Archive for March, 2011

Earth Rights, Earth Healing: Applying nature’s laws

Earth Rights, Earth Healing: Applying nature’s laws

Posted 30 March 2011, by Staff, Schumacher College, Darlington Hall Trust, The Elmhurst Center

 

May 9 – 13, 2011

Teachers: Polly Higgins, Marko Pogacnik

This course is open for bookings.

Protecting and restoring our planet requires us to work at many different levels if we are to be effective in building a world based on the intrinsic values of interconnectedness and the sacredness of life.

In this course, two innovative thinkers from very different backgrounds – a barrister and advocate for eradicating ecocide and promoting earth rights, and a geomancer, artist and earth healer – will come together to pool their knowledge and discuss how to apply their insights to achieve healing globally and within local communities. Together, they will explore the deeper wisdom and practical application of nature’s laws to ensure earth healing.

Course Detail

Polly Higgins will reflect on the new laws required to build bridges from our existing hierarchical world into a new holistic world, at an international as well as a community level. She will discuss International Earth Rights and their shadow counterpart, the crime of Ecocide. What responsibilities do we as humans hold to the wider earth community and how does this translate into law?

Taking her most recent proposal of an Enabling Transition law as a case study, Polly will explore new ways of open-sourcing the process of co-creating law within the community. In so doing, groundbreaking processes will be developed by the participants to enable local communities to take the next steps towards living in accordance with holistic, earth-based values. Participants will meet with members of Transition Town Totnes to discuss the challenges they currently face and how insights from the course could be applied to their work.

Marko Pogacnik brings the ancient wisdom of geomancy, which balances the vital, emotional and spiritual levels of places, cities and landscapes to restore the subtle levels of life. Applying the principles learned from geomancy to examine and restore the imbalance within the community, the group will gain a deeper understanding of how to become lovers and protectors of the Earth.

Marko will teach exercises of perception, so that it becomes possible to communicate with beings and places of nature. Different methods of balancing disturbed environments will be demonstrated on chosen locations in the surroundings of the college. Methods used include different art forms such as sound, imaginations, ritual and cosmograms. The group will practise their new skills of perception, communication and balancing in the immediate surroundings of Schumacher College as well as on nearby Dartmoor, one of the geomantically most interesting landscapes in England.

The course is designed to be both experiential and informative; no legal experience is required.

Teachers

Geomancer Marko Pogacnik works in the field of art combined with spiritual ecology called geomancy. Marko has developed a method of Earth healing called lithopuncture (Earth acupuncture) using stone pillars and positioning them on acupuncture points of the landscape. With methods similar to acupuncture and homeopathy it is possible to intervene with the vital, emotional and spiritual levels of places, cities and landscapes and work on restoring or balancing the subtle levels of life. He has created lithopuncture works throughout the world. He is president of the Association for Coexistence between Human Beings, Nature and Environment from Ljubljana. His books include: Turned Upside Down, Touching the Breath of Gaia, Nature Spirits & Elemental Beings, Sacred Geography. www.markopogacnik.com

Barrister and International Environmental Lawyer Polly Higgins works in the field of creating the new laws to protect the planet. Her first book, Eradicating Ecocide: Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of the Planet sets out her latest proposal to the United Nations to make ecocide a crime and to apply ancient sacred trust principles to provide protection to territories at risk of ecocide. She is now working on a Transition Enabling Act in the UK to provide enabling provisions for transitioning communities to become resilient. www.thisisecocide.com, www.pollyhiggins.com, treeshaverightstoo.com

Facilitator: Isabel Carlisle is an animateur, someone who creates openings into which life is invited to take new forms and new expressions. (To animate means literally to “breathe life” into something.) One dimension of this art is the facilitation of groups in finding shared meaning, another is making power structures visible in order to enable systemic change. Her current enquiry is into how communities can affect the behaviour of wider social groups in the service of one-planet living. Isabel has trained in Philosophy for Children and began building a strategy for engaging young people with one-planet, or sustainable, living. This work has evolved into setting up a think tank of cutting-edge educators in this field in order to develop teacher-training courses with new approaches to learning for the future. She is also developing leadership programmes for young change-agents. Some of her work can be seen at: www.animals-lawsuit.org

Course Fees

£750
All course fees include accommodation, food, field trips and all teaching sessions.

For further information about Schumacher College please see About the College

Apply

Click here to access our on-line booking system

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Reserve your place now

To provisionally reserve a place for 5 days, email us your contact details and the name of the course admin@schumachercollege.org.uk

We will hold the place for five working days for reservations – three weeks before a course or earlier. After five days we will automatically offer your place to someone else if we have not received your application.

 

http://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/courses/earth-rights-earth-healing-applying-nature-s-laws

Art for Justice: Young Artists Raise Awareness of Environmental Issues

Art for Justice: Young Artists Raise Awareness of Environmental Issues

 

Posted March 28th, 2011, by Alex Boley, Center for American Progress, Campus Progress, campusprogress.org

Campus Progress is unveiling the first Art Fair at Power Shift, the largest national conference training more than 10,000 leaders on how to secure a clean energy future. Artists have a history of addressing social justice issues in their work, and that tradition will continue at the Art Fair, where leaders will learn about environmental injustices. Ryan, a crocheted curtain made of plastic, is one piece being featured at the event. We contacted the artist behind Ryan, Keli Anaya and asked him talk about his art in the context of the environmental justice movement.

What do you see as the role of art in movements like environmental justice?

I think art has a broad role in environmental justice. Art has the potential for revolution and as our environment changes; artists will react to those changes which will be reflected in their work. People need to see images of what we are actually doing to the world. That revolution is currently happening. Art is understood by everyone, which is its power. It has the capability to show the world that the environment is important and that they should be involved in maintaining the one and only place we have to live.

Could you talk a little about your own experience in being involved in advocating for environmental justice?

I started becoming environmentally conscious in college. Rumors flew around that a recycling program did not exist at GW because there wasn’t enough money. Bins dotted the campus but were apparently a candy-coated fake out. I felt deceived and realized that environmentalism maybe didn’t matter as much as money.

Then, Oprah had an investigation on the whirlpools of trash in the world’s oceans. I saw images of trash dumps the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean. She spoke of fish that ate the plastic because they thought it was food. Birds ate the fish and so on and so forth up the food chain.  That really affected me.

The final, solidifying event occurred while studying abroad in Spain. Spain is a small country with limited resources, especially in the arid South. Showers were kept to a few minutes- max because of constant drought the country has faced in recent years. Spain also had recycling bins on every corner. It was such a contrast to the United States.

When I returned I realized that I could actually do something to help the environment and started making art that revolved around environmentalism. I focused on garbage and our disregard of waste. My art is just one way which I advocate for the environment and environmental justice.

Why did you submit work to the Art Fair?

I submitted work to the Art Fair because I knew there would be a place for my work to be seen and understood by people passionate about its concept.  It’s important for me to make a statement about something I care about. I hope that others will interact with my work and realize its power.

How would you encourage others to submit their work to the Art Fair at Power Shift?

I would tell other artists that most work has some relation to the environment. Everyone is affected by it and it will inherently come out in their work.  The Art Fair will be an incredible way to send a powerful message that the environment is important and we should take care to preserve it.

If you would like to submit your art to the Art Fair at Power Shift, fill out the submission form and send a high resolution picture of your piece to vvillano@americanprogress.org. The deadline for submissions is March 30.

Keli Anaya is a graduate of George Washington University with degrees in Anthropology and Fine Art. He is originally from Texas where he grew up in Monahans before resettling in the Dallas suburbs. You can check out more of Keli’s work here.

 

http://campusprogress.org/articles/art_for_justice_young_artists_raise_awareness_of_environmental_issues/

Forest Robot Fleet: Electrical Engineers Monitor Environment with Robotic Sensors

Forest Robot Fleet:
Electrical Engineers Monitor Environment with Robotic Sensors

posted 1April 2006, by Staff, ScienceDaily, sciencedaily.com

April 1, 2006 — Fleets of robotic sensors, networking through thin cables, can track environmental changes such as biogeochemical cycles or loss of biodiversity, helping to manage wild lands. The technology is the basis for a $500 million project called National Ecological Observatory Network, or NEON, which will monitor areas across the country.

LOS ANGELES–More than 80 percent of the earth’s natural forests have been destroyed, and research shows 45 percent of lakes are too polluted to be safe for drinking, fishing or even swimming. We all know our environment is changing, but there’s still a lot to learn. With new technology, we may soon have a clearer picture of exactly what’s happening.

Buried deep within some of our nation’s most pristine wilderness is some of the most innovative technology electrical engineers have ever developed.

William Kaiser, an electrical engineer at UCLA School of Engineering in Los Angeles, says, “It is important to use this technology really for both understanding how humans impact the environment and, of course, how the environment can impact public health.” That technology is a fleet of robotic sensors like these that monitor environmental changes.

“The observation of environmental change is very important in determining how the stress we place on the environment affects the environment,” Kaiser says.

Connected to thin cables, these high-tech tree-bots navigate forests all on their own to record what’s happening. When they sense something important is happening, they move to collect the data.

The sensors can track plants, water, even insects. Ecologist Phil Rundel, a professor at UCLA School of Engineering, says this will transform his field. “I think people want to know about their environment. They want to know their environment is healthy and what aspects of change in their environment might be affecting them.”

Kaiser says, “What this means is a better way to manage resources like the wild lands around the country and, effectively, to preserve our environment in the most intelligent way.”

There are several national projects underway to spread this kind of environmental technology from coast to coast. Leading the charge is a project called National Ecological Observatory Network, or NEON. Scheduled to start in 2007, NEON will include 15 circular areas, 250 miles in diameter spread across the country to measure everything from urban terrain, to agricultural and wild lands. The plans for the $500-million project are still evolving.

BACKGROUND: The rapid miniaturization of technologies behind cameras, cell phones, and wireless computers is allowing scientists to build networks of small sensors that could lead to a new era of ecological insight. For example, UCLA researchers have connected 100 tiny sensors, robots, cameras and computers to monitor the weather and environment. Devices the size of a deck of cards (known as motes, after dust motes) can measure light, wind speed, rainfall, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure, detecting the presence of a warm body or tracking the progress of a cold wind up a canyon.

HOW IT WORKS: Motes are also known as smart dust or wireless sensing networks. Motes have custom-designed computer chips and sensors that can measure things like temperature, light, sound, position, motion, vibration, stress, weight, pressure or humidity. The computer connects to the outside world via a radio link, so the mote can transmit the data it collects. They are wireless and powered by batteries or (if they are small enough) by solar cells. This means they can be used in remote places. A mote the size of a cell phone can work for five years and transmit up to 325 feet away. The various nodes of a network automatically look for neighboring nodes, and can compensate if a few of them fail.

APPLICATIONS: Environmental sensor networks can help fill an observational gap between microscopes and telescopes. Scientists envision networks of motes being deployed over rain forests or wildlife reserves, or monitoring the water supply in California, for example. Wireless motes, cameras and other sensors deployed in California’s James Reserve track the nesting habits of birds, and the life cycles of moss. Robots move along wires strung from tree to tree, lowering sensors to take temperature, humidity and light level readings at different altitudes. Motes could be embedded in concrete bridges to monitor structural integrity, or to machinery to monitor wear and tear before it becomes a problem. Motes attached to water or power meters could log power and water consumption for customers. The military envisions one day using networks of motes to sense and monitor battlefield conditions.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2006/0401-forest_robot_fleet.htm

Biodiversity and Sustainable Resource Use May Co-Exist in Tropical Forests

Biodiversity and Sustainable Resource Use May Co-Exist in Tropical Forests

When local residents are allowed to make rules about managing nearby forests, the forests are more likely to provide greater economic benefits to households and contain more biodiversity, researchers conclude from an analysis of forest practices in tropical developing countries of East Africa and South Asia.

Posted 27 March 2011, by Staff, ScienceDaily, sciencedaily.com

ScienceDaily (Mar. 27, 2011) — When local residents are allowed to make rules about managing nearby forests, the forests are more likely to provide greater economic benefits to households and contain more biodiversity, two University of Michigan researchers and a colleague conclude from an analysis of forest practices in tropical developing countries of East Africa and South Asia.

Lauren Persha and Arun Agrawal of the University of Michigan and Ashwini Chhatre of the University of Illinois used evidence from more than 80 forest sites in six tropical countries to test how local participation affects social and ecological benefits from forests.

The social benefits include access to forest products that households rely on for their subsistence, such as firewood, fodder for livestock and timber for housing. The main ecological benefit is higher biodiversity in the tropical forests. The team’s results were published on March 25 in the journal Science.

“There are substantial disagreements among scientists about whether it’s possible to achieve both economic and ecological benefits together from forests, but little work to understand conditions that might lead to this,” said Persha, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher at the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment. “Our study is one of very few that has been able to do this kind of analysis in a systematic way across a large number of cases and countries.”

Persha and her colleagues analyzed patterns of biodiversity conservation and forest-based household livelihoods at 84 study sites. Tree species richness was used as the indicator of forest biodiversity.

The percentage of households that depend significantly on a forest for subsistence livelihoods was used as an indicator of the forest’s livelihood contributions. A sustainable forest system was defined as one in which both tree species richness and livelihood contributions were above average.

The researchers found that most cases were a mixed bag, where either tree species richness or livelihood dependence were below average. But in 27 percent of the cases, both biodiversity levels and livelihood dependence were above average, meeting the criteria for a sustainable forest.

In determining which factors helped to explain these outcomes, the analysis showed that forests are significantly more likely to be sustainable when local users have a formally recognized right to participate in forest rulemaking, while unsustainable forests are more likely when users do not have this right.

“It’s a lesson for governments about how to make policies to manage and govern their forests,” said Agrawal, professor and research associate dean at SNRE.

The authors state that their findings are particularly relevant for small forest patches in regions with high population density — instances that present special challenges for achieving sustainability.

Hundreds of millions of people in the tropics depend on forests. In recent years, governments in nearly two-thirds of the developing world have tried to involve rural households and organizations in forest management. Often, the goal is to improve both social and ecological results by giving local residents incentives to manage forests sustainably.

Such reforms have doubled the area of forest land under community management in the past 15 years. But experts disagree over whether allowing local people to participate in forest rulemaking improves forests or leaves them worse off — and most studies do not examine the effects of this practice.

“These disagreements have persisted for decades because the evidence needed to resolve them simply didn’t exist,” Agrawal said. “The current study is an important step toward improved evidence and analysis on this subject.”

The U-M analysis drew on a global set of social, ecological and governance data about forests in tropical landscapes. The data set was collected by several researchers associated with the International Forestry Resources and Institutions research program.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110324153020.htm

Antarctic Icebergs Play a Previously Unknown Role in Global Carbon Cycle, Climate

Antarctic Icebergs Play a Previously Unknown Role in Global Carbon Cycle, Climate

 

posted 26 March 2011, by Staff, ScienceDaily, sciencedaily.com

ScienceDaily (Mar. 26, 2011) — In a finding that has global implications for climate research, scientists have discovered that when icebergs cool and dilute the seas through which they pass for days, they also raise chlorophyll levels in the water that may in turn increase carbon dioxide absorption in the Southern Ocean.

An interdisciplinary research team supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) highlighted the research this month in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The research indicates that “iceberg transport and melting have a role in the distribution of phytoplankton in the Weddell Sea,” which was previously unsuspected, said John J. Helly, director of the Laboratory for Environmental and Earth Sciences with the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Helly was the lead author of the paper, “Cooling, Dilution and Mixing of Ocean Water by Free-drifting Icebergs in the Weddell Sea,” which was first published in the journal Deep-Sea Research Part II.

The results indicate that icebergs are especially likely to influence phytoplankton dynamics in an area known as “Iceberg Alley,” east of the Antarctic Peninsula, the portion of the continent that extends northwards toward Chile.

The latest findings add a new dimension to previous research by the same team that altered the perception of icebergs as large, familiar, but passive, elements of the Antarctic seascape. The team previously showed that icebergs act, in effect, as ocean “oases” of nutrients for aquatic life and sea birds.

The teams’s research indicates that ordinary icebergs are likely to become more prevalent in the Southern Ocean, particularly as the Antarctic Peninsula continues a well-documented warming trend and ice shelves disintegrate. Research also shows that these ordinary icebergs are important features of not only marine ecosystems, but even of global carbon cycling.

“These new findings amplify the team’s previous discoveries about icebergs and confirm that icebergs contribute yet another, previously unsuspected, dimension of physical and biological complexity to polar ecosystems,” said Roberta L. Marinelli, director of the NSF’s Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Program.

NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, through which it coordinates all U.S. scientific research and related logistics on the southernmost continent and aboard ships in the Southern Ocean.

The latest findings document a persistent change in physical and biological characteristics of surface waters after the transit of an iceberg, which has important effects on phytoplankton populations, clearly demonstrating “that icebergs influence oceanic surface waters and mixing to greater extents than previously realized,” said Ronald S. Kaufmann, associate professor of marine science and environmental studies at the University of San Diego and one of the authors of the paper.

The researchers studied the effects by sampling the area around a large iceberg more than 32 kilometers (20 miles) long; the same area was surveyed again ten days later, after the iceberg had drifted away.

After ten days, the scientists observed increased concentrations of chlorophyll a and reduced concentrations of carbon dioxide, as compared to nearby areas without icebergs. These results are consistent with the growth of phytoplankton and the removal of carbon dioxide from the ocean.

The new results demonstrate that icebergs provide a connection between the geophysical and biological domains that directly affects the carbon cycle in the Southern Ocean, Marinelli added.

In 2007, the same team published findings in the journal Science that icebergs serve as “hotspots” for ocean life with thriving communities of seabirds above and a web of phytoplankton, krill and fish below. At that time, the researchers reported that icebergs hold trapped terrestrial material, which they release far out at sea as they melt, a process that produces a “halo effect” with significantly increased nutrients and krill out to a radius of more than three kilometers (two miles).

The new research was conducted as part of a multi-disciplinary project that also involved scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, University of South Carolina, University of Nevada, Reno, University of South Carolina, Brigham Young University, and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography research biologist Maria Vernet and graduate student Gordon Stephenson also contributed to the paper.



Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by National Science Foundation.


Journal Reference:

  1. John J. Helly, Ronald S. Kaufmann, Gordon R. Stephenson Jr., Maria Vernet. Cooling, dilution and mixing of ocean water by free-drifting icebergs in the Weddell Sea. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2010.11.010

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110325164224.htm

Philosophy is a Biodynamic Nature

Philosophy is a Biodynamic Nature

Posted 25th March, 2011, by Susan AKA Peacefull, Peace Is Our True Nature, wpas.worldpeacefull.com

WHAT IS BIODYNAMICS?

A healthy, well-structured soil, rich in humus and high in biological activity is a prerequisite for any sustainable agricultural system.

Decades of experience with the Biodynamic method on Australian farms have shown that these soil qualities can be promoted and degradation reversed by the correct application of Biodynamic techniques.

Biodynamic practitioners seek to understand and work with the life processes as well as enhance their understanding of the mineral processes used in conventional agriculture. Healthy soil is a prime basis for healthy plants, animals and people.

Biodynamic farming practices are of an organic nature, not relying on bringing artificial fertilisers on to the farm, although some organic or natural mineral fertiliser may be necessary during the establishment phase.

On Biodynamic farms we seek to enhance the soils structure and nutrient cycles as well as plant growth and development with the use of specific Preparations which are made from farm-sourced materials.

These are the Biodynamic Preparations numbered 500 to 507 used in conjunction with established agricultural practices such as composting and manuring, crop and pasture rotations, tree planting, the integrated use of livestock, etc. As the name suggests, these Preparations are designed to work directly with the dynamic biological processes and cycles which are the basis of soil fertility.

Pest and disease control is generally managed by developing the farm as a total organism. However, Biodynamic practitioners may make use of specific products for weed and pest control, which they make from the weeds and pests themselves.

Weeds and pests are very useful indicators of imbalances in soil, plants and animals; and the aim in the Biodynamic method is to use such indicators in a positive way.

The Biodynamic Preparations were developed out of indications given by Dr Rudolf Steiner in 1924. They are not fertilisers themselves but greatly assist the fertilising process. As such they only need to be used in very small amounts.

Horn Manure Preparation (500) is used to enliven the soil, increasing the microflora and availability of nutrients and trace elements. Through it the root growth, in particular, is strengthened in a balanced way, especially the fine root hairs. Horn Manure 500 helps in developing humus formation, soil structure and water holding capacity.

Horn Silica Preparation (501) enhances the light and warmth assimilation of the plant, leading to better fruit and seed development with improved flavour, aroma, colour and nutritional quality.

Compost Preparations (502 to 507), known collectively as the compost preparations, help the dynamic cycles of the macro- and micro-nutrients, via biological processes in the soil and in material breakdown.

Join one of our Biodynamic Workshops to find out more about the theoretical and pratical sides of Biodynamic Agriculture.

http://www.biodynamics.net.au/what_is_biodynamics.htm

 

http://wpas.worldpeacefull.com/2011/03/philosophy-is-a-biodynamic-nature/

Presenting the Self Sufficient House – a house that can evolve along with its inhabitants

Posted March 25, 2011, by DATTATREYA MANDALEcofriend, ecofriend.com

 

Architect Iana Kozak has come up with an intriguing concept – in the form of Self Sufficient House, an organic structure that strongly alludes to the complex life process of a living cell. According to the architect’s thinking, the naturalistic structure which is to be built in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, would intelligently interact and most importantly evolve along with its inhabitants. Obviously a number of innovative design elements have to be incorporated, imbued with their sustainable functionalities.

The individual house structure will be flexibly based upon an organic branch and will be around 2 to 5 stories high. Such houses can be placed in groups, in effect creating a ’social zone’ for increased level of communication among the residents. According to the architect – living cells are to be placed along the communication, energy and transportation corridor, which can move during their life and rather enhance the vital nature of the design. There will also be sustainable and self regulatory features integrated within the house such as – renewable solar energy harnessing, water storage and recycling and natural generation as well as degeneration of the house ’skin’, corresponding to the life processes of the inhabitants. Moreover, as the dwellings will be based upon trunks, the ground area will remain clear for parking, green lawns and recreational facilities.

Coming to the design aspect, each inhabitant would take around 40-70 sq. m of cell space. But in a nigh revolutionary conception, when a child takes birth, the ‘biological’ cell will automatically produce itself a smaller space for the child. The new spatial element can ‘mature’ i.e. expand, alluding to the life process of the growing child, and finally disintegrate along with his death.

The composition of the organic outer skin will be based upon natural cellulose fibers. They will be able to absorb and store water projected around 180lts per day. The whole framework of the house will be denoted by fiber skeletons. The wall, i.e., the membranes will be double skinned with an aerial space between them to maintain hydrostatic pressure. The walls would also act as natural thermal sinks, which can optimally regulate the overall heating and cooling cycle. And at last but not the least, chloroplast imbued ‘leaf’ like structures will be covering the roof turf for oxygen production as well as filtering of the surrounding air.

 

http://www.ecofriend.com/entry/presenting-the-self-sufficient-house-a-house-that-can-evolve-along-with-its-inhabitants/