Right to water, and Chevron’s big admission

Hi, this is Geoff.

Just a quick reminder: Many thanks to all of you who have been writing in and sharing your perspectives after each of the Friday Five. I enjoy seeing some of the links that you share, and learning from some of the different points of views being offered.

So that our entire community can benefit, if there is something that you’d like to add / share / offer a different perspective on, please leave your comments below in the comments section.

With no further ado…

Amazing Amazon: “There is no record of any coral reef at the mouth of a major river because sunlight can barely penetrate the plume of sediment, so photosynthesis, the driver of most coral reefs, cannot happen. ‘We found a reef where the textbooks said there shouldn’t be one. We think it is unique.’ […] Their find left marine ecologists flabbergasted.” Flabbergasted is right – how could we have missed this? Here are early images and videos of the expedition lead by Greenpeace. It’s beautiful to realize that as much as we’ve discovered, there is still so much more to find…and appreciate.

(Clear) Liquid Gold: … a small central European nation has become the first to enshrine the right to drinking water in their constitution. The new amendment to Slovenia‘s constitution states that drinkable water is a human right. Largely to prevent the commercialization of the country’s water resources, the Slovenian parliament just voted in favor of the new law.” Great to see this happening in Slovenia, a prioritizing of what has correctly been called, “the 21st century’s liquid gold.”

Alchemy: Can we redesign the ugly industrial world to be beautiful? Ricardo Bofill’s answer is a resounding, YES! The images of the magic that he and his team were able to work are stunning. “When Ricardo Bofill stumbled upon a dilapidated cement factory in 1973, he immediately saw a world of possibilities. La fábrica was born, and almost 45 years later, the structure has been completely transformed into a spectacular and unique home…The industrial chimneys that once filled the air with smoke now overflow with lush greenery, a fine example of the beautiful transformations that result from creative thinking.” This is in an invitation to us all to dream big and beautifully.

When profits hurt: “For the first time, one of the major publicly owned fossil fuel companies admitted publicly to investors that climate change lawsuits poses a risk to risk to its profits.” Full details of the story here, and the actual SEC filings can be seen directly here under the section titled, “risk factors.” And additional insights from a story that appeared yesterday in Salon: “As Greenpeace USA’s Naomi Ages told ThinkProgress, Chevron’s report marked an important milestone: It’s another big oil company that has publicly recognized that climate change — and specifically the litigation and government investigations caused by it — could pose ‘a material risk to the company and its shareholders.’”

In case you missed it: A few interesting pieces this week from our sister site, the non-profit Permaculture Research Institute:

If you enjoy these posts, be sure to bookmark the site as several new articles go up weekly, or check out thousands of other past articles, here.  

That’s it for the Friday Five. Again, I can’t always get to my email, so please remember to share your comments and thoughts on the blog-version of this Friday Five below. This way, our entire community can benefit from your insights, and join the discussion.

Cheers, and have a great weekend

Your friend,


2017-03-04T09:30:07+00:00 Blog|21 Comments
  • TBascom

    i can’t figure out what the big thrill is here. i see no admission by oil companies that oil is bad for the environment, as the various comments are claiming, only that the growing potential for lawsuits claiming it is are no longer merely a nuisance, but are increasingly a material threat to oil company profit. that’s not an admission that oil is an existential threat to earth and life; it’s a warning to investors and owners that those who say oil is bad are becoming an existential threat to oil companies. there’s a big difference between the two.

    • Blaming ‘oil’ is like blaming ‘sin.’ It is man’s adherence to an absurdly ill-conceived worldwide energy-exchange system that we must eventually de-perpetuate. Of course Energy Companies are an existential threat to life itself. What could be more obvious?

      • TBascom

        that’s not my point. obviously we will be off oil, even if we don’t get off programmatically, as oil is finite – and soon it’ll be too expensive for most common uses. i’m saying there is no admission of culpability in chevron’s filing. they’re manifestly not saying oil is an existential threat to the world, they’re exercising their fiduciary responsibility to alert their stockholders that the growing threat of lawsuits is an existential threat to chevron. that’s a big difference, and greenpeace et.al. are celebrating something that didn’t happen.

        • Fair enough, but in my analysis, oil is infinite and yet, it should have never been used in the form of gas & diesel as fuel. It is the very premise that this filing even gets airtime to exist which is deeply flawed, conceptually.

          Our world will crumble as long as the transportation and nuclear-based electricity (read bomb making systems) lie at the heart of all commerce.

    • Bill Crandall-TA

      I think the lasting point here is that these companies make decisions not by the effect on environment, but by the profit picture–almost exclusively. It is not uncommon for executives of profit-based corporations to say in private that one or another action of the company is unpleasant or even bad–and they conclude, typically, “But what can I do?”

      If the money is not there to be made, at whatever point, then the action will not long be carried out for profit.

  • FYI: At this moment, this URL is being trailed with a two-part virus.

    “Water as a universal right?” —WHO could possibly object to that??

     For Mac users, there is a simple (though not foolproof) protective technique you need to know. When the bogus “Mac Virus Alert Help Screen” shows up, do nothing! Do not click OK. Simply press Cmd+Opt+Esc, and a control panel will pop up on top. Highlight the browser App, and hit [Force Quit.] –On relaunch, you are probably not connected to the offending remote URL. In your “downloads” folder (routinely cleared we hope) you should see one or more multi-part unintelligibly labeled docs. Upon deleting them, you can safely proceed.

    Since I scour dozens of weird News sites each week, this happens about twice a month for me. People don’t write viruses for obsolete operating systems. So, I use an obsolete computer/browser for random surfing, on purpose. I suggest you use “Little Snitch” to track those blue meanies, either way.

    • flipper

      What kind of obsolete browser or puter do u use? Wont d various websites not allow u to see them becoz of incompatibility?

      • Mac, OS X10.5.6 pre-Intel! ..They killed it on purpose. The just is this, today’s hyper-paranoid cyber-legislators wanted an absolute track-back record to prevent scammers of all types, especially those who would seek to transfer big sums of money. This propelled folks to create Bitcoin, among other things. And it definitely put the brakes on shareware.

        As to your main question, incompatibility just begins to describe it. YouTube videos can often be run thru an applet to transfer them down to plain HTML.5. But, Geoff’s won’t play through such lame ware, in fact fewer and fewer ‘HD’ videos work because they are riddled with extra script which the robust browser can down convert in the event you have a lot of RAM used for other functions. In the background, often much more data gets downloaded ahead of the part you are watching in a more compressed form.

        Luckily, my nephew loaned me this iPad. It too is sort of obsolete compared to his new one. After I make a comment here, in order to post an image I have to go to the G5 and access Disgus directly, since it doesn’t even load on Geoff’s pages.

  • Sayed Shah

    Why are there so few permaculture farms profitable? I am fond of it but do not have it being from the poor third world, lacking the sources. But I think we are prisoned by a world system of being held by usery which means profiting by doing nothing paractically in that field merely by employing interest system to exploit all walks of businesses and work. The system devises rules and policies all to it,s masters interests and as long as such an exploitive world exists we can only dream of utopia but not realistically have it. The usery system is like a monster railway engine which would not stop running even if sees human lives coming under it,s wheels. It will just cut them into pieces. That,s all even if things work on short term to deceive.

    • Yes, Sayed. You have the nucleus of the permaculture system firmly in mind.

      Think back just 45 years or so ago. Dr Martin Luther King expresses but one irrefutable universal truth. That all men are created equal. Had the Council on Foreign Relations, et. all, given a shit about the absolute power of truth, we would have long since outgrown the need to sElect a “black” pResident, simply to further appease the world spectators, knowing all the while that not a damn bit of real change would come of it!

    • Bill Crandall-TA

      Let me set forth some context, and then I will return to your question more directly and be able to say more.

      As I take you to suggest, part of taking care of earth and people will involve breaking the cycle of usury, whatever differences of opinion anyone may have otherwise about how that might happen. That is not likely to be easy. The people who are running systems of usury are not looking to have that taken from them. They often fear reprisal, particularly from others in positions similar to their own, and therefore tend to be quite concerned about keeping control–overly so, I would say, but not one bit the less for my opinions, certainly.

      Looking at how permaculture may be made profitable on particular sites at particular times is part of how that might be overcome. But permaculture also works against the cycle of usury when it does not “profit” in the ways that can be shown on a spreadsheet. Insofar as people are taken care of, usurers have fewer victims, fewer potential victims, and less profit that they can extract from victims.

      That said, a permaculture installation, even a successful one, may not show a profit for several reasons:

      1. Few agriculture systems of any sort show profit.

      2. Permaculture directs itself towards authentic gains, not so exclusively a success measured in a single dimension, in money. So it is quite possible for a permaculture site to be saving money and taking care of people without showing a profit on the books.

      3. Most permaculture is dependent on perennials. Perennial agriculture takes time to become productive, and more time additionally to take time to show profit. So if one compares, say, an American factory farm with chemicals and so forth, with a permaculture site, and one compares only a spreadsheet representation of cost-benefit to measure these, it often appears that the factory farm is doing reasonably well for the first few years. After that, however, the soil costs progressively more to enrich and to loosen, the weeds cost more to kill, the bugs cost more to kill, the hostile fungi cost more to kill, and so forth. The people who participate are also worse off in ways that are likely not measured: so, for instance, we do not factor in the eventual medical bills of those using pesticides and fungicides. If we return to the same sites years later, the permaculture site now provides with little input; the commercial site provides less with greater input. The comparison eventually favors permaculture quite clearly; the means of measure favors the factory farm. At this point in history, most permaculture sites are not yet at maturity. That’s a good thing: it means that we are building sites. But it means that the percentage currently showing profit must be lower than a more representative measurement would show.

      4. Dealing with permaculture as a large social phenomenon, we are retraining people. A very large percentage of people learning and doing permaculture are relatively new to permaculture, but also new to farming or new to gardening or both. Again, that is wonderful: it is exactly what has to happen, exactly what we need to do. However, it is easy to look and see that in some places people are doing work that does not bring results. Well, that is true. But an old teacher or office worker who takes out large loans to buy a factory farm is actually far less apt to be able to run it well or profitably. Moreover, the likely loss in the greater investment is greater, and the likely gain is reduced by the enslavement to debt and the intrinsically toxic process. The difference in this actually comes because permaculture ideas make enough sense and offer enough reward that people try it, even in difficult situations. There is no way I would have imagined that I could go out and have the sorts of farms I see a couple hours drive from here. But I have my food, mostly, despite having made many errors starting out, and on six inches of rain and so forth, and with declining investment and declining water use each year.

      The lesson from all this, I think, is not to stop looking at how to make money with permaculture, but to be concerned with a genuine and authentic accounting when you determine profit. In the long run, the most vital of that will be the energy accounting, of course, but over a goodly course, money is certainly likely to be a make-or-break factor. However, in very many cases, the solution will not be to seek the most apparently profitable path, but to seek the path that uses cooperation and fresh solution and non-traditional resources to get access to land–and the key here is access, not necessarily ownership, although in some cases owning the land is necessary.

      There are real obstacles, and they can make permaculture more difficult. But the obstacles do not exist because of the decision to do permaculture. The culture of usury and abuse of various sorts pre-existed that.

  • Shannon Ah Gee

    My favourite part of the week.
    La Fabrica was an incredible sight – everything looks more beautiful green!

  • helle hansen

    La fabrica does indeed look beautiful, but I do find it very exclusive and not a viable transformation of such a huge area for the sole use of one family. I’d have been much more impressed if it had benefited a much larger group of people. Our cities these days seem only to build for the rich and very rich, people on normal incomes are pushed more and more out of the cities having to undertake long commutes to the jobs that are increasingly centred in those cities.

  • Charmaine Millott

    Here is a documentary that is really interesting about a woman named Agafia in Russia and that was born off grid 150 miles in the Siberian mountains away from civilization and any humans, in 1944. She still lives there today and for many years she lived alone. Her father built the log house with a cob oven when he arrived with his wife and son, in 1936 and when they fled persecution. She lives of her own garden, forages, fishes, hunts, falls trees, and gathers plants for her animals to eat and never knew about money, TV, the second world war, or the much else in the modern world until the family was discovered in 1978. She has travelled to civilization 6 or 7 times and prefers to live in the wild where she was born. She has benign breast tutor that is believed from the radiation that came from falling rocket debris that landed near her house and in various places in the forest. Her home looks much like a primitive permaculture setting and proves that it is possible to live this way in a formidable cold climate, even on your own as an elderly female. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFK3DJ7Kn6s

    • Bill Crandall-TA

      What a wonderful story! Thanks for the link, Charmaine!

      • Charmaine Millott

        I was just thinking about the right to water. Agafia was born around 1944 in the Taiga area of Siberia where she lives. She mentioned in the films that her father had hollowed out a pine tree and then, gathered water from the river before he heated it on the stove and poured it into the hollowed out pine tree. Her mother then immersed herself into the water in the hollowed out pine tree and gave birth to her with her father pulling her out of the water. I would think back then before all the rockets that the water was quite pure. She might have benefitted from it being so and from some of the pine oils mixing with it. Nowadays it would not be so pure because of pollution and the rockets exploding in the skies above her home. She does not live in a village, but she has the right to pure water and does all the other people that have yet to be found and all living beings in the forest. Everyone and everything has a right to it. It would be great if more people could be born the way she was and then, live a similar way!

      • Charmaine Millott

        I forgot to mention that she even removes the river dams she installed when she wants to. It also appears that one of my replies did not go through. The family was not discovered, until 1978 when geologists were flying over looking for places to drill oil. It appears that they never did find anywhere to drill for oil and instead, focused on this family. One of them eventually ended up living down the hill from her, until 2015 when he died. The family originally fled persecution through escaping into the forest and as the only remaining family member she is now celebrated and supported. People occasionally bring her supplies and temporary assistance, via boat or helicopter. However, she now has a permanent new neighbour that moved there after she made a plea for help. She has been all over Russia once and prefers to live there where she has spent most of her life. She has no money and prefers not to use any, which is why she trades items with her visitors. It is the opposite to the Chevron story, which is why I posted it.

  • baytoving

    Is there ANY genetically modified crop, such as one that has nothing to do with Monsanto, etc, or Round-Up, but is developed and distributed FREE of charge, seed saving and sharing freely encouraged, by a university or other public entity, to resist a particular disease of a particular crop necessary to save a threatened species or subsistence farmers in undeveloped countries, that reasonable people interested in truly helping, not profiting, could support?

    • Bill Crandall-TA

      To the best of my knowledge, no.

      • baytoving

        Are you saying you know of no such GMO crop, or are you saying that if there were, you could not in principle support the idea?

  • peter raupp

    That headline, a recent Friday Five quote, definitely hits a nerve. Thanks to Ridgedale, there is a site to show how it’s done in a cold climate. However, while the percentage of farmers has dropped to below 2% of the population in most so-called “developed” countries, today, most farmers worldwide live in the tropics and sub-tropics, where permaculture should be the most abundant and least difficult, but where land-grabbing by Big Agrobusiness is most rampant and overcrowded cities attract a continuous flow of frustrated ex-farmers. If we can’t convince those farmers of its promise, permaculture will stay a niche project, reserved for the most progressive, courageous and resourceful few, but will fail to turn the tide fast enough to prevent a doomsday-scenario of terminal loss of biodiversity and private, small-scale land ownership. The problem is the low self-esteem of contemporary ‘Third-World” farmers, and their craving for the indispensable minimum of cash they need for daily life, be it medicine, bribes, school fees, transportation, or just anything they can’t grow by themselves. In order to instill both a new pride to be “just” a farmer (as opposed to e.g. an office worker with a measly, yet certain constant cash flow and ‘easy” work, perceived higher up on the social ladder), and the trust that permaculture will yield not just enough produce to feed your family, but also cash, it takes more than the current kind of publicity for permaculture. What is urgently needed is a string of “Permaculture Sites of Excellence”, with open books and a long record of net profitability, i.e. without making extra money on the side by e.g. teaching courses or offering paid internships, by serving their fare in their own restaurants, or by selling lots of processed items (marmalade, soap, liquors, oils etc.). Only very few among the traditional small-to-medium scale farmers in the (sub-)tropics are willing and able to embark on these extra sources of income mentioned above; also, if many among them would do so, there wouldn’t be a market for those activities anymore, due to competition among themselves. So – no matter which location, tropical or Ridgedale-like – we need a global list of benchmark sites, where this holy grail: “A good life as a perrmaculture farmer, based only on the raw produce, nothing else”, has been found. Would it be difficult to compile such a list? Perhaps some people would be embarrassed to admit that their farms are not profitable in the above sense. Others, who have reached that level of profitability, may not want to make it public, because they have so far not offered structured teaching for outsiders – and this is what would be expected from them once they advertise their success stories. For those with a real good overview and network, like The Permaculture Institute, there hopefully will be a way to compile those sites where everyone could learn from, not just permaculture in principle, but the climate-specific tricks and experiences to make it profitable, without further add-ons. Places like Ridgedale, but scattered all over the globe; “Sites of Excellence” where profitability, based solely on raw produce, has been reached. With this blog I invite The Institute and all readers to contribute to such a list, and to be open for benchmark visits by less successful farmers from comparable regions. As they say: Noblesse oblige! The time has come for those few gems to reveal themselves and let their light shine.
    Good luck to all of you, Peter