With world population forecasted to reach nine billion people during this century, the question of how all these people will have the necessary resources to survive, like water and food, has been raised many times. A large quantity of freshwater is stored in the polar icecaps and so not available for consumption (with global warming on the way these have already started to melt away into the ocean). Generally, the freshwater we use comes from aquifers that are replenished by precipitation. However, due to natural factors like prolonged drought or floods or to human-related factors such as overuse for industrial purposes or groundwater contamination, important quantities of freshwater are lost. Thus, water resources are not always available where they are needed, causing some societies to become water stressed. In many countries the sustainable water use is already threatened, despite predictions that in the future water use is expected to increase. When it comes to food production agriculture has certainly come a long way and has continuously managed to provide an increased production. Some of the reasons behind this are improved mechanization, increased use of fertilizer, herbicides, dwarf crop varieties, drought resistant crops, development of genetically modified crops, etc. Actually, in most countries agriculture is the largest single user of freshwater. In developed countries residential water use is relatively minor compared with the amounts used for agriculture. Moreover, apart from the water we consume for our daily needs, we also use water indirectly through the products we buy, which also necessitated water for their production. Thus, our water footprint is much larger than we think, due to all the externalities that we do not take into account. So it is clear that in order to meet the needs of future, more numerous generations, something needs to be changed in the way we produce food and utilise water resources. With climate change as an aggravating factor, solutions should be found as soon as possible. One of the proposed alternatives is the adoption of permaculture. A quick look on Wikipedia will show us that this is not even a new, revolutionary concept. Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, and environmental design which develops sustainable architecture / human settlements and self-maintained agricultural systems modelled from natural ecosystems. Permaculture draws from several disciplines including organic farming, agroforestry, integrated farming, sustainable development, and applied ecology to create systems that make the most of the natural ecosystems’ capacity to regulate life-supporting processes, while at the same time providing benefits for people. The core tenets of permaculture are:
- Take Care of the Earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. Without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.
- Take Care of the People: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
- Share the Surplus: Healthy natural systems use outputs from each element to nourish others. We humans can do the same. By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles.