Animal Housing, Biodiversity, Deforestation, Food Forests, Global Warming/Climate Change, Land, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Trees — by Julia Mitchell December 2, 2010
When one thinks of trees and the benefit they have for us as humans, the obvious comes to mind: Trees help reduce the effects of global warming by reducing carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. The photosynthetic process provides the trees with nutrients, and humans with the primary element required to sustain life — oxygen. Trees are often referred to as the “lungs of the world.”
All of the above is mainstream knowledge. It is the basic information we learn as children in grade school. But what if I told you it’s only the tip of the iceberg? Trees are more than just the “lungs of the world”. Their role on this earth is pervasive, yet so often taken for granted.
So, what is a tree?Comments (8)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, Society, peak oil — by Alexander Seton November 22, 2010
Compost, Consumerism, Deforestation, Global Warming/Climate Change, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition — by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho November 18, 2010
Turning bioenergy crops into buried charcoal to sequester carbon does not work, and could plunge the earth into an oxygen crisis towards mass extinction
A fully referenced and illustrated version of this article is posted on ISIS members’ website. Details here
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The story goes that charcoal buried in the soil is stable for thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years and increases crop yields. The proposal to grow crops on hundreds of millions of hectares to be turned into buried ‘biochar’ is therefore widely seen as a “carbon negative” initiative that could save the climate and boost food production.
That story is fast unravelling. Biochar is not what it is hyped up to be, and implementing the biochar initiative could be dangerous, basically because saving the climate turns out to be not just about curbing the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere that can be achieved by burying carbon in the soil, it is also about keeping oxygen (O2) levels up. Keeping O2 levels up is what only green plants on land and phytoplankton at sea can do, by splitting water to regenerate O2 while fixing CO2 to feed the rest of the biosphere  (Living with Oxygen, SiS 43).
Climate scientists have only discovered within the past decade that O2 is depleting faster than the rise in CO2, both on land and in the sea [2, 3] (O2 Dropping Faster than CO2 Rising, and Warming Oceans Starved of Oxygen, SiS 44). Furthermore, the acceleration of deforestation spurred by the biofuels boom since 2003 appears to coincide with a substantial steepening of the O2 decline. Turning trees into charcoal in a hurry could be the surest way to precipitate an oxygen crisis from which we may never recover.Comments (56)
Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Population, Society — by Earth Policy Institute November 11, 2010
After several decades of rapid rise in world grain yields, it is now becoming more difficult to raise land productivity fast enough to keep up with the demands of a growing, increasingly affluent, population. From 1950 to 1990, world grainland productivity increased by 2.2 percent per year, but from 1990 until 2009 it went up by only 1.3 percent annually. Despite some impressive local advances, the global loss of momentum in expanding food production is forcing us to think more seriously about reducing demand by stabilizing population, moving down the food chain, and reducing the use of grain to fuel cars.
One of the key components of Plan B, the Earth Policy Institute’s ambitious strategy to save civilization, is to halt world population growth at no more than 8 billion by 2040. This will require an all-out population education effort to help people everywhere understand how fast the relationship between us and our natural support systems is deteriorating. It also means that we need a crash program to get reproductive health care and birth control services to the more than 200 million women today who want to plan their families but lack access to the means to do so.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Oyvind Holmstad October 28, 2010
A Viable Food Future
What kind of food production can:
- drastically reduce poverty
- reduce climate change and cool the planet
- restore biodiversity, soil fertility and water resources
- improve livelihoods and provide employment for billions of people
- produce enough, good, and nutritious food for 9 billion people or more?
From the report:
Regulation and transformation of unsustainable large-scale industrialised agriculture, livestock raising and fisheries towards smaller-scale ecological production systems is urgently required if hunger is to be eradicated, an equitable food system established and the environment restored. Small-scale farmers should be recognized for their ability to feed the world, reduce climate change, preserve the natural wealth of agricultural and grazing lands, soil, biodiversity, water and aquatic resources that they use in production. Local food production and small-scale agricultural industries in rural areas have the potential to provide decent jobs, which are of utmost importance especially for rural youth and women, and to revitalise agrarian, pastoral and fisheries-based economies, thereby preventing distress or involuntary migration to cities. It is time to move in the direction of a viable food future.
Download the full report, available in English, Spanish and French.Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society — by George Monbiot October 20, 2010
The draft global plan for saving biodiversity contains no firm proposals at all.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom
As the summit begins, I’ve finally got round to reading the draft declaration on biodiversity* the governments meeting at Nagoya in Japan will discuss. It’s 195 pages long. If it were a thesis about the causes and consequences of the decline of the world’s wild species, I would give it a fairly high mark. As an action plan for doing something about this decline, it’s a dead loss.
It begins by reminding us of the comprehensive failure of the last big declaration, in 2002. Then the governments agreed to “achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss”. The new declaration begins by saying this hasn’t been met “in full”. Later, it concedes that it hasn’t been met at all:
“The diversity of genes, species and ecosystems continues to decline, as the pressures on biodiversity remain constant or increase in intensity mainly as a result of human actions.”
Community Projects, Conservation, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Global Warming/Climate Change, Livestock, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 21, 2010
Some of you will remember the excellent Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration article provided by Tony Rinaudo of World Vision. It shared a rapid and highly effective way to reforest degraded landscapes by simply letting the ‘underground forest’ (the seeds, roots and shoots already existing in the landscape) do what it already wants to do: that being to just grow! Instead of expensive projects with imported seed, nurseries, propagation, watering, etc., Niger has seen net afforestation on a massive scale (over 5 million hectares in Niger alone) by simply educating locals in protecting and pruning the plants already at their feet.Comments (4)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, News, Population, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 9, 2010
Monsanto is starting an advocacy campaign in Australia, calling for greater acceptance of their GMO wares. Aside from all the environmental and personal health issues involved with GMOs, Monsanto is also conveniently ignoring that mother of all wake up calls, peak oil. Without cheap energy, their large scale globalised monocrop systems will collapse.
Click for full view
Courtesy: Marc Roberts
It seems we have Monsanto on the defensive, and offensive:
Global biotechnology company Monsanto has begun an education and advocacy campaign to change the opposition many Australia consumers have to genetically modified food.
Speaking at the NSW Farmwriters Forum in Sydney, Monsanto’s head in Australia, Peter O’Keefe, argued that organic and permaculture production was "not viable" on a large scale, and Australia was falling behind other countries in productivity improvements because of the reluctance to embrace GM technology. – ABC.net.au
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Global Warming/Climate Change, Land, News, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 2, 2010
Ascension Island, in the South Atlantic (source)
It seems Darwin was a permaculturist!
In his days globetrotting aboard HMS Beagle, Darwin set in motion the transformation of a dead, volcanic island rock – Ascension Island, described by nearby islanders as "a cinder" – into a green, rain-creating oasis. How did he do it?Comments (7)
Isn’t it time to imagine a new world?
Perhaps it is impossible to write an article about politics without evoking strong – and maybe quite emotional – thoughts and responses. One particular all-too-human reaction to a novel concept or idea about which we have a strong "gut feeling" (good or bad) is to construct logically-sounding reasons to justify our initial emotions. For this reason, I would like to ask readers who would like to comment on this article to sleep one night over their reply before they post it.
Politics is all about defining the legal environment that guides society. It is this framework that defines to a large extent what is illegal and what is not, what is profitable and what is not – hence what sort of economic activities will be pursued. Evidently, political decisions therefore have a major impact on how well societies manage their natural resources. Some would even claim that sustainability is exclusively a question of politics. While I personally would not subscribe to this idea, there have been a number of people who became professional politicians out of a strong inner desire to move their respective societies away from their suicidal paths. Across the globe, some quite prominent politicians invested a lot of personal energy into this – often to ultimately fail in resignation. One might think, for example, of the German politician Herbert Gruhl, originally a member of the conservative party, who, cancelling his membership due to irreconcilable differences on environmental issues, became one of the founders of the German Green Party. In 1992, the year before he died, he published a sequel to his 1975 best-seller (whose title would translate as "Plundered Planet"), which roughly would translate as: "Ascension to Nothingness – the Plundered Planet at its End". In the U.S., Jay Hanson seems to have played a similar role. Resignation clearly speaks out of the last lines of his article ‘requiem’:Comments (10)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Biodiversity, Community Projects, Conservation, Consumerism, Dams, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Gabions, Global Warming/Climate Change, Land, Plant Systems, Population, Regional Water Cycle, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Swales, Terraces, Trees, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 6, 2010
The world is coming unglued. The world burns. What are we going to do about it?
Map of fires in Russia
As I type, half of Russia is on fire after its hottest summer on record, Pakistan is dealing with the biggest floods in living memory and Australia is still in the clutches of a decade long drought. The last decade, worldwide, was the hottest since records began, and 2010 may break the records of 1998 and 2005 to become the hottest year we’ve ever known. We could spend weeks just examining the extreme weather events going on on a country by country basis.Comments (14)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Development & Property Trusts, Economics, Ethical Investment, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Population, Rehabilitation, Society, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Rhamis Kent August 5, 2010
Over the past couple of years, there has been quite a bit of attention paid to the purchase of massive amounts of agricultural land by rich countries and corporate entities in the developing world. Craig Mackintosh wrote about this on this site, as have many other very informative reports and press stories.
To summarize, there has been approximately US$100 Billion mobilized to purchase somewhere between 40 – 50 million hectares (roughly 100 – 125 million acres) of agricultural land worldwide.Comments (6)
Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Society — by Ernest Partridge July 30, 2010
Copyright by Ernest Partridge. Published here with permission of the author.
A few years ago, I taped a broadcast of National Public Radio’s "All Things Considered" for listening at a more convenient time later in the day. That broadcast contained a report by Alan Sapporin on the old-growth timber controversy. The logger’s remark which opens this essay is written exactly as I heard it. Unfortunately, this was neither the first, nor the last, time that I have heard such a remark. (EP)
"It’s here to be harvested, and God put it on this Earth to do that, and that’s the way it is."
For logger Archie Sawyer (not his actual name), these trees are for him. It is God’s will.
"The Earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof," saith the scripture. Not so, says Archie Sawyer, who claims, in effect, that the Earth is his, and that God gave it to him. Thus it would seem downright ungrateful, even sacrilegious, for him not to take it.Comments (6)
Courses/Workshops, Deforestation, Soil Erosion & Contamination — by Rob Avis July 28, 2010
Peak Oil, loss of diversity, species extinction, conspiracy, oil spills, food insecurity…. The problems that we face seem to increase both in size and complexity every day. However we can simplify all of these global issues and emphasize three primary concerns. In order of increasing priority, the three biggest issues are:
- Soil destruction and erosion
Old growth forest we visited in Tasmania
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Deforestation, Education Centres, Irrigation, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Urban Projects — by Alex Metcalfe July 21, 2010
Written by Alex Metcalfe. Photo credits to Alex Metcalfe, Asiya Brock, Helen Evans and Houssa Yacoubi.
The view from the course site ‘Ourthane’ which means ‘gardens’
In 2004, during my first visit to Morocco, one night in the desert with the full moon at its zenith I climbed an enormous dune with Francois and Vincent, two Québécois I had met on the bus journey south.
Ascending that great pile of sand, every step forward seemed to take us three steps back. Our beleaguered progress was painfully slow. The nameless mountain of sand we were climbing stood far above neighbouring dunes to shelter a small and equally anonymous oasis a few hours slow and ponderous journey by camel from Merzouga, a small, one road collection of pisé houses and auberges that sit amidst the bleak and stony Hamada. The only movements to catch the eye was the shimmering heat rising from the Earth and the tall, thin and spectral twisters that listlessly faded into existence only to fade out again, as if exhausted under the unforgiving glare of the desert sun from the effort of giving form to the eddying winds of the Hamada.Comments (4)