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Quotes - Sustainability

Apr 29, 2020

“Carrying out the Great Work of making an ecologically durable and decent society will require us to confront the deeper cultural roots of our problems and grow out of the faith that we can meet the challenge of sustainability without really changing much. The evidence, I think, shows that we will have to change a great deal and mostly in ways that we will come to regard as vastly better than what exists now and certainly better than what is in prospect.”

— David W. Orr

“Spiritual beliefs about a higher purpose in nature have been universal and defining features of all cultures before scientific rationalism. We ignore this aspect of sustainable cultures at our peril. …The more we understand the world through the lens of systems thinking and ecology, the more we see the wisdom in spiritual perspectives and traditions.”

— David Holmgren. “Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability”.

“The process of providing for people’s needs within ecological limits requires a cultural revolution. Inevitably such a revolution is fraught with many confusions, false leads, risks and inefficiencies.”

— David Holmgren. “Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability”.

In natural or biological systems, waste does not occur. And it is easy to produce examples of nonindustrial human cultures in which waste was or is virtually unknown. All that is sloughed off in the living arc of a natural cycle remains within the cycle; it becomes fertility, the power of life to continue. In nature death and decay are as necessary — are, one may almost say, as lively as life; and so nothing is wasted. There is really no such thing as natural production; in nature, there is only reproduction.

“But waste — so far, at least — has always been intrinsic to industrial production. There have always been unusable “by-products”. Because industrial cycles are never complete —because there is no return —there are two characteristic results of industrial enterprise: exhaustion and contamination. The energy industry, for instance, is not a cycle, but only a short arc between an empty hole and poisoned air. And farming, which is inherently cyclic, capable of regenerating and reproducing itself indefinitely, becomes similarly destructive and self-exhausting when transformed into an industry.”

— Wendell Berry, Excerpt from: “Bringing it to the Table”