What have you done today to lower your impact?
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- James H Kuntsler
- School food and family farms
- Apologies from Robb
- Climate-proofing the World\'s Food Supply | Use Ce...
- John McCain: We know you by now ... | Use Celsias....
- 9 Ways To Go Local
- California, America\'s ‘Leader of the Pack\', to A...
- No Child Left Inside: Why We Need to Get Kids Outs...
- Debt, usury, and plunder of the commons
- Bye Bye Buzz?
- Whew! At last an "energy expert" VP! - By Robb
- Soil, organics, and Co2 - by Robb
- Count your blessings
- #5 Sheffield Star Green Scene Submission - by Robb...
- The Bad, the Worse and the Downright Lethal | cels...
- The Other Bail-Out | celsias°
- The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix...
- Musings on science, religion, and us - By Robb
- The stove - by Robb
- Industrial Agricultural menace
- 2nd Free From Power Day Report - By Robb
- October Free from Power Day
- Crimes against humanity?
- Those who choose to ignore history..........
- Where's POGO?
- Wild food #1 - Yew Berries
- Broccoli Set to Rewrite Patent History in Europe |...
- ▼ October (28)
Friday, 31 October 2008
James H Kuntsler wrote a book called "The Long Emergency", among others, in which he lays out the rather grim future before us if we don't get our act together. He also pretty well predicted the current financial fiasco we find ourselves in. I really like his no bullshit approach. He doesn't waste time promoting half measures but lays out the depth of change necessary to stave off the worst effects of the calamities coming down the pike. In this article over at Organic Consumers Association he offers a typically hard hitting analysis of the current corporate scam called the bailout.
"...we are witnessing the two stages of a tsunami. The current disappearance of wealth in the form of debts repudiated, bets welshed on, contracts cancelled, and Lehman Brothers-style sob stories played out is like the withdrawal of the sea. The poor curious little monkey-humans stand on the beach transfixed by the strangeness of the event as the water recedes and the sea floor is exposed and all kinds of exotic creatures are seen thrashing in the mud, while the skeletons of historic wrecks are exposed to view, and a great stench of organic decay wafts toward the strand. Then comes the second stage, the tidal wave itself -- which in this case will be horrific monetary inflation -- roaring back over the mud flats toward the land mass, crashing over the beach, and ripping apart all the hotels and houses and infrastructure there while it drowns the poor curious monkey-humans who were too enthralled by the weird spectacle to make for higher ground. The killer tidal wave washes away all the things they have labored to build for decades, all their poignant little effects and chattels, and the survivors are left keening amidst the wreckage as the sea once again returns to normal in its eternal cradle."
Whenever I need some no nonsense take no prisoners analysis of our current survival experiment I turn to either Mr. Kuntsler or Alex Smith over at Radio Ecoshock.
In another excellent article over at Organic Consumers Association, Diane Raymond points out that the US credit crunch and resultant necessary belt tightening have led some schools, 8700 so far, to source healthy fresh local food from from family farms. In my opinion the National School Lunch Program has become a vehicle for elimination of surplus agribusiness commodity food products and has led to a rising epidemic of obesity in school children.
"Nearly half of the children in the U.S. who attend private and public schools participate in the NSLP, a federally assisted meal program that dates back to 1946. While the NSLP does provide a low-cost (and in some cases, free) means of delivering lunch through subsidies to schools, the program has been widely criticized in recent years for contributing to America's obesity epidemic. According to the Sustainable Table, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the problems with our food supply, our children are not meeting the RDA of vitamins and nutrients under the current NSLP guidelines. Couple that with the skyrocketing price of food, which extends beyond the family table to the school cafeterias as well. Forced to consider lower-priced alternatives to fresh foods, many schools have no alternative but to rely on the cheaper, less healthy fare. A number of districts across the country are taking matters into their own hands and breaking the mold. Instead of doling out sodium and fat-laden chicken nuggets for lunch, they are opting to assist local farmers and provide healthier, locally grown foods to students."
Ms. Raymond also gives a list of steps to follow if you want to start a farm to school program in your community. Check it out. Organic Consumers Association
Thursday, 30 October 2008
We've moved to a boarding school up near Pontefract. My web access is limited and as a result I have had to resort to posting exclusively through "share this" buttons on other sites. Normally I would include some explaination with these but am unable to at the moment. Sorry to post this way but I wanted to keep up a steady flow of relevant content and that is currently my only method. I will try to post when we are back in Sheffield but will be limited by time for the next 6-8 weeks. Please bear with me until the new year when I hope to get back to normal posting. If you are in the US, please don't forget to vote!
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
1. Food tastes better! It's newer and fresher!
2. Science says it's better for you, nutrients are lost over time, so the quicker it gets from farm to table the more nutrients are retained
3. It's safer, hopefully. Local farms are held more accountable because of their size, their names really do mean everything to them
4. Local food supports local farms and their families. The amount of traditional farmers in this country has dropped drastically and we've gotta get them back working the land! We don't want machines doing everything do we?
5. Local food builds your community spirit, you are aware of your actions and their impact
6. The more you support local farms, the more farm land will be preserved from being paved over.
7. Local food supports the environment by keeping fuel usage down for example
8. Supporting local farms is like investing in your future and the future of your community. By ensuring your local farms maintain their business against bigger, more machine driven farms.
9. Local farms sell to many places, but the most obvious is your local farmer's market! It's so meaningful buying directly from the farmer, they make more money by dealing with their consumers directly, they cut down on fuel, and like shouting I CARE ABOUT MY FOOD FUTURE to the world!
Support Local Farmers!
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Sunday, 26 October 2008
That's the US debt as of 26 Oct 2008 at 08:35:16 AM GMT.
Thanks to the US National Debt Clock.
While Cheney and Bush laugh all the way to the bank, watching their 11th hour efforts to completely privatize all aspects of life succeed in a big way, the people on your street are losing their homes, their jobs, their schools, their health care.
Naomi Klein, in a lecture, over on Radio Ecoshock, drawn from her book "The Shock Doctrine, the Rise of Disaster Capitalism" maintains that this recent plundering of the commons by corporate raiders is not only a transfer of wealth to the elites but also an attempt by the right to insure that the next president does not have the resources necessary to transition the US economy away from exploitative, extractive, and war mongering industries towards a greener sustainable foundation. They will maintain that we cannot afford it due to so called "economic and financial realities" as defined by the very thieving industries that create these harsh realities. Sound far fetched?
Klein says we've seen it before. President Clinton abandoned his attempts to reform NAFTA towards social justice and fight for his universal health care plans on the advice of treasury secretary Robert Rubin that he accept "economic realities".
Guess what, Robert Rubin is one of Obama's top economic advisors. The fox is not only in the hen house he has set up shop and is raising the chickens for his own personal slaughter.
Friday, 24 October 2008
"Plant a flowering herb garden. Bees use herbs medicinally and your plants can help make a difference. I suggest rosemary, sage, THYME (lots of it), marjoram, chives, basil, all the mints and other herbs with flowers. Bees will find them. To do more, plant native flowering bushes, too. In our area (WA) spirea and goldenrod are bee magnets. Try to have flowers in bloom through into fall.
Put out a big shallow dish of water with sticks or moss in it (so they don't fall in) and keep it moist. If you can get seaweed, bees are particularly fond of the minerals so I keep a little pile of seaweed in the "bee pond." All these small actions add up and make it a little easier on your local bees."
You can also support your local organic family farmer by buying his/her produce directly or in locally owned non chain shops.
Organic Consumers Association forum
Monday, 20 October 2008
What with 45 new Nuclear power plants providing 3 QBtu's by 2030 and all that wonderful offshore oil he wants to drill for providing .5 QBtu's by 2030 I'm sure we will be just fine. After all, projections indicate that with business/growth/lack of foresight as usual the US will need a mere 118 QBtu's by 2030.
So, hmmm, that's 2.5% from 45 nuclear plants at the cost of how many billions per plant, $4.9 billion per reactor or there abouts. Not to mention the unknown costs of decommissioning and waste storage, two things we don't even know how to do safely yet. And let's not forget that the fuel is set to get really scarce in about 40 years which will drive up the costs considerably.
Thankfully if we allow the oil industry, those trustworthy fellows who have taken such good care of us up to now, to despoil our coastlines we'll get a staggering .42% of our needs there. And goodness knows if McCain follows GW's lead, which McCain reminds us he has done 90% of the time up till now, he won't even make his oil buddies pay any royalties not to mention the billions of corporate welfare those cash strapped good ole boy American oil prospectors deserve and demand from the taxpayers of America.
Yessirree I feel loads better knowing he's got an "energy expert" helping him draft his bold new energy plan.
To find out more and to see a plan that could really deliver us from all evil, at least some of the evils that have been foisted upon us up until now by the Republicans, check out;
Thanks to Architecture 2030 for the graphics and figures for this post.
Here are a few stats from my Soil Erosion post back in February of this year.
* The United States is losing soil 10 times faster -- and China and India are losing soil 30 to 40 times faster -- than the natural replenishment rate.
* The economic impact of soil erosion in the United States costs the nation about $37.6 billion each year in productivity losses. Damage from soil erosion worldwide is estimated to be $400 billion per year.
* As a result of erosion over the past 40 years, 30 percent of the world's arable land has become unproductive.
(http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/March06/soil.erosion.threat.ssl.html Feb 2008)
This is the type of vital ecosystem service George Monbiot discusses in the article I linked to in my recent post,
Now I'd like to discuss some of the benefits of proper maintenance of that precious resource, our soil, through organic agriculture. Rodale Institute has published some research cataloging the potential effects proper soil husbandry can have on global warming. Much of the information and graphics for this post is drawn from the report.
Aside from the obvious benefits of growing food, providing a base for vegetation that prevents erosion, acting as a sponge to mitigate the effects of flooding, reducing pollution from agricultural runoff, the soil offers other less well known services. If treated properly soil sequesters carbon, it actually locks up more carbon than the vegetation growing on it.
"On a global scale, soils hold more than twice as much carbon (an estimated 1.74 trillion US tons) as does terrestrial vegetation (672 trillion US tons)."
This is accomplished through the buildup of humic substances, soil organic matter or SOM, in the soil that allow long term carbon storage. This SOM, which is primarily made up of carbon, is the heart and soul of organic agriculture. SOM is almost completely avoided in industrial agriculture which uses petrochemicals to replace the nutrients otherwise provided.
The naturally developed grassland soils that much of the American corn and soy crop grows in was originally comprised of 6-10% SOM. These soils have been degraded to typically 1-3% by industrial agricultural methods. Indeed, Rodales research over 27 years indicates that organic systems increased soil carbon by 30% while their similar petrochemically managed fields showed no increase in carbon.
This effect is largely down to a beneficial environment for fungi which is fostered by organic methods. No only does fungi assist in the processes necessary for carbon sequestration but,
"Mycorrhizal fungi structures enhance the ability of plant roots to access soil moisture and nutrients, produce stable compounds to sequester carbon dioxide as soil carbon, and slow decay of soil organic compounds."
Fungi is most amazing stuff. For more on that check out the work by Paul Stamets at Fungi.com.
Additionally the practices of organic fertilization and cropping diversity stimulates carbon sequestration whereas petroleum based practices and mono cropping stimulates quick decay of SOM thus releasing carbon into the atmosphere.
Organic practices like cover crops and composting have direct benefits to the atmosphere in that they use 33% less fossil fuel in the farming practices themselves compared to petroleum fertilizer based practices. Further Rodale research has shown that,
"the use of composted manure with crop rotation in organic systems can result in carbon sequestration of up to 2000 lbs/ac/yr. By contrast, fields under standard tillage relying on chemical fertilizers lost almost 300 pounds of carbon per acre per year."
If all 43 million acres of cropland in the US were to use these methods 1.6 billion tons/yr would be sequestered, around 25% of the total US fossil fuel emissions.
Here are some more facts about Organic agriculture from the Organic Consumers Association,
- If organic farming methods were practiced on all the planet's food-growing land, it would be like taking more than 1.5 billion cars off the road.
- You can increase your antioxidant intake by 30 percent by choosing organic.
- The average child in America is exposed to five pesticides daily in their food and drinking water.
- The U.S. water system is regularly contaminated above safe limits immediately following chemical fertilizer applications to farm fields.
- Farms in developing countries that use organic techniques produce an average of 79% more than farms that don't.
Thanks to Rodale Institute for the report from which most of this post is drawn and the Organic Consumers Association for pointing me in that direction and for additional facts.
Sunday, 19 October 2008
As I've mentioned before on this blog I find George Monbiot to be especially perceptive on matters of the environment and as it turns our he is also well versed on matters relating to economics. Check it out:
Thanks to Lamar Mitchell for the link.
Saturday, 18 October 2008
If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep---you are richer than 75 per cent of this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change in a dish---you are among the top 8 per cent of the worlds wealthy.
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness---you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation---you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful---you are blessed because the majority can but most do not.
Thanks, take care and please don't forget to eat your veggies! - Karen Jones @ community garden digest
Sunday, 12 October 2008
Sheffield Star Green Scene
There are many areas within our lives where we can address efficiency, reduce demand, conserve resources, and make our lives more resilient.
1. In our homes
2. What we eat
3. How we get around
4. What we buy
All of these are interrelated but by looking at them separately we can find many opportunities both for saving money and increasing the sustainability of our lives. But before we do lets consider some basic principles.
The first, our lives and lifestyles are completely dependent on cheap energy. If all the energy you use in your life were to be provided by people sitting on bicycle powered generators you would need 50 people pedaling a good clip 24 hours/day nonstop. We have built our extravagant lifestyles on the availability of cheap petroleum which is incredibly energy dense. When refined into liquid fuels it is 10 times more powerful than dynamite1. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your outlook, the age of cheap oil is over and the climate consequences of burning oil and other fossil fuels are becoming increasingly worrisome.
The second is that it is far easier and more effective to make an impact by simply consuming less than by consuming more. This runs contrary to what the gurus of green consumerism want you too believe. Every item we use, eat, or throw away embodies a significant amount of energy whether it is “green” or not. So for many reasons it makes sense to simply use less. But as we shall see this may not always be so simple.
The third basic principle is that using less doesn’t necessarily mean doing without. There are so many ways we can use less energy by becoming more efficient rather than cutting something out of our lives. A good example is keeping the heat we get from our radiators inside our house rather than letting it go outside. We don’t have to give up being warm but we still use less heating energy.
The fourth is that shifting to more efficient sustainable and resilient lifestyles will make us healthier, richer, and happier.
Saturday, 11 October 2008
This excellent article by George Monbiot details further corporate welfare slipping under the radar these days.
The Other Bail-Out | celsias°
But that's not all, check this out;
"While we have all been preoccupied with the staggering $700 billion bail-out of wall street, boggled with the size of the dollar amount, having to raise the National debt limit and borrow money from foreign nations to fund it, late Saturday night the Senate passed a bill of a comparably huge dollar amount which made little news, but gives $488 Billion to the Pentagon for the continued funding of the the war, There has been a near media blackout of this vote, and we need to get the word out that this outrageous warfunding is quietly continuing while the news media is being distracted by the gigantic and horrendous Wall Street bailout bill."
read all about it at Organic Consumers Association
Thursday, 9 October 2008
Here is another option, I just hope the corporate thieves have left us the resources to pursue it.
The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems | celsias°
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Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Meanwhile back at the ranch.
While we are busy crafting corporate welfare the planet gets hotter, while we let the rich scarper off with their ill gotten gains we ignore the looming scientific warnings. I can't help it, the science just keeps getting scarier!
I never liked horror movies as a kid, they gave me nightmares, but I've always liked apocalyptic science fiction. Well science fact is getting more and more apocalyptic and I can't seem to stop keeping up with it. Maybe it is my deepest held conviction that humans are just animals after all, nothing special about us. In fact, with all our supposed intelligence we are the only animals that soil our our own nest, knowingly, willingly destroying the future of our progeny and the progeny of all the other species we share this gift of a globe with. If anything, this proves to me that we are the least of species not the best. I do hope that someday I'm proven wrong about this, if there is one thing that can make us stand out in a positive way it will be a decision to make the necessary changes to create a sustainable and just lifestyle for all species on this earth.
We do have the capability, we do have the technology, we do have the resources. Without a new definition of the good we don't have a chance.
New science as found at Organic Consumers Association;
Monday, 6 October 2008
Here's some shots showing several views of my stove. As a cross between a rocket stove and a vita stove I think it combines the best features of both. It has an elbow style fire chamber like the rocket stove but doesn't utilize high energy inputs of building refractory bricks called for in the rocket stove.It is built from a recycled veggie oil can. The fire chamber, as seen in the middle picture, is an olive oil can with holes poked in the bottom for air flow. It has been set into a bed of mortar mix and bits of tile to insure a gap underneath to let air in. The pot sits on top of the fire chamber. I clipped 6 triangular tabs out of the top edge to let the heat flow out around the pot and create draw. The stones are set around the chamber to insulate and would be better if they were some high air content stone like volcanic tuff or some such.
As you can see in the first shot the pot is about 2 inches in diameter less than the can but would be better if it were about 1-1/2" larger. The smaller gap would hold more heat to the sides of the pot which is visible in the third photo as completely immersed in the cooker. The last shot shows how small and smokeless the fire can be. Most of the smoke is at startup. This is due to the moisture slowly being driven off by a low heat fire. As the fire gets hotter new fuel introduced smokes less. I also dried the fuel for at least 2 weeks prior to use.
I boiled about 6 liters of water, in two batches, for 5 minutes or more and cooked 1 dozen eggs and two ears of corn at the same time. Overall the fire burned for almost two hours and used a bundle of sticks and small scrap timber about 8 to 10 inches in diameter and 12 to 14 inches long.
All the fuel and materials for the stove were scrounged and free, since it is biomass fueled it is essentially carbon neutral cooking. The mortar mix, a small bag I found, has cement in it and thus has carbon impact. It could be done with limecrete thus lowering the carbon impact but I would have had to purchase the materials for that. My friend Graeme suggested that I could use sand or dirt.
I have several ideas for improvements; a more insulating filler material which should be filled to just under the triangular cutouts, an insulating layer on the outside of the can would be useful particularly for the top half where the pot is, a bigger pot. In preparation for FFPD November I've already collected the fuel for drying.
Sunday, 5 October 2008
Read more at
I boiled about 4 liters of water for my use for the day , most of which went to flasks for tea, it was a cold rainy, windy day after all. I boiled another couple of liters to cook eggs and sweet corn. I used a bundle of sticks and scrap wood about 8" in diameter and 12 to 14" long for all of that. I lit it once and did all my cooking for the day. Relighting would be significantly less efficient. I'll detail the stove itself in another post.
In addition to the eggs (sourced from a local farm a 3 mile walk away) and corn (from our organic box delivery), I ate about 4 ounces of organic muesli with organic rice milk (the two most heavily packaged and shipped foods of the day) and locally picked blackberries, one cucumber and 8 ounces of tomatoes from our organic garden, 4 ounces of tortilla chips (unfortunately non organic and packaged), about 6 small apples from a tree up the street, and finally some apple juice pressed from local apples at the local sustainable wood fair I took my nephew to. More planning is necessary for food requirements.
I did well on most other fronts, no electronic media, instead I read half of Rob Hopkins "The Transition Handbook". This is an excellent read for anybody wishing to assist their community in getting prepared for a post oil economy as it lays out the proven techniques used by many transition initiatives around the world.
I managed to avoid using any lights (except when I went into the cellar, same as last time, I need to plan for this better), I never turned on any heat and stayed either outside or in our solar heated conservatory all day, I used rainwater to wash and flush with, boiled for brushing teeth, I drank boiled rainwater, I borrowed my friend Graemes wind up torch for reading at night (I must get one before the next FFPD).
I did purchase some local produced venison sausages for next days dinner. I would have skipped this except they have a stand at the fair and it is the only way to source them currently without a long journey.
So all in all I made progress but there is more to make.
Friday, 3 October 2008
As using electricity and media are not allowed I will post about my progress on Sunday.
I agree, they are creating it!For more about the crimes of the GM industry see the Seeds of Deception website.
Here is a grief, oops, make that brief extract from the speech by H. E. M. Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, President of the General Assembly at the High-level Event on the Millennium Development Goals 25 Sept 2008, United Nations, New York
9. It is clear that the world food crisis is increasing social tensions and bringing about a significant rise in extreme poverty...
11. The World Bank has concluded that 75 per cent of the increase in food prices stems from the production of biofuels and factors related to rapidly growing demand for biofuels.
14. The essential purpose of food, which is to nourish people , has been subordinated to the economic aims of a handful of multinational corporations that monopolize all aspects of food production, from seeds to major distribution chains, and they have been the prime beneficiaries of the world crisis. A look at the figures for 2007, when the world food crisis began, shows that corporations such as Monsanto and Cargill, which control the cereals market, saw their profits increase by 45 and 60 per cent, respectively..."
Monsanto is at the very heart of the biofuels lobby.
For more on this speech see The article at the Organic Consumers Association website.
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
Thomas Jefferson 1802
Thanks to the Organic Consumers Association for the reminder.
Thursday, 2 October 2008
Check it out.
The Methane Time Bomb
Still think that foreign holiday is a good idea? How about that hamburger at the drive through?
Is it really a good idea to bail out an economy that is unsustainable or would it make more sense to spend that 700 billion on putting on the brakes and creating a just and sustainable one? Does it make sense to subsidize the oil barons or to create millions of green jobs building the new renewables industry? Are these questions difficult to answer? Apparently so as GW and the republicans want to drill, drill, drill, while over here the ruling labour party wants more coal fired power plants and a third runway at Heathrow.
I'm amazed and astounded both by the science that increasingly raises the alarm and by the powers that be that increasingly shut it out. As so often quoted in the comic strip "POGO" so long ago,
"We have met the enemy and he is us"
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
I've recently gotten into foraging for wild foods. From time to time I will show you and discuss some of the things I've been eating.
Yew berries have a mildly slimy consistency but are quite tasty. Do NOT eat the seeds or any other part of the tree. I've seen posts on the web that 3 berries will make you vomit and give you other ill effects. I've eaten handfulls of the berries with no ill effects but as always try one or two and wait 24 hours before eating more.
Here is the quote on yew berries from Wild Food School website
"YEW [Taxus baccata] Regarded as one of THE most poisonous and deadly plant materials around the scarlet berries of yew contain a slightly sugary gloop surrounding the seed and which can be extracted by VERY GENTLY squeezing the berry. The inner brown-black seed is deadly poisonous and must not be eaten.
If you wish to try the yew berry sap it is ESSENTIAL to check your personal tolerance before trying. In any event only try the sap of one or two berries as a larger quantity might well contain a sufficient build up of toxins which could cause harm. One best left to foraging professionals."
My technique is to pop the whole berry in my mouth and spit out the seed. If you wait to long it starts to get very astringent, a good sign of poison, so don't hesitate.
Ever hungry to steal our right to grow our own the corporations are continuing in their attempts to advance their policy of "no food grown that we don't own"
Check it out:
Broccoli Set to Rewrite Patent History in Europe | celsias°
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