Gabbard endorses Sanders

SUBHEAD: Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard quits Democratic National Committee and endorses Bernie Sanders.

By Michael Tsai on 28 February 2016 for the Star Advertiser -

Image above: Still frame of Tulsi Gabbard after resigning from DNC and endorsing Bernie Sanders for president. From video below.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard resigned her post as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee today, allowing her to formally endorse Bernie Sanders for president.

Gabbard made the announcement on the NBC political talk show “Meet the Press.”

“As a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, I’m required to remain neutral in Democratic primaries, but I cannot remain neutral any longer,” Gabbard later explained in a video statement. “The stakes are just too high.”

Gabbard cited her experience as a veteran of two military deployments in arguing that Sanders has the judgment necessary to make sound military decisions.

“We need a commander in chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment, and who understands the need for a robust foreign policy which defends the safety and security of the American people and who will not waste precious lives and money on interventionist wars of regime change,” Gabbard said. “Such counterproductive wars undermine our national security and economic prosperity.”

Gabbard’s statements were as much an indictment of Democratic front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as an endorsement of Sanders, a senator from Vermont.

In fact, Gabbard’s announcement coincided with the publication of a New York Times investigative series focusing on Clinton’s involvement in the 2011 military intervention in Libya, an action that led to the toppling of leader Muammar Gaddafi and the continued destabilization of the country.
Gabbard said this evening the timing of her announcement was a “complete coincidence” with respect to the Times stories.

However, she noted that Clinton’s advocacy for military intervention in Libya was further example of the former secretary of state’s flawed judgment in matters of international crisis.

“You can tell what a person will do in the future based on what they’ve done in the past,” Gabbard stated in an email to the Star-Advertiser. “Hillary Clinton was not only the leading Democratic voice for the war in Iraq, she was the head cheerleader and architect of the war to overthrow the Libyan government of Gaddafi which has resulted in chaos, a failed state, and a stronghold for ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

Hillary was and continues to be the loudest voice for the disastrous war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad.

“These wars of regime change have cost trillions of dollars, thousands of American lives, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, women, and men in the Middle East,” Gabbard continued. “And Al-Qaeda and ISIS are stronger than ever.”

Gabbard reiterated her belief that Sanders would have avoided such costly decisions.

“This is precisely why we need a Commander in Chief who has sound judgment and foresight — the ability to look ahead to the potential consequences of our actions before we take those actions,” Gabbard said. “How might other actors in the region react to our actions? What will we then do in response?

And you continue to look down the line soyou can anticipate any unintended consequences and base a decision on that foresight. This is what is called a military mindset — a mindset that is absolutely critical in a commander-in-chief.”

Shortly after Gabbard’s announcement on “Meet the Press,” the Sanders camp expressed appreciation on Sanders’ Twitter account: “As a veteran of the Iraq War, Rep.@TulsiGabbard understands the cost of war. I am honored to have her endorsement.”

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz accepted Gabbard’s resignation, stating, “The Democratic National Committee is grateful for her service. As one of the first female combat veterans to serve in Congress and the first American Samoan and Hindu member of Congress,

Congresswoman Gabbard is a role model who embodies theAmerican ideal that anyone can dream big and make a difference. She is also a colleague in Congress and a friend, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside her when our Party unites behind whoever emerges as our nominee.”

Gabbard and Wasserman Schultz were at apparent odds last October, when Gabbard claimed that she was disinvited from a Democratic presidential debate in Nevada after publicly arguing for a more extensive debate schedule.

Gabbard’s endorsement also represents a high-profile break with the local Democratic establishment, which has thrown its collective weight behind Clinton.

In fact, her announcement came just two hours before the official opening of the “Hillary for Hawaii” campaign office on North King Street, an event attended by former U.S.Sen. Daniel Akaka and former Hawaii Govs. George Ariyoshi, John Waihee and Ben Cayetano.

The rest of the Hawaii congressional delegation — U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono and Rep. Mark Takai — have already pledged their support to Clinton.

Video above: Tulsi Gabbard explains her decision to quit DNC. From (


America going full Whig

SUBHEAD: Perhaps it's America’s imperial moment, when party politics surrenders to the pre-tsunami undertow of events. 

By James Kunstler on 29 February 2016 for -

Image above: Movie poster for movie "2012" illustrating White House being struck by nuclear aircraft carrier USS John F Kennedy. From (

Hillary’s dumb riposte to Trump’s dumb slogan — make America great again! — was “…America never stopped being great.” I guess she’s been traveling around the strip-mall wastelands of Carolina failing to notice the carnage that lays upon this land like a mortal scrofula. America has been committing suicide by bad choices for decades.

We took the collateral winnings of World War II and poured it into a suburban sprawl alt-universe so depressing that our citizens are the most over-medicated people in the world. That alone might help to explain how Hillary and Trump lumber inevitably toward their respective nominations.

The cheering “folks” marshaled out in the Piggly Wiggly parking lots are so buzzed on Klonopin and Zoloft that they can’t tell how these two odious celebrities epitomize the very forces behind their pharmaceutically-masked despair.

A nation sunk in such falsity is sure to suffer life-threatening blowback and it looks like the first thing to go will be the life of the political parties. Both Democrats and Republicans have gone full Whig, riding into the 2016 election on the garbage barge of history.

Hillary went on hyper-gloat after last week’s South Carolina primary, where she stuffed her pander-bag with black votes reaped on empty promises to re-boot the Civil Rights era. It was painful to watch that get-me-outa-here smile stretched across her face as she hugged the last selfie-snapper and slouched toward the ordeal of Super-Tuesday.

I don’t care how many primary victories Trump racks up, the GOP poobahs will not support him going into the convention. They will crack the party up into warring factions before they let him hoist the gonfalon of Lincoln and the Gipper.

Be warned: plans are already afoot to shove Trump aside, to derail him with some scandal easily excavated from a life spent greasing other pols and playing ball with the mob-riddled construction industry in New York, Jersey, and Nevada.

Failing that, they’ll leave him with a gutted shell of the party apparatus and by-hook-or-crook get some other figure to make a well-funded run under a slightly altered banner: Paul Ryan, Bloomberg, Romney, just maybe Kasich.

The Koch brothers will organize the money mojo. Failing that, there is always the mysterious magic of the Deep State for winning friends and influencing history.

This is not to endorse the old Republican establishment, just saying that they are increasingly desperate to derail this monster of their own creation, and will go to institutionally suicidal lengths to get it done.

It will be more than another election cycle, if ever, before the right-of-center portion of the US political spectrum can realign itself into something resembling a party.

Or perhaps this is America’s true imperial moment, when all party politics surrenders to the pre-tsunami undertow of events.

None of the idiot network commentators or Wash-Po or NY Times columnists seem to notice that the global economy is sinking into a coma, and in so doing is igniting cluster-bombs of default through the financial system.

That so far insidious destruction should effloresce exactly around the time of the nominating conventions.

The tide will have visibly gone miles out just as Hillary mounts the podium like some bad joke of a national mommy and Trump sits fretting in his Cleveland hotel room wondering how his rococo dreams of glory turned into a shit sandwich from room service.

Yeats’s widening gyre is upon us.  The biggest surprise of all yet-to-come is that television will fail to explain it.

The second coming will not be the reappearance of the celebrity known as Jesus Christ, but rather of the event called the American Civil War.

CIA opposes Trump

SUBHEAD: Former intelligence officials say billionaire could face a veritable security rebellion if elected.

By Tyler Durden on 29 February 2016 for Zero Hedge -
Image above: Mash-up by Juan Wilson of Adolf Hitler riding in limousine in 1938 for meeting with Donald Trump. Click to embiggen. From (

Earlier today, we noted that America’s presumed candidate for the GOP nomination is busy retweeting Mussolini quotes.

That’s not necessarily a reflection of an explicit desire to move America towards fascism.

It’s not entirely clear that Donald Trump understands the movement he’s started. But America's entrenched political establishment is now scrambling to understand how to deal with the Trump juggernaut and it's not just politicians who are concerned.

Indeed, former intelligence officials now say the brazen billionaire could face a veritable security rebellion if he's elected.

“I would be incredibly concerned if a President Trump governed in a way that was consistent with the language that candidate Trump expressed during the campaign,” Former CIA director Michael Hayden said, in an interview with Bill Maher. Hayden also says that the armed forces would simply refuse to follow Trump's orders were he to be elected and follow through on his campaign promises.

Here's what Hayden had to say about Trump's promise to kill family members of ISIS: 
"God, no! Let me give you a punchline. If he were to order that once in government, the American armed forces would refuse to act.

You cannot—you are not committed, you are not required, in fact you’re required to not follow an unlawful order. That would be in violation of all the international laws of armed conflict. There would be a coup in this country."
Would Trump face a military coup or would Trump simply commandeer the military? You decide.

Hillary - Bride of Frankenfood?

SUBHEAD: How the Clinton State Department became the Global Marketing arm of Monsanto .

By David Murphy on 26 February in Food Democracy Now -

Image above: Hillary after winning all counties in the South Carolina primary. From (

[IB Editor's Note: The following is a letter from Food Democracy Now. However, our opinion is that you should not vote for Hillary, period. Telling her no more Monsanto money at this point is futile, considering the damning facts below.]

As Food Democracy Now! has previously reported, presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has some deep and troubling ties to Monsanto and the biotech industry. After digging further, we’ve found more alarming Monsanto connections between Hillary Clinton and how she used her position as head of the State Department to promote GMOs around the world and even abused her authority by having State Department officials threaten leaders of other nations for not wanting to approve GMO crops for sale in their country.

This is an outrage and something we must all consider, since right now a team of Monsanto lobbyists are already raising money for Hillary’s presidential campaign to put her back in the White House. What do you think they really want in return for raising all this money for her to become President?

Now is the time for Hillary to take a stand or lose the moral mandate to be President. Bernie Sanders has taken a strong stance in supporting mandatory GMO labeling, why won’t Hillary?

Tell Hillary Clinton it’s time to dump Monsanto and stand with the American people to Support Mandatory GMO labeling – and promise to keep Monsanto lobbyists out of her possible future administration! Every voice counts!

On top of this, in 2014, Hillary Clinton received a $325,000 “speaking fee” for giving the keynote address to the BIO International Convention in San Diego, California to coach industry lobbyists on how to overcome consumer fears over GMOs.

Clinton’s advice to the Monsanto biotech crowd in San Diego was so cringe-worthy that it earned her the nickname the “Bride of Frankenfood”among Iowa progressives and rural activists.

“A large faction of women voiced strong support for Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy until the GMO issue came up, prompting them to switch allegiances to Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, a liberal stalwart challenging her for the Democratic nomination.

“I was surprised, because these women were really pushing for Hillary until they found out about the Monsanto connection, and then they dropped her like a hot potato,” said James Berge, Democratic Party chairman for Worth County, Iowa.”

Rather than lecture the audience on the need for transparency and improved safety assessments, Clinton coached the audience of biotech devotees to develop "a better vocabulary" to change negative public perception about GMO agriculture:

“‘Genetically modified’ sounds Frankenstein-ish. ‘Drought-resistant’ sounds like something you’d want,” said Clinton. “Be more careful so you don’t raise that red flag immediately.”

Really Hillary? Why not be HONEST and ask the biotech industry to support mandatory GMO labeling since polls regularly show that more than 90% of the American public supports GMO labeling?

How Hillary’s State Department Became the Global-Marketing Arm of Monsanto

With no pledge to support mandatory GMO labeling from Hillary Clinton, right now all we have to assume for Hillary’s opinion on GMO labeling is her track record as Secretary of State and from the few reports out there, it doesn’t look good.

For example, on May 14, 2013, the New York Daily News reported that State Department officials under Hillary Clinton were actively using taxpayer money to promote Monsanto's controversial GMO seeds around the world.

Even worse, a batch of diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks showed that officials in Clinton’s State Department were actually intervening at Monsanto’s request to undermine legislation that might restrict sales of genetically engineered seeds.

Under Hillary, the U.S. State Department was so gung-ho to promote GMOs that Mother Jones writer Tom Philpott called it:

“the de facto global-marketing arm of the ag-biotech industry, complete with figures as high-ranking as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mouthing industry talking points as if they were gospel.”

According to multiple reports, it looks like the Clinton State Department may have really operated as Monsanto’s Foreign Ambassador Around the Globe.

Under Hillary Clinton the U.S. State Department promoted GMOs and Monsanto’s GMO Agenda around the globe by:
  • Directing embassies to "troubleshoot problematic legislation" that "might hinder biotech crop development".
  • Encouraging “the development and commercialization of ag-biotech products".
  • Producing pamphlets to promote biotech crops.
  • Sending pro-GMO DVDs to high school students in Hong Kong.
  • Flew foreign officials and media from 17 countries to the United States to promote GMO agriculture.

It doesn’t stop there and we may never know the depths to which State Department officials under Hillary’s direct command actually sank to promote Monsanto and GMOs in foreign countries.

According to one released cable from 2009, the embassy in Spain sought “high-level U.S. government intervention” at the “urgent request” of Monsanto to combat biotech crop “opponents”.

That's right, under Hillary's direction as Secretary of State, officials in the Clinton State Department targeted the actions of foreign activists at the request of Monsanto. And in at least 3 instances, the Clinton State Department fought national GMO labeling laws in Malaysia, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

If we really want to have a government that represents the will of the people, it’s time that our elected officials divorce themselves from being handmaidens to the ambitions of corporate lobbyists.

These are the tough questions that the mainstream media should be asking about, but they have either been bought or bullied into silence but for us, that’s just not acceptable.

We know from following this issue closely, that Hillary’s challenger Bernie Sanders has not been shy about supporting GMO labeling and he actively supports the GMO labeling bill that passed in his state of Vermont, so it's time that Hillary get on record about where she stands.

The problem is, the more we look, the more troubling information we find.

Regretfully, this is not the end of the story about Hillary’s close relationship with promoting Monsanto’s agenda around the world.

Tell Hillary to Dump Monsanto’s Money and Stand up for Mandatory GMO Labeling! We can’t afford another Monsanto-loving President in the White House. Every voice counts!

Thanks for participating in food democracy,

Dave Murphy
Food Democracy Action!

Find references in the original article at Food Democracy Now


Deep Winter Ruminations

SUBHEAD: On pretending that what’s happening to the Earth isn’t actually happening.

By Adrian Ayres Fisher on 26 February 2016 for Resilience -

Image above: Water color painting of "Unbelievable Winter Color" by Albert H. Krehbiel
on the Des Plaines River, 1928. In original article from (

In December I found myself sliding into a state of extreme unwillingness to take on new projects, to continue work on those in hand, to write, or do much of anything else, really, at work or at home.

I found myself prodded awake in the night by worries about global warming, the tides of war and migration, the ramifications of random, dismal environmental facts come upon during the course of a day’s work, or of social justice problems encountered in the news and on the streets of Chicago; about any of which I can do very little to help. There were too many meetings with environmental groups, and no time for walks.

I could not look at a tree without wondering how its species would fare in coming, climate disrupted years. I had reached a state of incipient burnout. 

Thus, for a few weeks--a month and more, actually--after the solstice, I went into a state of semi-retreat. I did this by allowing myself to hope that COP21 would help bend the climate curve, and by pretending that our ongoing environmental catastrophe, of which climate change, is, after all, only a pernicious, deadly symptom, isn’t happening.

I also attempted to pay less attention to the ever increasing spate of bad news, from war, to race relations, to migration, to the grim presidential race—and on and on and on, much of which is at least partly related to said catastrophe, with some industrial civilizational collapse, resource depletion and overpopulation thrown in.

I cooked and baked; had family over for meals; helped my mother with projects; visited with my children; went to a party; accompanied my husband to concerts that featured unamplified voices and acoustical instruments; saw friends; wandered through art exhibits; cleaned out a closet; finished one crochet project and started another; and read books whose vocabularies did not include the words “ecology,” “habitat”, or “ecosystem.”

I went so far as to go to a movie, watch a TV show, spend time on Facebook and make an effort to listen to people talk about football without wishing I were somewhere else.

Most of these things I’d do anyway, but the difference was that I determinedly wasn’t thinking about ecological collapse and the need for ecological restoration all the while earnestly pretending I was too busy to take a walk through the cold, leafless woodland savannah along the gelid Des Plaines river near my home.

In short, I made an effort—attitudinally, at least—to live what I imagine to be “normal” life: at least as an educated, white, fairly-comfortably-situated American might, and as many people I know seem actually to live.

So many are so deeply immersed in their private lives and, whether by press of circumstance or by willful turning away and emotional dissociation, manage to express concern but are too busy to do much about larger issues at hand, not to mention attempting to recognize and ameliorate their own complicity in same.

We Americans are very busy.

It couldn’t be a full retreat: my day job requires ongoing understanding of, engagement with, and action regarding environmental and sustainability issues ranging from climate change to ecology, from transportation to recycling, with some energy thrown in.

 My day-to-day lifestyle continues in semi-collapsed mode, as in John Michael Greer’s half ironic, half serious slogan “collapse now and avoid the rush.” Various family responsibilities (and finances) preclude my hying myself off to some Benedictine monastery, Zen-flavored spa in beautiful scenery, or rural artist’s retreat.

But I told myself the story that I could, for awhile, at least, stop paying attention to the matters that concern my relationship with those whom the Potawatomi language calls “the standing people” and all their friends and relations.

For a while, at any rate, I could turn away from concern with Gaia. I told myself that this would somehow make me feel better. I stayed indoors. Kept my walking confined to neighborhood sidewalks. It should have been very easy.

Everything about American life is geared towards this kind of pretense.

It’s so easy, when online, to choose to spend hours down the rabbit hole of surfing, shopping, reading feature articles about fashion, health, exercise, or what have you, not to mention politics.

It’s so easy to get obsessed with handbags or shoes or celebrities, watch sports on TV, movies on Netflix, so easy to get in the car and drive somewhere instead of taking public transit, walking or biking, easier still that it’s winter.

It’s so easy to buy packaged food, to imagine that organizing and decorating your house will transform your life—and give you more room to buy more things!

It's so easy to go out to eat, so easy to “be concerned” about the environment, but keep your own house warm enough to wear a short-sleeve t-shirt when it’s 10 degrees (F) outside, or fly, without thinking about it, somewhere for business or pleasure.

It’s so easy to separate one’s professional life—no matter how “do goody,” from one’s personal life of comfort and consumption. It’s so easy to live a life separate from the natural world and thus from its concerns.

Yeah, global warming is terrible, have you joined Amazon Prime?

(It is also incredibly easy to be judgmental about all of the above, as though one were not, oneself, present and participating in American culture, one way or another.)

To not do those easy things, to avoid falling into those easy habits takes a certain kind of discipline. In here somewhere also is a question of balance. How is one to balance family, work and calling?

How does one stay dedicated to one’s calling and still keep friendly relationships with family, friends and colleagues who mostly don’t think about trees, rivers or birds? Who mostly think, in fact, that paying attention, spending time outside at the expense of more practical matters is somehow self indulgent or evading responsibilities?

How does one do what one can do without burning out?

How does one carry out a spiritually and practically earthcentered way of life while living in an American and global culture—in which we all are embedded, willy-nilly, no matter how disengaged—dedicated to ignoring the true environmental costs of the ways in which it keeps itself going?

How much of one’s own “private” life does one sacrifice? How much do one person’s actions count, anyway? What constitutes private life?

How on earth does one keep up good relations with Gaia and the standing people?

I understand I can ask these questions because, as an employed member of the shrinking middle class in the US, on a global scale I am incredibly privileged. I can choose how high to turn up the heat, have enough nutritious food to eat and can go to sleep at night without worrying that my neighborhood will be lit up by gunfire and/or cratered by bombs.

There is enough water and it is more-or-less safe to drink. I can decide to pretend everything is ok and maintain the illusion pretty steadily. But for me, this pretense of living the good life doesn’t work.

Most available electronic entertainments and on-offer material appeasements to our craving—for what, exactly?— get tedious and do nothing to calm the underlying nature-and-environment-related, deep structural anxieties that I believe infect our culture like a disease, disturbing even the most willfully dense, even the richest and most powerful among us.

Besides the distractions of entertainment, there are other ways of displacing, rather than attending to this often unacknowledged anxiety; there are, for example, the high abstractions of ideology, and, regrettably often, the run-of-the-mill blaming of those of another religion, color, political party, nationality, or what have you for whatever social problems there are.

This is not to say that politics don't matter, that discrimination and poverty don’t need to be ameliorated, because obviously they do: societal injustice and inequality are terribly real; destructive things happen, terribly, in the name of one social worldview or another.

Rather it is to say that ideological thought often confuses an abstract model for the messy reality of complex systems, in its believers, at any rate, and often results in an effort to make the messy reality match the beautiful abstraction to often brutal results.

Ideologies thus become a distraction from, and symptom of, our separation from the natural world and, crucially, because of that separation, from the truly existential environmental problems that do already or soon will afflict us all.

Even more crucially, they can separate us from the possibility of developing regenerative ways of life.

From this perspective, one could even say that the most extreme and violent ideologies, religious or not, are fueled by the most extreme refusal to see what the real, actual problems are, much less grapple with them in constructive ways that would benefit people, other species, and the biosphere as a whole. There is no lack of examples, but no point in naming them.

I haven't yet worked out an answer to my own dilemmas and possibly never will. I have started to read natural history again and a few days ago spent time outdoors.

Alone, loafing about, as Thoreau or Whitman might put it, though never out of earshot of traffic noise. In the morning light early groups of sandhill cranes made their way north in that raggedy, glittering way they have.

Later, two red tailed hawks circled over woods and fields in ever widening, ascending spirals. A chickadee called. I ate lunch sitting on a log in a sunny space. I walked along a muddy path, collecting dark goo on my boots, appreciating the soft, non-concrete feel of it. Sunlight shone on the smooth ripples and white-capped riffles of a noisy creek littered with boulders left by the last glacier.

The bare trees were every imaginable, glowing shade of brown. Flat, shelflike fungi gleamed on fallen, crumbling logs. Two cardinals sat on a branch overhanging the water, watching me approach for a while before deciding to change trees. Unseen woodpeckers announced the news that a human was in the vicinity.

Before returning home, I picked up a couple of spherical seed clusters from beneath a sycamore tree and a few clean, white and black mussel shells from a miniature sand spit. The shells will stay in my jacket pocket for awhile, as reminders.

Some time this spring I expect I’ll be watching a clutch of baby sycamores unfurl their new leaves in a nursery flat. I’m looking forward to it.


Planet Kaauai

SUBHEAD: Stop living on  Kaauai on planet Eaarth. The future's better on  Kauai on Earth.

By Juan Wilson on 26 February 2016 for Island Breath -

Image above: ATV tour on one of Grove Farm's Kipu Ranch trails on Kauai. Detail scanned from magazine cover mentioned below.

According to, an online Hawaiian language dictionary an interpretation of "kaa" translates as "car" and "uai" can mean "to move from place to place".

While at Salt Pond Store in Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii I picked up the Spring 2016 issue of a glossy tourist magazine "101 Things To Do" on Kauai. In it were featured many ways (besides the requisite rental car) to travel by a variety of vehicles across the island's landscape -  tour-bus, helicopter, airplane, kayak, motorcycle, mo-ped,  zodiac boat, diesel powered catamaran, or all-terrain-vehicle.  Even riding an inflatable tube in a ditch or zip-lining require being shuttled in with an ATV.

The Analogy
Think of the island of Kauai as a the whole planet Earth. It is surrounded in a sea of blue sky and ocean that blend into one space. Kauai, like the Earth, is round, self contained with desert plains and verdant valleys. Like the Earth, Kauai is a very isolated oasis of living things that can support human beings.

Enter stage left Industrial Civilization.

The needs of human industrial civilization require growth, profit, debt, resources and energy. Those needs require an ever expanding system of consumption. When humans were fewer in number (let's say below a billion people) there was always another place to go and plunder using debt and energy to produce resources and growth.

Unfortunately, with over seven-billion people on Earth that is no longer possible. The Earth has met our requirements of dominion for a few thousand years. That time is over.  The Earth as we knew it is over . Bill McKibben renamed "Earth" as "Eaarth" in his 2010 book of the same title:
“The Earth has changed in profound ways, ways that have already taken us out of the sweet spot where humans so long thrived.  We’re every day less the oasis and more the desert.  The world hasn’t ended but the world as we knew it has – even if we don’t quite know it yet."  
I'll get back to the analogy of Kauai and Eaarth in a bit. But first...

Trading Civilization for Culture
At this point in human "civilization" it seems clear that there is no way out of the bind we find ourselves. The wheels came off the cart some time ago and we find ourselves pitch poling  down a long decline into oblivion. And that's the good part.

Wikipedia defines "civilization" as:
"A civilization is any complex society characterized by urban development, symbolic communication forms (typically, writing systems), and a perceived separation from and domination over the natural environment by a cultural elite."
Perhaps the only aspect I'd keep of "civilization" by this definition is "symbolic communication forms". That is, unless that restarts the whole Earth shattering industrial machinery down the tracks again.

We are past the point of no return on too many fronts to maintain what we thought were the niceties of the modern industrial state.

The "niceties" being such things as major universities, telecommunication systems, professional sports, interstate highways, intercontinental jet transportation and electrical grid availability 24/7/365.
In retrospect those "niceties" may seam less pleasant and more like the word's Latin root meaning; which was "ignorant" or later Middle English meaning of "foolishness".

To keep those "niceties" afloat has required the destruction of our planet's living membrane. The means by which this has been accomplished is taking from the future to fuel the present. A simple word to describe this process is "debt".  We have borrowed so much from the future that the future won't be there when we arrive.

How can we deal with this dilemma? First of all, we need to realize it's a dilemma. That is, the necessity to choose between either of two unfavorable alternatives.

One alternative is to continue along a track of minimal adjustments to our way of life with the hope that "cold fusion"; "green energy"; "climate modification"; "abiotic oil formation"; or "extra terrestrials" are going to save "OUR WAY OF LIFE". That's an unfavorable alternative because none of those rescues are going to happen.

The other alternative is to stop in our tracks and abandon those "niceties" (and many others) and live as indigenous people have done for thousands of years before "civilization".

That does not mean indigenous people did not produce culture. They were embedded in it in a way lost to us. They hand made every tool, bit of clothing, medicine potion and weapon that they used. They made up their own songs, poetry, legends.

We on the other hand are spoon fed everything we consume and utilize. We don't have a culture... civilization has us.

Kaauai the Planet
If we were to treat Kauai the island as a planet we would treat her much differently. We would have to live here very long.

If Kauai were a planet there would be no plane or boat traffic to the island. Trans-ocean transportation would constitute extraterrestrial commerce.

That would mean living within the bounds of the renewable resources on the island. As the masthead of Island Breath states:
Kauai is often called the "Garden Island". It is lush and fruitful - yet threatened. If this island cannot be self-sustaining there is little hope for the rest of this world.

We define sustainability as:
• Using nonrenewable resources no faster than they are recycled.
• Using renewable resources no faster than they are regrown.
• Restoring the variety and balance of living species.
• Enhancing the art and knowledge of human cultures.

Sustainability is not, however, a means for the continuing the status quo.
Kauai being a planet would imply that GROWTH as a goal for the human population, residential development,  consumer consumption,  commercial activity, military expansion and many other aspects of  "civilization as we know it" would have to be abandoned.

Kauai's government (as well as off island state and federal agencies) embrace growth as a foundation for planning our future. It's a form of suicide.

As an example, take the currently developed General Plan for Kauai (see Kauai Plan Disappoints). It continues a tradition of giving lip service to "going green", "sustainability", "the garden isle", "rural character" but in fact is a formula for continued suburbanization into the future.

Kauai the planet is about as far "developed" as it ever should be. If we are careful now we could make ourselves self-sufficient with local food and energy. Of course, we would need to discontinue population growth and relying the patronage of suburban sprawl, on tourism, big-ag pesticide companies or the military for handouts.

Start now to live on Planet Kauai. If we are successful we can return from Eaarth to Earth and avoid becoming Planet Kaauai.


Decolonizing with Permaculture

SUBHEAD: Using permaculture to decolonize America from ecocidal industrial big agriculture.

By Jesse Watson on 19 January 2016 for Midcoast Permaculture -
Image above: An example of a novel ecosystem with forest garden polycultures and a diversity of plants and flowers. From original article. Click to embiggen.

[Author's note: This article was originally printed in Permaculture Design Magazine (formerly Permaculture Activist) issue #98, Winter 2015.]

This article is meant as a primer on decolonization in a contemporary North American context, written specifically for permaculture designers, teachers, activists and gardeners. It is offered so that we may think critically and philosophically about “sustainability” and our role in our culture as designers of novel ecosystems.

In this article we will seek to answer the following questions: of What is decolonization? Why should permaculture designers care? What is my experience with this topic? We will attempt to make a clear critique of settler colonialism here in industrialized North America, and demonstrate how we can simultaneously be both victims and perpetuators of settler colonialism.

As a bridge to the challenge of bringing a decolonization framework into permaculture practice and pedagogy, I would like to start by mapping those same questions onto permaculture itself.

As a quick thumbnail sketch, permaculture is an ecological approach to the design of whole systems. It is an ethically bounded framework of ecological design that can be used to design everything from landscapes and farms to business enterprises and other cultural projects, on nearly any scale.

On the surface, permaculture is often about designing eco-groovy, perennially edible landscapes, gardens and farms. On a deeper level, permaculture is about the conscious design of ecological cultures.

As a design process, permaculture can be used to design both outer and inner landscapes, using observation as the preeminent tool for understanding.

We would do well to reflect on our role as ecosystem designers and designers of ecological culture, and to think of ourselves in our design and organizing work as “culture jammers.”[i] What then, are some responsibilities here (vis a vis EarthCare, PeopleCare, FutureCare)? How we behave and interact with our ecosystems matters.

The reason this matters is because the industrial systems we are embedded within and dependent upon are often deeply flawed and corrupt, in addition to being quite brittle.

Whether we turn our observational gaze to food systems, energy systems or economic and political systems, they are all overdue for a radical ecological revision. The interactions between climate change, energy peak and economic contraction mean that the stakes are very high.

Whether considering energy systems of production and distribution or agricultural systems of production and distribution, when we examine them critically we can see that these systems are brittle and capable of breakdowns at many pinch points.

And it isn’t even accurate to say merely that the economic-political system is flawed, because it seems more accurate to say that it is deeply corrupt.

Or perhaps it’s designed to function exactly as its functioning now: to keep the poor and disenfranchised firmly separated from the elites, and to maintain this oppressive distribution of power.

Permaculture is a process of understanding, analyzing and designing systems. By using this lens of understanding, you can look at these systems and choose your leverage points.

If you have access to land use, permaculture allows you to design perennial systems of regenerative food production that are much more resilient than annual-based agricultural systems of food production. Permaculture allows us to design productive loops of synergies between our technologically built environments and the surrounding ecologies within which we live.

Think of it as regenerative design that heals and repairs ecosystems while at the same time producing beneficial yields. Through this process of the design and management of ecosystems, we can regenerate ecological health by weaving patterns of beneficial relationships in ecosystems.

Permaculture gives us the ability to design resilient homesteads, farms, villages, towns and economies so that we have the ability to weather the storms that come our way, whether they are economic or ecological in nature.

More importantly, though, permaculture gives us the ability to heal and regenerate ecosystems through “right relationship” to all the other beings around us: plants, animals (including humans), wind, water, rocks, soils and so on.

I am a permaculture designer, gardener, activist and teacher. The body-mind this go-around happens to be in the form of a cis-male of northern European ancestry (from the British Isles and Scandinavia).

My ancestors came from cool temperate and cold northern climates. My family and I currently reside in occupied Penobscot territory, known as Midcoast Maine in the industrial nation-state known today as the United States (and this too, shall pass).

I come from a background of union activism, art and philosophy, direct-action environmentalism, public school education, and building trades. I’m living out a version of the “American Dream” with an eco-groovy veneer here on my one-acre permaculture demonstration site where we manage small scale agroforestry systems with poultry as integrated livestock.

My lineage of permaculture teachers includes Charles & Julia Yelton and Lisa Fernandes of the Resilience Hub. My lineage of earth skills teachers includes Mike Douglas and Mal Stevens of the Maine Primitive Skills School.

I maintain a permaculture design/build practice for residential and farm clients. I help to facilitate and teach Permaculture Design Certification courses (PDCs) here in Maine and sometimes in Boston, partnering with the Resilience Hub.

I serve the larger Northeast regional network by being an active participant on the board of PINE, the Permaculture Institute of the Northeast. My economic forms of production include designing, teaching, gardening and construction trades (carpentry, painting).

I am here to learn how to be of better service to all people. I’m here to help make the world a more just and sustainable place for my daughter and all the other children in the world, those alive today as well as those of future generations. I’m here to learn how to be a good ancestor. I’m also here because I dream of a world free of the industrial nation-state.

I see an agenda of decolonization coupled with land use based on permaculture design as a positive way forward toward a time of greater ecological and social health, in which we may rediscover how to live in right relationship to a place while simultaneously repairing and healing historic crimes against humanity.

I became aware of the topic of decolonization a year ago. It was a topic whose initial catalyst came from Rafter Sass Ferguson’s article, ”Critical Questions, Early Answers,” which is an overview of the permaculture movement.[ii]

In this article he interprets the racial homogeneity of the permaculture movement as a vulnerability. He suggests that the response to this weakness should not be one of recruitment or tokenism, but rather requires some deeper reflection on how we can be relevant to communities of color.

While it’s a challenge, it’s also a tremendous opportunity. It’s also important to remember that no group of people is monolithic, whether we are talking about the permaculture movement, people of color, or Native American peoples.

As I reflected on how I could be relevant to communities of color close to where I am located in rural Maine (which is mostly white), I started thinking about making bridges with Native American communities to the north.

As I ruminated on the difference between recruitment, green missionary work, and relevance, I also started to ask how I could use my privilege and agency (as a white cis-male) to be an ally to marginalized Native communities.

I reached out to my close friends and eventually we found an article titled “Decolonization is not a metaphor”.[iii]

In a literal and legal sense, decolonization “brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life.”[iv] It is important to note here that Native American peoples are not mythical relics of the precolonial or pre-Columbian Americas. They are not extinct.

Native people continue to live and many continue to tend their council fires, which have been maintained for hundreds of continuous years. Many of them continue to resist the process of settler colonization and assimilation.

Decolonization is about upholding longstanding treaties, adherence to international law, and the return of genuine sovereignty and the administration of land use to First Nations peoples. Decolonization is about correcting past crimes committed by (mostly) European settlers by returning “stolen” land.[v] Ideally this process should be done without strings attached.

Questions of what happens to present settler peoples is secondary to the act of returning Native land to Native peoples. It is this facet of decolonization which strikes fear into the hearts of most settler peoples because it offers no firm guarantee of a settler futurity. In an ideal process here in North America, determining the future of settler people would be a separate process of negotiation between the newly repatriated indigenous governance structure and the settler peoples.

This concept is complicated by the fact that the ancestors of some settlers of color have been brought here against their will, in the slave trade or as indentured servants. This is known as the “tangled triad” of settler—native—settler of color.[vi]

And while settlers of color may experience systematic oppression at the hands of the currently designed economic-political system, they are also settler people and not members of the First Nations. And because of this they have a stake in the continuity of the colonial project.

How can we tend our own council fires in service to the community?

How can we expect to be designers of ecological culture if we don’t have a clear understanding of our past? How can we expect to design a regenerative legacy for our descendants if we haven’t yet made peace with the ancestors? If permaculture has as its ethical foundation Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share or Future Care, what do those words mean in this light, given the fact that people like me passively benefit from systematic forms of oppression and genocide that continue today?

In Edible Forest Gardens, Dave Jacke talked about the generative or degenerative potential that disturbance plays in ecosystem dynamics.  As a principle for ecosystem design and care he talked about “shifting the burden to the intervenor.”[vii]

So that when we decide to fall trees or sheet mulch so that we can plant forest gardens, the responsibility of managing the consequences of that disturbance falls to the gardener who intervened.  I consider this principle when recognizing how I passively benefit from the actions that my ancestors probably took to help construct this oppressive and exploitative system.  It informs how I think about what part I can play to heal historical traumas.

If “responsibility falls to the intervenor,” how does that affect contemporary land ownership for those who can afford it?  How should this principle inform the actions of ethical people who benefit from skin and gender privilege in general?  I don’t have any firm answers, but I know that asking these difficult questions causes an uneasy and unsettling feeling.

It seems the observation of the tension in considering these questions of land ownership/stewardship in light of this historical and contemporary inheritance is important.  If we genuinely care about the regeneration of ecosystems and culture, we should talk more openly about this tension of “owning” “stolen” land,[viii] especially when seeking relationships with contemporary Native peoples.

In another sense, a cultural sense, decolonization is about the process of removing colonizing thoughts from your own mind and colonizing behavior from your own lifeway. In this sense, there is broad overlap between movements for social justice and anti-racism. For me, it is a process of learning how I passively benefit from my racial and gender privilege. It is a process of unlearning racist and white supremacist ideas and behaviors, some of which I wasn’t consciously aware were in my head.

For me, it is a process of working through my grief over the crimes my ancestors may very well have committed. It is about learning what it means to be an ally, how to listen (especially when what I hear is emotionally challenging), and learning to give thanks always.

We have to decolonize our minds before we can decolonize Native North America. We have to remove the empire from our heads before we can remove the empire from any land base.

This matters because an injury to one is an injury to all. I know that sounds trite and cliche, but that’s because it’s a truism. The industrial nation-state is an omnicidal machine, and it eats everything. The industrial machine is genocidal because it kills off whole nations and peoples. This machine is ecocidal because it destroys mountaintops and water wells with fracking and coal mining.

Right now it doesn’t make a prominent habit of eating white cis-dudes because it’s busy making a habit of disenfranchising people of color, women, queer peoples and all those ‘others.’ But as these brittle industrial systems fall apart as a result of climate change or energy shortages, those ‘others’ can always be redefined to include me or you.

So “an injury to one is an injury to all” should be understood in light of Neimoller’s poem “First they came for the Socialists…”:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Decolonization matters because of mountaintop removal, water mining and fracking. If resource extraction or industrial infrastructure needs to happen, none of us are immune to being displaced.

If it’s under your house and the machine needs it, it cares not who you are. It will get those resources and eat you along with them, if need be. Think of decolonization as another form of enlightened self-interest.

Decolonization matters because it is the right thing to do in a moral sense. It gives the ethic of ‘People Care’ teeth. Ferguson points out that the mostly homogenous demographic makeup of the permaculture movement is a weakness. Recruitment is disingenuous. We need to be relevant.

Decolonization allows for a framework of relevance as long as we have the courage to heal our “White Fragility”[ix] and face the realities of a white supremacist economic-political system. And if we have privilege and agency within that unjust and atrocious system, we must commit to using that access to dismantle that system.

I submit that the framework of decolonization would also save permaculture from being one more happy-faced, green, eco-groovy front for the project of genocide. This framework would help us discern between solidarity projects and green-missionary projects, both here and abroad. This lack of discernment is a blind spot.

What good does it do to impose a forest garden somewhere if it isn’t a good cultural fit, or if the design process isn’t sufficiently inclusive? Such a project is nothing more than another form of imposition upon the locals by another foreign interest.

Some open questions I still have revolve around issues of permaculture and its relationship to colonization. To what extent is permaculture a product of a settler people? Permaculture certainly appears to have been assembled from toolkits from all over the world and throughout history.

And while that seems “progressive” or “cosmopolitan,” are there instances where design principles or techniques associated with permaculture were misappropriated from indigenous peoples without their permission?

To what extent is permaculture practiced as a form of “green missionary work” throughout the world?

While I get excited about the National Agroforestry Center looking into ‘Traditional Ecological Knowledge’ (TEK) with the interest of transitioning tillage-based agriculture to perennial agricultural systems, I can’t help but notice the potential for inadvertent colonial appropriation.[x]

In this case, settler peoples are studying and applying indigenous forms of land management, which can be positive as long as the tools and techniques are willingly shared by the indigenous peoples and not brashly stolen, like they have been so many other times throughout history.

Clearly we’re doing important work with permaculture, so I want to separate the baby from the bathwater. This critique is offered to make the evolution of our movement cleaner and more respectful of indigenous cultures, and to find a way to balance “Leaver and Taker”[xi] cultures, maybe even to unify them.

Once, during a presentation I said, “Permaculture allows us to remember how to be indigenous to a place.” It was a meme I had seen elsewhere, but I instantly felt skeevy after repeating it and vowed to never say it again. In the sense of some kinds of strict land management and home economics, it’s kind of true.

But I realized that saying that sentence, especially to a room full of (mostly) white people, has the effect of erasing the lived experience of contemporary indigenous North American people. The tragedy is that such thinking offers permaculturist white people the opportunity to replace those indigenes and complete the project of settler colonialism, without those permies realizing that they’re doing so.

We now approach a closely related topic that, while important, is big enough that it warrants a separate article. Though there isn’t enough space to properly tackle the subject in this article, it still warrants a brief mention here.

How do we remember that we are all indigenous to this planet, our Earth Mother, our Gaia? We all have indigenous ancestors, and they were once colonized too.

How can we translate and communicate that to members of our colonial culture who may have forgotten?

In light of Earth Care, People Care and Future Care, how can this be a valuable concept? (Think solidarity, being an ally, healing white fragility). How can it be a misappropriated concept? (Think of “Rainbow family”, New Age “Plastic Shamans”, and “pretindians”.)[xii] [xiii]

In my work regionally in the Northeast Permaculture network, one proposal that has emerged is that we consciously refrain from self-applying the term ‘indigenous’ if we are not actually indigenous to Native North or South America. So instead of making a statement like “Permaculture allows us to remember how to be indigenous to place,” we should choose other language.

The reason for this relates to a concept in the article “Decolonization is not a metaphor,” which the authors call “settler moves to innocence.” A move to innocence is a diversionary attempt by a settler person to absolve themself of the guilt of living on stolen land using some form of catharsis, without actually addressing the difficult societal structures involved.

So saying something like “Permaculture allows us to remember how to be indigenous to a place” makes a metaphor of indigeneity and thereby erases the lived experience of real peoples who are actually indigenous to Native America and who still resist the campaigns of genocide and expropriation of land and resources that continue to this day.

Instead we can deploy an alternate sentence, such as “Permaculture allows us to remember how to be in right relationship to place.” This phrase contains a subtle but profound difference, one that relinquishes the settler colonial replacement strategy.

Another proposal is that we should seek genuine and longstanding relationships with existing First Nations. We should ask how we can be relevant to their lives, and ask for permission and endorsement of our activities and events.

We should listen with humility when we are challenged over our privilege or unexamined racism. We need to be aware of white fragility if we start feeling defensive during racially charged conversations. We need to give thanks always.

During events like the regional Convergence, we might make an offering at the beginning to acknowledge who the indigenous peoples are who live/d on the land we are now occupying. And when we publicly use ceremonies or songs from other cultures, we must be absolutely clear exactly how we got permission to use those ceremonies or songs.

And finally, what does the decolonization of Native North America look like? How do we organize for that kind of vision or dream? How do we incorporate righting this egregious, unresolved, and ongoing historical crime into our culture jamming work?

How do you organize and convince White, Black and Yellow people into giving their land back to the Red Nations from which all this land was stolen?

As designers of “bioculturally diverse ecosystems,”[xiv] how can we accomplish our goals of cultural, ecological and economic sustainability without contributing to the erasure of indigenous people and their lived experiences?

These are a few thoughts I’m left with. I don’t have any answers, but I do care deeply about being a good neighbor and a good ancestor to my descendants. I am deeply grateful for the space to explore this important topic in these pages, and I am grateful to the other participants in this conversation for their help in unpacking these ideas and figuring out how to apply them to our permaculture organizing efforts. Onward to regeneration of healthy systems!

Special thanks to my dear friend Kiarna Boyd for holding me accountable to a high standard and compassionately aiding my evolution in this area. Special thanks also to gkisedtanamoogk (Wampanoag nation), Canupa Gluha Mani (Lakota nation), and Ana Oian Amets (Aquitainian proto-Basque ancestral recovery) for the same.

Jesse Watson is a permaculture designer, teacher and builder living and working in Midcoast Maine, occupied Penobscot territory.

He operates Midcoast Permaculture Design (, serving residential and farm clients. He helps facilitate PDCs with Lisa Fernandes of The Resilience Hub. Jesse helped organize the Northeast Permaculture Convergence as the principal logistics coordinator in 2010 and 2014. He now serves as president of the board of PINE, the Permaculture Institute of the Northeast.=


[i] “Culture jamming is an intriguing form of political communication that has emerged in response to the commercial isolation of public life. Practitioners of culture jamming argue that culture, politics, and social values have been bent by saturated commercial environments…Culture jamming presents a variety of interesting communication strategies that play with the branded images and icons of consumer culture to make consumers aware of surrounding problems and diverse cultural experiences that warrant their attention…Many culture jams are simply aimed at exposing questionable political assumptions behind commercial culture so that people can momentarily consider the branded environment in which they live.”

Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, “Culture Jamming and Meme-based Communication.”

[ii] Rafter Sass Ferguson, ”Critical Questions, Early Answers

[iii] Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, “Decolonization is not a metaphor,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1, no. 1 (2012) 1-40,

[v] I used quotes around “stolen” because many indigenous cultures reject the concept of land ownership familiar to European peoples. Nonetheless, to the degree that Native land use and sovereignty of their own cultural affairs has been removed by force, there is traction in the use of the word “stolen.”

[vi] Tuck and Yang, 2012.

[vii] Dave Jacke with Eric Toensmeier, Edible Forest Gardens, Volume 1, pg 20 (Chelsea Green, 2005).

[viii] See (5) above.

[ix] White fragility: “White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.”

Robin DiAngelo, “White Fragility,” The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy 3, no. 3 (2011): 54-70.

Robin DiAngelo, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism,” The Good Men Project, April 9, 2015:

[x] Colleen Rossier and Frank Lake, “Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Agroforestry,” Agroforestry Notes 44 (May 2014):

[xi] Daniel Quinn, Ishmael (Bantam/Turner, 1992) and Beyond Civilization (Harmony, 1999). The shorthand is that “Takers” are people of industrialized growth-based societies and “Leavers” are people of tribal, small-scale, village-based or nomadic societies.

[xii] Simon-Moya Smith, “Here Come the Hippies: Oglala Lakota Tell Rainbow Family to Behave in Sacred Black Hills,” Indian Country Today Media Network, June 23, 2015,

Wikipedia; Wikipedia’s “Plastic shaman” entry;

FreeFactFinder; FreeFactFinder’s “Pretindian” entry;

[xiii] Here are some more difficult questions: How is misappropriation different from the meme-swapping that happens when cultures naturally interact? To what spheres of human culture does misappropriation apply? How is cultural appropriation viewed from these different perspectives: culinary, linguistic, economic, technological, ethnobotanical, ceremonial, and magical? Which are tolerated, and which aren’t? How is the answer complicated when a colonial culture is dysfunctional in terms of its ethics, morals, worldview, meaning, and community values? If we want to remember a spiritual or mythic relationship to land base and ecosystems, how can reconstructionist and syncretic spi

[xiv] Rossier and Lake, 2014


Food sustainability is complex

SUBHEAD: Some say grazing livestock, and the high-quality food they produce should play a key role.

By Peter Mundy on 19 February 2016 for Sustainable Food Trust -

Image above: Photo of free range sheep from article "Steps to Sustainable Livestock", in Nature Magazine, 6 march 2014 - Volume 507. From (

[IB Publisher's note: Not all would agree that meat should play a major role in sustainable food production. Some would argue no meat is best. They might argue that this article is merely propaganda and public relations for the meat industry. But free-range herds of grass feeding ungulates were part of the natural world long before humans - and predators helped to keep those herds healthy. Early humankind evolved as hunter-gatherers. We eat local beef.  Here on Kauai grass fed beef is available in some supermarkets from Aakukui and Makaweli ranch (among others). Because we live on the south shore we shop for grass fed beef at Kukiula Store in Koloa, Medeiros Farms in Kalaheo, or Ishihara Store in Waimea.]

We face huge challenges in feeding the world sustainably. But one thing is certain: grazing ruminant livestock – and the high-quality food they produce – can and should play a key role.

With ongoing reports and media headlines about the negative impacts of livestock – particularly beef cattle – on the environment and our health, this might seem like an unscientific statement.

After all, livestock are now widely considered to be unsustainable.

So it might come as a surprise to know this support for grazing ruminants was one of the key conclusions from the first International Conference on Steps to Sustainable Livestock – a ground-breaking multi-disciplinary event involving leading scientists working to find solutions for global food security, hosted by the Global Farm Platform and;University of Bristol Cabot Institute in Bristol, on 12th-15th January, 2016.

Over the three-day conference, more than 50 scientists presented the stark realities of industrial livestock production and the challenges we face in feeding the world: the significant direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; the widespread erosion and degradation of soils; the localized environmental pollution from concentrated output of fecal waste; and the human health threats posed by widespread farm antibiotic abuse.

The list goes on.

With the ever-increasing demand for meat and livestock products from a rising global population, it’s easy to think that ending all forms of livestock production – and adopting a plant-based diet – is the only answer.

But it’s not.

We’ve said it many times before, but the scientific evidence presented at the Steps to Sustainable Livestock conference confirmed that grazing ruminant systems (in other words, managing cattle, sheep, goats and bison on pasture) can not only help feed the world sustainably, but also provide a number of important environmental and societal benefits.

Perhaps the most immediate take away from the Steps to Sustainable Livestock conference was that industrial grain-based livestock production is simply no longer justifiable – and may even be morally suspect.

With over 800 million people on this planet going to bed hungry, and more mouths to feed every day, there was a near unanimous agreement at the conference that governments urgently need to pursue a ‘food not feed’ strategy, reserving prime agricultural land for growing human food – not livestock feed.

Livestock currently consume around 70% of grains used by developed countries, and a staggering one-third (or 795 million tons) of all grain grown in the world, meaning that industrially raised grain fed animals are competing directly with hungry human beings for food. The very same concerns apply to the policy of using prime agricultural land to grow crops for biofuel.

Underpinning the Steps to Sustainable Livestock conference is the knowledge that ruminant animals have evolved the unique ability to convert high-cellulose plant materials (read grass and forage) that humans cannot eat into high quality meat and milk that we can, thereby allowing us to produce food from marginal land we could not otherwise use to grow crops.

But the benefits of grazing ruminants do not end at utilizing vast areas of marginal land to produce much-needed food.

Grazing livestock are also a vitally important source of high-quality, protein-rich and nutrient-dense food.

While no one can deny the excessive global consumption of industrially produced grainfed meat is simply unsustainable (not to mention bad for our health), researchers at the Steps to Sustainable Livestock conference praised the “extraordinary merits” of animal-sourced foods, arguing that modest quantities of high-quality pastured meat and dairy products (as part of a balanced diet) offer significant health benefits, providing a vital source of lean protein, healthy fats – such as omega-3s and CLAs – plus a smorgasbord of micro-nutrients essential for health, such as iron, magnesium and selenium.

Changes in animal food consumption patterns have already had notable health impacts, with one researcher suggesting that a diet lacking the key micro-nutrients found in plentiful supply in livestock products (and milk) is resulting in serious emerging health problems – even in high-income countries.

We learned that grazing livestock systems result in many environmental positives – from improved biodiversity (above and below the ground) to the role of well-managed pasture and grassland as carbon sinks. While it is true that grazing ruminants produce significant levels of methane, researchers at the Steps to Sustainable Livestock conference argued that we must stop comparing livestock systems on methane emissions alone.

Instead, we need to consider all GHG emissions and environmental impacts associated with all stages of any given production system – including the potential for well-managed grazed pasture to sequester significant levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

New research is already investigating the potential of alternative livestock diets to significantly reduce the amount of methane emitted, including new plant varieties and dietary supplements, while new livestock breeding strategies utilizing geonomics (not genetic engineering) can also aid the selection for positive methane emission traits.

Potential solutions are emerging fast but we urgently need more research and support to encourage adoption of such practices at the farm and policy level.

Reflecting the multi-disciplinary and holistic nature of the conference, we were also reminded that animal health and welfare is directly related to our future food security.

While welfare concerns might seem secondary to matters like maximizing animal productivity to feed a growing global population, researchers pointed out that healthy animals are productive animals and produce healthy, nutritious food.

Conversely, unhealthy animals are not only less productive (and inevitably require routine drugs like antibiotics to maintain productivity), but can present a real disease risk to humans – as we are now learning at great societal cost.

The quest for sustainable food production is highly complex and there will be no one-size-fits-all solution.

Indeed, the necessary solutions will inevitably be highly complex, multi-faceted and site-specific: it comes down not simply to what you eat, but fundamentally how it is farmed.

There is no single diet solution for everyone, and consuming nutritionally appropriate levels of pasture-raised livestock products as part of a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of sustainably produced vegetables and fruits is not just an acceptable option, it’s a vital one.

And while developed nations urgently need to reduce the production and consumption of unsustainable, low-welfare, intensively raised livestock products and highly processed foods (there’s a good chance many of us would feel a lot better for it), it is clear from current science that pasture-based livestock systems will not only continue to supply high-quality, nutritious food to global populations, but can help protect and enhance key ecosystem services and mitigate anthropocentric GHG emissions.

The International Conference on Steps to Sustainable Livestock marks a very important step towards sharing best practice on optimizing the sustainable use of livestock in many regions of the world, and challenging the industrial farming paradigm.

As an organization that supports sustainable livestock farmers, it was refreshing and reassuring to hear that leading scientists from across the world believe that sustainably managed livestock have an important role to play in feeding the world, and to know that AWA’s farm standards already represent among the most sustainable methods available.

Read the original collaborative article, published in Nature Journal in 2014, that spawned the Global Farm Platform – and subsequently the recent International Conference on Steps to Sustainable Livestock.


That's all I can stands!

SUBHEAD: In Dixville NH Kasich edged Trump on the Republican side 3 to 2, but Bernie crushed Hillary in a 4 to 0 landslide.

By Nelson LEbo III on 17 Novbember 2016 for the Automatic Earth -

Image above: Popeye the Sailor's quote(usually said just before he recovers from a beating by eating a can of spinach and beating Bluto was) "That's all I can stands! I can't stands no more!" From (

[Note by Automatic Earth publisher Raul Ilargi Meijer: A week after the New Hampshire Presidential Primaries, what lessons, if any, can we take from the dramatic victories of two outsider candidates? Former New Hampshire resident and occasional Automatic Earth contributor Nelson Lebo III weighs in.  Nelson writes below that “Trumpification is a clear and present danger” for writers like me “who rely on the best available data, statistics, facts”. But so far I find Trump mostly amusing, and an excellent indicator of what America has come to. And there’s little he can do to make representation of the facts in the media even worse than it is. Turns out, it didn’t take Trump to Trumpify the media. It might well be the other way around, that the Dumbification of the press paved the way for Da Donald. Here’s Nelson.]

While I’ve lived in New Zealand for eight years, most of my adult life has been spent in New Hampshire, USA – the Granite State – where the official motto is “Live Free or Die.” It’s on the license plate. You don’t get more Libertarian than that.

The state’s unofficial motto is “First in the Nation,” which refers to hosting the first Presidential Primary once every four years (Iowa is not a primary!). First of the first – since 1964 – has been the tiny hamlet of Dixville Notch, whose citizens have embraced the tradition of casting their ballots just after midnight.

Of the nine eligible voters in Dixville Notch this year, five voted in the Republican Primary and four voted in the Democratic Primary. Counting the ballots took 30 seconds. John Kasich edged Donald Trump on the Republican side 3 to 2, but Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton in a 4 to 0 landslide.

In order to vote in the primary one must be a registered voter: either as a Democrat, Republican or Independent. Registered Democrats and Republicans can only vote in their party’s primary, but Independents may choose either.

I lived in New Hampshire for 16 years, and over that time my primary votes got more and more ‘strategic.’ I have voted in both primaries. When I was young I always cast my ballot for ‘my candidate’ – voting with my heart – but as I got older my votes became increasingly strategic – voting with my head.

Left, right or centre, one thing we the people had in common last Tuesday was the rejection of so-called “establishment candidates.”
Voters are fed up with money in politics.
Voters are fed up with cronyism.
Voters do not want a coronation of another Clinton or Bush.
What shines as a beacon of hope for democracy from what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire” is that no matter how much money and influence the powers-that-be throw behind their candidates, individual voters have the final say. I can’t say that tears came to my eyes when I heard the result, but it did notch up my wavering faith in humanity. Let freedom ring! Let freedom ring!

From this perspective, what happened on the Democratic side is nothing short of a Liberty Bell!

  • Every major NH newspaper endorsed Clinton.
  • Every establishment NH Democrat politician endorsed Clinton.
  • Sanders came from a 50-point projected deficit to win by over 20 points: 60% to 38%.
  • Sanders won every demographic – including 70% of women-under-30 – except for over-65s and households making over $200,000.
This result speaks volumes about the current and future generation and wealth gap not only in America, but also in New Zealand and worldwide. In other words, it is a snapshot of what we will see more and more often as Baby Boomers hold on to their wealth and status while Millennials are left holding the bag.
Many of us have seen this form of intergenerational tyranny coming down the tracks for some time. To me it is as simple as this:
In the older demographics, we have a generation or two in America and some other countries who got free university education, bought real estate when it was cheap, and enjoyed decades of cheap energy while destroying the planet’s climate system. Meanwhile in the younger demographics we have a generation or two that did not. Who does not see the imbalance?

Like many culture shifts, this one will move like an earthquake: in creeps and ruptures. The New Hampshire democratic result was a rupture and a week later the aftershocks are still being felt as the political circus moves on to South Carolina.

If anything, the gift of “superdelegates” to Clinton will only increase the tectonic activity between voter demographics, as did the condescending and sexist comments from Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem.

The fact that feminist icon Steinem made one of the most sexist comments I have ever heard in an attempt to rationalise why young women support Sanders instead of Clinton shows the desperation of the wealthy, retired left.

It appears that as the older and the wealthier and the whiter see their positions of wealth and privilege threatened, they fight and fight to maintain them. As the late Joe Strummer sang, “Now war is declared and battle come down” (London Calling, 1979).

Among democratic voters in NH the #1 issue was income inequality.
Without doubt, Sanders is the income inequality candidate and Clinton is not. I find it troubling that Hillary was paid reported speaking fees of $600,000 (US) by mega investment bank Goldman Sachs, but refuses to release what she spoke about.

Goldman Sachs was at the eye of the financial hurricane that started in 2008 and has only grown richer and more powerful since. I seem to recall Clinton saying during a recent debate something along the lines of, “Of course Goldman doesn’t expect anything in return.” Right…

On the Republican side, NH had its largest turnout ever. Here is my favourite headline: “After running xenophobic & racist campaign, Donald Trump wins easily in New Hampshire.”
I have written about the Trump phenomenon in the past, most recently naming him my Person-of-the-Year for 2015:
Donald Trump is my Person of the Year. Who else has made a bigger splash in 2015?
Pundits say he plays on anxieties that exist among a certain voter demographic. He appears fearless in his attacks on political correctness. Bombastic is a term we hear to describe him.

But I say his most significant accomplishment has been in mastering a communication technique and ideology that has grown to achieve a critical mass of cultural significance: the double down. This is not to be confused with KFC’s Double Down – a beef burger between two pieces of fried chicken breast with cheese and bacon.

Doubling down takes many forms. It can mean making a false statement, and instead of admitting the mistake, vehemently insisting on the ‘truthiness’ of the statement in the first place. Alternatively, it might mean coming up with bad policy and then working tirelessly to try to justify it. It may be throwing good money after bad. In Trump’s case, it also means making outrageous or controversial statements and refusing to backtrack.
Doubling down means never having to say you’re sorry.

Trump is my Person of the Year not because he invented the double down or that he is the only person that does it, but because he has given it a living, breathing form. He is a meme with a comb-over and a personal jet.

Trump’s political success relies on the fact that many people only accept information that fits their existing worldview. Facts don’t matter. Research doesn’t matter. Trained experts don’t matter. As Ray Davies sang in 1981, “Give the people what they want.”
The Trumpification of Western society has reached its watershed moment. It marks the end of apology.
For writers like me and Ilargi and Nicole – who rely on the best available data, statistics, facts and sound research to build a case – Trumpification is a clear and present danger.

Like Sanders, Trump speaks to the economic angst many Americans feel. While both men have a populist message, they appeal to vastly different demographic sub-cultures. The irony of course is that a billionaire businessman has convinced thousands of minimum wage Joe Blogs that he will look after their interests. Right…

When I lived in New Hampshire I remember driving the back roads and seeing run-down, crappy mobile homes in the middle of nowhere with Republican lawn signs out front – Bush, Dole, Romney, McCain – and wondering why these people actively vote against their own economic interests.

Alongside Clinton, the biggest establishment candidate on the ticket was Jeb Bush, whose advertising budget in the state meant that at the end of the day his campaign spent $1,086 (US) per vote. He finished fourth, barely ahead of Marco Rubio.

The takeaway message from New Hampshire is powerful but not new. Voters in Greece have rejected establishment parties – twice. Voters in Portugal recently rejected the establishment. Voters in Iceland did so years ago and their nation is now thriving.

So what’s behind all of this rejection? I reckon it’s because you can only push people so far. As Popeye the Sailor is famous for saying, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.”

While Trump is a classic Bluto character – large, loud and aggressive – Sanders retains a classic Popeye attribute that has endeared him to an increasing number of voters: “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.”

Trustworthiness and integrity were the number one characteristic New Hampshire Democratic Primary voters were looking for in a candidate. From this perspective there can be no doubt about last week’s overwhelming result.


Agland use in Hawaii

SUBHEAD: Watch closely who gets westside Kauai leases and make sure that organic farmers are given a fair chance.

By Phoebe Eng on 18 February 2016 in Island Breath -
Image above: Kauai agricultural use in 2015 from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. Click to enlarge. See following article below for comparison to 1980.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture has just released a Statewide Agricultural Land Use Baseline 2015 study.  This report may be useful for anyone putting together a Farm Plan to lease state agricultural lands (esp. west Kauai ag lands) - i.e. the study has some useful baseline stats.

Of course, if you feel that key points were missed or mis-characterized in this study, you should also let DoA and the Kauai farm community know.

Here is a link to the news release, which contains a link to the full report. See below or visit (

It would be great to get some new farmers on that west Kauai state ag land. With some new lands available after Pioneer vacated a large parcel, experienced farmers now have a chance to help transition those lands into clean ag free of synthetic pesticides and gmo experimentation.

Let's make sure that the next licensing of west Kauai agricultural lands does not perpetuate cronyism and favoritism by the corporate powers that be on our westside.  Let's watch closely at who actually gets those lands, and make sure that organic transition farmers are given a fair chance.

Hawaii Land Use Study

By Staff on 17 February 2016 for Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture -

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has released a study on agricultural land use which provides information on the location of commercial agriculture activities statewide. The Statewide Agricultural Land Use Baseline 2015 study updates a 1980 survey and provides current information and maps on the locations of Hawaii’s farms and ranches.

The baseline study is intended to help industry, government and the community in making decisions that affect agriculture land use in the state.

The 100-page report was completed under a contract with the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization Lab (SDAV) and is available on the HDOA website at:

“This baseline study is one of several projects we are working on to lay a foundation for measuring our progress toward increasing agricultural production statewide,” said Scott Enright, Chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “We look forward to using this tool in making informed decisions about current agricultural enterprises and in the planning and promoting of new agricultural investment to increase our food security.”

The 2015 Baseline report provides a wide range of maps and graphics depicting the location of 15 crop categories with island-by-island summaries and regional descriptions of some of the factors that drive ongoing agricultural activity around the state.

It is a snap shot in time from which to measure change in agricultural land use patterns both historically and for measuring change in the future.  It will also serve as a planning tool for agency, industry and community interests to think collaboratively about future directions in agriculture based on what is currently taking place on a region-by-region basis around the state.

Hawaii has been through a dramatic change in agricultural land use over the last 35 years with the passing of the plantation era in both sugar and pineapple production.

In 1980 there were 350, 830 acres in crop production, 85 percent of which was tied to sugar and pineapple.  In 2015, total crop acres have dropped to just 151,830 acres with just 28 percent of that being sugar and pineapple. Each region that experienced the shutdown of plantations has responded differently. Some have seen the emergence of new crops, others have not. Understanding the pattern of this recovery process will help to better predict the trajectory of future crop production statewide.

In 2015, sugar remained the largest crop on the state with 38,800 acres and those acres will be fallowed in 2017 following the planned closing of HC&S plantation on Maui. The seed companies were the second largest land users with 23,720 acres on four islands. Commercial forestry, primarily on Hawaii Island was close behind with 22,860 acres.  Macadamia nuts, again primarily on Hawaii Island, was the fourth largest crop at 21,545 acres.  All of the top four crops are grown primarily for export purposes.

Diversified crops are grown on 16,900 acres statewide. This category includes a wide variety of leaf, root and melon crops, most of which is consumed locally. More than half of all diversified crops in the state are grown on Oahu and most of that in the central plain between Ewa and Haleiwa.

In 1980, just 7,490 acres of diversified crops were grown statewide, indicating a substantial increase in local food production and a shift in the center of that production to Oahu where the market is the largest and transportations costs are the lowest.

The 2015 study also mapped more than 760,000 acres in active pasture use. This number is down from 1.1 million acres in 1980. This decrease is due in large part to the removal of remote lands from pasture use by land owners like Kamehameha Schools and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on Hawaii Island and by the acquisition of pasture properties by the National Park System and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army.

Pasture use accounts for 83 percent of all productive agricultural land use in the state and 73 percent of that use is on Hawaii Island.

The project used Geographic Information Systems technology and aerial imagery from several sources to digitally document the footprint of lands engaged in commercial scale agriculture statewide. The complete report along with digital data and key maps and graphics are posted on the HDOA website at:

23_2015 17_1980
Hawaii Ag Land Utilization – 2015  Hawaii Ag Land Utilization – 1980
2015 pie chart final 1980 pie chart final
Statewide Crop Summary – 2015 Statewide Crop Summary – 1980