[Friday Five] Black Friday goes green + Paul’s boots …

Hi, this is Geoff.

Our friends in the US might be having a “turkey hangover” right now, so let’s just jump right in…

Black Friday goes green: Patagonia, already an exemplar among socially-responsible businesses via its 1% for the Planet initiative, extended this by pledging to donate 100% of its sales on Black Friday to environmentally-minded grassroots organizations. Fantastic way to take an event that embodies consumerism and consumption, and flipping it on its head. Makes sense for a company that actually encourages its customers NOT to buy its products unless they really need them (and then to buy used if they can through its “Worn Wear” storiesand then create an entire secondary market to facilitate this!) Bravo, Pantagonia, bravo…

Mass extinction: I don’t even feel comfortable writing those words as it feels sensationalist, but according to Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich, the sixth mass extinction is already here. Details are spelled out in the peer-reviewed journal, Science Advances. A summary of the piece was published on Stanford’s own website, but the line that most caught my eye was this: “As species disappear, so do crucial ecosystem services such as honeybees’ crop pollination and wetlands’ water purification. At the current rate of species loss, people will lose many biodiversity benefits within three generations, the study’s authors write. ‘We are sawing off the limb that we are sitting on,’ Ehrlich said.” Biodiversity sets the rules of the game and we have to play the rules, permaculture design not only plays by the rules it refines the art of playing the game.

Half-above, half-below water shots: Photographer Matthew Smith describes what intrigues him about these types of photos: “For me, one of the most wondrous parts of any dive is the moment that the water engulfs my mask as my head slips below the surface,” Smith explains. “I think it’s the suspense of the unknown of what lies beneath, the transitional part of moving from one element to the next that feels so magical, and the thought of what alien creatures I might encounter. That is what draws me to taking half-over-half underwater images.” You have to see these pictures yourself – they are truly breath-taking (and they were on display at the Australian Museum in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition last year).

Paul’s boots: I can write a lot here, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise. Just watch it. And I challenge you not to weep with joy before even getting to the 2:00 mark of the video at how beautiful, touching, kind, and giving human beings can be.

In case you missed it: A handful of this week’s intriguing articles and videos from our sister site, the non-profit Permaculture Research Institute. First up is an impassioned TedX talk by Ryan Harb about the first public university permaculture garden in the US. Second is a video from Jacob Neeman walking us through how he built his wooden house — from start to finish — all done by hand, and using no nails, screws, or steel plates. Finally, a beautiful set of insights from Brigid Stromberger about her time spent at Zaytuna Farm in, “Reflections From Our Time Capsule.”  If you enjoy these posts, be sure to bookmark the site as several new articles go up weekly, or check out thousands of other past articles, here.

Feel free to forward to a friend. Anyone can sign up for the next batch.

Cheers, and have a great weekend,

Your friend,



PS: Remember, the Friday Five is not meant to be a one-way transmission of information, but rather a conversation-starter. All of you have something valuable to say, and I want others in our community to benefit from your insights, experience, and different point of view. So let your voice be heard in the comments below.

2016-12-13T11:05:40+00:00 Blog|13 Comments
  • john mcginnis

    Good news for sure on several fronts, however…..

    I would not tout Paul Ehrlich as my advance man for any topic. He has a track record of being wrong time and again.

    • TonyPrep

      Such as? If you mean his bet with Julian Simon, that was just a matte of bad timing; a few years later and he’d have been right. What else has he got wrong?

      • john mcginnis

        His whoppers exceed the bet —

        Claims: In 1968, Paul R. Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb and
        declared that the battle to feed humanity had been lost and that there
        would be a major food shortage in the US. “In the 1970s … hundreds of
        millions are going to starve to death,” and by the 1980s most of the
        world’s important resources would be depleted. He forecast that 65
        million Americans would die of starvation between 1980-1989 and that by
        1999, the US population would decline to 22.6 million. The problems in
        the US would be relatively minor compared to those in the rest of the
        world. (Ehrlich, Paul R. The Population Bomb. New York,
        Ballantine Books, 1968.) New Scientist magazine underscored his speech
        in an editorial titled “In Praise of Prophets.”

        Claim: “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small
        group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry
        people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will
        not exist in the year 2000.” Paul Ehrlich, Speech at British Institute For Biology, September 1971.

        Claim: Ehrlich wrote in 1968, “I have yet to meet anyone familiar
        with the situation who thinks India will be self-sufficient in food by
        1971, if ever.”

        Data: Yet in a only few years India was exporting food and significantly
        changed its food production capacity. Ehrlich must have noted this
        because in the 1971 version of his book this comment is deleted (Julian
        Simon, The Ultimate Resource, Princeton: Princeton Univesity Press, 1981, p. 64).

        I could add even more but I don’t wish to make the post overly long. Ehrlich might be many things but his track record on predicting futures quite honestly stinks. Certainly would not turn to him for horse racing advise.

        • TonyPrep

          Well, personally, I wouldn’t regard anything that Julian Simon wrote as worthy of consideration (he, essentially, thought that if we run short of some element, e.g. copper, we could make it from other elements); he had no notion of limits. At least Erlich did and does. However, the research paper Geoff linked to has Erlich as only one of several authors and not as the lead author, so I wouldn’t dismiss it just because Erlich was involved. The level of extinctions has been estimated by numerous scientists over the years and all determine the rate to be way above the background rate. That we’re already in that event is very likely, especially as there is no significant move to rein in our destructive behaviour.

  • Nathanael Szobody

    Seems to me that the article on mass extinction is the single most compelling and non-partisan argument for Permaculture. Whatever you believe WILL happen to the environment, this is empirical evidence that our human activities must undergo a seismic shift to integrated natural diversity.

    We have accomplished incredible advances in ‘knowledge’ in many arenas, but if the net result of said knowledge is demonstrably destructive, then we need to take a longer view of ‘advance’. Whence, the wisdom of an approach that begins as an ethic.

  • Hi Geoff – your P.S. inspired me to tell you about my project, http://www.EmissionsTax.org
    I would love to work with you in any way and invite you to connect through my site. What I could think of immediate value is your input on transforming industrial and agricultural land into healthy land or land that uses less resources.

    I love your videos and look forward to hearing from you – Robert

  • Andy Connolly

    Good job Pantagonia, it is always great when a company cares about more than it’s bottom line.

  • Chris Searles

    Hey guys, i was moved by Geoff’s mention of the extinction crisis. Here’s a two minute video synopsis i put together on the biggest solution — protecting and restoring tropical forests:


    Video is part 3 of a series of 12. Visit http://biointegrity.net, my fundraising and education effort, for more info. Thanks.

  • Zack Blake

    Much of the permaculture discussion is preaching to the choir. How could we pique the interest of people who aren’t all that concerned about environmental issues or sustainability? I mean, we can say we’re losing 137 rain forest species per day (stat published by Arbor Day this month), but what’s an example of the impact of that?

  • Brent Bourdeau

    Hi all putting out an SOS to the community.Here in the wake of hurricane Otto we have an issue that needs people witk computer expertise to do a watershed analysis,and potential flood path of dam break related to topography on google earth.
    Any computer experts well versed in google earth that can do fast volume measurements and calculations based on topo maps?Pavones can use your help assesing flood path potentials for the rio claro pavones..no time to waste.
    Please contact me @ [email protected]. Evacuations are in progress!

  • Christopher Holly

    Mr. Lawton, who would you recommend to donate to in order to help with CO2 reduction efforts? I don’t want to be green washed and since I live in the US, I can’t rely on the government to what’s right. NDRC? Carbonfund? Any thought is appreciated…

    • Hi Christopher

      The only 100% guarantee I could give you is our not for profit permaculture project work and our partner institutes where 100% of donations go onto the ground. We only work with not for profit organisations with administration cost under 10% some are under 5%. We only commit to help set up projects where land is held in a trust where it can only be used as demonstration and education of permaculture design systems.

  • TonyPrep

    Geoff, don’t feel uncomfortable mentioning the sixth extinction. There have been various studies that put the extinction rate at between 100 times and 10,000 times the background rate. That’s well into extinction event territory. Elizabeth Kolbert’s book also provides compelling evidence. And this is before climate change impacts have really kicked in, in terms of extinctions. Sadly human behaviour is not really open to change (we are a species with a characteristic behaviour) but some of us do what we can.

    That wooden house build was incredible – the skill and patience that must have gone into that; I wonder how many were involved and for how long. It’s a mix of modern and not-so-modern technology (some machine milling, metal forging, gas torch, but with hand tools for much of the work) but a fantastic result.