Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Building higher education around sustainability (journal)

Sustainability science as a foundation for higher education

Stephen Mulkey Sustainability: The Journal of Record

Lays down a challenge to all those working in higher eduction to put sustainability at the heart of their teaching and curriculum development in order to produce the next generation of sustainability leaders. Suggests various practical ways this could be done.

International business risk from climate change (report)

Climate Change and Environmental Risk

This is something a bit different; a business-focused analysis of risks posed by climate change around the world. Maplecroft’s suite of climate change products features analysis and mapping tools to enable the assessment and comparison of risk to supply chains, operations and investments worldwide. As well as a climate change atlas, Maplecroft produce an in-depth climate change vulnerability index covering every country in the world.

NB: Maplecroft is a commercial organisation and its products are not endorsed by the Permaculture Association

Climate change having clear impact on USA (report)

Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report

The draft report from the leading US government committee on climate change makes grim reading, concluding that climate change is already having a clear impact on food production and weather patterns in the US and that this will intensify if action is not taken. It also concludes that climate change is almost entirely due to human causes.


UN stresses challenges to food production (report)

Our Nutrient World: The challenge to produce more food and energy with less pollution

This report highlights how nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers are estimated to feed half the human population alive today, and how they will remain critical in the future, especially given increasing population and potential bioenergy needs. Yet high nutrient use has created a web of pollution affecting the environment and human health, while insufficient access to nutrients has led to soil degradation, causing food insecurity and exacerbating the loss of natural ecosystems. This report shows how these problems cross all global change challenges, threatening water, air and soil quality, climate balance, stratospheric ozone and biodiversity.

Guide to sustainable fish (on-line)

Good Fish Guide: The Consumer Guide to Ethical Seafood

The Marine Conservation Society's on-line guide to sustainable fish consumption will help you choose which fish to eat without damaging the planet.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Global energy crisis caused global financial crisis (report)

Perfect Storm: Energy, Finance and the End of Growth

Not for the faint-hearted, this report by respected analysts Tullett Prebon creates a direct link between the current crisis in the world economy and a crisis in energy. The economic growth of the last two hundred years has been based on the consumption of more and more energy, but as that energy becomes harder to obtain and more costly to use growth will inevitably slow, or even stop. In the short term the gap was plugged by growing levels of debt, but since the 2008 crisis this has become unsustainable, leaving the world facing an unprecedented economic crisis that certainly means an end to economic growth, and may mean the end of the economy as we know it.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Biochar and agroforestry offset climate change (journal)

Agroforestry and biochar to offset climate change: a review

Ilan Stavi, Rattan Lal Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 33: 1, Jan 2013

Agroforestry combined with the application of biochar to the soil holds out considerable promise in reducing climate change. This article reviews the evidence for the impact that these two techniques could have. It also includes a discussion of incentives to persuade farmers to introduce such techniques. This article is freely available to all.

Permaculture in Pots (book)

Permaculture in Pots: How to Grow Food in Small Urban Spaces

Juliet Kemp, Permanent Publications £12.75

In these times of soaring food prices, growing food in cities is becoming the big urban trend. Permaculture in Pots shows you how to get started with whatever space you have available – appealing to those who feel powerless to meet their own subsistence needs through lack of growing space. Month by month we learn what to grow on a balcony or in a container garden, using low impact permaculture principles.  Each month’s section details jobs to be done; how to plan ahead for the next season; and which fruit and veg to sow, grow and eat. Includes recipes, photos and anecdotes.

Making an urban permaculture paradise (book)

Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City

by Eric Toensmeier, Jonathan Bates

Chelsea Green Books, $19.95

When the authors began, their tenth-of-an-acre lot was barren ground, peppered with concrete, asphalt, and brick. They designed a “permaculture paradise” with more than two hundred low-maintenance edible plants in an innovative food forest on a small city lot. The book explains the principles and practices of permaculture, the choice of exotic and unusual food plants, the techniques of design and cultivation, and, of course, the adventures and mistakes in the process. Packed full of detailed, useful information about designing a highly productive permaculture garden, Paradise Lot is also a funny and charming story of how two single guys realised the garden of their dreams and met women to share it with.

Create your own local energy project (book)

Power from the People: How to Organize, Finance, and Launch Local Energy Projects

by Greg Pahl, Chelsea Green Publishers $19.95

More than ninety percent of the electricity we use to light our communities, and nearly all the energy we use to run our cars, heat our homes, and power our factories comes from large, centralized, highly polluting, nonrenewable sources of energy. It doesn’t have to be that way. Communities can plan, finance, and produce their own local, renewable energy that is reliable, safe, and clean. Homeowners, co-ops, nonprofits, governments, and businesses are already putting power in the hands of local communities through distributed energy programs and energy-efficiency measures.


Creating local, secure food systems (book)

Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems

by Philip Ackerman-Leist , Chelsea Green Publishers

This book focuses on the creation of a completely new food system which is local, sustainable and secure. Showcasing some of the most promising, replicable models for growing, processing, and distributing sustainably grown food, it points the reader toward the next stages of the food revolution. It also covers the full landscape of the burgeoning local-food movement, from rural to suburban to urban, and from backyard gardens to large-scale food enterprises.

The ethics of bio-technologically and meat (#journal)

Meet Shmeat: Food System Ethics, Biotechnology and Re-Worlding Technoscience

Jacob Metcalf, Parallax  Vol 19, Issue 1, 2013

Meet Shmeat: Food System Ethics, Biotechnology and Re-Worlding TechnoscienceDiscusses the extravagant promises made by those developing meat produced using bio-technology, and the moral and ethical problems the development of such foods creates.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Permaculture in higher education institutes (on-line)

Moving Beyond Sustainability at Institutes of Higher Education: The Potential of a Permaculture Initiative at Texas State University-San Marcos

Tritsch, Katherine (2013), undergraduate thesis.

Discusses the current short comings of environmental sustainability in institutions of higher education and suggests permaculture as a way forward. The second part of the paper sets out a design for a permaculture initiative in a university.

The potential of permaculutre in Malawi (on-line)

The Potential of Permaculture

Abigail Conrad, Oral Paper Presentation, Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting, Merida, Mexico, 2010

Permaculture is a potential solution for the food insecurity and the economic problems faced by smallholder farmers in Central Malawi. This paper discusses the author's ethnographic research, the agricultural practices of smallholder farmers, and their dependence on maize, proposing permaculture as an alternative agricultural strategy.

Biochar production that heats domestic water (journal)

Capturing Heat from a Batch Biochar Production System for Use in Greenhouses and Hoop Houses

Wayne S. Teel, Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology A 2 (2012) 1332-1343

Describes a project to develop a small-scale biochar making burner that would also provide heat for a greenhouse and domestic water heating. The project was eventually successful, with an efficient burner producing good quality biochar and a fair amount of heat.

Permaculture design for Aral Sea watershed

Permaculture Restoration of the Aral Sea Watershed

Andrew Jones (2012), Permaculture Restoration of the Aral Sea Watershed, in  Edelstein, Cerny & Gadaev (ed.) Disaster by Design: The Aral Sea and its Lessons for Sustainability (Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, Volume 20), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.391-409
Sets out a design for a truly mammoth permaculutre project, the restoration of the highly-degraded Aral Sea watershed. Includes consideration of water, forestry, vegetation and human needs which would completely restore the shattered eco-system. If implemented, this would surely be the largest permaculture project in the world to date.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Half of all food grown is wasted (report)

Global Food, Waste Not Want Not

Institution of Mechanical Engineers (2012)
Today, we produce about four billion metric tonnes of food per annum. Yet due to poor practices in harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as market and consumer wastage, it is estimated that 30–50% (or 1.2–2 billion tonnes) of all food produced never reaches a human stomach. Furthermore, this figure does not reflect the fact that large amounts of land, energy, fertilisers and water have also been lost in the production of foodstuffs which simply end up as waste. This level of wastage is a tragedy that cannot continue if we are to succeed in the challenge of sustainably meeting our future food demands.

Survey of Community Energy in the UK (report)

Community Energy in the UK

Seyfang G, Park JJ, Smith A (2012)

Presents new evidence from the first UK-wide survey of community energy projects and assesses the policy needs of the community energy movement. Concludes that community energy groups are highly diverse and deeply rooted in civil society, quite different from large energy companies. Policy support therefore needs to be long term and consistent if this new approach to energy provision is to succeed.

Permaculturalists have a lower eco-footprint (#journal)

Relative benefits of technology and occupant behaviour in moving towards a more energy efficient, sustainable housing paradigm

Pilkington B, Roach R, Perkins J (2011)Energy Policy, v.39, nr.9, pp.4962-4970

Based on two small research projects, the authors argue that occupant behaviour is as important as technology in determining the energy used by a household. Householders who were trained in how to maximise the energy-saving benefits of their houses generally used considerably less energy than those who did not, while permaculture practitioners had an environmental footprint considerably lower than those who lived in purpose built eco-homes. Thus housing policy, which focuses solely on technology, may be missing an important factor in energy efficiency.