Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
us from making progress. Permaculturists are realising more and more that we must work
on people care alongside Earth care if we are to have any success in establishing sustain-
able human habitats. This can mean anything from teaching ourselves communication and
listening skills, to designing cities which cater for real human needs.
Fair shares is a matter of acknowledging that the Earth has limits. She is not of infinite
size, so our appetites cannot be infinite either. However much we recycle or buy 'envir-
onmentally friendly' products, we can never consume our way out of trouble. There is no
substitute for drastically reducing our consumption of non-renewable resources. Almost
everything is produced from non-renewables in our present economy, such as most of our
food for a start. Renewable resources which are used faster than they can be replaced are
also effectively non-renewable, for example, timber and paper at present rates of consump-
This does not mean we should all suffer in poverty. It means that the Earth can only sur-
vive in a healthy state if we match our consumption to need, not greed. This means leav-
ing space for other species, enough food and other resources for the other peoples of the
world, and a clean, well-stocked planet for future generations. In other words, taking our
fair share.
If you ask most people what really makes life worth living they will say it is not material
things at all, but non-material ones like love and friendship, and there is no need for a limit
on these. Acknowledging the physical limits of the Earth can help to free us from the never-
ending obsession for more material things, and give us more time and energy for the things
that really matter.
We also need to limit our population. We in the industrialised North consume far more
than the people in the poor South, in the order of 40 times as much per head by one United
Nations estimate, and the amount of damage we do to the Earth is greater in proportion. So
it is we in the North who most urgently need to control our population.
What causes population to grow is a very complex and controversial subject. But the
changes which have taken place over the past few decades in Ladakh, in northern India,
as recorded by Helena Norberg-Hodge ( Ancient Futures - Learning from Ladakh; Helena
Norberg-Hodge; Rider; 1991), are particularly revealing. When the people of this isolated
Himalayan region depended for their livelihood entirely on the local ecosystem they kept
their population steady, so as to be in balance with the ecosystem. Now that the Indian gov-
ernment has introduced a cash economy, many Ladakhis depend on resources brought from
far off and their ability to obtain them depends only on their access to money. So there is
no longer any immediate need to keep population within bounds, and it is rising.
All conventional 'development', in both North and South, is aimed at increasing
people's involvement in the cash economy, replacing local production for local needs with
long-distance trade. Here in the North it is called economic growth, and it increasingly
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