Aid Projects, Community Projects, Education, Food Shortages, Health & Disease — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 14, 2012
Sri Lankan household
Photo © Craig Mackintosh
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has, of course, a lot of resources at its disposal. Unfortunately it’s been shown that those resources have not always been utilised in ways that actually assist the people they purport to want to help. I’d like to believe that this disconnect is just due to ecological ineptitude, rather than impure motives, but it’s impossible for me to tell, or judge, from the swivel chair I’m sitting in. If I got rich from coding DOS, I’m sure I might also come to consider ‘technology’ as being the answer to all things, and, after a lifetime in offices, would probably also have a very limited understanding of the great biological ‘operating system’ — the interdependencies found within our biosphere, and the productivity that can be found in harnessing those interdependencies, instead of ignoring and overriding them and continuing to try to force functions.
But, today I want to highlight a grant opportunity offered by the foundation. It is an opportunity to showcase sensible, appropriate, productive design systems not only to the African farmers who desperately need to find better ways of working, but also to Gates Foundation members themselves. I dare to dream that the vast resources of the foundation could begin to leverage the work of permaculturists, rather than continuing to finance the spread of unnecessary biotechnology, etc. I would encourage lucid and experienced permaculturists — particularly those with documented successes in places like Africa and India — to read through this grant offer, and to do us proud….Comments (4)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Society — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 13, 2012
This video from ReasonTV covers ground we’ve covered before many times, but since little to nothing has changed on this front, we must necessarily persevere in getting the message across any way we can. Essentially, we need to stop incentivising ecological madness, waste, disease, and inequality through public subsidising of the largest agricultural criminals.
Current agricultural subsidies in the U.S. mean that agribusinesses are selling ‘food’ (in inverted commas, as much of it is genetically modified and nutrient deficient) at less than the cost of production. This is damaging to the environment, to U.S. small-scale farmers, the U.S. economy as a whole, and it is particularly hard on struggling small-scale farmers in two-thirds world countries, who watch ‘cheap’ food getting dumped on their doorsteps at prices they cannot compete with and which often see them leaving their land to take up residence in ever-growing city slums, as I outlined in detail in Orchestrating Famine – a Must-Read Backgrounder on the Food Crisis.
Community Projects, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, GMOs, Health & Disease, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Seeds, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 6, 2012
Regular readers will know we are doing what we can to support Vandana Shiva’s "Occupy the Seed" campaign, running between 2 — 16 October, 2012. This worthy "Seed Freedom Fortnight of Action" is a call to respect and liberate the world’s seeds and to maximise their diversity — their being the very basis of our existence, and an absolute wonder of biological ‘magic’ in their own right. On Wednesday September 5th, as an act of solidarity of purpose between the Permaculture Research Institute and Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya Network (an organisation that has to date successfully conserved more than 5000 crop varieties), Geoff and Vandana talked together on how we can recreate a more successful and healthy world through increased diversity, in contrast to the systematic biodiversity loss currently seen through the reductionist systems of Big Agri. Take a watch, and be sure to get involved!Comments (4)
Biodiversity, Comedy Break, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 31, 2012
If we fail to change trajectory, then perhaps we should be re-engineering the root cause of our problem — ourselves?
It’s true that I’m well known for attacking the GMO industry, its industry financed scientists and their thus-incentivised reductionist ’science’. I’ve expressed many times that GMOs are a "solution looking for a problem". We know that GMOs are really only a bid to deal with symptoms of agricultural mismanagement, so they can perpetuate and capitalise on the temporarily highly profitable root cause (i.e. monocultures) of those symptoms. Without monocultures we would not need the many products that keep many an industry alive and many of us in employment (heavy machinery, oil, gasoline, pesticides, fertilisers, GMO seeds and the chemicals they require, etc.), but, with the present paradigm seemingly so entrenched, with our citizens and economic systems being painfully slow to change trajectory (with the industrial agriculture model still rapidly spreading its tentacles across the world’s landscapes), and it threatening our very survival as we begin to head deep into the peak oil era, I’ve had something of an epiphany….
Let me explain.Comments (15)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 25, 2012
Although recorded back in May, for International Permaculture Day (see here and here), I found out about the interview below only yesterday. In the interview, PRI PDC Teacher, Rhamis Kent, talks to renowned environmental filmmaker, John D. Liu, whose fantastic work we’ve featured on this site multiple times (here, here, here and here for example). John covers a lot of ground in the 90-minute discussion, sharing, amongst many other things, the great need for systemic socioeconomic and political change. John explains, as regular readers know I have myself many, many times before, how permaculturists can be a big part of the solution, but that unless the system itself changes, the ability to practice permaculture will remain a pipe dream for most.
The video is a little choppy in a few places, but still very watchable. It’s well worth taking the time to hear what John has to share from his very broad experience.
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Seeds, Society — by Navdanya International August 20, 2012
A Global Citizens Report on the State of GMOs — False Promises, Failed Technologies
People who point out the emptiness of the pretensions of powerful people and institutions are often compared to the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s fable who says that the emperor has no clothes.Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Community Projects, DVDs/Books, Education, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, GMOs, Health & Disease, Medicinal Plants, Seeds, Society, Trees, Village Development — by Navdanya International
The Manifesto on the Future of Seeds outlines ways and means to strengthen and accelerate the movement toward sustainable agriculture, food sovereignty, biodiversity and agricultural diversity and help defend the rights of farmers to save, share, use and improve seeds, as well as to enhance our collective capacity to adapt to the hazards and uncertainties of environmental and economic change.
The Manifesto on the Future of Food develops in detail principles on which to base the transition to a sustainable food and agricultural system as outlined in the Florence Declaration on the Global Rights to Food. Most importantly it sets out practical vision, ideas and programs toward ensuring that food and agriculture become more socially and ecologically sustainable, more accessible, and toward putting food quality, food safety and public health above corporate profits.
The Manifesto on Climate Change and the Future of Food Security highlights the need to change to a productive model that minimizes the system’s vulnerability to external shocks and hazards and that contributes sustainably to mitigating the effects of climate change, based on a strong multifunctionality able to maximize the role of agriculture as a service of the ecosystem and as a tool to strengthen such system, and that guarantees family farming a pivotal role in a new system of production.
The Manifesto on the Future of Knowledge Systems: knowledge sovereignty for a healthy planet makes evident that the multiple crises that face humanity today — the financial implosion and economic collapse, climate chaos and the energy and food crises — are rooted in a reductionist, fragmented and mechanical way of thinking, with the world being equated to a huge machine, free to be manipulated and improved at will. A new way of thinking is vital for the return to a balanced and healthy planet, one based on sustainability, resilience and equity. Some of the themes addressed include: corporate control of science and the merging of knowledge and power; the commercialization of knowledge and biopiracy; the need to integrate traditional and indigenous cultural knowledge with independent science.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by George Monbiot August 15, 2012
The rich world is causing the famines it claims to be preventing.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
I don’t blame Mo Farah, Pele and Haile Gebrselassie, who lined up, all hugs and smiles, outside Downing Street for a photocall at the prime minister’s hunger summit(1). Perhaps they were unaware of the way in which they were being used to promote his corporate and paternalistic approach to overseas aid. Perhaps they were also unaware of the crime against humanity over which he presides. Perhaps Cameron himself is unaware of it.Comments (2)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Comedy Break, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 9, 2012
The upsidedownness of our world really gets to me. The people doing the most critical work (like producing food and clothing) get paid the least, and the people busy producing crap we don’t really need at all get paid much more, and by an order of magnitude. Worse, the people who produce nothing at all, but just shift numbers around on a screen, capitalising on the work of the afore-mentioned two groups, get paid exponentially more again.
Warning: Don’t play if you don’t appreciate bad language!
Somewhere along the line we’ve lost perspective. We’ve lost our sense of wonder, our recognition of the ‘magic’ of the world we live in — that all the best things in life are actually free — instead overlaying an entirely human intervention called ‘the economy’, or ‘the system’:Comments (37)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Richard Widows August 8, 2012
We are in the early stages of a global food crisis, the likes of which has never previously been seen. Nearly 1 billion people (or 1 in 7) experience chronic hunger and another 1 billion are faced with serious nutritional deficiencies. Meanwhile, reports suggest that nearly 2 billion people are overweight. Combine these figures and you realise that approximately 4 billion people suffer from food related health issues — more than half of the world’s population. This statistic alone is evidence enough of the need for urgent discussion about our food system.Comments (1)
Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change — by Earth Policy Institute July 25, 2012
by Lester R. Brown , Earth Policy Institute
In the early spring of 2012, U.S. farmers were on their way to planting some 96 million acres in corn, the most in 75 years. A warm early spring got the crop off to a great start. Analysts were predicting the largest corn harvest on record.Comments (1)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Financial Management, Food Shortages, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 19, 2012
The precariousness of the economy is becoming increasingly apparent to the masses. Indeed, every day more and more people are falling below the bread line, or are spending sleepless nights wondering how to extricate themselves from the situations they find themselves in. In some ways, this is good — being short-sighted creatures, we don’t seem to be able to conversate on issues, even if critically important, if we don’t realise their direct implications for ourselves personally. Actually, I somewhat take that back. We truly do, as a race, have a powerful capacity to empathise with others, despite not being in their shoes, but the system we’ve wrapped ourselves up in has separated us all out, disconnecting and isolating us from almost everyone but our closest friends and family, and, to a large extent, often even those. This atomisation, and the empathy-eradication program that accompanies it, means that broadscale collaborative discussion on the great need for a widespread socio-political-economic transitional overhaul will never get beyond niche blog posts and private conversations, unless more and more people start to feel the pinch and wake up.
We do seem to be, slowly, reaching this point.Comments (6)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by David Bollier July 17, 2012
MST: The Landless Workers Movement
Raj Patel has been tracking the pathologies of the global food system for many years. An activist and academic who teaches at the UC Berkeley Center for African Studies, Patel has just published a second, updated edition of his 2008 book, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.
The problem with the food system is not that we don’t produce enough calories to eradicate hunger, Patel notes. It’s that the food system has its own priorities of institutional consolidation and profit, which means that more than one billion people in the world are malnourished and two billion are overweight – which is worse than when the first edition of Patel’s book came out.Comments (0)
Community Projects, Compost, Consumerism, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Medicinal Plants, Nurseries & Propogation, Plant Systems, Processing & Food Preservation, Recipes, Rehabilitation, Seeds, Soil Biology, Trees, Urban Projects, peak oil — by Anthea Hudson July 3, 2012
I doubt many would disagree that food is one of the most important things that we are going to need to become reconnected to, in times to come. Without a reliable food source, much hardship can be predicted and even potentially losses of life. In the future, food security will probably rely much more on sources of our own creation, by producing food ourselves and establishing networks with others in our community.
We will also need to acquire the knowledge to put these food systems into practice. It’s one thing to have wheat seeds to plant, but wheat doesn’t grow and become bread by itself. We have to know, and become proficient in, the processes involved in whatever we plan to produce — preferably before there is an urgent necessity to do so!
The activities below will introduce your children (and you!) to some of the principles and practices of creating food resilience.Comments (8)
Hope for a New Era: Before/After Examples of Permaculture Earth Restoration – Solving Our Problems From the Ground Up
Aid Projects, Alternatives to Political Systems, Biodiversity, Community Projects, Conferences, Consumerism, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Urban Projects, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 28, 2012
If you aren’t in a reading mood, and/or just came to look at the before/after photographs, click here to jump down the page.
Loess Plateau, Early September, 1995
Loess Plateau, Early September, 2009
Rio+20 has been and gone, and, in the big scheme of things, has achieved little, or worse. With this post I’d like to take the opportunity to jot down some thoughts, and images, that might help us shake off disappointment, disillusionment and despair, and give us something we can all consider, adjust and rally around. Our ‘leaders’ are taking us ‘down the garden path’, but, unfortunately, in the proverbial, rather than literal, sense. It’s truly time to forge new beginnings, create new economies, and to prioritise natural and social capital with the goal of restoring ecological and social health.Comments (15)