Monday, 20 June 2011

How to make everything yourself - online low-tech resources

Make everything yourself illustration

Originally posted on the superb Low Tech Magazine© Kris De Decker
Energy Bulletin pointed us to the website of Practical Action (previously known as the Schumacher Centre for Technology & Development), an online resource devoted to low-technology solutions for developing countries. The site hosts many manuals that can also be of interest for low-tech DIYers in the developed world. They cover energy, agriculture, food processing, construction and manufacturing, just to name some important categories. 

Image souce:

We would like to add to this the impressive online library put together by software engineer Alex Weir. The 900 documents listed here (13 gigabytes in total) are not as well organised and presented as those of Practical Action, but there is a wealth of information that is not found anywhere else. The library is also hosted here (without search engine).

Image souce:

Other interesting online resources that offer manuals and instructions are Appropedia, Howtopedia and Open Source Ecology. These are all wiki's, so you can cooperate. The Centre for Alternative technologies has many interesting manuals, too, but the majority of those are not for free.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

What the world is worth

I came across this phenomenal and inspiring talk by Pavan Sukhdev, speaking at Centre for Policy Development, hosted at Sydney Opera House. The video is available online at vimeo.

Although a long video - 40 minutes talk by Pavan, followed by 25 minutes of discussion - it is by far the most powerful critical discussion I have seen or heard in a long time. If nothing else, make time to watch this, its a life changing experience!

Information from the vimeo site:
Environmental damage is already costing us trillions a year, according to Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Green Economy Initiative. Sukhdev applies numbers to things that nature does for free - like purifying drinking water, supplying food and fuel, protecting coasts from storms, and generally keeping humans alive and healthy.

The cost of the global financial crisis stunned the world, with an estimated $862 billion in direct government bailouts alone. After years of running down our natural capital, are we getting close to an environmental version of the credit crunch?

Climate change has been grabbing most of the headlines in recent years, but we are now up against many environmental limits at once. Sukhdev looks at what this tells us about the limitations of our economic system and how it needs to change. The pioneering economist (who also works for Deutsche Bank) describes what the global economy would look like with nature on the balance sheet - and what that means for Australia.

His talk was presented by the Centre for Policy Development at the Sydney Opera House. Afterwards, Pavan Sukhdev joined a panel consisting of leading business people, climate change advocates and scientists.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Mislabeling of Fish

In a recent New York Times article, scientists aiming their gene sequencers at commercial seafood are discovering rampant labeling fraud in supermarket coolers and restaurant tables: cheap fish is often substituted for expensive fillets, and overfished species are passed off as fish whose numbers are plentiful.

Recent studies have found that seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time, disguising species that are less desirable, cheaper or more readily available - which means you could be feeding your family mislabeled, unsustainable fish.

We have the right to know where the fish we eat comes from, what kind it is, when and how it was caught and if it was farmed. With technology available today, we should be able to trace our meals from boat to plate. If companies are able to bypass honest and legal labelling laws, what else might they be fabricating?

The FDA has the power to enforce better labeling, increase inspections, and improve seafood safety. To help stop this loophole follow this link and tell the FDA that you only want safe, legal and honestly labeled seafood on your plate.