HOME » Sustainability? What IS it?? » Sustainability includes....
Sustainability includes....
.... just trying to live within the means of our planet

Can humanity achieve sustainable civilisations that balance the supply of resources of Earth with our demands? The only way we can extend our supply or reuse many of them is with the additional energy input from the sun. Can we work effectively to achieve this essential goal
and also...

Light Switch: Dr Barry Manor, Sustainability Consultant, outlines some of the ways to achieve energy efficiency. One quick and easy way to save energy in the home is to convert lighting to the latest technology, LED lighting. Also known as solid state lighting, LED is a major advance in illumination. These lights are one of the reasons Australia’s energy use went down four or five years in a row. One advantage of upgrading lighting to LEDs is that they produce less waste heat, meaning less air conditioning power to keep your home comfortable. Saving energy is a win/win solution so it really is time to make a light switch.
Reversing resource debt....

A Bad Debt: Nick Radford, Director of Ecoliving Design, talks about what sustainability really means, referring to resource accounting and human hunter gatherer history. . Nick argues that humans evolved a few million years ago and were hunter gatherers until relatively recently – some 12,000 years ago in Jordan/ Syria and 3,000 - 4,000 years ago in Britain.  Hunter gatherers evolved in times of almost chronic scarcity. They are biologically driven to consume foods high in salts, sugars, fats, protein and calories, and any glut of such foods was short lived. Modern humans have not adjusted to the relatively recent abundance of food, and tend to over consume. Over consumption applies to all resources. The result is a steady, unsustainable depletion of soil, water flow and quality, forest cover, biodiversity, fisheries and increased pollution. Sustainability can be considered an accounting exercise where there is no net loss of resources over the lifetime of a system. As economic activity doesn’t properly account for environmental cost, then economic activity more or less equals environmental degradation and economic debt roughly equals environmental debt. The logical conclusion is extinction, demonstrated many times by past experience such as on Easter Island. There is no law of nature that says humans must live on earth, but plenty that say we will be evicted if we don’t behave.
Our Future is Now

The community is not really well informed about sustainability and the issue of climate change illustrates the problem. Professor Graham Pyke, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney, has worked for years with Professor Paul Ehrlich at Stanford University and created the website Sustainability Central. Professor Pyke has just published online a paper that gets to the nub of this concept. Sustainability is doing things today in such a way that future generations can continue doing them as well as we are doing them now. The health of the planet affects the health of all of us so it is beneficial to promote sustainability.
Regenerative Agriculture: growth industry

Nick Radford, Director of Ecoliving Design, digs into regenerative agriculture. Agriculture is defined here as deliberate growing of human food in any sized growing space, including farms, market gardens, community gardens, home gardens and urban terraces. Organic matter content of soil is a crucial measure of fertility and a soil that drops to 2-3% organic matter is no longer viable for agriculture. Regenerative refers to an increase in soil organic matter. This can only be achieved by increasing vegetation cover on site. Nick Radford discusses two concepts in regenerative agriculture. The first is what sort of agriculture would you like to spend time lying around in?  The second is to learn specific lessons and techniques that can be applied to our constructed, manipulated edible ecosystem. If you live in an urban area and want to make a start, try a kitchen garden of a few square metres. Fill it with closely spaced greens and herbs in a thick mulch. Much of the crop, like lettuce, spinach, garlic chives, capsicum, cherry tomato is plucked daily rather than harvested annually. Vertical space can be exploited by using trellis at the edges supporting beans, tomato, peas, cucumber. Perennial greens (spinach, Sorrel) can be grown around shady paths and leaky downpipes. Warrigal greens can be grown in tough conditions in deep woodchip mulch.
The long shadow of the livestock industry

Professor Graeme Martin, from the University of Western Australia’s Institute of Agriculture, looks at the issues associated with the global livestock industry. In 2006, the United Nations FAO published a document called Livestock's Long Shadow about the environmental issues associated with ruminant livestock. It was a serious wake-up call reminding us that ruminants in particular produce 15% of total greenhouse gas emissions (in carbon dioxide equivalents). Ruminants are also responsible for large amounts of erosion, sedimentation of waterways, pesticide and antibiotic use, as well nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. However, there will be 50% more people on the planet by 2050, accompanied by increasing urbanisation of agricultural land and increasing demand for animal protein as the middle class expands. Can ruminant industries help us feed the world without destroying the planet? Professor Graeme Martin looks at the seven major issues we need to deal with that are associated with the global livestock industry and discusses why he is optimistic about the future. Such a stock exchange would be good for the planet.
Drought proofing

Farm drought proofing: Peter Andrews vs Keyline vs Permaculture There’s plenty of talk about drought lately but is anyone in the media talking about Peter Andrews, Keyline or Permaculture? They should be, because these are all proven approaches to drought proofing farms.  Peter Andrews has been the subject of documentaries on ABC TV Australian Story, author of the book “Back from the Brink” and a controversial figure in Australian farming. One example is the way he rehabilitated a dry gully into a thriving watercourse at a horse breeding farm in the upper Hunter Valley.

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