Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Worldwide, a trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute.

The amount of energy required to make 12 plastic shopping bags could drive a car for a mile.

City, state, and national governments around the world are trying to limit plastic bag litter and waste with bans and fees.

The oldest existing plastic bag tax is in Denmark, passed in 1993. Danes use very few light-weight single-use plastic bags: about 4 per person each year.

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, GMOs, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world. They’ve been linked to the decline of honeybees. But scientists now say they also harm many terrestrial, aquatic, and marine invertebrates. They damage sea urchin DNA, suppress the immune systems of crabs, and affect the tunneling and reproductive behavior of earthworms. They kill off the insects that many birds, amphibians, and reptiles rely on for food. According to Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society, through the widespread use of these pesticides "we are killing the underpinning of the food chain." In human blood studies, neonicotinoids are linked to DNA damage and cell mutation.

Neonicotinoids command 30% of the global insecticide market with sales of over $2.6 billion in 2009. Manufacturers argue that their pest-fighting power is indispensable to agriculture. They were introduced in the 1990s to replace more damaging insecticides. They are systemic and absorbed by the plant, making all parts of the plant — including nectar and pollen — toxic to pests.

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Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Water Conservation, Water Harvesting.

In February 2011 I took over the farm, ‘Tiger Hill’, in Tasmania, Australia. The planets aligned at that time in my life as I had a deep desire to find a property that I could develop to get all of my experience and ideas toward Permaculture on the ground and create my long term vision of an educational community and demonstration site based on Permaculture design.

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Posted by & filed under GMOs.

Researchers have created conventionally bred varieties tolerant to drought and low nitrogen soils that can reduce poverty in 13 African countries by up to 9 %, far outperforming anything that genetic modification has achieved.

by Prof Peter Saunders

A fully referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members website and is otherwise available for download here.

In the debate about genetically modified (GM) crops, the argument that the biotech industry and their supporters always fall back on is that whether we like it or not, we are going to need them to feed the world. Genetic modification has, they assure us, the potential to produce crops with all sorts of wonderful traits: tolerance of drought, cold, salinity and flooding, resistance to insect pests, extra nutritional value, and more.

But for the last 20 years, GM has singularly failed to convert that potential into reality. Almost all the GM crops grown have been modified to have one of two traits: tolerance of glyphosate-based herbicides and the ability to produce a Bt-toxin that can kill corn and cotton pests. In the meantime, conventional breeding, often employing modern techniques such as marker-assisted breeding, has continued to deliver the goods.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Society.

Competition and individualism are forcing us into a devastating Age of Loneliness.

What do we call this time? It’s not the information age: the collapse of popular education movements left a void now filled by marketing and conspiracy theories(1). Like the stone age, iron age and space age, the digital age says plenty about our artefacts but little about society. The anthropocene, in which humans exert a major impact on the biosphere, fails to distinguish this century from the previous twenty. What clear social change marks out our time from those that precede it? To me it’s obvious. This is the Age of Loneliness.

When Thomas Hobbes claimed that in the state of nature, before authority arose to keep us in check, we were engaged in a war “of every man against every man”(2), he could not have been more wrong. We were social creatures from the start, mammalian bees, who depended entirely on each other. The hominims of East Africa could not have survived one night alone. We are shaped, to a greater extent than almost any other species, by contact with others. The age we are entering, in which we exist apart, is unlike any that has gone before.

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Posted by & filed under Comedy Break, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Society.

The Lorax, published in video form on our site here, is a much-loved children’s tale by Dr. Seuss — one with a strong environmental message (the original book version was banned in some schools and libraries in the US due to pressure by the forestry lobbies). Now, above, you can watch an updated version, where, I’m very sorry to say, you’ll discover that the Lorax, who formerly spoke for the trees, has now sold out to commercial interests….

Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Compost, Soil Rehabilitation, Waste Systems & Recycling, Water Conservation.


Photo: Ingrid Pullen

Splendour in the Grass is a music, arts and culture festival held near Byron Bay in Northern New South Wales, Australia. It is a 3-day event attended by more than 30,000 people (on an area of 256 ha., or 660 acres — partly adjacent to a large nature reserve) and it is considered the country’s largest winter music festival. The festival has won many awards for its environmental policies, and the management continues to work with permaculture principles to keep improving and implementing the best policies they can achieve.

This year, after six wheelie bin dry compost toilets were previously trialed and complimented for their functions as “low-odour” and “waterless”, approval was granted to install hundreds more. The festival organisers commissioned 258 of them, designed and built from re-purposed shipping containers. As re-locatable dry compost toilet blocks they are an infinitely more sustainable solution than the typical ‘porta-loo’, and resolve some issues that outdoor venues face, including a significant reduction in waste-water truck movements and the transportation of hundreds of port-a-loos and showers to and from the site. This created a dramatic reduction in waste being sent to the Byron Shire Council’s sewerage treatment plant.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

I first met Paul ‘Ringo’ Kean sometime during the early portion of 2009 while staying at Zaytuna Farm. That year, we had the good fortune of being given the opportunity to take a number of courses being offered with both Geoff Lawton and Paul Taylor as instructors.

From my time becoming acquainted with Ringo – and in particular, his professional background working as an earthmover in the mining industry – I could immediately recognize that he had a very unique and valuable skill set to put to use as a permaculture designer and field operator. Earthworks as applied within the confines of permaculture as a practical pursuit is one of the topics most people who have taken a design course find most challenging – both large and small scale. There is certainly a technical aspect of this specific facet of the design system many people are uncomfortable with or (at the very least) aren’t terribly confident in implementing. One would think any chance given to develop improved hands-on understanding of how to more effectively utilize earthmoving technologies – and potential work capacity they represent – would be very welcome.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

We will be running a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course between December 22nd to January 5th, 2015!

This 15-Day intensive course follows the standard accredited 72-hour course and will include several hands-on sessions including making Bio-vital compost, bio fertilizer, actively aerated compost tea, vegetable beds and organic gardening, land surveying, natural building and much more!

This course is in English only — there will be no translation.

The course will be hosted in an organic olive farm in the foothills of the gorgeous Ourika valley, 25km south of Marrakesh, right on the way to historical and scenic destinations such as the Siti Fatma waterfall, Lake Lalla Takerkoust, the Oukaimeden ski resort, the ancient Berber village of Tinmel and the Toubkal national park.

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Posted by & filed under Aquaculture, Biological Cleaning, Fish, Plant Systems.


Lake Taihu algal bloom (Credit: LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Lake Taihu experienced its worst ever algal bloom at the height of summer, pushing researchers to search for new solutions. They decided to try a new technology, Aqua Biofilter, that is designed to remove nutrients that fuel algal blooms. An ambitious aspect of the project was to launch the world’s largest aquaponics system, over 4 acres in size, using new technologies in combination with old world bamboo that is used in traditional Chinese building. Experiments growing rice on fish ponds provided a foundation for scaling up to lakes and larger water bodies for earth and water repair.

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Posted by & filed under General.

What happens when Louis Schwartzberg and Morgan Freeman collaborate? A poetic message filled with hope and optimism.

Presented to world leaders at the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit in New York, this short film shows that the world we believe in is possible. We already have the appropriate technology to harness nature sustainably. Thanks to permaculture (and all the seers who helped shape it), we constantly learn how to regenerate land, work more harmoniously with nature while benefiting from a fertile planet.

It is all happening here and now! Let’s feed this positive attitude towards life!

Posted by & filed under GMOs.

85 % US export market to China destroyed as domestic prices for corn dropped 11 cents per bushel.

by Dr Mae-Wan Ho

US corn prices plummeted as China rejected all shipments containing traces of Syngenta’s MIR162. Farmers from 5 major corn growing states have filed 3 class action lawsuits against Syngenta, claiming damages of more than $1 billion [1, 2].

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