Permaculture is the design of systems that create sustainable human environments.
The word itself is a contraction of permanent agriculture, as well as permanent culture, since cultures cannot survive for very long without a sustainable agricultural base and an ethical use of the land. On one level, permaculture deals with plants, animals, constructions and infrastructures (water, energy, communications, etc). However, it is not only about these elements themselves, but also about the relationships that we can establish between them, due to the way in which we place them within the landscape.
The aim is to create systems that are ecologically compatible and financially viable, that can provide for their own needs, do not exploit nor contaminate, and are sustainable in the long term. Permaculture uses plants’ and animals’ inherent qualities, combined with the natural characteristics of land and structures, to produce a system that can support life both in the city and in the countryside, while using the least possible physical area.
This living philosophy is built around three ethical principles: caring for the land, caring for the people, and fair distribution of profits. In this system, excess time, wealth and energy are reinvested back into the land and the people, to further benefit the community while also considering the global picture.
It is based on the observation of natural ecosystems, the wisdom contained in traditional farming methods, as well as modern scientific knowledge and technology. Following ecological models, permaculture creates a cultivated ecology, which is designed to produce more food for humans and animals than is usually found in the natural world.
Sustainable ecosystems, in which humans intervene and become a part of, can offer a positive future to a decadent humanity, in permanent search of external pleasures, while forgetting the simplest ones and disconnecting more and more from Gaia, our Mother Earth. Humankind, tired of internal and external conflict, is awakening en masse to the sound of our inner universe and the one around us, which are both a part of Nature.
We must not fight to control Nature, as we must not fight to control each other. We should learn to listen to her and use her inherent qualities to help her flourish, while giving us all we need to live a full and healthy life. This symbiotic and committed relationship between humans and their environment, as well as between human beings themselves, is perhaps one of the most logical paths available to us at the dawn of this new millennium.
Since humans discovered how to obtain energy from burning fossil fuels, their indiscriminate use has increased exponentially, exhausting world supplies and causing an enormous amount of accumulated atmospheric pollution which threatens our very existence on the planet. With the end of the supply now clearly in sight and the problems of global climate change becoming such an important issue, it is time to change our energy consuming habits and make a rapid transition towards both renewable and non-polluting alternatives.
Since the late 1950's, isolated pioneers have been experimenting with various clean energy systems, but due to the lack of any real investment, progress has been very slow. However, because of an ever increasing demand and the obvious need to find a quick solution, the technical advances in sustainable energy production are at last being taken seriously by both large industries and world governments.
On our planet, sunlight is so far the most abundant form of natural energy. In modern times, solar collectors and modules have been designed to capture some of the Sun’s energy and convert it into more usable forms such as heat or electricity, which are the two most important types of energy we consume.
Here are a few of the many different methods of obtaining clean and renewable energy available today:
Solar Photovoltaic Energy: A clean, quiet, and reliable energy source that uses solar panels to directly convert sunlight into electricity. These systems often use batteries to store the collected electrical energy.
Solar Thermal Energy: Using solar collectors, the sunlight is directly converted into heat. Solar water systems can save 50% or more on the energy bill for domestic hot water production.
Wind Energy: Wind has been used by humans for thousands of years, first to carry ships across oceans and, later, to pump water and grind grain. More recently, wind is being harnessed on a large scale as a clean, safe source of energy for generating electricity all around the world.
Hydro-electric energy: Today, the energy from falling water is used mainly to drive electrical generators at hydroelectric dams. As long as snow and rainfall can fill streams and rivers, moving water can be a renewable source of energy.
Geo-thermal Energy: Geothermal heat has been used to heat homes and businesses on a commercial scale since the 1920's. In most cases, communities take advantage of naturally occurring geysers, hot springs, and steam vents for domestic heating and in some cases to turn high-speed turbines that drive generators to produce electricity.
Ground Source Heat Pumps: This works the same way as your refrigerator, using a compressor, lengths of sealed tubing for gathering and dispersing heat, and a gas called the refrigerant. An essential part of the heat pump system is the network of tubes buried deep in the ground near the home, where it can be used to cool the house in summertime and warm it in the wintertime.
Biomass Energy: The term "biomass” refers to any form of plant or animal tissue. The energy stored in biomass can be released by burning the material directly, or by feeding it to micro-organisms that use it to make biogas, a form of natural gas. Energy from biomass is used around the world, for everything from cooking and heating to generating electricity and driving motor vehicles.
Wave Energy: Waves, particularly those of a large amplitude, contain enormous amounts of energy. It is estimated that if less than 0.1% of the total energy contained within the world’s oceans and seas was harnessed it would supply our entire global energy needs.
Tidal Energy: Changes in sea level can be used to generate electricity by building a dam across a coastal bay or estuary with large differences between low and high tides. Holes at the bottom of the dam cause water to rush past turbines at great speed, generating electricity.
Plasma Conversion: This is essentially an electrochemical system that, while safely destroying waste (even hazardous waste), converts those materials into useful and valuable commodity products. It does this economically and efficiently, with relatively few moving parts, and without combustion.
EM stands for Effective Micro-organisms. This is a combination of various micro-organisms normally found in food or which are used in food production. EM is made up from three main kinds of bacteria – Phototrophic bacteria, yeast bacteria and lactic acid bacteria. When the effective combination of these micro-organisms makes contact with organic materials, they secrete beneficial substances like vitamins, organic acids, minerals and anti-oxidants. When applied to the earth, they transform the micro-flora and the macro-flora, improving the natural equilibrium in such a way that the bacteria which previously caused problems are converted into bacteria which help to restore the natural health of the soil. The anti-oxidant effect also accelerates the decomposition of organic material and increases the humus content. All this helps to improve plant growth and serves as an excellent tool when used together with sustainable organic agriculture techniques.
Effective Micro-organisms were first developed in liquid form by Professor Teruo Higa of the Ryukus University in Okinawa, Japan, during many years of investigation and study which were completed in 1982. In the beginning, EM was considered as an alternative to using agricultural chemicals but it has since been evolved and extended for use in industrial processes, for solving environmental problems and in the promotion of natural health. It must be emphasised however, that EM is neither a synthetic chemical nor is it a medicine, but is perhaps one of the most positive natural tools to have been discovered. It has been carefully introduced into our common biosphere over the last twenty years with a history of only favourable results for all life on Earth.
With our survival becoming ever more dependent on the potentially catastrophic effects of GM technology, together with artificial and industrial based farming techniques, a more easily affordable approach which encourages only natural and symbiotic life-giving relationships to flourish, should certainly be appreciated as an authentic Earth-Saving Revolution!
Simple ecologic guide for living.
When you go out shopping, choose products made or produced in an environmentally friendly way (not tested on animals, avoid meat full of hormones and antibiotics or things made using underpaid labour in developing countries).
This reduces unnecessary suffering of both animals and people who may have been exploited in the making of the product you are buying.
Avoid buying products containing harmful additives, or which have been contaminated with toxic chemicals during their production.
Inform yourself well, this could save your life!
Support recycling projects, by separating your rubbish and deposting recyclable materials in their correct containers.
This encourages local authorities to continue improving their recycling schemes and also gives you a good feeling to be doing at least something positive for your environment.
Do not ingnore your own possibility to help conserve our natural environment by acting in a responsible and ecological way. The actions of each individual, multiplied by the number of people taking the same action, is having an enormous effect on our collective future.
IF WE ALL BEGIN NOW TO EVOLVE ECOLOGICALLY, MAYBE WE ARE NOT YET TOO LATE!
Time to Change
Do we have to destroy all the natural things and the beauty of this world?
Do we need the ugly buidings, the asphalt and the noise?
Do we have to see smoking chimneys, the garbage and the dirt?
Do we want to eat so many chemicals, kill the insects and the birds?
Can this brutal chaos go on forever?
Do we dare to wait and see?
Is there another way to live, or is this how it has to be?
The truth is really quite simple;
If we want to live at all, it’s time for us to change.
It’s time to heed the call.
We can stop making so much of a mess, stop cutting down all the trees;
Stop making horrible monsters, polluting our rivers, our air and our seas;
Stop using everything up, stop throwing it all away;
It’s time to think of tomorrow, not only of today.
It must be time to use wind power, solar power and wave power.
Horse power, man power and people power;
It must be time to reduce, re-use and recycle;
To walk, to run and to bicycle.
We’ll need to look after our bees, plant more trees and save our seas;
We’ll eat less meat, turn down the heat
And keep stress away from our doors;
We’ll need to work together like brothers and take care of the others.
We must forget about making wars.
It’s time to realise too that the earth is not ours to do as we please;
It’s for us to use, not for us to abuse.
And if the message is clear, let everyone hear!
We need this world as a working sphere;
It’s to pass on to our children to grow on;
And their children to grow on and so on….
It’s time also to re-discover that the Earth is our mother;
That wealth and happiness, health and stature
Are more easily found living closer to nature.
There is only one way forward: with an ECOLOGIC pattern;
So if we want to survive on this planet,
It’s time to start making things happen!
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