Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute June 14, 2013
Janet Larsen and J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute
The world quietly reached a milestone in the evolution of the human diet in 2011. For the first time in modern history, world farmed fish production topped beef production. The gap widened in 2012, with output from fish farming—also called aquaculture—reaching a record 66 million tons, compared with production of beef at 63 million tons. And 2013 may well be the first year that people eat more fish raised on farms than caught in the wild. More than just a crossing of lines, these trends illustrate the latest stage in a historic shift in food production—a shift that at its core is a story of natural limits.
As the global demand for animal protein grew more than fivefold over the second half of the twentieth century, humans began to press against the productivity constraints of the world’s rangelands and oceans. Annual beef production climbed from 19 million tons in 1950 to more than 50 million tons in the late 1980s. Over the same period, the wild fish catch ballooned from 17 million tons to close to 90 million tons. But since the late 1980s, the growth in beef production has slowed, and the reported wild fish catch has remained essentially flat. (See Excel data.)Comments (2)
Biofuels, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Society — by George Monbiot June 11, 2013
Under the pretext of preventing hunger, the rich nations are engineering a new scramble for Africa.
One of the stated purposes of the Conference of Berlin in 1884 was to save the people of Africa from the slave trade. To discharge this grave responsibility, the European powers discovered, to their undoubted distress, that they would have to extend their control and ownership of large parts of Africa.
In doing so, they accidentally encountered the vast riches of that continent, which had not in any way figured in their calculations, and found themselves in astonished possession of land, gold, diamonds and ivory. They also discovered that they were able to enlist the labour of a large number of Africans, who, for humanitarian reasons, were best treated as slaves.Comments (1)
Consumerism, Deforestation, Desertification, Economics, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute June 7, 2013
by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute
Half the world’s pigs—more than 470 million of them—live in China, but even that may not be enough to satisfy the growing Chinese appetite for meat. While meat consumption in the United States has fallen more than 5 percent since peaking in 2007, Chinese meat consumption has leapt 18 percent, from 64 million to 78 million (metric) tons—twice as much as in the United States. Pork is by far China’s favorite protein, which helps to explain the late-May announced acquisition of U.S. meat giant Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s leading pork producer, by the Chinese company Shuanghui International, owner of China’s largest meat processor. China already buys more than 60 percent of the world’s soybean exports to feed to its own livestock and has been a net importer of pork for the last five years. Now the move for Chinese companies is to purchase both foreign agricultural land and food-producing companies outright.
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Deforestation, Desertification, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Joel Dunn May 31, 2013
Genetically modified crops are hailed by their proponents as the basis for a “new green revolution”, and as the key solution to feeding the world in the face of population growth and the exhaustion of new sources of agricultural land. There is a massive volume of research and research literature around genetically modified crops, but how much of it is really of value in assessing this often heard hypothesis about “GM is needed to feed the world?”Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Desertification, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor April 23, 2013
John D. Liu of the EEMP, who has partnered with us in spreading the permaculture message, has created yet another excellent documentary — this time focussing on drylands, their past function and their present dysfunction through a broadscale loss of forest cover, and its impact on soil loss and on the hydrological cycle.
In this video we travel vicariously with John as he takes us from Jordan to Africa to Asia and the Americas, showing us both degradation and restoration — and sharing the inspirational message we all need to hear: that we can undo the damage we’ve inflicted on planet earth, our home.Comments (3)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Marcin Gerwin April 18, 2013
The disappearing Amazon rainforest
Marcin Gerwin: You propose introducing a new international law of ecocide as an amendment to the Rome Statute. Ecocide is defined as “an extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.” Why do we need the new law to protect the planet? Aren’t current regulations enough?Comments (2)
Animal Forage, Biofuels, Deforestation, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Trees — by Eric Toensmeier
This article is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Carbon Farming: A Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices, and is part of a series promoting my kickstarter campaign to raise funds with which to complete the book.
Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) is a common perennial industrial crop, though
typically grown in problematic monocultures. Photo Wikimedia Commons.
Industrial crops produce materials, chemicals, and energy. Some, like cotton, have been used since the dawn of agriculture. Others, like firewood, go back with our species for hundreds of thousands of years. Few of us pause to think where cardboard, rubber, fibers, solvents and biopesticides come from.
Currently much of the materials, chemicals, and energy that support our civilization are synthesized from fossil fuels. To address climate change this needs to end, and we need to learn to do without or use renewable feedstocks (raw materials). Of the biobased renewables used now, GMO corn may be the most frequently used, for example for ethanol and bioplastics. In addition to the social and ecological problems of GMO corn, as an annual crop it contributes to the release of soil carbon into the atmosphere. We must do the opposite, developing perennial and regenerative systems that sequester vast amounts of carbon while meeting human needs.Comments (0)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Energy Systems — by Alex McCausland February 14, 2013
In rural Africa it’s pretty hard to come by fuel sources which are a good alternative to wood. Gas is too expensive. Kerosene is also pretty expensive and quite a dirty fuel anyway. Wood also has the advantage that it burns quite slowly so that you can slow cook over a fire for several hours just feeding it occasionally. If you did this with gas it would cost a fortune. In a place like Ethiopia you can also have a local worker leave a valve open overnight and come down to find an empty canister in the morning. So like most people around here, we still cook with wood. One day we may get a biogas set up going and be able to produce our own methane gas on a continual basis (see ‘Biogas’ section at bottom of this article for an example). That would really be true sustainability but we have not yet reached a capacity to be able to develop that scale of infrastructure at this stage.
The problem we are faced with is that this area is getting badly deforested. Women trudge past our site on the road day in, day out, carrying piles of firewood back to their villages or to peddle at the market — literally carrying away the forest on their backs. It’s not healthy and it’s not sustainable. So as a permaculture demonstration site in this area, what have we got to showcase as an alternative? Well, there are two strategies we employ: 1) get as much utility as possible out of any unit of wood fuel – so reducing the overall consumption, 2) use the parts of the plant/tree which can re-grow quickly (coppice) and hence can be harvested at a sustainable rate.Comments (7)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Rhamis Kent February 13, 2013
A student I had recently in my short course in California sent me a link to an award-winning NGO working in Haiti called SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) — a nonprofit working within the country performing truly beneficial work, utilizing compost toilets to deal with the perennial problem of waste management.
In the following clip SOIL’s Co-Founder & Executive Director, Dr. Sasha Kramer, provides an excellent, well-contextualized explanation of her organization’s work as well as the legacy of ecological & environmental degradation (and its corresponding effects on impacted human populations) often missing from discussions about colonial history:
Further Reading:Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease — by Gerald Anderson January 25, 2013
This is a good summary of what Vandana Shiva talks about lately. Even if you think you’ve heard it all before, I think this is a excellent one to watch and share.
Forbes Magazine called Vandana Shiva one of the seven most influential women in the world. A noted philosopher, scientist and author, Dr. Shiva addressed a full house at Coady International Institute at StFX University on the theme of food justice. — YouTube
Further watching:Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Desertification, Food Plants - Annual, Food Shortages, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute January 9, 2013
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
Where was once pristine Amazon rainforest, soybean harvesters
march across the landscape instead
Global demand for soybeans has soared in recent decades, with China leading the race. Nearly 60 percent of all soybeans entering international trade today go to China, making it far and away the world’s largest importer.
The soybean was domesticated some 3,000 years ago by farmers in eastern China. But it wasn’t until well after World War II that the crop gained agricultural prominence, enabling it to join wheat, rice, and corn as one of the world’s four leading crops.
This rise in the demand for soybeans reflected the discovery by animal nutritionists that combining 1 part soybean meal with 4 parts grain, usually corn, in feed rations would sharply boost the efficiency with which livestock and poultry converted grain into animal protein. As China’s appetite for meat, milk, and eggs has soared, so too has its use of soybean meal. And since nearly half the world’s pigs are in China, the lion’s share of soy use is in pig feed. Its fast-growing poultry industry is also dependent on soybean meal. In addition, China now uses large quantities of soy in feed for farmed fish.Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Deforestation, Desertification, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Geoff Lawton January 7, 2013
- A Farm for the Future (BBC video)
- The Rodale Institute’s 30-Year Farming Systems Trial Report
- Biodiverse Systems are More Productive
- The Food Crisis: “A Perfect Storm” – and How to Turn the Tide
- Orchestrating Famine – a Must-Read Backgrounder on the Food Crisis
- Food Futures Now – Feeding People & Place Without Fossil Fuels
- The Looming Food Crisis and the ‘Food 2030′ Report
- The Story of Soil
- A ‘New’ Discovery – Soluble Nitrogen Destroys Soil Carbon
- Which Came First – Pests, or Pesticides?
- Soil – Our Financial Institution
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Desertification, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change — by George Monbiot
2012 was the worst year for the environment in living memory.
It was the year of living dangerously. In 2012 governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half century.Comments (1)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Food Shortages, Village Development — by Andrea Joswig December 21, 2012
Since 2011 the Adunni Susanne Wenger Foundation in Nigeria, in Cooperation with the German NGO SONED Brandenburg e.V., built up the Environmental Education Centre called Permaculture Forest Garden at Gberefu Island, in Badagry, Lagos State. Beside the sustainability of the local environment, the project’s focus is on health care, food security, nonviolent communication and the support of democratic processes. Permaculture Forest Garden is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and The German Foundation Stiftung Nord-Süd-Brücken. The beneficiaries of the project are the inhabitants of the surrounding settlements, students, teachers, farmers and landowners from Badagry and Lagos.Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 10, 2012
As permaculturists, we have a great many solutions for the water crisis. From water harvesting to reed bed grey water systems, to watershed rehabilitation, there are common sense approaches to holistically restore eco-system services, rehydrate our landscapes and stabilise water flows and the climate. In the video above, however, we come face to face with forces that can undo the work of thousands of enthusiastic permaculturists with a few signatures on a market based, industrial contract.
We need to know the enemy if we’re to defeat it.Comments (1)