In a few days the international community will be meeting in Rio de Janeiro, to hold the most significant environmental conference since the Rio Earth Summit of 1992. As the planet’s ecosystems tremble under the weight of overconsumption, this conference surely provides one of few remaining opportunities for governments to take environmental issues seriously.
Will the world’s leaders dare to think beyond the growth paradigm that lies at the root of our environmental crises? Will they be bold enough to constrain the overconsumption of natural resources or even acknowledge the problem of stagnating oil supplies? Sadly, history provides little grounds for confidence. What is more likely is that the conference will simply warm the climate further through an exchange of hot air disguised as genuine commitment.
It is the start of Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, and the Global Ecovillage Network has a strong contingent here from all over the world. We have erected a dome at the People’s Summit in Cupala dos Povos (Flamingo Park) and are providing a “Speaker’s Corner” for ecovillages, Transition Towns, Occupy, and others to strut their stuff. So what is it that ecovillages and permaculture bring to this discussion?
The late philosopher Ivan Illich, in his 1974 book, Energy and Equity, observed that conventional wisdom would have it that “the well-being of a society can be measured by the number of years its members have gone to school and by the number of energy slaves they have thereby learned to command.” This conventional wisdom would seem to be now widely shared by both non-governmental organizations and UN intergovernmental agencies working on issues such as education, the rights of women and minorities, and indigenous peoples. Illich challenged it.
“The energy crisis focuses concern on the scarcity of fodder for these slaves,” he said. “I prefer to ask whether free men need them.”
The shocking standards of tabloid weather reporting.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
I suppose I should have seen this coming. In January, I discovered that the forecasters employed by a company called Positive Weather Solutions, whose inaccurate predictions were widely used by the newspapers, don’t exist.
Its website carried photos of young women with, er, prominent credentials, who were named as the company’s forecasters, and who appeared in news reports issuing its predictions. But a picture search revealed that these were remarkably busy people. One of them was also employed, under a variety of other names, as a mail order bride, a hot Russian date and a hot Ukrainian date. Another offered her services as an egg donor, a hot date, a sublet property broker in Sweden, a lawyer, an expert on snoring, eyebrow threading, safe sex, green cleaning products, spanking and air purification.
Their pictures, and those of two other forecasters employed by PWS, in other words, were generic shots, used to promote a wide variety of products and services.
When designing edible gardens, a site-specific problem will often crop up. One of the most enjoyable aspects of permaculture design for us is devising site-specific solutions to those problems. In this short series we give four examples, all bona fide VEG originals, with a new one each month for the next four months.
Part One – the Chook/Fox Filter
The Site-Specific Design Problem
In 2005 Dan from VEG lived in a Melbourne sharehouse with abundant veggie gardens, a woodrow-style chook tractor and several chooks, as shown below. Another chook tractor is shown in the next photo to give a better idea of what the thing looked like — a lightweight moveable bottomless chook pen.
Paul Taylor, the main teacher of our ‘How to Make Your Own Natural Fertilizer’ biological soil science course, is the managing director of Trust Nature Pty Ltd. Paul has been working as a recognized educator and sustainable design consultant for the past 30 years. Paul has Australian Federal Government FarmReady approval as an educator, is a recognized Permaculture Teacher and organic soil management specialist and has completed his Certificate IV in Education, Training and Assessment, qualifying him as an educator under the Australian Federal Government VET (Vocational Education and Training) guidelines. Paul has worked extensively as a consultant and educator in Australia, India, the Middle East and the U.S.A.
A swale dry rock wall built by WWOOFers and revamping some garden beds.
To further improve our kitchen garden swales, we have rock-walled a number of them. This stops erosion of the garden beds, since soil falls or is washed down into the swales. It also creates a beautiful frog and lizard habitat, and levels the garden bed, instead of having it on a slope.
By using the combined resources of WWOOFers and our creek rock, and PDC student Andrew’s experience in rock walling (he showed the WWOOFers how to build the dry rock wall), the swale rock wall took only three days to build. This included getting rock from our creek bed, sorting the rock and laying it. It has made the garden bed more functional and more productive, and as we build the soil and raise the garden beds we can add more rocks to the rock wall to keep all the beautiful soil where it belongs — in the garden bed.
A stray dog stands on a rubbish dump at the seafront
in Sidon, southern Lebanon.
Yes, everything you know about economics is wrong. Dead wrong. Everything. The conclusions of economists are based on a fiction that distorts everything else. As a result economics is as real as one of the summer blockbusters like “Battleship,” “The Avenger” or “Prometheus.”
The difference is that the economic profession is a genuine threat, not entertainment. Economics dogma is on track to destroy the world with a misleading ideology.
Why? Because all economics is based on the absurd Myth of Perpetual Growth. Yes, all theories and business plans based on growth are mythological.
It turns out that very few of those that do a PDC end up being consultants. It took me a while to actually become a paid consultant and I’ve only been doing it for a little while. I took so long to become one as I truly thought everyone who’d done a PDC would become a consultant and that I would just end up being ‘another consultant’. Wow, was I wrong! Of course, not everyone has to be one, many of us have other interests to pursue, but there are lots of us who do want to be consultants, but become defeated by things like a lack of knowledge, experience, confidence and other obligations (family, secure job, etc.).
What I decided to do for you my friend was to set myself up as an example of what is possible. So at the age of 33, with second child in wife’s belly, I decided to take the plunge and become a full time consultant. We had little money — nothing that would help establish a business. I did, well, jump into it head first. This could be bad advice as I am not into ruining lives! Well, maybe a little bit and for the best, wink wink.
Take a fish’s eye view of the world. It’s both beautiful and fascinating. You’ll be peering under the waves to look at the least understood part of our world, the ocean and its hidden mysteries. In this video, you’re looking at the basis of your own existence….
Most of us are by now wholly cognizant of the fact that the global response to long-brewing trouble has been well short of timely or appropriate. The world as a whole, if I were to be brutally honest, is taking three steps backwards for every few inches it moves forwards. Wonderful moves towards sustainability are daily dwarfed by industrial and individualistic efforts in the opposite direction. There are, indeed, wondrous examples and tantalisingly positive suggestions and ambitions shining like little beacons of hope from various quarters worldwide, but most of the world’s population experience these as mere pleasant, but out of reach, distractions from their daily quest to survive. Whether it’s ‘survival’ in the very real sense, scratching for food, water and firewood, or in the modernist sense of retaining some degree of sanity after too many hours at an unsatisfying and unnatural job (that’s only endured due to previous purchases ‘the system’ has pressured us into), either way there are too few people either willing or able to venture out of their very real personal worlds to run with concepts far removed from their daily lives.
In the permaculture camp, however, a great deal of positive work is being trialled and actioned, often independently, and, as such, painfully unnoticed.
Getting it noticed is a central part of the PRI’s work….
I thought you might be interested in this short news segment which recently aired nationally on the ‘America Now’ news network in the USA, featuring yours truly:
Check out the lengthy disclaimer given by the TV hosts at the end of the segment (morbidly fascinating), though I especially like the permaculture plugs given by the reporter "look up your local permaculturist in the White Pages" and "or with a quick Google search, you can join the global Permablitz movement"….
Permaculture goin’ mainstream, one small news story at a time.
Since I have your attention, if you’re looking to take a PDC on Oahu’s North Shore this August, be sure to check out our upcoming course! (July 30 — August 12, 2012.)
Curious what goes on at the PRI Zaytuna Farm? If you live close to the farm, or are passing by, you're welcome to book yourself on a farm tour (Wednesdays at 11am only). Contact the farm manager and we'll see you soon.
We will take a minimum of 3 people at $35 p/p (groups of less than 3 adults are $50 p/p). Large groups please call to discuss pricing (at least 48 hours prior required).