What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Friday, 30 January 2009

Corn Syrup contaminated with Mercury

Industrial agriculture has had some spectacular failures of late, contaminated tomatoes, contaminated spinach, deadly beef. Now they want to irradiate our vegetables, and kill it's nutritive qualities in the process, to kill contamination after the fact rather than cleaning up their act.

On top of all that, this new study finds mercury in Corn Syrup, one of the most common ingredients in processed food and many suspect largely responsible for the epidemic rise in diabetes. The answer seems pretty simple to me, buy whole foods, organic and local or better yet grow your own. Check out the article at Organic Consumers Association

High Fructose Corn Syrup Contaminated With Mercury

"Mercury is toxic in all its forms," said IATP's David Wallinga, M.D., and a co-author in both studies. "Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply."

Have we forgotten Minamata so soon, see picture above. Thanks to RootConcepts.com for the image

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Secrets of a Lunatic Farmer

Joel Salatin is featured in Michael Pollan's book An Omnivore's Dilemma and looks to be a most interesting man. Here is another take, from Organic Consumers Association writer Joe McCully, on his Polyface farm in Virginia.

Secrets of a Lunatic Farmer

an excerpt;

"He says that everyone has the freedom to "opt out," a favorite phrase he uses to describe the freedom of choice people can exercise when buying locally from farmers instead of supporting the large, industrial farms, often located across the country and the world.

"The only reason the framers of the Bill of Rights did not include freedom of food choice along with the right to bear arms, worship and speech was that they couldn't conceive of the day when food would have to have a USDA sticker on it"

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Guerrilla gardening for greener cities

Er... nope..
Umm... anyway...

This is great stuff, I've seen mainstream media about it in London and personally tasted produce from a guerilla garden in Sheffield. Check it out over at Green Pepper.

Guerrilla gardening for greener cities

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Livestock Stats

Used to feed livestock:
73% of grain grown in Canada
40% of wheat grown in the UK
80% of the world's commercial soybean harvest
400,000 hectares of land in the US (an area the size of Germany)

85% of topsoil loss in the US attributable to ranching
15,000 litres of water to make 1 kg of beef
10kg of feed produces 1 kg of beef
66% of deforestation in Central and South America is to create livestock pasture
livestock are administered 8 times the amount of antibiotics as given to humans in the US.
1.3 million tonnes of Manure produced by livestock production in the US much of it treated as waste or becomes pollution.

Still want that burger?

source: The Atlas of Food by Millstone and Lang

Monday, 26 January 2009

Why Buy Organic?

Aside from the obvious reasons; preferring not to ingest pesticides, herbicides, frankenfoods, and food that is generally lower in nutrients, check out the video for some more information about why it is better value for money.

Why Buy Organic video

Friday, 23 January 2009

Wes and Wendell at NYTimes

These two wise and wise cracking elder statesmen of the sustainable farming movement are always worth a read.
Check em out.

A 50-Year Farm Bill

Jane Goodall On Overpopulation on Celsias.com

Is there a more central issue in the move towards sustainability?
If we don't control our population the planet will do it for us. Which is the more humane?
Going over the cliff like lemmings or gathering in small numbers on the edge and deciding not to?

Jane Goodall On Overpopulation

Thanks to Goals For Americans for the image.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Tim DeChristopher, a real American Hero

He threw a spanner in the works of the Bush administration's industry controlled BLM by personally bidding on gas and oil leases being offered in some the of the most beautiful and pristine parts of the canyon country in the southwest. Read more at Huffington Post
Thanks to Rising Tide North America for the image and the text from their post on Mr. Christopher below. Check em out.

"On December 19 Utah resident Tim DeChristopher took creative and effective action to disrupt an auction that was selling off oil and gas leases on hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands in Utah. As around 100 concerned citizens rallied outside opposing the opening up of wilderness areas to the oil and gas industry, Tim entered the auction and started bidding. Time and again he outbid the speculators, and when he failed to outbid them he managed to drive the price way up. According to local news reports he “caused chaos” in the auction room, costing companies hundreds of thousands of dollars and prevented 22,500 acres of land from being developed for fossil fuel extraction (at least for the time being). Tim’s actions were extremely effective at throwing a wrench in the works of the oil and gas industry and he is to be applauded."

Congratualtions World!

Sanity has returned to the White House. Maybe now we can get the US back involved in the world community on a constructive path rather than a destructive one, pursue sustainability rather than consumerism, science rather than propaganda, health rather than profit, real food rather than frankenfood, and clean renewable energy instead of dirty fossil fuel.

Let's make sure it happens.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Tips From Organic Consumers Association

Tips"The average refrigerator consumes more energy than any other household appliance. We spend over $10 billion in the U.S., alone, to supply energy to our household refrigerators. The following tips will save you money and reduce your carbon (energy) footprint:

1) Clean the filter and coils annually: Most Americans rarely, if ever, get around to vacuuming out the filter and coils on the back of the fridge. A dusty coil can increase energy consumption by 20 percent or more.

2) Keep it full but not stuffed: A fridge and freezer will be able to retain their coolness better if they're full. If you're not at full capacity, place a few containers of water in the freezer.

3) Think about what you want before you open the fridge. Every time you open the fridge to browse for a snack, you consume around of 9 to 13 watt/hours, which is enough power to light a 60-watt bulb for 10 minutes.

4) Let hot items cool before placing them in the refrigerator.

5) Defrost the freezer regularly.

6) Check the door gasket for a tight seal.

7) Cover liquids and foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.

8) If your fridge is older than 1993, get a new one. You're spending so much on your electric bill, you'll actually save money. New models use less energy than a 75-watt light bulb. Be sure to look for the
Energy Star label."

Addendum from Robb;
I like those recommendations but would add that instead of buying a new one try to do without, use a cellar to keep food cool, or put the old one on a timer. Only turn it on during the hottest part of the day. Experiment. Vegetables, Milk, eggs, and butter will do just fine if kept cool, they don't need to be cold. If you must buy a new one get a smaller one and one that is the most efficient or even better get a 12 volt one horizontal one and power it with a small solar array and battery. Build one yourself. Check out these links;


That superinsulated box idea with a standard boat fridge unit built on is the method I intend to employ. I've done it once before, I beefed up our fridge on the boat with more insulation and installed a standard cooler unit when the old one died. It ran 24/7 (on a thermostat of course) and we powered it and the rest of the boat with a small wind genny and two 75W solar panels hooked to 2 small battery banks. We intend to duplicate that system, probably minus the wind genny, in a portable system when we go off grid in the states next year.

The point is, there are options, people did without reefers for most of human history, most people in the world who have one get by with very small ones. Giant upright units that pour out their carbon intensive cold air every time you open the door are examples of convenience design run amok. Even the most efficient upright model will always have that fatal design flaw. Remember that energy star ratings are giving you comparison between like models, be sure to look very carefully at the figures and compare unlike models.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Welcome Tristan Of East Africa Trust

East Africa Trust is a charity working to promote sustainable healthy lifestyles through appropriate technology, consultation, and hard work.

Tristan studied with me in Wales for our masters. I'm in awe of his commitment to his work in Africa, he managed to keep it going while working on the degree, I seemed to be pushed just to work on the degree. I'll be posting his East Africa Trust newsletters as I receive them. If you are interested in Tristan's work please contact him at eastafricatrust@aol.com

Here is a brief Bio followed by the newsletter.

56 years old. Grammar school education to 'A' level; City & Guilds in Technical Authorship; MSc (pending!) Architecture AEES.
Many years spent in design engineering environment working with loudspeaker design, mass-production machinery design, turbo and supercharged engine design. Have also designed and built a wheelchair for cancer sufferers. 5 years spent in retailing. Now property landlord on a small scale.
Now retired from mainstream work but concentrating on sustainable development in East Africa, particularly Malawi and Rwanda.
EAT is funded by donors plus at least 50% comes from my own cash.
EAT is small and efficient; no donors' funds are spent on admin, flights, cars, hotels - it all goes to the projects on the ground. We have our own plot in Malawi and have established a demonstration agricultural unit there. Rammed Earth stove making is demonstrated too. For 2009, we will be starting building in rammed earth and looking into setting up a local business to help provide funding with a view to the Malawi operation being self-financing in the long term.


Rwanda joined the East African Community, EAC, in 2007, joining Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi in a union aimed at providing cooperation in terms of political, social and economic issues between its members. It is to be expected that Malawi and perhaps other east African countries will join EAC in the future to provide an equivalence to the EU.

Rwanda Aid has been active in Rwanda for several years and today runs several important programs providing development and welfare in the South West of the country. Situated beyond the Nyungwe rainforest, SW Rwanda is a densely populated region which suffered severely during the 1994 genocide, was a neglected part of the country and even today there remains a feeling of isolation.

The visitor might take a short flight from Kigali to Kamembe, the main town in the region of Cyangugu, but most people will use the bus, costing about £5 for the 5 hour drive. This journey winds its way through well-cultivated and terraced hills before climbing perhaps 1000m into the dense Nyungwe rainforest. The constantly twisting road is riddled with potholes, now being crudely repaired with mud and stones which will surely rapidly disappear under the onslaught of torrential rain and truck tyres. Beyond the Nyungwe, we drop progressively to about 1800m and the hilly terrain typical of SW Rwanda: tea plantations, rice fields, fish ponds and a variety of vegetables and tropical fruits feed this most densely populated of Africa’s countries.

The Cyangugu district experienced a significant earthquake in February this year, with many mud and timber buildings being shaken apart, brick and cement structures cracking badly or falling down completely Nkombo Island, a brief boat ride across Lake Kivu, suffered badly and today many families shelter in temporary shacks of corrugated iron sheets, tarpaulins and sticks. Rwanda Aid is active on the island providing replacement housing for five homeless families in the first phase of rehabilitation and, funds permitting, more low-cost and appropriate housing will follow. Improved sanitation using composting toilets, rainwater harvesting and fuel efficient stoves bring marked improvements to peoples lives on the island; but it is a slow process.

In Kamembe, our 2 volunteers, Frances and Romi, are training local ladies in the use of sewing machines, fabric and card printing and necklace making, giving them new skills and the hope of an income from products for export to Europe.

Plans are well advanced for us to build a modest village for 50-60 disabled children in nearby Ntendezi – an interesting challenge to provide accommodation, showers, toilets, kitchens and accessible gardens for these unfortunate youngsters. If we can surmount the usual bureaucratic hurdles, this project can be underway during the next few weeks.

Rwanda Aid is rapidly becoming known for its drive and expertise in moving this region forwards in terms of schooling, housing, training, welfare and sustainable agriculture. Local mayors recognise RA’s potential to develop previously neglected areas and are willing to expedite the formalities so that we can make good progress with projects without undue delay.

Toady, we visited two possible future projects: a large warehouse is available which the mayor would like to convert into a community and IT centre – with wireless internet now available through the mobile phone network, such a centre is viable, given good quality IT equipment. There is also a former technical school, situated in a stunning hilltop location overlooking Lake Kivu, terraced countryside, tea fields and the distant Congo. Abandoned since the genocide, this site has considerable potential as a cultural and training centre, perhaps offering courses in crafts, music, agricultural training and appropriate technology. Given suitable accommodation, it could also attract visitor looking for a serene retreat and picturesque location, bringing in a modest income and possibly other skills to help the centre.

Rwanda and Malawi share many characteristics and problems common to the region. Rwanda Aid and the East Africa Trust have the same goals in terms of development and improvement and by working in unison here in Rwanda, we aim to benefit the region and work towards the Rwandan governments Vision 2020: a bright future for the country where the people will enjoy a much better standard of living, better health, a good education and increasing prosperity.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Start a Farm in the Heart of the City

Grow, cook it, eat it! Check out an excellent article about urban agriculture over at Organic Consumers Association. The authors website is Homegrown Evolution.
That's their book on the left. It looks interesting, I might have to read it.

Here is an excerpt from the article at OCA;

"The idea of urban farming is nothing new. Back in the days before freeways and refrigerated trucks, cities depended on urban farmers for the majority of their fresh food. This included small farms around the city, as well as kitchen gardens. Even today, there are places that hold to this tradition. The citizens of Shanghai produce 85% of their vegetables within the city, and that's just one example of a long Asian tradition of intense urban gardening. Or consider Cuba. Cubans practiced centralized, industrial agriculture, just as we do, until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. Overnight, Cubans were forced to shift from a large, petroleum-based system to small-scale farming, much of it in cities. Today, urban organic gardens produce half of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed by Cubans.

The United States once was a nation of independent farmers. Today most of us do not know one end of a hoe from the other. In the last half of the 20th century, a cultural shift unique in human history came to pass. We convinced ourselves that we didn't need to have anything to do with our own food. Food, the very stuff of life, became just another commodity, an anonymous transaction. In making this transition, we sacrificed quality for convenience, and then we learned to forget the value of what we gave up."

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Skating on Thin Ice

As usual Mr. Monbiot manages to both entertain and elucidate at the same time!
Here's an excerpt'

"The weather of the past few weeks would have been unexceptional in the early 1980s. Today it is being cited as definitive proof that manmade climate change can’t be happening. There’s a splendid example of such blithering idiocy here . Gerald Warner, writing in the Telegraph, contends that the cold snap lends more support to the idea of a new ice age than to global warming theory. Were he to apply this reasoning consistently, he would have to write another blog on Sunday showing that, due to the unseasonably warm temperatures the Met Office forecasts for the UK this weekend, global warming is definitely happening. And the following week, if there’s another cold snap, he should predict a new ice age again.

Faced with a choice between global temperature records covering more than a century, or three weeks of cooling in one small corner of the planet, Mr Warner chooses the second dataset to identify long-running global trends. Though he has evidently never read or never understood a peer-reviewed paper on this subject in his entire crabbed life, he then goes on to dismiss this whole canon of science as nonsense. Is there any other subject on which journalists can make such magnificent idiots of themselves and still keep their jobs?"

Read the rest of the post over at Celsias
Skating on Thin Ice | Use Celsias.com - reduce global °Celsius

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Favorite Quote and short discussion

"Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a renaissance painting to cook a meal." - E.O. Wilson, pictured.
The green economist Herman Daly said we are treating the world "as if it were a business in liquidation".

There are those among us, less and less thankfully, particularly in the White House, that still believe John Locke's justification for private property rights, essentially that endless exploitation and expropriation of natural resources by us does no harm to them as there is plenty for all. The science, the media, even some churches now accept that we live in a world of environmental limits. We must all limit our consumption of resources so that there is enough for all.(Dresner 2002) Sorry Dick, all of our lifestyles are negotiable.

Let the negotiations begin.

Dresner, Simon 2002 - The Principles of Sustainability published by Earthscan London http://www.amazon.co.uk/Principles-Sustainability-Simon-Dresner/dp/185383842X

Thanks to Treehugger.com for the image.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Save Money and Power: Easy Steps to A Greener Computer

Here's a no brainer, why leave something on if you are not using it?

"Consider the following: The average Dell desktop uses 85 watts to idle, even if the monitor is off. If it is only in use or idling for 40 hours instead of 168 a week more than $40 worth of energy costs are saved a year."

read the rest of the article over on celsias.

Save Money and Power: Easy Steps to A Greener Computer

The article fails to mention that by leaving a computer on you are also generating heat, this puts an additional load on cooling systems thus using even more power. This is particularly true of large desktop machines with lots of peripherals. Shut em down! Use a laptop.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Sheffield Star online post #7 - by Robb

Keep the cold out and the warmth in.

Have a look around your house. If you want it to be warm you have to actively keep it that way. Work to keep more of the heat indoors and use less costly fossil fuel. Obviously, if you stand in the doorway and chat you are heating the garden but less obvious are all the ways cold air gets in the house unsuspected. Quite often the biggest benefit of getting double glazed windows is the proper installation ameliorating all the gaps around the old frames. Another problem area often overlooked are gaps around the floors where they meet the walls. After installing recycled denim insulation under our ground floor, more on that in the next post, we were perplexed that the floor remained so cold. While working on the antennae wires behind the TV I discovered how much air was blowing up from the cellar through the cracks. The cold air then settles on the floor.

I purchased tubes of silicon sealant, white to match the skirting boards, and spray foam insulation for the huge gaps I discovered under the cabinets in the kitchen. Reluctant as I was to use the spray foam due to it’s terrible environmental credentials, from over-packaging to toxic chemicals, I could think of no better way to seal under the cabinets and cooker short of ripping them out. These products also have negative impacts on indoor air quality so I chose a warmish day and opened the windows to let the fumes clear.

After removing the cove molding at the base of the skirting boards I vacuumed out as much dust as I could. Being careful not miss any areas I carefully filled the cracks between the flooring and the skirting boards as well as any cracks on top of the skirting boards between them and the walls. Ideally I should have removed the skirting boards and sealed the gap between the floor and the wall but that would have risked damaging the skirting boards and would have involved lots of sanding and painting before replacing the them. I wanted a smaller job but permanent. A more temporary, simple and cheap solution would be heavy masking tape over the small gaps and cracks and newspaper stuffed into the big ones. This might be more appropriate for some of you who are renters.

While the sealant dried, I lay on the kitchen floor and tried to reach all the edges under the cabinets and cooker with spray foam. I used the tube on the spray nozzle to give me some extra reach. The pressure and expanding nature of the foam helped fill the gaps I couldn’t see. Where the pipes for the kitchen sink went through the floor required additional foam application from the cellar.

Once the sealant had dried I replaced the cove molding and we enjoyed a noticeably warmer floor. Two thirds of interior temperature comes from surfaces, such as floors and walls, and only one third from air temperature. By keeping the floor warmer you are less likely to feel cold and less likely to feel the need to turn up your thermostat. This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve the warmth of your house and reduce your energy bills.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Welcome to Clifford Wirth Ph.D

I'm happy to include content from Dr. Wirth. Check out his profile on the other side of the page under Contributors. Check out his website at Surviving Peak Oil.

Oil peaked in 2008 - by Clifford Wirth Ph.d

The top story of the year is that global crude oil production peaked in 2008.

The media, governments, world leaders, and public should focus on this issue.

Global crude oil production had been rising briskly until 2004, then plateaued for four years. Because oil producers were extracting at maximum effort to profit from high oil prices, this plateau is a clear indication of Peak Oil.

Then in August and September of 2008 while oil prices were still very high, global crude oil production fell nearly one million barrels per day, clear evidence of Peak Oil (See Rembrandt Koppelaar, Editor of "Oil Watch Monthly," December 2008, page 1) http://www.peakoil.nl/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/2008_december_oilwatch_monthly.pdf.

Peak Oil is now.

Credit for accurate Peak Oil predictions (within a few years) goes to the following (projected year for peak given in parentheses):

* Association for the Study of Peak Oil (2007)

* Rembrandt Koppelaar, Editor of “Oil Watch Monthly” (2008)

* Tony Eriksen, Oil stock analyst and Samuel Foucher, oil analyst (2008)

* Matthew Simmons, Energy investment banker, (2007)

* T. Boone Pickens, Oil and gas investor (2007)

* U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2005)

* Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Princeton professor and retired shell geologist (2005)

* Sam Sam Bakhtiari, Retired Iranian National Oil Company geologist (2005)

* Chris Skrebowski, Editor of “Petroleum Review” (2010)

* Sadad Al Husseini, former head of production and exploration, Saudi Aramco (2008)

* Energy Watch Group in Germany (2006)

Oil production will now begin to decline terminally.

Within a year or two, it is likely that oil prices will skyrocket as supply falls below demand. OPEC cuts could exacerbate the gap between supply and demand and drive prices even higher.

Independent studies indicate that global crude oil production will now decline from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time, demand will increase. Oil supplies will be even tighter for the U.S. As oil producing nations consume more and more oil domestically they will export less and less. Because demand is high in China, India, the Middle East, and other oil producing nations, once global oil production begins to decline, demand will always be higher than supply. And since the U.S. represents one fourth of global oil demand, whatever oil we conserve will be consumed elsewhere. Thus, conservation in the U.S. will not slow oil depletion rates significantly.

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. There is no plan nor capital for a so-called electric economy. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment. The independent scientists of the Energy Watch Group conclude in a 2007 report titled: “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society:”

"By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame."

With increasing costs for gasoline and diesel, along with declining taxes and declining gasoline tax revenues, states and local governments will eventually have to cut staff and curtail highway maintenance. Eventually, gasoline stations will close, and state and local highway workers won’t be able to get to work. We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel and gasoline powered trucks for bridge maintenance, culvert cleaning to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, and roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, large transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables from great distances. With the highways out, there will be no food coming from far away, and without the power grid virtually nothing modern works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated building systems.

It is time to focus on Peak Oil preparation and surviving Peak Oil.

The German Perspective Pt 1: Difficulties with Climate Negotiations

Renewable Energy World is THE resource for those interested in developments in renewable energy. I have been listening to Stephen Lacey's podcast for years now and his articles are always informative. This link is through celsias.

The German Perspective Pt 1: Difficulties with Climate Negotiations

Thursday, 8 January 2009

You're eating WHAT?!

Currently Americans are not given the right of knowing what they are eating. The biotech companies have successfully controlled the regulatory process and prevented the labelling of Frankenfood, even though 90% of those surveyed said they would avoid this non food if they only knew. As a result 90% of Americans regularly consume frankenfood even though the evidence is mounting that it is poison!

Check it out over at Organic Consumers Association.

"here are some quick tips to help you avoid GMO ingredients and "Frankenfoods."

1) Look for products that voluntarily label themselves as GMO or GE-free.

2) Buy Organic: Products certified as "Organic" are not allowed to contain genetically modified ingredients.

3) Avoid non-organic products that contain the most common genetically engineered ingredients: corn (corn syrup, corn meal, corn oil, etc.), fructose, dextrose, glucose, modified food starch, ingredients including the word "soy" (soy flour, soy lecithin, etc.), vegetable oil, vegetable protein, canola oil (also called rapeseed oil), cottonseed oil, and sugar from sugar beets." (OCA)

Thanks to www.berghuis.co.nz/abiator/weird/bigrooster.html for the image

Lord Stern interview on the BBC

Lord Stern was one of the first of prominent people to prominently draw a link between climate and the economy. Hear a recent short interview from Jarvis Cocker with Lord Stern on how the current financial debacle offers us an opportunity to commit to meaningful action on climate change. Check it out on the BBC.

Dirty Coal strikes! Here and Now!

"On December 22 ... , over 1 billion gallons of toxic coal sludge came cascading through Eastern Tennessee. The tidal wave of sludge toppled houses and dirtied rivers and streams. This toxic coal ash has been stored in an open 40-acre pond next to the 50-year-old power plant. According to State authorities, after the spill there are 54,000 people with contaminated water in Roane County alone, and many more outside the county may also have tainted drinking water." (Gillian Caldwell at Huffington post january 7 2008)

This is appalling. It's not like it wasn't predicted, it was. It's not like we didn't know dirty coal was endangering not only our future here on this planet but mountain communities here and now, we did. The question is, what is being done about it? What are you doing about it?

Here are some things you can do;

take action over at 1Sky

reduce your electrical demand NOW!

contact your electrical supplier and demand that they cease sourcing mountaintop removal coal

get involved

Thanks to the Oildrum for the image

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Give Coal the Boot!

Greenpeace - Kick start a green energy future

Give coal the boot! We must move beyond business as usual solutions!

C Robb

Fair Trade?

Are you a conscious consumer or even better a mindful citizen? Is Fair Trade a means to that end or not? Personally, I look for local organic, if that is not available I look for organic, then local, and then fair trade. I suppose one of the reasons I don't buy more Fair Trade is because I tend to avoid buying stuff from far flung locales, for example, I don't drink coffee, and I don't buy banana's. My weakness is dark chocolate and I usually end up with fair trade organic Divine chocolate available here in the UK.
Here's a link to an excellent discussion on Fair Trade over on AltGlobe.Link

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Ancient Carbon Sequestration technology discovered!

Plant Trees and Create Healthy Soil, that's it, that's all there is to it.
Of course this means we'll have to stop treating forests and soil like they are just there to be wasted. That can't be too hard .... can it?

Lester Brown, the guru behind Plan B at the Earth Island Institute, lays it out for you over at celsias.

Here's an excerpt,

"A successful deforestation ban may require a ban on the construction of additional biodiesel refineries and ethanol distilleries. Against this backdrop of growing concern about the forest-climate relationship, a leading Swedish energy firm, Vattenfall, has examined the large-scale potential for foresting wasteland to sequester carbon dioxide. They begin by noting that there are 1.86 billion hectares of degraded land in the world--land that was once forestland, cropland, or grassland--and that half of this, or 930 million hectares, has a decent chance of being profitably reclaimed. Some 840 million hectares of this total are in the tropical regions, where reclamation would mean much higher rates of carbon sequestration.

Vattenfall estimates that the maximum technical potential of these 930 million hectares is to absorb roughly 21.6 billion tons of CO2 per year. If, as part of a global climate stabilization strategy, carbon sequestration were valued at $210 per ton of carbon, the company believes that 18 percent of this technical potential could be realized. If so, this would mean planting 171 million hectares of land to trees.

This area--larger than that planted to grain in India--would sequester 3.5 billion tons of CO2 per year, or over 950 million tons of carbon. The total cost of sequestering carbon at $210 per ton would be $200 billion. Spread over a decade, this would mean investing $20 billion a year to give climate stabilization a large and potentially decisive boost. This global forestation plan to remove atmospheric CO2, most of it put there by industrial countries, would be funded by them. An independent body would be set up to administer, fund, and monitor the vast tree planting initiative. Aside from the Vattenfall forestation idea, there are already many tree planting initiatives under way that are driven by a range of concerns, from climate change to desert expansion, to soil conservation, to making cities more habitable. ...

A number of agricultural practices can also increase the carbon stored as organic matter in soils. Farming practices that reduce soil erosion and raise cropland productivity usually also lead to higher carbon content in the soil. Among these are shifting from conventional tillage to minimum-till and no-till, the more extensive use of cover crops, the return of all livestock and poultry manure to the land, expansion of irrigated area, a return to more mixed crop-livestock farming, and the forestation of marginal farmlands.

Rattan Lal, a Senior Agronomist with the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at Ohio State University, has calculated the range of potential carbon sequestration for each of many practices, such as those just cited. For example, expanding the use of cover crops to protect soil during the off-season can store from 68 million to 338 million tons of carbon worldwide each year. Calculating the total carbon sequestration for the practices he cites shows a potential for sequestering 400 million tons of carbon each year at the low end, and 1.2 billion tons of carbon per year at the more optimistic high end."

Once again the "technology" we need is right there in front of us, not 20 years off like the myth of clean coal. It's the technology of lifting our eyelids, a radical process of opening our eyes and our minds at the same time. Let's shift the $200billion out of the rich man's bailout program currently under way in Washington and Wall Street and pay for something truly worthwhile, a genuine investment in the future, the planet's future.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Bill Moyers interviews Michael Pollan

I recently read "Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food". Both excellent and both by Michael Pollan. If you are at all concerned about your food supply I highly recommend them.

Check out Bill Moyers interview with Michael Pollan at Bill Moyers Journal.

Thanks to city farmer for the image where you will find an article about Mr. Pollan as well as lots of other information about food and growing your own.