The brave step of supporting a new technology can be full of confusion. Techno-confusion is mounting as more, and more technologies are invented. The world is desperately searching for technological improvement to help solve climate uncertainty. [Permaculture is one technological and cultural solution.] Yet even as we discover healthy technologies, humanity will continuously aim to reduce inefficiencies.
Everyone wants to be part of the solution. Many of understand why it is good to search for clean and efficient technologies. But most of us are confused about ‘how to tell what is best’
How can we rid ourselves of confusion, build our confidence; make informed decisions; remain unswayed by emotion; ignore slick sales pressures and side-step [or lead] new fashion trends?
At PermacultureVisions we created a decision tool to help you determine your own values and priorities. It may also lead you to consider environmental aspects. The least it can do is help save you time and money.
Master the Art of Decision Making
Lectures are useful to get up to speed on facts and figures. Tutoring helps you understand the factors in those decisions. Mentoring guides you as you tailor the choices to suit your individual needs. The table below is part of our mentorship and teaching program. Instead of telling you what to buy, like a sales team, we would rather help you make technological choices.
How Can I Compare All the Different Technologies Available?
We can evaluate new technologies and compare like products when we consider each feature and cost. Here is a guide to help you compare technologies or products with similar purpose. This evaluation tool was developed with our students Morgan Stephens, Tessha Mearing, and Penny Cross.
The aim of this tool is to equip permaculture designers with a means to evaluate a new technology themselves rather than being told what is best. Technologies change rapidly, so advise can get conflicting and the technology efficiency is dependent on the context of the user.
You can set your own rating value. This will reflect how important this aspect or feature is in your choice. Sit back with a cuppa, set the priorities and enjoy!
The consumer can become the leader. The consumer can test, adapt, and develop techniques and strategies. We can give informed feedback to the product-developers. If the product has modular parts, we often find new uses and by-products . Further inventions can be lead by the grass-roots users.
“The question I ask myself is: what do I want to achieve? and what are all my options to get the task done? For example: when I buy a drill I am really wanting something to make a hole. Essentially, we need to Keep the endpoint in focus and the options wide“ Green Technology Engineer – Paul Kelly, Research Support at Permaculture Visions.
Wide Spectrum of Solar Opportunities
Solar power is abundant, free and the oldest power source known to humanity. The Sun beams a broad variety of energy waves to us. For thousands of years humanity has used the heat, light and UV for our daily tasks. We are enjoying an explosion of research and development as we near peak pollution and warming targets. Along with the rise in Solar technology a number of female engineers are leading research and many mature women are able to contribute to installation and maintenance.
if you live in a cold climate – build a cozy outdoor nook in the sunny corner of a tiny greenhouse. Incorporate lots of thermal mass (ie. mud-brick benches and pillars) and you can sunbathe in it on sunny days in winter. Install a shower with a rocketstove water heater in another corner and you could spend most of your winters daytime happily in there as do many on Carraig Dulra permaculture farm in Ireland!
Terry Leahy writes: How can it be good that one in four Australians experiences serious attacks of anxiety at one time or another in their lives? In any twelve month period 14 per cent will get anxiety attacks.
What is there to be Anxious about?
What is there to be anxious about when we live in the lucky country, surrounded by mod cons and ever-increasing wealth? The environmental catastrophe that everyone knows we are in for but nobody talks about too often. Work and economic survival in the neo-liberal economy.
Once upon a time jobs were for life if you wanted that, and there was full employment. House prices were low and government supplemented the housing market by building low-cost rental accommodation. Now a huge proportion of the population in work are doing casual jobs rather than having permanent positions. Those who are in permanent work are scared that it cannot last. House prices are crazy and there is no security in renting. Unemployment seems minor at six per cent but most people who cannot get a job do not register as unemployed, it is so hard to stay on welfare.
Add to all that the sense that the recession of 2008 has never gone away and the realization that the Australian economy still hangs on a knife-edge. People are made constantly aware that their life security depends on constantly jumping through hoops and being ready for anything.
We need an economy where people’s daily well-being does not depend on the vagaries of the global market, where the environment has priority and where you can really expect your grandchildren to live as well as you have.”
Self-Reliance versus Self-Sufficiency
Self-Sufficiency is rare. It has the goal of complete independence from society. In the self-sufficient culture, the sick or elderly are often left to die. Self-Reliance is different. Self reliance is a way of thinking and living that enables others to be part of the responsibility of providing for our needs by trading and sharing. The ‘Self-Reliance’ economy would involve care for the weak. Permaculture promotes self-reliance.
Keeping the Power of Feelings
When we are faced with anxieties it is hard to maintain optimism. Yet “optimism has more power than fear” (Bob Brown). Optimism is patient, organised and forgiving. Whereas, Fear is reactive, quick and often unplanned, leading to panic and regret .
Skepticism is essential for unbiased science. We are encouraged to scrutinise and evaluate research. But, to be the type of leader who lives in constant denial is to risk missing out on key opportunities. To go one step further and declare that climate science is no longer needed is simply madness.
Most conversations open with a chat about the weather. Especially for those people who live in life-threatening weather systems (North America, England). Oscar Wilde once quipped that “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” Oscar Wilde lived in a period of climate security. What would he say now? Ask the denialist about their view on the weather.
2. Encourage that Odd ‘Moment of Reminiscing’
The denialist who is still ‘saving for the rainy day” will begrudgingly enjoy spending time in the cool, climate-adapted Skeptics den. In the day-to-day discussions with classic denialists, there are nostalgic reminisces about the changing weather patterns. We hear : “When I was a boy it snowed at Christmas, there were some snow drifts as big as ….” but the next breath is uncomfortably silent.
The denialist doesn’t need to consider that their pollution would be degrading the planet or contributing to climate uncertainty.
Befriend The Elephant
To consider the link between human behaviour and climate change is to accept that our own behaviour, might have been harmful to the planet. To face our grandchildren with the knowledge that we have put a burden on them is shameful.
It takes a really big guy to accept that his life’s work is not building a better future.
It is also very challenging to recognise that any destructive practices today are going to be costly to future generations.
The climate change elephant-in-the-room is growing bigger.
3. Accentuate the Positives
An awareness of climate change can drive innovation and provide a market advantage. [But do avoid green-washing clichés eg. ‘Save the trees by using our plastic siding’. ]
This growing ‘eco-market’ is informed, genuine and astute. It keeps pushing for educated solutions eg. this type of consumer won’t just settle on having insulation, she wants recycled insulation.
If you offer a genuinely good product or service, the eco-market will hunt you down and be knocking at your company door before the product is on the market.
Befriending that Elephant-in-the–workplace can help reduce climate change pressures and lead innovation. Rather than trying to compete solely on price, a smart company can offer green-savy, ethical solutions. Nucor Steel recycle one ton of steel every two seconds. Nucor are also developing the world’s first faster, cleaner, 99% recycled high quality steel.
4. Listen To The Heart
Religion speaks to a lot of people. One the greatest challenges to the common Climate Denial Brigade is Pope Francis.
He implores followers to be guardians and stewards, not exploiters of the earth. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says Climate change is a moral challenge threatening the rights of the world’s poorest people and those who deny it are not using God’s gift of knowledge.
In Islam there is the basic tenet that the earth is for all beings, not humans alone. The Dalai Lama writes that “Life must be characterized by a sense of universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life”. This universal belief in a higher good can be the catalyst to a deeper maturity and exploration of ethics.
5. Help Them Free the Change-Makers
How did the some cultures get so disconnected from nature? How did some people allow themselves to think that the planet is for them to dominant and do as they wish? Greed is a powerful demon.
If the climate denialists don’t have the power to jump up and face the demons
(the horrors of our transgressions), then they need to simply get out-of-the-way!
Who wouldn’t want freedom from economic slavery? What would a world of economic honesty look like? Many of us sing: “I OWE, I OWE IT’S OF TO WORK I GO”. In reply to this mournful choir you may hear voices offering hopeful refrains. Ted Trainer urges us to explore simple living. His is an alternative to the obsessive consumer slavery.
Here’s the good news! It costs nothing to aim for lower expenditure. There is no risk of failure in our quest for freedom. Challenging the economics of global consumption can benefit us in surprising ways. We can stop to smell the roses, enrich our social interactions, question what we really need and reduce our waste. Some of us will develop creative, productive habits. Others might explore green technologies. We can all build lifestyles that work toward physical and mental health and a healthier, more peaceful Earth. “What people must see is that ecologically sane, socially responsible living is good living; that simplicity makes for an existence that is free.” – Theodore Roszak
Dr Ted Trainer is a visiting Fellow at the University of NSW. He invites us to go one step further than the noble pursuit for freedom from economic slavery. He suggest we turn work into fun. Much of Ted’s work is invisible. He explores the intricacies of social connections and aims to find ways to support inventive and creative thinkers.
On his alternative lifestyle education site at Pig-face Point, Sydney, Ted has a playful approach to food production. He shifts the focus from a sense of work to a sense of exploration and creation.
Ted says “Work doesn’t feel like work when you’re having fun”. Part of his site was designed for fun (bridges, arches, islands, caves, etc.) and other parts have purpose (dams, rammed earth shed, cob oven, and home-made furniture from found branches. He uses his site as a model to show people how to create an interconnected, well-resourced and equipped ‘village’ or housing complex. Here is one of his students 3D models where we can see retrofits of whole suburbs to better connect the community, reduce waste and increase local production.
Ted is like a happy nutty professor escaped from the lab! He has a lot of energy experiments (tidal energy, water wheels, methane gas, composting toilets, etc.) For years I had believed someone else that said that a methane converter couldn’t work in our cooler climate. Now I know that to be untrue. Simple bio-gas chambers off composting toilets can work in warm-temperate zones. Ted had one working off his toilet. If Ted, hadn’t bravely tried this, I wouldn’t have seen it for my eyes. He also had some low-tech stuff which demonstrated in a fun way, like a simple hose coiled to pump water as you turn it.