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Meet the seed-saving couple living entirely off the land (except for salt)

Kay and Ngaio Te Rito check the Pukekohe Long Keeper onion crop in the main seed garden.

You won’t find anyone in Kotare Village who doesn’t have brown hands. It’s not because they’re out in the sun all day or that they don’t wash their hands thoroughly, but because the human-soil connection is the most important factor in growing organic vegetables and fruit, fodder trees and pasture, seeds and tubers and it’s stained into their skin at a cellular level.

The village is home to the Koanga Institute, founded by organic and permaculture gardening guru Kay Baxter.

Her life for the past 30 years has been dedicated to developing a precious collection of heritage seeds and fruit trees, first in Northland, then on leased land near Wairoa. But just over a year ago Kay, her husband Bob Corker and their team faced the biggest challenge of their lives: eviction.

in the gloom of a quiet bedroom in the main Koanga homestead is a room full of treasures that money cannot buy €“.
TESSA CHRISP
in the gloom of a quiet bedroom in the main Koanga homestead is a room full of treasures that money cannot buy €“.

The development company that owned the land was foundering, the first mortgage holder was demanding a sale and everything they’d ever worked for was suddenly facing the auctioneer’s hammer.

“It’s been a really, really big journey holding the seeds for such a long time and the thought of starting again was too much,” says Kay.

Supporters like chef Peta Mathias got behind what would eventually be a successful nationwide campaign to raise the money to purchase the first mortgage on the property, although there’s still more financing required and a campaign to raise that money is now underway (kotarevillage.org.nz).

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

The age of fossil fuel abundance is dead

Workers at Buncefield oil depot, known as the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal. British military personnel have begun delivering fuel to gas stations after a shortage of truck drivers disrupted supplies for more than a week, leading to long lines at the pumps as anxious drivers scrambled to fill their tanks.
JOE GIDDENS/AP
Workers at Buncefield oil depot, known as the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal. British military personnel have begun delivering fuel to gas stations after a shortage of truck drivers disrupted supplies for more than a week, leading to long lines at the pumps as anxious drivers scrambled to fill their tanks.

ANALYSIS: For much of the past half-decade, the operative word in the energy sector was “abundance”.

An industry that had long sought to ration the production of fossil fuels to keep prices high suddenly found itself swamped with oversupply, as America’s shale boom lowered the price of oil around the world and clean-energy sources, such as wind and solar, competed with other fuels used for power generation, such as coal and natural gas.

In recent weeks, however, it is a shortage of energy, rather than an abundance of it, that has caught the world’s attention. On the surface, its manifestations are mostly unconnected. Britain’s miffed motorists are suffering from a shortage of lorry drivers to deliver petrol.

Power cuts in parts of China partly stem from the country’s attempts to curb emissions. Dwindling coal stocks at power stations in India are linked to a surge in the price of imports of the commodity.

Yet an underlying factor is expected to make scarcity even worse in the next few years: a slump in investment in oil wells, natural-gas hubs and coal mines. This is partly a hangover from the period of abundance, with years of overinvestment giving rise to more capital discipline. It is also the result of growing pressures to decarbonise.

This year the investment shortfall is one of the main reasons prices of all three energy commodities have soared.

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

‘Sustainability is wishful thinking’: get ready for the energy downshift

Green promises: EV charging stations are appearing in suburban streets. But will the economics actually stack up?
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Green promises: EV charging stations are appearing in suburban streets. But will the economics actually stack up?

The problem with “sustainability” is its implication that economic growth can still continue on blithely in a world of zero carbon and a green energy transition. But expect a rude shock. JOHN McCRONE reports.

When I arrive for the interview, Professor Susan Krumdieck is busy clearing out her office.

A mechanical engineer at the University of Canterbury for some 20 years, Krumdieck is upping sticks and heading off to run an energy transition project in Scotland’s Orkney Islands.

Covid permitting, of course. “They’re all still in lockdown over there,” she says.

My question seemed simple enough. Is New Zealand finally getting serious about sustainability?

There seem positive signs, I suggest.

After years of mucking about with emissions trading schemes and other half-hearted curbs on climate change, the Government now appears to be building a national energy transition strategy.

The vow to be carbon-neutral by 2050 has been cemented into legislation. Change is going to be enforced through new institutional mechanisms like the Climate Change Commission.

There are agreed sub-goals, such as the commitment to be 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035.

It all sounds like a plan – a roadmap to a better future.

Krumdieck answers by hauling out a wad of old yellowing magazines from a packing box. Decades of saved articles warning humanity of impending environmental disaster and resource woes.

Already she intends to set me straight.

“Well I’m cleaning out and I’ve been finding roadmaps. Like piles of them,” she chuckles wryly.

University of Canterbury’s Susan Krumdieck: We need to head back to the 1950s in terms of our energy use.
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University of Canterbury’s Susan Krumdieck: We need to head back to the 1950s in terms of our energy use.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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