How the West was Lost

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Courtesy: Throbgoblins

What a week it has been. The world’s financial systems have been convulsing violently – an edge-of-seat roller coaster ride, sans the fun. Massive centralisation of financial management, combined with blinkered, short-term thinking, is seeing us teetering on the edge of a global depression. And the result? Even greater centralisation as banks swallow up banks in a bid to shore up the damage – and the taxpayer, it seems, is left to foot the bill for the greed and ineptitude of a ‘chosen few’.

The question is, where from here? Or, as this BBC article asks – “Where now for Capitalism?”

Courtesy: Throbgoblins

Before I got involved with PRI, I was founding editor and lead writer for Celsias. I mention this because it was my privilege to be paid to spend all my days researching and writing about current events. I say ‘a privilege’ because most of us are consigned to working long hours as a very small cog of this big economic machine that is our modern society. Few of us have the time or energy at the end of a long day to peer beyond our own immediate domestic circumstances to examine, in depth, current events and future scenarios. In my work I came face to face and grappled with a myriad of converging issues that, to be honest, were rather depressing. From peak energy combined with exponentially rising energy demand; from pollution to peak soil and peak water; from population growth to the implications of an aging baby-boomer generation; from democracy-for-sale runaway capitalism (what I affectionately call ‘corporate feudalism’) to biodiversity loss and genetic tinkering, and, even more depressing was seeing the ‘solutions’ put forth by politicians, economists, inventors and scientists, that ignore root causes to merely patch or exacerbate problems with magic techno-fixes, and profit from it all – anything but address the fact that our economy-must-grow mantra has no place on a finite planet.

From my research, it seemed to me that if someone were to actively plan to bring humanity to the absolute extreme of vulnerability, they couldn’t have done it any better.

Although Permaculture is all about solutions – for which I am very thankful – the scale of mobilisation we need to embark on in order to take Permaculture into the mainstream is similar to what the world witnessed as the U.S. and U.K. transformed themselves during World War II. Back then it was ‘all hands on deck’ – everyone working together to beat a common foe. Today, however, the enemy truly lies within – in our own habits of consumption, our own entrenched lifestyles and the political and economic institutions always ready to foster and feed on our inner dissatisfaction.

Whilst Permaculture brings a myriad of solutions to our ailing world, offering robust personal and social health and real, tangible, lasting, healing to all of the above-mentioned maladies, it seems to me this mobilisation will never occur while most of us are asleep to the scale of the issues we face. To this end, I would like to encourage readers to check out all the chapters of this excellent ‘Crash Course’ presentation by Chris Martenson [Update: Chris’ site is down this weekend for a server move I believe. You can watch them here though: After watching the first one, click on the next chapter via link at top. It will fail, but then just replace the part of the address with: and it’ll work]. Chris has found himself on the same path as myself – he spent four years researching past and present realities on several fronts – and he also feels the burden to share what he has discovered with an otherwise easily distracted and endlessly busy public. It’s a three hour presentation, broken up into 20 easy to watch chapters (it will take several seconds for the video to appear). Watch it as you have time, but please do watch (and circulate) it. You will find out exactly why the next twenty years will be very different than the last twenty – indeed, they will be very different than any other period in our short human history.

People are unlikely to prepare for a hurricane if they think those clouds on the horizon only promise a little rain. We have no time to lose. A sense of urgency today will pay dividends in our future.




  1. Craig – thanks for all the great posts. Like you, I had the privledge to research over the past few years and I have come to the same conclusions. This crash course video is very well put together and I sent it out to my email list and posted it to my blog. Much respect!

    There is little time and much work to do! I am working for free to create food forests in my community. I just bought about 10 rare trees/shrubs/vines from a california rare fruit grower – including a perennial vine that makes a squash and a papaya that will grow here in california!

    Its been hard but satisfying work tearing out crab-grass (bermuda grass) – if you know of a permaculture technique let me know. I was assuming that it was so vigorous that it would grow up through any sheet mulching.. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Much love and respect.

  2. Dear Zachary
    You need to cut the grass very low and water it well then cover it with black plastic or even better roofing iron painted mat black and leave it long enough to completely burn all the tops of the grass and just below the surface. The best thing to do then is to tractor a densely stocked large breed of chickens over the ground in a movable chicken tractor and they will dig up a large proportion of the roots and eat all seeds present. The chickens will also heavily manure the ground which is very important component to assist in burning the remaining roots (extra manure can be added) under either a very deep sheet mulch paper or cardboard (one ton to 200m2) then very deep organic mulch (one bale of straw to 1.3M2) then a VERY dense planting of a vigorous fast growing perennial ground cover if you intend to use the area for growing trees, planted through the mulch and spiked through the sheet mulch into the soil. If want to grow a vegetable garden or herbaceous plants in the area then instead of laying down the sheet mulch sow a VERY dense seeding at 4 or 5 times the recommended density of leguminous cover crop seed onto the raked ground and then cover this with a very thin scatter mulch that only just cover the soil surface (one bale of straw to 40M2) and start gardening once the cover crop is in full flower, by cutting the dense cover crop for mulch and not pulling out the roots but leaving them in position to rot in the soil.

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