Richard Heinberg, one of the world’s foremost peak oil educators, is finally making a much anticipated speaking tour of Australia in September this year (2012). See the speaking schedule further down this post to find a location near you.
Heinberg is a Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute and renowned author of ten books dealing with declining resources, with particular focus on oil, the latest one being ‘The End of Growth’.
This video introduces you to Heinberg’s concepts, as he discusses The End of Growth.
The Annapurna Range from the beautiful Pokhara Valley,
the future site of MVEF
For two months in late 2010 I had the pleasure of volunteering with the Sustainable Agriculture Development Program of Nepal (SADP). Situated in an ‘off the beaten track’ valley of Central Nepal, the demonstration farm is surrounded by unreal beauty, including the very prominent Manaslu Massif (group of Himalayan mountains) of the main Himalayan Range, alongside another range visible from the Valley which marks the border of Nepal and Tibet. Many late afternoons were spent watching these Himalayan ranges turn from brilliant white, to orange to vibrant pink as the sun set – something that should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’. The terraced fields found throughout Asia flank the floor and sides of the valley, and the tops of the valley are largely forested – a source of timber for the community and invaluable habitat for illusive animals that call it home — leopards and possibly the odd tiger included (but that’s a story for another time).
In certain parts of Austria, firewood igloos are a traditional way of storing firewood without needing a permanent shelter. Placed in a windy spot for good air flow and topped with overlapping shingles, the igloos are a convenient way to season, dry and store firewood. In winter a cap of ice and snow keeps the wood snug and dry.
Protecting the 10 billion acres of remaining forests on earth and replanting many of those already lost are both essential for restoring the earth’s health. Since 2000, the earth’s forest cover has shrunk by 13 million acres each year, with annual losses of 32 million acres far exceeding the regrowth of 19 million acres. Restoring the earth’s tree and grass cover protects soil from erosion, reduces flooding, and sequesters carbon.
Global deforestation is concentrated in the developing world. Tropical deforestation in Asia is driven primarily by the fast-growing demand for timber and increasingly by the expansion of oil palm plantations for fuel. In Latin America, the fast-growing markets for soybeans and beef are together squeezing the Amazon. In Africa, the culprit is mostly fuelwood gathering and land clearing for agriculture.
If we are going to effect change in Australia, then what better place to present it in than The ACT (Australian Capital Territory). On the doorstep of people who can effect broadscale change and policy.
The newly formed Permaculture Exchange Group, in Association with the Bredbo Community Land Care Group is calling for all interested ‘agents of change’ to sign up for Spring Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course. The Spring PDC, starting in September 2012, will be a good opportunity for all folk to find out more about permaculture and study in the Canberra region with a course specific to the Southern Tablelands.
Introduction by Samuel Alexander of the Simplicity Institute: I’m pleased to announce that David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept, has just published a Simplicity Institute Report, entitled "Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future."
Sometimes well-meaning ‘green’ people like to imagine that the eco-cities of the future are going to look either like some techno-utopia — like the Jetsons’, perhaps, except environmentally friendly — or some agrarian village, where everyone is living in cob houses that they built themselves. The fact is, however, that over the next few critical decades, most people are going to find themselves in an urban environment that already exists — suburbia. In other words, the houses that already exist are, in most cases, going to be the very houses that ordinary people will be living in over the next few decades (in the developed regions of the world, at least). So while it is important to explore what role technology could play in building new houses in more resource and energy efficient ways, and while there is certainly a place for cob houses, etc., for those who have such alternatives as an option, the suburbs are still going to be here for the foreseeable future. We’re hardly going to knock them all down and start again. It is important to recognise this reality, and not get too carried away with eco fairy tales about some distant future (although there is still a place for such visions). Rather than dreaming of a radically new urban infrastructure, a more important and urgent task is to figure out how to make the best of the existing infrastructure — and that is precisely what David Holmgren does in his Simplicity Institute Report, entitled "Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future." David has been at the forefront of the environmental movement for several decades now, both in Australia and worldwide, and this essay is another example of how he constantly pushes at the edge of the sustainability debate. He is a penetrating thinker that deserves our most serious attention.
Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future
Nadia Lawton, master labneh maker (amongst many, many other things)
Labneh is a very easy to make and tasty cheese made of strained yoghurt, that can be stored in a jar of olive oil on the shelf. Cheese meets yoghurt meets olive oil meets extended shelf life (without refrigeration). And darn yummy. I’m in!
Why have the Year Zero policies of neoliberalism not been abandoned?
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
The model is dead; long live the model. Austerity programmes are extending the crises they were meant to solve, yet governments refuse to abandon them. The United Kingdom provides a powerful example. The cuts, the coalition promised, would hurt but work. They hurt all right – and have pushed us into a double dip recession(1).
This result was widely predicted. If you cut government spending and the income of the poor during an economic crisis, you are likely to make it worse. But last week David Cameron insisted that “we will go on and finish the job”(2), while the chancellor maintained that the government has a “credible plan, and we’re sticking to it.”(3)
Two questions arise. The first is familiar: why has the public response to this assault on public life and public welfare been so muted? Where are the massive and sustained protests we might have expected? But the other is just as puzzling: where is the economic elite?
It’s been three years in the making — researching, designing, testing the application, and now it’s ready for the world to tap in and download the knowledge.
During my PDC back in 2009 at the PRI, I sat there as Geoff Lawton was going through the many applications that permaculture covers. All I could think about was how many different business ideas I had come up with that could follow the movements three core ethics and make a profit at the same time. Limitless, absolutely limitless are the possibilities to take a niche and run with it and make it a success.
While the opportunities for me were boundless it was so clear what I had to do. I couldn’t work out why others were not seeing what I could see. Stepping back and really observing what was happening, I saw that 90% of the PDC graduates I was encountering had hit what I call a ‘permaculture brick wall’, or as Daniel Parra Hensel described in an email to me, "post PDC syndrome" — Paralysis through (way to much) analysis and not knowing where to start, or just reverting back to old careers because that’s safe for them.
Maybe the most important step in the permaculture change is mindset. The day you get motivated to follow into a life of change towards freedom from the grid, the system and advertising; that day you will have taken the first and most important step in the permaculture change process.
When your mind settles into the permaculture mode, you will begin to see things differently. You will start to question every action you take and everything that happens in your surroundings. It is thrilling. You begin to learn that there is another way of doing things. You rise out of the bubble, let yourself look behind the petroleum revolution and understand that before oil, gasoline, fertilizers and plastics, there was a civilization going on, and it didn’t need great quantities of energy to function.
Some say that countries in the third world are 200 years behind in development from the first world ones. You can look at these places. They have whole lives with food, transport and internet. They just pollute less; use a fraction of the energy developed countries use, and are closer to green living. If they have to change abruptly, it may be easier; since they’re accustomed to living with less.
A permaculture convergence is an opportunity to connect with other permaculture designers, folks living the permaculture lifestyle and people new to permaculture.
It’s a platform to have those burning questions answered in a safe supportive environment. A convergence creates an opportunity for the whole family to spend the weekend being inspired and gearing down from our crazy hectic everyday lives. If you have made a beneficial discovery yourself, a convergence allows you to bring it to the group for support and feedback. Mostly, a convergence is an opportunity to step back and take a look at your own life and choices you would like to bring to fruition.