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Permaculture and Industrial Messes

By Selina Rifkin

Permaculture goes beyond the idea of sustainability into what can we do to add health and vitality to the Earth. It is not enough to sustain, we must do more than just get by if we are to have a relationship with life on our planet. Relationships don’t thrive on ‘sustainable.’

Even before the industrial era, we have been extracting from the Earth without giving back. Tillage – which is plowing for agriculture – destroys soil fertility and irrigation inevitably creates salt contamination in former farmland. Cutting down too many trees has wiped out civilizations. However the industrial era has generated far more toxic messes than did the agricultural era, and the industrial solutions for land recovery have been less than satisfactory and are often expensive enough that the product stops being viable on the market.

Permaculture, the idea that nature can provide effective solutions to complex problems, even has answers in the case of soil toxicity. Truthfully, who among us would do without our computers or heat in our homes? The byproducts of producing these things are environmental toxins. But, it is possible to clean up those messes in a way that benefits our planet.

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