I am happy to discuss these matters on the mailing list. I see no value in
private discussions. I understand the situation and the only value of
discussing it is to involve people who have not given thought to such
matters. And even then, I will pick and chose discussions based on what else
is demanding my time at the moment.
I see nothing relevant to permaculture in justifying mining because you want
metal. Permaculture is not about gratifying arbitrary urges.
For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications
Dan and others...
Certainly, we agree that permaculture is not about catering for arbitary urges, as you say.
However, we don't understand what you mean by 'arbitary urges'. Do you imply that metal tools such as hoes, saws and nails are arbitary urges?
We do not see permaculture going out of its way to justify mining, yet,
make use of metal for tools or other products (such as computers, which we are using at present) we justify, to some extent, the existence of the mining industry.
That being the case, and assuming we want to continue with the use of metals, then the best we as permaculturists can do is to encourage the mining industry to adopt technologies and techniques which minimise environmental and social impact. In Australia, some elements of the mining industry have made progress in minesite rehabilitation and, while this may seem to be a fairly minor thing, it represents a progression over previous practices by the industry. Minesite rehabilitation is now a legal requirement.
As to permaculturist's use of metals in construction, research has gone into the embodied energy of materials, including metals. Some of this research has been published in Bill Lawson's book 'Building Materials and the Environment', published by Solarch, School of Architecture, University of New South Wales in Sydney.
Another researcher - whose name eludes us - is doing work on the production of greenhouse gases by the production of different materials. This research stems from growing interest in Australia in the concept of lifecycle analysis. Environmental lawyer and innovator, Michael Mobbs, who developed the 'sustainable house', a publicly-accessible display house in Sydney demonstrating water and energy efficiency, on-site waste treatment and the selection of building materials, including metals (see the book 'The Sustainable House' by Choice Australia) provides an example of the selective use of products of the mining, timber and other industries on the basis of their embodied energy and environmental impact.
For Permaculture people and others interested in ESD, Lawson's book is useful as a guide to the selection of the materials with which they build their houses and other structures.
This issue of mining reminds me of a statement made by Bill Mollison some years ago. Although Bill was not making excuses for the mining industry, he said that the industry is less damaging than logging because the damage caused by mines is less extensive than the broadscale felling of logging.
So, permaculture can play a role in this by educating people about resource use, lifecycle analysis, waste reduction and by questioning our over-sonsuming lifestyles.
It's hard to see how a society based on the use of the products of extractive industry can switch to one based on replacable biomass materials. Even permaculture village residents in rural areas are reliant on the use ofmotor vehicles - products of the mining industry - as would they be were it feasible (which it is not in some cases) to swap cars for pushbikes.
.......Fiona + Russ
PACIFIC EDGE PERMACULTURE
Russ Grayson and Fiona Campbell
PO Box 446, Kogarah NSW 2217 AUSTRALIA
Phone/ fax 02-9588 6931 (IDD-61+2+9588 6931)
Permaculture training + permaculture design + Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network (NSW contact) + EarthWorks trainers (community waste minimisation training) +journalism/ photojournalism (global development; environment and society; sustainable community development) + publication design + desktop publishing services + overseas development assistance services (APACE Kastom Garden Program + village renewable energy, South Pacific)