Bhutan: First Country with Completely Organic Farming

By shunning all but organic farming techniques, the Himalayan state will cement its status as a paradigm of sustainability

– John Vidal and Annie Kelly for the guardian

MDG : Bhutan : farmers transplanting rice shoots into rice paddies in Paro valley,

Already an overwhelmingly agrarian state,

Bhutan is aiming to become the world’s first completely organic country. Photograph: Alamy

Bhutan plans to become the first country in the world to turn its agriculture completely organic, banning the sales of pesticides and herbicides and relying on its own animals and farm waste for fertilisers.

But rather than accept that this will mean farmers of the small Himalayan kingdom of around 1.2m people (according to Pema Gyamtsho, Bhutan’s minister of agriculture and forests; the World Bank estimates it at around 740,000) will be able to grow less food, the government expects them to be able to grow more – and to export increasing amounts of high quality niche foods to neighbouring India, China and other countries.

The decision to go organic was both practical and philosophical, said Gyamtsho, in Delhi for the annual sustainable development conference last week. “Ours is a mountainous terrain. When we use chemicals they don’t stay where we use them, they impact the water and plants. We say that we need to consider all the environment. Most of our farm practices are traditional farming, so we are largely organic anyway.

“But we are Buddhists, too, and we believe in living in harmony with nature. Animals have the right to live, we like to to see plants happy and insects happy,” he said.

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World leaders lost sight of their urgent purpose!



WWF Rio+20 closing statement (via World Wildlife Fund)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (21 June 2012) – With negotiations at an end, WWF Director General Jim Leape today issued the following closing statement about the Rio+20 summit: “This was a conference about life: about future generations; about the forests, oceans, rivers and lakes that we all depend on…

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Epistle to the Ecotopians



A final message of hope from Ecotopia author Ernest Callenbach (via Red Green & Blue)

Epistle to the Ecotopians By Ernest Callenbach [This document was found on the computer of Ecotopia author Ernest Callenbach (1929-2012) after his death.] To all brothers and sisters who hold the dream in their hearts of a future world in which humans and all other beings live in harmony and mutual…

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Earth’s Water Cycle Intensifying



Earth’s Water Cycle Is Intensifying, Dry Is Getting Drier and Wet Is Getting Wetter (via Planetsave)

  The Earth’s water cycle is intensifying, leading to more evaporation in dry climates and more rain in wet climates. “A clear change in salinity has been detected in the world’s oceans, signalling shifts and an acceleration in the global rainfall and evaporation cycle.” A new study just published…

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How One German Village Became a Renewable Energy Leader



Power Play — German Energy Revolution Video (via Clean Technica)

  The German village Schönau forced the grid operator to sell its local grid to them decades ago. Now, that village has become a renewable energy leader. As you can see in the video below, it’s a major producer of renewable energy. One of the pioneers there also has a wicked little electric vehicle…

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Ancient Amazonian Farming Technique



An Ancient Amazonian Farming Technique Could Help Save the Rain Forest (via Planetsave)

    [Updated post] A team of archeologists investigating a savanna region bordering the Amazon Rain Forest has found more conclusive evidence that a low-impact farming technique has been used for over 1500 years; the ‘alternative’ agricultural practice, used by some native populations including…

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Leaf-Mimicking Design Boosts Output of Solar Panels

e360 digest

Leaf Mimicking Solar Panel

By adding microscopic folds onto the surface of photovoltaic materials, a design variation borrowed from a natural leaf, researchers say they have been able to boost the solar output of flexible plastic solar cells by 47 percent. According to the scientists, who published their findings in the journal Nature Photonics, the folds acted as a sort of “wave guide,” channeling light waves and increasing the material’s exposure to light. “I expected that it would increase the photocurrent because the folded surface is quite similar to the morphology of leaves, a natural system with high light harvesting efficiency,” said Jong Bok Kim, a researcher from Princeton University and lead author of the study. “However, when I actually constructed solar cells on top of the folded surface, its effect was better than my expectations.” And since the researchers used relatively inexpensive plastic materials — as opposed to the more expensive silicon commonly used in panels — they hope their findings will help lead to a cheaper and efficient source of solar power.

Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
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Wastewater treatment…evolved

Living Machines –

The idea of using wetland ecologies to clean polluted water was first conceived by Dr. Käthe Seidel, a biologist at the Max Plank Institute, in the early 1950s. Though she was often opposed by colleagues (who sometimes disparaged her as “Bulrush Kate”), Dr. Seidel conducted experiments throughout the 1950s and 60s which showed that plants and microorganisms could clean water much more effectively than had previously been thought.

The idea was taken up by many ecological designers in the 1970s and 80s. One of these was Dr. John Todd, who designed what he called living machines which sought to marry technology with natural processes to create an environmentally responsible way to treat wastewater on site.

Early model Living Machine®, Findhorn Foundation, Moray, UK

The vegetation in Todd’s systems required greenhouses, and were planted on top of “activated sludge” containers. To produce usable water, they required a settling tank called a Secondary Clarifier, which separates a large amount of messy, smelly sludge from the water. The sludge produced by these systems must be disposed of frequently.

Todd’s versions of the Living Machine® were an innovative effort, but they didn’t get consistent treatment, and could not be made to be simple and cost effective. In 1999, Tom Worrell, an investor and partner of Dr. Todd’s, acquired the Living Machine concept, the company, and all of its intellectual property from Dr. Todd. He then put his engineers to work making the technology practical, reliable, and cost efficient.

One of Worrell’s first ground rules was “No Clarifiers.” He wanted a system that would not depend on activated sludge to do the core of the work. The result was the first Living Machines® that used a wetlands model to treat the water without generating troublesome biowaste that needs disposal.

Wetlands Living Machine® at El Monte Sagrado Resort, Taos, NM

The Next Generation Living Machines® developed by Worrell Water Technologies use beneficial microorganisms (incorporated via engineered biofilms), wetlands plantings, and sophisticated control systems to reliably and efficiently produce water treated to the highest standards. They are stable, healthy, living ecosystems which require less energy to operate, and less work to maintain, than competing treatment systems. They also have a much smaller footprint, and operate in a way that produces no excess waste to be carried away.

Next Generation Living Machines® can be designed for indoor or outdoor applications across a wide variety of climates. For a description of how they work, see our How it Works page.

To read about The Living Machine® in action, go to our Portfolio page.

For more technical information, see our Resources page.

Ancient Hawaiian Civilizations Reveal Ways to Manage Fisheries for Sustainability

Science Daily –

Ancient Hawaiian Fisheries a Model of Sustainability
Ancient Hawaiian Fisheries a Model of Sustainability

“Ancient Hawaiian society effectively practiced what we now call Ecosystem-Based (Fisheries) Management, which is something that modern society often struggles to achieve,” … “Incorporating some of these ancient techniques into today’s policy may be the key to sustaining our fisheries.”

Ancient Fisheries Management