Permaculture Ethics and the 3 Basic Needs

The past couple of days I’ve been going through sites that talk about Permaculture.  Normally when people start talking about ethics and morals and shoulds, etc, I tune out or move on to somewhere else.  But for some reason, the Permaculture Ethics kept popping up, over and over and over.  I mean, yeah, so an intro to permaculture (which is what most sites are..remember, if you want to learn more, open your wallet)…anyways, so an intro to permaculture inevitably spends a little time and space talking about the Permaculture ethics.  And I kept glossing over it, as usual.  But finally, after the constancy, I finally read it.  And then looked at how others described it.  Most of it is repeating the same thing over and over.  But one site went into more detail on it:

After reading through this, and mulling it over in my mind this morning, I realized that the Permaculture Ethics correspond with the 3 Basic Needs which I’d written of earlier.

Permaculture Ethic #1 (Care for Earth) fits quite well with Basic Need #1 (to survive)

  • The Earth is our sole provider of all the essentials that keeps us alive – air, water, food, shelter.  We cannot get these essentials met from anywhere else.
  • As such, we depend upon the Earth, and all its living systems, for our survival.
  • So, if we want to meet the survival need, it behooves us to
  1. not pollute the air we breathe, nor the water we drink,
  2. not poison the plants and animals we eat,
  3. not destroy the land which provides our sustenance.
  • Survival means caring for the soil on which plant life depends, and therefore is our source of food.
  • Survival means caring for the forests that supply us with clean air and plays a key role in rain formation and thus fresh water supplies.
  • Survival means caring for the waters, rivers, oceans, streams, etc which circulate nourishment from which all life depends on.
  • Survival means recognizing the difference between a need….and a luxury.
  • Survival also means taking responsibility for our selves and our actions.

Permaculture Ethic #2 (Care for People) fits a combo of Basic Needs #2,3 (to connect, to co-evolve)

  • No man is an island.
  • Humans, as a species are generalists, but individuals are not.
  • By  nature, humans are social and cooperative animals.
  • One person cannot do everything by him/her self, except in the most primitive of lifestyle.  This is why economy developed.  To trade services and skills.  To trade specializations.
  • When people collaborate to support each other, and to meet both physical and nonphysical needs, a sense of community prospers.
  • However, in order to collaborate with others, we must first take responsibility for our own selves and our own actions.  (depending on others is not the same as collaborating with them)
  • We must also have something worth collaborating with, be it information, skill, ability, or other resource, which can be used to help others meet their own basic needs.

Permaculture Ethic #3 (Return of Surplus to Earth & People) fits with Basic Needs #3,1 (to co-evolve, to survive)

  • The Earth’s resources are finite.  As such, there are only a finite share of resources available to each person to gain sustenance from.
  • If we take more than our share, we reduce someone else’s ability to gain sustenance from the earth.
  • If we use finite resources to make things other than for sustenance, we reduce someone’s ability to gain sustenance from the earth…perhaps even our own.
  • If we share any surplus of resources, we help someone else gain sustenance.
  • When we hoard/destroy resources, we create deficiency.
  • When we accumulate unused resources, we create pollution.
  • When we share any surpluses of resources, we create bounty.
  • When we share our surplus produce, our skills, knowledge, and experience, we build bonds between people and foster a sense of collaborative community.

Permaculture stresses inter-connectivity and cooperation.
How can we best meet the 3 Basic Needs of surviving, connecting, and co-evolving?  Not by accumulation and competition, but by inter-connectivity and cooperation.


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