Posted by & filed under Developments, Energy Systems, Peak Oil, Society.

by Lester Brown, Earth Policy Institute

As the debate unfolds about whether to build a 1,711-mile pipeline to carry crude oil from the tar sands in Canada to refineries in Texas, the focus is on the oil spills and carbon emissions that inevitably come with it. But we need to ask a more fundamental question. Do we really need that oil?

The United States currently consumes more gasoline than the next 16 countries combined. Yes, you read that right. Among them are China, Japan, Russia, Germany, and Brazil. (See Excel data.)

But now this is changing. Not only is the affluence that sustained this extravagant gasoline consumption eroding, but the automobile-centered lifestyle that was considered part of the American birthright is fading as well. U.S. gasoline use has dropped 5 percent in four years.

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Posted by & filed under Building, Community Projects, Land, Plant Systems, Society, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Trees.

It seems there is a plant able to fill almost any niche. In this case Strangler Figs, in the Northeast India state of Meghalaya, are painstakingly trained over generations to stop massive soil erosion in the rainiest place on earth, and, more, to create almost indestructible living pedestrian bridges which will last for centuries despite mega rain events.

You have to admire the community thinking that goes into this beautiful work. These people, walking on centuries-old living bridges, realise the gift given them by their ancestors, and so they pay it forward by donating their labour to build more, even though they won’t benefit from it in their own lifetimes. Voices from the past, perhaps, urge them to follow their predecessors’ gracious example by investing a little energy into a wondrous gift to future generations. Imagine if we could spin our culture around to think like this.

Posted by & filed under Consumerism, GMOs, Health & Disease.

Trailer: Scientists Under Attack
Get the full DVD to show during October’s Non-GMO Month — invite all your friends and encourage them to spread the word! To make it easy to share this great film during Non-GMO Month, we’ve reduced the cost of buying the film in 6-packs to only $79.95 (individually priced at $19.95). We hope you’ll enjoy this new film, and share it with all those who care about the safety of our food supply.

DVD review by Jeffrey M. Smith

"One question means one career." This was the harsh warning of UC Berkeley Professor Ignacio Chapela for those daring to conduct independent research on genetically engineered foods and crops. "You ask one question, you get the answer and you might or might not be able to publish it; but that is the end of your career." Both he and biologist Arpad Pusztai dared to asked questions and do the research. And then all hell broke loose.

Using stunning visuals filmed on three continents, veteran German filmmaker Bertram Verhaag tracks the fate of these two scientists at the hands of a multi-billion dollar industry that is desperate to hide the dangers of their genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Dams, DVDs/Books, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Land, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Seeds, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure, Swales, Trees.

Click play to hear the talk!

Review of Geoff Lawton's Food Forest DVD, by Paul Wheaton and Helen Atthowe

Paul Wheaton and Helen Atthowe ( watch Geoff Lawton‘s Food Forest video and Helen really loved it. It shows a food forest as they start it, at 6 months, a year, 3 years, 10 years.

Paul thinks it is one of the best permaculture videos. Lawton starts by talking about three concepts: the layering of systems (there are 7-10 layers of a forest), succession of systems (how nature repairs itself), and time (working with different events — eg: sun, shade, flood over time). Paul shares Helen’s hesitancy using the word “permaculture.” They also talk about the word “science” and “studies.” Lawton has 1st, 2nd, and 3rd recovery plants. The first are: annuals, nitrogen fixers, ground covers and leguminous shrubs. The second are medium size nitrogen fixing trees (later to be chopped at head height in order to nurture the longer term trees). The third are longer term nitrogen fixing trees.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conferences, Developments, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

Rhamis Kent speaking at the Tenth International Permaculture Conference
(IPC10), Amman, Jordan, September 2011
Photograph © Craig Mackintosh

The PRI’s Rhamis Kent talks about the situation in Somalia — including the so-called ‘aid’ work presently underway, with its short-term business oriented methods and the social blackmailing it encourages, and constrasts it with the more holistic Permaculture aid methods we are now seeking to bring to the beleaguered nation. The latest good news I’ve had from Rhamis is that Somalia’s Environment Minister has given a big thumbs up to Permaculture and has offered assistance for us to start to wedge Permaculture concepts into the country.

I can’t help but get excited about the potential for Permaculture goodness bringing peace, health and happiness to Somalia. Imagine one day our being able to bring you reports of smiling faces and peaceful and purposeful collaborative success from Somalia as we did recently with Tanzania?

Watch the video below to see Rhamis’ excellent presentation. If you want to follow along with more visible slides from Rhamis’ Powerpoint presentation, you can download that here (14mb Powerpoint) or here (5mb PDF).

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, Trees, Waste Systems & Recycling.

If you want to learn much more about sustainable saw milling, take Dave Spicer’s upcoming (27 November 2011) 1-day course, where you can gain from his extensive expertise in this area.

We all need to be loggers and we all need to be greenies. We all live in timber houses. — Bill Mollison

Low tech and high tech saw milling

In 2006 I brought a portable Lucas sawmill and have been milling timber ever since. I must say it’s a great feeling turning a raw resource into a useable product on site.

“Mill to the log”

I’ve milled timber in town right in the front yard, and on farms with no hauling.

There are many types of portable sawmills, even a chainsaw used to mill timber.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Society, Village Development.

The journey to finding myself in Pormpuraaw teaching Permaculture started back in 2008, when we actively sought to sponsor an indigenous person to take our first PDC here at Rosella Waters, co-taught by Darren Doherty and the PRI’s Geoff Lawton. Through conversation with Noel Pearson’s Cape York Institute, I was lead to Nick Maxwell, an officer with Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP). Nick was based in Bamaga at the time and had a future market garden project in the wings. Two men connected with the project were identified as future stakeholders in the project and drove down to do the PDC. Unfortunately, despite everyone’s best efforts, things didn’t work out as planned and the men lasted just 3-days of the course.

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