Category Archives: sustainability

Veganism vs Traditional Permaculture

A recent discussion on FB made me want to post it here.

I linked to a PBS Nova article about how veganism may not actually be the best thing ecologically for our planet moving forward. This debate is highly nuanced and I don’t think any one book or documentary can adequately capture the full range of items actually in play.

Here is the article. It was originally posted to FB by Robyn Francis, an australian permaculture teacher who may be one of the most experienced and seasoned permaculture educators left alive.

Link to article
This article supports one of the primary dogmas of permaculture which is that we need more perennial plants producing food, and less annual plants taking up space. Here is an article discussing this.

Dogmas of Veganism

After sharing this post, I had a comment from a friend. She asked if I had seen What the Health and Get Vegucated. I responded no, and that they were on my list, which they are.

Here is my response that I wanted to post, but didn’t.

I haven’t yet. I’m not talking about factory farming and eating poor quality grain fed stuff either, I’m more pointing at a holistic system that takes earth care into account.

This particular issue is something we discuss in permaculture design quite a bit. How do we use and heal land for best effect on humans animals and planet. Some of my work on permaculture can be found here Permaculture Salad and a local denver resource The GrowHaus if you want to check out what they are up to.

Soils need animals for soils to be maximally healthy. The planet has evolved for a long time with animals, and separating one from the other can’t work in the long term.

Annual plants are pretty tough on the earth. Killing all soil life before planing with a single crop  at a time. Followed by plenty of pesticides. This is one thing the people at The Land Institute are trying to address with perennial crops.

Almost as alarming as climate change is top soil loss. Top soil loss is happening at an alarming rate and if we don’t build soil actively, we are in trouble, and won’t have enough outdoor space to grow. Modern Agriculture that provides us with vegetables is a problem in this regard. See this Scientific American article on how we have a limited time of farming left on earth if we don’t make some major changes.

Some techy people are working on solutions with garden towers that won’t rely on soil, but the jury is out on if this will help take pressure off the earth enough for it to repair or be repaired to the degree it needs to for us to go on.

Eating the animals is a different kind of debate, as the article points to near the end.

This particular discussion is crazy complex, and I’m willing to be wrong, but from what I’ve studied, we do need a closer connection between perennial plants, animals and humans.

Food needs to be created more locally, and with more ethics. And we need to carefully have these discussions so that we don’t overstep what we actually know.

OK – end rant. More posts soon I hope. 

 

Homesteading, Camping, Madness and more Conversations on Collapse

A friend emailed me a few months ago, and I’m just getting around to posting it now. We were going back and forth about climate change and peak oil. Both of them seem to be crazy issues that very well may impact civilization heavily.
Here is the email I received.

I feel as if there should be another side to the Evolver front, something much more concrete. Yes the Urban homesteading thing is good and important, I’ve even thought about storing up seeds for some prolonged emergency. I also have to wonder if I’m going insane.

I feel like there might be a need, either in myself or in the world around me, to relearn concrete skills like building things with your hands, or making things. How do you build a wall? How do make your own fabric/sew. Things that indicate self reliance, seem to be an important issue overall, but it almost seems like in the near future, things like: how to get clean water, how to feed yourself if you arent able to go to a grocery store, will become very important.

Then I have to stop myself and wonder: Am I just buying into the madness? If so, I feel that I’m doing so in a reserved way. Yes I have camping gear, and its all pretty new and usable. No I’m not going to get the most expensive sleeping bag and a economical backpack, and waste 500 bucks on a tent, that seems overkill. But yes I’d like to get a decent tent for camping purposes, or just in case I need a shelter asap, and that I can put it together and get inside it you know?

I dont think we’ll be forced to hide in our houses with the shades drawn, doors nailed shut, but it seems like a wise thing to have ready no?

I guess the good thing about going crazy, is that you don’t really know it.

How do we balance our daily commuter lives, and also plan/think about the coming changes to civilization? Big questions and big answers should be asked if we want to respond intelligently.

Personally, I’m working towards becoming debt free, and having a useful skill set that would help get me through some craziness. Maybe I’ll learn first aid? Maybe an EMT class?

Who knows. While we still have fossils left to burn, I plan on taking advantage. Seeing the world, and learning/experiencing as much as possible.

Mushrooming Fun: Stumbling towards the Light

A few years ago, Paul Stamets came into my life via a Ted Talk titled “Six Ways Mushrooms can Save the World”
http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world.html

This was the summer of 2005, my first summer free from College. I was living at home with my parents at the time, and decided to do as many inter library loans on the books Stamets published as I could.

His book Mycelium running awed me into becoming a believer. How intelligently organized Mycelium are as a life form is astounding, and one would be hard pressed to be disinterested in hearing Stamets speak about many of the fascinating aspects of these organisms.

As an example, here is a video of him speaking.

My passion led me to Evolver which was starting a pseudo bio-mimicry operation by calling the regional groups spores, to represent the intelligent nature of these nodal networks of people who are doing work to make the world a more beautiful place.

I then started learning what I needed to in order to grow mushrooms, and started growing Shiitake mushrooms in the summer of 2009. It was an interesting project, but failed because I didn’t make the proper drain holes. Now I am fully equipped with a huge pressure cooker, and machines to make Myco-bags. Sealed and sterilized plastic bags that can grow mushrooms of almost any variety depending on the growth medium used. I used wild bird seed (CHEAP), and so far it looks like the oyster mushrooms are loving it (Pics coming soon).
A friend of mine pointed me to MycoRiseUp, a group that wants to be an incubator for mushroom businesses. http://www.mycoriseup.com/about/about-mycoriseup/ We started brainstorming how to create and run a worker owned Mushroom business and laboratory. How could we do this on the bio-regional level so that we can act appropriately in our hugely diverse eco-systems? How could we have a bio-regional myco remediation task force armed and ready to help work on toxic waste sites when they happen? Can we open-source and share our business plans to help share this new paradigm

This is the next level of things to come… smaller scale with a local and regional focus.

Japan, Nuclear Energy, and a Smaller Scale Future.

Well, when they say low amount, you know, you need one millionth of a gram of plutonium inhaled into your lung, to give you cancer. They are measuring the external gamma radiation, running around with Geiger counters. But that doesn’t give you any indication at all of the kind of isotopes which make up the radiation that they are measuring. They don’t know what they are talking about.
Dr. Helen Caldicott – March 25
http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-03-26/dr-helen-caldicott-nuclear-disaster-japan

Nukes in this age of climate change and panic have been pushed by many as the only solution. I tend to think that we are in a position where we can use a suite of known and yet unknown (un-popularized) solutions to solve the energy and climate crisis. Dr Caldicott in this video voices clearly some of the many thoughts she has on the nuclear issue regarding the 2011 Japanese incident which threatens to poison large portions of the planet… if not all of it.

Maybe it is time for more small scale projects to be rolled out, instead of increasingly dangerous solutions. For example this nickel hydrogen reactor pushing 2.5 million watt hours.

It isn’t just about the planet heating up from climate change anymore… its really about not poisoning the earth that grows our food for us… if we poison it enough, where else can we go?

How can we work towards this? How can we work ourselves off of the coal / nuclear habit? Its going to take time, and I’d love to see a Manhattan project sized initiative working us out of this very dangerous slide on which we find ourselves.

More data on Japan here – http://www.undispatch.com/japan-earthquake-tsunami-and-nuclear-crisis-facts-and-figures-2