Friday, 28 November 2008

Beannachtaí an tSéasúir,

May you be blessed with discomfort
at easy answers, half-truths, and
superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep
within your heart.
May you be blessed with anger
at injustice, oppression, and
exploitation of people,
so that you may work
for justice, freedom and peace.
May you be blessed with tears to shed
for those who suffer from pain,
rejection, starvation and war,
so that you may reach out your hand
to comfort them
and to turn their pain into joy.
May you be blessed with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make
a difference in this world,
so that you can do what others
claim cannot be done.

Beannachtaí an tSéasúir,
(Blessings of the Season)

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Husband The Earth

The question keeps coming up.
"How can we care for all the children of all the species for all time",
William Donaugh.
My question is, How can we care for this earth and all her creatures?
The answer is simple really.
Care for this earth and all her creatures.
The practice the way is difficult in this day.
I used to use a mantra - I am the earth, when I first started to query what she was about.
What I have noticed is that as I ask this question every day my perceptions are changing.
A lot of what I used to find satisfying important for human life is now just so vile and sickening.
I have become the earth and I feel sick at what we do.
Its strange and sacred, She is always talking silently in us.
If we would only listen we would know what to do.
She loves us so much.
please open your heart and know
its in thy thymus

Monday, 6 October 2008

carbon negative cooking.

- Click on image to see the collection
Almost. 25l burner, 8l chiminy, 2*4 reformer inside, loaded with wood.
Burns like a furnace.
Not much of a yield, no smoke great for cooking
rice and a stir fry
Burnt for about 60 minutes
I Want a charcoal stream for nutrient buffering in soil and compost

Monday, 22 September 2008

Sacred Food

(Food is sacred,
It is what connects us to this earth.)
I lack artistic computer skills. would a creative person be interested in creating a image from this.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

At Home, Vermiponic Permaculture microfarming

Spring is here and I'm behind.
Ive been busy with -
Permaculture class.
Walking A friend through the dark night of the soul, (It is a joy to help in the birth of an adult human,rare these days).
A new and proud owner of 6 lovely gals (one above).
Attempting to craft an aquaponic - vermiponic system.
Worms - chooks - plants - fish, all from food wastes from the local organic grocer.
Is this permaculture

This is a beginnings of an aquaponic - vermiponic system made from salvaged bits.
A chook tractor and worm farm at back of image.
I intend to use the nutrient solution and worms to feed it.
The bath tubs have worm castings as a growing medium.
Above - link to Pictures of vermiponic experiment in my back yard

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Bees CCD & GMO

Dear Friends,

I am rather confused and concerned by the disappearing Bees around the Globe and our responses. Bees are kind of special, a canary in a haystack, a keystone specie. There seems to be a connection between certain insecticides used in almost all horticulture situations, from urban gardens, golf courses to commercial agriculture and GMOs.

Bees don’t do to well in genetically modified crops that express insect toxins. e.g. bt cotton, canola.

The countries using GM crops linked with systemic insecticides are having staggering Bee losses. It is known as CCD colony collapse disorder.

Australia is spared this blight at present. We use these Insecticides but as yet don’t have widespread GM crops expressing insect toxins. This is Changing Quickly.

FSANZ is asking for public submissions on the release of these lethal corporate bio-engendered money spinners.

My dilemma is this. I don’t feel confident or understand the process involved in creating and submitting this information to FSANZ or other authorities. I do feel it is extremely important to do so.

I am asking for a call of solidarity, a call to arms or maybe a whimping plee for help.

Is there anyone interested in gathering collating and creating a submission?

Please contact me if interested in doing something about this.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Permablitz, community sharing


Permablitz Southern Highlands

Let no one be discourage by the thought of how much there is to learn...
For the first steps are steps into a delightful unknown..
The first successes are victories all the happier for being scarcely expected
and with the growing knowledge comes the widening outlook and the comforting sense of an ever increasing gain of critical appreciation.
Each new step becomes a little surer and each new grasp a little firmer,
Till little by little comes the power of intelligent combination.
The nearest thing we can know to the mighty force of creation.

Gertrude Jekyls.

Thursday, 31 July 2008


Miguel De Unamuno, - "Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible."

Friday, 25 July 2008

Christian slavery

Shame June 27, 2007

We have dis-empowered these people completely, pushed them onto the rubbish dumps of our cultural refuse.

We have stolen there land, raped there children, sold them into Christian slavery, abused them, murdered them, diluted there spirit with ours (petrol)

We have projected our shadow of hatred on them. and still do

We have treated them worse than dogs and vermin, and still do.

We have taken advantage of them, using them for our political gains

We destroy all other cultures in serving our Christian greed.

Then blame them for there destruction!!

To continually treat others less than human creates less than human others

The only shame is in us who judge without recourse to truth

We call ourselves Christian and demand others accept cultural enslavment.

Lets give ourselves a pat on the back.

* Guide reproduction wisely - improving fitness and diversity.

* Unite humanity with a living new language.

* Rule passion - faith - tradition - and all things with tempered reason.

* Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.

* Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.

* Avoid petty laws and useless officials.

* Balance personal rights with social duties.

* Prize truth - beauty - love - seeking harmony with the infinite.

* Be not a cancer on the earth - Leave room for nature - Leave room for nature.

"Those who commit evil acts do not see those acts as evil or even malicious.
They see themselves as justified" -- David Gerrold

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Atrazine - from silent night to silent spring

From Silent Spring to Silent Night
A talk by Prof. Tyrone Hayes,
Department of Integrative Biology,
University of California Berkeley. Given at Humphrey Institute in
Minneapolis on March 23, 2007. Dr. Hayes is an authority on the
effects of the pesticide atrazine on frogs, and is not popular with
chemical companies for his views and proven research.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Vermiculture - Aquaponics.

A semi closed organic food system created in a minimal space intergrating vermiculture and aquaponics - using organic and Permaculture principles.

The goal is to cycle nutrients solid and liquid through a combined aquaponics and vermiculture system to grow food for the table. Recycle organic food and organic matter. Possibly produce Vermicompost and liquid fertilizer.

Worms produce nitrogen rich liquid and solid products suitable for growing plants, are a rich protein source.
Fish eat worms and also produce nitrogen.
Plants use nitrogen.
Hydroponic gravel beds act as filters removing particles and nutrients.
I Eat fish plants and worms (sometimes).
What type of fish?
Commercial home size aquaponic systems take about the space of a double garage and are claimed to feed a family of four.

Sunday, 8 June 2008


“What permaculture designers are doing is the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet.

We don´t know what will be the details of a truly sustainable future,

but we need options,

we need people experimenting all types of forms

and permaculture designers are one of the crucial groups who are doing this."

Dr David Suzuki

Monday, 21 April 2008

A Crude Awakening The Oil Crash

What about a Stone Age Diet
Simple food grown in a simple way, organic permanent agriculture at the back door.
It would seem it's the best option for our health and that of this earth.
If I were to take food from another to live - ethics of my dog and all other animals.
If I were to take food from another to fuel my lifestyle/car - ethics of greed
If I were to make war on another to fuel my economy - ethics of the beast
I cannot justify slavery, Or justify calling myself a Christian.
I drive a car and sometimes walk.
I live in comfort, yet I am impoverished.
I realise this in a sea of madness.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008



What is it to share?
We talk of it a lot.
Give great emphasis in teaching our children.
Why have so many of us grown up unable to share!!!
What is so important about status and the BMW?
What is so important about that dollar?
What is so important about your last dollar in a sharing society?

Have we forgotten something in growing up?
How often do we get together to share.
A morning with the neighbour in the garden making a compost heap, then a shared lunch.
The imagination is the limit.
I see a lot of churches being built.

Try it out. Just spend a week offering to share your time energy,
without the expectation of reciprocity.
Ask people to share some of there energy
Spend a week randomly sharing
Vertically as well as horizontally
What is the result.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Earth hour

NASA City lights

Only one hour a year for the earth?
Earth Hour, Saturday March 29th -
Earth hour - the kids across the road knocked down my street sign. It wasn't that dark, the street lights were on, the house lights were on, they didn't have their car lights on.
An interesting night.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Authority & Personal Power

Authority & Personal Power

Authority of Being!

Serving - being Authority OR Autonomous Authentic Being

We have all been dis-empowered as spiritual beings and we mindlessly dis-empower others in an attempt to experience some sense of our lost power. (Spirit eaters) Yet to dis-empower another is to dis-empower ourselves. (A circle of hell)

Why is this! Would we not gain more by empowering others.
Why have we been conditioned to serve in a bulling Patriarchal Hierarchy, which takes all and gives trinkets.

It goes deep its embedded in our language!
Deception destroys belief!!
Violence destroys language!!!

True authority does not steal bully belittle ostracizes criticize or make negative of others....

You will do as I do!
You will follow if you have belief in me.
I will follow you if I have belief in you.
Live your life in truth
Allow me the same

The Germans are good people.....
How on earth did they justify Hitler?
The Christians are Good people.....
How on earth do they justify war?
They say Scientist are good people.....
How on earth do they justify slavery?

What are we doing when we give our individual power to another
or worse still an impersonal disorganization?

"Those who commit evil acts do not see those acts as evil or even malicious. They see themselves as justified" - David Gerrold

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Taxes Fueling Climate change

Climate change is the most serious challenge facing the planet. However, governments in Australia continue to spend twenty-eight (28!) times more taxpayer’s money on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas than they put into renewable energy like solar and wind. We think it’s time to give renewables a fair go!

Will you help us put an end to this decade-long misuse of our tax dollars? Sign the petition asking new Treasurer Wayne Swan to take decisive first steps in this May’s Federal Budget, replacing handouts to antiquated fossil fuels with clean energy investment!

Sign the petition

We’re talking about $803 per average taxpayer fueling climate change. An independent academic report we commissioned has uncovered some of the dirty details, many of which were buried under technical jargon and hidden in different government policies…

Perhaps the most scandalous waste of money uncovered is a $308 million dollar annual tax break for multinational coal companies to cover their fuel bills. This single handout alone is more than the entire amount the Federal Government invests in renewable energy. Considering some of these companies have profits in the billions, and their executives are paid eight figure salaries, the question must be asked: why are our hard-earned taxes icing their cake – and fueling climate change at the same time?

Together, we can change this. Australians elected Kevin Rudd and Labor in part because they said they were serious about tackling climate change. But considering the powerful vested interests involved, there is no guarantee they will automatically break with Howard’s legacy of funding climate change. Let’s show we, the people, can be powerful too.

Spend a few seconds signing the petition and let the new Treasurer Wayne Swan know you don’t want your taxes fueling climate change. It’s urgent, as there is less than 10 weeks to the budget in May.

Sign the petition

We’ll be delivering the petition to Treasurer Swan next month and we’re working hard to expose this issue in the media – but the best way to get attention is to have thousands of Australians onboard. Adding your voice to the petition – and sharing this with your friends and colleagues – will make all the difference.

Sign the petition

Hundreds of thousands of Australians are reducing their personal impact on the climate. All we’re asking of our Government is to match our level of concern and make sure our taxes are supporting the clean energy solutions, not the problem.

Thanks for being involved,

Julien Vincent
Climate Campaigner

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Sacred Fruit - Sacred food

Food is sacred.
Why have we forgotten.
That it is our body's way of connecting with this earth.

I do not understand how people have become so blind to this life, so disconnected from this earth.
Not understanding why processed food causes disease, taking the media as some form of truth, eating from McDonald's, accepting product marketing, thinking the products sold at supermarkets have any thing to do with food.

I'm doing a Permaculture design course. I did it about twenty years ago, I'm doing it again.
I have been making a living as a gardener for the last twenty years.
I understand what it is like to tend a garden.
To take a ripe natural peach from a tree and eat it.
It is the most connected spiritual experiences apart from good sex and meditation that I Know.

Maybe most people have never experienced eating with a friend or a stranger from a common tree, or experienced offering the fruit to the universe before eating it.
Maybe most people aren't sensitive enough to experience the light stream from the fruit as they hold it high offering it.
Maybe our deep conditioning has broken our connections.
To offer a fruit then eat it yourself surly has undertones of taboo!
Why have we forgotten how sacred our food is, our connection with this earth?

For this reason alone it is important to grow and engage in this cycle of life.
To practice in some way in developing local community.

ABC Encounter - Rosemary Morrow
Vandana Shiva:Women, Bioengineering, and Corporations Pt.1
Vandana Shiva:Women, Bioengineering, and Corporations Pt.2

Monday, 10 March 2008



"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die". Max Planck

What if we could reason ?

The love of power - The power of love
reciprocal altruism - tribal cohesion
community - shopping centers
authority - personal power
brains - consciousness
automata - autonomy
religion - churches
society -
culture - memes

What’s the relationships?
Which is the odd one out?

mind filtering input

Where am I going here, This has been circling in my head for a number of years. I read a lot of article's in the enquiring press, I know others are dealing with the same questions.
I, self, consciousness, other.
Language is a good tool ,It can free as well as bind.
sooner or later it devours itself, tail first.
It is so easy to do it badly, magic when it works.

I meet so many people conditioned to the extent that.......
In Woolworth's especially
Do cats experience thirst and desire consciously to decide to drink, or are they only automata following there instincts
Do we.
Why does the scientific community have trouble with this.
They don't eat there cats.

Are we aware that what we see in the moment happened a moment ago. we project a moment before that into our experience to give continuity.
What we think we experiences, is a projection from the past.
i.e. experience is being created from a memory store, continually updated.
In short its an illusion.
It takes time for something new to get to awareness.
If we don't stop to process this we are living in the past. nothing new happening.
I only see a problem with this when I'm in Walworth's or with my family.
I find it hard to understand how that mentality came to be.

Tell people something they know already and they will thank you for it.
Tell them something new and they will hate you for it. monbiot.

Why we have become so impatient, blind to the way we process information. That it's a representations of reality not reality.
OR are we only now becoming aware.
Are there really so many asleep people getting around , unconscious automata doing as there biological cultural familiar conditioning processes, without a thought as to what is happening in the culture and in there own head.
With all the schools around - we have a major problem
madness - conflicts with conditioning awareness and knowledge.

Church of reason
church of god
church of dorkins
church of industry
Church of commerce

They are all in error for a single common reason. hierarchical systems of spiritual social & cultural enslavement

It is possible to break the conditioning of the society the market the churches and years of blind cultural evolution
but there is a price.

Thomas Edison Hates Cats
Perceiving reality

Thursday, 6 March 2008

I need to share this

Life is One.

What is lost?
What can be found?

I have grown up in a culture dominated by the Roman Catholic church
and it effects on me/us has been Quite profound, not always for the better, and often for the worst.

Life is One not two. one universe, one earth, one I, and only one I.
Just look around. how many I's do you know?

My soul was stolen by the church before I realized their way is false. You know the story. God in heaven has your soul in safe keeping for you and you will be reunited with it when you die. Only if you have done the right thing during life will you reclaim it. Otherwise the devil will have it forever in hell. Yeah that's a lot of pretty heavy conditioning to lay on a six year old. Keeps the church in power and us slaves.

So the church had stolen my soul as a child and cast it away in gods name.
When I woke up to this I started to wonder what was going on. After long and deep questioning I decided to take a tour of hell to find out what had been stolen. And you know what I found? That there is light in them there shadows. Something more precious than the finest
gold and gems . I found myself, neither good nor bad, but purely divine, the truth of my being. I found an ancient God who has been conned and is incredibly angry.
I found that life is multidimensional, three physical three etheric and three archetypal dimensions. I found that we can be alive and consciouses in all, that is our major task in life, to bring heart imagination and desire into harmony.

I also met a angel, the conscious self of this earth, she is beautifull, we know her as Gaea. She loves us more than anything, she has worked so hard to give us birth, and we piss on her, like we are truly asleep, wetting our bed as children in the dark.
It is time to wake!
She only wants one thing from us.
To live in conscious awareness of our life together.

By caring for her and all her creatures and enjoying ourselves with her, she speaks to us constantly. Open your ears your eyes your heart and your body, to hear her. Care for her as she cares for you/us. Eat and be eaten, for this is her way and we are part and the whole of her, not just us but all life. It is the only way to move through this realm .............
That enough for now.. Work the rest out for yourself.

Enjoy your life

Wednesday, 5 March 2008



The way we stand you can see

We have grown up this way together

Out of the same soil, with the same rains,

Leaning in the same way towards the sun...

And we are various and amazing in our verity and our differences multiply.

So that edge after edge of the endlessness of possibility is exposed.

You know we have grown this way for years and to know purpose you can understand.

Yet what you fail to know we know and the knowing is in us.

How we have grown this way, why we are shaped this way. the way we are.

Not all straight to your purpose.

How each cell, how light and soil is in us.

How we are in the soil, how we are in the air

How we are both infinitesimal and great and how we are infinitely without any purpose you can see

In the way we stand each alone.

Yet none of us separable....

All exquisite as we stand

Each moment headed in this cycle

No detail unlovely

Susan Griffin

Thursday, 28 February 2008

GMOs - Adulrated food or Poisson

This process with allowing one or two Companies to take control of the food supply is criminal to the extreme.
To control other food systems through pollution and adulterations is fascist.
To own life is abhorrent .
No more need be said on this as we are educated people.

Is it good business to remove ones choice to acquire unadulterated food.
Is it Good business to adulterated food.
Is it good business to create short term profit at the cost of long term existence.
Is it good business to poison your children.
Only if your business is war and destruction.

I grow more of the food I consume in my own garden or acquire it from farmers markets & organic outlets. I avoid supermarkets. If I cannot be assured of my choice I shall choose in a different way, with my feet.

I will not knowingly support business or processes who's default design is to adulterate food or
build poisons into children's toys etc.

The Government needs to ensure that..............................

* Support maintaining state moratoria on GM food crops
* Support strict liability where the GM company is liable for any economic loss caused by their product
* Support independent health testing
* Support independent small scale performance trials
* Support ensuring the GM company is legally responsible for totally containing their product
* Support continued supply of uncontaminated GM-free seed
* Support AQIS screening to prevent GM contamination in imports.
* Support the International Biosafety Protocol.
* Oppose increased costs and liabilities for non-GM farmers and non-GM consumers
* Oppose acceptance of tolerance levels
* Oppose large scale commercial release in the guise of coexistence trials
* Oppose commercial release under GM industry self management plans

It is necessary to ensure that this world is for all not the greedy alone and their poisoned victims.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Husband the Earth

Be mindfull! Husband the Earth. Protect her from greed and violence.
Build humbly, plant trees, grow flowers and cloth her with dignity.
Respect all her creatures.
Honer her natural laws & the universe witch cradles her.
Above all Hartley worship the source of all that is.
This world needs secret heroes!
Be brave, speak the truth, heal the sick, make peace, be strong, serve patiently.
love generously, live simply, enjoy fellowship, eat & drink modestly,
celebrate the festivals.
Breath deeply, sing & make music, walk often, cycle & recycle.
Be thrifty, prefer cash flow to possessions, and give good measure.
let your work be your prayer.
Put on the whole Armour of light!
Unearth the beauty in everything. Inhale the spirit of goodness.
Kindle kindness, especially towards yourself.
Embrace the sweet silence of your own soul.
Fear nothing, Accept what you are & while you have breath.
Give thanks.

unknown author

Wednesday, 20 February 2008


If any one would like to help in a Permaculture project I have a room to spare.
It was almost rural, now its suburban, can we help one another.
A room and stable home for help growing the food.

The taste of oil is getting bad.
so it looks like organic and biodinamic

What to do?

I’ve paid the rent enough food for the week, a bit in the yard

What to do! I've looked for a job, Get a job what's that?

The pubs a boor, don’t have the money, don’t read well & TV crap.

What to do, not sitting around being bored.

To the garden down the road

Fruit trees, berry bushes, everything something you can eat.

Different a park, a garden, a meeting place.

Beds of mixed herb’s, insects & birds:

Eat a strawberry, a sweet pea, share a simple joy.

There’s a house with a veranda in the sun & tables & chairs

The best coffee & caring people.

Laughing, taking a break from the world

Can we gain a sense of play?

Get our nails dirty; laugh together with the soil.

What about me over 35

What's this community center I here about

Skate ramp, graffiti, Get lost you old bum

Scattered vacant empty blocks empty & bear

Poker machines horses football, can I win?

In the back corner, patchy disjointed & lame

Offensive fences defending

Untouched Begot ten from an alien world

Why do we hide them? A burden A shame!

Come to tee garden, come & play,

Plant a seed & help it grow

Eat the fruit, taste the bake

Soil plant Animal…… What an Alchemy

Where’s this garden Does anyone know?

Where’s this park down the road

I limp a bit & need some help.

Give a hand!!!’

These videos are eye openers

ABC Science - Crude
ABC Four Corners - Peak Oil
The Massachusetts School of Law - The future of food
The Monsanto Story - Part 1

After getting your mind around this you can see why it is so important to grow food locally.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

On Atheism

I dont think I could match the words of this man.

The best minds will tell you that when a man has begotten a child he is morally bound to tenderly care for it, protect it from hurt, shield it from disease, clothe it, feed it, bear with its waywardness, lay no hand upon it save in kindness and for its own good, and never in any case inflict upon it a wanton cruelty. God's treatment of his earthly children, every day and every night, is the exact opposite of all that, yet those best minds warmly justify these crimes, condone them, excuse them, and indignantly refuse to regard them as crimes at all, when he commits them. Your country and mine is an interesting one, but there is nothing there that is half so interesting as the human mind.
-- Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Animal Cruelty

When we enable or profit from the cruel behavior of others, weather it be towards Sheep Cattle Whales or any animal including human, we are also guilty of horrific crimes towards all life.

If we cannot see that our way of life brings great suffering to all including ourselves, we are less than alive, less than the lives we destroy.
Does calling ourselves or others Christian Muslim Jew Japanese Australian American make any difference to our crimes.
Cruelty in any form is unacceptable.

Animal Cruelty group targets Australia

Monday, 4 February 2008


Dear friends,

Last year, tens of thousands of GetUp members across the nation launched one of our most important campaigns ever: demanding that the next parliament and PM say 'sorry' to the Stolen Generations as their very first act on the very first sitting day.

Congratulations, yesterday the PM agreed! Yet as we speak the shape of this historical moment is still being determined in meetings between Labor and Indigenous representatives, in the Liberal party room and in the minds of the millions of Australians who aren't sure how they feel about an apology.

The most important thing the GetUp community can do is demonstrate to all our politicians the broad groundswell of support for a sincere and unifying apology from the whole Parliament. Can you email your MP a quick note right now - and urge all your friends and family to do the same? Our new online tool makes it easy - just enter your postcode.

Last October, we indicated that Australia's parliament holds a key to a new way forward - symbolically and practically: 'An apology is not about guilt or shame or individual responsibility - it is the embodiment of the spirit of reconciliation, and the springboard for a nation committed to stamp out the systemic ills that still flow from a nation unable to address its past wrongs'.

Our Indigenous colleagues have stressed two factors in the success of this new way forward. First, the supreme importance of cross party support when the PM takes to the Parliament floor. So, if your MP is Liberal, please urge him or her to push the party leadership to support the apology.

Second, the apology was always only meant to be the first step and must be acknowledged as such. So, if your MP is Labor, please support, commend, and thank them - but also remind them that this a starting point and that what is required now is the full and comprehensive response to the Bringing Them Home Report.

Help make this moment the kind of new beginning it deserves to be.

Thanks for being part of this,

The GetUp team

PS - Our friends at Reconciliation Australia have produced an excellent fact sheet about the apology. If you are unsure about its meaning or want to explain to others about the importance of the apology, please click here and forward it on. The Bringing Them Home Report can also be found here.


GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you'd like to contribute to help fund GetUp's work, please donate now! If you have trouble with any links in this email, please go directly to To unsubscribe from GetUp, please click here.

Authorised by Brett Solomon, Level 2, 294 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000tracking

The fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4)

Now or never to save the planet: UN

The fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4)

Humanity is changing Earth's climate so fast and devouring resources so voraciously that it is poised to bequeath a ravaged planet to future generations, the United Nations warned in its most comprehensive survey of the environment.

The fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4), published by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is compiled by 390 experts from observations, studies and data garnered over two decades.

The 570-page report - which caps a year that saw climate change dominate the news - says world leaders must propel the environment "to the core of decision-making" to tackle a daily worsening crisis.

"The need couldn't be more urgent and the time couldn't be more opportune, with our enhanced understanding of the challenges we face, to act now to safeguard our own survival and that of future generations," GEO-4 said.

The UNEP report offers the broadest and most detailed tableau of environmental change since the Brundtland Report, 'Our Common Future', was issued in 1987 and put the environment on the world political map.

"There have been enough wake-up calls since Brundtland. I sincerely hope GEO-4 is the final one," said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner.

"The systematic destruction of the Earth's natural and nature-based resources has reached a point where the economic viability of economies is being challenged - and where the bill we hand on to our children may prove impossible to pay," he added.

Earth has experienced five mass extinctions in 450 million years, the latest of which occurred 65 million years ago, says GEO-4.

"A sixth major extinction is under way, this time caused by human behaviour," it says.

Over the past two decades, growing prosperity has tremendously strengthened the capacity to understand and confront the environmental challenges ahead.

Despite this, the global response has been "woefully inadequate," the report said.

The report listed environmental issues by continent and by sector, offering dizzying and often ominous statistics about the future.

Climate is changing faster than at any time in the past 500,000 years.

Global average temperatures rose by 0.74 degrees Celsius over the past century and are forecast to rise by 1.8 to 4 Celsius by 2100, it said, citing estimates issued this year by the 2007 Nobel Peace co-laureates, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

With more than six billion humans, Earth's population is now so big that "the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available," the report warned, adding that the global population is expected to peak at between eight and 9.7 billion by 2050.

"In Africa, land degradation and even desertification are threats; per capita food production has declined by 12 per cent since 1981," it said.

The GEO-4 report went on to enumerate other strains on the planet's resources and biodiversity.

Fish consumption has more than tripled over the past 40 years but catches have stagnated or declined for 20 years, it said.

"Of the major vertebrate groups that have been assessed comprehensively, over 30 per cent of amphibians, 23 per cent of mammals and 12 per cent of birds are threatened," it added.

Stressing it was not seeking to present a "dark and gloomy scenario", UNEP took heart in the successes from efforts to combat ozone loss and chemical air pollution.

But it also stressed that failure to address persistent problems could undo years of hard grind.

And it noted: "Some of the progress achieved in reducing pollution in developed countries has been at the expense of the developing world, where industrial production and its impacts are now being exported."

GEO-4 - the fourth in a series dating back to 1997 - also looks at how the current trends may unfold and outlines four scenarios to the year 2050: "Markets First", "Policy First", "Security First", "Sustainability First".

After a year that saw the UN General Assembly devote unprecedented attention to climate change and the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the IPCC and former US vice president Al Gore for raising awareness on the same issue, the report's authors called for radical change.

"For some of the persistent problems, the damage may already be irreversible," they warned.

"The only way to address these harder problems requires moving the environment from the periphery to the core of decision-making: environment for development, not development to the detriment of environment."


ABC News

Thursday, 31 January 2008

The Bacterium That (Almost) Ate the World

The Bacterium That (Almost) Ate the World

Nature's Operating Instructions: The True Biotechnologies, Sierra Club Books

Elaine Ingham would never treat soil like dirt. She reveres it, as we all should, since this precious substance is the thin brown line between plenty and starvation. Given the necessity of topsoil to human survival, you'd think we'd have legions of soil biologists on the case, but Elaine is one of only a handful of serious scientists delving into this microcosmos that feeds the world and helps support life on earth.

Until recently an associate research professor of forest science at Oregon State University, Elaine has twenty-five years of experience in microbiology, botany, plant pathology, and soil and ecology research. She founded Soil Foodweb Inc. and is currently president of the Soil Foodweb Institute in Australia and research director of Soil Foodweb in New York. She serves on the boards of several sustainability organizations and is an active member of numerous prestigious microbiology and ecology associations. She has done stints as president of the Soil Ecology Society and program chair of the Ecological Society of America and has penned over fifty peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Elaine speaks to groups around the world on how to grow plants without the use of toxic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers while at the same time increasing soil fertility and crop production. She has led countless workshops and training sessions at which farmers are taught highly practical techniques for building soil health, using sophisticated composting methods, and enhancing microbiological communities for crop production. Unquestionably one of the world's leading specialists in soil health, she is an exceptionally creative innovator who has made major contributions to our understanding of the soil food web (as she likes to call it) and its structure and function in terrestrial ecosystems from arctic to tropical climates.

Her research spans agricultural. grassland, and forest ecologies, where she has analyzed the action of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, and mycorrhizal fungi from over 30,000 soil samples.

When a scientist of Elaine's stature warns us about the catastrophic potential of topsoil loss and the escape of genetically modified organisms into the already compromised environment, we do well to pay close attention.

Unnatural Selection: The Bacterium That (Almost) Ate the World

Elaine Ingham IN MY PROGRAM at Oregon State University in the early 1990s, we started testing the ecological impacts of most of the genetically engineered organisms being produced at that time. The question our lab was asked to address was, Did these engineered organisms have any impact out there in the real world?

The first fourteen species that we worked on - microorganisms, bacteria. and fungi - were organisms incapable of surviving in the natural environment. Putting them in the world would be like taking penguins from the South Pole and dropping them into the La Brea tar pits. Would there be any ecological effect if we dropped a penguin into the middle of the tar pit? Probably not; the impact would be rapidly absorbed by the system.

These first fourteen species of GMOs that we tested had a similarly negligible impact. On this basis. the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the regulatory agency that was determining U.S. policy on genetically engineered organisms, set a course that essentially said that a genetically engineered organism posed no greater risk to the environment than the parent organism does.

GMO number fifteen, however, was a very different story. Klebsiella planticola, the bacterium that is the parent organism of this new strain, lives in soils everywhere. It's one of the few truly universal species of bacteria, growing in the root systems of all plants and decomposing plant litter in every ecosystem in the world.

The genetic engineers took genetic material from another bacterium and inserted that trait in the GMO to allow Klebsiella planticola to produce alcohol. The aim of this genetic modification was to eliminate the burning of farm fields to rid them of plant matter after harvest. The idea was that you could, instead, rake up all that plant residue, put it in a bucket. and inoculate it with the engineered bacterium, and in about two weeks' time you would have a material that contained about 17 percent alcohol. The alcohol could be extracted and used for gasohol, for cleaning windows, or for myriad other uses: cooking with alcohol in Third World countries, for instance.

The genetic engineers thought this transformation would bring huge benefits. We would no longer have to burn fields, we would breathe better in the fall, and both the company and farmers would get a product that could be sold. There was actually a fourth win: the sludge at the bottom of the bucket is an organic fertilizer, and there are no waste products from that material.

So what's the problem? Suppose you're a farmer and you've got live, alcohol-producing Klebsiella planticola that you're going to spread on your fields (which might be easier than gathering up all the plant waste and putting it in buckets). Can it wash into the root systems of your plants? Most likely. Once it's there and growing in the root systems of your plants, it's producing alcohol. What level of alcohol is toxic to plants? It's one part per million. How much alcohol does this engineered organism produce? Seventeen parts per million. Very soon you will have drunk dead plants.

We did this experiment under controlled conditions in the laboratory because I wasn't going to take this kind of risk out in the field. We constructed three kinds of microcosms of a field, filled them with normal field soil as a growing medium, and planted wheat plants in the three separate systems - each consisting of multiple units - and put them in an incubator. In the first third of the units, we added only water. We added parent, non-GMO bacterium to the second group and the engineered Klebsiella planticola to the third.

About a week later, we walked into the laboratory, opened up the incubator, and said, "Oops, what did we do wrong?" Many of the plants were dead and were turning into slime on the surface of the soil. In all the units with just water in the system, the plants were doing okay. In those that had been inoculated with the parent Klebsiella planticola, the plants were even bigger, because increased nutrient cycling in the root system makes more nitrogen available, causing the plants to grow bigger. Clearly the parent organism was a benefit to the plant. But where the engineered bacterium was growing, all the plants were dead.

Later we tried this experiment using several different kinds of soils, but the result in every case was dead plants.

Take that information and extrapolate it to the real world. Given that the parent organism lives in the root systems of all plants, what's the logical outcome of releasing this organism into the natural environment?

Very possibly, we would have no terrestrial plants left. Some plants, such as riparian and wetland plants, have mechanisms for dealing with alcohol production in their root systems. But the logical extrapolation of that experiment is that we would lose terrestrial plants.

I have attended some of the United Nations biosafety protocol meetings. At the 1995 meeting in Madrid, the U.S. delegation was the strongest in saying, in essence, "Don't worry, be happy. Trust us. We don't need a biosafety protocol. Why would biotech companies ever do anything to harm people?"

To me, their words echoed those we've heard before from tobacco, pesticide, and fertilizer companies. At one such meeting, I related the story of Klebsiella planticola as an example of the lack of adequate testing for the ecological impact of genetically engineered organisms. The biotech companies object that it costs too 'much to do this kind of environmental testing. In my view, that's just hype, because I pointed out that our lab spent a very insignificant amount of money to do these simple experiments, especially considering that if this bacterium were let loose in the environment, we would have some very significant problems with our food supply.

No one in his or her right mind is going to test for the kind of risk Klebsiella planticola represents because once you release an organism, there is no way to get it back.

How far does a single-point inoculation of a genetically engineered organism spread in one year? An engineered Rhizobium bacterium that was released in Louisiana in the mid-1990s spread eleven miles per year and has by now dispersed across the North American continent.

At these United Nations meetings I warned that corn pollen is going to move a lot more than three feet away from the plant. "Oh no," said the biotechnology representatives present. "Corn pollen falls out of the air three feet from the plant." I would say, "Wait a minute, you've never heard of bees? How about birds? and insects? and wind "Oh no, it falls out of the air within three feet of the plant." Why do our bureaucrats choose to to believe these "scientists"? Just open any plant textbook and you find that corn pollen can be found in the Antarctic and the Arctic. But if you listen to Monsanto, corn pollen can't possibly be there.
Armed with the knowledge of this peril, we need to convince members of Congress that appropriate ecological testing must be done prior to releasing GMOs into the environment. If this happens, it could help keep the problems that are already starting to occur from getting worse.

Addendum from Dave Blume:
I talk about the Klebsiella debacle in detail in my book, Alcohol Can Be A Gas, and it was actually a lot worse than this post relates. The original researchers threw out samples behind the lab and discovered the dead plants, got curious and discovered that the Klebsiella was alive and they had to dig up all the soil and incinerate it. Dr. Ingham subsequently elucidated the mechanism. I would add that the organism was engineered to eat cellulose and make alcohol. So in addition to the alcohol poisoning of the roots the bacteria was also eating the cellulosic root tips of the plants. I often tell this story and add that we really need to lock up all the genetic engineers in a very nice country club type prison since they have nearly ended life on earth several times already with bonehead projects like this.

The Monsanto Story - Part 1