Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The "tortilla crisis" currently hitting Mexico seems to be the first example of the food v fuel issue I posted on a while back. The Mexican Government is trying to hold back the prices but given the huge push in the US to produce ethanol from corn I think they would be better off trying to find an alternative staple crop for their people or turn all the dope plantations into corn fields. With the Cantarell oil field rapidly dropping production they won't have the money to buy corn from the US for much longer and Mexican growers will be under serious pressure to sell their corn into the US market. I'm wondering when this issue is going to hit our supermarket shelves given many processed foods have corn additives. Then there's the soyabean additives which will also compound the problem.

In Australia as we come out if this drought I can see corn production being marketed to farmers or at least being seriously attractive to farmers that need to make some quick cash to get back in the good books with the banks. I've already seen a mention on a commodities analysis on TV of Australian farmers that don't traditionally grow much corn perhaps moving into it based on the surge in the corn market.

Here's a link to find out more on the "tortilla crisis": http://www.mexiconews.com.mx/23094.html

PS To to folks from the permaculture forum I've taken the map thing down in the hope that murray will put one on the forum home page.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

In permaculture the concept of waste does not exist. A waste is really just a resource that you don't need. In permaculture you match these resources with other systems that need that resource as an input. The idea is to create closed systems if possible to cycle energy, nutrients and minerals around. Chicken tractor systems are a simple example. Given the chance a chicken will, clean up fallen fruit, eat pest insects, deal with your kitchen scraps, weed and fertilse your garden then give you an egg for your trouble.

A new movement called Zero Waste is pushing for manufacturers to consider the full lifecycle of a product and it's packaging. The idea behind Zero Waste is simple: basically, nothing with a second use should be thrown away. And if something doesn't have a second use, it shouldn't exist. The Berkeley Ecology Center, a West Coast leader in the Zero Waste movement, puts it this way, "If it can't be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production."

Like permaculture it's simple and logical but the majority of us aren't doing it because we are so used to a society that has enough energy to create waste, transport it away and dig big holes to put it in.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I just read this article:http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/2006/Update60.htm

It makes you wonder when the exponential rise in use of grains for ethanol will start to correlate with an equally exponential rise in hunger related deaths. With around 25000 people dying every day at the moment ethanol is obviously going to cause a serious moral dilema in the next few years.

Hi Folks

Mum recently lent me a book on climate change by Tim Flannery 'We are theWeather Makers - The Story of Global Warming'. It was a great follow up tothe Al Gore documentary that Rebecca and I went to see 'An InconvenientTruth'. Now that I have a deeper understanding of this potentiallydevastating issue I feel it is important that I bring it into focus forthose around me. Some global warming facts:
- We in Australia are the largest greenhouse gas producing nation per headof population in the world and that's something I am personally deeplyashamed of.
- US is the largest greenhouse gas emitter world wide
- China's booming economy means that within a few years it will eclipse theUS as a greenhouse gas producer (they are building a large coal powerstation every few weeks in China). - Scientists are predicting the extinction of 50% of species worldwide
- As global warming increases so will the frequency and severity of El Ninoevents like we are currently experiencing
- By increasing evaporation, global warming will increase precipitation butit will be in severe more events (floods/storms)
- Warmer waters in the tropics will increase the frequency and severitycyclones, hurricanes and typhoons
- Some pacific nations will need to be evacuated
- Water shortages will worsenI could go on but it would just get depressing.

What kind of world willGeorgia, Matthew, Isaac, Angelica, Amelia and Harry and their friends inherit? It seems the time to act was 30 years ago and the time for drasticaction is now. The longer we wait the more costly it will be to clean upthis mess.

Reading the Tim Flannery book prompted me to look into the green poweroption at my electricity supplier TRU energy. I've gone with the 100% newwind energy option even though it was the most expensive because wind energyis one of the simplest and cheapest ways for us to turn mechanical energyinto electrical energy. It's going to cost us around an extra $5 per weekand I'm going to try and improve the energy efficiency of our home to offsetthat cost. I've started with the compact fluorescent light bulbs which savearound 80% of lighting energy. What kind of parent would I be if I didn't do everything I could for the future my children will be growing up in? I don't want them to be struggling for basics like food and water when we are livingin abundance.

Let's do what we can ourselves and encourage those around us to do the same.

Love to all.