Peak Oil Anarchy

Peak Oil is indisputable, inevitable and -- probably -- imminent. As the Cheap Oil era ends & oil supplies grow ever more scarce, our consumerist, earth-eating economy will go into convulsions & industrial civilization will teeter on the brink of collapse. Best be prepared! Peak Oil could herald a Golden Age of Anarchy. In Leviathan's ashes, we could create new decentralized communities of mutual aid, solidarity against oppression, & egalitarian harmony. May this be a map to the terrain ahead!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Beyond Wilderness: Earth as a Garden

As researchers examine the Amazon more carefully, it appears that huge areas contain not only wild plants, but have been stocked with people-friendly cultivars of useful species. More and more, it looks as if the Amazon, like much of the Americas, was a carefully cultivated garden before the Europeans showed up and abused it into a thicketed wilderness. It appears that our idea of wilderness—black forest so dense you can barely walk, where people "take only photographs and leave only footprints"—is a notion burned into our psyches during an anomalous blip: the first two centuries following the Mayflower, in which the gardeners who had tended the Americas for millennia were exterminated, leaving the hemisphere to descend into an neglected tangle of "primeval forest." It's likely that this so-called intact forest had never existed before, since humans arrived here as soon as the glaciers receded and began tending the entire landmass with fire and digging stick. The first white explorers describe North America's forests as open enough to drive wagons through. Two centuries later these agroforests had deteriorated to the black tangles immortalized by Whitman and Thoreau.

Wilderness may be merely a European concept imposed on a depopulated and abandoned landscape. The indigenous people of the Americas were master terraformers, using a hard-learned understanding of ecological processes to preserve the fundamental integrity of natural systems while utterly transforming the land into a place where humans belonged and could thrive. They were truly a part of nature, and likely did not make a distinction, as environmentalists do, between land where people belong and land where we do not. I'll certainly agree that people carrying chainsaws and riding bulldozers don't belong everywhere. But I'm beginning to think that gardeners, with gentle tools and sensitive spirits, have been and might again be the best planetary land managers the Earth can have.

Read complete essay (by Toby Hemenway, Permaculture Activist)


  • At 4:09 PM, Blogger bdfytoday said…

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