The Death of Development

Excellent essay spotted on Red Pepper. Development as we know it has merely been the global extension of the Neo-liberal economic policies that are now decimating our own economy. 60 years of development has failed to eradicate poverty spectacularly – it has only made matters worse. Addressing poverty without addressing the causes of poverty fails to solve the problem.

death of dev

See the original article


Podcast 003 From Green Blob to #GreenSurge

The coffee producing region of Mt Elgon. Where a reafforestation project is creating new opportunities

The coffee producing region of Mt Elgon, Eastern Uganda,  home to the Gumatindo coffee cooperative.

Download the Podcast here

It is certainly exciting to see a sudden swing of interest towards green politics, not that I am too sure that the Greens quite have the mature policies to actually hold together a government but it is fantastically important to see environment issues becoming more centre stage.

While the political machinations rumble on I cant but fell we urgently need a much more dynamic and enthusiastic debate about what kind of policies we might actually want from a more sympathetic government.

One thing the coalition government has given us – is the possibility of  another coalition government.

Not that I sympathise in any way with Owen Patterson, our ex minister for the environment and his ‘Green Blob’ rant but just being against fracking, GMO’s, or anything else is not really enough.. we need to have much clearer ideas about what we do want, what is the green agenda and how are we going to achieve it? Getting some real power for the fist time would of course change this rapidly!

It is exciting to consider the seismic shift that might come about in British politics if the Greens won 4 or 5 seats at the election and ended up in Government as part of a new coalition.

The Greens might not have formed a fully fleshed out immigration or foreign policy but where they to get some actual power then they are instantly in the position to start leading on bottom up community-led sustainability agenda as well as a whole more as well.

All swept up by the Green surge and genuinely frustrated but the lack of meaningful responses on the ground,  long time friend and local resident Mark Burnett has thrown his hat into the ring to help Montgomeryshire have a Green representative at the next election.

I caught up with him at his home, a family managed eco-housing cooperative on Monday and we chatted about the political process and how slow and cumbersome  it is. Even for those in government like our local MP The Tory Glyn Davies, with whom neither Mark or myself share many views, don’t actually have any real power are basically left parroting the party line.

Stop Press: Congratulations to Richard Challenor who who has been returned as the Green party candidate for Mongomeryshire.

People’s Kitchen
Stand by to hear more news of our planned community get together, we are calling it the People’s Kitchen and the inaugural event will in Llanrhaeadr Village Hall.

References from the Podcast

 “Nuclear weapons are not only a permanent threat to all humankind but also a relic of the cold war that we must finally overcome. The international nuclear disarmament efforts require an urgent paradigm shift, not the least in light of the danger of further nuclear weapons proliferation”  Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz

A Paradigm shift in nuclear disarmament is due

Hinkley Point C nuclear power station is a project to construct a 3,200 MW two reactor nuclear power station in Somerset, England

Music: Suck this! by the fabulous Mihangel Cusato, something he cooked up in the Chickenshack Housing coop Kitchen a few years ago. More of this on Soundcloud



Energy futures

A great deal has been said about the recent collapse in oil prices and different conclusions drawn. I hear SUV sales are up in the U.S. as the cheaper price of gasoline makes them more attractive again. Wow, that is short term thinking on a grand scale! As James Howard Kunstler has pointed out, at more than $70 a barrel the consumer is in trouble but at less than $70 a barrel the produces are in all sorts of trouble.

I put it to you that this price collapse is the beginning of the end of the oil industry. It was already losing money hand over fist on this marginal resource development and now the price has collapsed, then the investment money for continued production will not be there. We might be enjoying a price holiday as the difference between the $5 a barrel producers in the Middle East and the $80 a barrel producers in the USA is exposed but the long term prognosis for this situation is not a healthy one for producers and consumers of oil alike. Max Keiser the financial journalist suggests that it is actually demand that has peaked as the economy can’t afford oil at any price. Growth in China is slowing rapidly and the EU and US economies are stagnating which means we have been over producing and with oil at over $100 a barrel for a long period the world has been slowly running out of money, whilst pushing investment into marginal energy reserves. With a stalling global economy it might be fair to wonder whether true economic growth will ever actually get itself going again.

Success of the growth based economy relies on cheap and abundant energy. As conventional and easy to extract sources contract at at least 3% per year we are left with these marginal reserves which are now being promoted as the solution to our problems, despite all the evidence being to the contrary.

Jeremy Leggett talking about fracking and shale oil in August 2014, before the oil price collapse. Prescient words:

‘The boom will turn to bust. There will not be one single producing fracked well in the UK’. Jeremy Leggett

So the fracking ‘miracle’ is not going to save us. In fact it is a disaster for both the economy and the environment. Furthermore it is funded by junk bonds.. investment money that will not see a return, shale oil is another failed investment market that will have massive repercussions on the global economy.

The policies of the central banks have not been a success. 4 Trillion dollars have been pumped in the economy over the last 6 years and the main effect of that has been to inflate asset prices,stocks etc. and it has not benefitted the real economy at all. See video below.

And here is Russell Brand with some righteous outrage over HSBC tax evasion scandal and especially Tory party involvement: donations, peerages and the like. More evidence if you needed any that the current system is not working for our benefit, we have a ruling class who live seemingly on another planet from the rest of us.

The conclusion of all of this is that our banks, our political leaders and economic gatekeepers are in collusion. They simply cannot see beyond the current system which favours them and the choices they have made to continue to invest in growth and fossil fuels despite all of the evidence which has accrued telling us the the opposite is true. We cannot face climate change with the same economic policies that created it. We cannot beat peak oil by investing in marginal oil projects and we cannot keep a growth based economic paradigm alive and healthy if it takes trillions of dollars to be printed to keep it buoyant.


Podcast test run

So I like the idea of taking on the challenge of putting together a regular podcast. I only want to spend a certain amount of time doing this, so it is not going to be too elaborate or ambitious but hopefully producing it will create some momentum and extra discussion around permaculture and transition topics. It is going to be fun, diverse, and hopefully lively and entertaining, we will be visiting projects, talking to people engaged in transition, housing cooperatives, local food production and much much more!


Rock Art from Eastern Uganda


Yanis Varoufakis, rock star economist

Here is Yannis giving a TED talk with his proposal for transforming Europe. ‘The biggest enemy of federalism is itself’. He has a challenge for us all to rethink some of the core concepts of federalism and monetary union. He is one of the very few voices out there challenging the status quo, the Neo liberal agenda and the dominance of the european Central Bank. Apparently when arriving in Germany the other day for top level talks he was greeted by a group pf screaming girls! Never has economics being a more relevant and cutting edge subject, he could be the first rockstar economist!

Published on 4 Feb 2015
Supercut of the Yanis Varoufakis Interview from Keiser report 469 11 Jul 2013 talking about Greece and the Troika
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Here is Max’s latest episode, talking about the Greece financial crisis and election with Stacey Herbert


Lacto fermentation workshop at RISC, 7 March 2015 3-5 pm

This 2 hour, lively and fun, practically based workshop will be led by Annie Levy who writes this blog.

lactofermentation workshop

lactofermentation workshop

Annie has a great enthusiasm and insight into the subject of food preservation using biological methods. What starts as sauerkraut opens up a whole new world of possibilities, sour dough, kombucha and so much more. It is workshop that has the potential to change your relationship with food forever as you start to see it as something alive, biological and with many more potentials for flavour, nutrition and preservation.

We are offering this session as part of the 6 part Permaculture design Course we are currently running at RISC and thought it would be an ideal opportunity to open it up to outside parties to make the most out of having Annie here from her home in Wales and to broaden the groups and the discussions we are having around the course and the issues it raises.

It will run from 3-5 on Saturday March 7th at RISC in the conference facility there. Ideally contact me in advance so we can manage numbers.