Human-like Rivers, Timeless Trees, and “Accidental Rewilding”

Hi, this is Geoff,

Let’s jump right into this week’s Friday Five, weekend edition…

Enlightened Perspective: First this: “For the first time in New Zealand’s history, the country’s lawmakers have granted a river the legal rights of a human. The parliamentary vote Wednesday, which caps more than 140 years of legal struggles, ensures the roughly 90-mile Whanganui River will be represented by two guardians in legal matters that concern the waterway. The legislation marks a monumental victory for the local Māori people, who view the river as ‘an indivisible and living whole…’” Then, less than a month later, this happened: “The Ganges river, considered sacred by more than 1 billion Indians, has become the first non-human entity in India to be granted the same legal rights as people.” And here is the money line from the piece: “The judges cited the example of the Whanganui river, revered by the indigenous Māori people, which was declared a living entity with full legal rights by the New Zealand government last week.” Lesson to be learned? In the same way that negative things can spiral downward, positive, transformative, and enlightening perspectives can have a virtuous, accelerative upward momentum. Everything each of us does can set in motion remarkable echoes that far exceed our initial whisper.

Timeless Trees: Arbor Day is an unofficial “holiday” observed in several dozen countries around the world. Although typically observed sometime in spring, its exact date varies from country to country, in large part based on climate and the appropriate local planting season. In honor of our friends in the US, for whom Arbor Day took place just a few days ago, I’d like to share some of the exceptional work of photographer Beth Moon: “In 1999, photographer Beth Moon took it upon herself to begin documenting some of these more seasoned trees. Specifically, she sought out aged subjects that were ‘unique in their exceptional size, heredity, or folklore.’ And it was a quest.” An overview of Beth’s work can be seen here. And the full gallery along with her own brief commentary can be seen here.

Climate Change and Terrorism: I’ve hinted at the possible connection between the two before, and a short piece published last week explores this connection more explicitly: “From South America to the Middle East, the effects of climate change appear to exacerbate the problems of organised crime and terrorism.” The overview can be read here, and the full report by think-tank Adelphi can be downloaded and viewed here.

“Accidental Rewilding”: An incredible 3000 word essay by George Monbiot — whose content I previously referenced — that begins with a startling observation: “In places once thick with farms and cities, human dispossession and war has cleared the ground for nature to return.” The title in the URL is even more jarring: “Why Humanitarian Disasters Are Good for Nature.” Whatever you think of Monbiot’s thesis, the piece is a must-read (adapted from his Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding).

In case you missed it: A few interesting pieces this week from our sister site, the non-profit Permaculture Research Institute:

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.  

That’s it for the Friday Five.

Again, if you have something to share with respect to the Friday Five, please share your comments and thoughts on the blog-version of this Friday Five below.

Cheers, and have a great weekend

Your friend,

Geoff

PS: Two things I mentioned in last week’s Friday Five that might be of benefit to share again: First, Rob Avis’s course on passive solar greenhouses. In it, he aims to democratize a great deal of the hard engineering that goes into the design of passive solar greenhouses. This is certainly not a “generalist” course intended for everyone, but those for whom it was designed (you know who you are!), will find its value priceless – saving you from making countless errors and possibly months of wasted time. I believe he intended to close enrollment on the 27th, but last time I checked, the system seems to be allowing new sign ups. If interested, you can get the full details here.

Second, I also mentioned two brand new videos in the (free-to-join) Permaculture Circle: The first video is Compost Toilets (waterless toilets that saves about 30,000 liters per person per year, don’t smell…and the end-product improves your soil); the second video is Chickens Creating Soil by Design, a short clip showing our chickens in action.

Both clips are housed in The Permaculture Circle (TPC). If you’re already a member, just log in, click on the TPC placard, then the “Potpourri” section and you’ll see both clips. If you’re not a member, what are you waiting for? 🙂 It’s completely free, and there are over 100 different permaculture-related resources available on-demand (videos, animations, PDF overviews, and the like), organized into various categories: Selections from our new PDC 2.0 course, Memory Lane, Selected Video Q&A, the 9 part Permaculture Quick Start Series, and insights from consults and current projects.

And in addition to the videos, we have an incredible group of PDC-certified TAs who keep an eye on the comments / questions section several times a day, and do their utmost to answer your questions. We’ve got some new surprises that we’ll be rolling out over the next month, so now is a great time to jump in. For more information about joining (free) TPC, go here. And if you’re already a member and want to check out this week’s two additions, you can do so here.

2017-04-29T16:08:42+00:00 Blog|2 Comments
  • Mark Marshall

    “Why Humanitarian Disasters Are Good for Nature.” Humans have been working very hard to destroy the planet since the industrial revolution and we’ve gotten extremely good at it. I actually embraced the “zero population growth” concept when in high school and have zero children. I understand that wiping out humans is good for the environment but Christian theology does not support that. Permaculture “manages” the environment for maximum benefit for all, within reason. I worship the Creator God of Israel, not the creation itself, but have to admit to personal difficulty balancing value for human life with the need to maintain a habitable environment for that life. The fact that I cannot personally stop mass human suicide is no comfort and I salute Geoff and all others who are doing all they can to attempt it.

    • Bill Crandall-TA

      Thanks for sharing this position, Mark. I hope that you do not mind my poking at it just a little bit, since it is an interesting one in general and because a couple parts in particular remain curious to me.

      How does one know that people cannot be persuaded out of their or our collective suicide? I am thinking that you are talking about extinction here, not the various enormities that we are probably both pretty familiar with, but a collective end-point. I always wonder how individuals decide that they or we can personally calculate such a thing to the sort of certainty that would make someone wish to not act.

      Then, how does one know that the elimination of humans per se is ultimately a benefit–to other life, I suppose, in the sense of producing a richer ecology. Do I interpret you reasonably? I do not mean to question the destructive activities of humans over the last few thousand years; I just don’t see the line of inference from that to a need to end the species–though I won’t pretend to be objective here.

      I doubt that such destructive behavior is intrinsic to humanity for reasons that flow along two paths:

      1) The destructive behavior is not universal to humanity: not everyone does it.

      2) The destructive behavior is not necessary to fulfil human desire. We can eat and house ourselves and have our discourse and help the sick and live well into ripe old age without abusing the planet, and the methodology is not really more complex than what is being used to trash things, not at all.

      Why should I not believe that people are quite confused about both points, but particularly the second, and that we continue to destroy the means of our sustenance not because we particularly wish to suffer or to damage our children or our children’s children, but because so many of us have been trained that such sacrifice is necessary and we have lived so removed from gentle systems that we know no better?