Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia's Garden, gave a great lecture at Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and they have made the video available on Youtube:
It's about an hour. Here are some notes I took:
- He reframes "sustainable" as the midpoint of a spectrum with "degenerative" on one side and "regenerative" on the other and emphasizes regenerative systems.
- He talks about the length of time we (humans) have been doing "culture" (group activites, pottery, art, singing and music, etc.) and points out that it's roughly a million (1,000,000) years-- and that agriculture has only been happening for about ten thousand years, about 1% of that time.
- Five culture types based on food getting technology:
- Agricultural (cities)
- Pastoral (Animal herding)
- Then follows a great deal of the "dirt" on agriculture. Old hat to those who know it, horrifying and challenging to those who don't. Hemenway sums it up, "Agriculture... ...converts ecosystems into people."
- (Oil => Food => People) x (Peak Oil) = Hoshit! i.e. we made people out of oil for the last few generations and now we are running out of oil. Could be trouble...
- Holmgrin's scenarios:
- Techno-fantasy (technology saves the day and we pack ourselves in like sardines until something else gives, or spew forth and colonize the galaxy until we reach the expansion limits of our space-drives... Technology doesn't solve the problem, only postpones it.)
- Green-tech stable - stabilize population (match growth and death rates) and live within the Solar energy budget while regenerating the Earth.
- Graceful decline - (growth rate less than death rate for awhile...) "Earth Stewardship" "Permaculture" I don't know where the people are supposed to have gone.
- "Atlantis" - i.e. doom. Personally I think this is the most likely, but I'm okay with being proven wrong on that.
- "Peak Wood" - no kidding. Peak Oil seems to have happened before with wood instead of oil, and could be responsible for bringing the Bronze Age to a close. Wow.
- Last but not least, Horticulture to the rescue! All the great things about Permaculture and a Neo-Horticultural society.