cool interview with Bill Mollison (cofounder of permaculture) here
Alan: Doing permaculture seems to be the opposite of abstraction.
Bill: Oh, I put it another way. I can easily teach people to be gardeners, and from them, once they know how to garden, you'll get a philosopher. But I could never teach people to be philosophers - and if I did, you could never make a gardener out of them.
When you get deep ecologists who are philosophers, and they drive cars and take newspapers and don't grow their own vegetables, in fact they're not deep ecologists - they're my enemies.
Alan: Permaculture involves tampering with nature, but how far do you think we should go? Should we be doing genetic engineering, creating hybrids, etc.?
Bill: The important thing is not to do any agriculture whatsoever, and particularly to make the modern agricultural sciences a forbidden area - they're worse than witchcraft, really. The agriculture taught at colleges between 1930 and 1980 has caused more damage on the face of the Earth than any other factor. "Should we tamper with nature?" is no longer a question - we've tampered with nature on the whole face of the Earth.
If you let the world roll on the way it's rolling, you're voting for death. I'm not voting for death. The extinction rate is so huge now, we're to the stage where we've got to set up recombinant ecologies. There are no longer enough species left, anywhere, to hold the system together. We have to let nature put what's left together, and see what it can come up with to save our ass.