature as our guide, we can redesign society to be in sync with nature once again. We can once more be part of rather than feeling bigger or better than nature. This is exactly what permaculture is all about: creating food forests rather than barren fields, creating regenerative, rather than degenerative systems. In doing so, we will create many levels of food-producing, CO2 sequestering, oxygen supplying, water-storing, soil creating, life-giving, planted living systems that work with nature rather than against her.

Rather than stubbornly insisting on the continued use of fossil fuels, rather than maintain the harmful status quo, we must begin collecting and storing the energy of many forms. We must learn to value and use renewable sources. We must learn to integrate rather than segregate. We must learn to use, reuse, and repurpose, producing no waste.

The planet isn’t sustainable without trees. Above & beyond just helping to remove excess CO2 from the earth’s atmosphere, planting trees would do so many good things. Trees contribute, as a critical member, to the overall health of the local ecosystem. We should be pioneering a green industrial revolution, encouraging entrepreneurs away from the traditional biotech/electronics/internet start-ups, towards anti-pollution start-ups. We surely must fight by both reducing/stopping pollution and finding technological solutions. We need to change over to green energy sources and use energy-efficient transportation.

But there are only so much individuals can do, the big changes require national and international action. Policy shapes action and action shapes the world. If a policy isn’t sustainable, the world of humans and the natural world suffers. The policy is inherent in permaculture because the concept underlies how humans view the earth and its usefulness. So there need to be concerted international actions pursued with a determination similar to the way wars are fought, a program of education is also necessary as, even now a substantial proportion of the planet’s population is unaware of how serious the problem is. We need more policies that promote renewable energy and discourage coal, oil or nuclear energy. Governments need to take prompt action to decarbonize, mass tree plantation and scientists need to devise ways to capture CO2 and methane from the environment. Permaculture ethics and principles need to be implemented in our governments and corporations. Earth Care, People Care, and Return of Surplus towards Earth Care and People Care should be common places ethics throughout organized human endeavors.

Climate change is the greatest threat to humanity. It is already affecting populations across the globe, and its impact will be catastrophic if left unabated. The decisions we make now are the difference between a planet that’s 5-6° C hotter by 2100 or one that’s 2° hotter by then. Over the years, we have taken a lot of energy from mother nature’s storage bins deep within the earth and released the heat back into the atmosphere. We have reaped the benefits and enjoyed the gifts that the earth has provided us. It’s time we all start to give back so that mother nature can come back to the safe zone again and permaculture can help us do just that.

The article is written by M. Ibrahim Shah.
Muhammad Ibrahim Shah is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Economics at the University of Dhaka. His research interests include Econometrics, Applied Microeconomics, and Macroeconomics, Environmental economics, climate change, sustainable development, etc.


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