Archive for the tag “agriculture”

Arms, Agribusiness, Finance and Fossil Fuels: The Four Horsemen of the Neoliberal Apocalypse

Colin Todhunter writes: There is a notion that we can just continue as we are, with an endless supply of oil, endless supplies of meat and endless assault on soil, human and environmental well-being that intensive petrochemical agriculture entails. Given the statistics, this is unsustainable, unrealistic and a recipe for continued resource-driven conflicts and devastation.
Read more…

News update

Capitalism is Mother Earths Cancer: World Peoples Summit Issues 12 Demands
Common Dreams
Decrying capitalism as a threat to life, an estimated 7,000 environmentalists, farmers, and Indigenous activists from 40 countries convened in the Bolivian town of Tiquipaya for this weekends World Peoples Conference on Climate Change, aiming to elevate the demands of social movements and developing countries in the lead-up to upcoming United Nations-led climate talks. Capitalism is Mother Earths cancer, Bolivian President Evo Morales told the crowd, which also heard over the course of the three-day conference from United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon as well as other Latin American leaders.

Why Earth’s future will depend on how we build our cities
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post
It may be the most important number on Earth: 1,000 gigatons. That’s roughly how much carbon dioxide humanity has left to emit, scientists say, in order to have a two-thirds chance of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above the temperature in pre-industrial times — and thus, staying within what has often been deemed a “safe” climate threshold. A new report, though, finds that if we don’t build cities more wisely, using much greener infrastructure, then they could be a crucial factor that tips the planet over the 1,000 gigaton line — and indeed, that they could play this role in just five years time.

Europes greenhouse gas emissions fall to record low
The Guardian UK
Greenhouse gas emissions in Europe have plunged to the lowest level ever recorded after the EU’s member states reported an estimated 23% drop in emissions between 1990 and 2014. The bloc has now overshot its target for 2020 of cutting emissions by one-fifth – at the same time that its economy grew by 46%, according to the EU’s climate chief, Miguel Arias Canete .

Integrated Energy Policy Formulated To Boost The Energy Sector
Mondaq.com
In order to provide a collective policy covering all sources of energy including renewable energy sources, the Government of India has formulated an Integrated Energy Policy. The said policy outlines a roadmap to develop energy supply options and increased exploitation of renewable energy sources. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy aims at a capacity addition of about 30,000 MW power during the 12th Five Year Plan from the various renewable energy sources available in the country.

16 commercial building spaces can save 8,960 Mwh/year: TERI Study
The Economic Times
Sixteen commercial building spaces, including that of Wipro, Tata ChemicalsBSE 0.57 % and Genpact, have the potential to save 8,960 megawatt hours a year, which is sufficient to power 2,400 rural homes, says a study. Energy saving in 100 such buildings can power more than 12,000 rural homes, stated a energy audit report of 16 commercial buildings across the country by The TERI Centre of Excellence, launched by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and United Technologies Corp (UTC) in 2014.

Indias coal-fueled economy taking a toll on environment and rural villagers
LA Times
In central Indias coal-rich Singrauli district, recently labeled one of the countrys most polluted areas, residents and activists have long complained that abuses by energy companies go unpunished. Each and every company is violating environmental norms, including Sasan, said Ashwani Kumar Dubey, a Singrauli resident and lawyer who has challenged the coal industry in Indias Supreme Court. But nothing happens because these companies run the economy of the country.

Indias climate tech revolution is starting in its villages
The Guardian UK
Solar panels drive a water pump that irrigates the fields of farmer Raman Bhai Parmar, 65, who grows bananas, rice and wheat on seven acres of land. Parmar’s solar energy pump is one of the technologies being promoted by a new project designed to help rural Indians adapt to climate change. The project, run by the international NGO, aims to create 1,000 so-called climate smart villages across six Indian states including Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat.

A nomads’ legend keeps the Indian wolf alive: An unconventional conservation story
Scroll.in
Unlike local farmers and herders, the nomads never chased, hunted or hurt the wolves. The filmmakers soon uncovered a legend of three brothers, one of whom is cheated out of his share by the other two. He leaves but not before bestowing a curse that he would come back to claim his due. The tribesmen consider the wolf to be that brother, returning to take what’s rightfully his. It’s possible that this fraternal feeling between tribe and wolf saved Bent Ear and his family.

Workshop: Introduction to Permaculture and Forest Farming, Bangalore, Oct 28-30

Permaculture Patashala

When: 28-30th (Wed-Fri) Oct 2015

Where: Bhoomi Campus (Sarjapur Road) & Bhoomi Gurukul Farm, Bengaluru.
Instructor: Shri. Narsanna Koppula, Aranya Agricultural Alternatives, Telangana.
Course Fees: INR 3000 to be paid to Bhoomi College.
To register: Drop a mail to vndmlo OR call at +91-9449051027 (limited seats).

Read more…

Report on food security and climate change adaptation

Scaling Success: Lessons from Adaptation Pilots in the Rainfed Regions of India

wriNations around the world have recognized that the adverse effects of climate variations and change have a significant bearing on the food, water and livelihood security of millions of people. Greatest risks persist in economically less developed countries, where people’s lives and livelihoods are highly vulnerable to stressors such as erratic rainfall, droughts, floods or cyclones. The poor communities are most disadvantaged, having little capacity to cope with changing climatic conditions, due to limited financial and often also technical means. The impact of climate change will presumably be particularly severe in rainfed areas, which constitute about 80 per cent of the cultivated land, producing about 65 to 70 percent of staple foods worldwide despite unsecure water availability.

In response to such climate change related challenges, many remarkable adaptation projects are being implemented, generating widespread interest among practitioners, policy makers and development agencies. Despite the growing interest in these experiences, they often remain individual, stand-alone initiatives. The need to rapidly scale up effective climate change adaptation interventions, through favorable policy frameworks and concrete action, is widely recognized. However, the challenge that we face is in identifying the elements that are necessary for successful scaling up of adaptation interventions.

As the climate continues to change, the capacity to iteratively adjust and learn – both at the policy level and in the course of implementation will be central to adaptation success. In this context, SDC is collaborating with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) for an initiative on ‘Scaling up Good Adaptation Practices’ (SUGAP) in India.

This initiative was borne out of a need to understand the relevance of adaptation and resilience in the semi-arid context in India through focused case study research. The study Scaling Success: Lessons from Adaptation Pilots in the Rainfed Regions of India provides a synthesis of good practices and hands-on recommendations to practitioners, policy makers and funding agencies for identifying and scaling up effective adaptation interventions.

Download report: Scaling Success (pdf)

Oxfam Report: 10 Million at Risk of Hunger Due to Climate Change and El Niño

Common Dreams

At least ten million of the poorest people face food insecurity in 2015 and 2016 due to extreme weather conditions and the onset of El Niño, Oxfam has reported.

In Oxfam’s new report called Entering Uncharted Waters, erratic weather patterns were noted including high temperatures and droughts, disrupting farming seasons around the world.

Countries are already facing a “major emergency,” said Oxfam, including Ethiopia where 4.5 million people are in need of food assistance due to a drought this year. Read more…

Down to Earth issue on the elusive monsoon

Stop the killing fields

Farmers are in a terrible situation, with no water for crops, livestock or drinking. If we dismiss this year as a freak weather year, we will never make the necessary corrections 

Sunita Narain, Editor  Down To Earth magazine

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This is our season of despair. This year, it would seem, the gods have been most unkind to Indian farmers. Early in the year came the weird weather events, like hailstorms and freak and untimely rains that destroyed standing crops. Nobody knew what was happening. After all, each year we witness a natural weather phenomenon called the Western Disturbance, winds that emanate from the Mediterranean and travel eastward towards India. What was new this year was the sheer “freakiness” of these disturbances, which brought extreme rain with unusual frequency and intensity. More importantly, instead of “breaking” over the Himalayas, as these disturbances are prone to do, these winds with moisture travelled eastward towards Bengal and even southward towards Madhya Pradesh. Meteorologists were spooked. Read more…

LibCom series on Capitalist agriculture

Part 4 Capitalist agriculture: class formation and the metabolic rift

Libcom.org

Capitalist agriculture: class formation and the metabolic rift

In this fourth installment on our series on food and climate, we look at the dynamics of capitalist agriculture in terms of production, class formation, and the ‘metabolic rift’ in the nitrogen cycle.

Part 1 (Climate, class, and the Neolithic revolution) looked at the first emergence of agriculture at the end of the last ice age. Part 2 (Class struggles, climate change, and the origins of modern agriculture) looked at the early modern emergence of specifically capitalist agriculture though enclosures and colonialism in the Little Ice Age. Part 3 (The political economy of hunger) analysed the political economy of hunger.

Read part 4: Capitalist agriculture: class formation and the metabolic rift

Book: Ecological Agriculture in India

Ecological Agriculture in India Scientific Evidence on Positive Impacts and Successes
Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)

Note on the book by by Kavitha Kuruganti of ASHA:

Very often, when ecological agriculture (whether it goes by the name of organic farming or natural farming or bio-dynamic farming) approaches are advocated for large scale replication in the country especially in response to the severe agrarian distress in the country, the environmental degradation emerging with natural resources related to farming, the environmental health problems that are cropping up, the economic viability of farming getting eroded and in the context of climate change – there are many questions asked around the viability/profitability of organic farming, the productivity of organic farming, the scientific validation of many practices adopted by organic farmers, the environmental implications of adoption of organic farming, the socio-economic impacts related to organic farming (farm suicides, for example) and so on.

This compilation is on the scientific evidence readily available in India on the various benefits from organic farming, including on productivity and farm economics, on environmental impacts (soil, biodiversity etc.), on validation of various practices as well as on challenges facing organic farming. I chose not to bring in literature from outside India, just to point to the enormous evidence available right here. In this compilation, I also did not include a vast body of evidence on organic agronomic practices for System of Root Intensification (SRI). Similarly, evidence related to non-chemical IPM or NPM is also available as a large body of scientific literature.This is not an exhaustive compilation of all the studies that exist on the subject. As an area of emerging interest, it is seen that many doctoral theses are present in the NARS on the themes listed above, pertaining to Organic Farming. However, I was not able to tap into all such literature. Similarly, while searching for scientific evidence as part of this effort, I came across the abstracts and presentations made in two national seminars related to organic farming within the NARS in 2014 (Navsari and Palampur). However, it is seen that the soft copies of the hundreds of papers available therein are not readily available on the websites of the organizers. In fact it is this lack of ready reference material that this booklet seeks to address.This booklet is a preliminary effort which will be revised and structured better in future, and should be seen as work in progress. This compilation provides ample evidence on the scientific basis that underpins the practice of organic farming in the country. What is missing however is committed extension that takes the message to farmers. This booklet also shows that organic farming is not to be equated with only traditional farming as is often done, but is a scientific approach that effectively uses nature’s processes and products for sustainable management of productive resources for viability and profitability.

The papers that were included in the Challenges and Way Forward section also bring up an argument that organic farming needs a different appraisal and analysis framework, with different criteria and parameters to justify its impact on society and ecology. In the Indian agricultural research scenario too, this re-orientation is much-required. Papers that compared organic with chemical agriculture were put into the Yields/Productivity section while comparisons between various organic farming practices were categorized under the Scientific Validation section. It is seen that most research efforts are going into INM and very little into organic farming research.

I hope this compilation will be made use of, by various stakeholders, to ensure that ecological farming is promoted and practised on a large scale. Ananthoo of ASHA helped in collecting various papers and sorting them. Shamika Mone of Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI) also pitched in with some studies. I would like to acknowledge with sincere gratitude the support obtained from the Regional Centre for Organic Farming in the University of Agricultural Sciences-Bangalore (Dr N Devakumar in particular) and Prakash Selvaraj, Coimbatore. Parthasarathy VM created the Index painstakingly, crop-wise, practice-wise and location-wise.

Download a pdf copy of the book 

News update

Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for irreversible collapse?
A new study sponsored by Nasas Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution. Noting that warnings of collapse are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history. Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to precipitous collapse often lasting centuries have been quite common.

Download a copy (pdf file) of the study: A Minimal Model for Human and Nature Interaction, authored by Safa Motesharrei, Jorge Rivas and Eugenia Kalnay.
From The Guardian

 Global riot epidemic due to demise of cheap fossil fuels
If anyone had hoped that the Arab Spring and Occupy protests a few years back were one-off episodes that would soon give way to more stability, they have another thing coming. The hope was that ongoing economic recovery would return to pre-crash levels of growth, alleviating the grievances fueling the fires of civil unrest, stoked by years of recession. But this hasnt happened. And it wont. Instead the post-2008 crash era, including 2013 and early 2014, has seen a persistence and proliferation of civil unrest on a scale that has never been seen before in human history.
From The Guardian

Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate
The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, has released a stark report on global warming. The report warns that the effects of human emissions of heat-trapping gases are already being felt, that the ultimate consequences could be dire, and that the window to do something about it is closing.
From the New York Times

Warm, too warm, and warmer still: The climate movement must face up to its colossal failure
There is no disputing the climate movement’s breadth, depth, diligence, passion or commitment. Crucially, it’s also right, fighting for nothing less than the future of our civilisation. But playing out in slow motion in front of our eyes, we are witnessing its complete collapse. Sustainability conferences hijacked by oil officials and sponsored by Big Oil are but symptoms of a deeper malaise.
From www.eco-business.com

Where Does the Flatness of Oil Production Come From?
For CONVENTIONAL oil, the peak annual global production was about 30 billion barrels (in 2010), but it is now down by about 10%. The TOTAL of global oil production, however, has been more or less flat since about 2002. The discrepancy is due to the fact that the grand total includes UNCONVENTIONAL oil (shale oil, tar-sands oil, natural-gas-liquids, etc.). Mysteriously, the decrease in conventional oil and the increase in unconventional oil balance each other out almost perfectly. But this doesnt make sense. How is it possible that the rise in unconventional oil and the decline in conventional oil and almost exactly cancel each other out, keeping the grand total of annual oil production continuing flat year after year?
By Peter Goodchild

The Crocodiles of Reality
Ive suggested in several previous posts that the peak oil debate may be approaching a turning point—one of those shifts in the collective conversation in which topics that have been shut out for years or decades finally succeed in crashing the party, and other topics that have gotten more than their quota of attention during that time get put out to pasture or sent to the glue factory. I’d like to talk for a moment about some of the reasons I think that’s about to happen, and in the process, give a name to one of the common but generally unmentionable features of contemporary economic life.
By John Michael Greer

Video: Agriculture in a Changing World
Agriculture is the oldest environmental problem, the Land Institutes Wes Jackson tells us early in this 27-minute video. Through interviews with 11 scientists, researchers and environmental experts, this short documentary considers that fate of agriculture and the environment in the age of agri-business and climate change. Noam Chomsky, Bill McKibben, Tad Patzek , Wendell Berry, Mark Shepard and the rest of the cast explain that big agricultures insatiable need for revenue not only afflicts the environment with toxic fertilizers, pesticides and carbon emissions, it degrades the state of agriculture itself by destroying the soil and subverting the natural evolution of animals, plants and insects. It is as unsustainable as it is unstoppable.
From www.postcarbon.org

Peak Oil Review Mar 17
by Tom Whipple, originally published by ASPO-USA
From www.resilience.org

 

 

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