But is it sustainable?

But is it sustainable?

Sector39 permaculture, Llanrhaeadr YM, SY10 0JN
steve@sector39.co.uk
Sector39 limited: 9001792
I am speaking at an event in Manchester thsi weekend,on permaculture and cooperatives and I wrot ethis peice as an introduction to permaculture and why it is so vital at this point in human evolution.

permaculture perspectives manchester event

Initiation @ Wonder inn Manchester

Sometime in 1990 the concentration of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere passed the 350 ppm mark, from that point forward the
influx of energy in the form of heat from the sun has exceeded the
rate it has been leaving the earth’s atmosphere; the planet has
literally been warming. This will continue to happen until the Co2 in
the atmosphere returns to a level of 350 ppm or below, with levels
currently over 400 ppm we can’t even begin to use the word
sustainable with any meaning until we have achieved this
momentous challenge.

Climate change isn’t even the problem, it is the symptom of a much
deeper and more serious one; that of our almost total disconnect
from the ecological reality of our finite planet. We live in denial of
reality and that reality is going to catch us out big time unless we
prepare ourselves emotionally, intellectually and physically for what
is coming next.
Fixing this problem is not a technological issue as such, rather it is a
total shift in our relationship with the living planet we occupy. New
and enlightened economic, social and educational approaches are
required to enable us to escape the disaster we are creating. To be
clear we are no long talking about minimising or reducing the
damage we cause; we are required to find strategies which actively
repair the enormous amount of damage already done to the
biosphere. We have to fix it. We call this regenerative development.
Sustainability is the starting point for such a process, it is not the
objective but the barest minimum required.

Permaculture is about solutions, it is about finding the pathways to
regenerative development. It is not just the earth’s living systems
that have to be repaired; we have to address the social imbalance
at the same time. The empowerment of all people to be fully able to
take an active part in this process is central to any chance of
success that might remain.

permaculture allows us to tackle the huge issues of the day

Permaculture sits at the intersection of economics and ecology. It is
a design strategy that asks economic questions about how we meet
our needs, personal and familial in a way that empowers others to
do the same, not at their expense. Permaculture recognises that all
of these economic decisions and transactions occur within a healthy
living biosphere. We cannot stand outside of this biological
relationship for more than a few moments, just how long can you
hold your breath or go without water or food? Permaculture is about
self empowerment and community enablement whilst caring for the
earth by listening carefully to the feedback it gives us. To be good
at permaculture you have to be good at listening and right now if
you listen carefully the planet is screaming at us, make the change,
join the movement, and get active!

Steve Jones August 2017.
www.permaculturedesigncourse,co.uk
@misterjones2u

Tanat Valley Chronicle, announcing the new project

Note: Working through my own community is scary, I feel exposed as it is my home and I don’t want to create a divide or a barrier by seeming to be partisan. I want to find ways to be inclusive and invite participation from across board in what I see to be  both a terrifying challenge and a fantastic opportunity. Here is my latest piece for our local newsletter, read by all locally, announcing the new project. Steve Jones Oct ’16

‘Saving the planet one school at a time’ – We are looking for leaders

This is big, really big. The 195 countries who signed the Paris Climate Agreement in December have now ratified the treaty. Trump or Clinton, Brexit: hard or soft, Syria and a potential WW3, we might be forgiven for being a little distracted but this is the big story.

Governments have agreed, we need to listen to the scientists, we really do have to stay under 2 degrees of change but there is no policy in place that gets us there. The agreement they signed has no binding targets or penalties, it is basically a statement of intent that has no teeth. How fast can we get off coal, gas and oil? We have about 30 years to move completely away from our old ways and that allows no wiggle room whatsoever, sooner would be better.

So where will this momentous change come from? Even though they happily signed the agreement many governments including our own are not formulating policy that will get us to where we need to be, they are still building roads, talking about fracking, planning new runways and hoping to restart economic growth in the consumer economy.

No, this change will come form the bottom up, the emerging generation will be leading the way. It is much easier to see past the oil age when you are not personally invested in it. Just as we found in Uganda when we were teaching there in May, the idea of localised organic food systems, distributed solar power networks and public transit doesn’t alarm them, since they have that already and it works fine. Whereas we built a commuter economy out of coal, with disconnected nuclear families and rampant consumerism as if that was an end in itself. All this assumed the oil would never run out and burning it had no consequences, inpite of what we know we are still desperately trying to keep growth going because our economic models require it of us. It is going to be a big ask for the UK to make the changes required of it.

The train that is the neo-liberal market based consumer economy has left the station never to return. For the emerging generation that isn’t going to be their future, they missed that opportunity so they are going to have to invent a new one for themselves. We might not know much about the future but I am guessing it is going to be low carbon and almost exclusively local. This is not bad news, especially not to the ears of someone who will never have a pension plan paid by North Sea Oil. The post carbon economy is a land of opportunity, like the Wild West seemed to those intrepid settlers 200 odd years ago or when they first invented the internet, it is a vast un-occupied space waiting for a new generation to inhabit it. With this bold project we are looking for the leaders who are going to help create a new vision for a post carbon society.

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Wales has its own Permaculture network: Paramaethu Cymru

The future is there for us to invent. Sector39 have won potentially 3 year’s funding, in stages to help facilitate the development of that vision. Using permaculture design we are going to challenge the high school to lead the community at large to lay out our transition plan to a carbon negative economy. It is our future to create, no one else has a plan and in doing so I think we can inspire, we can put Llanfyllin on the map, along with Powys and Wales as leaders and partners in this great change we all have to make.

This is open to all, centred on Llanfyllin High School we will be linking to schools across the UK and Africa, creating blogs, radio, newspapers, holding public talks and debates. From this we hope to be initiating new projects and micro enterprises and even a community currency. Help us chart these unknown waters.

This is about working together, no one is telling anyone else what to do, rather we are required to build a common vision and action plan that fully takes into account what the science is telling us. Economy cannot exist out side of ecology, we have tried that and it has been a disaster of pollution, deforestation and species loss, together we can build an economy that restores the ecology of the planet and creates hope for a future that we all want to be part of.

Join in, be a leader for change.

Watch this space, lots more to come!

www.sector39.co.uk

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Hey Owen Jones, I wrote you a letter!

Hi Owen Jones,

I watched Hypernormalisation yesterday, I dont know what you thought of it but the things that stood out for me strongest was the statement that many radicals have disengaged from the political process because it is too complex and slow and also the comments that Occupy ran out of steam as it had no new vision to offer, just righteous anger and a great operating system. The whole thing has got me thinking about how we can articulate that alternative vision to the crumbling current one, and in doing this might help re-engage a great number of people with the political process.

I do like a lot of what you say and respect where you seem to be coming from in a lot of what you say about the Labour party and its future prospects.  I am not a politico, and am not up with all the names and jobs and machinations that makes it all work but I think I have something of value to offer to the process and don’t really know how to engage properly in a way to get heard. I think everybody is missing something really quite big and in that might lie a huge opportunity for Labour to seize new territory and develop its own agenda.

I hope I haven’t lost you already, I will try to be brief as I can.

The future is going to be different, really different, for several big reasons. Thomas Piketty, Ha-Joon Chang or Paul Mason all put it better than I can but we cannot escape the fact that the neo liberal paradigm has run its course and many people can see that, however there is really nothing to put in its place, so we all carry on. Essentially we are still preparing for the wrong future.

If Labour can frame and articulate a new vision they stand to capture the new territory that our economy is heading towards, before most people have seen it coming. I need to enlarge a little here I think.

I am not here to say Climate Change is THE problem. Climate change and what is driving it is a symptom of a much bigger problem, essentially the fact that our short-term economic goals put us directly at odds with the long-term ecology of our planetary system. We are always prepared to sacrifice one more pristine ecosystem to fuel the monster of economic growth.

The proposal I am making is that whosoever can advance an economic mechanism that delivers the food, energy, services or whatever that society requires in a way that also restores and enhances the environment has essentially cracked the whole Malthusian population vs resources face-off in one go.

But how, you make ask?  If you listen to James Hansen of NASA for example what he has to say is alarming at least. But also exhilarating. 10% year on year reduction in emissions until it is zero, then we have to drive co2 levels back down to 350ppm by the end of the century or there abouts to head off the worst case scenarios. In short, a carbon negative economy. There are no policies out there currently that get us anywhere near that and to my logic someone needs to start formulating some and leading us in that direction.

Why exhilarating? Well because it requires re-inventing the economy, agriculture needs to be transformed into something quite different, energy we know about, but transport will be a huge change as well. For the rising generation who have nothing to aim for in the current economy, no stake in it other than a dodgy degree certificate and a load of debt and no chance of having a home etc. this is a much more interesting prospect potentially.

Some examples: we can build houses from straw bale and local timber for a fraction of the cost, they sequestrate carbon in their structures and have a fraction of the embodied energy. They can be largely grown to order, processed locally and built by user groups and co-ops. Suddenly housing is a carbon sink and co-operative enterprise and with a tweak of planning laws, affordable and low impact.

I have much experience in community food growing, fruit and veg, chooks and eggs are easy to produce on a small and local scale. You can involve the whole community in growing and related activities and it rapidly becomes part of the social and caring economy and the food it produces almost a bi product.

I am not saying these things can replace the current system, but they offer a transition away from it that is inventive and inclusive.  I have just launched a local project with our High School where I will be challenging them to visualise the future they want and to start to imagine how they might be ale to help make that happen.

So much to say, but I shall press you no more, so happy to talk more about permaculture, regenerative economics and finding ways to inspire the next generation to do something positive and creative.

Steven Jones

Block chain in Africa, a new financial dawn?

Block chain in Africa, a new financial dawn?

The interview in the second half of this episode of Keiser Report should be of real interest to all my African friends. Digital currencies are already rampant in Africa with the Mpesa system, Airtel etc, but they still run through a middle man who can take a cut. Blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin is peer-to-peer verified, so there is no middle man. Global markets work to the detriment of poorer nations so the rapidly expanding world of digital and peer-to-peer currencies and technologies creates many possibilities to sidestep some of the many failings of the old financial system.

Crisis, what crisis?

Crisis, what crisis?

chester chroncalI have already written to the editor of this paper to make the point that publishing climate change denial letters such as this one on 6 Oct both demeans and trivialises the whole paper. I would however also like to address the letter writer directly and more forcefully.

Christopher Calder tells us we have been fooled by ‘science’ have we? By science I guess you mean those nasty people at NASA, you know who gave us the moon landings, the space shuttle, satellites and digital telecommunications.

Or did you mean the Met office, who we rely on every day for weather forecasts, storm warnings and the like.

Or NOAA in the USA, when they give hurricane warning do we ignore it, thinking it is another of their made up pranks?

60 Nobel laureate scientists published a joint open letter only a couple of weeks ago saying how urgent it is that we pay full attention to the science – and it is not the first time either! Are you saying they all made this up, really?

The Oil industry has been caught over and over pumping millions of dollars into climate science disinformation, bad science and denial, do you not think if there was even the merest chink in the robustness of the science they would have exposed it and filled our media with it?

pope-768x401The Climate denial game is so over, even Exxon’s Mobil’s own scientific department concluded that unchecked co2 emissions represented a clear and present danger back in the 80’s; but when even the Pope steps forward and puts the full force of his office behind the ‘moral imperative to act on climate’ then you make a fool of yourself to pretend otherwise.

‘Science’ you say, I am particularly annoyed how you chose to put the word in commas, you and your so-called science! Science, my friend means observation, simple as that. Everyone with a thermometer can measure the temperature outside and make comparisons and the evidence of temperatures past is written in every geological record and every tree ring. Anyone with a ruler can measure sea-level changes. This is evidence that can’t be falsified, evidence that every serious scientist around the world concurs with when they do their own research.

de grasse tysonThere is no dissent about climate change within the scientific community, other than just how bad and how urgent is it? Trump, a climate denier blames it all on the Chinese, why the Chinese I don’t know and how they falsified everyone’s scientific data around the world, that bit he failed to explain. The US army’s own scientific research teams concur with the climate scientists, it is indeed a real and present danger; are they colluding with the Chinese too?

Honestly, there really is nowhere left to stand to hold onto the position of denial and appear credible. Are you really prepared to put the whole gamut of evidence against your own untested word?

You site no sources to support your views, yet the weight of world opinion is against you.

I am sorry to have to be so strong in my words but you are a scoundrel sir!

A scoundrel for daring to make such a false point and doing it so weakly and so incorrectly, you insult our intelligence. Around the world millions of people are already affected by climate change, ecosystems are collapsing, oceans are acidifying and there is no other explanation for what is happening to us. The scientists are not just certain that it is happening they are also certain that we are causing it, and to my ears anyway that is the good news. What would be truly terrifying would be to hear that it was a natural phenomenon that we can nothing about, the fact that we are causing it also means we can solve it.

earth surface temps

Global average temperatures ar rising, hard to falsify!

Facing up to this is a huge challenge as we have built an economic infrastructure that runs almost entirely on coal, gas and oil. If that wasn’t bad enough, our economy also requires growth, year on year just to stand still, just to pay off the interest on the money we have already borrowed. We are sort of locked in to our own destruction as we have already raised money against oil and coal that hasn’t even been burned yet.

Although 195 governments, almost the entire world signed the Paris Climate Agreement, binding us to work to stay under 2 degrees of change it also not unsurprising that they are unable to enact policies that take us in that direction. After all until now our whole economy has been rooted in burning resources at an ever faster rate to produce goods with ever shorter shelf lives.

regenerativeEconomic growth is not going to save us, only an evolution in human thinking, an evolution in our collective economic behaviour will do that.

Atmospheric CO2, the main culprit in the problem currently stands at 400ppm. It used to 285ppm before we started on the industrial age, and the planet will carry on warming until we get it back down to 350ppm (this is the view of NASA), that means getting our global emissions down to zero as soon as we possibly can whilst developing ways of farming, land management, building, energy and more that actually lock CO2 up and stop it returning to the atmosphere. Plants do this all the time, so building out of natural materials achieves this goal, imagine building houses from wood, straw, hemp, clay/ lime, coupled with a re-localised organic food production system, powered with a renewable energy grid running super-efficient, low energy appliances and homes, that is the kind of thing we need to put in place and fast. Building such an infrastructure is where the jobs will come from for the emerging generation, the generation who are growing into an already climate-changed world and whilst we are doing that we will be building a new kind of economy that enhances the environment and locks up carbon, making climate more stable once again over the longer term.

There is already a global movement in permaculture design, in community supported farms and climate change adaption and mitigation, so instead of burying your head in the sand and expecting us to believe these absurd statements of denial I invite you and everyone to join the solution, the transition. Let us all help each other find the pathways from the destructive and now obsolete carbon extraction economy and create a new exciting and forward- thinking carbon-sequestration economy. I call that permaculture, you can call it what you want but it is the only future possible for humanity and anything that distracts us from that aim is wasted time.

leo2Science is sceptical; every published data set is tested by other scientists to ensure accuracy, which is how the peer review process works, you make yor reputation by proving other people wrong. If you reject climate science then you reject science, it is all inter-connected, so the smart-phone in your pocket or the jet plane that takes you on holiday, it is all the same science, you don’t get to pick and mix what you ‘believe’. If you want to know more about climate science, talk to the scientists, here is a plain English site that explores every commonly held mis-understanding and explains with evidence what is the best understanding by those who study it. www.skepticalscience.com

Find out about permaculture design and how we can work with natural systems to repair the biosphere and lessen the effects of climate change.

Chester Cathedral are teaming with local permaculture trainers Sector39 to offer a course for community leaders and innovators for change at the Chapter house from Mid-November, over the course of 12 evening plus 1 weekend.

Join 350.org the global climate action movement to find out how you can join in the response to the biggest challenge humanity has yet had to face.

Just how are we going to get ourselves out of this mess?

earth surface temps

The next 50 years are going to be one hell of a ride! That is the time lag between todays emissions and when we will feel their full impact on the climate system. Yes folks, even if we stop everything today we are still set for a very bumpy future.

Today’s inactivity is tomorow’s nightmare. As much as we all know this to be true, each day we get up for work and repeat the actions that brought to this point. We all need to make a living it is true, yet the way most of us make our living is driving the climate problem.

“Just because you are on a well beaten path doesnt mean you are on the right track”. Permaculture principle number 11 challenges us all to explore alternatives, to look to the edges for new opportunites and ideas. We cannot fix our problems using the thinking that created them and for that read: we need a new economic paradigm, we need a different rationale and a different set of goals. Consumption, short termism, economic growth for its own sake, waste, pollution, war, militarism, do you need me to go on… ? Yet we seemed locked in step in the march to our own self destruction.

Today I am inspired by the Lakota people of the central plains. America’s original inhabitants who reverred nature as sacred, rivers, mountains, wildlife and more were regarded as true value and the loyalty of people, friendship, (apparently the meaning of the word Lakota is friend) the thing that binds us all together and creates common cause and society. Yet we have never treated these people as friends and still they are persecuted for standing up for all us in their battle against the ceaseless expansion of the oil industry.

Across the globe there is a waking up of people realising the terrible truth of today’s society and economy, where everything other than profit is regarded as an externality, people, land, whole ecosystems even are seen as expendible. Permaculture is part of that wake up call, for those of us who have empathy with the natural world, permaculture is common sense, it is a guidebook and an inspiration. I am guessing many Lakota people don’t need to study permaculture, as their instincts steer them in that direction with their every thought yet for the rest of us it remains a pathway we are yet to choose.

Each and everyone of us needs to think how they can break their reliance on the destructive economy and align themselves with the forces of positive change and we won’t be able to do it alone, we will need each other, we will need friends and allies, Lakota.

I am writing this with a sense of dismay, I have had a couple of students drop out last minute from our upcoming PDC, work commitments etc. and of course I get that, we all have bills to pay. It takes months of planning and networking to build the momentum for a PDC, time is always precious and money a barrier but there’s always a way if we try. I am not out to critiscise anyone here, I do totally understand limitations, indeed working to limiting factors in central to permaculture design,  but I do keep asking myself how do we create the changes we need in the time we have left?

I would love to hear from people on this subject and certainly this is a theme we will be exploring through the Sector39 school project launching soon. I am not ready to give in yet, we can still head off the worst scenarios of run-away climate collapse yet each day and every decision we take at this critical time will affect the trajectory of that change and with that in mind I urge everyone to think again about their own role in this rapidly unfolding drama.

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Due to late cancelations there are a couple of places available on this course, contact me for details

Critical mass is coming

I am excited to see this latest initative from the Permaculture Association, recognising now is a critical time for engaging with the wider public to create real alternatives.

I have agreed to attend the Convergence and contribut to the talks on how we can use our permaculture networks to accelerate change. Permaculture economics, might bring togehter such things as crowdfuneing, PDC courses and projects to create a criticl mass to accelerate proejct development.

More on this soon, lease help share this post far and wide.

Economic illiteracy

Economic illiteracy

It’s the economy stupid!

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Change works on a feedback loop, fixing the economy comes with the requirement to channel resources towards more desirable outcomes. As players in an interconnected global market each of us has considerable power, our collective decisions shape the future. Spending and investment matters!

Our monetary system is driving us over the edge but how can we reform it?

Our obsession with GDP growth shows nothing less than we don’t understand  economics. The word Oikos, meaning hearth and home in ancient Greek also represents the basic building block of civilization. Oikos forms the root of both the concepts of ecology and economy and the decisions we make at the hearth side shape the world around us with far-reaching consequences.

The solar economy is a steady state, a constant we cannot change but can only plan in relation to. It is only through continued and expanding exploitation of firstly ancient woodlands, then trapped carbon deposits in the form of coal, gas and oil that we have been able to live beyond our means. Our shopping mall lifestyles aren’t going to run on a solar economy and expanding consumption puts us on a certain crash course with the environment. Ecological problems require economic solutions, and economic theories must obey the laws of ecology.

The transformation that is required of us to transcend the ecological crisis is an economic one. We have to find a way to a value-driven, steady-state economy, leaving the biocidal, growth-driven monster far behind us.  Steve Jones

Here in conversation with Max and Stacy is the amazing Dimitry Orlov       in the Keiser report’s summer solutions series discussing the possibilities for a human scale society. The vision of a vibrant, highly connected and  re-localised economy he outlines resonates with the permaculture vision.

This post forms part of a theme we are currently working on, to incorporate an economic framework into permaculture design teaching. What we might want to see as a restorative economy, an economy with teh ojectives of restoring community and natural systems to abndance.

This idea is beautifully imagined in the graphic i spotted on the net. Sustainability is only a mid point between on going desstruction and inravelling, and some thing that uilds positively in the other direction.

regenerative

Permaculture takes us beyond sustainaility to regeneration.

Full Permaculture Design Certificate courses, Autumn/ Winter 2016-17

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Sector39 are taking bookings for two full PDC’s running over the coming autumn/ winter period. An intensive, residential course in the Mid Wales hills with cmping or bunkhouse accommodation, in the second half of September

The 6 part course, runs every other weekend spread over three months, at RISC Reading, start in January.

Please get in touch to find out more about these fantastic opportunites to study permaculture and make connections and contacts to help you in your own ambitions. Studying permaculture is a big step towards a saner and more rewarding life, building solutions and responses to the challenges of the modern world.

£600/ £450 for the residential course (low price for those on <£18k pa)

or £225 for the 6 part course in Reading

A deposit is required to secure a place, please see the booking form