Editor’s Note: Dear Readers, please support Steve Marsh. If Steve wins his upcoming courtroom battle it could set a legal precedent with wonderful consequences. I dream of the day where any farmer who wishes to grow GMOs will be required to protect their neighbour’s crops from contamination by doing so under a giant plexiglass dome….
I am writing to ask you all to join us in a Twitter storm organised in support of organic farmer Steve Marsh, who is going to court on the 10th of February this year to protect his right to grow GM-free crops. It is a landmark case and a world’s first where an organic farmer is suing a GM farmer for compensation due to GM contamination. The court ruling will help to determine who is responsible when GM contamination occurs and this is an issue of high concern globally.
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by Samuel Alexander and Jonathan Rutherford, Simplicity institute report 14a, 2014
Evidence continues to mount that industrial civilisation, driven by a destructive and insatiable growth imperative, is chronically unsustainable, as well as being grossly unjust. The global economy is in ecological overshoot, currently consuming resources and emitting waste at rates the planet cannot possibly sustain (Global Footprint Network 2013). Peak oil is but the most prominent example of a more general situation of looming resource scarcity (Klare, 2012), with high oil prices having a debilitating effect on the oil-dependent economies which are seemingly dependent on cheap oil to maintain historic rates of growth (Heinberg, 2011). At the same time, great multitudes around the globe live lives of material destitution, representing a vast, marginalised segment of humanity that justifiably seeks to expand its economic capacities in some form (World Bank, 2008). Biodiversity continues to be devastated by deforestation and other forms of habitat destruction (United Nations, 2010), while the global development agenda seems to be aiming to provide an expanding global population with the high-impact material affluence enjoyed by the richest parts of the world (Hamilton, 2003). This is despite evidence crying out that the universalisation of affluence is environmentally unsupportable (Smith and Positano, 2010; Turner, 2012) and not even a reliable path to happiness (Lane, 2001; Alexander, 2012a). Most worrying of all, perhaps, is the increasingly robust body of climate science indicating the magnitude of the global predicament (IPCC, 2013). According to the Climate Tracker Initiative (2013: 4), the world could exceed its ‘carbon budget’ in around 18 years, essentially locking us into a future that is at least 2 degrees warmer, and threatening us with 4 degrees or more. It is unclear to what extent civilisation as we know it is compatible with runaway climate change. And still, almost without exception, all nations on the planet – including or especially the richest ones – continue to seek GDP growth without limit, as if the cause of these problems could somehow provide the solution. If once it was hoped that technology and science were going to be able decouple economic activity from ecological impact, such a position is no longer credible (Huesemann and Huesemann, 2011). Technology simply cannot provide any escape from the fact that there are biophysical limits to growth. Despite decades of extraordinary technological advance, which it is was promised would lighten the ecological burden of our economies, global energy and resource consumption continues to grow, exacerbated by a growing population, but which is primarily a function of the growth-orientated values that lie at the heart of global capitalism (Turner, 2012).
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Kampala (the capital of Uganda) is a city where overcrowding seems to suffocate many neighborhoods and where nothing seems to grow. This is also home to a passionate mother of two who dedicates her life to transforming her community with her green practices.
With only a lot of 15 meters by 9 meters, this is probably one of the smallest farms in the world, but that hasn’t stopped her from transforming her hard-packed chunk of urban space into an edible miracle.
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The recently publicised findings of the Davies Commission Report (1) have put airport expansion in the UK into the media spotlight once more. Plans to expand either of the two main London airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, have been spoken of for some years now (2); and there is at least one group of people who do not entirely agree with the plans.
Grow Heathrow was established as part of Transition Heathrow on a squatted plot of land almost four years ago, on the site of Heathrow’s proposed third runway (3). Since beginning they have grown to a self-sustaining community, with off-grid power and heating, extensive gardens, a diverse range of skills-sharing, and strong links to the local community and beyond (3). On December 21, 2013, I went to find out more about this project.
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Plume of airborne radioactive iodine arrival in the US correlates with increased rates of congenital hypothyroidism among the new born.
by Dr Mae-Wan Ho
A new study finds congenital hypothyroidism in the US rising 28% in the two and a half months after the arrival of the Fukushima fallout of radioactive iodine (I-131) . Researchers and authors Joe Mangano and Janette Sherman from the Radiation and Public Health Project  have done a thorough job based on data from the US government.
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Meet Meghan Hammond, a sixth-generation Nebraskan farmer threatened by TransCanada. In an effort to save their land from a huge oil pipeline her community banned together to build a source of sustainable energy right in the path of the Keystone XL pipeline. These Nebraskans made a statement, but they need more hands and hearts on their side.
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Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chainstores.
by George Monbiot
The question has changed a little since Rousseau’s day, but the mystery remains(1). Why, when most of us now possess greater freedom than almost any preceding generation has enjoyed – freedom from tyranny, freedom from slavery, freedom from hunger – do we act as if we don’t?
I’m prompted to ask by the discovery that the most illiberal and oppressive instrument proposed by any recent government – injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance in the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill – has been attacked by Labour not because it is draconian but because it is not draconian enough(2,3). The measure was decisively rejected by the Lords last week(4). But if the government tries to restore this monstrous proposal in the Commons next month, Labour is likely to insist only that it is too timid.
Why do we tolerate a politics that offers no effective choice? That operates largely at the behest of millionaire funders, corporate power and a bullying media? Why, in an age in which people are no longer tortured and executed for criticising those in power, have we failed to create viable alternatives?
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Click to download (5mb PDF)
In late September of last year (2013) the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) put out the latest in their Trade and Environment Review series — titled Wake up Before it is Too Late: Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable Now for Food Security in a Changing Climate. Alert readers may already be aware of this document — as it was the springboard for a post on this site titled Paradigm Shift Urgently Needed In Agriculture – UN Agencies Call for an End to Industrial Agriculture & Food System — but, having taken some time over the New Year to read through this comprehensive (340-page) document, I felt it pertinent to ensure readers go beyond the above-linked article to also download the full review (5mb PDF). It is a particularly valuable resource for permaculture educators, community activists and all those seeking to influence policymakers and industry, etc., as this highly readable production is loaded with valuable information, facts and case studies which will help drive nails into the coffin of reductionist, industrial agriculture by showcasing the sensible, sustainable win-win solutions found in diverse, agro-ecological, relocalised food systems.
In short, all those interested in helping to educate the world towards a peaceful, healthful transition to long-lasting prosperity would do well to put this review on their reading list!
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Inspirator and Teacher Kenton Zerbin, from the Permaculture Research Institute of Barbados (PRIB), offers wisdom for engaging family and friends with Permaculture.
Is this what you look like to your family and friends?
We all know the hardest people to change are family. It’s like they don’t take us seriously, or that everything we do needs to be taken with a Costco container of salt instead of “a grain of salt.”
How do we get them to value the environment, to understand our changed values and how important they are, not just to us, but to everything?
Well, here is the single most important tip I can give you: Start where the learner is at.
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