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Permaculture, Climate & Survival

SUMMARY: From 15th Annual International Permaculture Convergence in London, September 9th, 2015: "Cool Talk" by Albert Bates from The Farm in Tennessee. Albert interviews Transition Towns founder Rob Hopkins. Australian permaculturalist Rosemary Morrow tells us Western permies are the minority, compared to East Asia, India, Africa, and the Pacific Islands.


If you don't know what permaculture is when we start, you will by the end of this intensive radio feature.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)


Albert Bates is the author of books like "The Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming and Climate Change" and "The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times". He is the host of "The Great Change" blog at

But that just touches the surface. Formerly an environmental lawyer, Bates is one of the long-time residents of the Tennessee intentional community "The Farm". That's where so many great alternative ideas and low-tech solutions are created. We last had Albert on Radio Ecoshock for an interview on January 29th, 2014. Find the blog for that show here. Or you can download or listen to that previous interview here.

This time around, Albert contacted me with some great suggestions for a couple of programs on his passion, permaculture. There is a huge long video of a day-long series of talks on You tube (links at the bottom of this post), from the 15th Annual International Permaculture Convergence held in London on September 19th. Actually there were official presentations, by most of the leading names in permaculture, but also workshops, and meet-ups of all kinds. I'll be playing you a couple of the best talks.

Even better, Albert arranged to interview some hard-to-find permaculture folks, specifically for Radio Ecoshock. You'll hear him talk with Transition Town co-founder Rob Hopkins this week, and with more internationally known permaculture leaders next week.

Here is Albert Bates' own presentation in London (19 minutes). He calls it "cool talk" and he explains why "cool" works better than something like "carbon sequestration". It's all in our tribal memes. Anyway, you'll hear about "cool food" and other cool products - including biochar paint that can actually clean the air in your room, and cows that don't need antibiotics.

Here's the big, big news in my opinion. You know that almost everything we do creates carbon emissions, as we burn fossil fuels. Bates says there is a different way to burn... almost anything - and not create greenhouse gases. In fact, the "pyrolysis" method of burning (can be done in a cheap camp stove even) - grabs and stores carbon instead of releasing it. The "bio char" remainders can be used in many products, fed to cows, or just dumped in the ground - where it will hold on to the carbon for up to 1,000 years.

That means we could create a society where almost everything we do LOWERS the carbon in the atmosphere. The test workshops for that society are the "eco-villages" which Albert and other permaculturalists are building in many countries. Bates has a big carbon negative settlement in the works, in an undisclosed location, working with a national government.

It's possible we could lower carbon in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, or even lower. There is a way. That's big. Huge.

So listen to this 19 minute talk from Albert, in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.


Next Albert interviews Transition Towns founder Rob Hopkins for Radio Ecoshock. Rob Hopkins is the co-founder of the original Transition Town in Totnes, England, and central to the spread of these low-carbon, more self-reliant communities world-wide. I think there are transition towns in up to 100 countries now.

Albert is also a realist. Things look dark right now. There is a possibility of petro-collapse, as oil and gas dwindle and become uneconomical to get out of the ground. A "ponzi-collapse" is also lurking around the corner. The international trade and monetary system is being kept alive by swindles and money printing. It could collapse at any time. Of course, climate disruption is already upon us, and getting worse.

So Bates asks Rob Hopkins, and again his other guests next week, do they still have hope, and if so, why? I think Hopkins gives a good answer, to help all of us.

Listen to or download this 13 minute interview of Rob Hopkins in CD Quality or Lo-Fi. And don't forget these interview links in the Radio Ecoshock blog are permanent. Go ahead and share them on Facebook, Tweet about them, or share them however you can. Even years later, these links will work, and these interviews will be important for many people.


We wrap with another speech from the latest International Permaculture Convergence in London England last September. Rosemary Morrow started learning about permaculture in Australia in the early 1980's. She's founded branches in Cambodia, Vietnam, and many other places. This speech was recorded at the 15th Annual International Permaculture Convergence in London, September 9th, 2015.

If you are looking for inspiration, when things look bleak and impossible, this is the talk for you. People who have nothing, living in a war zone, or worse, have improved their lives and survival using permaculture. If they can do it, you can do it, says Rosemary.

Plus, nobody needs to wait for a university education in permaculture. Learn what you can, get a little training if you can, watch some You tube videos, and start trying. You can only improve the planet. I've lightly edited this talk for radio. Listen to or download this speech by Rosemary Morrow in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

Follow Rosemary Morrow on Facebook here. Her two best-known books are "Earth User's Guide to Permaculture" (2nd Edition, 2010) and "Earth User's Guide to Teaching Permaculture" (2014).

You can watch the whole 9 hours of Day Two of the Convergence on You tube here. Or find a listing of various videos from this Convergence here.

My thanks to Albert Bates for his talk, interview, and guidance in assembling this program. We'll have more to come next week. I'm Alex. Help support Radio Ecoshock is you can. Thank you for tuning in.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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