Aid Projects, Building, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Energy Systems, Food Forests, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Land, Medicinal Plants, Rehabilitation, Society, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 29, 2011
What if global hunger, poverty and disease could be solved with resources already at our disposal?
A film directed by Steve Schrenzel
It was a pleasure to meet Tara Blasco and Lyn Hebenstreit at the Tenth International Permaculture Conference (IPC10) in Jordan this month. Tara and Lyn have been deeply involved in a Tanzanian success story that you’ll quickly become immersed in via the excellent new documentary above.Comments (7)
Energy Systems, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by George Monbiot September 2, 2011
It looks as if the UK government is allowing shale gas fracking companies to regulate themselves.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
Before the government approves a new industrial process in the UK it must have ensured that it won’t harm either people or the environment. Mustn’t it? That’s what any sane person would expect. Any sane person would be wrong.
One year ago, a company called Cuadrilla Resources began drilling exploratory shafts into the rock at Preese Hall near Blackpool, in north-west England, to begin the UK’s first experiments with extracting gas trapped in formations of shale. The process – called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking – involves pumping a mixture of water, sand and drilling fluids at high pressure into the rock, to split it apart and release the natural gas it contains. In June Cuadrilla temporarily suspended its operations as a result of two small earthquakes in the area, which might have been caused by the fracking. The experiment is likely to resume soon. Cuadrilla has also started exploratory drilling at two other sites in the region.Comments (6)
Energy Systems, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease — by Earth Policy Institute August 11, 2011
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
At a press conference on July 21, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he was contributing $50 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. Michael Brune, head of the Sierra Club, called it a “game changer”. It is that, but it also could push the United States, and indeed the world, to a tipping point on the climate issue.Comments (0)
Commercial Farm Projects, Courses/Workshops, Energy Systems, Land, Project Positions, Retrofitting, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Nick Huggins July 22, 2011
by Nick Huggins
I just purchased a farm in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands, 30min south of Goulburn and 50min east of Canberra, the Australian Capital, and a good friend of mine and of permaculture, David Spicer, has set his sights on the development of his consultancy business in the town of Tumut at the base of the Snowy Mountains, NSW. In moving to a new bio-region there is also an element of adjustment and making yourself known to the good people within it. As such, David and I have set ourselves individual goals that overlap so that we can both compliment each other’s skill sets to take permaculture to our wider communities.Comments (7)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Community Projects, Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Economics, Energy Systems, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Land, Markets & Outlets, People Systems, Society, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by I-SIS July 20, 2011
Small integrated farms with off-grid renewable energy may be the perfect solution to the food and financial crisis while mitigating and adapting to climate change
A Sarvodaya villager sells a diverse range of organic produce roadside
– with more than 95% of it grown behind the stall, and by her own family
Photo © copyright Craig Mackintosh
In a Nutshell
An emerging scientific consensus that a shift to small scale sustainable agriculture and localized food systems will address most, if not all the underlying causes of deteriorating agricultural productivity as well as the conservation of natural soil and water resources while saving the climate.Comments (1)
Consumerism, Economics, Energy Systems, Society, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 17, 2011
This 1-hour documentary shares the history of how General Motors deliberately swindled the U.S. public out of a superior, healthier public transport system — so as to replace the then-popular electric street cars with their own products: cars, buses and trucks. This deceit and selfishness has landed the American public in its current ultra-vulnerable position, where they: despite having only 4% of the world’s population are consuming 25% of the world’s oil; must endure hours of each day in oft-gridlocked traffic; and must even see their sons shot to pieces fighting far-flung wars over resources. Thanks GM.
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)
Consumerism, Energy Systems — by Earth Policy Institute July 14, 2011
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
Our inefficient, carbon-based energy economy threatens to irreversibly disrupt the Earth’s climate. Averting dangerous climate change and the resultant crop-shrinking heat waves, more-destructive storms, accelerated sea level rise, and waves of climate refugees means cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020.
The first key component of the Earth Policy Institute’s climate stabilization plan is to systematically raise the efficiency of the world energy economy. One of the quickest ways to increase efficiency, cut carbon emissions, and save money is simply to change light bulbs.
Some 19 percent of world electricity demand goes to lighting. The carbon emissions generated by this sector equal roughly 70 percent of those produced by the global automobile fleet.
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)
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)
Energy Systems — by Chris McLeod June 17, 2011
So far in the series, A Solar Powered Life, we’ve covered most of the components of a solar power system. To have a complete system though, you have to connect all of the separate components using wire and fuses. You wouldn’t think it, but the wire used is one of the most important (and potentially dangerous) components of the entire system. Some people may think that wire and fuses are pretty boring, so I’ve decided to spice it up a bit, myth busters style, by blowing some stuff up for your reading pleasure!Comments (8)
Consumerism, Economics, Energy Systems, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, peak oil — by George Monbiot June 1, 2011
The public reaction to new power lines could kill renewable energy: they must be buried.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom
Why do those who oppose wind power insist on spoiling their case with gibberish? In his column on Friday, Simon Jenkins claimed that onshore wind farms were being planned “with no concern for cost.”(1) But the only reason for building them is a concern for cost. If it weren’t for this issue, they would be the last option governments would choose – God knows they cause enough trouble.
As the government’s Committee on Climate Change reports, large onshore wind farms are “already close to competitive” with burning natural gas, and are likely to get there by 2020(2). They are the cheapest renewable sources in this country by a long way. Offshore wind costs roughly twice as much, and its costs have been escalating. After attacking the high cost of wind power, Simon argued that we should instead invest in “sun and waves”. The committee shows that while the expected price of electricity from onshore wind in 2030 is between 7 and 8.5 pence per kilowatt hour, solar power is expected to come in at between 11 and 25 pence, and wave between 15 and 31(3). Talk about no concern for cost!Comments (3)
Courses/Workshops, Energy Systems — by Bonnie Freibergs May 31, 2011
Here at the PRI we love our Rocket Stoves and foremost with this love is our in-house pyromaniac, Tim Barker.
During this fun 2-day course at Zaytuna Farm we will explore the fascinating world of super efficient, super cheap, super simple Rocket Stoves.
We will look at the history of heating and cooking with wood from the three stone fire, through to the ornate Kachel Offen and finally the Rocket Stove and the Rocket Mass Heater with some interesting diversions along the way.
Participants will learn the principles of efficient combustion, material selection and most importantly how to design and build their very own Rocket Stove.
Best of all you will get to build your own Rocket Stove with recycled materials and participate in the building of a large Rocket Mass Heater, and yes, we will get to burn stuff!
So if you are the type that loves to stare into the camp fire at night and can’t help but poke and prod it with a stick then come and join us on what is sure to be a fascinating fun-filled and informative weekend.Comments (9)
Energy Systems — by Chris McLeod May 25, 2011
When I selected the various components for my home solar power system, I always had to keep in the back of my mind the words of my wife. “It must be able to run the hair dryer and the coffee machine”. Wanting to ensure that my wife was happy and given these two appliances are usually designed to be plugged into a 240v AC mains electricity socket, I had to make a decision on how to get the 24v DC solar power that was stored in the batteries into the house and useable for these appliances.
Fortunately some very clever people have developed a device called an inverter. An inverter takes the extra low voltage power (in my case 24v DC) stored in a battery (or other extra low voltage power source) and converts it to the usual mains voltage. (In Australia that’s 240v AC.) Because the output of the inverter is the normal mains voltage, you can plug in readily available appliances and run them using the energy stored by the solar power system in the batteries. Cool, the coffee machine and hair dryer were now taken care of and there were smiles all around.Comments (15)
Aid Projects, Building, Courses/Workshops, Energy Systems, Land, Retrofitting, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Doug Weatherbee May 21, 2011
Note by Owen Hablutzel: This article from Doug Weatherbee speaks to why the skills and approach of Permaculture are becoming increasingly recognized among international development communities as being necessary and often more useful on-the-ground than conventional ‘development’ approaches for achieving often complex and practical goals in the difficult circumstances often encountered where people, livelihoods, basic needs, and struggling economies intersect. The Permaculture approach can broaden the scope and greatly increase the ‘toolbox’ available, while keeping these elements related and connected through attention to the context and larger whole. Now, more than ever, the world is ready for more Permaculture! What can you do to further prepare to meet this expanding need?
by Doug Weatherbee, Center for Appropriate Technology and Indigenous Sustainability
To a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.
In many development aid projects around the world, not-for-profits (NFPs) are doing valuable work solving problems for communities and regions. Many of us who have done some sort of development aid work come to these communities with the NFP’s focus area (for example, clean drinking water, sanitation, or agricultural projects) and a set of NFP aid workers who are trained in the NFP focus area. However, when we land on the ground, in real communities and regions, the problems don’t necessarily stay contained within the narrow box of the NFP’s focus or the expertise of its workers. "The real world of people living, eating and growing food, having shelters, dealing with sanitation, having clean drinking water, staying warm or cool, creating families and communities, all of this is a rich mixture, and its problems and solutions don’t often fit into tiny neat boxes," says Jim Hallock, of Tierra Y Cal, who has experience building sustainable shelters in Haiti, South and Central America, and Africa. "When I show up in Haiti to help build a school or a clinic I’m asked about how to grow a food garden or deal with drinking water contamination."
The conundrum so often experienced is that NFP workers are unprepared to deal with aspects of the larger community or regional problems outside the scope of their skills or the not-for-profit’s focus. Sometimes aid workers need a screwdriver, and all they have is a hammer.Comments (2)