Alternatives to Political Systems, Biodiversity, Community Projects, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Ethical Investment, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Maddy Harland August 18, 2011
Editor’s Note: At time of writing, Polly is on a speaking tour of Australia and New Zealand — check out dates and locations here.
Maddy Harland meets Polly Higgins, a barrister who is campaigning for the United Nations to adopt an additional crime against peace: Ecocide.
by Maddy Harland, editor of Permaculture magazine – inspiration for sustainable living
In my two decades working for Permaculture magazine I have met many fascinating and wonderful human beings but my recent meeting with the barrister and campaigner, Polly Higgins, was a turning point. She prompted a leap in my understanding of the power of law and our collective capacity to change the world overnight. I had heard of Polly’s campaigning work but I had not fully realised the far-reaching potential of international law. Polly deftly stretched my worldview. Bear with me if the subject of ecocide sounds grim… the outcome of these meetings was utterly inspirational.
What is Ecocide?
There are already four international Crimes Against Peace: Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes, and Crimes of Aggression. Polly says there is a missing 5th Crime Against Peace and that crime is Ecocide: the destruction of large areas of the environment and ecosystems. Obviously ecocide can be caused by severe weather events like tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, not directly attributable to specific human activity but there is another category: Ascertainable Ecocide. This is the destruction, damage or loss to the territory, caused by human activity – people, corporations, and nations. Activities such as nuclear testing, the exploitation of resources, mining practices like tar sands extraction, the dumping of harmful chemicals or the use of defoliants, the emission of pollutants or war. Examples of ascertainable ecocide affecting sizeable territories include:Comments (13)
Polly Higgins Speaking Tour (Australia, New Zealand): Eradicating Ecocide – Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of our Planet
Alternatives to Political Systems, Community Projects, Conferences, Consumerism, Courses/Workshops, Economics, Ethical Investment, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor
Regular readers will know I’m keen to see society structured in a way that prioritises people and place over corporations and short-term, profit-centric, economic-growth-focussed idiocy. Whilst politicians are arguing over debt ceilings, corporate tax exemptions, how much more money to magic up and the impossibility of continuing economic growth whilst feigning action on our multi-faceted environmental and resource woes, Polly Higgins is urging a new set of precepts that would shift our present, shallow priorities and bring our ailing planet in from the cold.Comments (8)
Conservation, Irrigation, Potable Water, Storm Water, Waste Water, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Brad Lancaster August 16, 2011
Editor’s Note: Brad Lancaster has established himself as one of the world’s leading permaculture dryland authorities. Brad will be participating in the soon-to-begin International Permaculture Conference (IPC10) in Jordan, across September 2011, both with co-teaching the pre-IPC PDC and as one of the speakers at the Conference itself. If you wish to book your place on IPC10, you should move fast….
Photos and text by Brad Lancaster
In northern Jordan during the summer of 2009, I was on a mission to document a modern-day Roman-era cistern resurgence. I met with Engineer and Permaculture Project Manager Sameeh Al-Nuimat at the Care International office outside Amman. He was great. He has rural hardworking roots, loves native plants and traditional ways, is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about whole-system design, and decided we’d begin the day by having an Arabic breakfast with everyone in the office. We all grouped around a very small, low table piled high with hummus, pita, olives, falafel etc, and ate with our hands. What a wonderful way to bring everyone together as the day begins!Comments (7)
Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Markets & Outlets, Processing & Food Preservation, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Genevieve Hopkins August 15, 2011
Have you heard about the Australian Government’s proposed National Food Plan? Nope? Neither had we until we read an article in the most recent newsletter from Green Pages stating that Senator Joe Ludwig has extended the deadline for submissions until September 2. Don’t get us wrong, we’re supportive of extending the deadline but we are very concerned that this is the first time we’ve heard anything about the government’s efforts to develop a national plan for our food production, supply and consumption.Comments (5)
Biodiversity, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Global Warming/Climate Change, Land, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 9, 2011
Looking for a transitional form of agriculture as we try to wean ourselves off fossil-fuel based farming systems into smaller scaled, localised and sustainable ways of providing for ourselves? Enter, alleycropping — the practice of planting rows of trees (ideally on contour) through fields to create alleys, or corridors, of alternating trees and ground crops.Comments (3)
Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Rhamis Kent
A comprehensive, lasting security is created through giving people a viable means to provide for themselves.
The ultimate goal should be to enable the country of Somalia and its people to create a self-sustaining economy of their own. Only then will there be a meaningful, lasting peace.Comments (1)
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)
Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by George Monbiot July 19, 2011
The government and the industry promised that they had dealt with aminopyralid poisoning. They haven’t.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom. Pictures and captions from John Mason.
This image shows sunflowers that began life at the same time. On the right,
a bed which was free of this particular manure; on the left,
a bed which had the manure added.
Growing food, for reasons I haven’t quite got to the bottom of, is an intensely emotional process. The satisfaction I get from harvesting a good crop bears no relationship to any value that crop possesses. I take more pride in my fruit and vegetables than in any of the work I do. When the slugs mow down my seedlings, or my watering system fails, or blight knackers my tomatoes, it throws me into a depression which sometimes last for days.Comments (13)
Consumerism, Economics, Energy Systems, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 16, 2011
The low hanging fruit of the world’s energy tree is so, so gone now that we’re throwing caution to the wind, frantically shimmying up the trunk, clambering out onto the limbs and putting all the weight of our demands onto its uppermost, and very tenuous, branches. The laws of supply and demand mean that as a resource declines, its worth goes up, and thus there’s not only ever greater pressure to drain the very last drop, there’s also increasing incentive to do so — at least for industrialists without a conscience (they themselves being a ‘resource’ in seemingly unlimited supply…).Comments (12)
Biodiversity, GMOs, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Greenpeace July 15, 2011
What have Greenpeace done today?
Greenpeace activists have taken non-violent direct action to stop Australia’s environment and food supply from being contaminated by genetically modified wheat. The GM wheat that has been released across Australia has not been proven safe. It hasn’t been tested for toxic and allergic effects. All evidence shows that GM wheat cannot be contained; it will contaminate our food supply and the environment.
The Australian Government has refused to protect Australians from harm caused by the release of unsafe genetically modified wheat. GM organisms are living organisms that can multiply and cross-breed. They pose a threat of irreversible damage to Australia’s environment and our food supply. Greenpeace has taken action to prevent contamination of our food supply and environment.
Why is Greenpeace opposing research – isn’t research necessary to test the impact of GM?Comments (18)
Conservation, DVDs/Books, Dams, Earth Banks, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Limonia, Material, Natural Swimming, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Roads, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Storm Water, Surveying, Swales, Terraces, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Owen Hablutzel July 14, 2011
The volume reviewed below comes highly recommended for all Permaculturists working in or around any water channels, and particularly on the broad-acre. While the methods happen to apply most immediately in drylands, they will apply directly anywhere that erosion, down-cutting, rapid gully formation, and other forms of channel incision occur. Keep in mind that these techniques will also apply in ephemeral channels that only carry water during rare rain storms, and are otherwise ‘dry.’
Importantly, even if you are working more within mesic environments and do not see a lot of actively incising channels, just the knowledge you will gain about stream dynamics and working with various stream powers and flood-regimes will be applicable and invaluable to your work. These factors, such as the ‘bankfull’ flood, and the specific inter-relations and ratios of multiple stream variables remain the same as basic physics of water flow no matter what the environment. These physics will dictate exactly where and where not to place any kind of built structure within an active water channel, and enable you to predict results of your efforts with much greater precision. How many of us doing this kind of work have lost stream structures to a “gully-washer”? The knowledge and approach in this book could have saved many a headache, cash outlay, and enabled construction of more durable, persistent, and ultimately useful work.
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)
Economics, Irrigation, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Ian Douglas July 1, 2011
by Ian Douglas
In welcoming the call by Federal Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, for a national audit of water licence holdings, national coordinator of Fair Water Use, Ian Douglas, commented today, “We have longstanding concerns about the sale of water licences to overseas interests, as there can be little doubt that off-shore investors care less about the health of the Australian environment than the majority of our traditional farmers.”
Fair Water Use has been voicing concerns about this process for several years, and has been attempting to gain access to the database of water licences, but has been advised by the National Water Commission that such information is not publicly available.Comments (2)