Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Peak Oil, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

The oil age allowed us to do the wrong things with unprecedented speed and efficiency.

Oil is an almost ideal energy source. It is relatively easy to extract (until recently) requires little refining, and has an extremely high energy density. The only problem is that there’s not an endless supply of it. To get an idea of just how huge of an impact this has, consider if we were to attempt to replace all the ‘work’ done by oil with human labor: 1 barrel of oil is equivalent to 12 men working full time for an entire year. That’s 25,000 man hours for just the $100 or whatever is the going rate of a barrel of oil. (That’s $.004/hour which is effectively slaverysource and calculation details.)

Now perhaps you can understand the leverage this gives any people who wield this power, not unlike the ancient pharaohs with their armies of slaves building the pyramids. The entire modern economic and agricultural model hinges on cheap oil to fuel all the trucks and ships moving products around the globe, to power the combines and tractors, to provide the fuel for our cars to get us all to work and to the stores every day, etc. The average American uses 60+ barrels of oil per year — that’s an equivalent of each person having 720 full-time slaves!

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Posted by & filed under GMOs.

Image source: RIA Novosti / Maksim Bogodvid

Russia will not import GMO products, the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food.

Moscow has no reason to encourage the production of genetically modified products or import them into the country, Medvedev told a congress of deputies from rural settlements on Saturday.

“If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” he said.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Trees.

Global Resource Alliance was recently honored to plant the 5 millionth tree sponsored by the Belgium NGO, WeForest, in Kinesi Village, Tanzania. WeForest sponsors reforestation projects around the globe, and has worked with GRA over the past three years to plant 250,000 trees in Rorya District, Tanzania.

On very short notice our Kinesi projects coordinator, Owino, organized a big event and invited the Commissioner of Rorya District to plant the landmark 5 millionth tree.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Please take one minute to send an email to protect our national food-bowl, the Liverpool Plains, and the rich groundwater supplies it depends on.

This is an urgent request. BHP are planning on digging the largest underground coal mine in the world under our very best farmlands, on the Liverpool Plains in north-west NSW. Submissions on the groundwater assessment for this mine are due on the 23rd February — that is just 6 days away. Can you help?

The Namoi Alluvial Aquifer that the mine will impact is a high-yielding and heavily-used water source that is needed for irrigation, stock and domestic and town water supplies.

The Liverpool Plains is so important and unique because it combines exceptionally fertile volcanic soils with high output aquifers and reliable summer and winter rainfall.

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Posted by & filed under Education, People Systems, Village Development.

Marcin Gerwin: It seems almost natural that when children reach the age of six or seven they go to school. The idea of compulsory schools seems obvious and it is rarely questioned. However, one may start to wonder if forcing children to learn is an effective way to provide education at all. We learn easier when we want to do it rather than when we are told to. Is it really necessary to make going to school obligatory by law?

Peter Gray: Compulsory schooling is not a good idea for education. It’s been a norm in most countries for more than a century (in some countries for more than two centuries), so everybody has been doing it for at least two or three generations. And when that happens you begin to think – well, that must be absolutely essential for development. We hardly know people who have developed without compulsory schooling and those people that we do know may be homeless for example and are unable to support themselves. Therefore we develop a cultural view that it must be essential for healthy development, for getting a job. But I think that’s mistaken and I have a lot of reasons for thinking that.

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Posted by & filed under GMOs.

Big Food is trying to kill your right to know if the food you’re eating is genetically engineered.

With their anti-labeling allies, like Monsanto and Dow, the Grocery Manufacturers Association has teamed up with Koch brothers-backed Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas to introduce a federal bill that would deny your right to know.

The bill, which we’re calling the “Deny Americans the Right-to-Know Act (DARK Act),” would:

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Posted by & filed under Building, Compost, Waste Systems & Recycling.

Newly completed composting toilet

This is an analysis of a humanure composting toilet designed and built at the Panya Project in Mae Taeng, Thailand. Humanure toilets are a very effective, easy, cheap method of creating a resource out of what our conventional society views as waste. A humanure composting toilet allows feces to break down into soil by adding sawdust to the chambers after each ‘use’. After six months of breaking down, the humanure transforms itself into fresh soil which can be used for the garden.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Health & Disease, Livestock, Society.

Some practical ideas about the meat industry

Spacious chicken houses — a stark minority (Photo by David Ashwanden)

In many countries, the state of the meat industry is fairly well publicised: poor conditions for animals (see for example 1, 2), strange and unnatural foods and medicines getting into our food chain (see for example 3; 4), unclear labelling (see for example 5), and mass industrialised butchery (see for example 6).

For many people these conditions are unacceptable; yet when it actually comes down to buying your meat it seems consumers feel that they have no choice but to go for the cheapest option. How can we re-align the quality of the animal products available for us with a price which reflects living costs?

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