Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Rhamis Kent July 9, 2011
All photographs © Craig Mackintosh
I’d like to revisit a few points I brought up in a piece that appeared here at the PRI Australia website in April last year; “Things That Can’t Last Forever, and Things That Can: A Few Thoughts”.
I’d like to begin with the following premise:
Economics is a continuation of energy by different means.
Classical physics defines energy as the ability to do work. Money represents the ability to do work. Fossil fuels furnish the ability to do work — quite a great deal of it — and, for the moment, relatively cheaply when one accounts for the finite nature of its supply in relation to what it facilitates.Comments (6)
Economics, Energy Systems, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 2, 2011
Hungry for energy? Worried that oil is running dry and coal is getting squeezed out? Well, don’t panic — now we have gas on the menu (literally…)! It doesn’t matter where it is, or how hard it is to reach. We will just drill, baby, drill!
Hydraulic fracturing (otherwise known as ‘fracking’) is now all the rage — more, it’s the new frontier — and for good reason. It’s the hippest new way to get the energy we need to fuel our modern lifestyles. Yes, it may give you exploding drinking water and make your livestock radioactive, but imagine the fun you’ll have hosting parties — people will marvel at your flame-throwing kitchen entertainment before retiring to the porch with a cigar and whiskey to watch your glow-in-the-dark cows light up the evening like Chinese lanterns.Comments (7)
GMOs, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by GM Watch July 1, 2011
Editor’s Note: In addition to the post below, check out this, this and this. It seems that Monsanto, and even industry regulators, have known for decades that glyphosate (the main ingredient of Roundup) causes birth defects, even in very low doses "comparable to levels of pesticide residues found in food and the environment". The philosophy of ‘caveat emptor’ doesn’t work well in this situation, where industry are outright lying to us, and when regulators, the supposed guards at the door, are not taking their job seriously. Banning Roundup everywhere would not only help protect our health from glyphosate, it could also be the death knell for Monsanto. It sounds like a plan to me.
Glyphosate has been linked with escalating rates of birth defects and other
health impacts in Argentina. Photo: Dr Graciela Gomez
The main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer is being linked to cancer, birth defects and Parkinson’s disease and should be banned, according to campaigners behind new report.
The use of the popular weedkiller, ‘Roundup’, in public parks and on agricultural crops is a danger to public health, according to a new analysis of scientific evidence.Comments (1)
Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Energy Systems, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute June 29, 2011
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
During the years when governments and the media were focused on preparations for the 2009 Copenhagen climate negotiations, a powerful climate movement was emerging in the United States: the movement opposing the construction of new coal-fired power plants.
Environmental groups, both national and local, are opposing coal plants because they are the primary driver of climate change. Emissions from coal plants are also responsible for 13,200 U.S. deaths annually — a number that dwarfs the U.S. lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.Comments (4)
Compost, Courses/Workshops, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure — by Steve Grace June 25, 2011
One of the major global concerns we face today is the heavily depleted state and continued degeneration of our soil. Without healthy soil, we cannot produce healthy food and however obvious it might seem, the food that we eat directly affects the nature of our being. It’s funny how the most common sense is no longer at all common.
In 1907, Theodore Roosevelt said: "the nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself". Since that time we have had a salivating appetite for destruction. At present 90% of Australian soil is considered to be of poor quality….
In order to appreciate the significance of this statistic, it is important that we understand the society of microorganisms that exist beneath our feet. In one tablespoon of healthy soil there lives a population of microbes that is greater than the population of human beings on earth – over 6.9 billion microorganisms, working together to make available nutrients to the soil in which we produce the food that enables us to survive. If only the human population of the world was as resourceful and harmonious as our micro acquaintances.Comments (13)
Consumerism, Livestock, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute June 22, 2011
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
Photo copyright © Craig Mackintosh
After the earth was created, soil formed slowly over geological time from the weathering of rocks. It began to support early plant life, which protected and enriched it until it became the topsoil that sustains the diversity of plants and animals we know today. Now the world’s ever-growing herds of cattle, sheep, and goats are converting vast stretches of grassland to desert.Comments (9)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Nuclear, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 10, 2011
They say if we don’t study history, we’re destined to repeat it. Many of you will be familiar with Jared Diamond and his work. Author of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Mr. Diamond has put a lot of energy into studying various cultures that have come, and, significantly, gone again. Amongst these is the example of Easter Island, where it appears that despite the islanders’ major resources being clearly in decline, they continued to use these resources for their own particular, peculiar economy — that being to make their giant Moai idols. Not only that, but, over time, as the resources needed to create them dwindled, the Moai statues only got larger. Their economy not only had to continue, but it had to grow — regardless of their context, and despite what should have been obvious consequences.
Some dispute the exact nature of the collapse of Easter Island, but what we do know is that pollen samples taken from the island show that it was once covered in forest, yet by the time Europeans arrived the island was treeless. There are no pollen traces dated beyond around 1650, around the same time the statues ceased being made. Surviving clans after this time, no longer able to create more competing statues, instead took to pushing over those of rival clans — until by 1868 all the Moai had been toppled, and many beheaded.Comments (12)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 7, 2011
In Melbourne, on April 5th and 6th, was held the National Sustainable Food Summit, where key Australian food and agriculture players and academics met to discuss the challenges and possible solutions for Australia’s increasingly vulnerable food security situation. Some of the talks were quite interesting.
The first video is where Julian Cribb (Adjunct Professor of Science Communication at the University of Technology Sydney and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE)) boils some of the main issues facing us down into a short, understandable presentation. He gives a good overview of the problems — like that we’re in dire need of increasing food production right at a time where, due to our past and present activities, we’re seeing clear evidence that we’ll have to do so with less energy, less land, less water, less phosphorus and all whilst enduring an ever-more-erratic climate response. I’m not in full agreement with all of his solutions though — for example I’m not keen to start eating algae biomass grown in a tank…. But, I think that given the nature of the issues we are and will have to grapple with, I don’t blame him for coming to such conclusions. Indeed, if we don’t start implementing real, lasting solutions soon, then eating algae goop may become more attractive to me in the future than it does today…. (hence my personal sense of self-preservation leads me to expend my energies trying to promote permaculture!)
Julian Cribb: What are the future challenges to our food system?
Aid Projects, Biodiversity, Community Projects, Conservation, Deforestation, Food Forests, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Christian Shearer June 2, 2011
The Malungon area of the Sarangani province, located in the southern region of The Philippines, was once one of the richest forests in the world. Today the remaining old growth exists in small, fragmented stands which remain vulnerable to illegal deforestation and degradation. Frequently ignored, these last remaining areas are a vital core habitat for a wide range of fauna and flora. This forest has also been, for at least 2000 years, the centerpiece of the culture and lifestyle of the Blaan and Tagakaulo indigenous peoples.Comments (4)
Consumerism, Economics, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute May 27, 2011
Editor’s Note: Turn many of our products upside down today, and you’ll find the words ‘Made in China’. China is today called the ‘factory of the world’. We are outsourcing our pollution to this country on a massive scale, and it doesn’t happen without consequence. To give you an idea of the seriousness, non-smoking women in one region of Yunnan Province die from lung cancer at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world. In other places "there has been an explosion of lead poisoning cases close to smelting plants. Studies have shown that communities that recycle electronic waste are exposed to cadmium, mercury and brominated flame retardants. Elsewhere, there have been protests against chemical factories that are blamed for carcinogens that enter water supplies and the food chain." In Liukuaizhuang, Tianjin province, one in fifty people have been diagnosed with cancer over the past ten years. This has given rise to the term ‘cancer villages‘. But, it gets worse… We’re now having to take this name and raise the threat level to ‘villages of death’ – as in the case of the village of Shangba, where approximately 80% of residents have been taken by cancer. The solution is to vastly reaccess what kind of world we want to live in, but the Chinese, keen to remain the world’s economic powerhouse, are instead arguing the pros and cons of assisted suicide for the many suffering instead. This is truly the Industrial Revolution Like No Other.
by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute
Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China. Chinese Ministry of Health data implicate cancer in close to a quarter of all deaths countrywide. As is common with many countries as they industrialize, the usual plagues of poverty—infectious diseases and high infant mortality—have given way to diseases more often associated with affluence, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
While this might be expected in China’s richer cities, where bicycles are fast being traded in for cars and meat consumption is climbing, it also holds true in rural areas. In fact, reports from the countryside reveal a dangerous epidemic of “cancer villages” linked to pollution from some of the very industries propelling China’s explosive economy. By pursuing economic growth above all else, China is sacrificing the health of its people, ultimately risking future prosperity.Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Cate Faehrmann May 25, 2011
Editor’s Note: When preparing the recent post on the International Day for Biological Diversity, perhaps I should have gone to the state forests of the Pillaga in NSW Australia to take photos instead? As you all should know, energy is becoming a major worldwide problem. With all the low-hanging energy fruit having already been plucked, we’re now looking to mop up remaining dregs in all the very worst places. Below you’ll hear yet another sad tale of the lengths we will go to get our next fix.
Eastern Star Gas has applied for approval under both state and federal regulations to develop a massive coal seam gas field of around 550 gas wells in the State Forests of The Pilliga. Commonly known as the ‘Pilliga Scrub’, this unique woodland is near Narrabri in northern NSW. The gas project is set to clear over 2,400 hectares of native vegetation and will forever change the landscape of the Pilliga.
The Pilliga Scrub is a highly significant area in terms of the state’s biodiversity. It is known to be the largest continuous remnant of semi-arid woodland in temperate New South Wales and contains many threatened animal and plant species such as the Pilliga Mouse, Black-striped Wallaby and South-eastern Long-eared Bat.
Black-striped Wallaby, a mostly nocturnal animal under threat from
land clearing, and now, coal seam gas.
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Land, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Urban Projects, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Rob Avis May 13, 2011
by Rob Avis
If you’ve been following permaculture, then you’ve probably been hearing about Permablitz – the transformation of lawns into productive, abundant landscapes. (For those of you in our region, here in Canada, check out this site.)
You may be thinking: why food? Why not lawns?Comments (20)
Consumerism, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor April 27, 2011
Why ‘designed for the dump’ is toxic for people and the planet.
Further Watching:Comments (3)
Consumerism, Economics, Energy Systems, Global Dimming, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Chris McLeod April 21, 2011
The series, A Solar Powered Life, is intended for those that have an interest in the generation and storage of electricity using solar panels. I’ve tried to write the series in such a way that it is accessible for everybody and not just for those that are technically minded. By the end of the series, if people have followed all of the parts, then they should walk away with a fair understanding of how a small scale independent solar power system works (in the real world), what components are required, and, even more importantly, why those components are required. This is pretty handy information.
I’m certainly not pushing products on anyone and solar power is certainly not for everybody. I also have no affiliations with any company or group etc. I am also discussing the limitations of solar electricity generation.
However, in discussing solar power, it is impossible to not touch upon current issues relating to energy in general. These issues impact all of us to a greater or lesser extent. There are many people that for a variety of reasons are highly sensitive to these issues and are highly critical of solar power. In fact it would be fair to say that some of the comments that I have received on the above-mentioned series are ideologically driven.Comments (58)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Earth Policy Institute April 20, 2011
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
We need an economy for the twenty-first century, one that is in sync with the earth and its natural support systems, not one that is destroying them. The fossil fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy that evolved in western industrial societies is no longer a viable model—not for the countries that shaped it or for those that are emulating them. In short, we need to build a new economy, one powered with carbon-free sources of energy—wind, solar, and geothermal—one that has a diversified transport system and that reuses and recycles everything. We can change course and move onto a path of sustainable progress, but it will take a massive mobilization—at wartime speed.
Whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed by the scale and urgency of the changes we need to make, I reread the economic history of U.S. involvement in World War II because it is such an inspiring study in rapid mobilization. Initially, the United States resisted involvement in the war and responded only after it was directly attacked at Pearl Harbor. But respond it did. After an all-out commitment, the U.S. engagement helped turn the tide of war, leading the Allied Forces to victory within three-and-a-half years.Comments (5)