Monday, December 17, 2007

Science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson and Permaculture

Kim Stanley Robinson's trilogy of climate change (Forty Signs of Rain (2004), Fifty Degrees Below (2005), and Sixty Days and Counting (2007) is one of the more hopeful sets of books currently being read by (thankfully) millions of people. It is described as "Perhaps the most realistic portrayal ever created of the environmental changes that are already occurring on our planet."

The following text is drawn from the blog of fictional President (of the US) Phil Chase, near the end of the final book of the trilogy:

"...Capital is created by everyone and should be owned by everyone. People are owed the worth of what they do, and whatever they do adds to humanity somehow, and helps make our own lives possible, and it worth a living wage and more. And the Earth is owed our permanent care. And we have the capability to care for the Earth and create for every one of us a sufficiency of food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care, education, and human rights. To the extent our economic system withholds or flatly opposes these values and goals, it is diseased. It has to be changed so that we can do these things that are well within our technological capabilities. We have imagined them, and they are possible. We can make them real. Of course they can happen. You thought they couldn't happen, but why? Because we aren't good enough to do it? That was part of the delusion. Underneath the delusion, we were always doing it. That's what we're doing in history; call it the invention of permaculture. By permaculture I mean a culture that can be sustained permanently. Not unchanging, that's impossible, we have to stay dynamic, because conditions will change, and we will have to adapt to those new conditions, and continue to try to make things even better - so that I like to think the word permaculture implies also permutation. We will make adaptations, so change is inevitable. Eventually I think what will happen is that we will build a culture in which no one is without a job, or shelter, or health care, or education, or the rights to their own life. Taking care of the Earth and its miraculous biological splendor will then become the long-term work of our species. We'll share the world with all the other creatures. It will be an ongoing project that will never end. People worry about living life without purpose or meaning, and rightfully so, but really there is no need for concern: inventing a sustainable culture is the meaning, right there always before us. We haven't even come close to doing it yet, so it will take a long time, indeed it will never come to and end while people still exist. All this is inherent in what we have started...We have to become the stewards of the Earth. And we have to start doing this in ignorance of the details of how to do it. We have to learn how to do it in the attempt itself. It is something we are going to have to imagine. "This generation has a rendezvous with destiny." Our time has to be understood as a narrow gate, a widow of opportunity, a crux point in history. It's the moment when we took responsibility for life on Earth. That's what I say."

1 comment:

  1. I agree. I LOVE this trilogy. An amazing weaving of everything we are going to need to think about in the coming years. A lot like a Michael Crichton book where you learn a lot of the science in the story. A lot of human element as well. Just fabulous.