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Despite new environmental regulations, the increasing availability of ecofriendly products and many other encouraging developments championed by the environmental movement, the massive loss of forests and the greatest extinction of species in millions of years has not been reversed. By depleting our natural resources and reducing the planet’s biodiversity we damage the very fabric of life on which our well-being depends, including the priceless ‘ecosystem services’ that nature provides for free – processing waste, regulating the climate, regenerating the atmosphere and so on. These vital processes are emergent properties of nonlinear living systems that we are only beginning to understand, and they are now seriously endangered by our linear pursuit of economic growth and material consumption.
out of ‘Hidden Connections, a Science for Sustainable Living’ by Fritjof Capra, Harper Collins Publishers 2002

The following text is the conclusion of the Oilreport done by Energy Watch Group in October 2007:

The major result from this analysis is that world oil production has peaked in 2006. Production will start to decline at a rate of several percent per year. By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame.
The world is at the beginning of a structural change of its economic system. This change will be triggered by declining fossil fuel supplies and will influence almost all aspects of our daily life.
Climate change will also force humankind to change energy consumption patterns by reducing significantly the burning of fossil fuels. Global warming is a very serious problem. However, the focus of this paper is on the aspects of resource depletion as these are much less transparent to the public.
The now beginning transition period probably has its own rules which are valid only during this phase. Things might happen which we never experienced before and which we may never experience again once this transition period has ended. Our way of dealing with energy issues probably will have to change fundamentally.
The International Energy Agency, anyway until recently, denies that such a fundamental change of our energy supply is likely to happen in the near or medium term future. The message by the IEA, namely that business as usual will also be possible in future, sends a false signal to politicians, industry and consumers – not to forget the media.

Here you will find the complete report as download.

What is Peak Oil? – very accessible and useful article by Graham Strouts on  www.transitionculture.org

Find more Information on Peak Oil and Energy & Resources Supply here .

Constructive Design Concepts, integrating this knowledge, are:
Permaculture and the Transition Towns Model

Anthropocentrism is a very crucial term / way of perception to examine for yourself.

“Anthropocentrism (greek:anthropos, human being / kentron, center) is the idea that, for humans, humans must be the central concern, and that humanity must judge all things accordingly: Human beings must be considered, looked after and cared for, above all other real or imaginary beings.” (via Wikipedia)

One alternative to this way of perceiving offers the Gaia Theory, which understands the earth as one living organism, thus the human being as an integral part of the whole system, being embedded in it and dependent on it.

You find this understanding also in many indigeneous cultures and you could say that it is part of our original, intuitive way of perceiving.

The anthropocentric way of perceiving must ultimately lead to self-destruction, since it results in separation and isolation from nature / the earth, and the earth forms the very basis of our existence.

“A paradigm can be seen as an entire constellation of beliefs, values and techniques, and so on, shared by the members of a given community” (Kuhn)

Thus a paradigm shift will change the way the individual perceives reality.

The term originates and was bound to science, but you will hear and read it more and more often referring to the shift from a reductionist, linear way of perceiving towards a holistic, systemic way.

The key to an operational definition of ecological sustainability is the realization that we do not need to invent sustainable human communities from scratch but can model them after nature’s ecosystems, which are sustainable communities of plants, animals and micro-organisms. Since the outstanding characteristic of the Earth household is its inherent ability to sustain life, a sustainable human community is one designed in such a manner that its ways of life, businesses, economy, physical structures and technologies do not interfere with nature’s inherent ability to sustain life. Sustainable communities evolve their patterns of living over time in continual interaction with other living systems, both human and nonhuman. Sustainability does not mean that things do not change: it is a dynamic process of coevolution rather than a static state.
out of ‘Hidden Connections, a Science for Sustainable Living’ by Fritjof Capra, Harper Collins Publishers 2002

One core point and foundation of a discussion about sustainable communities is that life is regarded as a property of the planet rather than the property of single organisms – thus that organisms may not be looked at separately, since they are only viable within a community.

At all scales of nature, we find living systems nesting within other living systems – networks within networks. Their boundaries are not boundaries of separation but boundaries of identity. All living systems communicate with one another and share resources across their boundaries.

All living organisms must feed on continual flows of matter and energy fromtheir environment to stay alive, and all living organisms continually produce waste.However, an ecosystem generates no net waste, one species’ waste being another species’ food. Thus matter cycles continually through the web of life.

Solar Energy
Solare energy, transformed into chemical energy by photosynthesis of green plants, drives the ecological cycles.

The exchanges of energy and resources in an ecosystem are sustained by pervasive co-operation. Life did not take over the planet by combat but by co-operation, partnership, and networking.

Ecosystems achive stability and resilience through the richness and complexity of their ecological webs. The greater their biodiversity, the more resilient they will be.

Dynamic Balance
An ecosystem is a flexible, ever-fluctuating network. Its flexibility is a consequence of multiple feedback loops that keep the system in a state of dynamic balance. No single variable is maximized; all variables fluctuate around their optimal values.

These principles are directly relevant to our health and well-being. Because of our vital need to breathe, eat and drink, we are always embedded in the cyclical processes of nature. Our health depends upon the purity of the air we breathe and the water we drink, and it depends on the health of the soil from which our food is produced. In the coming decades the survival of humanity will depend upon our ecological literacy – our ability to understand the basic principles of ecology and to live accordingly. Thus, ecological literacy, or ‘ecoliteracy’, must become a critical skill for politicians, business leaders and professionals in all spheres, and should be the most important part of education at all levels – from primary and secondary schools to colleges, universities and the continuing education and training of professionals.

out of ‘Hidden Connections, a Science for Sustainable Living’ by Fritjof Capra, Harper Collins Publishers 2002

The first principle of ecodesign is that ‚waste equals food’. Today a major clash between economics and ecology derives from the fact that nature’s ecosystems are cyclical, whereas our industrial systems are linear. In nature, matter cycles, continually, and thus ecosystems generate no overall waste. Human businesses, by contrast, take natural resources, transform them into products plus waste, and sell the products to consumers, who discard more waste when they have used the products.
The principle ‚waste equals food’ means that all products and materials manufactured by industry, as well as the waste generated in the manufacturing processes, must eventually provide nourishment for something new. A sustainable business organization would be embedded in an ‚ecology of organizations’, in which the waste of any one organization would be the resource for another. In such a sustainable industrial system, the total outflow of each organization – its products and wastes – would be perceived and treated as resources cycling through the system.

As this new century unfolds, there are two developments that will have major impacts on the well-being and ways of life of humanity. Both have to do with networks, and both involve radically new technologies. One is the rise of global capitalism; the other is the creation of sustainable communities based on ecological literacy and the practice of ecodesign. Whereas global capitalism is concerned with electronic networks of financial and informational flows, ecodesign is concerned with ecological networks of energy and material flows. The goal of the global economy is to maximize the wealth and power of its elites; the goal of ecodesign to maximize the sustainablitity of the web of life.

These two scenarios – each involving complex networks and special advanced technologies – are currently on a collision course. We have seen that the current form of global capitalism is ecologically and socially unsustainable. The so-called ‘global market’ is really a network of machines programmed according to the fundamental principle that money-making should take precedence over human rights, democracy, environmental protection or any other value.
However human values can change; they are not natural laws. The same electronic networks of financial and informational flows could have other values built into them. The critical issue is not technology, but politics. The great challenge of the twenty-first century will be to change the value system underlying the global economy, so as to make it compatible with the demands of human dignity and ecological sustainability. …
out of ‘Hidden Connections, a Science for Sustainable Living’ by Fritjof Capra, Harper Collins Publishers 2002
The permaculture flower shows the key domains that require transformation to create a sustainable culture.

Starting with ethics and principles focused in the critical domain of land and nature stewardship, permaculture is evolving by progressive application of principles to the integration of all seven domains.

Please click on the picture.

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out of ‘Permaculture, Principles & Pathways beyond Sustainability’ by David Holmgren, Holmgren Design Services, 2002

permaculture links
more texts & excerpts on permaculture
‚essence of permaculture‘ / download it here

Here are two sketches that demonstrate how permaculture can be a useful tool to explain and design human systems:
industrial teacup
This upper one is depicting the current human process for creating a cup of tea.
The result under the current system is: waste, pollution, energy loss, and destruction of nature.

Next is a drawing showing the creation of one cup of tea using permaculture principles.
Much less energy is used and outputs can be recycled directly back into the earth.

permaculture cup of tea

Through understanding and proper design we can mitigate the effects of current infrastructure and create healthy systems to fill our needs.
(scetches are borrowed from  ‚Permaculture: A Beginners Guide‚ by Graham Burnett)

permaculture links
more texts & excerpts on permaculture
‚essence of permaculture‘ / download it here

Please click on the principle

1.     Observe and Interact

2.     Catch & Store Energy

3.     Obtain a Yield

4.     Apply Self-Regualtion and Accept Feedback

5.     Use and Value Renewable Resources & Services

6.     Produce no Waste

7.     Design from Patterns to Details

8.     Integrate rather than Segregate

9.     Use Small and Slow Solutions

10.    Use and Value Diversity

11.    Use Edges and Value the Marginal

12.    Creatively Use and respond to Change
Sustainable development to provide for human needs, within ecological limits, requires a cultural revolution greater than any of the tumultuous changes of the last century. Permaculture design and action over the last quarter century, has shown that revolution to be complex and multi-facited. While we continue to grapple with the lessons of past successes and failures, the emerging energy descent world will adopt many permaculture strategies and techniques as natural and obvious ways to live within ecological limits, once real wealth declines.

On the other hand, energy descent will demand real-time response to novel situations and incremental adaption of existing inappropriate systems, as well as the best of creative innovation applied to the most ordinary and small design problems. All this needs to be done without the big budgets and cudos associated with current industrial design innovation.

Permaculture design principles can never be a substitute for relevant practical experience and technical knowledge. However, they may provide a framework for continuous generation and evaluation of the site and situation specific solutions necessary to move beyond the limited successes of sustainable development to a reunion of culture and nature.

Principles and Text by David Holmgren, Co-Originator of the Permaculture Concept, www.holmgren.com.au

The permaculture concept offers a path to a simpler, more sustainable and better-quality life.
The idea of permaculture integrates a great variety of knowledge and provides very practical tools that are useful for/can be applied by everyone and in everyday life.
It integrates a way of (systems)thinking and the use of design principles in order to create sustainable systems in a wide range of fields, be it in nature or society.

The Original Definition of Permaculture
‘Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. …
The philosophy behind permaculture is one of working with, rather than against, nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions, rather than asking only one yield of them; and of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.’
(Bill Mollison, Originator of the Permaculture Concept)

permaculture links
more texts & excerpts on permaculture
‚essence of permaculture‘ / download it here