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Sci Prog. 2012;95(Pt 4):345-446.

Feeding and healing the world: through regenerative agriculture and permaculture.

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Fresh-Lands Environmental Actions, 88 Star Road, Caversham, Berkshire RG4 5BE, UK.


The study of soil is a mature science, whereas related practical methods of regenerative agriculture and permaculture are not. However, despite a paucity of detailed peer reviewed research published on these topics, there is overwhelming evidence both that the methods work and they may offer the means to address a number of prevailing environmental challenges, e.g. peak oil, climate change, carbon capture, unsustainable agriculture and food shortages, peak phosphorus (phosphate), water shortages, environmental pollution, desert reclamation, and soil degradation. What is lacking is a proper scientific study, made in hand with actual development projects. By elucidating the scientific basis of these remarkable phenomena, we may obtain the means for solving some of the otherwise insurmountable problems confronting humanity, simply by observing, and working with, the patterns and forces of nature. This article is intended as a call to arms to make serious investment in researching and actualising these methods on a global scale. Despite claims that peak oil is no longer a threat because vast resources of gas and shale oil (tight oil) can now be recovered by fracking (hydraulic fracturing) combined with horizontal drilling, the reality is that proven actual reserves are only adequate to delay the peak by a few years. Furthermore, because of the rapid depletion rates of flow from gas wells and oil wells that are accessed by fracking, it will be necessary to drill continuously and relentlessly to maintain output, and there are material limits of equipment, technology and trained personnel to do this. Moreover, to make any sensible difference to the liquid fuel crisis, which is the most immediate consequence of peak oil, it would be necessary to convert the worlds one billion vehicles to run on natural gas rather than liquid fuels refined from crude oil, and this would take some considerable time and effort. The loss of widespread personalised transportation is thus inevitable and imminent, meaning a loss of globalised civilisation and a mandatory return to living in smaller localised communities. Permaculture and regenerative agriculture offer potentially the means to provide food and materials on the small scale, and address the wider issues of carbon emissions, and resource shortages. Since over half the World's population lives in cities, it seems likely that strengthening the resilience of these environments, using urban permaculture, may be a crucial strategy in achieving a measured descent in our use of energy and other resources, rather than an abrupt collapse of civilization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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