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Compost, Conservation, Health & Disease, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Kris De Decker March 1, 2013
© Kris De Decker, low-tech magazine (edited by Shameez Joubert)
© Illustrations in red & black: Diego Marmolejo
Flushing the water closet is handy, but it wreaks ecological havoc, deprives agricultural soils of essential nutrients and makes food production dependent on fossil fuels.
For 4,000 years, human excrements and urine were considered extremely valuable trade products in China, Korea and Japan. Human dung was transported over specially designed canal networks by boats.
Thanks to the application of human "waste" products as fertilizers to agricultural fields, the East managed to feed a large population without polluting their drinking water. Meanwhile, cities in medieval Europe turned into open sewers. The concept was modernized in late 19th century Holland, with Charles Liernur’s sophisticated vacuum sewer system.Comments (5)
For some years now we have been looking at minimising our energy consumption, and at alternative forms of energy creation in order to produce the energy we need. As we have animal systems in place here at PRI Sunshine Coast, we have a fair bit of manure on the property. As well as animal manure, we also have waterless (composting) toilets, so humanure is another resource on our property waiting to be used more efficiently than we currently are. After a lot of research over the past few years, Tom decided that a Biogas system would be the best way to go for us.Comments (8)
by Emily E. Adams, Earth Policy Institute
The energy game is rigged in favor of fossil fuels because we omit the environmental and health costs of burning coal, oil, and natural gas from their prices. Subsidies manipulate the game even further. According to conservative estimates from the Global Subsidies Initiative and the International Energy Agency (IEA), governments around the world spent more than $620 billion to subsidize fossil fuel energy in 2011: some $100 billion for production and $523 billion for consumption. This was 20 percent higher than in 2010, largely because of higher world oil prices. Of the $523 billion that supported consumption, $285 billion went to oil, $104 billion to natural gas, and $3 billion to coal; an additional $131 billion was divided among the three energy sources specifically for electricity use. Through these subsidies, governments cut the prices people paid for fossil energy by nearly a quarter—encouraging waste and hindering efforts to stabilize climate.
Economics, Society — by George Monbiot
Companies like EDF, seeking to terrify protesters with lawsuits, are likely to become victims of their own aggression.
Image: Todd Wiseman
Without public protest, democracy is dead. Every successful challenge to excessive power begins outside the political chamber. When protest stops, politics sclerotises: it becomes a conversation between different factions of the elite.
But protest is of no democratic value unless it is effective. It must disturb and challenge those at whom it is aimed. It must arouse and motivate those who watch. The climate change campaigners trying to prevent a new dash for gas wrote to their MPs, emailed the power companies, marched and lobbied. They were ignored. So last year 17 of them climbed the chimney of the West Burton power station and occupied it for a week(1). Theirs was a demonstration in two senses of the word: they presented an issue to the public which should be at the front of our minds. Prompted to act by altruism and empathy, one day they will be remembered as we remember suffragettes and anti-slavery campaigners.
Last week the operator of the power station – EDF, which is largely owned by the French government – announced that it is suing these people, and four others, for £5m(2). It must know that, if it wins, they have no hope of paying. It must know that they would lose everything they own, now and for the rest of their lives. For these and other reasons, EDF’s action looks to me like a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation: a SLAPP around the ear of democracy.Comments (1)
Land — by E. Ray Gard February 23, 2013
Photo© Craig Mackintosh
In one of the first segments of the Permaculture Design Course DVDs with Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton, in addition to the massive amount of information, a few comments made by Mr. Lawton struck a chord with me. The nature of his comment, as I understood it, was that the PDC is intended to empower the course participants to go out and start designing at any and every scale. This one passing remark still stands out to me as transformational and applicable across every aspect of life that permaculture design can influence, which is all of them.
With that comment in mind, I set about making the following list of ways that I can break the momentum of being the spectator that modern life lets so many of us slide into without realizing it.
This is my list, but I hope it helps you along your path as well. Feel free to add or edit and please leave any more great suggestions in the comments below.Comments (6)
Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation — by Chris McLeod
It’s nearing the end of summer here at Fernglade farm and what a summer it has been. Two inches of rain in over five months, and extreme heat for days on end, results in a most unpleasant experience.
Still, despite it all, things are still growing and there is still food to eat. The kangaroos, wallabies and wombats are also still eating from the farm and they are here often enough now that I’m assuming that conditions are harder elsewhere.
As a response to the extreme weather conditions, in very early summer I set about heavily mulching all of the plants in the food forest and whilst overall about 10% of the plants and trees here have died, 90% have survived.Comments (10)
VXESJJHEQ84A Terra Sancta Permaculture and InsideOutside Management are having another Holistic Management training session in Lismore, Northern NSW. We have just finished up on our first and I can say that it’s the best training I have undertaken. For those that missed out the first time, you’re in luck.
Teaming Holistic Management with Permaculture has an exceptionally powerful effect on building soils and repairing large landscapes. But also, it’s an amazing journey of personal vision working with the Holistic scope of life systems.
We are looking for persons interested in some HM training who are located around the Northern NSW area. The training is flexible and subsidized by TAFE so incredibly cheap. This funding won’t last forever, and the course is set to start on April 3rd, so get in quick.Comments (5)
Conservation, Dams, Irrigation, Land, Rehabilitation, Surveying, Swales, Water Harvesting — by Mark Feineigle February 22, 2013
Freshly keyline plowed (Photo: Kirsten Bradley)
Plan the work then work the plan. — P.A. Yeomans
In the mid 1950s, Australian engineer P.A. Yeomans demonstrated a new system of land management he called the Keyline system. The consensus of the time, championed by people like Dr H.H. Bennett, was that soil was a finite resource and that once depleted “it was irretrievably lost as if consumed by fire”. P.A. understood that long natural carbon cycles create soil, but also knew that this process takes hundreds or thousands of years. By adjusting the conditions in the soil with his plowing and management techniques, P.A. was able to speed this process and create dozens of millimeters of fertile topsoil in just one year.Comments (5)
The desire for sustainable projects for non-government organisations and the need of reliable sources of income for small scale farmers is ever increasing in Tanzania and the ‘developing world’. Within international development ‘sustainability’ is a buzz-word often bandied round, with many communities and organisations slowly helping to transform traditional top-down development models to investing in more grass-roots, long-term, locally applicable solutions. Small scale income-generating businesses such as mushroom production may be one of many viable options for many rural Tanzanian communities gaining greater sustainability, and has captured the interest of the small NGO, Food Water Shelter (FWS), in Arusha, Northern Tanzania.
Inspired by possibilities demonstrated at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Nairobi and the apparent simplicity and low tech requirements of growing mushrooms, FWS have been growing oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus spp). With a commitment to sustainability, appropriate technology and practising permaculture through the implementation of income-generating food production systems, aquaculture and animal husbandry, FWS have included oyster mushroom production into their existing systems.Comments (3)
Consumerism, Energy Systems, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by I-SIS February 21, 2013
Shale gas could be a useful stop-gap substitute for more conventional fossil fuels on our way towards fully green renewable energies, but health and environmental risks including pollution to ground water remain to be addressed.
by Prof Peter Saunders
Shale gas is being hailed as the new source of energy that will keep the world’s economy going as oil supplies start to dwindle. It will, so we are told, make developed countries less dependent on the politically unstable Middle East and it will contribute to mitigating climate change because it produces less greenhouse gas than coal or oil.Comments (1)
Compost, DVDs/Books, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Trees — by David Bartlett
The world is dotted with individuals that are driving change from the inside out, inspired by the principles and approach of permaculture.
I wanted to share with you “Stories from our Food Gardens” an e-publication made possible by the Saville Foundation here in South Africa, written by Melveen Jackson. Their partnership is an example of what is possible when certain individuals are backed by opportunity and funds. To me it emphasizes the well-talked-of potential that permaculture has to flow out of our backyards and influence mainstream development. South Africa (and in this particular case, the province of KwaZulu-Natal), without doubt provides a great canvas on which to show these dynamics at work, so we get excited to see it happening in reality.Comments (3)
by J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute
Wind has overtaken nuclear as an electricity source in China. In 2012, wind farms generated 2 percent more electricity than nuclear power plants did, a gap that will likely widen dramatically over the next few years as wind surges ahead. Since 2007, nuclear power generation has risen by 10 percent annually, compared with wind’s explosive growth of 80 percent per year.
Before the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan, China had 10,200 megawatts of installed nuclear capacity. With 28,000 megawatts then under construction at 29 nuclear reactors—19 of which had begun construction since 2009—officials were confident China would reach 40,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 2015 and perhaps 100,000 megawatts by 2020. The government’s response to the Fukushima disaster, however, was to suspend new reactor approvals and conduct a safety review of plants in operation and under construction.Comments (2)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Conferences, Economics, Society, Village Development — by Bronwyn White February 20, 2013
The Economics of Happiness is a 2011 documentary film directed by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Steven Gorelick, and John Page, and produced by the International Society for Ecology and Culture. The film has been widely acclaimed and received numerous awards but most pertinently it has linked a number of cutting edge thinkers across the globe who are building the groundswell to see the wisdom from The Economics of Happiness film translated into action. The second of three international conferences will be taking place from 15-17 March 2013 in Byron Bay, Australia and you are invited!
The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, an unholy alliance of governments and big business continues to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, people all over the world are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future.Comments (0)
Aronia, also known as chokeberry, is a bush with a long history. It seems to have been forgotten for many years as a food source but has recently been “re-discovered”. There are two well-known species, named after their fruit color — red chokeberry and black chokeberry — plus a purple chokeberry whose origin is a natural hybrid of the two (Aronia arbutifolia, Aronia melanocarpa, Aronia prunifolia).
Originally cultivated and used by native Americans in the eastern USA, it is not to be confused with chokecherry — Prunus virginiana. The berries can be used to in a wide variety of uses such as wine, jam, syrup, juice, soft spreads, tea and tinctures and in smoothies. As the properties and uses of this wonderful berry come into light it is becoming more and more popular and these benefits make it especially useful in permaculture design.Comments (2)
Aid Projects, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Village Development — by Ben Humphrey
Actual view from Mountain View Eco Farm site
As some readers may remember, I wrote an article last August outlining my experience at the Sustainable Agriculture Development Program of Nepal, and of the farm manager’s (Govinda Paudel) dream of establishing his own permaculture inspired education and demonstration farm.
Well, at long last, Govinda has managed to buy a small plot of land near Pokhara, overlooking Begnes Lake and the mighty Annapurna Range of the Himalaya, to establish Mountain View Eco Farm. Govinda has worked tirelessly to make his dream a reality – setting up a fantastic website, networking extensively and seeking out the land to build his dream. In December of last year, his parents sold some of their land in Bardiya, near the border of India, to help Govinda make his dream a reality. They plan to sell the rest of their land soon and move to Pokhara to help Govinda with the running and management of the farm in the not too distant future. Although Govinda now owns some land from which to begin developing Mountain View Eco Farm, more land is needed along with farm animals and items to make sure that Mountain View Eco Farm can become self sufficient and sustainable in the long run.
Govinda’s plan for the farm is inspiring. The objectives of Mountain View Eco Farm are basically three fold. They include:Comments (0)