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4.30.2009

Les poules urbaines ont la cot

De plus en plus de citoyens, en Amérique du Nord, élèvent des poules dans leur cour, en ville, pour avoir des œufs frais. Une pratique encore interdite au Québec.

par Marie-Eve Cousineau
publié dans L'actualité du 15 mai 2009

Les poules urbaines en picotent plus d’un. En Colombie-Britannique, la SPCA s’inquiète de leur sort — finiront-elles dans la gueule de ratons laveurs ? Les producteurs de volailles, eux, craignent un manque de contrôle sanitaire. Si les oiseaux contractaient la grippe aviaire, cela nuirait à leurs exportations. C’est sans compter la population, qui redoute le bruit et les mauvaises odeurs de ces voisines de basse-cour.

Pour éviter ces problèmes, des villes « amies des poules » limitent le nombre d’oiseaux permis par résidence (généralement entre 4 et 10). Elles déterminent aussi une distance minimale entre leur enclos et la maison voisine (exemple : 10 m).

Selon ses défenseurs, la poule est un animal de compagnie comme un autre — sauf qu’elle pond un œuf par jour ! « Elle produit moins d’excréments qu’un chien de taille moyenne », dit Vikram Bhatt. Il faut bien sûr nettoyer sa cour, comme pour Fido, afin d’éviter les odeurs. Et la garder au chaud l’hiver (sous une ampoule, dans un abri), la faire garder pendant les vacances…

« Bien des personnes donnent leurs poules à un fermier à l’automne, car elles n’ont pas de cabanon chauffé et ventilé », dit Gérard Blanchette, retraité de 69 ans et président du Club des éleveurs de petits animaux du Québec. « Certains les mettent en pension pour environ 50 cents par jour. »

Convaincu ? Depuis 2007, les habitants de Seattle peuvent élever des chèvres miniatures, en plus des traditionnelles poules et abeilles. À Chicago, la mairie accueille des ruches sur son toit vert. Le meilleur miel en ville, dit-on…

Envisioning the End of ‘Don’t Cluck, Don’t Tell’



NY Times - April 29, 2009

In the modest backyard of Rosemarie Morgan’s 1890-era house, about a half-mile from Yale University, there is a small Buddha, azalea and forsythia, Japanese cherry and plum trees, and an Amish-made chicken coop with five residents — four who lay eggs and Gloria, who is barren but one heck of a watchdog.

The fowl are technically illegal under New Haven’s zoning code, which prohibited raising hens and other livestock when it was updated during the 1950s. But these days, many dozens of backyard hens are generally tolerated under the city’s informal enforcement program — call it “don’t cluck, don’t tell” — that mostly looks the other way. With urban fowl increasingly common, Alderman Roland Lemar has introduced legislation that would allow residents to raise up to six hens.

Ms. Morgan, a Victorianist at Yale who specializes in Thomas Hardy and grew up with assorted animals in England and Scotland, may not be the face of modern agriculture. But she’s a perfect representative of a tiny sliver of it — the vogue for urban farming that has cities around the country updating and tweaking zoning codes.

To Ms. Morgan — whose other Rhode Island reds and hybrids are named Brunnhilde, Tosca, Carmen and Mimi — the zoning fight is a little baffling.

“It seems extraordinary to me that you could have a cat or a dog or a caged bird, but you can’t have a chicken,” she said the other day, sprinkling corn in the yard for her little brood. “Slightly barbaric really.”

Of course, not many New Haven residents or Yale professors were raising chickens a few years ago. But some combination of the locavore craze, the growth of immigrant communities with traditions of raising hens and the recession making the idea of free eggs or milk in the backyard attractive, cities and suburbs around the country are reviewing all manner of critter ordinances.

Seattle recently allowed residents to have up to three goats. Minneapolis just legalized beekeeping.

At the center of the Brave New World of urban ag is the humble hen, whose care and keeping is the subject of Web sites like thecitychicken.com, urbanchickens.org, backyardchickens.com, or Just Food’s City Chicken Meetup NYC, which has 101 hen-friendly members in New York.

Ms. Morgan, whose East Rock neighborhood was once known as Goatville, took up raising hens when she lived in the Berkshires and, along with some friends, resumed it when she moved back to New Haven seven years ago. She likes the fresh eggs and the link to our vanished natural past. She’s very fond of her feathered friends, who eat bugs and mosquitoes and don’t make much noise other than a triumphant squawk when laying.

“The eggs are fabulous,” she said. “And it’s very emotionally fulfilling. They’re not exactly pets — they still have a wild way about them, but they’re very smart and easy to have around. And noise? They’re not as loud as blue jays, no worse than a cat’s meow, certainly quieter than a barking dog.”

Most municipalities are much less hospitable to roosters (consider that next door every dawn) than hens. But the clear trend is toward being more permissive. Jennifer Blecha, who did a doctoral dissertation on people’s attitudes about urban livestock, surveyed the zoning codes of American cities and found 53 allow hens, 16 prohibit them and 9 make no mention. In general, Ms. Blecha said, cities are much more tolerant of domestic livestock than suburbs.

“People like the idea of I take care of them, and they take care of me,” she said, explaining that the personal agrisystem of feeding food scraps to chickens that, in turn, produce breakfast, has enormous appeal.

Of course, not everyone is happy. New Haven’s head of code enforcement does not like the idea of adding chicken coop inspection to his portfolio. On the New Haven Advocate’s Web site, one resident lamented the presence of “these foul, filthy, half flying, eat anything rats in the East Rock nabe.” And any health scare involving animals — see: swine flu — can lead to a pushback, though advocates say the real threat is from factory farming, not small urban populations.

Owen Taylor of Just Food, which promotes local agriculture in New York, said the key is for people to explain their plans to their neighbors, so they know what to expect. He praised New York’s codes, which deal with potential bad behavior (smell, noise, rodents) rather than the existence of the hens, for allowing responsible fowl behavior and punishing those who create a nuisance. Citing New York street wisdom, he added, “You deal with it on a coop by coop basis.”

4.20.2009

Révolution alimentaire - Food revolution

Transition Towns in NY Times


New York Times
By JON MOOALLEM
Published: April 16, 2009

The stage lights went up at the Panida Theater, a classy old movie house in Sandpoint, Idaho, and the M.C. stepped out of the dark with one finger high in the air. There was an uprising of applause and cheering. Then, shouting like a head coach before a bowl game, she said, “Sandpoint, are you ready?”

Read full article

4.16.2009

Falling production to inevitably alter tilt Big Oil's playing field


April 13, 2009
Globe and Mail
Eric Reguly

Standard economics says the higher the price, the more you can invest.

The more you invest, the greater your ability to raise production to meet ongoing demand. The oil and gas industry has worked this way for decades.

Higher prices meant higher production, which meant everyone had enough fuel to drive stupidly big SUVs.

At least it did until recently. Then something troubling happened. Even as oil prices set records, and even as the investment spigot was cranked wide open to meet relentless demand, some of the world's biggest oil companies were incapable of pumping as much oil as they had before.

Overall production in this group went flat in 2003-2004 and declined thereafter. Between 2006 and 2008, the falloff was 4 per cent, an average decline increase of about one percentage point a year. "The analysis shows that decline rates in the industry are increasing despite the enormous amount of money spent on the base over the past two to three years," said Michele della Vigna and the three other authors of the report.

There you have it: Spend more, produce less. The analysts do not think the downward movement is a blip. They are "confident that there is a clear trend of increasing decline rates."

Why is this happening? The big old oilfields like the North Sea are running out of puff, which should come as no surprise since many of them have been on the trot for three or four decades. The new fields are the disappointment.

They are both smaller, and go into decline faster, than the magnificent behemoths discovered after the Second World War. Lower prices - oil has gone from $147 (U.S.) a barrel last July to about $52 - might only accelerate the decline because less cash flow per barrel inhibits any company's ability to invest the vast sums needed to keep the fields prolific.

The more-investment, less-production scenario doesn't necessarily mean global production faces a sudden drop, because many new fields have yet to open for business and some countries, notably Iraq and Nigeria, are pumping well below their potential because of nasty diversions like gunfire; production could even rise from last year's 85 million barrels a day. What it does mean is that the world may be closer to peak oil than anyone had feared only few years ago, and that oil prices are far more likely to go up than down in the mid to long term.

With oil demand on the wane as recession grips the planet - the International Energy Agency predicts global oil demand will fall 2.8 per cent this year - no one much cares that Big Oil is struggling to keep production stable, let alone growing. But watch out when economic growth kicks back in. A repeat of the 2007-2008 price spike is not out of the question.

The production decline rates have all sorts of implications besides increasing the likelihood of higher prices. It means oil companies will naturally gravitate toward long-life unconventional reserves, such as the vast heavy oil deposits in Canada and Venezuela and shale oil in the western United States. Total, to take but one company fretting about waning conventional production - its output fell 2 per cent last year - plans to invest as much as $20-billion in the Alberta oil sands (including the construction of a refinery) over the next decade or so.

It also means that investors will have to work harder to pick the best oil companies. Any analysis has to take into account oil prices, reserves, production rates, cash flow per share, refining margins, operational problems, dividend yield and political risk. To these, add decline rates.

Companies with the ability to use new fields to raise production, or keep it even, will likely fare better on the stock market than those without.

The Goldman analysts relegated BP, the former British Petroleum, to "sell" territory because of rapidly falling production. Goldman thinks 2009 will be BP's last year of production growth. Declines of 2 per cent a year after 2010 are likely because it has few new projects in the pipeline and recent startups have short lifespans. BP's valuation, Goldman said, "does not discount, in our view, the structural production decline that the company is likely to enter."

Spain's Repsol is another company that faces a big gap between volume growth from new discoveries and waning production from old fields (Goldman left its rating intact, partly because it appears the falling output is already baked into the stock). The companies with the best production growth outlook between 2008 and 2012 are BG Group, Norway's Statoil and Shell.

The good news for the production laggards is that oil prices are well off their lows, thanks in good part to OPEC's quick work to reduce supply. This will buy companies like BP and Repsol time - the trick will be using higher prices to make oil discoveries, and fast.

If they don't, the math says a few years will be shaved off their corporate lifespans.

4.10.2009

Post Peak Life Video - La vie après le pic


Why should you prepare? And how do you get started? Pourquoi se préparer? Par où commencer?

Video

4.08.2009

Rural Sustainability


Be warned: this document does not necessarily highlight the importance a sustainable environement has for a sustainable rural economy. Nowhere do the words "peak oil" show up. But at least we're almost moving in the right direction.

http://www.ruralmatters.ca/images/report/one%20vision%20many%20voices%20-%20english.pdf

Domestic Fair Trade

We all know what Fair Trade coffee is. It's people, producers especially, getting a fair price for their labour. It is to small producers and individuals what free trade is to huge multinational corporations. Now think of this: everything can be fair trade!

Fair trade lumber. Fair trade seafood. Fair trade biofuel. Fair trade clothe. Fair trade economies.

There is no reason why farmers, fishermen, small town mill workers, and various other producers have to be controlled by corporate exploitation. The best way to assure a sustainable future that will survive beyond the world we've brought about with cheap oil is by working together.

See http://www.dftassociation.com/ for an example of some possibilities.

4.07.2009

En vidéo : pic pétrolier, à quand la fin du pétrole ?


Dans le cadre de la Semaine du Développement Durable, en partenariat avec neopodia, Futura-Sciences vous propose aujourd'hui de découvrir un reportage sur le pétrole : état des lieux des réserves, l'après-pétrole...

A quand l'extraction de la dernière goutte de pétrole dans le monde ? Le pic de production est-il déjà passé ? Quel est l'état des réserves ? Réponses de Jean-Luc Wingert, ingénieur-conseil spécialiste des questions énergétiques et de développement, auteur de "La vie après le pétrole".

Vidéo ici

Consume This

4.01.2009

Food and farming


by Richard Heinberg and Michael Bomford, Ph.D.

Summary

The American (and Canadian) food system rests on an unstable foundation of massive fossil fuel inputs. It must be reinvented in the face of declining fuel stocks. The new food system will use less energy, and the energy it uses will come from renewable sources. We can begin the transition to the new system immediately through a process of planned, graduated, rapid change. The unplanned alternative-reconstruction from scratch after collapse-would be chaotic and tragic.

The seeds of the new food system have already been planted. America's farmers have been reducing their energy use for decades. They are using less fertilizer and pesticide. The number of organic farms, farmers' markets, and CSA operations is growing rapidly. More people are thinking about where their food comes from.

These are important building blocks, but much remains to be done. Our new food system will require more farmers, smaller and more diversified farms, less processed and packaged food, and less long-distance hauling of food. Governments, communities, businesses, and families each have important parts to play in reinventing a food system that functions with limited renewable energy resources to feed our population for the long term.

See full article here

Communiqué - Heuroeufs en ville

(Moncton, le 1 avril 2009) – Grand Moncton Post Carbone, un regroupement dont la visée consiste à aider les citoyens du Grand Moncton à réduire leur dépendance aux énergies fossiles, propose d’établir une petite ferme expérimentale en milieu urbain.


Pour la version complète de ce communiqué, veuillez consulter la section intitulée "Centre de documentation" dans la colonne de droite.

News Release - Chickens and the City

(Moncton, April 1, 2009) – Post Carbon Greater Moncton, a local group that aims to assist Greater Monctonians reduce their dependency on fossil fuel energies, is pitching a pilot project to run a small-scale farm in downtown Moncton.


Full news release can be found in the "Info Hub" section of this blog (see right hand column).