Posted by & filed under Global Warming/Climate Change.

The environment is being trashed because of a failure to reform campaign finance.

by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” These words, from WB Yeats’s poem The Second Coming, came to mind as I read the testimony from Wednesday’s Senate hearings on climate change.

They’re not a precise description of what took place, as the two most eminent climate scientists who testified before the environment and public works committee, Christopher Field and James McCarthy, were not lacking in conviction. But they were, as scientists should be, careful and meticulous, laying out their evidence calmly and sequentially, saying nothing that was not supported by the data.

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Posted by & filed under Energy Systems.

Welcome back to my Step by Step permaculture process.

We have been studying the uses of passive solar space heating around the house; now it’s time for solar water heating.

Solar water heating can be as simple as filling a transparent PET bottle with water and leaving it in sunlight, nevertheless, efficiency and high output both come as a result of precise engineering and attention to detail.

Before making a decision to change from your electric or gas system to solar, you must learn a few things to dismiss the myths and learn the reality about solar water heating.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, GMOs, Health & Disease.

Are genetically modified (GM) foods making you sick – I mean really sick? Up until recently, all that we could say was thank goodness you’re not a lab rat; GM feed messes them up big time. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) appear to trigger the immune systems of both mice and rats as if they were under attack. In addition, the gastrointestinal system is adversely affected, animals age more quickly, and vital organs are damaged. When fed GM foods, lab animals can also become infertile, have smaller or sterile offspring, increased infant mortality, and even hair growing in their mouths. Have I got your attention?

Biotechnology corporations such as Monsanto try to distort or deny the evidence, sometimes pointing to their own studies that supposedly show no reactions. But when scientists such as French toxicologist G.E. Seralini re-analyzed Monsanto’s raw data, it actually showed that the rats fed GM corn suffered from clear signs of toxicity – evidence that industry scientists skillfully overlooked.

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Posted by & filed under Peak Oil, Presentations/Demonstrations.

Richard Heinberg, one of the world’s foremost peak oil educators, is finally making a much anticipated speaking tour of Australia in September this year (2012). See the speaking schedule further down this post to find a location near you.

Heinberg is a Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute and renowned author of ten books dealing with declining resources, with particular focus on oil, the latest one being ‘The End of Growth’.

This video introduces you to Heinberg’s concepts, as he discusses The End of Growth.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Project Positions, Society, Village Development.

The Annapurna Range from the beautiful Pokhara Valley,
the future site of MVEF

For two months in late 2010 I had the pleasure of volunteering with the Sustainable Agriculture Development Program of Nepal (SADP). Situated in an ‘off the beaten track’ valley of Central Nepal, the demonstration farm is surrounded by unreal beauty, including the very prominent Manaslu Massif (group of Himalayan mountains) of the main Himalayan Range, alongside another range visible from the Valley which marks the border of Nepal and Tibet. Many late afternoons were spent watching these Himalayan ranges turn from brilliant white, to orange to vibrant pink as the sun set – something that should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’. The terraced fields found throughout Asia flank the floor and sides of the valley, and the tops of the valley are largely forested – a source of timber for the community and invaluable habitat for illusive animals that call it home — leopards and possibly the odd tiger included (but that’s a story for another time).

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Posted by & filed under Deforestation, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

by Lester R. Brown , Earth Policy Institute

Protecting the 10 billion acres of remaining forests on earth and replanting many of those already lost are both essential for restoring the earth’s health. Since 2000, the earth’s forest cover has shrunk by 13 million acres each year, with annual losses of 32 million acres far exceeding the regrowth of 19 million acres. Restoring the earth’s tree and grass cover protects soil from erosion, reduces flooding, and sequesters carbon.

Global deforestation is concentrated in the developing world. Tropical deforestation in Asia is driven primarily by the fast-growing demand for timber and increasingly by the expansion of oil palm plantations for fuel. In Latin America, the fast-growing markets for soybeans and beef are together squeezing the Amazon. In Africa, the culprit is mostly fuelwood gathering and land clearing for agriculture.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

Parliament House, Canberra

If we are going to effect change in Australia, then what better place to present it in than The ACT (Australian Capital Territory). On the doorstep of people who can effect broadscale change and policy.

The newly formed Permaculture Exchange Group, in Association with the Bredbo Community Land Care Group is calling for all interested ‘agents of change’ to sign up for Spring Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course. The Spring PDC, starting in September 2012, will be a good opportunity for all folk to find out more about permaculture and study in the Canberra region with a course specific to the Southern Tablelands.

For more information see the PRI courses page for more details and booking.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

What: 14-day intensive residential PDC course
Otamatea Eco-Village, Northland, New Zealand
1-15 March 2013
NZ$1,700 fully inclusive of tuition, food and camping (some other accommodation options are available).

The course will:

  • Cover sustainable living systems for a wide variety of landscapes and climates
  • Give you a good understanding of the ethics, principles and patterns of permaculture design
  • Convey a general understanding of a wide range of common strategies and techniques
  • Explore the implications of social change towards ecological sustainability
  • Assist each student to access resources required to actively take the course philosophy and methodology into their future life

Field trips to local permaculture and organic gardening sites are included.

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Posted by & filed under Building, Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Land, Peak Oil, Population, Retrofitting, Society, Village Development.

Introduction by Samuel Alexander of the Simplicity Institute: I’m pleased to announce that David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept, has just published a Simplicity Institute Report, entitled "Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future."

Sometimes well-meaning ‘green’ people like to imagine that the eco-cities of the future are going to look either like some techno-utopia — like the Jetsons’, perhaps, except environmentally friendly — or some agrarian village, where everyone is living in cob houses that they built themselves. The fact is, however, that over the next few critical decades, most people are going to find themselves in an urban environment that already exists — suburbia. In other words, the houses that already exist are, in most cases, going to be the very houses that ordinary people will be living in over the next few decades (in the developed regions of the world, at least). So while it is important to explore what role technology could play in building new houses in more resource and energy efficient ways, and while there is certainly a place for cob houses, etc., for those who have such alternatives as an option, the suburbs are still going to be here for the foreseeable future. We’re hardly going to knock them all down and start again. It is important to recognise this reality, and not get too carried away with eco fairy tales about some distant future (although there is still a place for such visions). Rather than dreaming of a radically new urban infrastructure, a more important and urgent task is to figure out how to make the best of the existing infrastructure — and that is precisely what David Holmgren does in his Simplicity Institute Report, entitled "Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future." David has been at the forefront of the environmental movement for several decades now, both in Australia and worldwide, and this essay is another example of how he constantly pushes at the edge of the sustainability debate. He is a penetrating thinker that deserves our most serious attention.

Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future

David Holmgren

(Simplicity Institute Report 12i, 2012)

1. Suburbia as Default Human Habitat

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Posted by & filed under Fermenting, Processing & Food Preservation, Recipes.

by Kirsten Bradley

Nadia Lawton, master labneh maker (amongst many, many other things)

Labneh is a very easy to make and tasty cheese made of strained yoghurt, that can be stored in a jar of olive oil on the shelf. Cheese meets yoghurt meets olive oil meets extended shelf life (without refrigeration). And darn yummy. I’m in!

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Society.

Why have the Year Zero policies of neoliberalism not been abandoned?

by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.

The model is dead; long live the model. Austerity programmes are extending the crises they were meant to solve, yet governments refuse to abandon them. The United Kingdom provides a powerful example. The cuts, the coalition promised, would hurt but work. They hurt all right – and have pushed us into a double dip recession(1).

This result was widely predicted. If you cut government spending and the income of the poor during an economic crisis, you are likely to make it worse. But last week David Cameron insisted that “we will go on and finish the job”(2), while the chancellor maintained that the government has a “credible plan, and we’re sticking to it.”(3)

Two questions arise. The first is familiar: why has the public response to this assault on public life and public welfare been so muted? Where are the massive and sustained protests we might have expected? But the other is just as puzzling: where is the economic elite?

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