NSW farmer compares widespread use of herbicides to ‘genocide’

A fifth generation NSW farmer, Charles Massy has always had an intimate relationship with the land he works. But his experience of the drought years, earning a PhD in human ecology as a mature student and listening to the wisdom of his Aboriginal friends has convinced him that the white man’s ‘mechanical mind’ understanding of natural systems is severely flawed. 

 

Farmer Charles Massy at Severn Park, the NSW property his family has farmed for five generations.

 

Massy is the author of Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture – A New Earth, in which he makes a poetic as well as scholarly case for a revolution in the way we think about the soil beneath our feet.

He links the widespread use of glyphosphate (Roundup) to a whole slew of autoimmune diseases and disorders such as Autism and ADHD, which he says are intimately linked to immune function and therefore gut health.

 

Glyphosphate is disrupting the balance of natural ecosystems according to Charles Massy.

 

Massy believes that healthy soil equals healthy, nutrient rich food, and he has therefore become a practitioner and vocal proponent of biodiverse planting and holistic grazing, which have transformed the ecosystems on his farm.

 

“If people ate truly nutrient-rich food out of healthy soil, you would slash the national health bill straight away. The big chemical companies and big food companies know exactly what they are doing. It is now causing millions of deaths – tell me why that is not genocide?”

 

But it’s not just the benefits to humans that interest Massy. He would like to see humans get out of the way of nature and let the ‘self-organising regulating system’ of the Earth recover equilibrium. For an example of how this can be done in the unique Australian landscape he points to pre-colonial times and the way Aboriginal people nurtured and nourished the land and lived in “one of the greatest ever sustainable partnerships between humankind and the ecosystems they occupied”.

When the soil is nurtured in this way, what emerges is:

“a burgeoning mass of life and activity that is 10-fold that above the ground; fungi bacteria, and other organisms have begun to create and sustain an entirely different, living absorbent soil structure; the very heart and essence of healthy farming and landscape function. The secret is to simply restore healthy landscape function and allow nature to do the rest.”

 

Repost ~ Farmer wants a revolution: ‘How is this not genocide?’ | The Guardian

Millennials’ biggest concern is climate change & destruction of nature

Climate change was chosen as the top concern by nearly half of participants in the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Survey 2017. The survey included over 24,000 young people who responded in 14 languages. The majority of participants also agreed that humans are responsible for climate change. 

 

 

Millenials worldwide also showed concern for a wide range of social ills:

1. Climate change / destruction of nature (48.8%)
2. Large scale conflict / wars (38.9%)
3. Inequality (income, discrimination) (30.8%)
4. Poverty (29.2%)
5. Religious conflicts (23.9%)
6. Government accountability and transparency / corruption (22.7%)
7. Food and water security (18.2%)
8. Lack of education (15.9%)
9. Safety / security / wellbeing (14.1%)
10. Lack of economic opportunity and employment (12.1%)

 

“This survey reaffirms the image of young people I have from my meetings with youth around the world: they are optimistic, empathetic and view themselves as global citizens. I hope we can answer their call for a more equal, transparent and open world.”
– H.R.H Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway

 

The Global Shapers Forum is a network of young people under the age of 30 which sprang out of the World Economic Forum.  This collective of dynamic, inspiring young people is driving global change through a diverse range of grassroots projects in cities across the world.

 

 

Re-post ~ The 10 biggest global concerns, according to millennials | Treehugger

Read full report ~ Global Shapers Survey 2017

Kenyan government introduces toughest plastic bag ban to date

In the toughest crack-down on single-use plastic yet, the Kenyan government has introduced a countrywide ban on the production, sale and use of plastic bags, with penalties of up to four years’ jail or fines of up to $US40,000.

 

 

Whilst critics of the ban say it will cause job losses and affect small tradespeople’s ability to sell their products, many Kenyans are pleased that the ban has finally been enforced, after ten years of government effort. Habib El-Habr, an expert on marine litter working with the UN Environment Programme in Kenya, notes that many plastic bags end up in waterways where they strangle or are eaten by marine life:

“If we continue like this, by 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish.”

There are also concerns that cattle are now routinely arriving at Kenyan slaughterhouses with up to 20 plastic bags in their stomachs. Plastics eaten by fish and animals then make their way into the human food chain.

 

Plastic bag ban infographic

 

Forty other countries have introduced some level of plastic bag ban, and although Kenya’s is potentially the harshest, Environment Minister Judy Wakhungu points out that bag manufacturers will initially be the main targets of enforcement.

Re-post ~ Plastic bag-makers and users risk jail, fines as Kenya cracks down on pollution in ABC News

The Social Progress Index: a GDP alternative for the 21st Century

The Social Progress Index has been developed to provide accurate and detailed data on fifty social and environmental outcomes, in an effort to improve upon traditional, purely economic, measures of success such as GDP. These fifty outcomes are grouped into three main ‘dimensions of social progress’: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity.

 

The 2017 Index, which was released in June, shows Denmark as the country having the highest overall social progress, with Australia coming in joint 9th along with New Zealand.


The above graph of social progress relative to GDP shows that there is a lot of ‘noise’ around the trend line, meaning that statistically, GDP and social progress do not necessarily go hand in hand. This is particularly true once countries reach a certain level of GDP, where the curve begins to level out and further increases in GDP produce little or no improvement in wellbeing according to social indicators. This is why its creators believe that the Social Progress Index is important, because GDP as a measure leaves out so many factors which influence human wellbeing, such as environmental sustainability, freedom from discrimination and access to education.

 

 

Accurate data on how communities are performing in different areas gives leaders the ability to take a more strategic approach to improving quality of life by prioritizing their investments in areas of greatest need, just as having accurate measures of GDP helped the US government to lift itself out of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

 

Read more ~ The Social Progress Index website and The Social Progress Imperative website

Protein powder made from crickets off to a strong start

WA entrepreneur Paula Pownell has been given the go-ahead to start selling the crickets, grown by her business Grubs Up Australia, as food.


Although public interest and support for her project has been high, Paula expects her innovative ideas for processing the bugs, such as protein powder and bars, to go down better than whole crickets. This Perth Science Fair attendee seems to agree.

 

Eating bugs for the future here with Grubs Up Australia at Perth Science Festival! #GRUBSUP

Posted by Perth Science Festival on Friday, August 11, 2017

 

Several countries, such as Canada, America and Vietnam, have already adopted crickets as the food of the future due to the ease of producing them and their sustainable life cycle. Ms Pownall uses a vertical farming technique to save space and feeds her crickets on fruit and vegetable scraps, turning all of their manure into fertiliser.

“We go from hatching to harvest within six to eight weeks and within that time we have pretty much a zero waste system,” she said.

She hopes to gain interest from the fitness market for her products, due to the high protein content of crickets, claiming that they contain 69% protein, in comparison with most proteins on the market which are only contain around 30%. They also have 9 essential amino acids and are high in Folate and Vitamin B12.

 

Ms Pownall has an agricultural background and also plans to look into the potential of crickets to be used as animal feed.

Re-post ~ Edible crickets: WA farm gets green light to sell insects for food by Tyne Logan and Anthony Pancia for ABC News

Collaboration sees Aboriginal people back as custodians of their lands

The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation are taking an active role in the management of six state and national parks and reserves which are within the Country which was returned to the Dja Dja Wurrung people in a recognition agreement in 2013.

The Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board, will manage the parks and reserves in partnership with Parks Victoria. They have appointed CSIRO to lead the creation of a Joint Management Plan, which will have Dja Dja Wurrung’s 20-year vision for people (Jaara) and country (Djanderk) at its centre.

 

A gathering of Dja Dja Wurrung people, at Hepburn Regional Park, one of the six parks being jointly managed by the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board.

 

Graham Atkinson, chairperson of the board, who was instrumental in negotiating recognition of traditional ownership with the state government says:

“Our Country Plan acknowledges that we must transmit our cultural heritage to younger generations. The Dja Dja Wurrung people have kept their connection to country alive through oral history, as well as through researching historical publications written at the time of European settlement.”

Dr Ro Hill, who will be leading the CSIRO team as they develop the joint management plan, recognises the importance of ‘weaving together’ traditional and scientific knowledge in order to benefit from both. He also believes that some of the ways of seeing the land enshrined in traditional knowledge, such as a focus on larger, more visible species, may be make the parks management strategy more accessible to the public. In the same vein, he notes that the holistic way of understanding how humans and the landscape are connected has influenced national parks management worldwide, as exemplified by Parks Victoria’s ‘Healthy Parks, Healthy People’ campaign.

Re-post ~ Returning good health to country and spirit by Mary-Lou Consdine in ECOS

New guide to small scale community solar released

The Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE) has released a new edition of its Small Scale Community Solar Guide, which aims to help more community renewable energy projects to get off the ground.

 

The guide comes in response to the growing popularity of community solar and showcases seven successful community solar projects which have been set up using different structures. It includes details of the financial and legal structure of each and recommendations about which setups would be best suited to different types of initiatives.

Projects include Lismore’s Farming The Sun initiative, which is a collaboration with Starfish Initiatives and demonstrates a community – Council partnership model.

Starfish also collaborated in writing the guide.

Tom Nockolds, co-author of the guide and co-founder of Pingala, said the C4CE expects the community renewables sector to continue to grow.

 

“Communities are fed up with all the politicking around energy in this country, and are just getting on and creating their own clean energy projects,” he said.

“They are learning from each other, and they are having an immediate, positive impact in their local areas.”

 

The aim of the guide is to spread this learning and impact as far and wide as possible.

 

Download the Small Scale Community Solar Guide here.

Repost ~ New community solar power guide released | The Fifth State

Well-managed refugee resettlement can be win-win in rural areas

Refugee advocate Ataus Samad from Multicultural Queensland’s Advisory Council believes that, with the right support and incentives, refugees and migrant workers can be resettled into rural and regional areas, for the benefit of all concerned.

 

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Sweet potato farmer Jean Ntakarutimana and his family, who are happily re-settled in Gracemere, QLD.

 

Jean Ntakarutimana and his parents on the farm with their new employer, Eric Coleman

 

This was certainly the case for Jean Ntakarutimana who struggled to find work and settle into Australian life after being transferred from a Tanzanian refugee camp as a teenager. Ntakarutimana now works on a sweet potato farm in central Queensland, a move which has been so successful that he has now brought his extended family to live and work with him.

 

“We’re happy to be here, the rent is cheap, everything is easier,” Mr Ntakarutimana said.

 

The arrangement has also brought benefits for Eric Coleman, the owner of the sweet potato farm, who enjoys the happy nature and hardworking ethos of the family.

 

“I think the best thing about Johnno and his dad is they come from an agricultural background, so it’s not actually foreign to them but I think the employment agencies are probably running them into places like Brisbane and trying to get them jobs in an environment that’s totally foreign.”

 

He would like to see employment agencies put more time and funding into providing English lessons, driver licences and tickets to make the prospect more attractive for potential employers.

 

Ataus Samad agrees:

 

“If we want to develop our regional and rural areas, we need people. We need to create an environment that will encourage people to settle,” he said.

 

By working closely with refugees and migrants, as well as with employers, Mr Samad has been able to successfully transition groups of refugees into rural life using an employment-first approach.

Re-post ~ Refugee resettlement in regional Australia brings success but needs more incentives by By Inga Stünzner on ABC News

Queensland and Northern Territory lead the way on racist place name changes

Both Queensland and the Northern Territory have made moves this month to review and change place names which could be offensive and hurtful to Aboriginal people.

 

Ten racist place names in northern Queensland will be re-named. Infographic: Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

 

In May Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources and Mines responded to community concerns about one place name by removing it from its databases. This sparked a departmental review which identified nine other place names which will be changed.

The Northern Territory has quickly followed suit, with NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner asking the place names committee to carry out a review and make changes where necessary. Minister Gunner has also publicly committed to more inclusive signage including Aboriginal place names as well as their frontier history versions.

 

“It’s very clear to me that we don’t have a proper inclusion of the first people in our very basic culture. And I want to work on that,” he said.

 

Jonathan Richards, who is an adjunct research fellow in history at the University of Queensland, believes that the argument for changing place names, as well as removing statues of pro-slavery figures, is clear cut. He believes that some people’s desire to maintain offensive historical names and monuments is partly due to a reluctance by Australians in general to acknowledge the truths of colonial history. He believes that telling the real stories behind names such as ‘Murder Creek’ and ‘Skull Hole’ is critically important.

 

“”I think certainly there are statues and place names that it’s fine to keep, but I think people really need to stop and think, ‘How would they feel?’ You wouldn’t for a minute have a statue of an enemy, yet Aboriginal people are constantly being told to get over it.”

 

University of Queensland race relations research fellow Fiona Barlow believes that the name changes may improve Aboriginal people’s health.

 

“There’s been multiple studies now that have shown that repeated exposure to everyday racism has negative effects on our health and wellbeing… Renaming these places… sends a symbolic message about what we value as Australians and it could have a genuine positive affect on health.”

 

Read more ~ Racist place names in Queensland’s north to be wiped off maps by Meghna Bali in ABC News

Read more ~ Northern Territory commits to changing racist place names by Stephanie Zillman in ABC News

Give electric power tools a fair go

A NSW philanthropist has come up with and ingenious way to share her passion for renewable energy. Zeromow gives people, including those who work with power tools every day, the chance to try out an array of battery powered garden tools, including a fully electric ride-on lawnmower. 

 

Non-road spark ignition engines and equipment (NRSIEE), which include mowers, chainsaws, leaf blowers and outboard motors, are not subject to the same controls as on-road engines such as those found in cars. They can therefore be significantly more polluting. A government fact-sheet points out that:

 

“a two-stroke leaf blower used for one hour can produce as much hydrocarbons as 150 cars over the same time.”

 

For this reason high-emission NRSIEEs are banned in many other countries.

Sally Perini, who lives in the foothills of Sydney’s Blue Mountains, set up Zeromow after falling in love with electric cars and switching in order to ‘walk the talk’ and reduce her impact on global warming. Sally was then inspired by Mike Vaughan who set up Enviromowing in Brisbane, which is a mowing service powered entirely by electricity (including vehicles and equipment).

Sally hopes that by allowing other gardeners and landscapers to try her electric tools ~ which she charges from her own solar panels or another source of renewable energy ~ she can help fast track the changeover to the quieter, more efficient lithium-ion battery equipment and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released.

Sally Perini is also one of the philanthropists who has donated money to Starfish’s earthfunerals initiative, which has allowed us to establish our first Natural Burial Ground. We are honoured to be in such great company!

Re-post ~ Fossil fuels and Australian tools: It’s time to go fully electric by Sophie Vorrath for One Step Off The Grid