Nothing will change until we confront the real sources of power.
by George Monbiot
It’s the reason for the collapse of democratic choice. It’s the source of our growing disillusionment with politics. It’s the great unmentionable. Corporate power. The media will scarcely whisper its name. It is howlingly absent from parliamentary debates. Until we name it and confront it, politics is a waste of time.
The political role of corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they belong on the inside. They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or opposition, as their interests have now been woven into the fabric of all three main parties.
Most of the scandals that leave people in despair about politics arise from this source. On Monday, for example, the Guardian revealed that the government’s subsidy system for gas-burning power stations is being designed by an executive from the company ESB, who has been seconded into the energy department(1). What does ESB do? Oh, it builds gas-burning power stations.
Read more »
by David Holmgren
Land design and management informed by permaculture principles tends to regard naturalized species of plants as assets that should be managed to stabilize water and soil, build biomass, fix nutrients, ameliorate microclimate and provide habitat, fodder, fuel and food in the early stages of system development. While naturalized species may be given a lower value in permaculture design than species regarded as indigenous to the site and region, the typical designation of naturalized species as ‘invasive species’ or ‘environmental weeds’ is typically rejected as anti-ecological thinking. The background and basis for this positive view of naturalized plants is not well understood, and has led to strong and persistent criticism of permaculture by those promoting the orthodox view of naturalized species as invasives. This has itself influenced the practices and teaching of many permaculturists to moderate or compromise the permaculture approach to naturalized species. Consequently the ‘weeds or wild nature’ controversy is alive and well within the permaculture movement.
As one of the co-originators of the permaculture concept I am in a position to provide a unique perspective on the evolution of this debate and its connection to wider debate on this issue in conservation and land management networks. Inevitably this story is partly an historical and personal one rather than a review of scientific literature on the subject.
Read more »
by Tom Kendall, PRI Maungaraeeda
Tom Kendall talks about water management at the Permaculture Research Institute Maungaraeeda, Sunshine Coast, and answers water management related questions.
Time to move on from redefining the problems and concentrate on solutions already seeded on the ground.
by Prof Roger Leakey (lead author of a UN funded, 3-year, 400-scientist strong IAASTD report that showed that the globalised agricultural model is not working, and showing how returning to diverse, small-scale, localised agricultural systems can feed a growing population and mitigate climate change and other vulnerabilities).
Redefining problems without solutions
A multifunctional agricultural landscape
In Global Development Goals – Leaving No-one Behind , the United Nations Association of the United Kingdom (UNA-UK) presents a collection of articles by eminent people in important positions around the globe. Although this report identifies progress towards some Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it recognizes that success has been uneven. The principle achievement of the MDGs has been “shaping the international discourse and driving the allocation of resources towards key global development goals … with unprecedented political commitment and a strong consensus for tackling poverty and other development problems.” The report itself, however, makes rather depressing reading as it seems we are not really making huge progress in our efforts to address the big issues facing the world, especially with regard to the gap between rich and poor. Instead of identifying solutions, this booklet redefines the problems and we go from eight Millennium Development Goals to twelve Post-2015 Development Goals. It seems we still haven’t learnt that hunger, malnutrition, poverty and many of the other things on our ‘to-do wish list” are part of a bigger and inter-related complex of issues. Why?
Read more »
by James Alexander Arnfinsen
Our society is drunk, it is intoxicated on pursuing novelty, it is pursuing novelty at all costs, even at the cost of civilization itself. — Nikos Salingaros, from the interview
In this episode I have the delight of connecting with Nikos Salingaros, who is a Professor in Mathematics, an Urbanist and Architectural Theorist. He is originally from Greece, but lives now in San Antonio, USA. Nikos Salingaros has for many years collaborated with Christopher Alexander and in our conversation we explore what it takes to create buildings and environments that sustain life and which resonate with our most basic human needs. Why is it that so much of what has been built for the last 100 years seem to go against what we have consciously and unconsciously learned throughout our human history (not to mention our almost 2 million years of evolution!). How come we still create urban landscapes that are stress inducing? Why is it that most towns in the world will have numerous examples of buildings that are physically and emotionally unpleasant? Which factors have played a part in the erection of so many self referential buildings? (meaning buildings that don´t connect in appropriate ways to their surroundings or users). Given all these questions, what can we do to reclaim some of the sanity that was typically found in the more traditional ways of creating buildings and artifacts? How can we rediscover the wisdom that is embedded in marvelous buildings such as the Hagia Sophia or Taj Mahal, but doing so without copying the actual buildings themselves? This is precisely what Salingaros and Alexander have been working on and in the interview he explains some of the essential geometrical, mathematical and human factors that support the creation of wholesome buildings and environments.
Click on the play button below to listen to the interview:
Interview with Nikos Salingaros
This is Ms Poubelle Provocateur, the erotic disgrace of the human race. The glamour Goddess of Landfill. A psychedelic fragment of my alter ego. Sauntering, sexy, inviting, sassy, trashy, eternal ethereal pin-up, made of abandoned pieces and elements. She is my one woman waste protest, unified with the essence of rubbish, displaying the nightmare we create on lovely planet earth every day.
Read more »
Twenty years ago, Stefan Sobkowiak bought a commercial apple orchard with the intention of converting it to an organic orchard. He did just that, but eventually understood the limitations of the organic model originating from monoculture. He then decided to tear out most of the trees and replant in a way that would maximize biodiversity and yield while minimizing maintenance. Inspired by permaculture principles, the orchard now counts over 100 cultivars of apples, plus several types of plums, pears, cherries, and countless other fruits and vegetables.
Editor’s Note: This is a press release update to this recent post.
Developer of first commercialised GM food says debate isn’t over.
The number of scientists, physicians and legal experts who have signed the group statement, “No scientific consensus on GMO safety” has climbed to 230 in just over a week – and it’s still growing.
The number of initial signatories stood at almost 100 on the day the statement was released, 21 October. It has more than doubled since.
A recent signatory is Dr Belinda Martineau, former member of the Michelmore Lab at the UC Davis Genome Center, University of California, who helped commercialise the world’s first GM whole food, the Flavr Savr tomato. Dr Martineau said:
I wholeheartedly support this thorough, thoughtful and professional statement describing the lack of scientific consensus on the safety of genetically engineered (GM/GE) crops and other GM/GE organisms (also referred to as GMOs). Society’s debate over how best to utilize the powerful technology of genetic engineering is clearly not over. For its supporters to assume it is, is little more than wishful thinking.
Read more »
It all began with my visit to Australia last September and visiting Crystal Waters eco-village and then streaming through many videos and articles on permaculture put out by permaculturenews.org. Those videos and the articles inspired me to visit the Panya Project and do a course in December 2012 and a PDC in May 2013.
It further inspired me to visit many permaculture sites before I returned to Bangalore, India where I live.
Read more »
by Daniel Halsey
The database is working very well and I encourage all permaculture designers to try it out. Especially the spreadsheet download. Let me know if you would like free access for a time to try it out.
The Natural Capital™ Plant Database is a repository of plant information for ecological design. Our partner designers have combined the best sources of plant research and documentation in order to provide the highest integrity for a wide variety of users. Whether you are a first-time gardener or an experienced permaculture designer, we hope you find the information you need to take your knowledge of plants and ecological systems to the next level. We use citations from multiple sources and provide detail on plant characteristics, tolerances and behaviors, ecological functions, human uses, concerns, and plant associates.
Read more »