Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Peak Oil, Population, Society.

Society needs to realize growth does not equal prosperity.

The word that sticks in the craw of many who cogitate over economics is growth. The condition that the word refers to has proven disturbingly problematic in recent years, especially as the world’s population continues to expand exponentially and the global ecology suffers in response. In fact, Thomas Carlyle (1795 – 1881) called economics “the dismal science” in direct reference to the work of the Rev. Thomas Malthus, because the Malthusian conclusions were so unappetizing — that sooner or later rising human populations would outstrip the world’s capacity to provide for them.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Energy Systems, Waste Systems & Recycling.

UK government starts mining agricultural wastes for renewable energy as municipal and household wastes are becoming scarce.

by Dr Mae Wan Ho

On Farm Anaerobic Digestion Fund

The UK government has set up the On Farm Anaerobic Digestion Fund to help farmers in England install small scale anaerobic digesters on site [1, 2].

The scheme, formally launched 12 October 2013 by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Secretary Owen Paterson, allocates £3 million for farmers to apply for loans up to £400 000 to help finance anaerobic digestion (AD) plants on farm, or for a grant of up to £10 000 initially to investigate the environmental and economic potential of AD to deal with the farm wastes.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Food Forests.

A food forest is a lovely and interesting place to visit. Unfortunately, visitors only ever see the food forest as it is on that particular day when they visit. For example, if a person came to the food forest today, they would see lots of ripe citrus, some large unripe almonds and swelling apricots. However, things would be quite different if their visit was a month later. This is because it is still early days in the growing season! There are lots of plums, pears, apples, nectarines and peaches amongst other species, but the fruit is only tiny at this stage of the season. Other trees like chestnuts and walnuts have only just broken their dormancy and are yet to even flower.

It occurred to me that it is hard for visitors to see the growth and effects of the climate here on the food forest over a period of time.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.

It hasn’t been a good week for Monsanto and the rest of the biotech industry.

Just three days ago, Mexico banned genetically engineered corn. Citing the risk of imminent harm to the environment, a Mexican judge ruled that, effective immediately, no genetically engineered corn can be planted in the country. This means that companies like Monsanto will no longer be allowed to plant or sell their corn within the country’s borders.

At the same time, the County Council for the island of Kauai passed a law that mandates farms to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops. The bill also requires a 500-foot buffer zone near medical facilities, schools and homes — among other locations.

And the big island of Hawaii County Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that prohibits open air cultivation, propagation, development or testing of genetically engineered crops or plants. The bill, which still needs further confirmation to become law, would also prohibit biotech companies from operating on the Big Island.

But perhaps the biggest bombshell of all is now unfolding in Washington state. The mail-in ballot state’s voters are already weighing in on Initiative 522, which would mandate the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Knowing full well that 93 percent of the American public supports GMO labeling, and that if one state passes it, many others are likely to follow, entrenched agribusiness interests are pulling out all the stops to try to squelch yet another state labeling effort.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Trees.

In 1973, Lyall Watson, a South African botanist, claimed that plants had emotions that could be recorded on a lie detector test. His research was fiercely dismissed by many in the scientific community. Recently, researchers at The University of Western Australia relaunched the debate by revealing that plants not only respond to sound, but that they also communicate to each other by making "clicking" sounds. (The article was published in the journal Trends in Plant Science.)

There is a silent and oftentimes invisible plant intelligence. We now know that cabbage plants emit methyl jasmonate gas when their surfaces are cut or pierced to warn their neighbors of danger such as caterpillars or other predators (aka hungry humans). Studies also found that when the volatile gas was emitted, the surrounding cabbage plants appeared to receive the urgent message and immediately released toxic chemicals on their leaves to ward off potential predators. Similar studies gave similar results with many other plants (many of them are presented in the video at top).

Read more »

Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.

A group of 93 scientists from all over the world deplore the disinformation over the safety of GMOs and expose the lack of empirical and scientific evidence on which the false claims of “consensus” on safety are being made.

Sign the statement "No consensus on GMO safety"

Find the List of Signatories Here (PDF)

The full statement is reproduced below.

As scientists, physicians, academics, and experts from disciplines relevant to the scientific, legal, social and safety assessment aspects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) [1], we strongly reject claims by GM seed developers and some scientists, commentators, and journalists that there is a “scientific consensus” on GMO safety[2] [3] [4] and that the debate on this topic is “over”[5].

We feel compelled to issue this statement because the claimed consensus on GMO safety does not exist. The claim that it does exist is misleading and misrepresents the currently available scientific evidence and the broad diversity of opinion among scientists on this issue. Moreover, the claim encourages a climate of complacency that could lead to a lack of regulatory and scientific rigour and appropriate caution, potentially endangering the health of humans, animals, and the environment.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Community Projects, Eco-Villages, Networking Sites, Peak Oil, People Systems, Presentations/Demonstrations, Society, Village Development.

Rob Hopkins, instigator of the Transition Towns movement, is on tour in the U.S. This video is a 90 minute presentation that was given in Oakland, California, on October 10th, 2013. If you’re U.S.-based, and want to get involved in helping to start a Transiation Town, head here to find out more. There’s no time like the present….

Posted by & filed under Desertification, Food Plants - Annual, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.


Quinoa

This year’s very dry autumn, winter and spring in Lesotho is ringing alarm bells throughout the country. The capital city, Maseru, is down to a very limited supply of potable water. There is no significant rainfall forecast until the summer season, December / February. Last year’s grain crop was slightly better than the two previous years. This improved situation still left 40% of the population, some 725,000, reliant on food aid. And, a series of very low grain crop yields over previous years is having a very severe effect on the population’s future food supply.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Deforestation, Society.

Why do conservation groups help to keep our wildlife in a state of extreme depletion?

by George Monbiot

I returned from the meetings filled with amazement, and the stirrings of a hope which has been all too rare in recent years. First, at the launch of Rewilding Europe’s Wildlife Comeback report three weeks ago, I heard about the remarkably rapid spread of large wild animals back into places which lost them long ago(1).

Then, at the World Wilderness Congress ten days ago, I heard how people and nations with very few resources, under almost impossible circumstances, were protecting or reintroducing “difficult” wild animals, species which are most controversial and which require the largest habitats(2).

Amid the hope and wonder, what hit me hardest was this: while in Britain we applaud the courage of people in poorer nations and celebrate their successes, while we send money abroad to conserve large wild animals and, rightly, become upset if people start killing them, we seem determined not to participate. Protecting species towards the top of the food chain, with all the difficulties that can involve, is something other people should do: we would rather stand back and watch.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under General.

Major PDC at Fuzhou, mainland China, marks an important step for permaculture making inroads into China.

by Robyn Francis

Fuzhou, a city near the coast of southern China, has seen a flurry of a decade or so of rapid development. It is evident in the glass and concrete forests of tower blocks — many newly completed and still uninhabited and many more under construction. I’m driven through the city to the rural fringe where I’m teaching a PDC (Permaculture Design Course) in a small village on the edge of the metropolis.

Read more »