"Make hay while it's nice"
Time is running out for energy collection and storage before seasonal or seasonal abundance dissipates.
We live in a world of unprecedented wealth through the exploitation of enormous fossil fuel reserves accumulated by the earth for millions of years. We have taken advantage of this wealth to increase our levies on the earth's renewable resources to a level that is unsustainable. The disastrous consequences of this overexploitation will be felt as fossil fuel reserves decline.
In financial terms, we have lived by consuming global capital in an inconsistent way that would drive any business into bankruptcy. We must learn to save money and reinvest much of the wealth we consume or waste so that our children and their descendants can lead an acceptable life.
The ethical foundation of this principle would hardly be clearer. Unfortunately, the conventional notions of value, capital, investment and wealth are of no help to us in this task.
Our inappropriate definition of wealth has led us to ignore the possibilities of collecting locally available energy, whether renewable or not. If we identify and take advantage of these opportunities, we will have the energy to rebuild capital while providing an "income" for our immediate needs.
Some of these sources of energy include:
Sun, wind and runoff.
Waste from agricultural, industrial and commercial activities.
The most important storage modes for the future are:
Fertile soils rich in humus.
Perennial vegetation systems, especially trees, producing food and other useful resources.
Water bodies and cisterns.
Passive solar buildings.
The design of ecological restoration is one of the most common expressions of environmental thinking in rich countries. It is also a relevant approach of the permacultural conception when it explicitly integrates the man in the systems to be restored.
Paradoxically, the abandonment of marginal rural areas in many countries as a result of falling agricultural prices and replacement by intensive systems based on subsidized fossil fuels has created "modern natural spaces" in much larger areas than those covered by ecological restoration programs.
This agricultural abandonment has some negative effects, such as the disappearance of traditional systems of water management and protection against erosion, as well as an upsurge of forest fires, but in other places it has allowed nature to reconstitute its biological capital (soil, forest, wildlife), without the contribution of non-renewable resources.
One of the expressions of this principle is that it may be legitimate to use low-cost solutions taking advantage of the currently derisory price of fossil fuels when it comes to rebuilding natural capital.
In the same way, we can also consider that the collective experience, the know-how, the technology and the computer systems inherited from our past of industrial opulence are an enormous reserve of wealth that can be redeployed in order to create new forms of capital relevant to the energy descent. Part of the optimism around sustainable development is related to the implementation of technology and innovation.
Permacultural strategies do not deny technology and innovation, but keep a dose of critical thinking in that technological innovation is often a "Trojan horse" recreating the problems in other forms. While remaining attentive to the technological choices we make to build a new capital, we must now take advantage of our capacity for technological innovation, since it is a reserve of wealth that will gradually decline during the energetic descent, although more slowly than physical resources and infrastructure.