the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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the shape of crisis, a historical perspective

via the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI)

middleages

Economic Crises, Land Use Vulnerabilities, Climate Variability, Food Security and Population Declines: Will History Repeat Itself or Will Our Society Adapt to Climate Change?
by Evan D. G. Fraser, March, 2009

Abstract
Although many of today’s ecological, climatic and socio-economic problems seem unprecedented, similar events have occurred in the past. Western Europe’s “middle ages” (circa 11-14th century) may be one such case. By the 12th century, medieval Europe had shifted from the subsistence agrarian economy that emerged following the collapse of the Roman Empire to one where spatially dispersed trade in
agricultural commodities helped support a complex society that devoted considerable resources to cultural works. Continue reading


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epic video: fall and winter

A Survival Guide for the 21st Century

For over two years, director Matt Anderson traveled 16,000 miles to document firsthand our modern industrial world and the environmental destruction in its wake. In the process, he discovered exciting strategies to help humanity transcend the coming ecological and psychological crisis.

Some of today’s most progressive thinkers, from anthropologists and bio-architects to psychologists and journalists collectively recreate a story of humanity and the history of Earth, illuminating a desperately needed new path for us to take. Fall and Winter is a survival guide for the 21st Century.


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new book: grass, soil, hope

grass soil hope

 Build topsoil. Fix creeks. Eat meat from pasture-raised animals. 

Right now, the only possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is through plant photosynthesis and related land-based carbon sequestration activities. These include a range of already existing, low- tech, and proven practices: composting, no-till farming, climate-friendly livestock practices, conserving natural habitat, restoring degraded watersheds and rangelands, increasing biodiversity, and producing local food.

In Grass, Soil, Hope, the author shows how practical strategies can be bundled together into an economic and ecological whole, with the aim of reducing atmospheric CO2 while producing substantial co- benefits for all living things.

It’s available through Chelsea Green Publishing


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nabhan on the farm bill & climate change

Our Coming Food Crisis
By Gary Paul Nabhan
Published: July 21, 2013 in the New York Times

TUCSON, Ariz. — THIS summer the tiny town of Furnace Creek, Calif., may once again grace the nation’s front pages. Situated in Death Valley, it last made news in 1913, when it set the record for the world’s hottest recorded temperature, at 134 degrees. With the heat wave currently blanketing the Western states, and given that the mercury there has already reached 130 degrees, the news media is awash in speculation that Furnace Creek could soon break its own mark.

Such speculation, though, misses the real concern posed by the heat wave, which covers an area larger than New England. The problem isn’t spiking temperatures, but a new reality in which long stretches of triple-digit days are common — threatening not only the lives of the millions of people who live there, but also a cornerstone of the American food supply.

read the full article HERE


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growing food in a hotter, drier land

Gary Nabhan’s newest book, out next month. 726_s-210x300

From his website:
With climatic uncertainty now “the new normal,” many farmers, gardeners, and orchardists in North America are desperately seeking ways to adapt how they grow food in the face of climate change. The solutions may be at our back door.

In Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land, Nabhan, one of the world’s experts on the agricultural traditions of arid lands, draws from the knowledge of traditional farmers in the Gobi Desert, the Arabian Peninsula, the Sahara Desert, and Andalusia, as well as the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Painted deserts of North America to offer time-tried strategies, including:

  • Building greater moisture-holding capacity and nutrients in soils;
  • Protecting fields from damaging winds, drought, and floods;
  • Reducing heat stress on crops and livestock;
  • Harvesting water from uplands to use in rain gardens and terraces filled with perennial crops;
  • Selecting fruits, nuts, succulents, and herbaceous perennials that are best suited to warmer, drier climates; and,
  • Keeping pollinators in pace and in place with arid-adapted crop plants.

“Emulating and refining these adaptations may help us secure food in the face of climate change,” writes Nabhan. Continue reading


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young farmers, land tenure, crazy weather

For young farmers: No land but plenty of climate change to go around
by Jared Flesher, cross-posted from Grist & Edible Jersey

We desperately need more young farmers in this country.

“If we do not repopulate our working lands, I don’t know where to begin to talk about the woes,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan told The Washington Post this April.

The average age of the American farmer is 57 years old and rising. There are but 120,000 American farm operators age 34 and under. There are 1.3 million American farm operators age 55 and older.

In 2009, I picked up a video camera in order to start documenting something that looked hopeful. As if they had seen a poster with Uncle Sam’s pointing finger, young people with college educations — but absolutely no background in agriculture — were showing up on small organic farms in my home state of New Jersey, seeking training. In many cases, the self-appointed mission of these young people wasn’t just to farm, but to farm as sustainably as possible. I made a film about it, titled The Farmer and the Horse. Continue reading

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