Biological Cleaning, Conservation, Consumerism, Economics, Irrigation, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Society, Storm Water, Waste Water, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 25, 2012
This is a must-watch video for all who need water (the rest of you are excused). I actually covered a lot of the material in the video in my Water Worries post, which I put together several years ago (but being one of the earliest posts on this site, when we had a far smaller audience, it barely got read, as evidenced by the fact that it didn’t attract even a single comment). This is a critical topic, and I’m pleased to say that, as did my earlier article, this video doesn’t just point out the problems, but also has an holistic view of the situation, so it also directs one to what must, and must not, be done about it.Comments (7)
Consumerism, GMOs, Health & Disease, Society — by Alex Martin September 17, 2012
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Society — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 13, 2012
This video from ReasonTV covers ground we’ve covered before many times, but since little to nothing has changed on this front, we must necessarily persevere in getting the message across any way we can. Essentially, we need to stop incentivising ecological madness, waste, disease, and inequality through public subsidising of the largest agricultural criminals.
Current agricultural subsidies in the U.S. mean that agribusinesses are selling ‘food’ (in inverted commas, as much of it is genetically modified and nutrient deficient) at less than the cost of production. This is damaging to the environment, to U.S. small-scale farmers, the U.S. economy as a whole, and it is particularly hard on struggling small-scale farmers in two-thirds world countries, who watch ‘cheap’ food getting dumped on their doorsteps at prices they cannot compete with and which often see them leaving their land to take up residence in ever-growing city slums, as I outlined in detail in Orchestrating Famine – a Must-Read Backgrounder on the Food Crisis.
Consumerism, Health & Disease — by George Monbiot September 11, 2012
The evidence linking Alzheimer’s disease to the food industry is strong and growing.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
When you raise the subject of over-eating and obesity, you often see people at their worst. The comment threads discussing these issues reveal a legion of bullies, who appear to delight in other people’s problems.
When alcoholism and drug addiction are discussed, the tone tends to be sympathetic. When obesity is discussed, the conversation is dominated by mockery and blame, though the evidence suggests that it can be driven by similar forms of addiction(1,2,3,4). I suspect that much of this mockery is a coded form of snobbery: the strong association between poor diets and poverty allows people to use this issue as a cipher for something else they want to say, which is less socially acceptable.
But this problem belongs to all of us. Even if you can detach yourself from the suffering caused by diseases arising from bad diets, you will carry the cost, as a growing proportion of the health budget will be used to address them. The cost – measured in both human suffering and money – could be far greater than we imagined. A large body of evidence now suggests that Alzheimer’s is primarily a metabolic disease. Some scientists have gone so far as to rename it. They call it diabetes type 3.Comments (4)
Consumerism, Courses/Workshops, Education, Village Development — by Samuel Alexander September 10, 2012
Preamble by Samuel Alexander: As spring dawns (in Australia), symbolising new life, it brings me great pleasure to announce the publication of Mark Burch’s The Simplicity Exercises: A Sourcebook for Simplicity Exercises. This special issue from the Simplicity Institute takes us in a new direction, moving beyond the analytical stage of defending simplicity and criticising growth-based, consumer-orientated economies, toward the recognition that our primary task now lies in actively promoting alternative ways of living through education, not simply research and analysis. While it remains necessary to critically analyse the global situation and describe and experiment with alternative ways of looking at the world, perhaps the most important task before us all today is to continue experimenting with alternative ways of living and being, and in The Simplicity Exercises Mark Burch provides a guiding light. Living simply in a consumer society isn’t easy, but it just got easier.
As outlined further below, this text is made up of many "workshop" type exercises and thought experiments which individuals and groups can work through at their own pace and in their own way. It will be particularly valuable to educators, but in so far as we are all students of simplicity, this text will be of immense value even outside formal or informal educational settings. Please take some time to browse this text and get a feel for its depth and insight. Based on several decades of educational experience, this is truly a major contribution to the literature paving the way to a new world. I offer Mark my most sincere congratulations for this extraordinary achievement. The Simplicity Exercises just might be the most important educational text on the planet today.
I’ve posted the introductory pages below (footnotes excluded) and the full 200-page text is freely available here (1.5mb PDF).
The Simplicity Exercises: a Sourcebook for Simplicity Educators
by Mark A. Burch
It probably sounds strange that anyone would need to learn how to live simply. The phrases “voluntary simplicity” or “simple living”, given our history of consumer culture indoctrination, imply that there’s nothing to it. Anyone can do this. What’s to learn?Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation — by Earth Policy Institute September 3, 2012
by Emily E. Adams, Earth Policy Institute
Forests provide many important goods, such as timber and paper. They also supply essential services—for example, they filter water, control water runoff, protect soil, regulate climate, cycle and store nutrients, and provide habitat for countless animal species and space for recreation.
Forests cover 31 percent of the world’s land surface, just over 4 billion hectares. (One hectare = 2.47 acres.) This is down from the pre-industrial area of 5.9 billion hectares. According to data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, deforestation was at its highest rate in the 1990s, when each year the world lost on average 16 million hectares of forest—roughly the size of the state of Michigan. At the same time, forest area expanded in some places, either through planting or natural processes, bringing the global net loss of forest to 8.3 million hectares per year. In the first decade of this century, the rate of deforestation was slightly lower, but still, a disturbingly high 13 million hectares were destroyed annually. As forest expansion remained stable, the global net forest loss between 2000 and 2010 was 5.2 million hectares per year. (See Excel data.)Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Comedy Break, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 31, 2012
If we fail to change trajectory, then perhaps we should be re-engineering the root cause of our problem — ourselves?
It’s true that I’m well known for attacking the GMO industry, its industry financed scientists and their thus-incentivised reductionist ’science’. I’ve expressed many times that GMOs are a "solution looking for a problem". We know that GMOs are really only a bid to deal with symptoms of agricultural mismanagement, so they can perpetuate and capitalise on the temporarily highly profitable root cause (i.e. monocultures) of those symptoms. Without monocultures we would not need the many products that keep many an industry alive and many of us in employment (heavy machinery, oil, gasoline, pesticides, fertilisers, GMO seeds and the chemicals they require, etc.), but, with the present paradigm seemingly so entrenched, with our citizens and economic systems being painfully slow to change trajectory (with the industrial agriculture model still rapidly spreading its tentacles across the world’s landscapes), and it threatening our very survival as we begin to head deep into the peak oil era, I’ve had something of an epiphany….
Let me explain.Comments (15)
Aid Projects, Building, Community Projects, Consumerism, Demonstration Sites, Energy Systems, Land, Society, Urban Projects, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 28, 2012
Edible City is a feature-length documentary film that tells the stories of extraordinary people who are digging their hands into the dirt, working to transform their communities and do something truly revolutionary: grow local Good Food Systems that are socially just, environmentally sound, and economically resilient.
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 25, 2012
Although recorded back in May, for International Permaculture Day (see here and here), I found out about the interview below only yesterday. In the interview, PRI PDC Teacher, Rhamis Kent, talks to renowned environmental filmmaker, John D. Liu, whose fantastic work we’ve featured on this site multiple times (here, here, here and here for example). John covers a lot of ground in the 90-minute discussion, sharing, amongst many other things, the great need for systemic socioeconomic and political change. John explains, as regular readers know I have myself many, many times before, how permaculturists can be a big part of the solution, but that unless the system itself changes, the ability to practice permaculture will remain a pipe dream for most.
The video is a little choppy in a few places, but still very watchable. It’s well worth taking the time to hear what John has to share from his very broad experience.
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Seeds, Society — by Navdanya International August 20, 2012
A Global Citizens Report on the State of GMOs — False Promises, Failed Technologies
People who point out the emptiness of the pretensions of powerful people and institutions are often compared to the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s fable who says that the emperor has no clothes.Comments (0)
Consumerism, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Keveen Gabet August 16, 2012
It might sound very reductionist and over-simplistic but the matter of fact is that everything is connected! We are one. You, me, them and every little atom existing on this planet (and beyond). Permaculture has clearly understood this message and is materializing the theory!
Our output will eventually become our input. It’s been said for centuries: You reap what you sow… and the good news is that you can empower yourself to sow the good stuff. It’s a matter of conscious choice, and a little bit of effort!
This short video illustrates this universal law by showing us the life of a plastic bag, from the moment it leaves a store to the moment it comes back to you….Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by George Monbiot August 15, 2012
The rich world is causing the famines it claims to be preventing.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
I don’t blame Mo Farah, Pele and Haile Gebrselassie, who lined up, all hugs and smiles, outside Downing Street for a photocall at the prime minister’s hunger summit(1). Perhaps they were unaware of the way in which they were being used to promote his corporate and paternalistic approach to overseas aid. Perhaps they were also unaware of the crime against humanity over which he presides. Perhaps Cameron himself is unaware of it.Comments (2)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Comedy Break, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 9, 2012
The upsidedownness of our world really gets to me. The people doing the most critical work (like producing food and clothing) get paid the least, and the people busy producing crap we don’t really need at all get paid much more, and by an order of magnitude. Worse, the people who produce nothing at all, but just shift numbers around on a screen, capitalising on the work of the afore-mentioned two groups, get paid exponentially more again.
Warning: Don’t play if you don’t appreciate bad language!
Somewhere along the line we’ve lost perspective. We’ve lost our sense of wonder, our recognition of the ‘magic’ of the world we live in — that all the best things in life are actually free — instead overlaying an entirely human intervention called ‘the economy’, or ‘the system’:Comments (37)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Richard Widows August 8, 2012
We are in the early stages of a global food crisis, the likes of which has never previously been seen. Nearly 1 billion people (or 1 in 7) experience chronic hunger and another 1 billion are faced with serious nutritional deficiencies. Meanwhile, reports suggest that nearly 2 billion people are overweight. Combine these figures and you realise that approximately 4 billion people suffer from food related health issues — more than half of the world’s population. This statistic alone is evidence enough of the need for urgent discussion about our food system.Comments (1)
by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne.
Our understandings and expectations of the world have been shaped by our experience of economic growth. The dynamic stability of that growth has habituated us to what is ‘normal.’ That normal must soon shatter. – David Korowicz
Cutting Off Destructive Growth (image courtesy of Desazkundea, via flickr)
1. Preparing for Life After Growth
In this report I wish to develop some of the ideas outlined in my paper ‘Peak Oil, Energy Descent, and the Fate of Consumerism,’ which I published through the Simplicity Institute last year (Alexander, 2011a). Building upon the ‘limits to growth’ perspective (Meadows et al, 2004), and drawing upon the work of various energy analysts (Ayers and Warr, 2009; Murphy and Hall, 2011a-b), my paper was based on the view that, in order to grow, industrial economies require a cheap and abundant supply of energy, especially oil. When the costs of oil increase significantly, this adds extra costs to transport, mechanised labour, and industrial food production, among many other things, and this pricing dynamic sucks discretionary expenditure and investment away from the rest of the economy, causing debt defaults, economic stagnation, recessions, or even longer-term depressions. That seems to be what we are seeing around the world today, with the risk of worse things to come (Tverberg, 2012a). Since crude oil production has been on an undulating plateau since 2005 while demand has increased (Hirsch et al, 2010), this has put huge upward pressure on the price of oil, and several commentators have drawn the conclusion that these high oil prices signify the end (Heinberg, 2011; Rubin, 2012) or at least the twilight (Alexander, 2011a; 2012a) of economic growth globally. If this is true, we are living at the dawn of a new age, and should be bracing for impact.Comments (1)