Biodiversity, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Soil Erosion & Contamination — by Earth Policy Institute August 3, 2011
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
The thin layer of topsoil that covers much of the earth’s land surface is the foundation of civilization. As long as soil erosion on cropland does not exceed new soil formation, all is well. But once it does, it leads to falling soil fertility and eventually to land abandonment. As countries lose their topsoil through overgrazing, overplowing, or deforestation, they eventually lose the capacity to feed themselves. Among those facing this problem are Lesotho, Haiti, Mongolia, and North Korea.Comments (1)
Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, People Systems, Population, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 28, 2011
In a world of decreasing energy excess, will ancient hostilities get reignited or defused? What will peak oil and economic collapse mean for our human relationships if we fail to prepare for the stress ahead?
“It was a dark and misty night…”
So begins many a dramatic work of fiction. I am not going to begin a novel in this way – rather, just a short description of my first major contact with a Roma (known as ‘Gypsy’ to many in the North, but this word is regarded as derogatory by many Roma).
It was only my second visit to this region, in December 1993, and on this very cold and bleak night I almost got into a physical scuffle with a rather large and inebriated Roma man, due to some very inappropriate attentions he was giving my wife – and every other attractive female, one by one, on the train we were travelling on. We were travelling from Prague to central Slovakia – a seven-hour journey through the night to our stop – and, being the eve of Christmas eve, the train was absolutely jam-packed with people trying to return to their families, many from working in Prague or Germany. After coming to the aid of my wife, I was quickly surrounded by several of his Roma friends. In such circumstances, one has visions of being thrown off the train into the snow, or worse. Through translation they learned the ‘woman’ was my wife, and one man subsequently apologised for his friend. The Mexican standoff was seemingly defused.Comments (6)
Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 27, 2011
Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement, gives a great TED Talk.
Biodiversity, Community Projects, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Terraces, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 26, 2011
Many of you will remember the inspiring and encouraging example of earth restoration found in the story of the Loess Plateau in China (see links at bottom). John Liu was the man heavily involved in this amazing and very large scale initiative. In this new video, below, you’ll see Mr. Liu turning his eyes toward Africa, where Rwanda is now the focus of an earnest bid to restore its degraded forests and farmland, whilst simultaneously improving the lives of the communities they host. You’ll see many excellent examples of holistic thinking in this short documentary.
You’ll also learn of the praiseworthy work of Dr. Rene Haller, whose observational skills are highly adept at tailoring biological solutions towards rehabilitating the most degraded of lands.
Rwanda – Forests of Hope
Duration: 26 minutes
Conservation, Food Shortages, Irrigation, Regional Water Cycle, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute July 22, 2011
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
Many countries are facing dangerous water shortages. As world demand for food has soared, millions of farmers have drilled too many irrigation wells in efforts to expand their harvests. As a result, water tables are falling and wells are going dry in some 20 countries containing half the world’s people. The overpumping of aquifers for irrigation temporarily inflates food production, creating a food production bubble that bursts when the aquifer is depleted.
The shrinkage of irrigation water supplies in the big three grain-producing countries—the United States, India, and China—is of particular concern. Thus far, these countries have managed to avoid falling harvests at the national level, but continued overexploitation of aquifers could soon catch up with them.Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Community Projects, Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Economics, Energy Systems, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Land, Markets & Outlets, People Systems, Society, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by I-SIS July 20, 2011
Small integrated farms with off-grid renewable energy may be the perfect solution to the food and financial crisis while mitigating and adapting to climate change
A Sarvodaya villager sells a diverse range of organic produce roadside
– with more than 95% of it grown behind the stall, and by her own family
Photo © copyright Craig Mackintosh
In a Nutshell
An emerging scientific consensus that a shift to small scale sustainable agriculture and localized food systems will address most, if not all the underlying causes of deteriorating agricultural productivity as well as the conservation of natural soil and water resources while saving the climate.Comments (1)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Land, News, Society, Urban Projects, Village Development, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 17, 2011
This is by-law madness, and it’ll have to change…. I rather blatantly encourage everyone to disregard dumb rules like this which would stop you from increasing your resiliency and demonstrating better use of your lawn space. The more of us who rebel against absurdity, the easier it becomes to legalise sustainability. I just hope you’ll be smart enough to ensure that your lawn-liberation is done whilst keeping aesthetic standards high as well (i.e. don’t give people justifiable reason to complain!). Julie Bass’ nice tidy veggie planters, which you’ll see in the videos below, are a good example, and only reflect all the more poorly on the neighbours who have complained and the local government who are obviously wholly ignorant of where we presently stand in history….
Vegetables are most definitely suitable!Comments (23)
Biofuels, Economics, Food Shortages — by F. William Engdahl July 14, 2011
Editor’s Note: When I got to the final sub-heading, ‘New Global Dustbowls’, I thought Engdahl (who I’ve come across before, and also ran a couple of articles in a previous editorial role) has started to understand the soil connection in all this as well, but unfortunately (in my opinion) he bottomed out by closing on solar flares…. Despite missing the peak energy component, and the biomass/CO2 relationship and implications of all this, many of the points he covers here are well worth going through and taking note of. In short, it’s a long but worthy read that well covers the mechanics that have been, and still are, shaping a rather disastrous future.
My late grandfather, a man of sturdy Norwegian-American farm stock, who later became a newspaper editor and political activist during the First World War, used to say, ‘A man can get used to pretty much anything with time, except dying…and even that with some practice.’ Well, as fate has it, it seems we, the vast majority of the human race, are about to test that adage in regard to the availability of our daily bread itself.
Food is one of those funny things it’s hard to live without. We all tend to take it for granted that our local supermarket will continue to offer whatever we wish, in abundance, at affordable prices or nearly so. Yet living without adequate food is the growing prospect facing hundreds of millions, if not billions, of us over the coming years.Comments (6)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Economics, Fish, Food Shortages — by George Monbiot July 12, 2011
Click for larger view
Courtesy: Marc Roberts
Have I just witnessed the beginning of the end of vertebrate ecology?
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom
Last year I began to wonder, this year doubt is seeping away, to be replaced with a rising fear. Could they really have done it? Could the fishing industry have achieved the remarkable feat of destroying the last great stock?Comments (14)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Dams, Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Education Centres, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Swales, Terraces, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 7, 2011
I’m adding the following clips as a positive supplement to the preceding post. I think it’s important to see that positive work is happening, and that GMOs are not only not needed, but they are a definite threat to these excellent efforts. Permaculturists working, or intending to work, in Kenya could potentially find ways to network with organisations like these, and to offer extra design tools to further strengthen their efforts.
The first video is from the Grow Biointensive Agricultural Center of Kenya (G-BIACK), who look to be doing some great on-the-ground work to educate and transform Kenyan communities and help them return to more resilient, affordable and healthy agricultural and community systems.
This second clip, from The Haller Foundation, will be especially appreciated by permaculturists — it’s a fantastic video show-casing some excellent permaculture action, also in Kenya:Comments (4)
Consumerism, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Society — by Earth Policy Institute July 6, 2011
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
Heat waves clearly can destroy crop harvests. The world saw high heat decimate Russian wheat in 2010. Crop ecologists have found that each 1-degree-Celsius rise in temperature above the optimum can reduce grain harvests by 10 percent. But the indirect effects of higher temperatures on our food supply are no less serious.Comments (24)
Consumerism, Courses/Workshops, DVDs/Books, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Medicinal Plants, Society, peak oil — by Isabell Shipard
Planting a garden with food potential is one of the most valuable things we can do. Will we always have a free country with unlimited food supply? Could a major calamity or drought affect the supply and the price of food? Could rolling strikes disrupt electricity, water, telephone, transport and other amenities to shops and our homes… and how would no petrol affect every household? We need to encourage one another to be as self sufficient as possible… now… in our gardens, as this is the most nutritious fresh food… and is the cheapest way to live in these times of rising prices. Growing our own food is very satisfying as well as beneficial to our health and well-being.
Australia has truly been a ‘lucky country’ — plentiful food, running water in our homes, sewerage systems which take away our wastes, comfort and luxuries in our homes. We truly are blessed. However, it may not always be this way in the future. Would families be prepared if a catastrophic disaster struck?Comments (6)
Conservation, Consumerism, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Irrigation, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation — by Mari Korhonen June 29, 2011
I’ve been exploring the world of edible weeds, and so found a new layer of bounty in the garden!
Edible weeds from left to right: Fireweed shoots, young galeopsis,
lamb’s quarter, chickweed, thistle shoots peeled, and corn spurry.
Things in the garden even way up here in Finland are well on their way now, including many plants that most gardeners would condemn as weeds, or things to get rid of. For me a bed full of weeds has become a salad bar, and weeding has gotten a fresh new perspective to it!Comments (2)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Developments, Economics, Education Centres, Financial Management, Food Shortages, Society, Urban Projects, Village Development, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor
Warning — graphic protest content
The bad news:
Police have fired tear gas in running battles with stone-throwing youths in Athens, where a 48-hour general strike is being held against a parliamentary vote on tough austerity measures.
Thousands of protesters have gathered outside parliament in the capital where public transport has ground to a halt.
PM George Papandreou has said that only his 28bn-euro (£25bn) austerity plan would get Greece back on its feet.
If the package is not approved, Greece could run out of money within weeks. — BBC
I can certainly appreciate why the people are protesting. The situation is similar to what we’re seeing in Spain at the moment — which is yet another country on the brink of implosion. Here’s what protesters there had to say recently:Comments (15)