Category Archives: 7 Holonics and LOHAS

Drinking cow poo! Or not? Cleaning Up after Big Ag

Here’s the essay of the week from OCA.  It’s short and sweet and to the point.  The point is not so sweet – big food producers are breaking laws, poisoning consumers and getting away with it because of corrupted legislation and process …

Cleaning Up after Big Ag
Factory Farms Pollute Water

A “Cow Palace” in Washington State that threatens public health with its acres of untreated animal waste. A city in Iowa spending $1 million a year to keep illness-causing nitrates from farm runoff out of public drinking water.

And who can forget the plight of Toledo, Ohio, residents whose water last summer was so contaminated by farm runoff that they couldn’t even bathe in it, much less drink it?

For decades, America’s chemical-intensive, industrial farming operations have spewed nitrates and other toxic chemicals, animal waste, ammonia, antibiotics, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane gases into public air, waterways and communities.

How do they get away with it? Largely because lobbyists have seen to it that Big Ag is exempt from many of the rules and regulations that other industries, and even municipalities, are required to follow under laws such as the Clean Air Act (comments on exemptions here), the Clean Water Act (comments on exemptions here) and the Resource and Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA).

Concerned about the growing threat to public health, and tired of picking up the tab for cleaning up the mess, citizens and local and state governments are turning to the courts for help.

In some cases, they’re winning. But the real win will come when the conversation turns from mitigating pollution, to preventing it, by transitioning to pesticide-free, chemical-free, non-GMO organic regenerative agriculture.

Read the essay

Everyone leads in tomorrow’s world, because it’s natural.

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explains that in a flock of birds they take it in turns to lead, because

  • being in the lead is energy depleting and can not last long (look at how every US President goes grey in the job),
  • all birds in the flock learn to do that job.

Humans are moving in that direction by moving to “democratically elected” leaders who have limited terms, rather than hereditary monarchs, dictators etc, but we have far to go.  We have yet to realise that being in front is a responsibility which must be shared and works best when everyone understands the role and its responsibilities.

The role of leader must be recognised for what it is: a part of the system which requires certain behaviours and attributes and must eschew other behaviours.  In human systems, the leadership role is most effective when it is facilitating the operation of the whole, when it is a communication, arbitration, decision making role which compromises between competing demands.  It encourage cooperation in order to reduce risk and increase effectiveness.  Knowing you will lead makes you a better follower; knowing you will follow makes you a better leader.

Few “leaders”approach the role in this way because the cultural mindset remains rather feudal.  When the man at the top is replaced by a woman in the middle, the dynamic will have evolved.  In the meantime, look for an organisation with many leaders and try to work in a system organised as modular teams which adopt “six-hat thinking” dynamics.

BBC: Flock co-operation: Birds take it in turns to lead

Blooming flowers – a harbinger of doom.

According to textbooks there should be between 20  and 30 species in flower on new years day. This year there were 368 in bloom raising further questions about the effects of climate change during the UK’s warmest year on record.  Many of the flowers, like daisy and dandelion shouldn’t bloom for at least a couple of months yet.

While we don’t count blooming flowers, we’ve certainly had a mild winter here on the farm.  The grass was still growing in the first weeks of January and there are still petals on a few marigolds!  How can anyone, even an experienced farmer or gardener, count on the seasons when planning cultivation.  And how must nature feel when the environment they are programmed for is all topsy turvy.

Humanity needs to slow down and take a breath!

BBC: Unusual number of UK flowers bloom


1% own more than everyone else by next year: a decadent milestone in the implosion of civilisation.

 Oxfam research shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% last year.  Each adult on average has $2.7m.  On current trends the wealthiest 1% will own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.

Today the 80 richest people have the same wealth as the poorest 50%.  20% of people (including you – sorry!) own 94.5% of wealth.  The average wealth of the poorest 80% is only $3,851 (€ 3,320) per adult.

The wealth at the top is not just from hard work and prudent asset management.  That would at least be honest.  Much of it has been accrued through tax avoidance (even tax evasion), collusion, corruption and confiscation by force.  It’s not just the wealthy that cheat – many people game the system and take housing and unemployment benefit while having jobs – though of course they are not the bulk of the problem.  And overall, humanity has taken too much from nature.

The imbalance will not last.  The longer it takes for fairness (not equality) to dominate our systems, the more likely that rebalancing of wealth will occur by violent revolution, destroying much of the wealth, rather than humane evolution which might preserve wealth.

Systems are clearly breaking down.  Economic systems remain confusing and stagnant despite at least 6 years of patching.  Employment opportunities are shrinking as technology continues to automate production from food, to cars to banking.  Everyday there is another report of environmental disintegration, whether from climate volatility, species loss, or water shortage.  And people are not any more fulfilled.

System change is still possible and increasingly urgent.  Everyone can make a difference by choosing how they invest and spend their money.  But those at the top must lead change or expect to be swept away in violence as society disintegrates in the coming decades.  This is becoming more certain.  The Limits to Growth have been passed.

BBC: Richest 1% to own more than rest of world, Oxfam says

Astraea: Data shows global growth now past tipping point. Global collapse occurring. Whole systems change imperative.

Wikipedia: Limits To Growth

DMI: A Synopsis: Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update

Club of Rome: Limits To Growth


Yes Pope Frank, we can mock faiths

This is straight from David Webb.  No need for editing. I think Pope Frank is awesome and has ignited a sense of hope for the church, but, sadly, on this point he must reevaluate his position.  There might be an appropriate and an inappropriate channel or audience, but without other cause, mockery is no reason for violence.  Who was it that said “turn the other cheek”?

David is right.  There will never be peace if opinions become illegal and cause for murder.

Pope Francis says its OK to punch someone who insults his mother, and we cannot make fun of faith. No, it’s not. No insult justifies an assault, whether it’s an insult against you, your mother or Muhammad, and whether it is a punch, a massacre or a state-sponsored flogging. Laws against blasphemy, insult and mockery have no place in an open society and incentivise intolerance of free speech. (17-Jan-2015)

Webb-site Reports

Yes Pope Frank, we can mock faiths

If you are offended by criticism of religion, or of your religion, then either close your browser now or be duly warned, because we are going to exercise more freedom of speech than you might like.

Pope Francis (the professional name of Jorge Mario Bergoglio) has been buzzing around Asia this week on a promotional tour for his organisation, the Catholic Church. In between visiting franchises in Indonesia and the Philippines, Pope Frank chatted with reporters on the plane. In the context of the recent massacre of the staff of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and of the police who were protecting them, a reporter asked his Chiefiness:

“yesterday at mass you spoke about religious freedom as a fundamental human right. But in the respect for the different religions, up to what point can one go in freedom of expression? That too is a fundamental human right.”

To which he pontificated in part:

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“The Facts” about sustainability, the environment and your future.

Below are the facts stated in the film Cowspiracy and their references.  Which ever side you’re on it’s good to know them.   For example, one takeaway from the ideas presented is that we can resolve environmental problems, reform economic systems and still keep our cars, if we change our diet.  If you take that with a pinch of salt (ha ha) it actually sounds quite interesting.  Anyway that’s a conversation for another day.  Here are the facts:

Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all transportation combined. [i] Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment.

Transportation is responsible for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector primarily involve fossil fuels burned for road, rail, air, and marine transportation.

Environmental Protection Agency. “Global Emissions.”

Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

Goodland, R Anhang, J. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?”

WorldWatch, November/December 2009. Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC, USA. Pp. 10–19.

Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2.

“Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions.” Science Magazine.

Methane has a global warming power 86 times that of CO2.

NASA. “Methane: Its Role as a Greenhouse Gas.” Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Life lessons, … well, some things to think about.

Paul Howard’s 44 life lessons (shared by Pat Macmahon – thanks Pat!):

1 Life is like a toilet roll. The closer you get to the end, the faster it seems to disappear.

2 “I don’t know” is the most underrated sentence in the English language.

3 If you can’t dance by the age of 18, you’re probably never going to be able to dance.

4 You can’t make people be who you want them to be. If you don’t like the way they are, then you’re probably with the wrong people.

5 In January 1962, Decca Records turned down the Beatles in favour of Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. That is all anyone needs to know about rejection.

6 The social contract between humans and dogs might be the best bit of business we have ever done.

7 Securitisation means the exact opposite of how it sounds.

8 Most of us find the middle of the road in the end. Mike Tyson is a vegan. Mick Jagger is doing pilates. What makes you think you’re going to be different?

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Common Sense now printed locally, helping us drop the price.

While researching a way to bind hard copies of Common Sense, our local office supplier, Jones Business Systems, gave us a helpful tip by telling us about a family run printer in the middle of Kilkenny countryside.  Patrick Brennan of Digital Outputs was able to print the second run within our meagre budget allowing us to drop the price a bit.

The paperback looks great and is a nice size.  The e-version remains attractive if you have a 10-inch tablet, like the links and want to save paper, but the paper-back is proving popular too.

Locally, you can buy the book at Alive and Well Health Shop in Carlow Shopping Centre or order a copy for collection at our offices at Ballin Temple.

Thanks to everyone who’s bought a copy so far.

COP out? Yes! Sadly as expected, but what else could happen …

The 20th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty ran over by a couple of days as delegates from over 190 countries “negotiated” the language of resolutions to control carbon emissions.  Rich countries don’t want to pay for past emissions; emerging economies don’t want their opportunity for the luxuries enjoyed by rich countries to  be jeopardised.  The consensus was that results were unsatisfactory.

The confrontational nature of discussions means they will not develop new systems that save humanity from growing environmental pressure and related economic problems.  No viable solution can be found until everyone recognises the common goals which are underpinned by the interconnectedness of people to planet and its biosphere.

Can you do anything?  Yes!  It never seems to be enough but taking a step in the right direction does make a difference.  Changing consumption habits and changing what you say to your friends is what changes culture and behaviour of a population.  Every little bit you do to make a difference, DOES make a difference.  The more people that take a step in the right direction, the sooner we’ll have more attractive options than environmental implosion, economic volatility and social violence.

So even if they don’t “cop on”, we can all make a change for good.

At a recent book signing for Common Sense, I was asked questions about what can be done.  The consensus was to cut back on beef consumption because it’s simple and has a huge impact.  Once you’ve done that it’s easier to cut back on other gratuitous consumption like packaging, cosmetics, detergents, and travel and easier to spend more time with friends and family.  Enjoy them and the planet while you can.  :-)

What we need to do if we’re to have a future.

Future Earth, a global initiative bringing together scientists across different disciplines, has launched its strategy to identify key priorities for sustainability.  The eight objectives are:

  • Deliver water, energy and food for all
  • Decarbonise socio-economic systems
  • Safeguard the terrestrial, freshwater and marine natural assets
  • Building healthy, resilient and productive cities
  • Promote sustainable rural futures
  • Improve human health
  • Encourage sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Increase social resilience to future threats

It is an attempt to help coordinate policy with science.  It has taken over 30 years since the Bruntland Commission release the report Our Common Future.

We need to move much more quickly at the personal level if we’re to avoid growing serious problems.

BBC: ‘Future Earth’ platform outlines global change strategy