THE BIG PICTURE - Book Review: "Energy Basis for Man and Nature" by Howard T. Odum and Elisabeth C. Odum

I want to promote a book I just read:  "Energy Basis for Man and Nature" by Howard T. Odum and Elisabeth C. Odum. 1970. McGraw-Hill Book Co. I just ran across a copy in a used bookstore in Darby, Montana.  I recognized it as a book that David Holmgren, co-founder of permaculture, cited a lot.  

The Odum’s were very priescent in their book. Here we are 34 years later and the world is still galloping away down the wrong path.  The Odum’s particularly said that money supply should be constricted and not increased to go through the transition safely.  Instead the central banks have gone crazy with expanding the money supply with their quantitative easings. Exactly opposite.

The Odum's were pre-peak oil. Their book intertwines ecology and energy demands by humans. They clearly predicted the collapse if humanity continued down its then current path.  The ecology is big picture stuff.  It will take several re-readings to grasp that part.

They devoted a bit of the book to what path humanity needs to take if we are to avoid a large, messy population collapse.  Alas, we have taken the path to collapse. Several points piqued my interest.

If humanity were to discover a new. large energy source to surpass our fossil fuel subsidies that humans would quickly so pollute and destroy the natural world that only insects and micro-organisms would survive.  This is one of the reasons I am not into new energy sources. 

That pollution, like population, peaks later than peak oil.  Population falls. This is shortly followed by much less pollution. Following this thread of thought, future society will have less population and live in a cleaner, less-polluted environment.

The Odums say that the way for humanity to thrive is to base society on the solar energy of the sun, transformed by healthy ecosystems into renewable resources.

A good book for people who like to look at the big picture & ecosystem flows.

Find the book on-line

MICHAEL “SKEETER” PILARSKI is a life-long student of plants and earth repair. His farming career started in 2nd grade and his organic farming career began in 1972 at age 25. Michael founded Friends of the Trees Society in 1978 and took his first permaculture design course in 1982. Since 1988 he has taught 36 permaculture design courses in the US and abroad. His specialties include earth repair, agriculture, seed collecting, nursery sales, tree planting, fruit picking, permaculture, agroforestry, forestry, ethnobotany, medicinal herb growing, hoeing and wildcrafting. He has hands-on experience with over 1000 species of plants. He is a prolific gathering organizer and likes group singing.