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Gail Tverberg: The “wind and solar will save us” delusion

Somehow, most people seem to believe that our economy of 7.5 billion people can get along with a very short list of energy supplies. Given climate change, this short list cannot include fossil fuels, but we believe Wind and Solar can save us. Unfortunately, a transition to such alternative fuels can’t really work. Here’s why.

New study says solar panels have repaid their fossil fuel debt

Phys.org reports: The climate friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday. Indeed, by some calculations, the so-called “break-even point” between dirty energy input and clean output may already have arrived, researchers in the Netherlands reported.

Mushrooms can save the world (and put Monsanto out of business)

EcoSnippets reports: According to Paul Stamets, one of the world’s leading mycologists, his patented ‘smart pesticides’ can provide a safe and nearly permanent solution for controlling over 200,000 species of insects – and all thanks to the ‘magic’ of mushrooms. In fact, pesticide industry executives have called it “the most disruptive technology we have ever witnessed.”

Is renewable energy really environmentally friendly?

Robin Delobel writes: The issue is rarely raised, but renewable energies have a heavy environmental impact when the total production chain and overall product life-cycle is taken into account– particularly, the stage of mining the metals needed in their production. In addition, chemical products used in the mining operations often lead to severe long-term pollution.

India’s organic rice revolution proves GMOs are unnecessary

Whitney Webb reports: Farmers in India’s poorest region are recording record rice yields by growing organically, debunking once and for all the myth that GMOs are necessary to feed the world’s growing population… In Bihar, Sumant Kumar and his family produced an astounding 22.4 tons of rice on only one hectare of land, in 2013.

India can lead the world in solving ‘problems without borders’

Navi Radjou writes: My thesis is that powerful centripetal forces are gaining great momentum and are about to usher in the Age of Convergence. This epochal shift provides India a once-in-a-millennium opportunity to assume global leadership in co-creating innovative solutions to tackle socio-economic challenges that will severely afflict the whole of humanity in coming decades.

Call for donors: Clean ocean energy project in Udupi, India

Developed by Dr. Ashok Kundapur, this project seeks to harness energy from the ocean to generate clean electric power all round the year at over 80% of installed capacity, way better than any conventional power plant burning coal or Uranium. He is seeking funds to develop a fully functional prototype, through the Milaap crowdfunding platform.

In the world’s biggest city, the past offers lessons for surviving the future

At the beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868), Japan faced ecological collapse from deforestation, erosion and watershed damage. New conservation practices were introduced in response to this crisis which brought about a sustainable interaction between nature and humans. Current anxieties about the state of the world are today driving renewed interest in the Edo experience.

Video: Interview with Open Source Ecology pioneer Marcin Jakubowski

Marcin Jakubowski is one of those crazy people who has been trying to open source a civilization starter kit from the ground up. Here he talks of why he considers himself farmer-scientist and open source ecologist; scarcity; distribution and post-scarcity; the definition, goals of open source ecology; the civilization starter kit of 50 irreplaceable machines.

Video: This wind turbine costs as much as an iPhone, powers an entire house

Avant Garde Innovations, founded by siblings Arun and Anoop George from Kerala, has come up with a low-cost wind turbine that can generate enough electricity to power an entire house for a lifetime. The size of a ceiling fan, this wind turbine can generate 5 kWh/kW per day— with just a one-time cost of US$750.

How to achieve sustainable clean water for everyone

Perhaps it’s time to reconsider the one-size-fits-all approach of centralised infrastructure and instead pursue a suite of solutions tailored to local needs. Could it be possible to have water systems that have no adverse impact on the environment? Such a transformation will require new technology but also new ways for people to interact with water.

How viable (and sustainable) are solar PV systems? A debate

Post the Paris climate agreement, the world looks to solar energy more than ever to reduce carbon emissions and counter climate change, with multi-billion dollar solar programmes announced by just about every major country. But just how efficient,  and environmentally sustainable is the celebrated solar photovoltaic technology? Here’s what some leading voices have to say.

Series: Combating drought – 3: Traditional methods to the rescue

India is reeling under a back-to-back drought, with 10 states declared affected and nearly 2,00,000 villages affected,  and shredding the social fabric in affected areas. In this concluding part of our series on combating drought, we present examples where traditional methods for water harvesting have been successfully put to use by communities to drought-proof themselves.

Series: Combating drought – 2: Success stories

As India reels under a back-to-back drought, with 10 states declared affected and nearly 2,00,000 villages affected, it’s time to ask whether the present situation could’ve been avoided. And yet, here are examples from across India where, armed with little more than determination and imagination, ordinary people have turned things around to create little oases.

SPICE: The world’s first solar farming cooperative

The Indian Express reports: Last week, a Solar Pump Irrigators’ Cooperative Enterprise (SPICE) was up and running in Dhundi, a village in Gujarat’s Anand district. Members of this cooperative —the first of its kind in the world— are using solar power not only to run pumps, but also sell their surplus energy to the grid.

What Gandhi can teach us about sustainability

Vaidehi Daptardar writes: Though not a structured model, Gandhi’s concept of trusteeship envisioned every member of society as the trustee of wealth generated out of the collective efforts of all. He expected that trusteeship will result in non-violent and non-exploitative socio-economic relations and development models based on production systems centred around the preservation of nature.

Four critical voices on India’s perennial drought problem

Many parts of India is in the grip of severe drought, some for the third consecutive year, leading to growing hunger, mass migration, water conflicts and farmer suicides. We present four well-known voices – Yogendra Yadav, Jean Dreze, Sunita Narain and the late Anil Agarwal –  on India’s perennial drought problem, its causes and possible solutions.

Special: Ringing Cedars and the new, silent revolution in Russia

The Ringing Cedars of Russia series of books have sold over ten million copies in Russia, and has inspired a massive movement in earth consciousness there. Its part of a new, silent revolution in Russia, where more and more people are leaving the cities to live closer to nature. Interestingly, the Russian government actively supports it.

Video & Report: How renewable energy is already taking over the world

Juan Cole writes: In 2015 energy companies invested more in new renewables power plants than in fossil fuel plants for the first time in history. The majority of these plants were planned for developing countries, a sign that the technology is now viewed as less expensive. It is clear there is a secular trend upwards.

How WeFarm connects small farmers without the Internet

Pierce Nahigyan reports: Founded in 2014, WeFarm is a free, peer-to-peer service designed for farmers around the world. It enables farmers to share information with each other via SMS, or text messaging. WeFarm translates and connects queries from continent to continent, and has thus far provided more than 100,000 answers to its 43,000 registered farmers.

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