“Diversity is a survival factor for the community itself. A community of a hundred million species can survive anything short of total global catastrophe. Within that hundred million will be thousands that could survive a global temperature drop of twenty degrees—which would be a lot more devastating than it sounds. Within that hundred million will be thousands that could survive a global temperature rise of twenty degrees. But a community of a hundred species or a thousand species has almost no survival value at all.” (Daniel Quinn, “Ishmael”, 1995)
If you read my blog regularly, you’ll come to understand that I have a great liking for Daniel Quinn’s books. If you’ve read any, you’ll understand when I say, “I am ‘B'”, or at least if I’m not, then I would like to be. One of the most fascinating facts about homo sapiens, compared to any other living species, is their propensity for obliterating all other life forms for their own purposes. Other animals do of course kill other species for their survival, but homo sapiens go beyond killing for survival. They are instead at constant war with all species and don’t stop until the point of extinction. If other species can coexist without completely annihilating the existence of another, why can’t humans?
In fact it might be completely necessary to do so if the homo sapien isn’t to become extinct itself:
Homo sapiens (n)“A pitiful race (sic) that will most likely cause its own extinction before its technologies fully develop.Homo sapiens died out in 2110 A.D.” (Rick Tankard August 04, 2005)
The penultimate permaculture principle is to:
Use and Value Diversity
Martin Crawford, of the UK’s Agroforestry Research Trust, create a seven layer food forest in just 2 acres of land. Although not the first to conceive of or create a forest garden, his is particularly renowned due to the level of diversity and efficient use of space. There are more than 300 plant species, most of which, are edible, and those that aren’t serve valuable functions within the environment. His research is particularly focused on how different plants interact with each other, creating more efficient food systems. I think the concept can be extended to a consideration of the fruitfulness of human diversity in addition to biodiversity.
The most remarkable aspect of Crawford’s forest is that it is aesthetically pleasing, like a true garden. Little wonder that permaculture has been termed “a revolution disguised as gardening“.
“A revolution disguised as gardening” (source, as yet, unknown).
In the final part of the series, I will talk about one more principle: use edges and value the marginal. It was the hardest one for me to understand until I considered my own place in the world – on the edge or margins of social life. It may be a strange analogy, but it worked for me!