Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I believe the utopia we are looking for will be created when technology becomes married to ecology.

My permaculture teacher Andrew Jones said something very close to that to me on my first day of class.

It really has stuck with me and through my soul searching the last couple of years I have come to the conclusion that technology can liberate us from the drudgery of life so we can be free to do other things. Spiritual growth perhaps? Art and Culture? Love? Just be?

Technology is only as good as its creator. So, if we design our system to be ecologically minded, then we can use technology as a tool to enable humans to achieve enlightenment and we can continue living and creating.

This post was inspired after watching the news update from Geoff Lawton. At the end they make him sound like he is against our culture because all it has brought us is more gadgets while being unsustainable. I think Andrew should have a talking to Geoff. Because with that attitude, permaculture will have a hard time gaining traction - unless we DO fully collapse. But I don't think we need to wait to get there in order to have people adopt the concept of a sustainable human habitat.

We CAN have permaculture used throughout society in the western world. It all comes down to politics and our priorities. Right now people are working multiple jobs just to barely get by, and now are losing their jobs. At the same time, we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on military where we are only matched by all other countries COMBINED!

So, I've got an idea for a solution - I'd like to see those that have money or the power to create money to get our priorities straight and start investing into a sustainable future for human civilization.

We need a vision.

Here's a start. Use money for tree planting for food and energy uses and other community improvements that will help us be more self sufficient and sustainable. The food created will save people expenses and money will be made from products and energy created. Subsequently, the money spent on the workers would be spent again by the same workers in their communities. This money would keep on spreading and multiply further. One action will help many.

So I ask all of you, start thinking about what kind of future you want to live in. Please post your responses in the comment sections and talk to others about it. Together we can create a better future.

I'll start.

I'd like to see us living in a world where:

All energy is renewable.
All elements are recycled.
All people are paid living wages.
Education becomes more about mentoring, guidance and real life opportunities.

I'll stop there for now. I think if just those three things are done, a lot of other problems like poverty, crime, pollution, and potentially even many diseases will begin to disappear.


Greg said...

Why is technology going to liberate us? The average productivity per person in the US has risen steadily for years, yet wages are flat and hours worked per week is still very large.

Capitalism says the owners of capital and the risk takers get the profits or suffer the losses.

If the technology belongs to a few, most people will not benefit.

rcreyes said...

Education is the tough part. But by far the most important. We need to change the focus toward a mentoring and supportive system. Change the values and the technology with follow. Keep it up, Zach!

Zachary Stowasser said...

agreed, we need to have a look at what we value in society and change accordingly.

greg: things are changing. workers need to realize they have the power. and they are. the stories are out there. have you seen those about worker owned businesses where the ceo gets paid the same wage as everyone else?

Zachary Stowasser said...

greg: we need *new* technology if the human race will survive past peak oil. getting it to the point of liberation is quite a dream, but I figure why not think big now? Creating a vision and a plan is very useful.

Greg: what kind of future would you like to see? And how can we get there?

Anonymous said...

"The world teeters on the threshold of revolution. If it is a bloody revolution it is all over. The alternative is a design science revolution... Design science produces so much performance per unit of resource invested as to take care of all human needs." - Buckminster Fuller

Zachary Stowasser said...

Love that quote! I read up on him in Wikipedia and found this:

Buckminster Fuller was one of the first to propagate a systemic worldview, and he explored principles of energy and material efficiency in the fields of architecture, engineering and design. He cited Fran├žois de Chardenedes' opinion that petroleum, from the standpoint of its replacement cost out of our current energy "budget" (essentially, the net incoming solar flux), had cost nature "over a million dollars" per U.S. gallon (US$300,000 per litre) to produce. From this point of view, its use as a transportation fuel by people commuting to work represents a huge net loss compared to their earnings.

Greg said...

Localization, Durable Goods, Debt-Free, Technology of Independence


I'd like to see localization. People are sending money away from their communities for entertainment, energy and food. This wasn't always so and doesn't always need to be so.

I'm not saying trade is bad, just that saving some at the expense of sending money out of the local system is a mistake.

Local solar power still needs the global and efficient panel producer.

Durable Goods

If people bought high quality, they would save over the long run. Repairable items cost more than disposable items. And a lot of repairable items means local businesses to make repairs. Durable means less extraction from the earth. Cradle to cradle design.


People generally spend at or beyond their income. Thus, slaves to the job. I'd like to see everyone with savings and the ability to peacefully survive being un- or under- employed.

If they wanted to tax-protest or march, it wouldn't be so painful to their household.

They wouldn't have to choose the cheapest options which usually involved badly paid labor, environmental side effects and long shipping distances.

Technology of Independence

Can we make a fish farm locally? The pipes, the pumps, the tanks? The technology we need is making local resources into local mini-factories. Not high tech. A PVC pipe might last 40 years but a compressed straw/chaff pipe that lasted 5 would be good enough for small and local aquaculture.

Zachary Stowasser said...

Check it out. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are encouraging other billionaires to give away most of their fortunes! http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/01/30/bloomberg1376-L9INBW6JIJVK01-23DC2A9GNGIOC3VUH1JDLAVQNE.DTL