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2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years

2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years

Xeriscape – landscaping whose time has come.

Xeriscape – landscaping whose time has come.

With drought conditions or lower than average precipitation becoming more widespread across the country, it’s time to revisit the principles of xeriscape gardening. Let’s take a look at the “classic” principles and we’ll update them, Garden Professor style.

Note: If you’re growing food crops to supply your table not all of these principles will apply. Some will, e.g mulching, and some won’t. This blog post is focused on ornamental landscaping.

James Steakley/Creative Commons

SO WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
As an “official” landscaping technique xeriscaping seems to have begun in the early 80’s. Denver Water, the largest and oldest public water utility in Denver, Colorado, coined the term xeriscape in 1981 by combining “landscape” with the Greek prefix xero-, meaning ‘dry’. The utility then began to formally define the main principles of xeriscaping for members of the Denver community interested in modifying gardening practices to save water. The results were the Seven Principles of Xeriscaping, listed below.

THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF XERISCAPING
1. Sound landscape planning and design.
2. Limitation of turf/lawn to appropriate, functional areas.
3. Use of water efficient plants.
4. Efficient irrigation.
5. Soil amendments.
6. Use of mulches.
7. Appropriate landscape maintenance.

Let’s review them and apply some up-to-date gardening information.

1. “Sound landscape planning and design” – the ideal starting point for all gardens, “Right Plant, Right Place.” This principle earns a GP thumbs-up.

2. “Limitation of turf/lawn to appropriate, functional areas” – turf has a place in the landscape but perhaps not everywhere or in every landscape. “Right Plant, Right Place” (hmm, that sounds familiar). Another GP thumbs-up.

CC

3. “Use of water efficient plants” – it may be stating the obvious but you want water efficient plants that work in your grow zone or micro-climate. Do some homework and choose plants that will be happy in your region. We’ll give this one a GP “OK” with a few points lost for being vague.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Design a Permaculture Neighbourhood

Building Community by Buying Nothing

“It’s like a radical new economy, except of course it’s an old economy that has been around forever.”

Following knee surgery five years ago, Myra Anderson was having difficulty getting around. Living alone in Charlottesville, Virginia, she began asking on Facebook if anyone could assist her in getting a few supplies.

A friend suggested the Buy Nothing Project, a network for the free sharing of resources among neighbors. Anderson signed up, but unaware of the rules, offered to leave money on her front stoop to pay for supplies if someone could bring them to her.

By the time a message popped up in her inbox from the group administrator alerting her that’s not how Buy Nothing works, dozens of people had already offered to pick up what she needed—at no cost, of course.

Soon, people Anderson didn’t know began regularly checking in on her. She found a walking and workout partner in the group. When she’d post about feeling blue, people would respond with comfort, support, and encouragement.

“The love that has come from people I didn’t know, but just knowing they live near me, has been overwhelming and refreshing for my soul,” Anderson says.

These were the sort of genuine connections that Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark envisioned back in 2013 when they created Buy Nothing—a gift economy operated on a hyperlocal scale to bring neighbors together through sharing and community.

Neither a group, organization, association, or nonprofit, Buy Nothing is a movement that has doubled in size during the pandemic. It now has more than 4 million participants in 6,500 groups, located in 44 countries across the globe.

“It’s like a radical new economy, except of course it’s an old economy that has been around forever,” Rockefeller says. “We’re just re-presenting it.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Myth of Climate Smart Agriculture – Why Less Bad Isn’t Good

The Myth of Climate Smart Agriculture – Why Less Bad Isn’t Good

The “modern” intensive agricultural system does the climate more harm than good. That’s a fact, no matter how much Big Data or precision farming you throw at it. We need to look outside that system for solutions. In this excerpt from an evidence-based study commissioned by Martin Häusling MEP, Dr Andrea Beste and Dr Anita Idel question the climate potential of precision agriculture and the demonization of cattle, and make the case for grazing animals, organic farming, agroforestry and permaculture.

Below is an excerpt from the study’s introduction, followed by an excerpt from Chapter 2: “Climate Smart Agriculture and Precision Farming – Why Less Bad Isn’t Good”.

Introduction

The authors would like to state clearly: Agriculture’s purpose is to maintain its ability to produce enough food on planet earth and continue to do so in the future. This will only be possible if the basic resources – soil, watercourses, biodiversity – can be maintained. It is not the purpose of agriculture to “sequester” or compensate for greenhouse gasses released through industrial production. The latter would equate to an irresponsible climate “sale of indulgences”.

Soil management can be climate-damaging if soils emit N2O due to excessive N fertilization or, it can be climate-friendly if humus is built up and thus C is stored. At present the world’s soils store 1,460 billion tons of organic carbon, that is more than twice the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Whether emissions or storage of carbon dominate on agricultural land depends on the type of land use as well as on how and with what dynamic vegetative cover and vegetation are being changed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘The Limits to Growth’ (1972)

‘The Limits to Growth’ (1972)

Published in 1972, and shrouded in controversy since that date, ‘The Limits to Growth’ is the most successful econometric projection ever made.

The idea of these of blog posts is to introduce people to some ‘historic’ books and reports, which I think should be more widely read. To start, I thought I’d pick a book that for years has been vilified or deliberately ignored. Any discussion of its content is shrouded in controversy. It’s the 1972 book, ‘The Limits to Growth’.

My version is a second revised edition from 1974. Its 200 pages are a little more beaten-up than when I bought it second hand, as I refer to it quite a bit in debates.

Paul Ehrlich’s, ‘The Population Bomb’, had launched a debate about humans and the environment. Problem was, that book is based on pretty poor data. To resolve that lack of evidence, a group of scientists decided to create a properly researched model to look at humanity’s effect on their finite environment.

At this time ‘systems science’, computer models, and computer-based projection, were a very new thing – relatively little understood by politicians and the public. This new application of mathematics had arisen out of Cold War strategic planning. Applying it to global ecological issues was, though, a revolutionary idea.

The group outlined its work on page 27:

The model we have constructed is, like every other model, imperfect, oversimplified, and unfinished. We are well aware of its shortcomings, but we believe that it is the most useful model now available for dealing with problems…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Age of Low Tech by Philippe Bihouix: review by Mark Garavan

The Age of Low Tech by Philippe Bihouix: review by Mark Garavan

For some time now a simple climate change narrative has been foregrounded in the political and media mainstream. This has been particularly evident in the wake of the most recent IPCC Report. In this narrative, climate change is acknowledged but is seen primarily as a problem of excess CO2 in the atmosphere. The key issue is presented as the need to reduce carbon by phasing out the burning of fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable forms of energy. The political fault-line is then drawn around how quickly one does this. Indeed, the substance of much of the various climate conferences has often centred on the question of the speed of this replacement. Conservatives want to move slowly, radicals quickly. In either case though the proposal being pushed forward is that the core challenge is simply to switch our energy source from carbon to various renewables and the issue of climate is solved. The current economic system then carries on and does so even better than before. Better because it is now rendered ‘sustainable’, that is, it can endure ad infinitum.

Philippe Bihouix’s book is a sharp wake-up call that cuts easily through this facile analysis. His book shows in clear terms not only just how simplistic this narrative is but how plain wrong it is. Drawing on straight-forward engineering assessments, he shows how renewable forms of energy cannot in a physical, literal sense replace carbon. The tangible raw materials required to fully replace carbon sources with new energy production methods simply don’t exist. Even the attempt to extract and produce them will precipitate the very climate crisis that the endeavour is seeking to avoid. More generally, new technological solutions, including the proffered ‘green technologies’, inevitably require vast material resources that just are not available…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Tao of Degrowth

Tao of Degrowth

I am a degrowther and a doomer but this is not what your first reaction indicates.  We are taught to be optimistic and so forth.  People loath pessimist and doomers.  People tire of people who cry wolf constantly.  This is what the doom movement has done for decades now.  There is some truth to this but there is also the reality of the slow boil.  A frog will slowly boil without realizing its fate.  Humans because of our short-termism and immediate gratification tendencies slow boil with periods of change.  Some of this is beneficial because it is the degree of shock and the duration that is the key variable of survivability so adapting slowly allows survivable change.

My doom approach is different.  I am a visionary of sorts in regards to the tipping over of an age.  This is academic and I have been studying this for decades now.  I have been living the response for over a decade.  I have digested the available science not as a specialist but as a generalist with some specialization.  I study all fields in general picking through them in relation to decline.  I specialize in energy and systems for my theoretical approach.  It is my assessment that a multifaceted tipping over is now at or near the peak point.  The tipping over is at or near where diminishing returns to technological efforts go non-liner into problem creation.  I see an extinction event for life systems with localized failure and general decline.  The planetary systems that support life is in abrupt change with climate but also the nutrient, carbon, and hydrologic cycles.  Finally, systematically, civilization is in a phase of degrading.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Our household farming future

Our household farming future

Back to the blog cycle about my book A Small Farm Future with a little more about household-based farming.

A couple of posts back Greg Reynolds suggested I might write some short declarative sentences about my case for household farming, which struck me as a good idea. So here’s my best shot at it.

  • To reiterate my basic position, I think we face a future of high climate, water and land/soil stress, lower energy and capital availability, and socioeconomic/political turbulence and contraction. In these circumstances, I think farm societies will emerge that are strongly based on smallholder households devoting much or most of their attention to the intensive cultivation of small land areas for meeting their own food and fibre needs.
  • This is not my vision of an ideal society – it’s just what I think a feasible human ecology will look like in probable future circumstances. As I see it, there could be better or worse kinds of household farm society, and in future posts I’ll discuss some of the possibilities for creating better ones within the framework of what I’ve called ‘least worst politics’ – in other words, how people can try to make the best of the challenging circumstances to come. But I’m not going to get into that here. In this post, I’m just going to lay out why I think we’ll see household farm societies in the future.
  • Where there are global commodity chains supported by cheap energy and cheap capital, producers tend to concentrate on a handful of highly processable and transportable crops (mostly cereals, grain legumes and oil crops). This enables them to maintain profitability through seeking economies of large scale (large farms with few workers and a lot of energy and capital-intensive infrastructure)…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Earth Is Going to Run Out of Oil Someday — but Not in Our Lifetimes

When will the world run out of oil?
SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES

The Earth Is Going to Run Out of Oil Someday — but Not in Our Lifetimes

Created when fossilized organic compounds break down over time, crude oil, in particular, has become a necessary part of daily living for nearly every person on the planet. Fossil fuels are the most effective and destructive natural resources known to humans. The moment that humanity understood the potential of fossil fuels, we inadvertently signed our own death warrant.

It should come as a relief to some that oil and other fossil fuels are not inexhaustible resources. Inventors, scientists, and industries are scrambling to find new energy sources in a mad dash to simultaneously fix our hopelessly broken climate and maintain the status quo. Meanwhile, the rest of us are pondering the question, when will the world run out of oil?

Americans hoarding gasoline
SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES
Where does oil come from?

Millions of years ago, the plants and algae that died off and sank into the seafloor were treated to high enough pressure and temperatures that they coalesced into an immature, early form of petroleum. When the seas dried up and shifted about, the remaining hydrogen and carbon in the atmosphere were added to the mixture. According to National Geographic, those elements helped create what we know today as fossil fuels.

Gas processing factory
SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES
Will we ever run out of oil?

Yes, we will absolutely run out of oil. Despite the many major extinctions that have occurred throughout Earth’s long history, not every fossilized life form has been transformed into petroleum, coal, or natural gas. All of those fossil fuels are nonrenewable and irreplaceable, so when they’re gone or burnt off, we have nothing to replace them. So, unless we find a petroleum alternative at some point, we’re going to be out of luck in many ways.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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How to Make Meat Powder – A DIY Recipe

How to Make Meat Powder – A DIY Recipe

If they ever had to turn to their food preps out of a pure emergency, many preppers would find it extremely tough to make it through on rice, beans, and canned goods alone.  Getting the right nutrient mix and maintaining that through an extended disaster is of vital importance.  When it comes to protein, flavor, vitamins, and nutrients, meat has to be a part of the equation.  Hunting protein sources may not be a possibility.  Stored jerky has a short shelf life and can be hard to chew and process.  Freeze-dried meats are ideal, but they’re also expensive.

In this post, we will preserve and store our meat the way people have done for thousands of years by making it into meat powder.  It may sound gross, but you’ve probably already eaten it regularly when you’ve used bouillion or beef or chicken flavorings.  In our homemade product, however, we get to control the ingredients, so we’re not ingesting strange ingredients from factories around the world.  Just 3 ounces of our meat powder will add to your largely fiber beans and rice 140 calories, folate, iron, zinc, choline, magnesium, selenium, coenzyme Q10, B2, B6, and B12 vitamins, an incredible 24 grams of protein, tons of flavor and a mere 4 grams of fat.  It’s the beefy flavor addition to any meal, which will be the main reason you’re going to want to make this and get meat powder in your preps and cooking.  I will show you how to make it. Then I’ll show you how to use it.   Let’s do this…

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Beef heart.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The World Is Still Short of Everything. Get Used to It.

Pandemic-related product shortages — from computer chips to construction materials — were supposed to be resolved by now. Instead, the world has gained a lesson in the ripple effects of disruption.

Kirsten Gjesdal stopped ordering some products for her kitchen supply store in Brookings, S.D., tired of telling customers that she didn’t know when the items would arrive.
Credit…Tim Gruber for The New York Times

Like most people in the developed world, Kirsten Gjesdal had long taken for granted her ability to order whatever she needed and then watch the goods arrive, without any thought about the factories, container ships and trucks involved in delivery.

Not anymore.

At her kitchen supply store in Brookings, S.D., Ms. Gjesdal has given up stocking place mats, having wearied of telling customers that she can only guess when more will come. She recently received a pot lid she had purchased eight months earlier. She has grown accustomed to paying surcharges to cover the soaring shipping costs of the goods she buys. She has already placed orders for Christmas items like wreaths and baking pans.

“It’s nuts,” she said. “It’s definitely not getting back to normal.”

The challenges confronting Ms. Gjesdal’s shop, Carrot Seed Kitchen, are a testament to the breadth and persistence of the chaos roiling the global economy, as manufacturers and the shipping industry contend with an unrelenting pandemic.

Delays, product shortages and rising costs continue to bedevil businesses large and small. And consumers are confronted with an experience once rare in modern times: no stock available, and no idea when it will come in.

In the face of an enduring shortage of computer chips, Toyota announced this month that it would slash its global production of cars by 40 percent…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Two new climate reports indicate what gardeners may expect in the future

Two new climate reports indicate what gardeners may expect in the future

In the past week, two new major climate reports have been released. One is the latest (6th) report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the other is the State of the Climate 2020 report. Of the two, the IPCC report has garnered a lot more press, but both are compilations of work by hundreds of scientists looking at recent weather and climate patterns and how they are affecting us here on earth. The IPCC report also provides projections of what the future climate might be like, using a number of assumptions about how the earth behaves, which can be difficult, and how humans respond, which is arguably even tougher to determine. In this post, there is no way that I can cover both sets of reports in meaningful detail and I won’t address how we need to address the rapidly changing climate here, but I do want to try to pull out some things that you can use as gardeners now. {Note, the pictures are ones I have taken myself on recent trips to use as eye candy!}

What do the new reports tell us?

The State of the Climate 2020 report, published jointly by NOAA and the American Meteorological Society, focuses on global climate events that happened in 2020. You can read some of the notable findings from the report at my blog. The report also discusses many of the “big” climate events of 2020 and puts them into historical context, including how frequently these extreme events occur and how the changing climate is making them more likely.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Educating for the Prime Directive

Educating for the Prime Directive

Recently, I was involved in a discussion about the things we do and do not teach our children. I’ve already said quite a bit on this subject. But after talking with a few other people about education, and especially secondary education, I realized I approached the subject from the assumption that the purpose of school is to train the mind in skills like reading and manipulating numbers. Which is not at all what I believe. I don’t think head skills should take precedence over hand skills even in this world where head skills are critical to wage-earning. Every child today needs to be learning how to do, how to make, how to take care of themselves and others. In a world that is falling apart, hand skills are essential.

Still, being a writer and a bookseller and a scientist I have many reasons to want to see head skills perpetuated. And even if I did not have these particular values, I would advocate for book learning and mind training. Most head skills are, in essence, how we communicate, how we remember, and how we make judgements. We teach our children to read so that they can take in more information than they can gather from direct experience. We teach them to read so they can know what came before and what they might expect to come in the future. We teach them to read so that the past can talk to them and they can talk to their own descendants. We should also be teaching them to evaluate all this information critically and draw conclusions from it, but that has fallen victim to teaching to The Test. We don’t teach thought; we teach head skills.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Am I Still Writing?

Why Am I Still Writing?

Scenes from earlier times in Glen Haven, Michigan. From top, D.H. Day Farm, Glen Haven Canning Company, Outside of Glen Haven General Store, and the last two showing the inside of the Glen Haven General Store.

 

When I began this blog last December, my main goal at that particular point in time was to replace the files in the groups I run with an outside source so I could get away from the unreasonable rules that Facebook had instituted regarding the editing of those files; of course once they did away with personal files (the files still exist but the only way one can get to them now is if they saved the address for them), the writing was on the wall that group files would also be going away. The group files are still around for the time being, but FB has discontinued the possibility of creating new documents in groups unless the file is a PDF or other recognized file.

I had no idea that I would be writing all these articles, as that certainly wasn’t what I originally had in mind. I DID have several articles that were part of the files, so I added and updated them and I figured I might as well tackle a few issues which have been important to me for the last decade or so, so I set out to add those into the mix. While I was doing this, I noticed how each article tied into all the other ones and sort of created a whole new article once I tried to logically connect the dots between them all…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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