Why land, on which to build a home and grow food, is our ultimate security

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There’s a general feeling – and a growing one I think – that we’re headed for disaster, and that no-one is in control or able to steer us away from the precipice. Here are four categories of reasons that people give for pessimism about the near future:

  1. ecology: scientists are telling us that we’re seriously damaging nature, and that we’re already in a mass extinction event
  2. war: more and more countries are acquiring nuclear weapons, weapons technology is becoming deadlier, there are flashpoints all around the world, empires and blocs are waxing and waning and there is a distinct possibility that terrorist groups could acquire a nuclear capability at some point
  3. technology: several other technologies are being developed that could escalate beyond our means to control them, especially genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology
  4. population: from the first humans to 1960, the human population grew to 3 billion; but we’re now headed towards 10 billion by the middle of this century – all requiring food, shelter, energy and aspiring to cars, TVs and flights, from a planet whose nature is already degrading with 7 billion of us

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We absolutely don’t have the models or tools to make accurate risk assessments, so I suggest that we ignore commentators who claim to have a handle on the likelihood of any of these scenarios and lean towards the precautionary principle. Civilisations have fallen before, but without affecting other areas of the world; this time it’s global, and we don’t have anywhere else to go.

Read more here.

How to find a company that is truly green

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Here are some tips on how to be a savvy shopper who consistently gets past the greenwashing.

Companies have caught on to the fact that going green means business. Everyone is jumping on the green bandwagon, making claims of being “all natural,” “non toxic,” and “eco-friendly” in hopes of attracting the attention of consumers. The problem is, these claims are often not authentic. There aren’t many regulations in terms of what companies can put on their packaging, which means that consumers have to use their own skills of critical assessment to determine whether or not a company is green for real. Here are some things to look for:

Watch for specific statements.

If an item has green-sounding phrases such as “natural” and “eco-friendly” without providing any further information, it’s probably not true. A company that has real relationships with certifiers such as organic, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Oeko-Tex, B Corp, etc. will make that loud and clear. They will sing their product’s virtues without hesitation and explain in considerable depth why and what they do.

Look for mission statements online.

A company’s mission statement can go a long ways toward revealing their true environmental intentions. Visit a website such as Patagonia’s, for example, and see how impressively different it is from most other clothing retailers. Patagonia lists the specific textile mills and sewing factories for every piece it sells, setting a high standard for transparency. This is different from other retailers, many of which have “environmental commitment” sections on their websites but actually say very little, when you examine them closely.

Read more here.

Who you callin' ugly? Join the campaign to end food waste now!

End Food Waste campaign

A petition calls on Whole Foods and Wal-Mart to start selling ugly produce instead of throwing it away -- an act that can benefit everyone.

It’s time to stand up for the uglies! Supermarkets have long discriminated against any fruits and vegetables that do not meet the absurdly high cosmetic standards for sale, with an estimated 26 percent of all produce in the United States tossed before it’s even given a chance on the shelves.

This makes no sense because ‘ugly’ produce is just as nutritious as attractive produce, and can even have more taste. In a world where there is so much concern about food shortages, greenhouse gas emissions from teeming landfills, water conservation, and dietary health, it’s only logical to embrace the uglies and welcome them into our food system.

Jordan Figueredo of the End Food Waste campaign has launched a petition to get Wal-Mart and Whole Foods to change their outdated policies on ugly produce and save billions of pounds of perfectly good fruits and vegetables from unnecessary rejection. He wants them to launch fun publicity campaigns, similar to France’s very successful Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables, the United States’ Imperfect Produce, and Canada's Naturally Imperfect line.

Read more here.

Imagine farming that actually heals the earth

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One of the most inspiring recent developments in the discussion about farming has been the shift from talking about "sustainable" agriculture to advocating for "regenerative" agriculture. Instead of seeking to be less bad, say a growing number of farmers and farming experts, the farming industry should be positioning itself to be good—to heal the harm being done to our planet.

From slowing, and maybe even reversing global climate change through soil carbon sequestration to creating perennial food crops that mimic natural prairies and help protect our waterways, there are many methods that could be deployed to both reduce farming's negative impact and simultaneously start rebuilding natural ecosystem services that have previously been degraded.

In the UK, former natural history filmmaker Rebecca Hosking has been at the forefront of this conversation, returning to her parents' family farm and rethinking its operations as a resilient, sustainable and regenerative "farm for the future." That farm—which has become named The Village Farm—faces some fairly significant challenges in terms of soil conditions and topography, not least because previous management practices have degraded what was there. This from the Village Farm website explains more:

Read more here.

The global debt

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The global debt, that is the "money" owed by all countries, is currently at over US$230 trillion – please don't ask me no many zeros come after the 230, I have no idea – but the question we should ask is "who do those countries, including our own, owe this money to?"

Investment banks and such, you say. Really? Consider that the money that was lent – and is being lent – is not “real” money at all but has been created out of thin air. Same as with any loan that a bank gives. The money that is being transferred from the back into your account does not, actually, exist as "real" money, neither in paper nor in coin, nor in gold or silver. It is being created out of nothing. This is not even anymore the so-called fractional reserve banking; there are no reserves here at all. However, as collateral they demand real value, namely property, and if you do not keep up your repayments and the interest payments the banks will come after that collateral on which you “secured” the loan.

More interesting is also that, to all intents and purposes, the global debt can never be repaid.

If, for example, a world government, which we do not have but just imagine it, would try to pay this money back at the rate of US$1 (one dollar) per second it would take, according to some sources, 63,000 years to pay back; let me put that in words: sixty-three thousand years...

I just leave you with these thoughts for a moment... (Remember once again that no money lent ever existed)...

Now that you have, or have not, whichever the case may be, from the shock of the fact that this debt that all the countries of the world – and we are here only talking about “national debt” and not about the debt that individuals “owe” to banks in the form of mortgages and other loans – simply cannot, in reality, ever be repaid.

But then, as I said before, what is this debt actually? The so-called money never actually existed in the real world and was backed only by the assets of fresh, or not so fresh, whichever the case may be, air then we must but conclude that this so-called debt just cannot exist as the money never existed.

The entire monetary system, regardless whether it is paper money backed by nothing or backed by so-called “real” assets in the form of gold and silver (and I have put the word real in inverted commas for a good reason for also gold and silver have only the monetary value that we give them; they are not valuable at all except for use in electronics), is just based on an illusion. None of it is real wealth.

What has value is food, for we must eat, and water, for we must drink, and then the other resources from which to produce things to make our lives easier, whether shelter, clothing, or other products. We cannot eat paper money nor can we eat gold, silver or diamonds. Thus they actually have no value but the imaginary one that we place upon them by way of conditioning to believe that they represent a value.

The only thing other than the ones above, and upon this resource all our actions should be based, is time. The day, the hour, the half hour, and and hour of milking a cow should be valued as much as an hour of writing an essay, and article or a book. An hour mowing the lawn is equal to an hour of mending a bicycle. Every one's work is equally valued when we consider the hour as the rate of exchange. In the production of goods, or even in service tasks it may be necessary to add to this, in way of additional time segments, any fuel for a mower, or any materials, etc., but aside from those an hour of one kind of work must be exchangeable for an hour of another kind. But that, really, is the matter for another article and I digressed somewhat.

We need a completely new system as to what is wealth and must get entirely rid off this monetary and banking system that is around today.

P.S. OK, after having checked this as to the zero behind the 230 the figure would look like this 230,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that is 18 zeros behind the 230).

© 2015

Arnold Schwarzenegger: climate change is not science fiction

Terminator star calls global warming a ‘battle in the real world’ that’s bigger than any movie, at the first summit of conscience for the climate in Paris

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been chosen by the French government to join Nobel prizewinners, philosophers, UN secretary generals, spiritual leaders and theologians to make the moral case for the world to act urgently on climate change.

Talking at the world’s first summit of conscience for the climate on Tuesday – ahead of the crucial UN climate change meeting in the city in December – the Terminator star and former California governor declared the science debate over, saying planetary catastrophe could only be avoided with ethical action:

“I’ve starred in a lot of science fiction movies and, let me tell you something, climate change is not science fiction, this is a battle in the real world, it is impacting us right now.

“I believe the science is in. The debate is over and the time for action is now,” he told an invited audience of intellectuals and spiritual leaders from all faiths. “This is bigger than any movie, this is the challenge of our time. And it is our responsibility to leave this world a better place than we found it, but right now we are failing future generations.”

Read more here.

A Rich Man Took His Son To See What It Was Like To Be Poor, And This Is What Happened

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One day a very wealthy father took his son on a trip to the country for the sole purpose of showing his son how it was to be poor.  They spent a few days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

After their return from the trip, the father asked his son how he liked the trip. “It was great, Dad,” the son replied. “Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked. “Oh Yeah,” said the son.

“So what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father. The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

Read more here.

It started with a futon in a dumpster

It started with a futon in a dumpster. Now it's a student org that's changing the way we see waste.

It started with a futon in a dumpster. Now it's a a nationwide resource that's changing the way students think about campus waste. Heck yes.

Alex Freid was moving out of his dorm after his freshman year of college when something caught his eye: a futon.

It was still in excellent condition, sticking out of a dumpster on his University of New Hampshire campus. "That's perfect!" he thought. "I can grab that futon and use it for my apartment next year."

Upon further inspection, he saw that the dumpster was chock full of usable items — and there were dozens of others just like it all over campus. What was up with all this "waste"?

Read more here.

Protect nature for world economic security, warns UN biodiversity chief

Ahmed Djoghlaf says nations risk economic collapse and loss of culture if it does not protect the natural world

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Britain and other countries face a collapse of their economies and loss of culture if they do not protect the environment better, the world's leading champion of nature has warned.

"What we are seeing today is a total disaster," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, the secretary-general of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. "No country has met its targets to protect nature. We are losing biodiversity at an unprecedented rate. If current levels [of destruction] go on we will reach a tipping point very soon. The future of the planet now depends on governments taking action in the next few years."

Industrialisation, population growth, the spread of cities and farms and climate change are all now threatening the fundamentals of life itself, said Djoghlaf, in London before a key UN meeting where governments are expected to sign up to a more ambitious agreement to protect nature.

"Many plans were developed in the 1990s to protect biodiversity but they are still sitting on the shelves of ministries. Countries were legally obliged to act, but only 140 have even submitted plans and only 16 have revised their plans since 1993. Governments must now put their houses in order," he said.

Read more here.

The Benefits of Stinging Nettles

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Stinging nettles are often thought of as a weed, but they have many health and nutritious benefits as well as being easy to grow or forage.

The basics

  • They lose their sting in the first 30 seconds of cooking.
  • They have more protein than any other edible plant I know of.
  • They will satisfy my hamburger cravings.
  • Harvest for eating before they are knee high.
  • The seeds and roots have medicinal value.
  • In the fall they can be used to make cordage - especially good for water cordage, like nets (hence the name).
  • Possibly the easiest plant food to dry and save for later

Jumping on the stinging nettle train

In 2001 I learned that lots of my animals liked to eat stinging nettles. In looking it up, I found that it was one of the best things they could eat. So good, that I should try to encourage growing it rather than discourage it.

Read more here.