I have to hand it to ghirbaal. He entitled a recent post that mentions biodiversity Don’t You Quote Hobbes at Me, Nature Boy. That piqued my interest enough to go and take a look, and it proved a fascinating read. ghirbaal seems to be based in Jordan, and was reporting on a permaculture conference that he had been to in Marda, a village in Palestine. Marda is the site of an experimental permaculture farm. That’s interesting in itself, but besides the point.
ghirbaal gives a very clear account of what permaculture offers and the rationale behind most of its design principles.
I appreciate the ease with which permaculturalists acknowledge and celebrate the historical precedence of and continued ability of mankind to productively interact with his environment (while recognizing the destructiveness of some of the later instantiations of this ability). Mankind is likewise bound to the networks of ecological connections, though with a degree of flexibility, which permaculture tries to mobilize. And, personally, I likewise appreciate the sense in which permaculture design tries to break down the boundaries between the house and the garden, and explore ways in which they can fruitfully interact with each other, such that the house can become inseparable from the garden, and vice versa.
It seems to be with the realpolitik of permaculture that he (?) finds the greatest difficulty. The questions of scale and of focus are the big problem. Can permaculture ever supply the amount of food that might sustain a culture rather than a family? Moreover, can permaculture adapt itself to a society in which the individual dwelling, nestling in its carefully designed and tended permcultured acres, is not in fact the way most people want to live?
I’m not going to attempt to summarize the rest of the argument. I’ll just say that there are some thought-provoking ideas (if Israeli settlements were more sustainable, would that increase or decrease international support for them?) that are well worth exposing yourself to.