Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Eco-Villages, Education Centres, Food Shortages, Village Development — by Oliver Lovell December 21, 2012
This article was originally published on the Post Growth Institute Website.
Farmers planting nitrogen fixing trees on their farms
As a group challenging the growth paradigm, one of the most common questions that we hear is, ‘But don’t we need economic growth to lift the poor out of poverty?’. While growth has been successful to this end in certain ways, there are also some unwelcome consequences of growth. We prefer to ask other questions, like ‘Do we need to target economic growth to help those in need?’ and even better, ‘How are people currently breaking the poverty cycle in sustainable and inspiring ways?’. This piece demonstrates how a group of incredible people are doing just that.Comments (1)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Food Shortages, Village Development — by Andrea Joswig
Since 2011 the Adunni Susanne Wenger Foundation in Nigeria, in Cooperation with the German NGO SONED Brandenburg e.V., built up the Environmental Education Centre called Permaculture Forest Garden at Gberefu Island, in Badagry, Lagos State. Beside the sustainability of the local environment, the project’s focus is on health care, food security, nonviolent communication and the support of democratic processes. Permaculture Forest Garden is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and The German Foundation Stiftung Nord-Süd-Brücken. The beneficiaries of the project are the inhabitants of the surrounding settlements, students, teachers, farmers and landowners from Badagry and Lagos.Comments (0)
by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute
Encroaching Gobi desert
When most people hear the term “dust bowl,” they think of the American heartland in the 1930s, when a homesteading wheat bonanza led to the plowing up of the Great Plains’ native grassland, culminating in the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Despite warnings from researchers and some farmers, history repeated itself in the Soviet Virgin Lands Project in the 1950s to early 1960s. Some 100 million acres (40 million hectares) of grassland were plowed under in Russia, Kazakhstan, and western Siberia during Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s push to produce ever more food from the land. When drought hit, the topsoil started to blow away. By 1965, nearly half the newly planted area was degraded by wind erosion. Yields plummeted. Ultimately farmers staged a retreat, abandoning much of that land.
Unfortunately, dust bowls are not just relics of the past. Today two new dust bowls are forming: one in northern China and southern Mongolia and the other in Africa south of the Sahara. Whereas the dust bowls in the United States and the Soviet Union were the result of overplowing, the main culprit in Asia and Africa is overgrazing. Although arid or semiarid grasslands are typically better suited for grazing livestock than for farming, once they are overstocked their protective grass covering deteriorates and they face erosion all the same.Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Desertification, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 17, 2012
We often only begin to understand the importance of nutrient- and water-cycling when they don’t — when they don’t cycle, that is. When ecosystems fail, when the hydrological cycle gets broken, when soils degrade faster than they build, the consequence is desertification. Already a full 25% of the planet’s land surface area (about 3.6 billion hectares) is desertified, and, worldwide, we’re adding to this enormous figure at a rate of 12 million hectares annually. And this rate is increasing.
More than ever before, we now understand the mechanisms behind desertification. Even just one lifetime ago we thought we were too small, and the world too large, for us to have any real effect on planetary functions, but that has all changed. Today we know that we are having a profoundly negative impact on the earth’s systems — those systems upon which all life, and all economic activity, depend — and we’re also learning that reversing that impact is a lot harder, and a lot more time-consuming and expensive, than preventative measures to avoid it in the first place.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 10, 2012
As permaculturists, we have a great many solutions for the water crisis. From water harvesting to reed bed grey water systems, to watershed rehabilitation, there are common sense approaches to holistically restore eco-system services, rehydrate our landscapes and stabilise water flows and the climate. In the video above, however, we come face to face with forces that can undo the work of thousands of enthusiastic permaculturists with a few signatures on a market based, industrial contract.
We need to know the enemy if we’re to defeat it.Comments (1)
Community Projects, Food Shortages, Urban Projects, peak oil — by Klara Hansson December 6, 2012
I believe that we will need to produce food in our urban centres, because I can’t figure out how else we are going to meet an increased demand from our cities. With over 50% of the world’s population living in them, currently relying on an unsustainable agricultural system to deliver all the nourishment they need, it’s not hard to understand that something will need to change.
In order to meet this need in the ways of a permaculturist, I have dedicated my working hours to the concept of Edible Cities.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination — by Oyvind Holmstad
Further Reading:Comments (2)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, People Systems, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Samuel Alexander November 24, 2012
Editor’s Preamble: I would exhort readers to ignore the potentially off-putting length of this piece, to instead step into, and allow yourself to be absorbed by, this important and worthy attempt at future-visualising. Readers who have been following my own work over the last several years will recognise and appreciate the themes covered. From my own perspective, what follows is a highly pragmatic view on the potential near-future of civilisation, and I truly feel that the speed and shape of progression (i.e. objectively and cooperatively planned and peacefully implemented), or, regression (i.e. unplanned, reactive, desperate, monopolistic and individualistic), and ultimate form of that future will largely depend on how many people are objectively considering these themes and adjusting their lives, and their influence, accordingly.
Photo © Craig Mackintosh
by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne.
When [we have] obtained those things necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now, [our] vacation from humbler toil having commenced. – Henry David Thoreau
If a society does not have some vision of where it wants to be or what it wants to become, it cannot know whether it is heading in the right direction – it cannot even know whether it is lost. This is the confused position of consumer capitalism today, which has a fetish for economic growth but no answer to the question of what that growth is supposed to be for. It is simply assumed that growth is good for its own sake, but of course economic activity is merely a means, not an end. It can only ever be justified by some goal beyond itself, but that is precisely what consumer capitalism lacks – a purpose, a reason for existence. It is a means without an end, like a tool without a task. What makes this state of affairs all the more challenging is that the era of growth economics appears to be coming to a close, due to various financial, ecological, and energy constraints, and this is leaving growth-based economies without the very capacity for growth which defined them historically. Before long this will render consumer capitalism an obsolete system with neither a means nor an end, a situation that is in fact materialising before our very eyes. It seems that today we are living in the twilight of growth globally, which implies that the dawn of a new age is almost upon us – is perhaps already upon us. But as we turn this momentous page in history we find that humanity is without a narrative in which to lay down new roots. We are the generation in between stories, desperately clinging to yesterday’s story but uncertain of tomorrow’s. Then again, perhaps the new words we need are already with us; perhaps we just need to live them into existence.Comments (7)
Biodiversity, Conservation, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Irrigation, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor November 20, 2012
Filmmaker and environmentalist, John D. Liu from the Environmental Education Media Project team, takes us to Rwanda again (last time was here), showing us how the country is seeking to leapfrog the disastrous ‘development‘ route most of the countries of the North have gone down, to instead head more directly towards sustainability. Given the horrors this country were awash with during the 1990s, it’s certainly encouraging to see the nation making some good truly forward steps on several fronts.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Community Projects, Conservation, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Population, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by John D. Liu November 17, 2012
Before (below) and after (above), Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabiliation Project
A Breakthough of Worldwide Importance
In 1995, as the Chinese government and people were beginning an ambitious effort to restore the cradle of Chinese civilization, I was asked by the World Bank to document the “Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation Project”. Originally the Loess Plateau had been fully vegetated with massive forests and grasslands. Resources extracted from the giant forests, rushing rivers, and abundance of the earth in this place blossomed into the magnificence of the Han, the Qin and the Tang dynasties. The accomplishments of the early Chinese dynasties, based in this area, rank among the greatest human scientific and artistic achievements of any age. The Loess Plateau gave birth to the Han race, the largest ethnic group on the planet, and the plateau is generally considered by historians and geographers to be the second place on Earth where human beings began to use settled agriculture.Comments (9)
Biodiversity, Community Projects, Conservation, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Rehabilitation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Rhamis Kent November 16, 2012
I was recently invited to contribute to a concept paper (2.2mb PDF) authored and edited by Willem Ferwerda.
Mr. Ferwerda, a tropical ecologist, was director of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) National Committee of The Netherlands from 2000 until March 2012. In his new role Ferwerda will support the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) in making businesses and investors work for ecosystem restoration and management. As Chair of the Board of Patrons he will be actively involved in rolling out Leaders for Nature internationally.
This paper was compiled to serve as:
A plea for the establishment of an international mechanism that actively creates collaborative Ecosystem Restoration Partnerships between businesses, investors, business schools, civil society organizations, farmers and local people, that international restoration targets will be reached, investments will be returned, and practical lessons are learned by working together.
One of the many contributors to this paper is Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Quoting his statements from the paper’s introduction:Comments (0)
Economics, Food Shortages — by Nicholas Hildyard November 14, 2012
There are 154 million reasons why speculation via the commodity markets needs to be stopped – and stopped fast.
154 million, as I’m sure you know, is the number of people in poorer developing countries who were reportedly driven further into poverty as a result of speculation- induced food price hikes in 2007-08, or who became malnourished as a result.(1)
Previous speakers have explained why speculation – not food shortages – was responsible for the food crisis that resulted. I have been asked to explore some of the possible measures that might be taken to curb such speculation.
I’d like to start with some major inroads that have already been made in the United States, due in large part to the work of a very broad coalition of farm groups, unions, faith groups, environmentalists and development groups, and then to look at some of the deeper structural changes that peoples movements around the world are already struggling for and to which we might lend our solidarity.Comments (1)
DVDs/Books, Dams, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Swales, Trees, Water Harvesting, peak oil — by Geoff Lawton November 12, 2012
At time of writing, our Zaytuna Farm Video Tour video has had almost 11,000 views, after only six months. A lot of people expressed their appreciation for this video, with some describing it as a "free DVD". Where we can, we want to provide more inspirational/instructional material for free, and today I’m writing to let you know about our latest effort towards fulfilling this goal.
Click here to go to an introductory video titled ‘How to Survive the Coming Crises‘. This is a FREE 34-minute video that looks at:Comments (5)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Nuclear, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Paul Chefurka November 10, 2012
We are now well into a global crisis that may mark the end of this cycle of human civilization. In this note I present a summary of what’s going on as far as I can tell, as well as a scenario for how things might develop over the next 75 years or so.
The issue is enormous, so an overview like this is inevitably going to be skimpy on details. This is, after all, not an academic journal. However, like every other fact in the known universe, those details are just a Google away…
Because the global predicament manifests itself in some way in virtually every area of human endeavour, any useful approach to it must be massively cross-disciplinary. Fruitful areas for investigation include:Comments (12)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Compost, Conservation, Food Forests, Food Shortages, Irrigation, Land, Rehabilitation, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Swales, Village Development, Water Harvesting — by Stephanie Blennerhassett October 31, 2012
PDCs are tricky. For two weeks we tumble into this community of unfamiliarly familiar, curious strangers. The constant whirlwind of habits, obligations, and distractions that composes our lives momentarily dissipates and we are thrust into this world where our main responsibility is to be open-minded, observe, think, learn, and connect. Yet, at the end of the day, we are singular beings and we all have our lives that we will return to. As PDC participants, we are exposed to this new paradigm together, share bemusement at fractal patterns and individual inspirations, and then suddenly depart the entropy we fell into and hopefully go off with the intent to use permaculture as a framework for making society and the environment more resilient.
However, after I was formally introduced to permaculture, as a nomadic recent college graduate, I was not sure how permaculture could be a tangible part of my life. The fulfillment from a sense of belonging and purpose I experienced during the PDC instilled within me a restless need to contribute to a project and/or community. So, I found myself asking, “Now what?”.Comments (4)