A continuing high oil price has led to the recovery of unconventional oils such as tar sands, ultra-deep oil and shale gas, generating much more greenhouse gas than before, as well as generating some renewable energy projects. These projects have cushioned the energy shocks felt in the 1970s, but led to an explosion in greenhouse gases, accelerating global warming. There is great stress on the average family. Weather extremes have produced our worst summer, bushfires, floods and severe droughts, displacing many at high cost, and often affecting food prices.
Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren wrote the book Permaculture One in the ’70s, when oil scarcities prompted an environmental activist response. Permaculture has been embraced by thousands of communities worldwide, and it describes a sustainable way of living well, and within our means. It creates animal and plant systems that mimic our natural ecosystems, and yield abundant food, fibre and energy. Permaculture appeals to the Australian nature of a “fair go” since it includes the community ethics of caring for people and the earth, while only taking our fair share and distributing any surplus.
Suburbs contain liabilities by being reliant on centralized systems such as energy generation, food and water supply as well as imported oil. Many families have taken on heavy financial burdens, and we need to increase our resilience to future shocks.
David Holmgren and Nicole Foss, a finance and energy expert, recently finished giving a lecture talk in Cardiff, Australia were they addressed the need to lower the energy demand to maintain our socio-economic status, since it was built when we had much more profitable energy returns, and needs a lot of energy to maintain.
David also touched on how to be a more sustainable and resilient community by lowering our debt by approaches such as downsizing or moving, and then reboot our non-monetary economies that exist in the household, and that used to exist in the community.
He extended the theme of “retrofitting the suburbs” in a permaculture manner, where we have decentralized energy, water and food, giving us sustainable resources and increased redundancy to increase our resiliency.
You can find out more about David’s work and projects here: