When permaculture was developed in the early 1970s, it emphasized agriculture ("permanent agriculture") and the design of homesteads and small farms.
Thirty years later, conditions have changed. The most urgent environmental issues are what permaculturist Tim Winton calls the "hydrocarbon twins": global warming and the end of cheap energy (Peak Oil). Since both conditions are caused by fossil fuels, the pressing problem is how to minimize their use. Re-examining transportation is key, since that sector is the biggest consumer of petroleum. According to the New York Times, the transportation sector "represents two-thirds of all oil demand in the United States and is solely accountable for the growth of the nation's oil thirst over the last three decades".
A second emerging issue is the destruction of local communities and their replacement by a globalized commercial culture. Local communities are critical buffers against rising energy prices, economic dislocation and dysfunctional national governments. Their absence puts us at risk.