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Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability Paperback – December 1, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

I owe this book the most profound debt of gratitude. It is the book which first suggested what a collective response to peak oil and climate change rooted in permaculture design principles might look like in practice. The breadth of what Holmgren does in this book still blows me away. Read it slowly, digest it well, discuss it with anyone who will listen. Like all life-changing experiences it is best savoured, as you will thereafter think of your life in two halves, before you read Permaculture: Principles & Pathways and after. I do not hesitate to refer to it as a work of great genius. Rob Hopkins co-founder of the Transition Movement --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Holmgren Design Services; 11.1.2002 edition (December 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0646418440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0646418445
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book has rekindled my interest in Permaculture.
The author, David Holmgren, is the co-creator, with Bill Mollison of the
term "permaculture", and the co-author of the original permaculture
book, _Permaculture One_. Now, some 25 years after that seminal
book, Holmgren has written a timely and comprehensive synthesis that
brings permaculture principles together in an exiting new way.
The book highlights our place at a unique moment in history: at the peak
of the global oil production curve; at the beginning of the end of cheap
fossil energy. This is, for me, the book's most compelling motif: it
positions permaculture as a strategy for a future of inevitable "energy
descent". Although Holmgren hints that this energy descent may take any
number of horrific pathways, he appears to have chosen the term
"descent" as a hopeful alternative to collapse, crash, or dieoff.
Holmgren insightfully points out that is not just our reserves of fossil
fuel that we've been burning through. Since the Reagan/Thatcher years,
he claims, global capitalism has been on a frenzy of job cutting and
"just-in-time" inventory reduction. This amounts to a destruction of
the embedded intelligence and a severe draw-down of the capital stocks
of our institutions: a severe loss of embedded energy. Furthermore, he
worries that due to privatization and short-term bottom-line thinking,
maintenance on our built-environment and physical infrastructure has been
neglected: another huge loss of embedded energy.
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This is for me a very important book, one of a handful that joins the Ecological Economics volumes crafted by Herman Daly and others, and also the Natural Capitalism endeavors of Paul Hawkin, Anthony Lovins. The author excels at rendering logical, sequential, and integrated concepts, all of which lead us to the inevitable conclusion--as the author intends--that human intellect, social networks, an appreciation for diversity as the foundation for cross-fertilization, and the enormous potential of the five billion poor--all suggest that a non-technological renaissance may be upon us, and that the bottom-up action of many minds could yet destroy the still-prevailing industrial, top-down control, centralizing of wealth through violence, and externalization of "true cost" to the unwitting public that no longer understands history or that the prevailing shadowy coalitions of bankers, corporate chieftains, private armies, spies, criminals, and terrorists.

My greatest surprise came at the very end, where the author provides a post-9/11 epilogue, and says: "There is abundant evidence that September 11 was an outcome of these shadowy coalitions, which link global energy corporations, US foreign policy, the global "intelligence community," Islamic fundamentalists, arms dealers, and illegal drug trade. Discussion of this bizarre symbiosis [elsewhere he puns on `Bush Laden'] remains beyond the pale of mainstream media....and is the best example of the paralysis of public discourse due to an absence of language to comprehend top-down thinking and bottom-up action as a new mode of power [sustainable community-oriented end-user driven values and behavior and investments].
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Format: Paperback
That the world we now live in is unsustainable goes without saying. Our skyrocketing population puts enormous pressure on the productive and absorptive capacities of the land, outstripping the natural carrying capacity of the planet by some twenty percent (see Radical Simplicity, by Jim Merkel). In effect, we are stealing away the life of the planet and the life of future generations. As ever more fisheries collapse, forests shrink, rangelands deteriorate, soils erode, species vanish, temperatures rise, rivers run dry, water tables fall, ozone depletion expands and polar ice caps melt across the globe, the single most important question humanity has faced resonates ever louder: How can we live sustainably?

Amid the cacophony of scholarly and political debate surrounding this issue, the hushed emergence of permaculture has by and large gone unnoticed. Defined as the use of systems thinking and design principles to consciously design "landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs," the permaculture concept is nothing less than the science of sustainability. And since the joint publication of Permaculture One: A Perennial Agricultural System for Human Settlements (now out of print) by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the mid-seventies, permaculture has become a veritable movement - a legitimate answer to the environmental and agricultural crises which plague humanity. Unfortunately, for the past twenty-five years, those who wished to learn more about permaculture were limited to joining expensive seminars and workshops, thereby ensuring marginal public exposure. All of this has changed, though, with the publication of this book.
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