Apr 262015
 
 April 26, 2015  Posted by at 2:43 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,


DPC Clam seller in Mulberry Bend, NYC 1904

After the high-level EU summit on the migrant issue, hastily convened after close to a thousand people drowned last weekend off the Lybian coast, Dutch PM Mark Rutte was quoted by ‘his’ domestic press as saying ‘Our first priority is saving human lives’. That sounds commendable, and it also sounds just like what everybody knows everybody else wants to hear. One can be forgiven, therefore, for thinking that it’s somewhat unfortunate that the one person tasked by Brussels with executing the noble ‘saving lives’ strategy, doesn’t seem to entirely agree with Rutte:

EU Borders Chief Says Saving Migrants’ Lives ‘Shouldn’t Be Priority’ For Patrols

The head of the EU border agency has said that saving migrants’ lives in the Mediterranean should not be the priority for the maritime patrols he is in charge of, despite the clamour for a more humane response from Europe following the deaths of an estimated 800 people at sea at the weekend. On the eve of an emergency EU summit on the immigration crisis, Fabrice Leggeri, the head of Frontex, flatly dismissed turning the Triton border patrol mission off the coast of Italy into a search and rescue operation.

He also voiced strong doubts about new EU pledges to tackle human traffickers and their vessels in Libya. “Triton cannot be a search-and-rescue operation. I mean, in our operational plan, we cannot have provisions for proactive search-and-rescue action. This is not in Frontex’s mandate, and this is in my understanding not in the mandate of the European Union,” Leggeri told the Guardian.

To refresh your memory, the Triton border patrol mission took the place late last year of Italy’s Mare Nostrum mission, which ended in October 2014. For good measure, the budget was slashed from the €9.5 million per month Italy had been putting in, to €2.9 million per month. Saving lives can be simply too expensive when you think about it in your high rise office in that brand new €1 billion+ EU building. These are hard economic times, and we all need to make sacrifices and to cut costs wherever we can.

But of course after that summit, Europe announced it was going to triple the budget for the Triton mission. That will of course only simply bring back the budget to where it already was before it was cut by two-thirds, but it’s a nice headline anyway.

The difference in focus between Rutte and Frontex head Leggeri can be found all around Europe. It would be nonsense to claim Europe agrees on much of anything regarding the refugee issue. Well, they agree it’s a nuisance that all these people die and Europe is supposed to do something. The national government leaders would like it much better if such things didn’t happen, it’s bad publicity. But at the same time, it’s nothing that can’t be spun and turned to their advantage. Or so they like to think.

Reactions to the statements released after the summit were not all positive, to say the least. Amnesty said that the only thing Europe tries to save is its face. Former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt, at present a member of the European Parliament, indicated that the equipment Frontex has at its disposal (one helicopter, two ships and seven planes) wouldn’t even be enough to survey the Belgian coast (of which there’s not a lot).

Just to make sure his peers wouldn’t think he’d gone all soft, Rutte came with another catchy oneliner: “Last time I checked, Lybia was in Africa, not Europe.” In other words, ‘saving lives’ is a great press quote, but don’t blame him for lives lost. And that’s the crux behind the shift from Italy’s mission to the EU’s. The former was patrolling off the coast of Lybia, while the latter occupies itself only with the European coastline, and it just so happens that’s not where refugees’ lives are under threat (let’s stop saying migrants, that’s a grossly misleading term).

In its infinite wisdom, the EU has decided in its summit that there will be 5000 ‘resettlement’ places available for the hundreds of thousands of refugees (migrants) that want to go to Europe. The EU in a post-summit statement said it expects 150,000 refugees this year, but it might as well add up to 500,000 in 2015 alone. How Brussels thinks it’s going to send back almost half a million people is a big question mark. So much so we’d put our money on no-one having properly thought it over.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, millions of refugees are making their way to the Mediterranean from trouble spots across Africa. To put it in somewhat cynical economic terms, think of this as pent-up demand. And also don’t forget how Patrick Boyle framed it: “We fear the arrival of immigrants that we have drawn here with the wealth we stole from them.”

The typical story of the refugees is one in which it takes years to get from their mostly sub-Saharan homes to the Lybian coast, working odd jobs on the way. Once they get to Lybia, which has been shot to bits by western forces, they’re dependent on all sorts of militia, who often arrest them, take their money etc. Perhaps the most insulting thing to come out of Brussels is the comparison with Somali pirates, and the argument that the refugee stream should be dealt with in the same way.

Indeed, much of the European ‘leadership’ have emphasized one approach more than any other: send in the military, start shooting. The idea being that if the boats of the traffickers are destroyed, everything will return to ‘normal’. But the issue here is not the traffickers, it’s the refugees. Want to send in the military against them too?

If there’s anything good that can come from the deeply deplorable death of far too many poor sods in the Meditteranean, it’s that it shows us all once more, as if we needed further confirmation, what a dysfunctional entity – morally as well as practically – the European Union is. More than anything, the EU makes itself entirely irrelevant. There is no decision structure in Brussels, since there is no ultimate responsibility that has been assigned. And they all sort of like it that way for now, because it means everyone can deflect that responsibility if and when necessary.

From the first example above that should be very clear: Rutte says the first priority should be saving lives, but the man who leads the organization that is tasked with executing it, flatly denies that.

Greek news organization Kathimerini ran a piece this week that serves to add yet another level of cold cynicism. Lest we forget, it’s Europe’s poorest countries that are forced to deal with the brunt of the refugee problem. In that summit we mentioned before, half of all European nations refused to take up even one single refugee. Yet another example of the absolute lack of coherence and solidarity that so-called union exhibits.

The idea seems to be: Let ’em all stay in Greece, while we suffocate the nation financially. But Greece cannot solve the issue all by itself, it can’t handle the expected 100,000 refugees on its own. It will be forced to open its borders and tell the refugees to try and reach Germany or France. See also: Open Letter From Greece on the Mediterranean Migrants Issue.

The present EU policy is that a refugee must stay in the country where (s)he has been registered. Hence, all Greece and Italy need to do is not register them. Kathimerini:

The Dubious Politics Of Fortress Europe

In “Border Merchants: Europe’s New Architecture of Surveillance” (published by Potamos), Apostolis Fotiadis, an Athens-based freelance investigative journalist, seeks to document a paradigm shift in Europe’s immigration policy away from search and rescue operations to all-out deterrence. The switch, the 36-year-old author argues, plays into the hands of the continent’s defense industry and is being facilitated by the not-so-transparent Brussels officialdom. “Their solution to the immigration problem is that of constant management because this increases their ability to exploit it as a market. The defense industry would much rather see the protracted management of the problem than a final solution,” Fotiadis said in a recent interview with Kathimerini English Edition.

“Without a crisis there would be no need for emergency measures, no need for states to upgrade their surveillance and security systems,” he said. Fotiadis claims the trend is facilitated by the revolving door between defense industry executives and the Brussels institutions, which means that conflict of interests is built right into EU policy. “There is a certain habitat in which many people represent the institutions and at the same time express a philosophy about the common good,” he said. [..]

Fotiadis believes there is no reason Greece should not be able to set up some basic infrastructure to deal with the influx. He says that the number of immigrants and refugees received by the EU is in fact small compared to the more than 1.5 million refugees who have found shelter in Turkey due to civil war in Syria. Jordan is estimated to be home to over 1 million Syrian refugees, while one in every four people in Lebanon is a refugee. Meanwhile, the EU, one of the wealthiest regions of the world, with a combined population of over 500 million, last year took in less than 280,000 people. “All that hysteria is a knee-jerk overreaction to an illusory version of reality,” he said.

Why Greece or any other country would wish, be eager even, to be part of the EU is becoming ever harder to comprehend. The moral values prevalent in Brussels, whether it comes to EU policies regarding Ukraine, Greece or the refugees’ dilemma, don’t seem to be shared in any individual European nation (if anything, they’re reminiscent of what various extreme right wing parties espouse).

And as the Greek negotiations with the eurogroup and the ‘institutions’ show us with intense and increasing clarity, the notion of the euro being a boat to lift all tides turns out to be full-on bogus. Southern Europe’s nations will be either thrown out or allowed to stay only as debt servants. For now, Germany and Holland prefer to keep everyone on board, but that may still change. It would therefore seem like a good idea for Greece and Italy to make their moves while they can.

In order to achieve that, however, they must convince their people that staying in the EU, and in the eurozone, is a bad choice. And since their old-time political establishments will continue to deny this (because the EU allowed them to sit fat and pretty), that will not be an easy task. Perhaps the refugee issue can help.

In all likelihood, the victims of the sunken boat near the Lybian coast this weekend will never be identified, except for perhaps a handful. Nobody knows who they are, and those who do stayed behind a thousand miles or more away. These deceased people, most of whom will never even be buried ashore, define, in one fell swoop, the ‘new’ price of a human life. Theirs, yours, and everyone else’s.

Sinking nameless to the bottom of the sea, with no-one either ever knowing who you are or aware of how you are doing. That is our new valuation of a human being. It’s price discovery in its most cynical sense, it’s how assets get re-priced in markets.

What Tsipras and Varoufakis must accomplish is to make people understand that what Europe does to the refugees, it will do to its own citizens too.

Home Forums Europe Has Completely Lost It

This topic contains 18 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Dr. Diablo 4 years, 3 months ago.

Viewing 19 posts - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)
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  • #20726

    DPC Clam seller in Mulberry Bend, NYC 1904 After the high-level EU summit on the migrant issue, hastily convened after close to a thousand people drow
    [See the full post at: Europe Has Completely Lost It]

    #20727

    Hotrod
    Participant

    Several years ago, while working on a Habitat For Humanity project, I was discussing with the gentleman who was assigned to work with me the reason why hate radio is so successful. As a retired minister, his answer was priceless, “Because there is always somebody lower than you are.”
    It is the politics of assigning blame downward-and it works among a large segment of the angry populace. The whole world is run by sociopaths, no empathy from any of them.

    #20729

    jal
    Participant

    What would happen if the refugees coming from?? were given citizenship of the host country, like Greece?
    Would they be free to immigrate to other EU countries?

    #20731

    TheTrivium4TW
    Participant

    Hi Ilargi,
    How about blaming those with the power to inflict their agenda on the rest of us – the Debt-Money Monopolists.
    “Europe” does not exist – it is an abstraction. By blaming an abstraction you effectively provide cover for the truly guilty. Yes, you can blame politicians, but that’s myopic. WHO finances them into power, WHO finances the media, WHO finances the very governments for which politicians work?
    Politicians are SOLD to the general population AND BOTH SIDES ARE FINANCED BY THE VERY SAME DEBT-MONEY MONOPOLY… TALES THEY WIN, HEADS, WE LOSE. It is the application of a classic false dichotomy… a political false dichotomy.

    #20732

    Nassim
    Participant

    I agree with jal. The Greeks should give these people passports that look like that others, but which are temporary – so that they can go to Germany and the UK. I mean, the Irish and Italians (I think) give passports to people who had one Irish/Italian-born grandparent.

    #20740

    E. Swanson
    Participant

    What we are seeing here isn’t just a problem for Europe. Whether they are called “refugees”, “migrants” or “illegal immigrants”, the problem is the result of rapid population growth in the tropical regions of the Earth. Australia has boat people from Southeast Asia and the US has illegals from Mexico and Central America. The US already has perhaps 10 million illegals living within our borders and our political system can’t seem to deal with the problem, even after Reagan gave the last batch amnesty in the 1980’s. Rather obviously, they will keep coming as long as they have any hope of being admitted and the northern nations will be overrun by “invaders” (read: people) from these other lands. As we see in the US, there’s no easy solution, given the wide diversity of opinion in the so-called “democratic” governments. I fear that we already know what “The Final Solution” will be…

    #20741

    Glennda
    Participant

    This refugee “problem” is reminiscent of the homeless “problem” in the US. Nobody wants it/them. At least one city in CA (it might be Las Vegas) handles it like this:

    The homeless are rounded up and given a bus ticket to another city.

    So why not Greece or Italy just filling empty seats on trains or buses to Germany or France with the unwanted guests? It would likely be “cheaper” than dealing with their huge numbers at home.

    #20742

    Robert Holland
    Participant

    This immigrant/refugee debate is a hot topic in the UK with election day approaching. The common opposing sides seem to roughly be: more controls due to strain on national services or undercutting wages in the labour market; and its a human life so we have the moral obligation to save it.
    Honestly I find it difficult to agree with any. In particular with the narrative: you must save a human life regardless of the cost otherwise you are a despicable person. All these arguments seem to have holes in when you frame this debate in the context of over population and finite resources. As I’ll try and reason, this results in any choice being horrific considered by today’s social norms.
    The world is overpopulated and above its carrying capacity. The UK has been in this state even during WWII (dependent on US food imports to feed ourselves). What does this mean? We have about 5-6 billion too many people on this planet and the excess amount of food produced (and other resources) are mined from the planet. This reduces the size of any future human population of the planet, which inevitably means you’re killing people further down the road. So by choosing to save a life today you are choosing to kill someone tomorrow and perhaps even a larger number (due to the effects on the climate of the combined lifestyle of humans currently on this planet).
    So in summary spending money to save a life is the wrong way to go about it. Nations should actively encourage population decline, be CO2 negative (if that’s possible), improve resource effeicency, change their money system (bring back the rule of law for all) and reduce waste. Then when a nation’s population is below its carrying capacity then allow immigration or divert its excess resources to helping those in need.
    I know that in the context of this article it is easy to say that Western society is living the high life at the expense of the rest. But are the valid concerns, to some extent, of parties like UKIP (admittedly unwittingly so due to the population issue I’ve outlined) being tossed away in an almost zealous fashion by apparently more progressive parties or social commentators (for instance the Green Party and Patrick Boyle) resulting in an even greater human tragedy? When the latter parties are equally guilty of ignoring the limits to growth.
    What is less empathic: saving a life now at the expense of more in the future or ignoring that life for the sake of healing the planet?
    Or maybe we can simultaneously: save the planet, all humans future and present (someone please convince that is possible, I can’t see it)?
    This is a multi facet problem with uncomfortable solutions and consequences. Can it be framed as such without stigmatisation?

    #20744

    John Day
    Participant

    Thanks Hotrod :”…the reason why hate radio is so successful. As a retired minister, his answer was priceless, “Because there is always somebody lower than you are.”
    The immigration “problem” is from exploitation of people based upon natural and artificial boundaries, by which they are confined.
    Yes, global capitalism excels at this, and has since the East India Companies.
    Militarism supports this bottling-up of desperation and suffering.
    Logical argument declares that “we” must reduce populations of “them” to spare planetary life, to save it from, well, us.
    The global capitalist-militarist-hegemonic empire, ruled by our shadowy puppet masters, whoever and wherever they are, can afford some humanitarian PR.
    It cannot afford justice, compassion, brotherhood or humanity.
    “Be the change”, brothers and sisters. There is not more to do.
    Contribute to the victims in Nepal, Syrian refugees, Yemeni refugees and any other need you see, if you can. Right? That’s good.
    Mainly help another person grow food, use less, tune up a bike, and so on, Right again?
    “There is no political solution…” Name that song 🙂

    #20745

    John Day
    Participant
    #20748

    Dr. Diablo
    Participant

    I can’t disagree with RH’s perspective on the issue, but perhaps as ever there are encyclopedias written on the problems and fortune cookies on the solutions. There is a book called “Fewer”, which was a response to the overpopulation issue. In it, the author points out that population is already declining in some important areas, US, China, Europe, and in fact critically so. It may be turning the corner in the Middle East and Africa, but although promising, that hasn’t happened yet. More to the point was WHY population was falling. Maybe you’ve come across the article lately on drug theory –you know, the one where rats in rat prison die from drug overdose but rats in rat paradise more or less ignore free drugs altogether. That says something about the reason society is demented and has issues, and the challenges are NOT the real problem. In a similar way, people counter-intuitively have population growth when their society is destroyed (and even fertility increases) and have fewer children when society is happy and orderly. –This may has to do with birth control methods and children being your only stable support in chaos, but the reasons are irrelevant here.

    So the voice that says, “Look at those people over there, their hoards are coming to destroy you” is an ill voice indeed. What you may really be looking at is the consequence of utterly destroying their society under colonialism, and continuing their desperation under militarism and neo-colonialism. Likewise, if you want there to be fewer people hopping your fences, you need to make sure your neighbor’s grass is green. Because shockingly, the richer people become, and the more they are ABLE to have children, the FEWER children they have–US, Japan, and EU as your examples.

    Therefore, if you want to solve overpopulation (and I disagree that the carrying capacity is too high–only that resources are ill-distributed to maximize profit) you should NOT go out and kill 4 Billion fellow human beings as may have been planned, but in fact STOP shooting, bombing, strafing, droning, poisoning, and drowning them, and help them–help all of us–become prosperous, and you’ll find, as everywhere else it’s been tried, that a stable, happy, and wealthy neighbor then chooses to have fewer children.

    Not only that, but you don’t have to openly promote despair and mass murder on the internet.

    Now for a much longer treatise, explore why Africa, the richest continent on earth in minerals and agriculture, has somehow become the poorest in food and money. Because if they just stop using irrational European methods and started using their own, Africa would be so much superior to Europe that Italians would be swimming the other way. But such are the ways of man: they would rather die than change their minds and habits.

    #20755

    shargash
    Participant

    I don’t remember hearing about people fleeing Libya while Qaddafi was still in charge. Libya wasn’t all that bad a place to live under Qaddafi, as far was 3rd world countries go (at least according to the OECD’s Human Development Index). Now, however, it is a hell hole, thanks to NATO. And I don’t have to point out the overlap between NATO and the EU.

    That, btw, is why everyone is so intent on calling these people “migrants.” If they were called refugees, that would invite the question “just what caused these people to become refugees?”

    Yes, I realize not all the refugees are from Libya (though most of the dead have been Libyan). However, the chaos NATO caused in Libya is not confined to Libya, nor is NATO malfeasance confined to Libya.

    #20756

    DrCiber
    Participant

    Pardon me, but Europe never had “it” to lose, completely or otherwise. Two bloody, suicidal, multinational conflicts of unprecedented destructiveness in the 20th century, and you’d think they’d have learned SOMETHING by now, but five minutes spent reading official pronouncements out of Brussels, the ECB, the IMF, or just about any of the individual national capitals will disabuse you of that idea. Now with their own pig-headed hubris blinding them to the peril waiting just at their doorstep, and led even further astray by their even more morally corrupt former sugar daddies in Washington, D.C., it’s easy to see them getting a third shot at dragging the whole world into a hole so deep there won’t be any “Marshall Plans” possible to help the sorry survivors lick their wounds.

    #20777

    Robert Holland
    Participant

    Re: Dr Diablo

    With regard to whether the UK is under carrying capacity could you please elaborate? If during WWII (after turfing every possible backyard to food production) we were still dependent on food imports with a significantly smaller population how does that argument still stand (I’d be interested to hear). Perhaps more food can be produced in greater quantities elsewhere but that transport infrastructure is dependent on cheap energy and uses highly energy and resource intensive technologies. Furthermore let’s no forget the carbon footprint associated with carting food across the world that will only worsen the climate issue. Could you still import on a sufficient scale and produce little or no carbon? I’d imagine you’d have to forgo such large trade dependencies for the climates sake. In such an event can we still feed ourselves in the UK?

    How did the UK become happy enough to have less children: consume far more than our population’s share of the world’s resources that produces waste (in greenhouse gases and environmental destruction elsewhere). Is this a sustainable model to adopt everywhere to replicate population decline? If a better distribution was applied would a global population decline occur?

    “Not only that, but you don’t have to openly promote despair and mass murder on the internet.” (And killing off 4 billion people as mentioned earlier)

    Apologies if I gave that impression. I wholeheartedly agree with:
    “STOP shooting, bombing, strafing, droning, poisoning, and drowning them”

    That would go a long way to solving the problem. Also to clarify I was proposing further reforms rather than killing people that would naturally decrease the population over time.

    What I’m concerned with was how we as a Western society go about “… help them–help all of us–become prosperous”.

    Aid is sent around the world by plane (and other global outreach programmes), possibly one of the most environmentally damaging forms of transport, to alleviate disasters (not all) such technology is causing in the first place. A snake eating its own tail. I think that humans are hard wired to feel empathy for those in plight around us (which is great). On the other hand we’re unable to feel that same emotive empathy for future generations. This results in helping those in immediate need without addressing the long term consequences (and the root of the problem). Perhaps cheap energy has allowed us to overly exert that empathic desire, which we wouldn’t historically able to do.
    Given the above, perhaps we should take a step back and consider focusing our resources and energy inwards rather than abroad (at most of them at any rate). I’m not saying we ignore weather disasters, genocide and equally terrible events but rather than being reactionary – as that would just fan the flames of future of potential mass extinction – we should look at how we can stop contributing to such problems within our own borders. I’m in agreement with John Day that we should “be the change”. Then help those further afield if it can be done without causing future problems.

    Also to clear up my usage of the terms: immigrants and refugees. Refugees: people displaced from their home due to some disaster or conflict (possibly indirectly of our own making). Immigrants: people who come into a country and work (possibly to live there permanently).
    The reason I was using the terms rather loosely was because I think in the context of the article (and progressive party policy in the UK) the solution proposed was to take refugees as immigrants into the EU. Correctly, the problem is of our making but is it right to increase the number of people participating in the EU carbon intensive lifestyle?

    #20778

    Robert Holland
    Participant

    Dr D, “Because if they just stop using irrational European methods and started using their own, Africa would be so much superior to Europe that Italians would be swimming the other way”
    Completely agree. Would that happen if we stopped interfering in their country and made reforms domestically to help facilitate that change?

    #20781

    Robert Holland
    Participant

    Sorry for the triple posting but another point I would like ask is whether prosperity results in population decline. Given the fact that my home country the UK has not. See: https://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/pop-estimate/population-estimates-for-uk–england-and-wales–scotland-and-northern-ireland/2013/sty-population-changes.html
    Population has grown over the last 50 years even if you take out immigration. Is the UK an outlier? We behind the curve compared to the rest of Europe, US and China? People may be having fewer children but will the population decline? Does the argument always hold?

    #20784

    Dr. Diablo
    Participant

    Of course a complex subject to take on in a post. My thought was the world’s carrying capacity, not the UK. Yes, population would have to slosh around, but the UK is going the other way, by vigorously importing maximum people when they’re already over their probable capacity. And why, one asks? Why when the places they came from are quite probably not over capacity, like Africa and Pakistan? Nevermind, that goes into the other aspects above, killing for profit, intentionally wrecking neighbors for personal gain, etc. But if you ask about the intelligence of importing more people into the US or UK, why they’re coming, or even if that isn’t more or less the dissolution of national borders and thus the national state, you’re a big meanie. Shutting down questions and debate: nice work if you can get it.

    On the other hand, we can all do better. Iceland has used her energy for greenhouses, which perhaps Scotland can do with wind and tide, and there is a ludicrous waste of energy on transport everywhere. Consider Britain of the ’20s and now. Seems like you could pretty much reverse to that level without a lot changing, but reversing mostly in expectations. It wasn’t 70f in 1000 sq ft houses back then. The US is another matter as our infrastructure has been entirely centralized and dismantled, but we have far more resources and space if we could make the initial transition.

    So can the world withstand the wealth it apparently takes to cause population control? Probably not. But that’s only because we see “wealth” as “having a lot of TVs”. Imagine you were on Caribbean vacation, in the hotel. How much energy are you using to live wealthier than you generally do? A: a lot less: centralized housing, centralized kitchen, community facilities. So it has to do with expectations, infrastructure, and efficiency, not with having a new Jag. We don’t seem to have become that mature yet, but it’s out there. As I usually say, it depends on whether you want to life like Al Gore, or a zen monk. –But happiness, as the monks show, is not dependent on jet setting between palatial estates. In fact, human happiness is a small and humble thing, fit sweetly in the ecosystem, and is what we are most tuned for.

    But suppose we are not rich, as “Fewer” proposes? Doesn’t matter. So for thousands of years Africa had her human culture, and North America had hers, and yet there was never overpopulation there, without technology, without doctors, Pogroms, without restraint. How? Did they have 19 babies and 17 of them died? No. Because indigenous peoples–and I’m including the ancient cultures of Sweden, Britions, Europe here–they provably had a balance. Most places you look at had their plants, their methods of birth control that are beyond abortion and war. So no, you don’t need to be rich. It’s just something people understand better and can be statistically quantified. Q: So what shattered this delicate balance into the massive overpopulation today? Why does the system now have to expand infinitely at an increasing rate?

    Moving on, one of the places you’ll find the most gain is in the deserts, many of which were human made. But if they were made they can be un-made. Masonubu Fukuoka is one of the core readings on this, probably an enlightened master. Although his world was lush, hot Osaka, when asked, he quickly developed a way to green all the deserts with a screen and pile of dirt in his back yard with a dozen illiterate teenagers. Like “The Man Who Planted Trees”, the idea is that deserts already grow something, we just need to capitalize on that and expand, for deserts, like all earth, want to grow and make their own ecosystem. So you find desert seeds and roll them up in clay balls and throw them in the rocks and crevices…and do nothing. Rain will come, someday, the seeds will sprout or they won’t, but you tip the balance in favor of the green, and slowly, over the years, you discover the land has changed. When that happens, the plants create their own groundwater and their own rain, and soon: no longer desert. Soon: no longer CO2 crisis, no longer warming, with food and pasture expanding. This would apply to the rock and grass “deserts” of Scotland. (Humorously called “forests”, just as they are in Arizona)

    Seems like a pipe dream, until you look at the desperate impatients in the Permaculture world. They terrace the desert (their expertise area) and plant the whole system overnight–grass, bushes, trees, right in the flat clay deserts of Australia, and build a food forest in a mere decade, fast enough to retire on, then build a no-energy house on top of it to boot.

    The great lament of Malthusians is that deserts are so large and humans make it worse. But humans are paid to destroy (by whom? we ask). In the blink of an eye we can re-take the 33% that is desert and often enough return it to jungle, return Lebanon to the cedars. That’s not counting the endless steppes of Asia or elsewhere. And although no one’s applied themselves to the Great White North, although Elliot Coleman has developed a system of non-energy greenhousing in cloudy Maine, while the cropping of red willow can provide enough fuel to populate the vast interior, with electric and greenhouses even.

    So would things have to change? Yes, or else they’d be the same. Would we have to use carbon? Not really. We just can’t seem to think outside the narrow channel of oil + money that has been handed to us. Basically reforming the earth takes some time, intelligence, steady effort, and a few shovels. The real problem isn’t that. It’s that if you started to change it, the existing system would either stop you or else steal back the jungle you grew and cut it down for profit again. So we don’t have real problems, we have fake ones that are in our minds. Don’t kill your neighbors and steal their things. Don’t violently oppress them for profit as they have traditional agriculture in Africa. If you don’t murder them for the first penny they make, they’ll pretty quickly rise to their own level and create a working culture with a stable population. It takes a lot of energy and effort to keep things this screwed up. Stop coming down with top-down “help” screwing things up and people will pretty much start fixing where they live.

    I know because it used to be like that, before they built the centralization that started all this “helping”, these little Napoleons giving orders, and those were the same humans we have now. But without the telephone, internet and cheap books that give thousands of solutions in hours.

    #20801

    Robert Holland
    Participant

    I imagine we all lost our ability to live within nature with the discovery of how to exploit fossil fuels en mass. When party ends (catabolic collapse springs to mind) I imagine we’ll have to revert to that kicking and screaming.
    Be great if permaculture could be used to undo a lot of the damage society as reeked on the planet.
    Been starting to try and wrap around permaculture. I think there is a fair amount of hot air surrounding the yield per acre (I wish the higher figures are true). Seems to me that you still need a lot of space to support a family (something we don’t have in the UK suburbs). But maybe I’ve not taken the lessons to heart yet. The knowledge base (without resorting to diplomas, training etc) seems rather fragmented (chose the Earth Care Manual as my starting point) with a lot of different schools of thought within the topic. For instance whether to: till, compost, prune and weed (which I find surprising).

    #20815

    Dr. Diablo
    Participant

    It may be unfortunate that the Isles contain some of the world’s premier gardeners and land stewards–or at least many top techniques were created and remembered there. Unfortunate because everywhere else has a lot of easy gains to make imitating English gardening, coppice woods, green woodwork, bent wood barns and houses, stone blackhouses, and so on. Still, no doubt like everywhere more can be done. I doubt vines, espalier, and new worldwide varieties have full use in the ‘burbs yet.

    Still–in 1810, UK had already hit the wall on population with advanced methods, only to find a many-fold increase within the famous animal and vegetable breeding and contests of the Victorian era. Beans and others went from semi-wild, scarlet runner types that you boiled for an hour to today’s modern french filet beans. Yields increased, processing and cooking requirements dropped. Food forests have a similar potential, with northern kiwis, american persimmons, or heaven-knows-what grown on top of each other, in no-petrol-till style.

    So just as Malthus couldn’t fathom how on earth the Isles could feed themselves and capped population at 1750 levels, maybe there are other mass exploits to capitalize on. Estuaries with tidal power, fish seeding and “farming” (semi-wild), high-tunnel greenhouses as are catching on here, mushroom caves, creating offshore fishing reefs or whole islands like the Maunsell Fort “Sealand” or…who knows what?

    Certainly the UK wastes more energy in stupid stuff than the entire nation consumed in 1920. Rerouting that waste into something useful still leaves an awful high standard of living. And a standard of living that is compatible with green ultra-intensive methods your countrymen are famous for. Knockabout with Elliot Coleman, Paris Market Gardening c 1900, review methods as seen in “Victorian Kitchen Garden” and “Edwardian Farm”, and see how their yields-still not matched today–can be integrated into food forest and vines.

    But the problem isn’t really that we don’t know HOW to do these things. We’re already not using methods we’ve known for 100 years. The problem is, we know perfectly well how and we WON’T do it. We’d rather complain and bomb people than work. That’s not a knowledge problem, it’s a moral one.

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