Friday, November 27, 2009

Try a Trike

Human Powered Machines

Eugene, Oregon

Pedaling to the Future

Bicycling on Three Wheels — Transportation of the Future?

pm154_150.jpgIn Peak Moment’s very first field production, bicycle enthusiast Galen Shumacher takes us for a spin on a three-wheeled “tadpole.” This human-powered vehicle (HPV), built for competition by the Chico State University HPV club, has two wheels in front and a single in back. Janaia’s unrehearsed ride shows that it’s easy to learn, comfortable to ride, stable, highly maneuverable, and fun! Galen also shows us the improved model being built for the upcoming competition. (P.S. they won!)

After 500 Years Indigenous Permaculture Rises Again

Cooperative action amongst indigenous permaculturists from around the Americas (South Dakota, El Salvador, and California's San Francisco Bay Area, to name a few), has generated growing interest in practical, low-cost solutions to many of their cultures' basic problems. This puts them way ahead of the curve in contrast to the colonial cultures in which they live.

Tribes represented by program leaders include Maya, Nahuat, Shuar, Lakota, Pima, Yaqui, Sonsonate (of El Salvador), and Oglala Lakota.
We all stand to gain a lot from their experience, experiments, and example. Bravo!

The Indigenous Permaculture Program is a grassroots organization that supports community food security to revitalize ecological health.

  • Revitalize Native and local communities through indigenous science, land stewardship, sustainable agriculture, community food security, and sustainable development.
  • Promote awareness of human impacts on the natural environment and on Indigenous communities when unsustainable choices are made
  • Use locally-available resources and demonstrate the power of conscious choices to create self-sufficient communities that care for and preserve Mother Earth

We share traditional farming practices and apply environmentally and culturally-appropriate technology, with the ultimate goal of community food security, and do this work in an affordable way that builds capacity within the community. We provide holistic support to design and implement community food security projects, inspired by indigenous peoples' understanding of how to live in place.

300 Year Old Food Forest in Viet Nam

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Urban Food Growing in Havana, Cuba

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Whole Earth Catalog

In 1968 Stewart Brand launched an innovative publication called The Whole Earth Catalog. It was groundbreaking, enlightening, and spawned a group of later publications. It's also where I learned about permaculture in a 1978 issue of the always outstanding Co-Evolution Quarterly.

The collection of that work provided on this site is not complete — and probably never will be — but it is a gift to readers who loved the CATALOG and those who are discovering it for the first time. You can also use the viewer to explore back issues of Co-Evolution Quarterly and its replacement Whole Earth Review. If you've never been blessed to encounter these excellent publications, now's your chance. Enjoy!

Workbikes, Bike Trailers & Add-Ons, continued...

Equinox Trailers
BicycleR Evolution
Blue Sky Cycle Carts
Community Bike Cart Design
Center for Appropriate Transport
Lightfoot Cycles
& Build your own...

Links I Like...

The IHPVA acts as the sanctioning body for new World Records in human powered land, water and air vehicles set under the Rules of the International Human Powered Vehicle Association ("IHPVA"). The IHPVA may also act as a sanctioning body for races and other sporting events and records in non-stored-fuel land, water and air vehicles.

Additionally the IHPVA serves as a source of information for all human powered land, water and air records and all other records pertinent to the pursuit of human power. The IHPVA also acts as a source of technological information on human powered transportation.


Friend and "Mushroom Man" Alan Muskat, from Asheville NC, shares...

Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern

Bizarre Foods bonus segment

Be Aware of Falling Food.....

The following is an excerpt from David Jacke's and Eric Toensmeier's two-volume book Edible Forest Gardens (available from Permaculture Activist magazine).

Picture yourself in a forest where almost everything around you is food. Mature and maturing fruit and nut trees form an open canopy. If you look carefully, you can see fruits swelling on many branches—pears, apples, persimmons, pecans, and chestnuts. Shrubs fill the gaps in the canopy. They bear raspberries, blueberries, currants, hazelnuts, and other lesser-known fruits, flowers, and nuts at different times of the year. Assorted native wildflowers, wild edibles, herbs, and perennial vegetables thickly cover the ground. You use many of these plants for food or medicine. Some attract beneficial insects, birds, and butterflies. Others act as soil builders, or simply help keep out weeds. Here and there vines climb on trees, shrubs, or arbors with fruit hanging through the foliage—hardy kiwis, grapes, and passionflower fruits. In sunnier glades large stands of Jerusalem artichokes grow together with groundnut vines. These plants support one another as they store energy in their roots for later harvest and winter storage. Their bright yellow and deep violet flowers enjoy the radiant warmth from the sky. This is an edible forest garden.

What is Edible Forest Gardening?

Edible forest gardening is the art and science of putting plants together in woodlandlike patterns that forge mutually beneficial relationships, creating a garden ecosystem that is more than the sum of its parts. You can grow fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, other useful plants, and animals in a way that mimics natural ecosystems. You can create a beautiful, diverse, high-yield garden. If designed with care and deep understanding of ecosystem function, you can also design a garden that is largely self-maintaining. In many of the world's temperate-climate regions, your garden would soon start reverting to forest if you were to stop managing it. We humans work hard to hold back succession—mowing, weeding, plowing, and spraying. If the successional process were the wind, we would be constantly motoring against it. Why not put up a sail and glide along with the land's natural tendency to grow trees? By mimicking the structure and function of forest ecosystems we can gain a number of benefits.

Why Grow an Edible Forest Garden?
While each forest gardener will have unique design goals, forest gardening in general has three primary practical intentions:
  • High yields of diverse products such as food, fuel, fiber, fodder, fertilizer, 'farmaceuticals' and fun;
  • A largely self-maintaining garden and;
  • A healthy ecosystem.
These three goals are mutually reinforcing. For example, diverse crops make it easier to design a healthy, self-maintaining ecosystem, and a healthy garden ecosystem should have reduced maintenance requirements. However, forest gardening also has higher aims. As Masanobu Fukuoka once said, "The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings." How we garden reflects our worldview.

The ultimate goal of forest gardening is not only the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of new ways of seeing, of thinking, and of acting in the world. Forest gardening gives us a visceral experience of ecology in action, teaching us how the planet works and changing our self-perceptions. Forest gardening helps us take our rightful place as part of nature doing nature's work, rather than as separate entities intervening in and dominating the natural world.

Read the rest of the article....
Buy the book here...

Rob Hopkins at TED

Rob Hopkins reminds us that the oil our world depends on is steadily running out. He proposes a unique solution to this problem -- the Transition response, where we prepare ourselves for life without oil and sacrifice our luxuries to build systems and communities that are completely independent of fossil fuels.

Rob Hopkins is the founder of the Transition movement, a radically hopeful and community-driven approach to creating societies independent of fossil fuel.

Conclusion? - Consume MUCH Less


Santa Rosa, CA (13. November 2009)

An alarming new study jointly released by two prominent California-based environmental/economic think tanks, concludes that unrelenting energy limits, even among alternative energy systems, will make it impossible for the industrial system to continue operating at its present scale, beyond the next few decades. The report finds that the current race by industries and governments to develop new sustainable energy technologies that can replace ecologically harmful and rapidly depleting fossil fuel and nuclear technologies, will not prove sufficient, and that this will require substantial adjustments in many operating assumptions of modern society.

The new study (“Searching for a Miracle: Net Energy Limits & the Fate of Industrial Society”) is the first major analysis to utilize the new research tools of “full life cycle assessment” and “net energy ratios” (Energy Returned on Energy Invested, EROEI), to compare all currently proposed future scenarios for how industrial society can face its long term future.

The report analyzes 18 of the most viable power production alternatives, from traditional fossil fuels and nuclear, through wind, solar, wave, geothermal, biomass, et. al. to identify their “net energy” ratios—the amount of energy that must be invested in them vs. the amount of energy they will be able to produce---as well as their environmental, social and geopolitical impacts. It also considers such important factors as resource and materials supply, resource location, transportation, waste disposal issues, and others to create a full life cycle picture of each technology’s impacts.

“Searching for a Miracle” was published by the International Forum on Globalization (IFG). The content was largely provided by the Post Carbon Institute, a think tank that works toward a transition to a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable world.

The principal author of the report is Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow of Post Carbon Institute, and the best-selling author of such books as “The Party’s Over”, ““Peak Everything”, and “Blackout”. The editor of the project--part of the IFG’s False Solutions program--is San Francisco author Jerry Mander, who is Founder and Distinguished Fellow of IFG. His previous popular books on economics and technology include: “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television”, “The Case Against the Global Economy”, and “Alternatives to Globalization”.

Following are a few of the main conclusions of this report:

✦ As the world’s higher-quality fossil fuel reserves rapidly deplete, no combination of alternative energy sources is likely to be sufficient to sustain industrial society at its present scale. Energy supply problems, perhaps severe, are likely during the coming decade, worsening as primary fuels become scarce and costly. Major adjustments will be required in industrial production and personal consumption; attention will need to be paid to stabilizing and reducing population levels over the long term.

✦ Fossil fuels and high-quality uranium ores are depleting rapidly; world oil production may already have peaked. Present expectations for new technological replacements are probably overly optimistic with regard to ecological sustainability, potential scale of development, and levels of “net energy” gain—i.e., the amount of energy actually yielded once energy inputs for the production process have been subtracted. Technologies such as “carbon capture and sequestration” and “4th generation” nuclear power remain largely hypothetical and may never be deployed on a large scale, while the prospects for oil shale, tar sands, and shale gas have been overstated to varying degrees.

✦ Certain energy production systems suffer from low or negative net energy gain; these include most biofuels, hydrogen systems, oil shale, tar sands, and biomass, some of which also present unacceptable environmental problems (as is also true of conventional fossil fuels and nuclear power). So far, the best prospects for large-scale production and net-energy performance remain wind energy and certain forms of solar, but these still face important limitations due to intermittency of supply, remoteness of the best resources, materials needed for large-scale deployment, and scale potential. Tidal and geothermal power—which can have high net-energy yield but suffer from a low potential energy production capacity—will prove marginally useful in a diverse future energy supply mix.

✦ Limits to future energy supply are more dramatic if environmental impacts are considered— including accelerating climate change, fresh water scarcity, destruction of food-growing lands, shortages of minerals, and threats to wildlife habitat.

✦ Given the above, it is necessary to prepare societies for dramatic shifts in consumption and lifestyle expectations. It will also be necessary to promote a new ethic of conservation throughout the industrial world. A sharp reversal of today’s globalization of commercial activity—inherently wasteful for its transport energy needs—must be anticipated and facilitated, and government leaders must encourage a rapid evolution toward economies based on localism especially for essential needs such as food and
energy. The study remarks that this is not necessarily a negative prospect, as some research shows that, once basic human needs are met, high material consumption levels do not correlate with high quality of life.

✦ The emphasis by policy makers on growth as the central goal and measure of modern economies is no longer practical or viable, as growth will be limited by both energy shortages and by society’s inability to continue venting energy production and consumption wastes (principally, carbon dioxide) into the environment without catastrophic consequences. Standards for economic success must shift from
gross metrics of economic activity, to more direct assessments of human well-being, equity, and the health of the natural world.

✦ With energy supplies diminishing, raw material resources similarly depleting, and crises such as climate change rapidly advancing, the long-term goal of satisfying the needs of the world’s poorest peoples—in their attempts to recover from centuries of colonialism, resource exploitation, and removal from traditional lands and economies—becomes ever more daunting. Efforts at relieving poverty, both domestically and internationally, will require more equitable reallocation of existing real wealth.

✦ These factors must all be taken very seriously by policy makers in all countries, and by global institutions that have thus far failed to be realistic about what will be required to avoid future social and economic breakdowns and geopolitical crises, as countries and peoples compete for dwindling energy resources, raw materials, and agricultural space. While it is not yet too late to change course, the opportunities to avoid catastrophic economic, environmental, social, and political impacts are few and quickly dwindling.

For further information, or additional copies of the report, please contact the organizations below:

500 N. Main St., Suite 100
Sebastopol, CA 95472 USA
Tel: +1.707.823.8700 • Fax: +1.866.797.5820 •

1009 General Kennedy Avenue, Suite 2
San Francisco, California 94129 USA
T: +1.415.561.7650 • F: +1.415.561.7651 •

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bloomington Preps for Peak Oil

Peter Bane and I have been proud to contribute to the creation of the document Redefining Prosperity: Energy Descent and Community Resilience (Peter wrote the section on Food Security). Our mayor and city council really like it and it could also be adopted by the county. It will likely serve as a peak oil transition template for many other communities in Indiana and elsewhere. Please note that it is a 257 page document and may take a while to download if your server is slow. Please share.

The specific charge of the Peak Oil Task Force is to acquire and study current and credible data; seek community feedback; coordinate efforts with other governmental agencies; work to educate the community; and, to develop a Bloomington Peak Oil Task Force Report for approval by the Mayor and Common Council outlining strategies the City and community might pursue to mitigate the effect of declining fuel supplies in areas including, but not limited to: transportation, municipal services, energy production and consumption, food security, water and wastewater.