Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Nuclear, Society, peak oil — by The Corner House February 22, 2012
Energy is never far from the headlines these days. Conflicts of all kinds — political, economic, social, military — seem to be proliferating over oil, coal, gas, nuclear and biomass.
While some interests struggle to keep cheap fossil fuels circulating worldwide, a growing number of communities are resisting their extraction and use.
While an increasingly urbanised populace experiences fuel poverty and many people in rural areas have no access whatsoever to electricity, large commercial enterprises enjoy subsidised supplies.
As increasingly globalised manufacturing and transport systems spew out ever more carbon dioxide, environmentalists warn that the current era of profligate use of coal, oil and gas is a historical anomaly that has to come to an end as soon as possible, and that neither nuclear energy, agrofuels or renewables (even supposing they could be delivered in an environmentally sustainable and safe manner) will ever constitute effective substitutes for them.
For progressive activists, all this raises an unavoidable yet unresolved question: how to keep fossil fuels and uranium in the ground and agrofuels off the land in a way that does not inflict suffering on millions?Comments Off
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Richard Heinberg
As economies contract, a global popular uprising confronts power elites over access to the essentials of human existence. What are the underlying dynamics of the conflict, and how is it likely to play out?
by Richard Heinberg (Article originally published on www.postcarbon.org)
As the world economy crashes against debt and resource limits, more and more countries are responding by attempting to salvage what are actually their most expendable features — corrupt, insolvent banks and bloated militaries — while leaving the majority of their people to languish in “austerity.” The result, predictably, is a global uprising. This current set of conditions and responses will lead, sooner or later, to social as well as economic upheaval — and a collapse of the support infrastructure on which billions depend for their very survival.
Nations could, in principle, forestall social collapse by providing the basics of existence (food, water, housing, medical care, family planning, education, employment for those able to work, and public safety) universally and in a way that could be sustained for some time, while paying for this by deliberately shrinking other features of society — starting with military and financial sectors — and by taxing the wealthy. The cost of covering the basics for everyone is within the means of most nations. Providing human necessities would not remove all fundamental problems now converging (climate change, resource depletion, and the need for fundamental economic reforms), but it would provide a platform of social stability and equity to give the world time to grapple with deeper, existential challenges.Comments (1)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Village Development — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor February 17, 2012
USAID Permaculture Technical Brief
The growing food crisis has struggled to stay in the headlines since being highlighted broadscale in the mainstream media back in 2008, but it moves apace regardless, and I can assure you it will continue to do so, likely at a frightening rate. A 2012 Save the Children report shares that "Half a billion children could grow up physically and mentally stunted over the next 15 years because they do not have enough to eat" (BBC).
With this in mind, it’s excellent news that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID — "the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid" Wikipedia) is moving to incorporate permaculture design into its aid work for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). They’ve just released a technical brief (right) to help expedite this.
From the document:Comments (10)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society — by George Monbiot February 15, 2012
Is environmentalism compatible with social justice?
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
It is the stick with which the greens are beaten daily: if we spend money on protecting the environment, the poor will starve, or freeze to death, or will go without shoes and education. Most of those making this argument do so disingenuously: they support the conservative or libertarian politics that keep the poor in their place and ensure that the 1% harvest the lion’s share of the world’s resources.Comments Off
Conferences, Consumerism, Courses/Workshops, Deforestation, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Cheryl Samarasinghe February 14, 2012
Editor’s Note: I would encourage all well-spoken permaculturists who can make it to Sydney for this event to go along and contribute your thoughts — to help show how permaculture can shift our planetary orbit onto a safer trajectory….
What: 2nd National Sustainable Food Summit
When: 2-4 April, 2012
Where: Dockside, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Last year, in April 2011, over 340 delegates including public health, primary producers and members of the business, government, education, community and not-for-profit sectors came together in Melbourne to share ideas that could inform a vision for Australia’s food system in 2030.
The Inaugural National Sustainable Food Summit generated extraordinary consensus for the need to collaborate and continue the conversations necessary to transform Australia’s food system.
The 2nd National Sustainable Food Summit has been designed to progress the discussion from 2011 — which focused on the limits and challenges to our current system — to begin to examine what new frameworks and emerging solutions will help support a sustainable and resilient food system for Australia now and in the future.Comments (1)
Economics, Food Shortages, Society, peak oil — by Tim Barker February 7, 2012
What: Nichole Foss talk on the present and future crises
Where: The Channon Community Hall, near Lismore, NSW, Australia (and a stone’s throw from the PRI’s Zaytuna Farm)
When: 10th of February, starting at 5.30 pm
Cost?: Donation at door
Nicole M. Foss is co-editor of The Automatic Earth (TAE), where she writes under the name Stoneleigh. She and her writing partner have been chronicling and interpreting the on-going credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multi-faceted predicament. The site integrates finance, energy, environment, psychology, population and real politick in order to explain why we find ourselves in a state of crisis and what we can do about it. Prior to the establishment of TAE, she was editor of The Oil Drum Canada, where she wrote on peak oil and finance.Comments (3)
Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, Society, peak oil — by Samuel Alexander January 13, 2012
The advent of peak oil means we should prepare for a downscaling of our highly energy and resource-intensive lifestyles.
What is peak oil and why does it matter? And what effect will it have on the Western lifestyles we take for granted? These are not questions that many people are asking themselves yet, but this decade is going to change everything. Peak oil is upon us.
Peak oil does not mean that the world is about it run out of oil. It refers to the point at which the supply of oil can no longer increase. There is lots of the stuff left; it’s just getting much more difficult to find and extract, which means it is getting very hard, and perhaps impossible, to increase the overall ”flow” of oil out of the ground. When the flow can no longer increase, that is peak oil. Supply will then plateau for a time and eventually enter terminal decline. This is the future that awaits us, because oil is a finite, non-renewable resource.Comments (1)
Western-style consumer lifestyles are highly resource and energy intensive. This paper examines the energy intensity of these consumer lifestyles and considers whether such lifestyles could be sustained in a future with declining energy supplies and much higher energy prices. The rise of consumer societies since the industrial revolution has only been possible due to the abundant supply of cheap fossil fuels – most notably, oil – and the persistence of consumer societies depend upon continued supply, for reasons that will be explained. But recently there has been growing concern that the world is reaching, or has already reached, its peak in oil production, despite demand for oil still expected to grow considerably. Put more directly, many analysts believe that demand for oil is very soon expected to outstrip supply, with a recent study by the US military reporting that, globally, spare productive capacity could entirely dry up by 2012 and by 2015 demand for oil could outstrip supply by almost 10 million barrels per day. What this means – even allowing for some uncertainty in timing and extent – is that the world is soon to face a situation where economic and geopolitical competition escalates over access to increasingly scarce oil supplies. One consequence of this (a consequence already playing out) is that oil will get more expensive. Since oil is the ultimate foundation of industrial economies, when it gets more expensive, all commodities get more expensive, and this dynamic will have pervasive implications on the globalised economy and the high consumption lifestyles that fully depend on that economy.Comments (3)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Compost, Consumerism, Courses/Workshops, Economics, Food Shortages, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Salination, Society, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Beatrice Yannacopoulou
A group of community-minded gardeners have turned a former Athens airport into a blooming vegetable plot, showing how Greece’s eroded soil holds the keys to a revival in farming and a way to buck the jobless trend.
by Beatrice Yannacopoulou. Article originally published on The Ecologist
All photographs courtesy: Dimitris.V.Geronikos
"If we want to survive on this land we must first help to heal the earth," said Nicolas Netién, agro-ecologist, teacher and co-creator of the NGO Permaculture Research Institute Hellas. He was talking to a group of some fifty people of all ages who had gathered for two days of workshops on self-sufficiency, how to self-organize, agro-ecology and composting. This small gathering was taking place on a beautifully sunny autumn day at the former Athens airport, Ellinikon.Comments (3)
Biofuels, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute January 12, 2012
by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute
The world’s farmers produced more grain in 2011 than ever before. Estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show the global grain harvest coming in at 2,295 million tons, up 53 million tons from the previous record in 2009. Consumption grew by 90 million tons over the same period to 2,280 million tons. Yet with global grain production actually falling short of consumption in 7 of the past 12 years, stocks remain worryingly low, leaving the world vulnerable to food price shocks.
Nearly half the calories consumed around the world come directly from grain, with grain-fed animal products making up part of the remainder. Three grains dominate the world harvest: wheat and rice, which are primarily eaten directly as food, and corn, which is largely used as a feedgrain for livestock. Wheat was the largest of the world’s grain harvests until the mid-1990s. Then corn production surged ahead in response to growing demand for grain-fed animal products and, more recently, for fuel ethanol. Despite a drop in the important U.S. harvest due mostly to high summer temperatures, global corn production hit 868 million tons in 2011, an all-time high. The harvests of wheat (689 million tons) and rice (461 million tons) were also records. (See Excel data.)
Biodiversity, Food Shortages, Regional Water Cycle, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 5, 2011
I love history. As they say, if you don’t learn from it, you’re destined to repeat it. The video below, circa 1937, is a fascinating look at how men forsook the crucial observational stage when making the best laid plans of mice and men and in doing so took an enormous swathe of stable prairie, steppe and grassland environments and literally turned them into dust.
As the narrative comments:
Settler, plow at your peril!
This version is without the epilogue.
A version with the epilogue is here, but in lower quality.
by Jeffrey M. Smith, Institute for Responsible Technology
The record suicide rate among farmers in India continues to rise, with one farmer now committing suicide every 30 minutes. Many media reports blame failed GM Bt cotton crops for the crisis.
More than a quarter of a million farmers have killed themselves in the last 16 years in what is the largest recorded wave of suicides in history. An article for Sky News reports that one farmer who committed suicide "had been persuaded to use genetically modified seeds by the possibility of a better harvest. What he wasn’t told was that they needed more rain than the region provided."Comments (3)
DVDs/Books, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Medicinal Plants, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor November 26, 2011
I thought I’d share this excellent, growing resource on edible plants for specific regions.
At time of writing the Learn Grow project has created comprehensive plant list info for the following regions:
In addition, the site has two disks available that should be of direct interest to Australian permaculturists:Comments Off
Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Regional Water Cycle, Salination, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor November 15, 2011
This excellent little video, put together by Anselm Ibing, introduces a new series on sustainable land use in Jordan. It kicks off with a concise look at historical aspects relating to Jordan’s present ecological situation. I’m now left looking forward to Part II….
- Letters from Jordan: ‘Greening the Desert – the Sequel’ Site Contrasts Against Jordan Insanities
- Jordan Valley Permaculture Project Update: Post IPC Happenings
Aid Projects, Biodiversity, Community Projects, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Village Development — by Xavier Fux November 10, 2011
by Xavier Fux
Deep in the jungle of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pygmy communities had lived for generations as hunter-gatherers. When the Kahuzi Biega National Park was created in 1970 by the Congolese government, the Pygmies and other local communities were expulsed from the forest, their ancestral land, without receiving any compensation or any land to settle in. They were left without a home. Over time, they were allowed to live on private property at the edge of the park, near other local communities but without any right of ownership over the land. This situation created a huge life obstacle for Pygmy communities, because land is the basic means of subsistence in the area. Currently, they rarely have access to the forest that constituted a vital area for their culture and traditions, and where they could collect food, health, means and shelter.
The Pygmies had never farmed before. They were hunters and gatherers and depended on natural resources in the forest for subsistence. Birds and guinea pigs constituted their intake of protein, and they gathered fruits, nuts and collected honey from bee traps they set up in trees.Comments (12)