Friday, 21 June 2013

Installing photovoltaic systems (book)

Planning and Installing Photovoltaic Systems: A Guide for Installers, Architects and Engineers, 3rd Edition

New third edition of the bestselling manual from the German Solar Energy Society (DGS), showing you the essential steps to plan and install a solar photovoltaic system. With a global focus, it has been updated to include sections on new technology and concepts, new legislation and the current PV market.

An essential manual for installers, engineers and architects, it details every subject necessary for successful project implementation, from the technical design to the legal and marketing issues of PV installation. This new edition now has a hardback spiro binding and includes a companion website.

Realising farmers' rights to genetic resources (book)

Realising Farmers' Rights to Crop Genetic Resources: Success Stories and Best Practices

Farmers' Rights are essential for maintaining crop genetic diversity, which is the basis of all food and agricultural production in the world. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture recognizes Farmers' Rights and provides for relevant measures. This book shows the necessity of realizing Farmers' Rights for poverty alleviation and food security, the practical possibilities of doing so, and the potential gains for development and society at large. It provides decision-makers and practitioners with a conceptual framework for understanding Farmers’ Rights and success stories showing how each of the elements of Farmers' Rights can be realized in practice.

Climate crisis can bring transformative change (book)

A Changing Environment for Human Security; Transformative Approaches to Research, Policy and Action

 Environmental change presents a new context and new opportunities for transformational change. This timely book will inspire new ways of understanding the relationship between environmental change and human security. The chapters in this book include critical analyses, case studies and reflections on contemporary environmental and social challenges, with a strong emphasis on those related to climate change. Human thoughts and actions have contributed to an environment of insecurity, manifested as multiple interacting threats that now represent a serious challenge to humanity. Yet humans also have the capacity to collectively transform the economic, political, social and cultural systems and structures that perpetuate human insecurities. The contributions show that in a changing environment, human security is not only a possibility, but a choice.

Human attitudes to nature and their consequences (book)

Thinking Through Landscape

Our attitude to nature has changed over time. This book explores the historical, literary and philosophical origins of the changes in our attitude to nature that allowed environmental catastrophes to happen. It presents a philosophical reflection on human societies’ attitude to the environment, informed by the history of the concept of landscape and the role played by the concept of nature in the human imagination and features a wealth of examples from around the world to help understand the contemporary environmental crisis in the context of both the built and natural environment.

 This book gives a critical survey of landscape thought and theory for students, researchers and anyone interested in human societies’ relation to nature in the fields of landscape studies, environmental philosophy, cultural geography and environmental history.

Principles of Ecological Landscape Design (book)

Principles of Ecological Landscape Design

Today, there is a growing demand for designed landscapes—from public parks to backyards—to be not only beautiful and functional, but also sustainable. Sustainability means more than just saving energy and resources. It requires integrating the landscapes we design with ecological systems. With Principles of Ecological Landscape Design, Travis Beck gives professionals and students the first book to translate the science of ecology into design practice. Beck draws on real world cases where professionals have put ecological principles to use in the built landscape.

Is sustainability still possible? (report)

State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible?

Every day, we are presented with a range of “sustainable” products and activities—from “green” cleaning supplies to carbon offsets—but with so much labeled as “sustainable,” the term has become essentially sustainababble, at best indicating a practice or product slightly less damaging than the conventional alternative. Is it time to abandon the concept altogether, or can we find an accurate way to measure sustainability? If so, how can we achieve it? And if not, how can we best prepare for the coming ecological decline?

In the latest edition of Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World series, scientists, policy experts, and thought leaders tackle these questions.

How to design good urban spaces (book)

Good Urbanism; Six steps to creating prosperous places

We all have a natural nesting instinct—we know what makes a good place. And a consensus has developed among urban planners and designers about the essential components of healthy, prosperous communities. So why aren’t these ideals being put into practice?

In Good Urbanism, Nan Ellin identifies the obstacles to creating thriving environments, and presents a six-step process to overcome them: prospect, polish, propose, prototype, promote, present. She argues that we need to reach beyond conventional planning to cultivate good ideas and leverage the resources to realize them.

America's battle over food rights (book)

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Food Rights: the escalating battle over who decides what we eat

Do Americans have the right to obtain their food privately from their friends and neighbours in the way their grandparents did? 'Yes' say a growing number of Americans who want locally grown food processed outside of the food industry. 'No' say public health regulators, who argue that all food must be regulated to ensure public health is maintained. These different answers are leading to a legal conflict which has seen farmers prosecuted for selling milk directly to the public. This book tells the story of the battle to determine who controls America's food.
o Americans have the right to privately obtain the foods of our choice from farmers, neighbors, and local producers, in the same way our grandparents and great grandparents used to do? - See more at:
Do Americans have the right to privately obtain the foods of our choice from farmers, neighbors, and local producers, in the same way our grandparents and great grandparents used to do?
Yes, say a growing number of people increasingly afraid that the mass-produced food sold at supermarkets is excessively processed, tainted with antibiotic residues and hormones, and lacking in important nutrients. These people, a million or more, are seeking foods outside the regulatory system, like raw milk, custom-slaughtered beef, and pastured eggs from chickens raised without soy, purchased directly from private membership-only food clubs that contract with Amish and other farmers.
Public-health and agriculture regulators, however, say no: Americans have no inherent right to eat what they want. In today's ever-more-dangerous food-safety environment, they argue, all food, no matter the source, must be closely regulated, and even barred, if it fails to meet certain standards. These regulators, headed up by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with help from state agriculture departments, police, and district-attorney detectives, are mounting intense and sophisticated investigative campaigns against farms and food clubs supplying privately exchanged food—even handcuffing and hauling off to jail, under threat of lengthy prison terms, those deemed in violation of food laws.
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights takes readers on a disturbing cross-country journey from Maine to California through a netherworld of Amish farmers paying big fees to questionable advisers to avoid the quagmire of America’s legal system, secret food police lurking in vans at farmers markets, cultish activists preaching the benefits of pathogens, U.S. Justice Department lawyers clashing with local sheriffs, small Maine towns passing ordinances to ban regulation, and suburban moms worried enough about the dangers of supermarket food that they’ll risk fines and jail to feed their children unprocessed, and unregulated, foods of their choosing.
- See more at:

The scope of agro-ecology - special issue (#journal)

Special Issue: "Agroecology and the Transformation of Agri-Food Systems"

This issue marks the change in title of this journal from Journal of Sustainable Agriculture to Agro-ecology and Sustainable Food Systems. To celebrate the change, it is a special issue looking at the scope of agro-ecology, what is meant by the term, and the political ideas that underpin it.

Exemplary indigenous resource management in India (#journal)

Integrated Agriculture and Allied Natural Resource Management in Northeast Mountains—Transformations and Assets Building

This study investigated human-ecosystem relationship for agriculture development using sustainable natural resource management strategies for improved livelihood in a cultural landscape inhabited of Apatani tribe in northeast India. The authors argue that social robustness, traditional institutions, and cultural obligations govern resource management. The agro-ecosystems exhibited a high ecological and economic efficiency that brings a high degree of self-sufficiency to the community. Resource management is done by village institutions through collective decisions. The integrated management of resources by Apatanis could be an exemplary model for any society to replicate.

Singing can resolve ecological conflicts (#journal)

 Demystifying the Cowboy Through His Song: How Cowboy Poetry and Music Create a Common Language Between Multiple-Use Conservationists and Forever-Wild Preservationists to Meet the Goals of Sustainable Agriculture

 Sometimes I see an article that is so wonderfully whacky it just has to go in The Digest. So get singing!

Though multiple-use conservationists (use the land for multiple purposes) and forever-wild preservationists (solely set aside land for nonhuman species) seem to be at odds, this article argues that key figures such as Gifford Pinchot and John Muir discredit this perceived discordance. As well, it probes into the unexplored arena of cowboy music gatherings as productive places for cooperation between the two groups. First, mystique of the cowboy is examined and unraveled through true stories of cowboy-environmentalist collaboration. This article addresses how cowboy poetry festivals function as entertainment and meeting places to support sustainable behavior through community-based social marketing techniques.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Potential crisis in soil nutrient depletion (#journal)

Nutrient stripping: the global disparity between food security and soil nutrient stocks

 The Green Revolution successfully increased food production but in doing so created a legacy of inherently leaky and unsustainable agricultural systems. Central to this are the problems of excessive nutrient mining. If agriculture is to balance the needs of food security with the delivery of other ecosystem services, then current rates of soil nutrient stripping must be reduced and the use of synthetic fertilisers made more efficient.

We explore the global extent of the problem, with specific emphasis on the failure of macronutrient management (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus) to deliver continued improvements in yield and the failure of agriculture to recognise the seriousness of micronutrient depletion (e.g. copper, zinc, selenium).

This study advocates that agricultural sustainability can only be accomplished using a whole-systems approach that thoroughly considers nutrient stocks, removals, exports and recycling. Society needs to socially and environmentally re-engineer agricultural systems at all scales. It is suggested that this will be best realised by national-scale initiatives. Failure to do so will lead to an inevitable and rapid decline in the delivery of provisioning services within agricultural systems.

Managing urban ecosystems (#journal)

Managing urban ecosystems for goods and services

Concomitant with the rise in the proportion of the global human population that resides in urban areas has been growth in awareness of the importance of the provision of ecosystem goods and services to those people. Urban areas are themselves of significance in this regard because of their areal extent, and hence the quantity of services falling within their bounds, and because of the need for local provision of services to urban residents.This article reviews key challenges to the effective management of ecosystem goods and services within urban areas.

Ecosystem change in Dorset, 1930 to 2000 (#journal)

Mapping ecosystem service and biodiversity changes over 70 years in a rural English county

Biodiversity and ecosystem services continue to be compromised by land-use change, which is often focussed on enhancing agricultural production. This article maps changes between the 1930s and 2000 in climate change amelioration services (carbon storage), provisioning services (agriculture and forestry) and plant species richness (biodiversity) for Dorset.

Land-use maps were combined with proxies of service delivery for the different habitats in the region. Biodiversity was mapped using plant survey data from the two periods. Overall, there were significant increases in agriculture and large losses in biodiversity, which reflect widespread intensification of land use. But there was no change in Dorset's carbon store.

The carbon storage and the delivery of provisioning services both became more unequally distributed, indicating a change from relatively homogeneous delivery of services to concentration into hotspots. Various frameworks could be informed by our approach, including the ecosystem service aims of the EU biodiversity strategy and the newly created UK Nature Improvement Areas.

Environemental risks of neonictinoids (#journal)

An overview of the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoid insecticides

Neonicotinoids are now the most widely used insecticides in the world. As neurotoxins with high toxicity to most arthropods, they provide effective pest control and have numerous uses in arable farming and horticulture. However, the prophylactic use of broad-spectrum pesticides goes against the long-established principles of integrated pest management (IPM), leading to environmental concerns.

It has recently emerged that neonicotinoids can persist and accumulate in soils. They are water soluble and prone to leaching into waterways. Being systemic, they are found in nectar and pollen of treated crops. Reported levels in soils, waterways, field margin plants and floral resources overlap substantially with concentrations that are sufficient to control pests in crops, and commonly exceed the LC50 (the concentration which kills 50% of individuals) for beneficial organisms. Concentrations in nectar and pollen in crops are sufficient to impact substantially on colony reproduction in bumblebees. Although vertebrates are less susceptible than arthropods, consumption of small numbers of dressed seeds offers a route to direct mortality in birds and mammals.

Desiging cities to maximise biodiversity (#journal)

Sharing or sparing? How should we grow the world's cities?

There has long been a debate about how agricultural land use should be distributed spatially. Advocates of land sparing argue that high-intensity food production on small units of land will conserve more natural habitat, but others argue that less intensive production over a greater area of land will reduce the overall load of human stressors upon ecosystems. This article applies some of this thinking to urbanization, reviewing the similarities and differences between the two systems and setting out a research agenda.

Intensification of urban systems to increase housing density leads to buildings being interspersed with small tracts of natural or semi-natural habitat patches (e.g. forest patches, parks). Urban extensification, on the other hand, is characterized by sprawling suburbanization with less concentrated, more distributed green space, predominantly in the form of backyard or streetscape vegetation. Regional scale analyses are urgently needed to determine which of these patterns of urban growth has a lower overall impact on biodiversity and to explore the most ecologically appropriate city layout.

Effect of climate change on insect herbivores (#journal)

Multi-factor climate change effects on insect herbivore performance

The impact of climate change on herbivorous insects can have far-reaching consequences for ecosystem processes. However, experiments investigating the combined effects of multiple climate change drivers on herbivorous insects are scarce. We independently manipulated three climate change drivers (CO2, warming, drought) in a Danish heathland ecosystem. Larval survival was lowest when drought, warming, and elevated CO2 were combined. Effects of climate change drivers depended on other co-acting factors and were mediated by changes in plant secondary compounds, nitrogen, and water content. Overall, drought was the most important factor for this insect herbivore. Our study shows that weight and survival of insect herbivores may decline under future climate. The complexity of insect herbivore responses increases with the number of combined climate change drivers.

Competition in plant communities (#journal)

Mechanisms of plant competition for nutrients, water and light

Competition for resources has long been considered a prevalent force in structuring plant communities and natural selection, yet our understanding of the mechanisms that underlie resource competition is still developing.

This article discusses the roles of supply pre-emption and availability reduction in competition for nutrients, water and light when supplied evenly in space and time. Understanding the mechanisms of competition also reveals how competition has influenced the evolution of plant species. In all, understanding the mechanisms of competition increases the predictability of interspecific interactions and reveals how competition has altered the evolution of plants.

2000 transition communities in Europe (report)

Europe in Transition: Local Communities leading the Way to a Low-Carbon Society

In cities, towns, villages and rural areas across Europe, small groups of people are coming together to develop and implement practical, local initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, and to strengthen the resilience and sustainability of their communities.

This publication tracks the development of this movement and profiles activities across 13 EU countries, from Transition initiatives in Leicester, to ecovillages in Ireland and Germany, community energy projects in Denmark and community supported agriculture in France. It also examines the networks that have developed to support these local projects and identifies the need for, and benefits of, further support and coordination at European level.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Funded PhD in low-energy innovation

Two PhD studentships in Innovation and Energy Demand (2013)

Sussex University are offering two fully funded PhD studentships in their new Research Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand. The focus of the PhD will be on low-energy innovations - defined as new technologies, organisational arrangements or modes of behaviour that are expected to improve energy efficiency and/or reduce energy demand.