I’m pretty new to permaculture design. I’ve read Gaia’s Garden and participated in a workshop with David Jacke, so I feel at least somewhat familiar with elements of the design process. One aspect I am curious about is how to best anticipate the effect of climate change through successive phases of the design.
Things which spring to mind:
- changes to rainfall
- change in sea level
- more or fewer chill hours
- altered length of growing season
- affect of temperature change on local plant/animal species
Are there reliable patterns for creating & maintaining “microclimates”? Are people experimenting with adding plants from beyond their zone for redundancy? Are their other techniques to manage risk due to climate change?
All the things you mention are important and will test the resilience of any design. I would add these things to consider or incorporate into your thinking (I bet they are already there):
Diversity - Don't put all your eggs in one basket. If you have a high value crop, split it across different areas of the property with different microclimates or soil types, and that way if seasonal weirdness catches you out, one of them may still produce.
Land races - Breed varieties that are well adapted to your local conditions. That's the baseline, and having the land races in place means they change along with the climate in that location.
Social aspect - Get your neighbours on board with what you're up to. Even if you don't want to make full-blown permies out of them, at least see if they're willing to help you spread the risk and leverage special situations that might exist on their land that complement yours.
Mostly these are just rephrases, but to me they highlight the nature of the changes I am seeing, a bit more specifically..
Changes in predictability.
Increases in magnitude and concentration; hotter hots *and* colder colds, drier drys, more concentrated rainfall. Possibly increased wind velocity; other places, this is probably the biggest deal.
Increased 'killer ap' type pests, often invasive by means of human transport, or expanded range from climate change. I'm talking the things that will wipe out a species for a year or a generation. Massive numbers, little time for permie-type countermeasures to be attempted. Pine beetle, army worm, spotted wing drosophilia, alder flea, giant hornets, whatever the hell is killing the maples. A very bad time to have all your eggs in one basket.
Increased forest fire risk.
Increased risk of electrical/communication grid failure. Ask California about this one.
Options are already fairly well covered; more diversity, hedge your bets, bet on your hedges, etc.
Better insulated buildings will be well able to handle the spikes in temp, but designing for increased wind, water, fire risk seems worthy. Windbreaks. Increased water storage and redundant supplies. Fire resistant exteriors, planned fire breaks, and substantial water on hand. Coordination with neighbours, evac plans. A full tank of fuel. Grid independent power options, especially if your life or livelihood depends on electricity..
'Theoretically this level of creeping Orwellian dynamics should ramp up our awareness, but what happens instead is that each alert becomes less and less effective because we're incredibly stupid.' - Jerry Holkins
I think the biggest impact for a microclimate would be to build a sizable pond. That is somewhat based on percentages, for instance a person would not want to build a 5 acrepond on a 10 acre property (50% pond size), but ponds really help change the immediate weather. They temper cold and hot, add humidly (or not if frozen), and collect water, and provide frost pockets (or not). They really do more than that as well, but this is just in terms of climate change.