Category Archives: Diversity

The Dam Letter

Who says we’re not getting out of touch with nature? Well, I think we are, and read on to see a bit of a comedic look at this.

The following two letters are said to be the actual correspondence between a Mr. Price of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, State of Michigan and a Ryan DeVries of the same state (enjoy the letters first, then stay tuned for why I say ‘said to be’ at bottom — no peeking though):

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Also posted in Comedy Break

The Food Crisis Spurs Gene Patenting Race

Big Biotech is gearing up to substantially increase their market share in the face of a global food and climate crisis — in hopes of cashing in on desperation. The patenting office has never been so busy.

Do you remember the pulitzer prize-winning photo that shocked the world back in 1994? You know, that macabre shot of an emaciated child struggling hopelessly towards a feeding station a kilometre away, with a vulture waiting patiently, and wistfully, behind. With that single image, the photographer, Kevin Carter, brought the Sudan famine into stark relief for an astonished public.

Well-framed images can evoke sympathy and outrage, so I am thus left almost desperately wondering how to frame what I see happening with the current international food crisis — as sympathy and outrage are needed now like never before.

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Also posted in Food Shortages, GMOs, Pollution

Community-Based Rain Forest Restoration Work is Huge Success in Borneo

In his twenty minute talk, Willie Smits (a Dutch forestry scientist who emigrated to Indonesia 20 years ago to help the country grow trees) explains how a chance encounter with a dying baby Orangutan changed the direction of his work – culminating not only in his creating the biggest orangutan rehabilitation center in the world, but also in restoring large tracts of rainforest in a community-based endeavour that is bringing work and prosperity to the people too.

The word ‘Permaculture’ is never mentioned in the TED presentation above, but the project that is the subject of this talk certainly contains many elements of Permaculture design. Among the spectacular results of the project is a documented cooling in local climate, increased cloud cover and rainfall, and a rapid increase in biodiversity of flora and fauna.

Also posted in Permaculture

A Farm for the Future

Seeing Permaculture promoted on the BBC is yet another positive sign of the times. In this 50 minute presentation, wildlife film-maker Rebecca Hosking returns to her farming roots – hoping to take over the reins of her family farm in Devon, UK – and duly considers exactly what kind of farm she wants to develop. Significantly, Rebecca looks at where the world is heading in regards to food production, and, in particular, thinks about the serious implications of peaking oil supplies on our fossil-fuel dependent agriculture.

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Also posted in Consumerism, Global Warming, Health, Permaculture, Society

In Memory of Dorothy Stang

Preamble: I post the following today, as next Wednesday night (8pm March 25, 2009) HBO2 in the U.S. is running the new documentary They Killed Sister Dorothy. If you have opportunity, be sure to watch it. Read the following to find out what it’s about.

If you have opportunity to pick up a January 2007 copy of the National Geographic, take it. It’s easily recognisable by the startling image of a forlorn looking tree, standing alone where was once a thick bio-diverse rainforest. The author, Scott Wallace, unfortunately doesn’t follow through very well on the external connections that are causing the Amazon to shrink, instead focusing on some of the main local antagonists in the battle over the land the forest sits on. Despite this weakness, however, I believe that meeting these characters helps bring the whole tug-of-war over the environment a little closer to home, and in this he’s done an excellent work.

Scott begins his article thus:

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Also posted in Deforestation, GMOs

An Ocean of Unknown

Photo copyright: Simon Nash

Carbon dioxide emissions from human activities are acidifying the oceans and threaten a mass extinction of sea life, a top ocean scientist warns.

Dr Carol Turley from Plymouth Marine Laboratory says it is impossible to know how marine life will cope, but she fears many species will not survive. – BBC

That’s a quote from today’s BBC news. To follow is a quote from an updated intro to a well-loved book – one first published 140 years ago:

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Also posted in Global Warming

Colony Collapse Disorder – a Moment for Reflection

Preamble: The issue of massive bee die-offs was hot in the mainstream media news last year, but now it seems they’ve moved on to more ‘interesting’ things…. Despite the lack of recent coverage, this extremely serious issue is not going away. About a year and a half ago I posted the article below to another website, and since the content of the post is still very relevant, and as it attracted a lot of attention at the time (before the administrators lost them all through website adjustments, it had attracted more than 200 comments – from beekeepers, scientists, gardeners and other interested people), I thought I’d post it again here to bring some attention back to this subject. The beautiful thing about Permaculture is it is completely holistic in nature. Industry and reductionist science tend to look at things in isolation, thus never seeing the bigger picture. The article below is an attempt to join the dots. Unless we take a broad view of the impacts of our industrial systems, we will never find solutions to such potentially cataclysmic problems as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Our previous posts on the mysterious bee disappearances have been a very interesting exercise. We’ve had great feedback from farmers, amateur and professional beekeepers, scientists, and dozens of other interested/concerned observers. In the meantime, accumulating reports tell us that the problem is not constrained to the U.S. alone – but that, to one degree or another, empty hives are becoming common in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Poland, and now the UK.

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Also posted in Food Shortages, Global Warming, GMOs, Pollution

Letters from Vietnam – The Road to Na Sai

We catch a rare glimpse of an ancient and beautiful culture – the Black Thai people – and applaud the work of a modern day NGO who is working to help improve the lives of these noble people whilst retaining their unique identity – just as a new road threatens their natural, low-carbon existence.

Black Thai Villager in Rice Fields, Na Sai Village, Vietnam
Photos: Craig Mackintosh

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Also posted in Education, Geopolitics & Economics, Photojournalism, Society

75 Percent of Food Diversity Lost in Last Century

The average person, roaming supermarket aisles with their trolley, is under the impression that our modern globalised food production system, despite being damaging in every other respect, brings one major benefit to consumers — that being more food choices.


It’s a myth. The corporate takeover of agriculture is seeing a rapid and systematic decline in seed and crop diversity, as they seek to standardise all aspects of global food trade. This means that plants that have been developed and optimised for specific micro-climates and soil conditions over thousands of years are vanishing — fast, and forever.

That’s what makes the work of Stephan Fayon, who directs an international seed bank in Auroville, India, so significant. Check out this inspiring clip on his work:

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Also posted in Geopolitics & Economics, Seeds