Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Am A Colony of Organisms of Which "I" Am 10%

Dr. Bonnie Bassler of Princeton University describes an amazing bacterial "social life." Yes, they actually communicate  in rather intricate ways. --That's the primary thrust of the following video. But she says something else, about a minute into the video, that ought to catch your attention, I think. Paraphrased: The human body has about a trillion cells in it. And those trillion cells host--either in you or on you--about 10 trillion bacteria. You have about 30,000 genes in you; the bacteria you host have about 100 times the amount of genetic material or information. "So," says Bassler, "when I look at you, I think of you as 1 or 10 percent human and either 90 or 99 percent bacterial."
Based on a study of the bacteria on 51 different people's hands, researchers found that the average person had more than 150 different species of bacteria living on his or her hands. But get this. The researchers summarize their findings in this way: "[W]e identified a total of 4,742 unique phylotypes [species of bacteria] across all of the hands examined. Although there was a core set of bacterial taxa commonly found on the palm surface, we observed pronounced intra- and interpersonal variation in bacterial community composition: hands from the same individual [i.e., the left and right hands--JAH] shared only 17% of their phylotypes, with different individuals sharing only 13%." 
(Thanks to John's Corner of the World blog)

Env. 'Prevention' Agency Enables Corporate Eco-rapists

It's no accident that factory farms have spread across the country. Weak environmental rules and bad farm policy have allowed factory farms to take over livestock production. Even if you don't live near one, there are things you can do to help get rid of factory farms.
Factory farms are regulated under a patchwork system that leaves communities vulnerable to often indifferent and underfunded state environmental enforcement. Factory farm permitting rules released by the Environmental "Prevention" Agency (EPA) in 2008 only require permits for facilities that declare their intention to release manure directly into waterways. Common manure management practices -- like cesspool lagoons and applying manure to cropland -- don't require any permit at all.

Communities across the country are suffering from water contaminated by manure lagoon failures, waste seeping into aquifers, runoff from oversprayed fields and air pollution from overcrowded livestock operations.

Can you tell the EPA that it is time to regulate factory farms?

Click here. (BTW, sending a letter is not enough.)

10 Skills Needed To Thrive In A Post-Collapse World, By Jeffrey Green

The only form of wealth in a collapsed civilization is the knowledge and skills to produce something of human value.
Here are 10 invaluable skills that will likely help you sustain yourself in a hand-made local world:
1. Organic Gardening and Seed Saving: Skills involving food production will be the most valuable in a post-collapse society. Learning to grow your own food is a must.  Obviously, it is necessary to feed your family, but you will also be able to trade your abundance for other items. Additionally, learning to save seeds will also provide another excellent means of trade.
2. Food Processing and Preservation: Learning to process and preserve foods will be another huge skill in a post-collapse world. Taking seasonal abundance and preserving it for future consumption or trade will be vital.  Remember, learning to do this with limited electricity is a must. This can also include learning to brew beer, mead, vinegar, or other alcoholic beverages from meager ingredients.
3. Hunting, Fishing, and Gathering: Learning to fish and hunt is essential to survival. Having the proper gear and training will be priceless after the collapse of modern civilization.  Having reference guides for edible plants in your region, repairing weapons, trapping wild game, and fishing are great tools to have if you haven’t the time to learn them now. In regards to weapons, your ability to use them also gives you the skill of working security.
4. Animal Husbandry: Notice the first four categories are related to food production.  It’s that important.  Just gaining knowledge of one of these categories will give you an invaluable skill to thrive in a post-apocalyptic world.  Knowledge of animal husbandry can provide endless amounts of sustainable meat, eggs, and milk to you and your tribe.
5. Construction: Construction skills will be very important in a shattered civilization.  These skills, especially without power tools, are not something you learn overnight.  If you have some basic skills it may be worth learning a few techniques for building small structures with crude hand tools.  There are many books teaching anyone how to build basic cabins, sheds, and composting outhouses.
6. Alternative Energy and Fuels: Having the knowledge to implement alternative energy systems will make you a wealthy survivor in a “dark” world. You can learn to build your own alternative energy systems, or you can purchase back up solar generators in preparation for emergencies. There are also small fuel refinery systems available like the biodiesel Fuelmeister, and the new invention from Japan that turns plastic into oil.  Knowledge of how to create energy would be invaluable when oil is scarce.
7. Water Purification: Since it’s difficult to pump well water without electricity and with surface water likely to be contaminated, clean water will be in very limited supply.  Learning to purify water will allow you thrive during this time. You can also purchase water filters for your go-bag that will last weeks, and you can have back-up tablets should you need them.  However, the skill and knowledge to purify water should be the goal as that can never run out.
8. Basic First Aid and Natural Medicine: This is another skill that can take years to develop and learn, but that will be crucial when supply lines of pharmaceuticals are cut off and hospitals are over-run. Knowledge of growing herbal gardens for making medicine at home will prove to be very important.  Learning basic procedures for stitching wounds, CPR, and more will also be of great assistance.  Being the tribe’s shaman with a natural medicine chest is a prestigious position
9. Mechanics: Mechanics for cars, motorcycles, tractors and other machinery will likely be in high demand.  In addition, bicycle mechanics will also fair well in world where fuel is very expensive or hard to come by.  These are also skills that are not learned over night, but it will be wise to at least have access to books or how-to videos.
10. Soap and Candle Making: With long supply lines decimated and electricity on the fritz, soap and candle makers will provide a valuable product. Clearly some preparation of storing raw materials may be needed to achieve trade-able levels of these goods.  Even if you just had the knowledge to make soap or candles just for your immediate tribe, you will be much better off for it.

Read the whole article here...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Taking Back Our Lives from the Wall Street Mafia

pm180_150.jpg“Get rid of Wall Street!” says David C. Korten, author of Agenda for a New Economy and The Great Turning. Wall Street is about phantom wealth — real wealth is about happy, healthy families, local living economies in balance with Earth’s resources, and caring, resilient communities that provide life’s basics, like food, shelter, and education. To do that, we must change the rules to reduce the power of corporations, the politicians in their pocket, and a destructive money system. (www.davidkorten.org). (From Peak Moment TV)


Narrated by Richard Heinberg


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Quantitative Easing Explained

This is one of those videos that is, and should, be going viral. Should easily go beyond a million today at the rate it's being watched.
"How funny, how true and how pathetic!", "Boring subjects are so much easier to understand when explained by cute robot-voiced cartoon characters", say friends at Facebook.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Century of Challenges

Just attended the 2010 International Conference on Sustainability in Grand Rapids where we heard Nicole Foss address some VERY serious issues. The video below is a small snip from a much longer video available at her blog.
To order the interactive video presentation (only $12.50!! ) of her lecture "A Century of Challenges" , PLEASE CLICK HERE

Nicole Foss is senior editor for The Automatic Earth (where she writes as Stoneleigh) and former editor of The Oil Drum - Canada.  Foss recently completed a speaking tour of North America and Europe where she described the interaction of peak oil and debt deflation. Foss also presents at the ASPO-USA conference and the European Biodiversity Conference in Brussels.
You can also listen to an MP3 of her talk here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Coppice Agroforestry"

You can help this happen.

We humans must develop land management systems that provide diverse products to meet our needs while regenerating healthy ecosystems. Coppice agroforestry systems can do exactly this.

Many woody plants resprout from the stump or root suckers when cut to the ground--we call the regrowth "coppice", and the management system "coppicing". Many ancient cultures understood this plant behavior and managed coppice to produce their fuel, craft and building materials, livestock fodder, fencing, and much more. In North America, coppicing was a casualty of European emigration from a culture of resource conservation (by necessity) to one of widespread overexploitation and industrialization. We now must re-engage with these practices and develop them to a high art for our times and for our future.

Mark Krawczyk (www.keylinevermont.com and www.rivenwoodcrafts.com) and Dave Jacke (www.edibleforestgardens.com) have therefore decided to write "Coppice Agroforestry: Perennial Silviculture for the 21st Century." Coppice Agroforestry will serve as a detailed manual for foresters, farmers, craftspeople, and land managers describing the history, ecology, economics, design, and management of agroforestry systems based on the repeated harvest of small diameter wood products from resprouting tree stumps. Bridging ancient coppice traditions and cutting-edge agroecosystem design, Coppice Agroforestry will articulate a practical vision of forest management that integrates ecosystem health, economic viability, multi-generational tree crops, and diverse non-timber forest products. Our book will fill several critical gaps that so far have been unfilled in the literature on coppice woodlands - namely:

- How to apply this strategy to North American ecosystems and species;
- Effective design processes for multifunctional, productive landscapes;
- Details on coppice system establishment;
- Consolidated research from a scattered literature;
- Data on projected system yields;
- An in-depth discussion of coppice products and market potential.

As we strive for solutions to stabilize our communities, economies and ecologies, it’s vital that we come prepared with a diverse and well-stocked toolbox. Coppice woodland management can and will provide complementary solutions for a post-petroleum world. We feel eager to contribute to this expanding toolbox with Coppice Agroforestry.

While we have found publishers interested in this book, we have chosen to self-finance the manuscript production phase, and need help to do so. We have already begun work, with literature research, searches for case studies, and first drafts underway. We need money to support us while we work this winter and next spring. We need money to cover the costs of research (many of the resources we need to access are overseas and therefore expensive to acquire). We also need to travel to visit case study sites, interview practitioners and see their systems first-hand, and take photographs, measurements, and so on. While we seek $5,000 to get us going, we will gladly accept much more in support of this work. We'll focus first on using the money for travels to visit case study sites. We expect we will need about $18,000 to fully fund the writing of this book.

We look forward to hearing from you all, to developing this resource in support of our planet and people, and to sharing the results of our work with you in the future! Thanks very much!