Posted by & filed under General, Society, Village Development.

Sharing is the path to a greener, more peaceful world.

by Ruth Wilson

Human decisions and human activities are imposing enormous costs on the life-support systems of planet Earth. Left unchecked, the results will be catastrophic for all living things, including humans. Some of the damage to life and the systems that support life is irreversible. Fortunately, the message is out there to “save the environment.”

What may be equally important is a message about the need to save ourselves from repeating the kind of decisions and actions that brought us to the environmental crisis in the first place. In the framing of this message, we might critique a theory proposed by Garrett Hardin in an essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons.”

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Compost, Fungi, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Rehabilitation.

This short article is a chapter from my book “Fertilizer for Free: How to make the most from Biological Nitrogen Fixation”.

One important question permaculture designers should ask themselves:

Is there anything you can do to increase the rate of biological nitrogen fixation?

The benefits of having more nitrogen rich organic matter in the soil are myriad. Starting with:

  • higher general productivity
  • richer and more diverse soil life
  • more available phosphorus
  • higher availability of various other nutrients
  • higher capacity to hold nutrients

Fortunately there’s actually quite a lot you can do to make sure your plants are growing the fastest and they fix the most nitrogen! Here are nine methods you can use in your permaculture design to make sure your nitrogen-fixing plants are giving you and the whole ecosystem more benefits.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Health & Disease, Nuclear.

All 23 districts of Tokyo contaminated with radiation, worse than at Chernobyl after the accident, and blood cells of children under ten are showing worrying changes; the WHO, the IAEA & the Japanese government cannot be trusted.

by Susie Greaves

In July 2014 Dr Shigeru Mita wrote a letter to his fellow doctors to explain his decision to move his practice from Tokyo to Okayama city in the West of Japan [1]. In it, he appeals to their sense of duty to answer the anxieties of parents in Japan who do not believe the information coming from the authorities. He says “I must state that the policies of the WHO, the IAEA or the Japanese government cannot be trusted.” and “if the power to save our citizens and future generations exists somewhere, it does not lie within the government or any academic association, but in the hands of individual clinical doctors ourselves.”

Mita claims that all 23 districts of Tokyo are contaminated, with the eastern area worst affected — up to 4 000 Bq/kg. (The becquerel is a unit of radioactivity. One Bq is the activity of a quantity of radioactive material in which one nucleus decays per second.) These findings confirm what the nuclear physicist Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Nuclear Education found in 2012, when he picked up five random soil samples in Tokyo from between paving stones, in parks and playgrounds. The levels of contamination were up to 7 000 Bq/kg; in the US, anything registering these levels would be considered nuclear waste [2].

While practising in Tokyo, Mita also discovered changes in the white blood cells of children under 10.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Society, Urban Projects, Village Development.

Marcin Gerwin: You used to work as an architect for a large company. How did you come to be involved in permaculture?

Mark Lakeman: I was working for a large firm in 1988 and I wasn’t exposed to permaculture while working in a corporate career, which was very typical. But fortunately for me there was a day in my firm when there was a huge toxic waste cover-up that I learned about. It was very upsetting because there was a big toxic concentration on our site and government inspectors were being paid to bury the information, to not report it. It was the biggest architecture company in the city and the biggest contractor in the state of Oregon. Everybody was just laughing about how they were getting away with covering up this problem. I was so angry and upset that I quit that day. I yelled gently at my boss for something like three hours and just quit. Then I went travelling for about seven years.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Food Shortages, General, GMOs, Health & Disease.

Photo © Craig Mackintosh

People keep telling me that gardens and micro farms are cost inefficient and fail to feed society. Sometimes this information is delivered loudly and firmly with great emphasis on profit, and great personal attachment to the idea of its being true. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about how modern chemical agriculture feeds the world. This is to be expected because so few people are even beginning to understand the complexity of the relationships between bacteria, fungi, and plants that create living soil. Less than 1% of the organisms in living soil have been identified and named let alone given any study for us to begin to grasp their roles. This frontier is just opening up in science right now. The reason it wasn’t studied earlier was the myth that NPK — Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium — were all that was needed to grow plants. Modern agriculture is based entirely on this myth. You can grow plants that way for a number of years, so long as you can afford the fossil fuels to do it and you don’t mind the lack of nutrients in your food, however, there are two catches.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Insects.

African honey bee and workers

In 1978 something changed with honey bees in Colombia, South America. Beekeepers began to notice that their nice and well behaved European honey bees (Apis mellifera mellifera, Apis mellifera ligustica, Apis mellifera carnica and Apis mellifera caucasica and the combinations between these species) started to have terrible mood swings! They began to sting repeatedly, and swarming and absconding (abandoning the hive) phenomena were too common (1) (2).

How could that be possible? What happened with the bees? Did the bees get upset because people were taking care of them and using their honey, pollen and propolis?

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Consumerism, DVDs/Books, People Systems, Society.

Below is the foreword to Simple Living in History: Pioneers of the Deep Future, edited by Samuel Alexander and Amanda McLeod. This book collects together 26 chapters discussing individuals, cultures, and movements that have embraced forms of ‘simple living’ throughout history. The ‘preface by the editors’ and table of contents are available here, and the book is available here.

Foreword, by David Shi

The simple life is almost as hard to define as it is to live. It has also been with us for thousands of years. Simplicity is an ancient and universal ideal. Most of the world’s great religions and philosophies have advocated some form of simple living that elevates activities of the mind and spirit over material desires and activities. The great spiritual teachers of Asia – Zarathustra, Buddha, Lao-Tzu, and Confucius – all stressed that material self-control was essential to the good life. Greek and Roman philosophers also preached the virtues of the golden mean. Socrates was among the first to argue that ideas should take priority over things in the calculus of life. People were ‘to be esteemed for their virtue, not their wealth’, he insisted. ‘Fine and rich clothes are suited for comedians. The wicked live to eat; the good eat to live.’

Read more »

Posted by & filed under General.

Large cities emit more CO2 and earn no more per capita than small cities, contradicting the ‘economy of scale’ that makes larger cities ‘greener’ than small ones and raising doubt over claims of other benefits.

by Dr Mae-Wan Ho

Allometric scaling relationships in biology applied to cities

Allometric scaling relationships were first discovered in biology in the relative dimensions of parts of the body, as for example brain size and body size in the course of development and evolution [1]. It was later applied to metabolic rate of animals Y relative to body mass X [2] in the general form:

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

The original Permaculture Design Course format was three weeks long. The first two weeks taught the bulk content of the course and the last week was filled with networking (this was even before fax). Since then the course has had many re-formats and in its most advertised form is held as a two week intensive which works exceptionally well when hosted at an already established permaculture site that attracts students from all over the globe, like Zaytuna Farm or The Yoga Forest. However, a lot of students cannot afford the airfare, the cost of the course, two weeks off work, or find a babysitter for that length of time.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Urban Projects.

I am in Jordan, where the monthly average wage is 300 Jordanian dinar. To put that into perspective, a phone card for one month cost me five dinar. But buying a car is the same as it is everywhere. Their major issue here is water. They have little rain, with an average of under 300mm a year. They use underground aquifers, and they say that will only last for another 20 years. Jordan is also one of the most peaceful and hospitable Arabic countries, so they take in many refugees — with the last wave of over 10,000 coming from Syria.

The earth surrounding me in the capital, Amman, is dry and rocky. Olive, citrus and fig surround the city. When people say plants need to be tough to survive in dry regions they sure as hell must have been talking about these. I couldn’t imagine they could bear fruit, but they do.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Society.

It’s possible to drive a herd of buffalo right off a cliff. First Nations people did just that in a place in Alberta called, appropriately enough, “Heads-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump”.

Whereas a single buffalo, when chased, will dodge about and quickly change direction, a herd instead runs together and acts as if a slower more primitive organism is in charge. Individuals take their cues from the individuals around them. If everyone around you is running the same way you are less likely to change direction. So individual buffalo don’t pull out, but run off the cliff together.

Read more »