Jan 11, 2013

Corps Keeps Barge Traffic Moving on Mississippi » Market to Market » Iowa Public Television

A key government report Friday revealed the global balance of trade tipped in favor of foreign nations in November as a surge in imports outpaced modest growth in exports.

According to the Commerce Department, the U.S. trade deficit grew more than 15 percent in November to $48.7 billion… its highest level in seven months.

Imports rose nearly 4 percent to $231 billion, led by record shipments of cell phones and other electronics.

Exports also increased, but only 1 percent to $182 billion. And shipments to Europe fell 1.3 percent, further evidence of the prolonged debt crisis that has gripped the region.

And America’s trade deficit with China -- the largest with of any single country -- declined nearly 2 percent in November. Nevertheless, the trade gap with China is still on pace to set a new annual record in 2012.

Agricultural exports, of course, occupy a bright spot in America’s mostly gloomy trade picture. Before the goods can be shipped overseas, however, they have to make their way to coastal ports. Sixty percent of U.S. grain exports travel a portion of the journey on the Mississippi River. And with the river trickling at historic lows, officials are going to great lengths to keep the Mighty Mississippi – and the commerce it supports – flowing.

Two members of Illinois’ Congressional delegation returned to the “Land of Lincoln” this week hoping to improve navigation on the drought-stricken Mississippi River.

Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Bill Enyart met with officials from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard and inspected operations removing rock pinnacles from the beleaguered waterway near Thebes, Illinois.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D – Illinois: “I know this is a great matter of interest for all of us in the region. I can guarantee from conversations I’ve had at the highest levels of the White House, the president is on this case.”

Hazardous rock formations in the Mississippi threaten to bring barge traffic to a halt 150 miles south of St. Louis.

Since most tugboats have a minimum draft of 9 feet, operators have been forced to lighten their cargoes and reduce the number of barges in a tow in order to navigate shallower, more treacherous channels

Contractors working with the Corps began blasting in mid-December, hoping to deepen the channel on nearly six miles of the river.

Major General John Peabody, Army Corp of Engineers: “The bottom line is that we have made excellent progress with the rock removal from the contractors. 290 yards total moved to date and we are projecting that we will lower the river bottom in the channel by approximately 2 feet by the end of this week.”

As the worst drought in half-a century intensified last summer, officials became concerned over the impact on the waterway that carries the majority of America’s grain exports.

Senator Durbin and others called for demolition and dredging originally scheduled for February to begin immediately.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D – Illinois: “This is nothing short of a miracle, to have contractors at work destroying these rock pinnacle obstructions and widening this river in record time.”

With increased depth in the channel and a favorable weather outlook, further shipping restrictions on the Mississippi are not expected before the end of January.

Scott Noble, Senior Vice President Ingram Barge Company: “But clearly it’s had a significant impact here. We’ve had shippers that have elected to curtail their shipping because they know with reduced drafts it has an impact on costs to them.”

Officials also are increasing flows on Mississippi River tributaries in hopes aiding navigation. Last month, the Corp of Engineers began releasing water from Carlyle Lake on the Kaskaskia River near St. Louis.

To date, however, the Corps has refused requests to release more water upstream on the Missouri River, a decision that likely will be tested if Mississippi channels fall below 9 feet.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D – Illinois: “The Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, all the federal agencies are focused on keeping this river open for traffic because we know how critical it is to the area economy and the national economy.”

Next week, Market to Market will take you onboard the Dredge Hurley, and learn what it takes to keep commerce flowing on the currently “not-so-Mighty Mississippi.”

Timberhill Oak Savanna

Timberhill Oak Savanna

Great source of Oak Savanna related information!  Monte

Founded by William & Sibylla Brown in 1993, Timberhill Oak Savanna comprises 200 acres of woodlands, prairie openings and wetlands in Decatur County, Iowa.

Industry Consultants Warn Frackers: Do Not Underestimate the Global Anti-Fracking Movement

(Photo: CREDO: Cuomo Policy Summit / Flickr)

Source link:

Prairie cordgrass: Highly underrated

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When D.K. Lee and Lane Rayburn, faculty members in the crop sciences department at the University of Illinois, talk about prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) they have difficulty containing their enthusiasm. They are among the very few people doing research on this grass as a potential energy crop.

According to Lee, switchgrass has been studied extensively as a forage crop and a dedicated energy crop. Recently this research has been extended to big bluestem, indiangrass, and other native grasses. Prairie cordgrass has received comparatively little attention because, unlike the others, it is not a good forage crop. "The cow has a preference; this grass is coarse and not good for grazing," Lee said. However, as interest in energy crops and in feedstock production for cellulosic biofuels increases, prairie cordgrass is receiving more attention because it grows well on marginal land. "It likes environments that are too wet for row crop production." Lee explained. He and his colleagues in the Energy Biosciences Institute, of which the U of I is a partner, are giving prairie cordgrass this increased attention as a biofuel source plant. Many conservationists are also interested in the grass. "One of the characteristics of this grass is that it has a strong rhizome and root system," explained Lee. Thus, it is good for erosion control and conservation, particularly in riparian areas because it is a species that likes water. Another important characteristic of Spartina pectinata is salt tolerance. Lee planted prairie cordgrass in west Texas in fields that could no longer be used for crop production because they had been irrigated with salty ground water. "It actually grew pretty well; the farmer was shocked," he said. Soil salinity is a problem in much of the marginal land throughout the world.

It also has good cold tolerance. Although it is a warm-season grass, it starts growing in mid-March like a cool-season grass. Its growing season is longer than that of corn, allowing it to accumulate high biomass. Rayburn said that what makes it perfect as a biomass grass is that it is a native species with no invasiveness issues associated with it. "If I'm going to work with an energy crop, I want to bring something in that, environmentally and ecologically, I don't have to worry about," he said. "It's a great plant," added Rayburn. "We know how to control it, it gives good biomass, and it grows on marginal land." Lee and Rayburn wanted to know where the grass grows and whether it was all the same. Lee traveled over 10,000 miles around the country collecting more than 130 natural populations. He and his group then looked at the DNA and the ploidy level, which is the number of sets of chromosomes. They found many differences. For example, the prairie cordgrass in South Dakota was mostly octoploid (eight sets of chromosomes) while the Illinois grass tended to be tetraploid (four sets). Then, to their surprise, they found a mixed-ploidy population comprising tetraploids and (previously unknown) hexaploids (six sets of chromosomes) at a single location in Illinois. Lee said that, for biomass production, this newly discovered hexaploid is in the top five of his collection. "A lot of people want to have access to this thing, but I'm still keeping it in my house," he said. The Energy Biosciences Institute is hoping to patent the variety. Lee's 'Savoy' cultivar has recently been patented. Rayburn said that finding the hexaploid "was like catching a snapshot of evolution." The area where the hexaploid was found is a piece of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land that has not been farmed for 20 years, meaning that the polyploidy event occurred quite recently. Rayburn and Lee describe their collaboration as "a perfect combination." Lee is focusing on developing a better cultivar with good agronomic traits. Rayburn is interested in how the hexaploid evolved. "What he does helps me in my studies of how the plant evolved; what I do helps him in his studies on improving it," said Rayburn, "and he's fun to work with."

More information: The research is described in more detail in the following articles: Kim, S.M., A.L. Rayburn, and D.K. Lee. 2010. "Genome Size and Chromosome Analysis in Prairie Cordgrass (Spartina pectinata L.)." Crop Science 50:2277-2282. Kim, S.M., A.L. Rayburn, A. Parrish, and D.K. Lee. 2012. "Cytogeographic Distribution and Genome Size Variation in Prairie Cordgrass (Spartina pectinata Bosc ex Link)." Plant Molecular Biology Reporter (in press, online first). Kim, S.M., A.L. Rayburn, A. Boe, and D.K. Lee. 2012. "Neopolyploidy in Spartina pectinata Link: 1. Morphological Analysis of Tetraploid and Hexaploid Plants in a Mixed Natural Population." Plant Systematic and Evolution (in press, online first). Kim, S.M., A.L. Rayburn, T. Voigt, A. Parrish and D.K. Lee. 2012. "Salinity effects on germination and plant growth of prairie cordgrass and switchgrass." Bioenergy Research 5: 225-235. Provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-06-prairie-cordgrass-highly-underrated.html#jCp

Seed Source Link:

Jan 10, 2013

The History of the World on Google Maps

From Cave Paintings to the Internet is an amazing online project to document the history of information and media. The project has a huge scope, starting with entries from 2,500,000 BCE right up to the modern day.

The project also provides a great Google Maps based interface to explore the records geographically and thematically. The map allows the user to select from a large number of themes, from archaeology to writing and palaeography. The entries can also be explored by historical era and by regions.

The number of themes that can be explored means that there is sure to be something on this map to interest most users and anyone with even the slightest interest in history will find this great resource.

Very neat!  Monte

2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States - State of the Climate - 2012 - NOAA

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2012 was warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous U.S.

2012 was a historic year for extreme weather that included drought, wildfires, hurricanes and storms; however, tornado activity was below average

2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year.

The average precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. for 2012 was 26.57 inches, 2.57 inches below average, making it the 15th driest year on record for the nation. At its peak in July, the drought of 2012 engulfed 61 percent of the nation with the Mountain West, Great Plains, and Midwest experiencing the most intense drought conditions. The dry conditions proved ideal for wildfires in the West, charring 9.2 million acres — the third highest on record.

The U.S. Climate Extremes Index indicated that 2012 was the second most extreme year on record for the nation. The index, which evaluates extremes in temperature and precipitation, as well as landfalling tropical cyclones, was nearly twice the average value and second only to 1998. To date, 2012 has seen 11 disasters that have reached the $1 billion threshold in losses, to include Sandy, Isaac, and tornado outbreaks experienced in the Great Plains, Texas and Southeast/Ohio Valley.

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Full Report Link: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/

I'd say this is a pretty big deal!  Monte

Jan 8, 2013

Dawkins on religion

An interview with Richard Dawkins on whether religion is a force for good or evil.

Related Link:

Anthony Leiserowitz on Making People Care About Climate Change | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com

January 4, 2013

Remember climate change? The issue barely came up during the presidential campaigns, and little has been said since. But bringing climate change back into our national conversation is as much a communications challenge as it is a scientific one. Scientist Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, joins Bill to describe his efforts to do what even Hurricane Sandy couldn’t — galvanize communities over what’s arguably the greatest single threat facing humanity. Leiserowitz, who specializes in the psychology of risk perception, knows better than anyone if people are willing to change their behavior to make a difference.

“[A] pervasive sense up to now has been that climate change is distant — distant in time, and distant in space,” Leiserowitz tells Bill. “And what we’re now beginning to see is that it’s not so distant. It’s not just future generations. It’s us and it’s our own children. I have a nine-year-old son — he’s going to be my age in the year 2050. I don’t want him to live in the world that we’re currently hurtling towards.”
More about Anthony Leiserowitz »

Related Link:
Tomgram: Bill McKibben, Time Is Not on Our Side | ...

Will we wake up?   I have my doubs... Monte Hines

Hines Farm Portable Round Shelf Storage Cart made utilizing AccuRightCircle Cutting Jig

Finished - Homemade - 40" High - Round - 4-Shelf  - Movable Cart
Utilized Router Round Over Bit on Shelf Edges
a $8 Harbor Freight, 1000 lbs. Cart Dolly

AccuRight Circle Cutting Jig

Used Craftsmen 10" Bandsaw with AccuRight Circle Cutting Jig

Video - AccuRight method for cutting round shelves

I highly recommend AccuRight Circle Cutting Jig! Easier then slicing bread... Monte

Jan 7, 2013

Food MythBusters -- Do we really need industrial agriculture to feed the world?

For more information, Sources & Citations, and database of the research sources used:

How can we feed the world—today and tomorrow?

The biggest players in the food industry—from pesticide pushers to fertilizer makers to food processors and manufacturers—spend billions of dollars every year not selling food, but selling the idea that we need their products to feed the world. But, do we really need industrial agriculture to feed the world? Can sustainably grown food deliver the quantity and quality we need—today and in the future? Our first Food MythBusters film takes on these questions in under seven minutes. So next time you hear them, you can too.

Permaculture: Leadership for Sustainable Futures

A presentation by Professor Stuart Hill University of Western Sydney on permaculture and the 'inner landscape'.

Yeoman and Keyline Systems start in presentation:

P. A. Yeomans

“No artist or artisan ever has such broad control of the medium through which he expresses his own character and personality as does the farmer or grazier in the control he can exercise over his land. The landman can create his own landscape, but the artist gives only his impression of it …”

PA Yeomans

from Wikipedia

Percival Alfred Yeomans (1904 – 1984) was an Australian inventor known for the Keyline system for the development of land and increasing the fertility of that land. As a mining engineer and gold assayer, Yeomans had developed a keen sense of hydrology and equipment design. Upon his brother’s death in a grass fire, Percival Alfred Yeomans assumed management of a large tract of land he later named Nevallan in New South Wales. Here he developed improved methods and equipment for cultivation. His designs won him The Prince Philip Design Award in 1974.

His Keyline principles or concepts (Keyline Design) have been adopted by farm owners in almost every country in the world. Yeomans’ Keyline concepts are now part of the curriculum of many sustainable agriculture courses in colleges and universities across the world. His ideas have also been a key factor in the development of permaculture design. P.A. Yeomans wrote four books; The Keyline Plan, The Challenge of Landscape, Water For Every Farm and The City Forest.

An extremely rare archive film of P.A. Yeomans demonstrating his unique Keyline Plan from the Rural bank of New South Wales and Perier Films.

Another old Archival film at: http://www.t3licensing.com/video/clip/48050035_8500.do

Tomgram: Bill McKibben, Time Is Not on Our Side | TomDispatch

Posted by Bill McKibben
January 6, 2013.

When it came to climate change in 2012, the operative word was “hot” (with “record” a close second). The continental U.S. broiled. Drought struck with a passion and, as the year ended, showed no sign of going away any time soon. Water levels on the Mississippi River fell soperilously low as to threaten traffic and business on one of the nation’s busier arteries. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that record greenhouse gas emissions were pumped into the atmosphere. And just in case you were thinking of putting those words “hot” and “record” away for a while, the first predictions for 2013 suggest that, drearily enough, they are once again likely to be much in use. None of us should really be surprised by any of this, since the ill effects of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere have for years been outrunning the predictions of sober climate scientists.

Surprising numbers of Americans, from the Jersey shore to the parched Midwest, have met the effects of climate change up close and personal in these last years as billion-dollar “natural” disastersmultiply in the U.S. As a result, there seems to be an increasing awareness that it isn’t some vague, futuristic possible disaster but a growing reality in our lives. On the TV news, however, “extreme weather” -- a phrase that sounds awful but is meant to have no larger meaning -- has come to stand in for examples of the climate-change-induced intensification of global weather patterns. After all, no point in drawing too much attention to a dismal reality.

That’s perhaps why, as last year ended, the only “cliff” we heard about ad nauseam was the “fiscal” one, which would prove a very flexible part of the American landscape. For a while, in mixed-metaphorical fashion, it “loomed” endlessly, and then it proved to be erasable or moveable -- in reality, something closer to a “fiscal bluff,” with whatever double meanings you care to read into that. But why no emphasis on the “climate cliff” in a year in which, as George Monbiot recentlywrote in the Guardian, “governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial”?

Whatever your mixed metaphor for it might be -- melting glacial vortex, drought abyss, or maybe just hell (in the burning sense) -- climate change certainly deserves some imagistic attention in a world in which, as TomDispatch regular and founder of 350.org Bill McKibben suggests, time is not on our side. Tom

Obama Versus Physics
Why Climate Change Won’t Wait for the President
By Bill McKibben

Change usually happens very slowly, even once all the serious people have decided there’s a problem. That’s because, in a country as big as the United States, public opinion moves in slow currents. Since change by definition requires going up against powerful established interests, it can take decades for those currents to erode the foundations of our special-interest fortresses.

Take, for instance, “the problem of our schools.” Don’t worry about whether there actually was a problem, or whether making every student devote her school years to filling out standardized tests would solve it. Just think about the timeline. In 1983, after some years of pundit throat clearing, the Carnegie Commission published “A Nation at Risk,” insisting that a “rising tide of mediocrity” threatened our schools. The nation’s biggest foundations and richest people slowly roused themselves to action, and for three decades we haltingly applied a series of fixes and reforms. We’ve had Race to the Top, and Teach for America, and charters, and vouchers, and… we’re still in the midst of “fixing” education, many generations of students later.

Even facing undeniably real problems -- say, discrimination against gay people -- one can make the case that gradual change has actually been the best option. Had some mythical liberal Supreme Court declared, in 1990, that gay marriage was now the law of the land, the backlash might have been swift and severe. There’s certainly an argument to be made that moving state by state (starting in nimbler, smaller states like Vermont) ultimately made the happy outcome more solid as the culture changed and new generations came of age.

Which is not to say that there weren’t millions of people who suffered as a result. There were. But our societies are built to move slowly. Human institutions tend to work better when they have years or even decades to make gradual course corrections, when time smooths out the conflicts between people.

And that’s always been the difficulty with climate change -- the greatest problem we’ve ever faced. It’s not a fight, like education reform or abortion or gay marriage, between conflicting groups with conflicting opinions. It couldn’t be more different at a fundamental level.

We’re talking about a fight between human beings and physics. And physics is entirely uninterested in human timetables. Physics couldn't care less if precipitous action raises gas prices, or damages the coal industry in swing states. It could care less whether putting a price on carbon slowed the pace of development in China, or made agribusiness less profitable.

Physics doesn’t understand that rapid action on climate change threatens the most lucrative business on Earth, the fossil fuel industry. It’s implacable. It takes the carbon dioxide we produce and translates it into heat, which means into melting ice and rising oceans and gathering storms. And unlike other problems, the less you do, the worse it gets. Do nothing and you soon have a nightmare on your hands.

We could postpone healthcare reform a decade, and the cost would be terrible -- all the suffering not responded to over those 10 years. But when we returned to it, the problem would be about the same size. With climate change, unless we act fairly soon in response to the timetable set by physics, there’s not much reason to act at all.

Unless you understand these distinctions you don’t understand climate change -- and it’s not at all clear that President Obama understands them.

That’s why his administration is sometimes peeved when they don’t get the credit they think they deserve for tackling the issue in his first term in office. The measure they point to most often is the increase in average mileage for automobiles, which will slowly go into effect over the next decade.

It’s precisely the kind of gradual transformation that people -- and politicians -- like. We should have adopted it long ago (and would have, except that it challenged the power of Detroit and its unions, and so both Republicans and Democrats kept it at bay). But here’s the terrible thing: it’s no longer a measure that impresses physics. After all, physics isn’t kidding around or negotiating. While we were discussing whether climate change was even a permissible subject to bring up in the last presidential campaign, it wasmelting the Arctic. If we’re to slow it down, we need to be cutting emissions globally at a sensational rate, by something like 5% a year to make a real difference.

It’s not Obama’s fault that that’s not happening. He can’t force it to happen. Consider the moment when the great president of the last century, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was confronted with an implacable enemy, Adolf Hitler (the closest analog to physics we’re going to get, in that he was insanely solipsistic, though in his case also evil). Even as the German armies started to roll through Europe, however, FDR couldn’t muster America to get off the couch and fight.

There were even the equivalent of climate deniers at that time, happy to make the case that Hitler presented no threat to America. Indeed, some of them were the same institutions. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for instance, vociferouslyopposed Lend-Lease.

So Roosevelt did all he could on his own authority, and then when Pearl Harbor offered him his moment, he pushed as hard as he possibly could. Hard, in this case, meant, for instance, telling the car companies that they were out of the car business for a while and instead in the tank and fighter-plane business.

For Obama, faced with a Congress bought off by the fossil fuel industry, a realistic approach would be to do absolutely everything he could on his own authority -- new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, for example; and of course, he should refuse to grant the permit for the building of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, something that requires no permission from John Boehner or the rest of Congress.

So far, however, he’s been half-hearted at best when it comes to such measures. The White House, for instance, overruled the EPA on its proposed stronger ozone and smog regulations in 2011, and last year opened up the Arctic for oil drilling, while selling off vast swaths of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin at bargain-basement prices to coal miners. His State Department flubbed the global climate-change negotiations. (It’s hard to remember a higher profile diplomatic failure than the Copenhagen summit.) And now Washington rings with rumors that he’ll approve the Keystone pipeline, which would deliver 900,000 barrels a day of the dirtiest crude oil on Earth. Almost to the drop, that’s the amount his new auto mileage regulations would save.

If he were serious, Obama would be doing more than just the obvious and easy. He’d also be looking for that Pearl Harbor moment. God knows he had his chances in 2012: the hottest year in the history of the continental United States, the deepest drought of his lifetime, and a melt of the Arctic so severe that the federal government’s premier climate scientist declared it a “planetary emergency.”

In fact, he didn’t even appear to notice those phenomena, campaigning for a second term as if from an air-conditioned bubble, even as people in the crowds greeting him were fainting en masse from the heat. Throughout campaign 2012, he kept declaring his love for an “all-of-the-above” energy policy, where apparently oil and natural gas were exactly as virtuous as sun and wind.

Only at the very end of the campaign, when Hurricane Sandy seemed to present a political opening, did he even hint at seizing it -- his people letting reporters know on background that climate change would now be one of his top three priorities (or maybe, post-Newtown, top four) for a second term. That’s a start, I suppose, but it’s a long way from telling the car companies they better retool to start churning out wind turbines.

And anyway, he took it back at the first opportunity. At his post-election press conference, he announced that climate change was “real,” thus marking his agreement with, say, President George H.W. Bush in 1988. In deference to “future generations,” he also agreed that we should “do more.” But addressing climate change, he added, would involve “tough political choices.” Indeed, too tough, it seems, for here were his key lines:

“I think the American people right now have been so focused, and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth, that if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody is going to go for that. I won’t go for that.”

It’s as if World War II British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had declared, “I have nothing to offer except blood, toil, tears, and sweat. And God knows that polls badly, so just forget about it.”

The president must be pressed to do all he can -- and more. That’s why thousands of us will descend on Washington D.C. on President’s Day weekend, in what will be the largest environmental demonstration in years. But there’s another possibility we need to consider: that perhaps he’s simply not up to this task, and that we’re going to have to do it for him, as best we can.

If he won’t take on the fossil fuel industry, we will. That’s why on 192 campuses nationwide active divestment movements are now doing their best to highlight the fact that the fossil fuel industry threatens their futures.

If he won’t use our position as a superpower to drive international climate-change negotiations out of their rut, we’ll try. That’s why young people from 190 nations are gathering in Istanbul in June in an effort to shame the U.N. into action. If he won’t listen to scientists -- like the 20 top climatologists who told him that the Keystone pipeline was a mistake -- then top scientists are increasingly clear that they’ll need to get arrested to make their point.

Those of us in the growing grassroots climate movement are going as fast and hard as we know how (though not, I fear, as fast as physics demands). Maybe if we go fast enough even this all-too-patient president will get caught up in the draft. But we’re not waiting for him. We can’t.

Will we wake up?   I have my doubs... Monte Hines

Darren Doherty Talks on Regenerative Farming and Restoration Agriculture

Skillset Australia
Published on Aug 31, 2012

On August 24, 2012 Skillset in partnership with Net Balance and ABC Rural presented FACETS 2012, a TEDx styled event that focused on key issues for regional Australia: Food, Agriculture, Climate, Energy, Topsoil and Sustainability.

FACETS 2012 consisted of 16 presentations of no more than 18 minutes each, delivered by passionate and informed people with the aim to empower people, build useful connections and bring about a positive change in our communities.

The FACETS 2012 hub event held at Skillset's Flannery Centre in Bathurst NSW, was linked live to satellite events in regional locations across Australia, this ensured that FACETS 2012 initiated international, national and local conversations worth having.

Apr 10, 2010

Darren Doherty, permaculture designer, discusses ways that permaculture can provide a set of design tools to transition to more regenerative farms connected to local food systems. As Darren says, the ultimate measure of a healthy farm is the ability to provide food and fiber while building soil.

Great talks and much knowledge to be gained in them!  Monte

Related links:

Jan 6, 2013

Great Lakes Ecosystems: Proceedings of the Midwest Oak Savanna Conferences

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Midwest Oak Savanna Conferences

Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams: How Do We Raise Quality of On Line Content?

Full Video: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12719

A Land Ethic

June 10, 2009  from edge::regenerate

Aldo Leopold argues that what is centrally missing in our Western culture today is a “land ethic.” According to Leopold, ethical values are what hold a community together and allow its members to cooperatively co-exist. Just as our culture has awakened to the violent injustice of slavery, so now is it time that we awake to the injustice we are inflicting on the lands we live within.

In the time of Odysseus’ Greece, slaves were property that could be dealt with as owner saw fit. If he wanted to hang them, he had full proprietary rights to do so. Today we look at this and are horrified by such actions because we know in our hearts that all humans are our brothers and sisters and deserve the same basic rights, opportunities, and freedoms that we do. Yet we turn around and commit the same violent crimes against our biotic family. We treat land as property and as such we have the proprietary rights to do with it as we see fit. If we want to destroy the life of the land, it is our right to do so. As Leopold states it, “The disposal of property was then, as now, a matter of expediency, not of right and wrong.”

A land ethic would involve living rightly with the land. Doing what is right in this case can be evaluated in terms of whether or not an action preserves and adds to “the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” The implication here is that we as humans can and should be living with the land in ways that work with and elevate its systemic generative capacity for life.

How would you evaluate the community you live in under these standards? How would you evaluate your own land-use practices?

Great post on land ethic above...

Land ethic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia has a great summary of different basis for land ethics.

Economics based
This is a land ethic based wholly upon economic self-interest.[2] For example, a farmer who plants on a slope and lets the soil wash into the community creek in order to obtain the personal benefit of money from the sale of the crops is acting from an economic based land ethic. Leopold sees two flaws in this type of ethic. First, he argues that most members of an ecosystem have no economic worth. For this reason, such an ethic can ignore or even eliminate these members when they are actually necessary for the health of the biotic community of the land. And second, it tends to relegate conservation necessary for healthy ecosystems to the Government and these tasks are too large and dispersed to be adequately addressed by such an institution. This ties directly into the context within which Leopold wrote Sand County Almanac.

For example, the prevailing ethos for the US Forest Service in his day, from the founder of the USFS, Gifford Pinchot, was economic and utilitarian, while Leopold argued for anecological approach, one of the earliest popularizers of this term created by Henry Chandler Cowles of the University of Chicago during his early 1900s research at the Indiana Dunes. Conservation became the preferred term for the more anthropocentric model of resource management, while the writing of Leopold and his inspiration, John Muir, led to the development of environmentalism.[citation needed]

Utilitarian based
Utilitarianism was first put forth by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Though there are many varieties of utilitarianism, generally it is the view that a morally right action is an action that produces the maximum good for people.[3] Utilitarianism has often been used when deciding how to use land and it is closely connected with an economic based ethic. For example, it forms the foundation for industrial farming; as an increase in yield, which would increase the number of people able to receive goods from farmed land, is judged from this view to be a good action or approach. In fact, a common argument in favor of industrial agriculture is this it is a good practice because it increases the benefits for humans; benefits such as food abundance and a drop in food prices. However, a utilitarian based land ethic is different from a purely economic one as it could be used to justify the limiting of a person's rights to make profit. For example, in the case of the farmer planting crops on a slope, if the runoff of soil into the community creek led to the damage of several neighbor's properties, then the good of the individual farmer would be overridden by the damage caused to his neighbors. Thus, while a utilitarian based land ethic can be used to support economic activity, it can also be used to challenge this activity.

Libertarian based
Another philosophical approach often used to guide actions when making (or not making) changes to the land is libertarianism. Roughly, libertarianism is the ethical view that agents own themselves and have particular moral rights including the right to acquire property.[4] In a looser sense, libertarianism is commonly identified with the belief that each individual person has a right to a maximum amount of freedom or liberty when this freedom does not interfere with other people's freedom. A well known libertarian theorist is John Hospers. For libertarians, property rights are natural rights. Thus, it would be acceptable for the above farmer to plant on a slope as long as this action does not limit the freedom of his or her neighbors.

In addition, it should be noted that this view is closely connected to utilitarianism. Libertarians often use utilitarian arguments to support their own arguments. For example, in 1968, Garrett Harden applied this philosophy to land issues when he argued that the only solution to the "Tragedy of the Commons" was to place soil and water resources into the hands of private citizens.[5] Harden then supplied utilitarian justifications to support his argument. However, you could argue that this possibly leaves a libertarian based land ethics open to the above critique lodged against economic based approaches. Even excepting this, the libertarian view has been challenged by the critique that people making self-interested decisions often cause large ecological disasters such as the Dust Bowl disaster.[6] Even so, libertarianism is a philosophical view commonly held within the United States and, especially, held by U.S. ranchers and farmers.

Egalitarian based
Egalitarian based land ethics are often developed as a response to libertarianism. This is because, while libertarianism ensures the maximum amount of human liberty, it does not require that people help others. In addition, it also leads to the uneven distribution of wealth. A well known egalitarian philosopher is John Rawls. When focusing on land use, what this translates into is its uneven distribution and the uneven distribution of the fruits of that land.[7] While both a utilitarian and libertarian based land ethic could conceivably rationalize this mal-distribution, an egalitarian approach typically favors equality whether that be equal entitlement to land and/or access to food.[8] However, there is also the question of negative rights when holding to an egalitarian based ethic. In other words, if you recognize that a person has a right to something, then someone has the responsibility to supply this opportunity or item; whether that be an individual person or the government. Thus, an egalitarian based land ethic could provide a strong argument for the preservation of soil fertility and water because it links land and water with the right to food, with the growth of human populations, and the decline of soil and water resources.[9]

Ecologically based
In addition to economic, utilitarian, libertarian, and egalitarian based land ethics, there are also land ethics based upon the principle that the land (and the organisms that live off the land) has intrinsic value. These ethics are, roughly, coming out of an ecological or systems view. This position was first put forth by Aldo Leopold in Sand County Almanac but two other examples include James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis which postulates that the Earth is an organism[10] and the deep ecology view which argues that human communities are built upon a foundation of the surrounding ecosystems or the biotic communities.[11] Similar to egalitarian based land ethics, the above land ethics were also developed as alternatives to utilitarian and libertarian based approaches. Leopold's ethic is currently one of the most popular ecological approaches. Other writers and theorists who hold this view include Wendell Berry (b. 1934), J. Baird Callicott, Paul B. Thompson, and Barbara Kingsolver.

Leopold's land ethic
Leopold argues that the next step in the evolution of ethics is the expansion of ethics to include nonhuman members of the biotic community,[12] collectively referred to as "the land." Leopold states the basic principle of his land ethic as, "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."

He also describes it in this way: "The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land...[A] land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such."

Ecologically based makes the most  sense to me... what is your opinion... why?   Monte Hines