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Mon Nov 26, 2012, 09:17 PM


Carbon Farm Homesteading

Here is a random idea about how to let independent private groups contribute to atmospheric carbon reductions, for those who do not see centralized government solutions as potentially viable or even existent (though it would very well require government interaction). It doesn't involve flashy, self replicating balloons or burning oil to make windmills and solar panels

How about the government gives land to independent autonomous homesteading groups (or tribes) of people who will drop out of the modern economy (resulting in no taxation) as long as they can continually illustrate that they are improving the carbon sequestration of the land objectively (with all infrastructure carbon debt accounted for)?

The result would be:
1) Instant drop in energy consumption and emissions reduction for everyone who "drops out"
2) Slow growth in the earth's ability to sequester carbon, as trees are planted and wetlands restored
3) Instant opportunity when intergenerational mobility is at a low point (think homesteading and the gold rush days).
4) Long term population control if tracts of land are assigned finite max population densities their homesteading groups must follow
5) Increased food security for the participants

The real key would be 1) selling it to the government as an effective action and 2) selling it to the people.

I know that if I had the capital to purchase devastated agricultural land near my home, this is precisely what I would immediately do (but I don't have that capital). If people were provided with this opportunity, in these modern times, the question is what percent would take the opportunity, and would that in itself result in a significant emissions reduction? If just 1 out of 50 people formed a group and grabbed some land that would be significant, would it not? Feel free to tear into it, as I do with carbon schemes and "greeniness".

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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply Carbon Farm Homesteading (Original post)
NoOneMan Nov 2012 OP
XemaSab Nov 2012 #1
NoOneMan Nov 2012 #2
XemaSab Nov 2012 #3
NoOneMan Nov 2012 #4
Speck Tater Nov 2012 #5
NoOneMan Nov 2012 #6
Speck Tater Nov 2012 #7
XemaSab Nov 2012 #8
CRH Nov 2012 #9
NoOneMan Nov 2012 #10
CRH Nov 2012 #11
GliderGuider Nov 2012 #12
CRH Nov 2012 #13
GliderGuider Nov 2012 #14
CRH Nov 2012 #17
NoOneMan Nov 2012 #15
GliderGuider Nov 2012 #16

Response to NoOneMan (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 09:52 PM

1. How could you get people to totally drop out of the modern economy?

Unless you're talking about somewhere like Alaska.

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 10:15 PM

2. What I mean by "drop out" is:


They don't work a job besides improving their land. If they are allowed to sell any of their surplus food or products they create, that outgoing carbon (and incoming notes) needs to be negated with further sequestration to their totals. IOW, their personal production cannot increase the GDP, thereby accelerating the consumption of energy/emissions of carbon. The main point is to somehow ensure they aren't becoming another component of the economic system that grows and creates a larger carbon impact than reduction.

People do this type of thing all the time actually, and they pay to do it (like permies). Perhaps a lot of people would give it a try with their friends if the opportunity was there for "free". I know a handful of people who would

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 10:37 PM

3. It's an interesting idea

but it seems kinda small-scale. How many people would it take homesteading for the carbon output of 10 people to be sequestered?

I think the USDA should get aggressive with farmers and encourage practices that build soil OM. It's better for the nation's agricultural systems and it's good for the climate and it's potentially VERY large scale.

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #3)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 10:54 PM

4. It doesn't have to be small scale


You can give out large tracts of land to larger groups of people interested in working together (and getting free land).

Frankly, its not specifically about sequestering to offset the people in the general economy; its reducing the size of the general economy non-negative fashion (it actually positively effects employment) and restoring the sequestering potential of idle, devastated land according to a realistic target level. Should the people in the general economy also reduce consumption and go "green"? Sure, but no short term solution exists in a real, viable form (they all involve burning carbon today and paying it back in 30 years).

Most governments aren't doing anything substantial. What they do normally plan on increases short-term carbon emissions. This is something that actually reduces emissions and increases sequestration, without requiring centralized planning, carbon debt or large capital investment. The level of its effectiveness comes right down to the number of participants.

Hell, instead of promoting sustainable agriculture, we should be turning those places back into carbon sinks. Did you know only about 20% of corn crops go straight to human consumption? We can have much lower food yields and still have everyone fed (meaning we have a lot of unnecessary farm land that created carbon debt). Agriculture, even in a greener form, is the wrong answer to a world at threat.

Also, I have clear bias so I have no idea how many people would do this, as it sounds like a great idea to me high. Did I mention you get free land and get to quit your shitty day job?

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Response to NoOneMan (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 11:39 PM

5. I would think millions of people would be standing in line to become


poverty level subsistence farmers.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #5)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 11:50 PM

6. Who wouldn't?


Your very own agro-forestry farm without the shackling debt

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #6)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 12:38 AM

7. Kidding aside, I'd go for it. :-) nt


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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #7)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 12:39 AM

8. Yeah I would too

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Response to NoOneMan (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 09:05 AM

9. The land is subsidized by the gov. ...

in locations that have the possibility to become sustainable. Are the people that drop out to join the communion independent of the need of development capital until sustainability is reached? Or, are the development and maintenance cost of living also subsidized by the gov?

What I am getting at is, even low carbon development needs large development and maintenance capital, up to the point of sustainability.

Experience tells me, the most simple and efficient paths toward sustainability are very costly and take a lot of time and dedication, and often can't reach total sustainability. Sustainability usually is thought to include clothing, shelter, food, and tools; and it is normally assumed a minimum of four well managed hectares are needed per person to accomplish this. That is a lot of funding.

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Response to CRH (Reply #9)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 09:58 AM

10. You are probably correct


It seems like almost everything we do any more requires a large amount of capital or energy for an eventual savings, to the point that we are never entirely sure that a savings will ever actually come about. While some people could do this without incurring much expense, I imagine that for others they would need much larger subsidization and even education.

My basic thought is how to incentivize people to restore land via homesteading (with sequestration a focus above economics) while making sure the action contributes almost immediately to lower aggregate carbon emissions. Its a different take on what we normally approach by increasing industrial production and social complexity.

How did we get to such a point where going backwards takes as much energy as going forwards?

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #10)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 01:39 PM

11. How did we get to such a point, ...

where going backwards takes as much energy as going forwards. That is an incredible insight, one of many dilemmas I've encountered in trying to find a solution.

The best I was able to come up which only partially addresses your query.

I imagined not erasing much of the life we have become accustomed to, but rather harnessing and preserving as much of the physical good of our lifestyle as possible, through a redistribution of our abilities into a different lifestyle.

We adapt the very homes we have to the highest possible low carbon level of energy efficiency, which is mostly through conservation. Day light hours are for activity using little or no electricity, night time hours are for rest and reflection, in darkness or extremely limited lighting.

Communities form common goals pooling talents and bartering services and materials. Local production and sharing of materials eliminates much of the need of transportation. People produce within the area they can walk in one day. Local craftsmen provide tools, home sewing provides clothes, the lost art of food canning is found, and preserves the extra of the harvest. Lawns are converted into gardens, the football field into a community garden, that all able bodies work in cooperation of a communal harvest. The doctor provides for the community while the community fixes his plumbing a helps provide his food and clothing. There are no middlemen and no markups, life and survival depend on the compassion and abilities of all. Those who manage livestock, also move the cargo to where it is needed, they are the transportation of the community. The hides of the livestock are donated to the cobbler who makes the community's shoes, then receives his pay in food, clothing, or services. Trade needed outside communities is also bartered, commodities for homemade products. Old dumps are mined for materials, rivers are treated as the elixir of life which they are, while the morning dew is collected for consumption. Sometimes, several communities band together in common need of services and materials. The detritus of the community are recycled into fertilizers, all is returned into the life cycle of the commons.

This type of living becomes the basis of the community, that of needs trumping wants in communal survival. Within the commons there is room for limited technology, used in construction and manufacturing for only the most needed services of the community. Wind pumps and water rams, pelican wheels and wind are used for electric generation, limited to essential services. Communal solar furnaces are used for cooking where practical. A community without bread, has none to break together.

The culture re develops around community, the community around its newly developed culture. Musicians share there sound, craft fairs define a honest art not influenced by Picasso but rather innate sensations of ease and comfort, in pursuit of perceptual pleasure. Much of the art, has function within its beauty.

Takes all types to make a community, and all types are respected for their contribution and endeavor, within their abilities.

In short order this type of living would lead to near subsistence in a very low carbon lifestyle. It only awaits a horrific shock to propel our neighbors into cooperative communal endeavor, in pursuit of survival of the whole while preserving the individual as well. Pollyanna, yeah sure, but the only thing stopping us is our present coarse interrelations and interactions. Maybe crisis will tame us, maybe our strife will harden us, our cooperation and compassion save us, from ourselves and our history. Peace hrh

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Response to CRH (Reply #11)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 02:17 PM

12. I imagine we'll see a lot of this sort of reorganization


After the wheels fall off and people finally get the point. But then we'll be trying to do it with a compromised economy and very little spare energy.

It would be good to have a few pilot communities in place by then though, to act as a seed stock of ideas and practices.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #12)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 04:05 PM

13. Yeah, it is a logical course for survival, ...

but as I see it after prolonged crisis, the riots have past, most of the infrastructures are in chaos, many are dead, and nearly all of the bullets have been used. Best intentions don't stand up well against M16s and an attitude. People will have to live through the worst, before reorganizing what is left, for a better existence.

The use of model communities could be of great use and education, but initially protecting them from the baser elements of humans could be a challenge in the period of mayhem after collapse.

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Response to CRH (Reply #13)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 04:35 PM

14. That's a very realistic outlook, IMO.


Weathering the storm is going to be a challenge. This relates to my idea that the small, local, independent environmental, social justice groups that form the basis for Paul Hawken's book "Blessed Unrest" could be acting as the seed bank for survivable/sustainable ideas. I wrote about this three years ago in a moment of uncharacteristic hopefulness:

An individual in crisis may experience a sudden transformation or awakening as a response to an intolerable situation. The current crisis of civilization is starting to impact hundreds millions of individuals around the globe, especially since the world was plunged into the economic crisis that is further compounding our accelerating ecological, environmental, energy and social crises. The sense of imminence created by this convergence is causing enormous numbers of people to wake up and wonder WTF has been going on while we dutifully lived out the consumerist dream. While we were sleeping that dream seems to have become a nightmare as the materialist utopia we were promised morphed into a cruel, life-destroying hoax .

This uncomfortable awakening is manifesting in a massive, unpredicted global change, as reported in Paul Hawken's seminal book "Blessed Unrest" and documented on WiserEarth.org. A spontaneous global movement consisting of two million or more small, independent, grass-roots groups, working on local environmental, social justice and spiritual issues of all kinds, is spreading like an Australian wildfire through every city in every country on the face of the planet. It is the largest, most diverse, most autonomous, most exuberant, most hopeful movement humanity has ever produced.

This enormous number of individual groups, each composed of a small number of individual people, is unconsciously shifting the consciousness of the entire human enterprise. As they do that they are also fulfilling three roles that are crucial to the short, medium and long term future of humanity:
[ul][li]They are acting as "Gaia's antibodies". They arise spontaneously in response to local symptoms of dis-ease, and work to try and fix the local problems causing the symptoms. They take information, but not direction, from outside their local areas. As there are apparently so many of these groups, their action is somewhat analogous to the operation of an immune system.

[li]They will act as the seed stock for a critical set of sustainable values. These groups tend to share a set of values — cooperation, consensus, nurturing, recognition of interdependence, acceptance of limits, universal justice and the respect for other life — that are precisely the ones a civilization would need to become sustainable. As the groups are so widely distributed and are not bound into a single organization, the movement is very resilient. That resilience maximizes the probability that some groups will survive to transit these values into the surrounding culture, no matter how many areas on Earth experience various changes up to and including collapse. Just as seeds spread their genetic material into the new plants they become, these groups act as seeds to spread their own cultural memetic material — their sustainable values. The space for these values to grow will be opened up as the guardian institutions of the old value system rupture due to the converging crisis.

[li]They may act as humanity's imaginal cells. Imaginal are the cells that accumulate in a caterpillar's body toward the end of its adolescence and trigger its metamorphosis into a butterfly. Here's a description of the process:

When a caterpillar nears its transformation time, it begins to eat ravenously, consuming everything in sight. Tiny cells, that biologists actually call “imaginal cells,” begin to appear in the caterpillar's body. These cells are wholly different from caterpillar cells. At first, the caterpillar’s immune system perceives these new cells as enemies, and attacks them. But the imaginal cells are not deterred. They continue to appear, in ever greater numbers, recognizing each other and bonding together, until the new cells are numerous enough to organize into clumps called "imaginal disks".
When enough imaginal disks have appeared (which is only a few percent of the caterpillar's body weight), the caterpillar’s immune system is overwhelmed. Attaching to a branch, it forms a chrysalis—the enclosing shell within which the caterpillar's body then become a nutritious soup for the growth of the butterfly.[/ul]Will these groups actually promote a broader shift in consciousness? There is evidence that this is already happening. Paul Hawken estimated in 2003 that there were 150,000 such groups world-wide. In 2008 the estimate was over 2 million. The growth is truly explosive. Many, many people are being captivated by their messages of hope and healing.

There is a global miracle taking place in front of our eyes, one in which we are all being called to participate.

May 7, 2009

Here's to hope.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #14)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 07:08 PM

17. Nice piece of writing, ... here is to hope. n/t

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #12)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 04:46 PM

15. It is absurd that we do not attempt to reorganize the economy before things fall apart


By the time governments are motivated to attempt to reorganize, I question how much energy, power and authority they will really have at their disposal, nor if it can have any positive benefit on the situation.

It just seems like the only action they take is to sit in one place and hope the environment doesn't notice them, like an opossum cowering in front of a car. That leaves the people stuck in a single gear, working to pay down the debt that society has decided they must assume in order to exist; they cannot break free like the homesteaders of the past could. In all, the momentum of civilization must grind on, even if the individual actors find it to be pointless (as they need to feed and house themselves).

I think this comes right back to something you mentioned before. The governments and people will likely reject any idea that their culture has branded as an admittance of failure (even if its the logical, correct course of action). Our culture defines all growth in complexity, production and technology as inherently "good", and therefore, perceives simplification as bad. This is precisely why every "solution" that comes from culture involves solar panels, more new cars and gizmos; culture and its adherents can not even construct a solution outside their bounding paradigm, much less recognize its value.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #15)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 04:52 PM

16. Yes, it's absurd.


We're humans. We're all waiting for Godot. What's absurd is that anyone has ever mistaken us for a rational species. We are in fact simply a rationalizing species. The absurdity is rooted in the fact that we so easily mistake our deep unreason for essential rationality.

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