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4.20.2010

Teachings of a volcano

The eruption of an impossible-to-pronounce icelandic volcano last week is yet another reminder of how increadibly intertwined our global economy has become. One act of God in a tiny northern country and millions become standed all over the world. Industry loses billions. Maritime lobsters, Kenyan flowers and Israeli avocados can't make it to market and rot in airport warehouses. It's chaos.

The lesson could not be clearer. We have built a proverbial house of cards folks. Sooner or later some unexpected event will throw a wrench in the global economy's wheel and it will come crashing down.

We need to reduce our dependency on outside stuff now. We need to reLOCALIZE our economy. The future is all about local resilience.

From your friends at Post Carbon Greater Moncton.

Making It Easier to Eat Local Food


NY Times, April 19, 2010
A recent Times article highlighted a growing problem for small farmers across the nation: too few slaughterhouses. Many farmers who have answered the demand for locally raised meat have been forced to scale back expansion plans because local processors can’t handle any more animals and the cost of driving their livestock hundreds of miles for slaughter is too expensive.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the number of slaughterhouses nationwide declined to 809 in 2008 from 1,211 in 1992, while the number of small farmers has increased by 108,000 in the past five years. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has acknowledged the imbalance. “It’s pretty clear there needs to be attention paid to this,” he said.

The lack of slaughterhouses is one example of how the rapidly growing local-food movement has taxed the existing food production and distribution networks. Some advocates of the small farmers have called for help from Washington. What role, if any, should the federal government play in creating better food processing and delivery systems?

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4.11.2010

Easter Island : A Case Study in the Response to Resource Depletion


Source: Energy Bulletin (Ralph Faggotter)

This is a case study in which you are invited to answer the question, “What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last palm tree say while he was doing it?”

For a several years, I have been intrigued by this question which Jared Diamond asks us to consider in his book ‘Collapse’.

In fact, the question can be asked more broadly: “What were the thought processes and discussions amongst the inhabitants of Easter Island leading up to the removal of the last remnants of forest?” This could be seen, perhaps, as a hypothetical exploration, rooted in a real historical event, of “the psychology of resource depletion denial.”

I can’t help feeling that this is highly relevant to us today where the world seems shrunk to the size of a small island in the vast ocean of space. How could the islanders so knowingly have destroyed the life-blood of their island and their own future? How do you imagine the Easter Islanders behaved in those last few years before the last tree was felled?

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