Biodiversity, Biofuels, Deforestation, Desertification, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Joel Dunn May 31, 2013
Genetically modified crops are hailed by their proponents as the basis for a “new green revolution”, and as the key solution to feeding the world in the face of population growth and the exhaustion of new sources of agricultural land. There is a massive volume of research and research literature around genetically modified crops, but how much of it is really of value in assessing this often heard hypothesis about “GM is needed to feed the world?”Comments (1)
Economics, Society, peak oil — by George Monbiot May 18, 2013
When scholars sell out, the consequences are grave.
In 1927 the French philosopher Julien Benda published a piercing attack on the intellectuals of his day. They should, he argued in La Trahison des Clercs (the treason of the scholars) act as a check on popular passions(1). Civilisation, he claimed, is possible only if intellectuals stand in opposition to the demands of political “realism” by upholding universal principles. “Thanks to the scholars,” Benda maintained, “humanity did evil for two thousand years, but honoured good.” Europe might have been lying in the gutter, but it was looking at the stars.
But those ideals, he argued, had been lost. Europe was now lying in the gutter, looking in the gutter. The “immense majority” of intellectuals, artists and clergy had joined “the chorus of hatreds”: nationalism, racism, the worship of power and war. In doing so, they justified and magnified political passions. Across Europe, scholars on both the left and the right had become “ready to support in their own countries the most flagrant injustices”, to abandon universal principles in favour of national exceptionalism and to proclaim “the supreme morality of violence”. He quoted the French anarcho-syndicalist Georges Sorel, who eulogised “the superb blond beast wandering in search of prey and carnage”.Comments (0)
Community Projects, Urban Projects, Village Development, peak oil — by Earth Policy Institute May 15, 2013
by Janet Larson, Earth Policy Institute
When New York City opened registration for its much anticipated public bike-sharing program on April 15, 2013, more than 5,000 people signed up within 30 hours. Eager for access to a fleet of thousands of bicycles, they became Citi Bike members weeks before bikes were expected to be available. Such pent-up demand for more cycling options is on display in cities across the United States—from Buffalo to Boulder, Omaha to Oklahoma City, and Long Beach in New York to Long Beach in California—where shared bicycle programs are taking root.Comments (0)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Economics, Society, Urban Projects, peak oil — by Andrew Willner May 9, 2013
We live in dangerous times, when economic collapse, climate chaos, and peak oil threaten the foundations of society, abundance, and all we hold dear. “Business as usual” will no longer suffice, because that way leads to certain pain, peril and impoverishment.
Unspeakable acts of violence like the slaughter at the Sandy Hook school or the Boston Marathon bombing; natural disasters like Katrina and Sandy; economic uncertainty; technical failure; “peak everything;” and climate change can offer opportunities for either despair and disengagement or innovative collaboration. In the aftermath of such disasters communities often experience a surge of purposefulness to deal with the crisis. As a result, there is a need for better understanding of the specific and general resilience of communities, ecosystems, organizations, and institutions to cope with change.Comments (0)
Consumerism, Society, peak oil — by Earth Policy Institute April 26, 2013
by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute
Politicians, lobbyists, and tourists alike can ride bicycles along a specially marked lane between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, part of the 115 miles of bicycle lanes and paths that now crisscross Washington, DC. In Copenhagen, commuters can ride to work following a “green wave” of signal lights timed for bikers. Residents in China’s “happiest city,” Hangzhou, can move easily from public transit onto physically separated bike tracks that have been carved out of the vast majority of roadways. And on any given Sunday in Mexico City, some 15,000 cyclists join together on a circuit of major thoroughfares closed to motorized traffic. What is even more exciting is that in each of these locations, people can jump right into cycling without even owning a bicycle. Welcome to the era of the Bike Share.Comments (1)
Consumerism, Economics, Society, peak oil — by Earth Policy Institute March 29, 2013
by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute
Freeing America from its dependence on oil from unstable parts of the world is an admirable goal, but many of the proposed solutions—including the push for more home-grown biofuels and for the construction of the new Keystone XL pipeline to transport Canadian tar sands oil to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast—are harmful and simply unnecessary. Gasoline use in the United States is falling, and the trends already driving it down are likely to continue into the future, making both the mirage of beneficial biofuels and the construction of a new pipeline to import incredibly dirty oil seem ever more out of touch with reality.Comments (1)
Energy Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Nikos A. Salingaros March 25, 2013
Interview of Nikos Salingaros by Mumtaz Soogund on Defimedia, Mauritius, 8 March 2013.
Dr. Salingaros recently joined the CT (Centrale Thermique) Power debate in Mauritius, and in this light graciously agreed to share his views on the matter with the readers of News on Sunday.
MS: A coal-powered plant proves to be a massive investment in the long run, and people are talking more and more about renewable sources of energy. Are they viable and would they be equally efficient in Mauritius?Comments (0)
Consumerism, Global Warming/Climate Change, peak oil — by George Monbiot March 18, 2013
Why are we exploiting unconventional gas when we can’t afford to burn existing supplies?
There’s only one way of knowing whether or not governments are serious about climate change: have they decided to leave most of their fossil fuel reserves in the ground? We have already discovered far more carbon than we can afford to burn, if we are not to commit the world to very dangerous levels of heating. Only if most of it – four-fifths according to a detailed estimate – is left where it sits is there a good chance of preventing more than two degrees of global warming.
Forgive me if you’ve heard me say this many times before. But it is the only point that is really worth making. It doesn’t matter how many wind turbines you build, or energy-saving lightbulbs you install, or more economical cars you manufacture: unless most of our fossil fuel reserves are declared off-limits they will, sooner or later, be extracted and burnt. The question of whether it is sooner or whether it is later makes little difference: we have already identified more underground carbon than we can afford to burn between now and the year 3000.Comments (2)
Consumerism, Energy Systems, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by I-SIS February 21, 2013
Shale gas could be a useful stop-gap substitute for more conventional fossil fuels on our way towards fully green renewable energies, but health and environmental risks including pollution to ground water remain to be addressed.
by Prof Peter Saunders
Shale gas is being hailed as the new source of energy that will keep the world’s economy going as oil supplies start to dwindle. It will, so we are told, make developed countries less dependent on the politically unstable Middle East and it will contribute to mitigating climate change because it produces less greenhouse gas than coal or oil.Comments (1)
Food Shortages, Population, peak oil — by Paul Chefurka February 2, 2013
The linkage is this tight:
In this graph "grain" is the world’s annual production of rice, wheat and corn, "oil" is the global production of all petroleum liquids, and people are people. I normalized the numbers so that they all start off from an index of 100 in 1985. This is a standard technique that makes the relationship between the three elements visible.
It’s obvious at a glance that food, oil and population are tightly related, but the nature of their relationship is open to interpretation. If you were an economist you could say that as the number of people grows, we go out and grow more food and find more oil to meet our growing needs. Conversely if you were an ecologist you might say that increasing supplies of oil and food allow our population to grow. Or you could say (as I do) that they all exist in a complex feedback loop.Comments (14)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor January 10, 2013
Those who read Bad News, and Good News, for Greece, It’s Time to Re-Ruralise and Greeks Reclaim the Land to Ease the Pain of Economic Austerity will want to follow up with this encouraging video.
For the last several decades, modern society has been shaped by Big Business with a very narrow focus combined with an ill-thought-through economic system. The wonderfully ironic aspect of this is that in industry’s quest for ‘more’ — at any cost, and with little regard for medium- to long-term interests for people and place — it becomes increasingly unpleasant and/or impossible for the average guy on the street to endure the resulting circumstances. Hardships are piling up onto hardships — causing, or forcing, many of us to reevaluate what we want out of life.Comments (1)
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)
Community Projects, Food Shortages, Urban Projects, peak oil — by Klara Hansson December 6, 2012
I believe that we will need to produce food in our urban centres, because I can’t figure out how else we are going to meet an increased demand from our cities. With over 50% of the world’s population living in them, currently relying on an unsustainable agricultural system to deliver all the nourishment they need, it’s not hard to understand that something will need to change.
In order to meet this need in the ways of a permaculturist, I have dedicated my working hours to the concept of Edible Cities.Comments (2)
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)
DVDs/Books, Dams, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Swales, Trees, Water Harvesting, peak oil — by Geoff Lawton November 12, 2012
At time of writing, our Zaytuna Farm Video Tour video has had almost 11,000 views, after only six months. A lot of people expressed their appreciation for this video, with some describing it as a "free DVD". Where we can, we want to provide more inspirational/instructional material for free, and today I’m writing to let you know about our latest effort towards fulfilling this goal.
Click here to go to an introductory video titled ‘How to Survive the Coming Crises‘. This is a FREE 34-minute video that looks at:Comments (5)