Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Desertification, Food Plants - Annual, Food Shortages, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute January 9, 2013
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
Where was once pristine Amazon rainforest, soybean harvesters
march across the landscape instead
Global demand for soybeans has soared in recent decades, with China leading the race. Nearly 60 percent of all soybeans entering international trade today go to China, making it far and away the world’s largest importer.
The soybean was domesticated some 3,000 years ago by farmers in eastern China. But it wasn’t until well after World War II that the crop gained agricultural prominence, enabling it to join wheat, rice, and corn as one of the world’s four leading crops.
This rise in the demand for soybeans reflected the discovery by animal nutritionists that combining 1 part soybean meal with 4 parts grain, usually corn, in feed rations would sharply boost the efficiency with which livestock and poultry converted grain into animal protein. As China’s appetite for meat, milk, and eggs has soared, so too has its use of soybean meal. And since nearly half the world’s pigs are in China, the lion’s share of soy use is in pig feed. Its fast-growing poultry industry is also dependent on soybean meal. In addition, China now uses large quantities of soy in feed for farmed fish.Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Deforestation, Desertification, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Geoff Lawton January 7, 2013
- A Farm for the Future (BBC video)
- The Rodale Institute’s 30-Year Farming Systems Trial Report
- Biodiverse Systems are More Productive
- The Food Crisis: “A Perfect Storm” – and How to Turn the Tide
- Orchestrating Famine – a Must-Read Backgrounder on the Food Crisis
- Food Futures Now – Feeding People & Place Without Fossil Fuels
- The Looming Food Crisis and the ‘Food 2030′ Report
- The Story of Soil
- A ‘New’ Discovery – Soluble Nitrogen Destroys Soil Carbon
- Which Came First – Pests, or Pesticides?
- Soil – Our Financial Institution
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Desertification, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change — by George Monbiot
2012 was the worst year for the environment in living memory.
It was the year of living dangerously. In 2012 governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half century.Comments (1)
Community Projects, Conservation, Consumerism, Development & Property Trusts, Economics, Ethical Investment, People Systems, Rehabilitation, Society, Village Development — by John D. Liu December 20, 2012
John D. Liu
I’m often asked “What can I do to help?” to restore the Earth. Over the years I’ve struggled with the answer.
Sometimes I feel like it is unfair to ask me what someone else should do because even if I told them what I thought they probably wouldn’t do it. I think that each person should look inside their heart and decide what they will do.
However, gradually I’ve come to see ecological restoration as the “great work” of our time — the one most important thing that all the people who are alive today need to understand and do together. I’ve come to realize that to do restoration at scale requires some very specific skills and also requires a type of lifestyle change. It also requires a change in the way we perceive work and the economy.Comments (26)
Consumerism, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Keveen Gabet December 17, 2012
I’m not sure there is a real cure against the insanity that consumerism has reached, but what I’m sure of (well, almost) is that we can be a little smarter (and conscious) in dealing with packaging the goods we don’t always need. Granted, I wish people would buy less in the first place… or at least repair, re-use, recycle, or repurpose.
It’s a global plague. Mountains of plastic bags, styrofoam and cardboard are accumulating in landfills while people continue buying more. The bad news is that it will continue. The good news is that some people are racking their brains to do something about it.
Here are two innovative ideas that principally target this phenomenon: packaging.Comments (3)
Consumerism, Economics, Society — by George Monbiot December 14, 2012
Pathological consumption has become so normalised that we scarcely notice it.
There’s nothing they need, nothing they don’t own already, nothing they even want. So you buy them a solar-powered waving queen; a belly button brush; a silver-plated ice cream tub holder; a “hilarious” inflatable zimmer frame; a confection of plastic and electronics called Terry the Swearing Turtle; or – and somehow I find this significant – a Scratch Off World wall map.
They seem amusing on the first day of Christmas, daft on the second, embarrassing on the third. By the twelfth they’re in landfill. For thirty seconds of dubious entertainment, or a hedonic stimulus that lasts no longer than a nicotine hit, we commission the use of materials whose impacts will ramify for generations.Comments (5)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Education, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 12, 2012
Editor’s Preamble: Despite the title, I’m no longer in Ladakh. Indeed, it was way back in August 2009 when I was there, so this article has been a long time coming (thanks to work on the WPN keeping me too busy, amongst other things!). I keep the ‘Letters from…’ part of the title to make my international reports easier to find.
I came to Ladakh with the purpose of profiling positive solutions for the Sustainable (R)evolution book project (still a work-in-progress, for those wondering), but quickly discovered that the kind of ‘development’ I found in Ladakh was more suitable to profile for another kind of book instead — one steeped in lessons gleaned from mistakes, rather than one focussed on shining examples of solutions in action…. This is another reason I haven’t written this article until today….
A Ladakhi woman and her barley.
What’s wrong with this picture? Read on to find out….
All photos copyright © Craig Mackintosh
High up in the Himalayas, in India’s disputed and militarised northernmost state, Jammu & Kashmir, lies the sparsely populated region of Ladakh (map). It is one of the highest inhabited places on the planet, and also one of the driest. One of Ladakh’s claims to fame is that it hosts the highest drivable road in the world — where it crosses the Ladakh Range at 5578 metres. And, despite its high altitude, the dryness ensures the upper parts of the region barely see snow cover over the long, cold winter months.
Sometimes known as ‘Little Tibet’ (the ancient Ladakhi dynasties came from a Tibetan lineage), Ladakh is a worthy subject for permaculture discussion, as despite its inhospitable terrain and cold-arid desert climate, the Ladakhi people, historically, not only survived amidst their high altitude elements, they had actually improved the landscape over centuries of habitation and agricultural use, whilst living in (mostly) peaceful habitation with each other.Comments (19)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 10, 2012
As permaculturists, we have a great many solutions for the water crisis. From water harvesting to reed bed grey water systems, to watershed rehabilitation, there are common sense approaches to holistically restore eco-system services, rehydrate our landscapes and stabilise water flows and the climate. In the video above, however, we come face to face with forces that can undo the work of thousands of enthusiastic permaculturists with a few signatures on a market based, industrial contract.
We need to know the enemy if we’re to defeat it.Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination — by Oyvind Holmstad December 6, 2012
Further Reading:Comments (2)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change — by George Monbiot December 4, 2012
We cannot restrain climate change without a political fight against plutocracy.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
Humankind’s greatest crisis coincides with the rise of an ideology that makes it impossible to address. By the late 1980s, when it became clear that manmade climate change endangered the living planet and its people, the world was in the grip of an extreme political doctrine, whose tenets forbid the kind of intervention required to arrest it.Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Economics, GMOs, Health & Disease — by William Park November 30, 2012
Heritage varieties of Quinoa outside Alausí, Ecuador
Can consumer choice be a driver of change? The answer is yes, provided that consumers make informed decisions based on awareness of how their purchases impact others and our planet.
If, however, all the available products are produced by the same corporations using the same shortsighted and destructive methods and there is no meaningful labeling, then consumer choice amounts to nothing.Comments (0)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, People Systems, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Samuel Alexander November 24, 2012
Editor’s Preamble: I would exhort readers to ignore the potentially off-putting length of this piece, to instead step into, and allow yourself to be absorbed by, this important and worthy attempt at future-visualising. Readers who have been following my own work over the last several years will recognise and appreciate the themes covered. From my own perspective, what follows is a highly pragmatic view on the potential near-future of civilisation, and I truly feel that the speed and shape of progression (i.e. objectively and cooperatively planned and peacefully implemented), or, regression (i.e. unplanned, reactive, desperate, monopolistic and individualistic), and ultimate form of that future will largely depend on how many people are objectively considering these themes and adjusting their lives, and their influence, accordingly.
Photo © Craig Mackintosh
by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne.
When [we have] obtained those things necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now, [our] vacation from humbler toil having commenced. – Henry David Thoreau
If a society does not have some vision of where it wants to be or what it wants to become, it cannot know whether it is heading in the right direction – it cannot even know whether it is lost. This is the confused position of consumer capitalism today, which has a fetish for economic growth but no answer to the question of what that growth is supposed to be for. It is simply assumed that growth is good for its own sake, but of course economic activity is merely a means, not an end. It can only ever be justified by some goal beyond itself, but that is precisely what consumer capitalism lacks – a purpose, a reason for existence. It is a means without an end, like a tool without a task. What makes this state of affairs all the more challenging is that the era of growth economics appears to be coming to a close, due to various financial, ecological, and energy constraints, and this is leaving growth-based economies without the very capacity for growth which defined them historically. Before long this will render consumer capitalism an obsolete system with neither a means nor an end, a situation that is in fact materialising before our very eyes. It seems that today we are living in the twilight of growth globally, which implies that the dawn of a new age is almost upon us – is perhaps already upon us. But as we turn this momentous page in history we find that humanity is without a narrative in which to lay down new roots. We are the generation in between stories, desperately clinging to yesterday’s story but uncertain of tomorrow’s. Then again, perhaps the new words we need are already with us; perhaps we just need to live them into existence.Comments (7)
Biodiversity, Community Projects, Conservation, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Population, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by John D. Liu November 17, 2012
Before (below) and after (above), Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabiliation Project
A Breakthough of Worldwide Importance
In 1995, as the Chinese government and people were beginning an ambitious effort to restore the cradle of Chinese civilization, I was asked by the World Bank to document the “Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation Project”. Originally the Loess Plateau had been fully vegetated with massive forests and grasslands. Resources extracted from the giant forests, rushing rivers, and abundance of the earth in this place blossomed into the magnificence of the Han, the Qin and the Tang dynasties. The accomplishments of the early Chinese dynasties, based in this area, rank among the greatest human scientific and artistic achievements of any age. The Loess Plateau gave birth to the Han race, the largest ethnic group on the planet, and the plateau is generally considered by historians and geographers to be the second place on Earth where human beings began to use settled agriculture.Comments (9)
Biodiversity, Community Projects, Conservation, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Rehabilitation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Rhamis Kent November 16, 2012
I was recently invited to contribute to a concept paper (2.2mb PDF) authored and edited by Willem Ferwerda.
Mr. Ferwerda, a tropical ecologist, was director of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) National Committee of The Netherlands from 2000 until March 2012. In his new role Ferwerda will support the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) in making businesses and investors work for ecosystem restoration and management. As Chair of the Board of Patrons he will be actively involved in rolling out Leaders for Nature internationally.
This paper was compiled to serve as:
A plea for the establishment of an international mechanism that actively creates collaborative Ecosystem Restoration Partnerships between businesses, investors, business schools, civil society organizations, farmers and local people, that international restoration targets will be reached, investments will be returned, and practical lessons are learned by working together.
One of the many contributors to this paper is Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Quoting his statements from the paper’s introduction:Comments (0)
Consumerism, GMOs, Health & Disease, Society — by Jon Rappoport November 13, 2012
Editor’s Note: Last week I posted We Don’t Want to Know, sharing the rather glum news that Californians had, somewhat inexplicably, voted against their own interests — deciding they didn’t actually care to have the right to know what they were eating. By all appearances, Proposition 37 was won by the corporates. However, since then we’ve learned that there may be more to this than meets the eye. Jon Rappoport, a 74-year old Californian who has been an investigative journalist for the last 30 years, also felt the results were rather inexplicable, and decided to take a closer look. Read on to find out why I think Californians might not be as daft as we were, last week, led to believe…. I also hope Californians will jump up and down about this issue — as they should be hopping mad…. At time of writing this, the Yes to 37 campaign is only half a million votes behind, and it appears there are at least 3.3 million votes still uncounted…. In short, we have hope yet — but we need to watch this very closely, and do what we can to ensure all votes are properly counted!
Did Prop 37 Really Lose or Was it Vote Fraud? (November 8, 2012)
On election night, not long after the polls closed in California, the announcement came out: Prop 37 was losing. A little while later, it was all over. 37 had gone down to defeat.
But is that the whole story? No.
As of 2:30PM today, Thursday, November 8th, two days after the election, many votes in California remain uncounted.
I tried to find out how many.
It turns out that the Secretary of State of CA, responsible for elections in the state, doesn’t know.
I was told all counties in California have been asked, not ordered, to report in with those figures. It’s voluntary.Comments (8)