Why energy descent isn’t all doom and gloom

Last night I went to a talk by David Holmgren, co-founder of permaculture, at a Permaculture Sydney North meeting.

Speaking on retrofitting our suburbs for a resilient future, he gave a positive spin on the way communities could use permaculture strategies to deal with energy descent. He painted a picture of communities working together to meet the joint challenges of climate change and scarce fossil fuels, rather than a “Mad Max” world of complete chaos.

His talk focussed on the evolution of “Aussie Street”, a typical Australian 1950s suburban street. It starts out housing large families with chook runs and vegetable gardens and slowly changes to what we have today – low population density with two or three people in each house and working families outsourcing their lives and too busy to maintain their back yards.

Projecting into the future, the families, dealing with a depression caused by a collapse in the financial system and high fossil fuel prices, survive and even thrive by taking in other family members or lodgers, setting up urban farms in their back yards, and by running small scale home-based businesses that serve their local area. Overall they spend a much higher proportion of their time at home and the households are highly productive. In addition their greenhouse gas production is significantly reduced, not by design, but just as a consequence of their changed lifestyles.

Holmgren believes the power to get things done lies in the hands of ordinary people. Waiting for governments or someone “higher up” to come up with a solution to the challenges that face us is a waste of time. He encouraged us to implement permaculture strategies in our own lives now, and to experiment to find out what works well. This will then provide a working model for others to emulate while also developing a constituency that, hopefully, people at the top will notice.

More information:

Some of the sources he referenced were:

Waste not - want not

Up and running with Bokashi

Take a look at this now, because this is the best it will look.

I’ve decided to try out Bokashi composting again after a hiatus of several years.

Bokashi composting originated in Japan, and it uses a special bran inoculated with good bacteria to ferment kitchen waste.

It’s a great way for apartment dwellers to reduce waste as it’s odour free and can be done indoors.

But the thing I like best about the system is that you can compost just about everything, even meat scraps (no bones), dairy and cooked food.

With two small children in our household, we seem to be constantly throwing away prepared food…part of a sandwich, uneaten breakfast cereal, rejected dinner, etc…and all this waste has been going to landfill.

It’s taken me a little too long to realise that using Bokashi composting in our waste reduction mix would solve our problems.

And even after one day, our rubbish bin is significantly emptier.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.