Dave and Irene reporting:
How can humans address global challenges while maintaining a quality standard of living? David Maynard, a homesteader from East Montpelier, looked at this and other questions in “Living With Less: Getting from Here to There.”
On September 23, David presented his philosophy and personal experience living as a homesteader in Vermont.
He explained that humans have experienced three distinct paradigm shifts over time: the hunter/gatherer transition to agriculture 10,000 years ago; the transition from agriculture to industrial age, spanning more than 400 years; and the transition from industry to the current computer age, in the last 50 years. He noted these transitions are happening more rapidly and each requires more energy and other resources than the prior way(s) of life.
In more recent years, we have seen an efficiency push that has resulted in a high throughput system. This high throughput system is supported by the ability to find resources, which leads to the building of factories, which in turn, manufacture things. What has not been reconciled in this push to efficiency is the law of diminishing returns: it takes more resources to get less output as resources grow scarce. We are also facing Jevon’s Paradox: when efficiency of production increases, driving down costs, consumption picks up. The exponential growth in population has led to even faster resource depletion.
David has conceived of a new paradigm, which includes teaching the next generation how to understand that living with less can be achieved. His paradigm-changing concepts include:
-How to use the land without releasing carbon from the soil
-How to feed the soil (including adding carbon to it) rather than deplete it of nutrients
-How to use land in ways that promote the land holding the water instead of enhancing runoff
-How to use the science to support heating water with the sun
-How to live with limited resources
David advocates for traveling via bicycle to minimize pollution and attain its health benefits. Learn more about his philosophy and bicycle journeys at lifecycling.net.