"As grasslands diminish on prairies and savannas around the world, an innovative ranching technique that reverses the environmental damage of desertification makes its way to the US."
(photo by Francis Joseph Dean/Newscom from CSM, 10/24/11)
The Christian Science Monitor reports again on the potential of Allan Savory’s theories of intensive rotational grazing on a huge scale to not simply halt, but reverse, degradation of grazing lands. They also reported on Savory’s work two years ago when I gather it was rather more controversial. Savory received the 2010 Buckminster Fuller award for his theories which he developed as a parks ranger in southern Africa in the 1960s. Find Judith Swartz’s story at http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2011/1024/Saving-US-grasslands-a-bid-to-turn-back-the-clock-on-desertification .
Does this change the animal unit formula used by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) when writing the grazing leases? I’ll try to find out more in the coming weeks.
You can learn more about commodity trading and its important role in markets at http://www.investopedia.com/university/commodities/#axzz1beQxvu00 . Actually, for a free site Investopedia.com has excellent financial glossaries and tutorials on a wide variety of financial topics. Definitely mainstream economics and finance but pretty unbiased. It also offers helpful information for personal finance.
I regret that I was unable to post about World Food Day events last weekend but we were helping our son build his garage/shop.NPR didn’t forget. ”Speculators in the agricultural commodities markets are forcing grocery prices to rise too quickly and erratically, according to some top economists marking World Food Day on Sunday. ‘Excessive financial speculation is contributing to increasing volatility and record food prices, exacerbating global hunger and poverty,’ wrote 461 economists, from more than 40 countries, in an open letter. They called upon the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to crack down on speculators who have been buying large amounts of corn, wheat, soy and other commodities, hoping to make a profit. The economists argue that increased trading is a significant part of the reason grocery prices are higher this year.” Listen to the story at http://www.npr.org/2011/10/16/141368215/wagering-on-food-prices-a-losing-bet-for-hunger .
People of this border town have invented a vehicle “Bhoond” which could carry up to nine persons, besides the driver. A motorcycle without the rear wheel has been fitted to a specially designed body with two wheels. The body of the vehicle is built by local mechanics and costs about Rs…
"On the one hand there is our organized educated world of auto folks — people that swear by computer-based design, static and transient dynamic finite-element analysis and computer-based vibration-acoustics simulation. On the other hand, there is this amazing contrast of sorts — that our nation’s unlettered artisans can rivet and weld together from odds and ends, vehicles to mobilize the nation of one billion, vehicles that bear loads and are capable of driver controlled movement, acceleration, deceleration and braking to a halt without loss of life or limb. What a pendulum swing.”
Question: We see innovation throughout the world, including our own neighborhoods and farms. What conditions promote innovations? What economic environments discourage them?
Bridge on a Canal in Punjab, In pre independence period, the utilization of water for irrigation was developed on run off the river basis . Ropar Head works was constructed in the year 1874-82 for utilizing water of river Sutlej in the old Sirhind Canal system.
Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC), one of the oldest canals in India was first built by Emperor Shah Jehan in the year 1693, for carrying water of River Ravi from Madhopur to Lahore. Improvements in the canals were made by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the 19th century. A weir type headworks with a properly designed distributary system was constructed by the British in 1879. At the time of partition in 1947, full supply discharge of UBDC during Kharif was 6900Cs.
Hussainwala Headwork was constructed in the year 1927 at Ferozepur for utilizing Sutlej / Beas waters through the Bikaner Canal/ Eastern Canal.. The pre-partition utilization of water of rivers Sutlej, Beas and Ravi in the areas of present Punjab forming part of the Indian Union, was 4.55 MAF, 0.50 MAF and 1.48 MAF respectively. The canal irrigation infrastructure in the pre-partition period was very well maintained.
Canal irrigation systems in Punjab comprise of Sirhind Canal system, Bist Doab Canal system, Bhakra Main Line (BML) Canal System, Upper Bari Doab Canal system, Kashmir Canal , Ferozepur Feeder/Sirhind Feeder system, Eastern Canal system, Makhu Canal System, Shahnehar Canal system and the Kandi Canal system. The Rajasthan Feeder and Bikaner Canal which carry Ravi-Beas & Sutlej water exclusively for Rajasthan also run in a considerable length over Punjab Territory.
The commodities markets are wonderful creations for two types of participants - primary commodity producers who have or will have a product to deliver, and commodity buyers who need to secure the commodity as an essential input. Think soybean farmer and tofu maker. My economics are firmly rooted in the medieval era, but fortunately NPR brings a fresher perspective on the evils of greed.
Worried over their falling numbers, the Punjab government has initiated a peacock breeding project. “The government is quite concerned about the ill-effects of insecticides and pesticides on peacocks. Therefore we have started a special peacock breeding project in Malwa region…
While most of the world honors work on May 1, Labor Day in the United States is the Monday of the first weekend in September. It also marks the end of summer - and very long hot summer in most of North America, though in the Pacific N.W. it seems that the start of a very short summer.
As to the Labor: 5 pints Crabapple sauce; 6- ½ pints Port Wine Jelly; 5 pints Strawberry Jam; 10- ½ pints Walla Walla Sweet Onion and Cranberry Relish; 24 jars Fig Jam w/ Ginger; 15 ½ pints Blackberry Jam; 3 quarts of sliced apples dried, and another 1 ½ gallons frozen; 1 pint Rosehips puree frozen for future use; 3 lbs Fig Pudding to be served with Vanilla Ice Cream; Deep Dish Peach and Port Wine Pie; 4 lbs. Potato Salad; 5 lbs. half fermented pickles; 1 grilled Pink Salmon; 2 dozen Peanut Butter Cookies; 1 gal. Iced Sour Cherry Green. Saturday Sunday Nite Dinner: Gazpacho, Fresh Bread and Olive Oil, Olives, Cherry Tomatoes from the Garden, Roast Figs with Oak Honey and Chevre. Monday Nite Dinner: Burgers, Watermelon, Potato Salad, Sweet Onions and Yakima Tomatoes. Received three new students. All in all a productive three day weekend.
What a great idea, and a tip of the hat to mollyfamous for recognizing it as such. As a bureaucrat I recognize a few issues with implementation as described (the sheep are owned by a district employee) but nothing which can’t be corrected with appropriate contracting processes. Assuming managed grazing and, if playing fields, off season grazing, sheep get fed, weeds controlled, grounds fertilized, and students are exposed to animal agriculture. In central and eastern Europe it is not uncommon to see shepherds and their flocks of sheep or goats maintaining public rights of way (or is it right of ways?). For a humorous take on the use of caprids in the U.S. Pacific Northwest see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9jxa7T6WGQ .
The chances are good that you know someone young or that you are young. Give them tools or make certain that tools are around and that they have a chance to utilize them. Let them take things apart. Let them fix things. Help them to recognize that “technology” didn’t start with transistors and printed circuit boards, but with levers and sleds. Don’t panic when you hear the drill press starting up at 1:00 a.m., and let your daughter know how proud you are when you hear how she showed her homecoming date to jump start a car while wearing heels and a ball gown.
The unfolding disaster in the Horn of Africa will not solve itself, and four factors make the situation potentially explosive. First, long-term human-induced climate change seems to be bringing more droughts and climate instability….Second, fertility rates and population growth in the Horn of Africa continue to be extremely high, even as children perish in the famine. … Third, the region is already living in extreme poverty, so adverse shocks push it toward calamity. And, finally, regional politics is highly unstable, leaving the Horn extremely vulnerable to conflict.
But there is still realistic hope. The Millennium Villages Project (led in part by Columbia University economics professor Jeffrey Sachs) has demonstrated that pastoralist communities can be empowered through targeted investments in livestock management, veterinary care, business development, mobile health clinics, boarding schools, and local infrastructure such as safe water points, off-grid electricity, and mobile telephony. Cutting-edge technologies, together with strong community leadership, can unlock long-term sustainable development.
This is a guest post by Joshua Becker at becoming minimalist. It hits perfectly to the point about consumerism. Minimalists are still consumers but we cut out the excessive and put in the necessary.
I am trying to live a minimalist life. But that doesn’t mean I still don’t own stuff.
My family of four still owns three beds, three dressers, two couches, one table with chairs, one desk, eight plates, eight bowls, eight glasses… My kids own toys and books. My wife sews. I read, play sports, and care for the house. We may be seeking to live a minimalist life, but we are still consumers. After all, to live is to consume.
But we have worked hard to escape excessive consumerism. Consumerism becomes excessive when it extends beyond what is needed. When we begin consuming more than is needed, boundaries are removed. Personal credit allows us to make purchases beyond our income-level. Advertisements subtly reshape our desires around material possessions. And the consumption culture that surrounds us begins to make excessive consumption appear natural and normal.
Excessive consumption leads to bigger houses, faster cars, trendier clothes, fancier technology, and overfilled drawers. It promises happiness, but never delivers. Instead, it results in a desire for more… a desire which is promoted by the world around us. And it slowly begins robbing us of life. It redirects our God-given passions to things that can never fulfill. It consumes our limited resources.
And it is time that we escape the vicious cycle.
It is time to take a step back and realize that excessive consumption is not delivering on its promise to provide happiness and fulfillment. Consumption is necessary, but excessive consumption is not. And life can be better lived (and more enjoyed) by intentionally rejecting it.
Consider this list of ten practical benefits of escaping excessive consumerism in your life:
1) Less debt. The average American owns 3.5 credit cards and $15,799 in credit card debt… totaling consumer debt of $2.43 trillion in the USA alone. This debt causes stress in our lives and forces us to work jobs that we don’t enjoy. We have sought life in department stores and gambled our future on the empty promises of their advertisements. We have lost.
2) Less life caring for possessions. The never-ending need to care for the things we own is draining our time and energy. Whether we are maintaining property, fixing vehicles, replacing goods, or cleaning things made of plastic, metal, or glass, our life is being emotionally and physically drained by the care of things that we don’t need… and in most cases, don’t enjoy either.
3) Less desire to upscale lifestyle norms. The television and the Internet has brought lifestyle envy into our lives at a level never before experienced in human history. Prior to the advent of the digital age, we were left envying the Jones’ family living next to us… but at least we had a few things in common (such as living in the same neighborhood). But today’s media age has caused us to envy (and expect) lifestyle norms well beyond our incomes by promoting the lifestyles of the rich and famous as superior and enviable. Only an intentional rejection of excessive consumerism can quietly silence the desire to constantly upscale lifestyle norms.
4) Less environmental impact. Our earth produces enough resources to meet all of our needs, but it does not produce enough resources to meet all of our wants. And whether you consider yourself an environmentalist or not, it is tough to argue with the fact that consuming more resources than the earth can replenish is not a healthy trend – especially when it is completely unnecessary.
5) Less need to keep up with evolving trends. Henry David Thoreau once said, “Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but religiously follows the new.” Recently, I have been struck by the wisdom and practical applicability of that thought whether relating to fashion, decoration, or design. A culture built on consumption must produce an ever-changing target to keep its participants spending money. And our culture has nearly perfected that practice. As a result, nearly every year, a new line of fashion is released as the newest trend. And the only way to keep up is to purchase the latest fashions and trends when they are released… or remove yourself from the pursuit altogether.
6) Less pressure to impress with material possessions. Social scientist Thorstein Veblen coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption” to describe the lavish spending on goods and services acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying income or wealth. In his 1899 book, The Theory of the Leisure Class, this term was used to describe the behavior of a limited social class. And although the behavior has been around since the beginning of time, today’s credit has allowed it to permeate nearly every social class in today’s society. As a result, no human being (in consumption cultures) is exempt from its temptation.
7) More generosity. Rejecting excessive consumerism always frees up energy, time, and finances. Those resources can then be brought back into alignment with our deepest heart values. When we begin rejecting the temptation to spend all of our limited resources on ourselves, our hearts are opened to the joy and fulfillment found in giving our personal resources to others. Generosity finds space in our life (and in our checkbooks) to emerge.
8) More contentment. Many people believe if they find (or achieve) contentment in their lives, their desire for excessive consumption will wane. But we have found the opposite to be true. We have found that the intentional rejection of excessive consumption opens the door for contentment to take root in our lives. We began pursuing minimalism as a means to realign our life around our greatest passions… not as a means to find contentment. But somehow, minimalism resulted in a far-greater contentment with life than we ever enjoyed prior.
9) Greater ability to see through empty claims. Fulfillment is not on sale at your local department store… neither is happiness. It never has been. And never will be. We all know this to be true. We all know that more things won’t make us happier. It’s just that we’ve bought into the subtle message of millions upon millions of advertisements that have told us otherwise. Intentionally stepping back for an extended period of time helps us get a broader view of their empty claims.
10) Greater realization that this world is not just material. True life is found in the invisible things of life: love, hope, and faith. Again, we all know there are things in this world that are far more important than what we own. But if one were to research our actions, intentions, and receipts, would they reach the same conclusion? Or have we been too busy seeking happiness in all the wrong places?
Escaping excessive consumption is not an easy battle. If it were, it would be done more often… myself included. But it is a battle worth fighting because it robs us of life far more than we realize.
Washington’s Governor Christine Gregoire (and my boss’s, boss’s, boss’s, boss) has proclaimed next week, August 7 through the 13, as Washington Farmers Market Week - an occasion best celebrated by shopping at your local market and cooking up your treasures sharing them with friends on a summer’s eve. At least that is what we’ll do in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. I’ve read that other parts of the country have been so damaged by drought, heat, and floods that there is little local produce to sell.
Sharpsideoftheknife educated a shopper recently who was concerned that some locally produced foodstuffs were not “certified” organic. “Sharpside’s” comments are very pertinent to consumer decisions. When you take the opportunity to participate as either a buyer or seller in the “direct from producer” market, a chat is worth so much more than certification. This principle extends to a great many goods and services in addition to farm fresh foods. I don’t care if the guys down at my local independent computer store have Microsoft certification. I just care that they can clean up MY hard drive. On the other hand, if I was releasing an RFP for outsourced support services for several large state agencies, I certainly would be looking at certifications.
This week at the market a woman came up to our booth and asked me why the farm wasn’t certified organic. She was concerned about accountability and the verification that being organic certified gives to her as a customer. I have now worked on two farms that don’t see a need to be certified….
(full disclosure: 1. At heart I love the promise of genetic engineering; 2. I also have a great many policy concerns about Monsanto and many of its practices.)
Mr. Dilley has posted a recap of certain research on the effects of Bt corn. I don’t know whether his argument is valid or not, nor will I take time in the near future to verify his sources. What’s important is that there ARE sources! For almost 20 years hyperbole has been tossed from one side to the other about the evil threat, or great boon to humanity, without open, reasonable, and scientifically aware discussions. Monsanto certainly is going to fund research that may disprove their position, and there are few independent researchers equipped to do so. Could we be seeing the early volleys of a real public policy debate?
Probably not, but I’ll continue to follow Mr. Dilley’s posts.
Two more items of interest. 1. Monsanto does not seem to have issued any press releases addressing the Sherbrooke University study. This is no surprise. They rarely respond to negative information with a press release. 2. An abstract of the study can be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21338670 .
When U.S. regulators approved Monsanto’s genetically modified “Bt” corn, they knew it would add a deadly poison into our food supply. That’s what it was designed to do. The corn’s DNA is equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) that produces the…
Who is the farmer? The distributor? What do they, and others, do? This essay begins to place some theoretical structure about (perceived) changes in the food economy. I’m still not convinced that this movement is of economic significance beyond a smattering of individual consumers and producers, but I’m certainly game.
The City of Nanaimo, British Columbia is considering changes to its zoning regulations that would allow food production on city lots. Parcels must measure at least 600 square meters (about 6,500 square feet), and the zoning law would prohibit industrial agriculture. City staff is “suggesting off-site composting … to keep pesky insects from bothering the neighbours …” A key feature: The urban gardeners would be able “to sell small amounts of the produce they grow from their homes or at area farmers’ markets.”
Santa Rosa-based FarmLink “keeps a database of landowners who would like to sell or lease to aspiring farmers and ranchers.” While it started in 1998, the group opened a branch office near Modesto last month “to better serve the San Joaquin Valley.” According to Mary Junqueiro of the Stanislaus County Agricultural Center,
Farmers over the age of 65 outnumber the farmers under 35 nine to one, so we really want to bridge that gap.
By Tess Taylor, NY Times, May 3, 2011 SHEFFIELD, Mass.—On a sunny Sunday just before the vernal equinox, Rich Ciotola set out to clear a pasture strewn with fallen wood. The just-thawed field was spongy, with grass sprouting under tangled branches. Late March and early April are farm-prep time…