Albert Bates Speaks

March 25, 2007. Albert Bates, ecovillage educator, author, inventor, and environmental savant extraordinaire, presented the case for pausing to breathe and seriously consider the situation rising inexorably before us. Do we go on with business as usual? Do we look for technologies that will solve the disasters inherant in the decline of petroleum production and the rise of global temperatures? Do we scale down our consumption of fossil fuels, meat, trees and nuclear materials, and start planting trees, bamboo, roof gardens, artificial wetlands, and community agriculture projects? Or do we just cower before the oncoming catastrophes and weep?

Albert illustrated his point with a bottle allegory. Suppose if you put two bacteria in a bottle and they double every minute, and the bottle would be full in 24 hours.  When would the bottle be half full? At 23 hours and 59 minutes.  When would it be one quarter full? One minute earlier. When would it be one eighth full? Three minutes to doomsday.  If the bacteria were smarter than humans, would they stop doubling at the point that the bottle is still seven eighths empty? If they could get another bottle when the first one was full, how much longer would they have to live before they began dying off from lack of space?  One minute.

I had never been to the Los Angeles Ecovillage, a group living situation focussed on minimizing its eco footprint and inspiring others to do likewise, located in a densely settled urban area just west of downtown Los Angeles. The folks are very friendly, and I intend to come back and take a tour. I promise I’ll bring my camera and post here! With fifty earnest and educated people gathered in the village living room(some of them ecovillage residents and some students from the recent urban permaculture course), Albert faced a rapt audience. Do we understand how little time we have to DO SOMETHING about this?


The charming old building where the ecovillagers now live once housed the workers who served at the Bimini Hot Springs Resort that existed in the 1920’s on the street of the same name. Somewhere, under this neighborhood, hot springs still bubble!


Albert Bates and I met online some years ago as board members of the Hippie Museum. I wrote a review of his book The Post Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook for this weblog, and I recently sent his book to my publisher in Japan, Soshisha, Ltd., hoping that they will be as dazzled by it as I am. The book is a necessity for everyone, besides being a fun read, and that’s saying something.

He told us, “The reason I’m not home at the Farm is that I am being Paul Revere.”