Overview by Jeremy Leach 7 years, 8 months ago

A sustainable world - becoming conscious

Human creativity has got us a long way. But for most of the time we have ignored the cost to the environment. We have only considered the creation side of the cycle.

In sourcing the materials for their products, companies have not worried about the destruction caused around them. They have also not been concerned with what happens to the product after it is no longer needed. A few examples: mining, deforestation, oil spills, greenhouse gasses. The end products - plastic bags floating in the Atlantic, landfills, hazardous metals, radioactivity.

As long as the company makes money - who cares about what happens later? Humans are generally short term thinkers. The problem is we are creating long term problems, and it's our children and grandchildren that will pay the cost.

As the effects of mass industry are becoming more and more obvious, the cry for change gets ever louder. We no longer trust corporations to do the right thing, and instead look to do things ourselves.

Where we once allowed companies to build uniform houses using environmentally costly manufacturing processes, many are looking to simpler methods of community building using natural materials. Cob, straw bale, adobe, and locally sourced reclaimed timber are all materials that can be used to build a home for far less than it costs to have one built with expensive modern materials.

At the same time, producing things locally, with our own hands results in conscious ownership of the whole cycle of creation. These builder-owners continue to live in and care for the environment from which they have sourced the materials.

Local thinking is not only impacting how we build, but also how we source our food. It has long been realised that giving control of the food chain to corporations is not bad for our health but also a bad idea for the environment and animal welfare.

Permaculture, however, which stands for permanent culture, is an evolving set of teachings that cover amongst other things, sustainable building and self sustaining, edible, horticultural gardens. The systems of permaculture are modelled on ecosystems from the natural world, continuous systems that are formed of complete cycles. By creating forest gardens that do not need fertiliser, pesticide or intensive mono-crops and patented seeds, we can secure our food supply and ensure fresh, nutritionally rich food for all.

Lastly to energy production itself, which is still almost completely dependant on fossil fuels. Since life itself gets its energy from the sun, it should be obvious that we need to do the same. Solar power can be harvested in small local ways such as passive solar heating, or in larger community projects that make use of concentrated solar power stations. These use arrays of mirrors to generate heat to power thermal turbines. These do not require complicated photo-voltaic panels, just mirrors that track the sun. Read about the non-profit Desertec project for more on this amazing solution to our energy needs.

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