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Pacific Ecologist

Pacific Ecologist 14 Winter 2007

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conflict in agriculture

  • The contest between industrial and biological agriculture
    As reserves of fossil fuels are being depleted, the contest between industrial, oil-dependent agriculture and biological forms of agriculture will sharpen, writes Petrus Simons. The real contest is between different world views, between one that technologically aims to maximise production regardless of destructive environmental consequences and one that aims to harvest what is sufficient for human life, for current generations, while maintaining healthy ecosystems for future generations of people and animals.
  • Chickenowski’s Chicken – Edward Goldsmith
    Modern industrial society and its technological chickens are based on inadequate economic accounting, writes Edward Goldsmith, founding editor of The Ecologist.

peak oil/food crisis

  • Peak oil fuelling food insecurity (part one) [420KB PDF]
    Our current industrial agriculture, food production and trade systems are increasingly dependent on fossil fuels, including artificial fertilisers, packaging, transport and processing methods. With peak oil imminent, food and agricultural policy will have to change. Caroline Lucas (member of the European Parliament), Andy Jones and Colin Hines, investigate the consequences of the decline of cheap oil on food security in the UK and elsewhere and call for a Royal Commission on Food Security to give the matter urgent consideration.
  • Facing peak oil: the urgent need for local food systems (part two)
    Achieving food security in the peak oil era is an urgent political priority, conclude Caroline Lucas, Andy Jones and Colin Hines. The aim of trade and food policy should be a just, environmentally-sound food security programme for all nations, prioritising self-reliance and reduced energy use, with low-energy, low-input farming, and development of local markets. Mitigation efforts must begin immediately as disruptions caused by the permanent end of cheap oil will be huge, affecting food supply and many sectors of agriculture and industry.
  • Reclaiming community and home-grown pleasures
    Brenda Vale shows potentials for food production in New Zealand without oil.
  • Food prices rise as U.S. corn diverted to feed cars
    Food prices are rising in Mexico, China, India and the U.S. as a result of the huge diversion of U.S. corn to produce fuel for cars, reports Lester R Brown. The choice is between a future of rising world food prices, increasing hunger, and political instability, or one of stable food prices, sharply reduced dependence on oil, and much lower carbon emissions.
  • Biofuels boom spurs deforestation
    Efforts to slow climate change by using biofuels and planting millions of trees for carbon credits have ironically brought major new causes of deforestation, reports Stephen Leahy.

climate change

  • Climate change and food security in the South Pacific [450KB PDF]
    Pacific Islanders traditionally have enjoyed diverse ways to achieve food security, through gardening, fishing, hunting, and selling products or labour for cash, reports Jon Barnett. But robust local food production has significantly been eroded with urbanisation and cheap, poor quality food imports. Climate change will increase threats to food security, through its impacts on food production, health, infrastructure, the ability of countries to import food, and the ability of households to purchase food. Commercial agriculture, fisheries and tourism are also likely to be badly affected as will the ability of the regions governments to cope with increasing climate-related disasters.

book reviews

  • The post-petroleum survival guide & cookbook: recipes for changing times by Albert Bates
  • The suicidal planet: how to prevent global climate catastrophe by Mayer Hillman, Tina Fawcett and Sudhir Chella Rajan
  • Living the good life: how one family changed their world from their own backyard by Linda Cockburn
  • Sustainable agriculture & resistance: transforming food production in Cuba by Fernando Funes, Luis García, Martin Bourque, Nilda Pérez and Peter Rosset
  • The spirit of agriculture edited by Paul Hanley and George Ronald
  • Religion & agriculture: sustainability in Christianity and Buddhism by Lindsay Falvey

sustainable directions

  • Climate change and peak oil: an integrated strategy for Australia [340KB PDF]
    Climate change and peak oil are inextricably linked, reports Ian T Dunlop, distinguished chair of the Australian National Wildlife Collection Foundation and former oil, gas and coal industry executive. Rapid agreement, and implementation of measures to prepare for peak oil and to stabilise atmospheric carbon concentrations are urgently needed. Integrated policies, at global and national levels will provide a coherent response to both issues. Reductions of Australia’s emissions of around 90% by 2050, based on equity principles and setting up a system of Tradeable Energy Quotas, and an Oil Depletion Protocol imply fundamental change from current practice altering the lifestyle of the entire community. This article is a summary of his paper, “Climate Change and Peak Oil: An Integrated Policy Response for Australia”.

    This podcast by Phil England and Tim Helweg-Larson from The Ecologist (UK) [27MB MP3] covers similar topics.

  • The problem with cap and share: the need for alternative communities
    Despite global warming and fossil fuel depletion, our leaders are obsessed with economic growth, and huge production and consumption levels, writes Ted Trainer. Ordinary people need to start building alternative communities within existing towns and suburbs.
  • Sustainable living at home in Australia
    Deciding she wanted a better quality life, Linda Cockburn embarked on a backyard adventure in sustainable living, using the sun for energy and harvesting rain for water for six months on her family’s half-acre block in Queensland, Australia, writes Rich Bowden.
  • Reinventing our relationships with land
    Peter Healy, recently returned from a study programme at Genesis Farm, suggests humanity needs to find its place amongst the whole of nature, and develop a land ethic in order to live sustainably on the earth.
  • Energy hopes high with revolutionary bioenergy reactors
    New, high performance photo-bioreactors are being set up in The Netherlands, Spain and Portugal to produce biodiesel from algae. BioKing Green Energy NV says micro-algae have the highest potential of energy yield in vegetable oil crops, and are ideally suited for biodiesel production due to their extremely fast growth rates, high oil content, and ability to grow in adverse conditions. The revolutionary bioreactor transforms biogenic fats and oils into biodiesel with unprecedented speed of only 2–3 seconds.
  • The power of community – how Cuba survived its peak oil
    As the end of the oil age approaches, Paul Bruce, looks at the promising example Cuba provides. Cuba and Korea faced their peak oil experience prematurely in the 1990s. Millions of Koreans died of starvation as a result of poor planning. But Cuba rapidly changed, restructuring itself from an industrial country with mechanised agriculture and high petro-chemical inputs into a sustainable society. While they may not have as many consumer goods, Cubans have higher life expectancy and literacy rates, and lower infant mortality rates than in the USA, because of the socially oriented nature of Cuba’s political/economic system.
  • Photo essay: Cuba 2007, after its peak oil
    Photo essay by Julie Webb-Pullman on location in Cuba