Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

The insanity of industrial agriculture

February 14, 2013

There was an article in this morning’s Melbourne Age that made me choke on my mueslii.

I can’t find the article at the Age’s website to link to, so here’s the gist of it.

A farmer in the Victorian Mallee is growing corn instead of wheat for the first time this season (for overseas readers, the Mallee is an area in the north-west of the state; hot and dry and traditionally wheat-growing country).

Those of you who’ve grown corn in your veggie garden know it’s a hungry and thirsty crop—needing lots of fertiliser and lots of water (I haven’t grown it for the past 2 years for that reason).

The farmer (let’s call him Joe Bloggs), has planted 50 hectares of corn—almost 4 million plants. Joe says that whereas wheat might have cost him $2000 to put in, the corn seed cost him $20,000. In addition, it needs 450 kilos of fertiliser instead of the 100 kilos for wheat. Insanity #1.

The corn receives 10 long watering sessions in the growing season. The article says the water is irrigation water. That probably means Joe Bloggs has permission to take it fom the nearest river. Forget ecological flows. Farming takes precedence over river health every time.

Oh, and this isn’t sweet corn, this is maize corn—the stuff that’s grown for stockfeed and processing to modified starches and high fructose corn syrup for the food industry—in other words, used to make confectionery, snack foods and soft drinks. The sort of stuff that’s contributing to the obesity epidemic worldwide. Insanity #2.

The positive spin in this article has to be seen read to be believed:

The evening light brings out the best in (Joe Bloggs) corn crop. The softer sunshine gives it a golden tinge, the abundant leaves look healthy and green, and when the breeze picks up they create a rustling chorus across 50 hectares.

No mention of the waste of water; the poisoning of the soil with chemical fertilisers (probably there’s chemical spraying involved, too) and the human health-destroying properties of the end products.

In my view Joe Bloggs isn’t a very responsible farmer. I’d love to meet him and give him a piece of my mind.

Memo to WordPress

December 3, 2012

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!!!

So how come you’ve changed the way media is uploaded (as in images in blogposts)??

Haven’t you got anything better to do than tamper with the system? It was working OK before.

Now I find that instead of being able to select from my files which image I upload, you’re showing me every darn image I have in my system, whether I want to see it or not. And sometimes it’s not even the right way up!! And I can’t rotate it like I did before. Stoopid!!! How much memory is that taking out of my poor struggling Firefox!!

Maybe it’s time to move over to Blogger.

Back to basics

September 1, 2012

That’s where they’re going in Greece as the recession hits.

It will happen here too, eventually, and those of us who are already delving into self-sufficiency will be way ahead of the herd as the reality hits.

I know plenty of people who haven’t got a clue how to provide food for themselves and who scoff at the idea that they should begin to prepare before the triple crises of economic recession, peak oil and climate change begin to take hold of society.

It’s going to be a steep learning curve for some and the self-sufficiency skills we’ve developed will be very much in demand.

The time might be near when I need to start thinking about putting my Permaculture Design Certificate Course to some use by teaching permaculture.

Tackling climate change

July 4, 2012

I came across this great video of Peter Cundall (if you live in Oz you won’t need to be told who he is!) at Green Gavin’s site.

Rather than attempt to embed the video here (which I’ve never done before and would probably blow up the whole of WordPress if I tried), I’ll just refer you to Gavin’s site. If you haven’t met Gavin before, you’ll be amazed at what this guy is doing to reduce his impact on the planet. Go take a look.

While I’m here I may as well put forth my own views on the whole issue of climate change and that you-know-what tax!

I’m pretty disappointed that so many people have come out against the tax. I don’t just mean dummies like the scientifically-illiterate Leader of the Federal Opposition. Are ordinary people so dumb too that they really want themselves and their children to suffer the effects of climate change? It’s going to be pretty nasty when it really starts to kick in.

Peter Cundall points out that it’s really a pollution penalty tax. Which it is. Human activities (burning fossil fuels) are increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. I expect lots of people don’t care, one way or the other about the effects of this. Maybe they just don’t understand the effects or maybe they’re just wilfully blind. The rest of us, who are doing our best to reduce our CO2 emissions have a right to be angry at those who aren’t doing anything to reduce theirs. We’ve gotta live on this planet, too.

Personally, I don’t agree with compensating people for the tax, even though it looks like I’ll come out of it ahead. The whole idea of the tax is to force people to reduce their CO2 footprint. The tax should be a penalty for what is essentially pollution of the atmosphere which maintains the earth in a state conducive to life.

Giving people extra money means they’ll just spend it on more consumption, which means more CO2.

But then, nobody ever listens to me!  <sigh>   Back to the veggie garden!

The food industry—arch villain

May 19, 2012

Here’s an interesting blogpost.

But I guess we all knew that, didn’t we?

That’s why we’re growing our own.


Beautiful stuff

December 22, 2011

I like this guy’s writing. This is beautiful stuff.  In a nutshell…..what is wrong with industrial civilisation.

I note that he starts with a quote from Derrick Jensen. I have most of Jensen’s books and a CD of talks given by him. While I can re-read books by other authors many times, I find re-reading Jensen’s work difficult. That’s because in his criticism of industrial civilisation, he brings it home how damaging is this system we all live in and contribute to.  Anger, frustration and tears of despair is how I ended up after finishing Endgame, his huge 2-volume work.

I wrote to Jensen and said I would do everything I could to bring down industrial civilisation. He wrote back and thanked me. Then I thought, how on earth do I bring down a system that is so damaging to the planet’s life-support systems and one that almost everyone around me subscribes to? Without even knowing that’s what they’re doing? Then I thought, it will bring itself down eventually and I felt better.

Millions of life forms will die in humanity’s mad scramble to survive its own destructiveness. It’s more than likely Homo sapiens will be one of them.

I can handle that.

Sustainability rant

November 28, 2011

I’ve been meaning to do a rant about sustainability for some time and it’s just been triggered by the newly-arrived DVD I bought called Urban Permaculture, which features permaculture guru Geoff Lawton.

Now, don’t get me wrong; it’s a very good permaculture educational tool. There are lots of good ideas there for anyone interested in putting in a backyard permaculture system.

But Geoff keeps using that word, over and over and really, he should know better.

Sustainable means for a long time. A very long time. Millennia. Hundreds of millennia, even.

It’s not possible for anyone living in the here and now to claim that they’re living sustainably, because there’s no way future events can be forseen. Events that might cause a group of humans, or even our entire species to die out. Events like major climate change, for example.

Only if we leave descendants far into the future can they claim that we, their ancestors, lived sustainably. Because if you die out, you don’t leave descendants.

Similarly, going in the other direction, we can claim that our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived sustainably because we, their descendants, are here to prove it.

So, how do you define sustainable?

The best definition I’ve heard is the one we were taught in our permaculture design course:

“A system is sustainable if it produces more energy than it consumes, with at least enough surplus to maintain and repair itself during its lifetime.”

So, things and people can’t be sustainable. Sustainability applies to systems. And sustainability is about successful energy capture.

(Which is why I nearly had a cardiac arrest when I read in the morning paper recently, in an article relating to the carbon tax and how families can lower their carbon footprint, there was a family saying they’d “bought a more sustainable fridge”.  Aaarrgh!)

And there’s another point. Tacking ‘more’ onto sustainable. You can’t be more or less sustainable. There are no degrees of sustainability. Either you are or you aren’t. Either you can maintain your way of life for a very long time, or you die out.

Of course the big brain-dead no-no is tacking ‘growth’ onto sustainable. How many times have you heard the phrase ‘sustainable growth’?

Since it isn’t possible to be living sustainably if any part of that living relies on exploiting finite, non-renewable resources (like oil), or renewable ones at a greater rate than the renewal rate, and since no species can grow indefinitely on a finite planet, sustainable growth is an impossibility. An oxymoron. (I wonder if that’s because only a moron would believe in it?)

What people mostly mean when they say sustainable, is self-sufficient.

It makes much more sense to say, “I am trying to be more self-sufficient”, rather than, “I am trying to be more sustainable”, because that’s simply nonsense.

So please, watch how you use this latest buzz-word. In fact, don’t use it at all. Say self-sufficient, because that’s what you really mean.

And remember also, continued growth in a finite system is impossible. Either we stop it voluntarily, or nature will stop it for us.

The insanity of industrial farming

November 24, 2011

I’m a fan of Gene Logsdon’s writing. He writes at The Contrary Farmer.  He’s not a conventional farmer.

His latest post is an example of the insanity that is modern farming.

May the sanity that is permaculture one day replace all industrial agriculture.

Forward planning our food supply

November 1, 2011

Here’s a very thought-provoking article from Michael Lardelli at Energy Bulletin. Where will the food to feed a city come from when fossil fuels are no more? At the moment access to cheap oil (soon to become more expensive), means we can access food from far and wide. That situation can’t continue for much longer. Why aren’t we planning for it?

Lardelli says, “at an absolute theoretical minimum, a city of 1 million people would require over 400 tonnes of food per day”. When you think of it in those terms the implications of the decline in global oil supply are staggering. Where will our food come from without the transport that gets it to us?

I used to think a city like Melbourne would be able to provide all the food it needs from within the city boundaries, if it really tried. Think of all the gardens, naturestrips, parks and sports grounds that could be (and would have to be) used. Think of all the potentially productive land now covered in useless mown grass.

Now I’m not so sure.

Even if it could happen in theory, it needs to be planned for, as Lardelli says. And how many people are ‘peak oil’ aware enough to be deliberately planning for self-sufficiency. Very few, in my experience.

I know how hard it is. I tried to make a couple of neighbours aware of the peak oil issue; tried to encourage them to start growing food. It was a disaster. I was well and truly put down; told it was all a lot of crap and they had better things to do. So much for awareness raising. I won’t ever attempt it with anybody else.

It needs a major interruption (even just a temporary one) to our oil supply and hence our food supply, to wake people up.

Governments know about the oil supply decline, but they’re not informing the people; not forward planning for it. Just trying to fit more and more people into cities that eventually won’t be able to feed themselves.

Wonder when it’ll happen here?

October 24, 2011

The lights are going out all over Britain. Wonder when it’ll start happening here?

Of course in the cash-strapped UK they’re trying to save money, not trying to put less CO2 into the air. Not trying to do anything realistic about climate change. Oh, no!

It’s always amazes me that while we (well, most intelligent people), acknowledge climate change and the future problems it’ll cause, plus the fact that it’s almost certainly down to human activities, we just don’t seem able to do the hard yards and ban all unnecessary use of electricity & oil.

Remember the days when we didn’t have night sporting matches with all those blazing lights? Or when the shops closed at 5.30 pm and weren’t lit up all night? When TV and radio stations shut down at midnight? When we didn’t have huge plasma TV’s, dishwashers & dryers, petrol-driven lawnmowers, leaf blowers and line trimmers?

Is it any wonder CO2 levels from burning fossil fuels are increasing?

Turning out a few street lights isn’t going to help. It’s about as useless as putting low-energy light globes in your house. But it makes us feel good and while we’re doing the useless little things, we don’t have to think about doing the big things that will really matter.

If climate change causes the extinction of Homo sapiens (Wise Man?…’ve gotta be kidding!), then it’s probably no more than we deserve.