Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Community Projects, Deforestation, Desertification, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

by Mugove Walter Nyika

I grew up with my grandparents in a village 200 km south of the capital Harare, in Zimbabwe. From an early age I learned from my Grandfather, who passed on when I was six, to plant trees, to collect seeds and seedlings and put them into the earth. There were many sacred sites, where it was a taboo to cut down any tree. When I fell asleep during the day, while accompanying my granny working on her land, she laid me under the shade of the trees, many of which bore fruits and were left standing on her cultivated land. When people were clearing land for farming, they always left the fruit trees standing even if they were in the middle of their gardens. When fencing their gardens they incorporated the existing trees into their fencing. The land was always covered, either with trees, grass, and leaf litter or with a large diversity of crops planted together.

My granny was a small-scale organic farmer, like most African women at that time. On her few acres of land many crop varieties grew: millet, maize, sweet potato, pumpkin, cucumber, cowpea, ground nut, round nut, fruits and all kinds of vegetables, many of which grew as weeds, such as cleome. She knew how to plant crops together such that they would support each other. I can’t remember ever being hungry as a child, and the same goes for my friends. We were also never sick from diseases of nutritional deficiency .

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Posted by & filed under Land, Urban Projects.

Photos by David Ashwanden

Readers requested more pictures to make it easier to understand the steps I took to create my terrace garden. Having scoured my photo collection for a more clarifying portrayal of what my terrace garden looked like, I can only find examples of another terrace garden, built on more or less the same principles but with a slightly different emphasis.

Below are the steps for how I made this one: you may note that they are very similar to the other. The only difference is that instead of starting from a high point and making a fence which is erected on a level below, you start from a low point (in this case the base of a tree) and build your ‘dam’ upwards.

With this additional information, I hope you will now feel adequately equipped to start making terraces.

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

Store room and NAB sign logo

Nadia and I have known Rosemary Bdeir and her daughter Hala now for more than 10 years. Our original connection was through an invitation to consult on their family properties. It was obvious to Nadia and I that they understand the ethics of permaculture and the need for permaculture design in the broader landscape and community.

We were asked to gives talks to a group of their lady friends as they were going through the process of forming Nour Al Barakah (NAB) which translates as “the shining light of giving”. NAB is an NGO registered with the Ministry of Social Development. Once they had formed their organization, we consulted and presented at their first community garden/demonstration site whenever we could in our visits to Jordan. It was a very difficult site with awkward access and heavy shade from high buildings, but they persisted and got their first successful result.

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Posted by & filed under Land, Plant Systems, Trees.

I think one reason monocrop agriculture has pervaded history is mental simplicity. It is a process that removes all possible variables. Beginning with eliminating all plant life, there are clearly defined steps. The whole procedure can be executed in less than a year, without a followup plan. The conventional crops can be applied more or less the same way, with the same equipment, almost anywhere there is dirt. If I crash landed on an uninhabited island, having never gardened, but with a basic understanding of the process, I could probably grow some food from seed. Till, sow, weed, water, pray. This would be far simpler, if riskier, than learning how to use the native food plants. The history of civilization is a history of colonists and refugees.

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Posted by & filed under Nuclear.

The UK Government weakened its bargaining position by dragging its feet on renewables, and is promising to pay for nuclear at exorbitant prices in projects that will not deliver.

by Prof Peter Saunders

Nuclear at all cost to taxpayer

When the UK government published the 2008 White Paper [1] announcing its intention to commission a new fleet of nuclear reactors, it portrayed nuclear power as an economical way of providing low-carbon electricity. We were highly sceptical of the figures on which this claim was based ([2] Nuclear Subsidies Largesse by other Names, SiS59) and the terms of the contract that has been agreed with Electricité de France (EDF) [3] confirm that the project will cost far more than was envisaged in the White Paper. Many of those who supported the decision on the basis of what they read in the White Paper are now having second thoughts.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Ethical Investment, Financial Management, Food Shortages, Society, Village Development.

Over the last few years, I have been formulating my opinion on how to approach investing and what do to with extra cash. And I can’t believe how many people have told me in the last few months that they are anticipating another huge market correction basically any time now. Mulling all of this over (and with the help of a good forest analogy) I’ve recently developed a few key principles that I believe will help to guide good investment strategy.

“How and where should I invest my money?” is a question that I get asked a lot… and underlying that question is often fear. In some ways, the subject of the fear is a giant elephant in the room. The elephant can be any number of things = impending economic collapse is usually the biggest elephant, but I would argue that he looks bigger than he is because he is standing on top of other elephants, such as collapse of the food system, peak oil, climate change and many more (in fact, there is a whole herd of elephants in the room).

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Posted by & filed under Education, Society.

Members of any society must know a great many things in common…. Whether they know them can make a fatal difference. The future of the world may depend on how many do. — Mark Van Doren, Liberal Education (1)

The evidence that our dysfunctional relationship with the earth is surpassing tolerable limits is increasingly becoming manifest through such things as climate change, pollution, resource depletion, biodiversity loss, desertification, water scarcity, and so on — the list is as inexhaustible as it is alarming. What is perhaps even more unnerving is the eeriness with which humanity is going about business as usual, the lack of honest dialogue about our ecological crises, and the utter disregard for the future health and welfare of the planet and her inhabitants. Our current educational system is doing little to prepare us for the world of tomorrow, and in fact, is greatly responsible for creating and compounding this sorry state of affairs. That said, it is my belief that it is only through education that humanity can make her last stand. My argument is two-fold: firstly, that our current educational model is playing a critical role in damaging the biosphere, and secondly, given the ecological Armageddon that we are faced with, it has become imperative to integrate environmental education into our educational institutes.

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

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

Massive radioactive leaks continue from the badly damaged structures as the dangerous operation of moving spent fuel rods begins, and still greater challenges of decommissioning the meltdown reactors yet to come. International help is urgently needed to stem the ongoing release of deadly radioactive isotopes and remediate the badly contaminated environment.

by Dr Mae Wan Ho

TEPCO’s risky operation goes ahead amid calls for international oversight

In a desperate attempt to cope with the continuing crisis since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) began the risky and complex operation of moving more than 1 300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged storage pool towards the end of November 2013 [1] amid stern warnings that it should not tackle the task unaided. The Unit 4 pool is precariously perched on top of a tilting, sinking building that could come crashing down in the next earthquake or all by itself [2]. Harvey Wasserman, American journalist, author, democracy activist, and advocate for renewable energy, delivered a petition with more than 150000 signatures to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calling for the world to take charge of the operation [3], in vain. Independent researchers have pointed to a litany of possible mishaps. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself has sought foreign assistance [4], and a draft proposal by a panel of Japan’s ruling party said that TEPCO should not be in charge of the Fukushima shutdown [5]. In the end, the Japanese government passed a State Secrets Act to impose a news embargo on reports of the continuing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant [6].

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Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

This is an extended version of the interview which first appeared in Dziennik Opinii in Polish.

Peter Emerson is the director of the de Borda Institute in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is a leading authority on voting systems for use in both decision-making and elections.

Marcin Gerwin (Poland): There are many divisions and even hostility in the Polish parliament. The ruling coalition currently has 232 votes in a parliament with 460 seats. This slight majority allows them to run all the ministries, and they can pass almost any bill they want. Do you think that creating an all-inclusive government, where all parties have their representatives, could help to tone down the atmosphere and create a more cooperative environment?

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Posted by & filed under Economics, Food Shortages, Peak Oil, Society.

Continuing from Part I.

Almost all conflicts that take place in the Middle East are motivated by the need to secure oil interests, among others. However, oil has so many other roles to play in this ugly story.

Winter was never harder in Syria. The unprecedented cold wave is adding a lot to the suffering of people, especially the displaced. Massive efforts are being made by international donors, local NGOs and volunteers to provide winter items to people in need, such as blankets and warm clothes, however the need remains massive. In my opinion, the pre-war situation helped in creating this vulnerability.

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