Archive for the tag “organic farming”

Peak Oil (Or why city slickers should learn to get their hands dirty)


Peak Oil, Food Security and Urban Agriculture

T. Vijayendra

Abstract
Peak Oil refers to the point when oil production reaches a peak, and henceforth can only fall. This has already happened. This has enormous implications for food security. It raises cost and prices of food because farm inputs – primarily fertilisers and pesticides are petroleum based products. Also the cost of transport goes up. This has resulted in food prices going up and within the present system it will only go up further. The alternative is socialism with local food security based on organic food production. Urban agriculture, particularly for perishable foods like vegetables and fruits is becoming a must. Read more…

News update

5 reasons why Tibets melting ice is a disaster for India, Europe and US
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
Did you know that rivers originating in Tibets glaciers supply water to 1.3 billion people? Thats equivalent to the entire population of India. But these glaciers are fast disappearing due to global warming. Tibets sustainability is crucial for sustenance of the world, but this fact is not commonly known. The glaciers are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Gulf will soon be too hot for human beings – literally
Scroll.in
A study by Jeremy S Pal and Elfatih AB Eltahir of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology finds that human beings will not be able to survive in the Gulf just 65 years from now. Our results expose a specific regional hot spot where climate change, in the absence of significant mitigation, is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future, the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, said.

World set to use more energy for cooling than heating
The Guardian UK
The world faces a looming and potentially calamitous “cold crunch”, with demand for air conditioning and refrigeration growing so fast that it threatens to smash pledges and targets for global warming. Worldwide power consumption for air conditioning alone is forecast to surge 33-fold by 2100 as developing world incomes rise and urbanisation advances. Already, the US uses as much electricity to keep buildings cool as the whole of Africa uses on everything; China and India are fast catching up. By mid-century people will use more energy for cooling than heating (Also read: How America became addicted to air conditioning).

The Rapid and Startling Decline Of World’s Vast Boreal Forests
Jim Robbins, Yale Environment 360
Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about the fate of the huge boreal forest that spans from Scandinavia to northern Canada. Unprecedented warming in the region is jeopardizing the future of a critical ecosystem that makes up nearly a third of the earth’s forest cover. (Also read: Why have thousands of trees dropped dead in New South Wales?)

How our energy problem leads to a debt collapse problem
Gail Tverberg
Usually, we don’t stop to think about how the whole economy works together. A major reason is that we have been lacking data to see long-term relationships. In this post, I show some longer-term time series relating to energy growth, GDP growth, and debt growth–going back to 1820 in some cases–that help us understand our situation better.

What happened to peak oil? The cycle of a meme and of its
Ugo Bardi
Unlike Nibiru or the E-Cat, peak oil is a serious concept, backed up by a lot of research. However, it didnt really get viral enough to become a mainstream meme. The main problem, here, may have been the choice of the term: peak oil conjures a specific moment in time when something exceptional should happen, even though it is not clear what. When people saw that nothing special was happening, they lost interest. The decline of the peak oil meme was helped by the anti-memetic system that created effective antimemes such as they have been predicting peak oil already for 30 years ago.

Money Cannot Manufacture Resources (Podcast)
Kurt Cobb
As any fourth grader will tell you, a finite system will not yield unlimited resources. But that perspective is not shared by those controlling the printing presses. And so they print and print and print, yet remain flummoxed when supply (and increasingly, demand for that matter) does not increase the way they expect.

The Passing of Bhaskar Save: What The ‘Green Revolution’ Did for India
Colin Todhunter, Countercurrents.org
Masanobu Fukuoka, the legendary Japanese organic farmer once described Bhaskar Hiraji Saves farm as “the best in the world, even better than my own!” By using traditional methods, he demonstrated on his farm that yield is superior to any farm using chemicals in terms of overall quantity, nutritional quality, taste, biological diversity, ecological sustainability, water conservation, energy efficiency and economic profitability. Bhaskar Save died on 24 October 2015 at age 93.

Announcing the second Ecologise! farm workshop

Date: November 14 -15, 2015
Venue: Suman Sangam A forest farm (village  Daddi Kamalapur (Dharwad Panaji (Goa) highway) Dharwad, Karnataka, India)
Host: Dr. Sanjeev Kulkarni


Ecologise!
Ecologise is a programme through which those living in cities can explore living in an ecologically more sensitive and sustainable manner. Specifically, it is a programme involving stay and work on an organic farm for varying periods, as a volunteer. The programme will be preceded by a weekend orientation  workshop , during which the participant may decide which farm they wish to work on, and for how long. The duration will vary according to the needs and land cycles of each farm. There will be a few break periods’ during which participants can go home or travel. It is possible that participants may not be in a position to commit for a longer period. They can still attend the orientation workshop. Read more…

News update

NASA: World Locked Into at Least 3 Feet of Sea Level Rise
Common Dreams
New research underway indicates that at least three feet of global sea level rise is near certain, NASA scientists have warned. Thats the higher range of the 1 to 3 feet level of rise the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave in its 2013 assessment. Sea levels have already risen 3 inches on average since 1992, with some areas experiencing as much as a 9-inch rise.

Climate change will alter ocean bacteria crucial to food chain – study
The Guardian UK
Climate change will have irreversible and unprecedented impacts on crucial ocean microorganisms that could trigger dramatic effects further up the food chain, according to scientists. The bacteria trichodesmium is known for surviving in nutrient-poor parts of the ocean, where it converts nitrogen gas into a material that can be used by other forms of life – from plankton to whales – which all require it to grow.

Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste
Scientifc American
the waste produced by coal plants is actually more radioactive than that generated by their nuclear counterparts. In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy.

India prone to vector-borne diseases, heatwaves due to climate change
Down to Earth
Indias extreme vulnerability to climate change will have a direct impact on the health of its population, experts said at a seminar on Friday. The World Health Organization has predicted in a report that between 2030-50, climate change will cause 250,000 additional deaths. The Himalayan region is prone to vector-borne diseases, especially malaria and dengue, Ramesh Dhiman of the National Institute of Malaria Research, said at a seminar on “Climate Change and Health Risks”.

Organic farming to get a big boost in Maharashtra
The Indian Express
The Maharashtra government is drawing up a comprehensive plan to promote organic farming in a phased manner as an alternative to chemical fertilisers. The Ministry of Agriculture is preparing the draft and special allocations will be made to meet the target. The stress on organic farming reflects the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s view that chemical fertilisers should be done away with and organic manure should replace it.

WTO rules against India in solar panels dispute with the US
Live Mint
A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel has ruled against India in a dispute raised by the US over the country’s solar power programme, requiring the government to offer a level playing field to both foreign and domestic manufacturers of solar panels. India is likely to appeal against the dispute settlement panel’s ruling, which could give it a two-year breather to implement the programme.

India to face power surplus, 300 million people may not be able to afford
The Economic Times
India may be heading for a huge surplus of generation capacity because the 300 million people who dont have access to electricity also dont have the means to buy power from new plants that are being set up to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modis vision of power for all, experts said.

The Guardian UK
Local governments in China have submitted plans to relocate or upgrade almost 1,000 chemical plants in the wake of the massive explosions in Tianjin earlier this month that killed 147 people. The blast at a warehouse storing toxic chemicals was China’s worst industrial accident in recent years. There has been criticism it was located too close to densely populated residential areas. China’s industry minister, Miao Wei, said local governments were finally moving ahead to implement plans to relocate and upgrade chemical plants.

Answering Resistance From All Sides, Germany Moves to Ban GMO Crops
Common Dreams
Germany became the latest country in the European Union to take a stand against genetically modified (GMO) crops in its food supply. German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt told government officials that he will seek to implement the European Unions opt-out rule to stop GMO crop cultivation in the country, including those varieties which may be approved by the EU, according to documents seen by Reuters this week.

HBO documentary key driver of opposition to fracking, study finds
The Guardian UK
An Oscar-nominated HBO documentary that showed American homeowners near hydraulic fracturing sites setting fire to their tap water may have been the main trigger for a surge in public opposition to the oil and gas production technique, according to a study to be published next month. Gasland, produced by the film-maker Josh Fox in 2010, sparked a rise in online searches, social media chatter, news coverage, and environmental activism surrounding fracking that may have led to a series of local attempts to ban the industry in the years that followed, according to the paper which will be published in the American Sociology Review’s October edition.

Report on the first Ecologise! workshop

Letter from Shreekumar of Sangatya Commune, 
who hosted the first Ecologise! workshop

DSC00436
We had a good beginning to the Ecologise programme with the first 
orientation camp held at Sangatya Commune, Nakre, Karkala.  Read more…

First Ecologise! workshop at Nakre, near Udupi, Karnataka

DSCN1948

Ecologise is a programme through which those living in cities can explore living in an ecologically more sensitive and sustainable manner. Specifically, it is a programme involving stay and work on an organic farm for varying periods, as a volunteer. The programme will be preceded by a weekend orientation workshop , during which the participant may decide which farm they wish to work on, and for how long. The duration will vary according to the needs and land cycles of each farm.

There will be a few break periods’ during which participants can go home or travel. It is possible that participants may not be in a position to commit for a longer period. They can still attend the orientation workshop . This workshop will also introduce the volunteer to practices one can incorporate in one’s life to live a more healthy and a less resource-intensive lifestyle. Read more…

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

Lester Brown: Vast dust bowls threaten tens of millions with hunger
The Guardian, UK
Vast tracts of Africa and of China are turning into dust bowls on a scale that dwarfs the one that devastated the US in the 1930s, one of the world’s pre-eminent environmental thinkers has warned. Over 50 years, the writer Lester Brown has gained a reputation for anticipating global trends. Now as Brown, 80, enters retirement, he fears the world may be on the verge of a greater hunger than he has ever seen in his professional lifetime

As Antarctica Melts Away, Seas Could Rise Ten Feet Within 100 Years
Common Dreams
Rapid melting of Antarctic ice could push sea levels up 10 feet worldwide within two centuries, recurving heavily populated coastlines and essentially reshaping the world, the Associated Press has reported. The Antarctic Peninsula, including the vulnerable West Antarctic ice sheet, is the region of the continent warming fastest because the land juts out in the warmer ocean. According to NASA, it is losing 49 billion tons of ice each year.

Researchers Link Syrian Conflict to a Drought Made Worse by Climate Change
The New York Times
Drawing one of the strongest links yet between global warming and human conflict, researchers have said that an extreme drought in Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011. The drought was the worst in the country in modern times, and the scientists laid the blame for it on a century-long trend toward warmer and drier conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean, rather than on natural climate variability.

Seeing is believing as scientists trace greenhouse effect
Climate News Network
Government scientists in the US say they have directly observed for the first time the greenhouse effect in action. Their measurements, taken over a period of 11 years in Alaska and Oklahoma, confirm predictions made more than 100 years ago, and repeatedly examined: there is a greenhouse effect, and the greenhouse gas that most helps the world warm is carbon dioxide.

The Paradox of Oil: The Cheaper it is, the More it Costs
Samuel Alexander, Simplicity Institute
The only reason oil can be considered ‘cheap’ is because the environmental costs of oil consumption are ‘externalised’. If the costs of climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and resource depletion were built into the price of oil, there is no way it would be ‘cheap’. And what of the social and economic costs that will be borne by future generations? This is the paradox of oil: the cheaper it is, the more it costs.

Peak fossil fuel won’t stop climate change – but it could help
Gary Ellem, The Conversation
Fossil fuels are ultimately a finite resource – the definition of non-renewable energy. Burning of these fuels – coal, oil and gas – is the main driver of climate change. So could the peak of fossil fuels help mitigate warming? The short answer is maybe … but perhaps not how you might think. In a paper published this month in the journal Fuel, my colleagues and I suggest that limits to fossil fuel availability might take climate Armageddon off the table, although we will still need to keep some fossil fuels in the ground for the best chance of keeping warming below 2C.

Big Oil Drop Project
BBC news
The BBC has launched its Big Oil Drop project, a series of interconnected online articles and data packages, alongside broadcast pieces. The idea is a pretty simple one. Every now and again amid all the swirling reports and breaking news it is worth taking a pause and bringing together what we know about the most important resource in the world. Read sample article: Oil: Shocking how vital it still is

Who controls our food?
Nick Dearden, New Internationalist blog
‘It’s a nice idea, when you can afford it’ sums up the approach of many people to organic farming. But extending these principles of production to the whole food system? It just doesn’t seem practical. But a new report from Global Justice Now, From The Roots Up, shows that not only can small-scale organically produced food feed the world, but it can do so better than intensive, corporate-controlled agriculture.

Proposal: An Alternative Energy Strategy for India

ENERGY STRATEGY FOR INDIA BY 2035

Presenting a new vision for a totally clean and green, fossil fuel-free energy strategy for our COUNTRY
(by Concerned Members of NGOs)

There is a pressing need to think about a fossil fuel-less future, because according to many experts, fossil fuels have already peaked, and may be exhausted by 2030 or too costly. Multiple scientific studies have also proven that fossil fuels are the biggest cause of environmental pollution and global warming. This proposal presents a strategy for our country, which is at present completely dependent on fossil fuels. To avert the forthcoming energy crisis and to become totally fossil fuel-free and become clean and green by 2035, this plan would help.

While most countries including ours, are already adopting Alternative energy sources, we propose that India goes a step forward and make ourselves free from fossil fuels, and thus make ourselves the cleanest possible country on the planet in terms of emissions and as this also brings us prosperity. We are burning nearly about 83 million Dollar worth of crude every day !

To reach the goal, some essential steps we must take are:

  1. With clean and able leader like Shree Narendra Modi ji at the helm, it should not be a difficult proposition to curtail, if not totally eliminate, corruption.
  2. A clean country is also a prerequisite and essential for becoming a totally green country. Cleanliness is said to be next to Godliness. Basically we Indians speak about it, but are careless otherwise.
  3. To plan for a strategy to reduce the population level, although it may not be possible to bring it to a desired level, even by 2050.

(One of the proposals is to advice women to have just one child in their life time, irrespective of their caste, creed or number of times she may get married. This would require change in some social norms as well, but those should not be too difficult if this option is accepted by society). This step is very essential for sustainability as well and will also bring about empowerment of women. Reduced population would also mean increase in prosperity.

Read the full text of the proposal (Download PDF)

(Editors Note: This is the full text of a submission to the new Govt. at the Centre, drafted by POI member Dr Ashok Kundapur. Dr Ashok is an inventor and well-known expert in alternative energy technologies. For more information on his work, visit: http://www.kapalishakti.com and http://www.solcooker.net)

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