Monday, July 25, 2011

on matters of meat

I have just posted on Facebook about the recently released report, Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change and Health.
Thanks to our friends at the Environmental Working Group, who have produced a very clever little chart which shows us which meats (and animal "products") have the most environmental impact.
Of course this somewhat misses the point, as there are matters of nutrition and ethics to consider. In that respect, any consumption of conventionally-produced food is going to have not just an environmental impact, but major impacts on human health and nutrition plus the attendant ethical issues relating to how these animals are treated.
You would think that it would be easier to simply switch to eating vegan wholefoods. But no. And then enter stage left, George Monbiot with a comment on this book which he read recently. Meat: a benign extravagance, by Simon Fairlie discusses the view that feedlot cattle, fed on grains is not the most effective and efficient way to raise cattle. We knew that. But then he goes on to explain that pigs raised for eating are also deprived of their natural diet (and a few other things that are natural to pigs). If we were to fix this, not only would we be better off in relation to our carbon footprint, but we could - as it were - have our meat and eat it. Not sure that i would want to pursue this path, but i can see how it must make my fellow meat-eaters feel 100% more comfortable about their food behaviours.

All of this is intertwixtedley implicated in how we approach permaculture design solutions. it is an ongoing conversation in the more enlightened of permaculture circles as to how an integrated permaculture design can meet human needs without compromising the needs of (exploiting) non-human animals. Simon Fairlie's view is clearly coloured by his experiences on a permaculture settlement. Interesting. I wonder why he won't name which permaculture community it was.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Are Town Planners From Outer Space?

Reading Robert Guyton's recent post about a woman who dared to plant a vegetable garden on her front lawn, i am agog at the craziness of this.

Eat The View. if it's good enough for the first lady on the whitehouse front lawn, then what happened to the Oak Park, Michigan town planners?

Yes, this woman could go to jail for planting organic vegetables in her front garden. Never mind getting yourself a permit. Makes the TDC look tame by comparison!

Friday, July 8, 2011

the electric car, it's not only possible it is happening

Battery purchase can be a prohibitive expense in buying or retrofitting an electric vehicle.  Little Hartley's electric vehicle shop does conversions for $25,000.  The significance of that is they make their own batteries using a lithium salt solution. 

Behind this effort is Charles Daglish, a retired mechanic who got his inspiration from the electric vehicle industry in the UK. His electric sports car powered by battery, charged by solar is a snappy little model.

Progress is being made on electric vehicles in Australia. Melbourne City Council is voting on the installation of 12 electric vehicle charging points to make usage of electric vehicles an attractive and viable option.

Renault is going to be releasing an all-electric vehicle (the Fluence ZE) in 2012 that will be priced competitively with similar sized petrol hatchbacks.  Better Place Australia has joined with Renault to start rolling out battery-swapping stations in Australia.

This means that battery purchase won't be part of the sticker price, but there will be a battery-lease arrangement that gives you freedom to swap batteries and keep driving.  And of course the batteries will be charged with 100% renewable energy.

Beyond sustainable transport and renewable energy, there is "renewable transport", described as the integrated use of renewable energy, smart grids, and electric-drive vehicles (both private and public) for the decarbonisation of stationary energy and transport systems in our cities.

The electric car is certainly leading us into this era, though it not about the car. It is about the integrated system. Definitely the subject of another post. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What the heck is permaculture?

according to David Holmgren, co-originator of Permaculture: ecological design theory applied to an everyday context

These are notes and excerpts from Week 2 of a Permaculture Design Certificate course being held in Sydney this winter 2011 at which David and his partner Su presented.

And here's a brief overview of what was covered in Week 1.