Archive for July, 2012


Acres U.S.A Reviews Sowing Seeds in the Desert

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

“Whether the masters of American agriculture will perceive the road to hell broiling in front of them and embark on a transformation remains to be seen. It is possible, even probable, that radical economies of water use will keep intensive irrigation agriculture going for a number of years in California’s Central Valley and on the High Plains. When real changes are made, however, the late Masanobu Fukuoka will play a part even if his name is never invoked and his books are nowhere to be seen.”

So says Chris Walters in his review of Fukuoka’s last work, Sowing Seeds in the Desert, in August’s issue of Acres U.S.A: The Voice of Eco-Agriculture.

You can download a PDF of the review here. And if the review piques your curiosity about Sowing Seeds, you can read the excerpt recently published by Common Dreams here.

This caring review isn’t the only treat awaiting subscribers to Acres U.S.A.. The magazine is also printing one of the most comprehensive, fascinating interviews with Sandor Ellix Katz since his new book The Art of Fermentation has hit bookstores. Acres has generously offered our readers a chance to download a pdf of the interview before their August issue hits newsstands. Find out how here.

If you aren’t already subscribers to Acres U.S.A., we invite you to take a look at the publication and consider subscribing.  If you do you’ll be supporting another independent publisher that shares our mission of promoting sustainable food, agriculture, and protecting the environment. You won’t be disappointed.

Pre-Release Special: Power from the People

Monday, July 30th, 2012

More and more Americans acutely sense that the old way of doing things — investing our savings in Wall Street companies who care little about our families and communities; depending on polluting, costly, and non-renewable sources of energy; eating food grown far away that makes us sick — is no longer working.

People want to invest in their own homes and neighborhoods. They want to increase local self-reliance in the face of uncertainty. They want to have a say in the future of their communities. But how?

In partnership with Post Carbon Institute, Chelsea Green Publishing is publishing the Community Resilience Guides — a series of books exploring the newest and most promising examples of relocalization for uncertain times.

The latest guide is Power from the People by Greg Pahl, and to celebrate it’s publication we are offering a pre-release special discount of 25% off for this week only.

More than ninety percent of the electricity we use to light our communities, and nearly all the energy we use to run our cars, heat our homes, and power our factories comes from large, centralized, highly polluting, nonrenewable sources of energy.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

In Power from the People, energy expert Greg Pahl explains how American communities can plan, finance, and produce their own local, renewable energy that is reliable, safe, and clean. Pahl uses examples from around the nation and the world to demonstrate how homeowners, co-ops, nonprofits, governments, and businesses are already putting this power to work for their communities—including the work Pahl has pioneered in his own community in Vermont.

Richard Heinberg, senior fellow at PCI and author of The End of Growth, says,

“Energy is at the heart of our 21st century economic-ecological crisis, but most writing on the subject is suffused either with immobilizing anticipation of doom or giddy wishful thinking. Here at last is a genuinely helpful energy book, one that’s realistic and practical. If you want to actually do something about our energy future, here is where to start.”

If you are part of a Transition Town, a city that is looking seriously at renewable energy sources, or just a citizen that wants to be knowledgeable about this exciting and optimistic set of solutions to our energy problems, Power from the People will inspire and inform you.

Get a copy this week and save 25%!

End of Summer Sale: 90% off Books

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Now through Labor Day we’re having an end of summer warehouse sale to make room for our forthcoming fall releases. We’re offering four chances to save big—up to 90% off—on some of our new and bestselling books, as well as old favorites.

All of our New & Bestselling titles are 25% off with the discount code SUMMER at checkout. Then, we have some amazing WAREHOUSE CLEARANCE DEALS on selected titles: Deep discounts at 50% Off,  Deeper discounts at 75% Off, Deepest discounts at 90% Off.

All titles below are on sale for 90% off!

You can see more discounts for our 50% off sale books here and 75% off sale books here. All our regularly priced titles are 25% off with the discount code SUMMER at checkout. And, as always, shipping is free on orders more than $100.


Discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books already on sale for example.
Free shipping (For US Orders Only) for orders $100 or more is applied after discount, if any, is applied.
Sale runs through Labor Day (Monday September 2nd).

Deepest Discounts: 90% off Books

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Discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books already on sale for example.
Free shipping (For US Orders Only) for orders $100 or more is applied after discount, if any, is applied.
Sale runs through Labor Day (Monday September 2nd).

The Green Deserts of Western Civilization – An Excerpt from Sowing Seeds in the Desert

Friday, July 27th, 2012

The following commentary is adapted from the posthumously published Sowing Seeds in the Desert by Masanobu Fukuoka (Chelsea Green, 2012). Fukuoka was the author of the international bestseller One-Straw Revolution. He died in 2008. Given the recent news about the extended drought facing much of the United States, we thought our readers might want to read Mr. Fukuoka’s deep insight into how Western agricultural practices have helped to create vast deserts across the planet, while on the surface appearing very “green.” In fact, Mr. Fukuoka notes, below the grassy surface, soils are being depleted and drained — becoming deserts under our feet. As you read this, keep in mind that Sowing Seeds in the Desert first appeared in print – in Japanese – in the mid-1990s. Excerpt published on CommonDreams.org

Although the surface of the ground in Europe and the United States appears to be covered with a lovely green, it is only the imitation green of a managed landscape. Beneath the surface, the soil is becoming depleted due to the mistaken agricultural practices of the last two thousand years.

Much of Africa is devoid of vegetation today, while just a few hundred years ago it was covered by deep forests. According to the Statistical Research Bureau in India, the vegetation there has also disappeared rapidly over the past forty-five or fifty years and now covers less than 10 percent of the land’s surface. When I went to Nepal, officials lamented the fact that in the last twenty years the Himalayas have become bald, treeless mountains.

In the Philippines, on the islands of Cebu and Mindanao, there are banana plantations but no forests, and there is concern that in a few years even drinking water may be in short supply. In Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, as farming methods that protected nature have been swallowed up by the wave of modern civilization, the condition of the land has also deteriorated. If the deforestation of the tropical rain forests in Asia and Brazil continues at the present rate, oxygen will become scarce on earth and the joy of springtime on the planet will be replaced by the barrenness of winter.

The immediate cause of the rapid loss of vegetation has been the indiscriminate deforestation and large-scale agriculture carried out in order to support the materialistic cultures of the developed countries, but the remote cause stretches back thousands of years.

The natural world did not become a desert on its own. Both in the past and at present, human beings, with their “superior” knowledge, have been the ringleader in turning the earth and the human heart into wastelands. If we eliminate the fundamental cause of this destruction—people’s knowledge and actions—nature will surely come to life again. I am not proposing to do away with human beings, but rather to change the politics and practice of our authority.

My measures for countering desertification are exactly the same as the basic natural farming method. One could refer to it as a natural farming revolution whose goal is to return the earth to the paradise it once was.

Lessons from the Landscapes of Europe and the United States

I first saw the desert and began to have an interest in it the summer I flew to the United States for the first time, in 1979. I was expecting the American continent to be a vast, fertile green plain with lush forests, but to my amazement, it was a brown, desolate semi-desert.

I gave a talk in Sacramento, California, for the state’s Department of Conservation hosted by Ms. Priscilla Grew, who was head of the department at the time. I said that the environment in California had serious problems as a result of poor agricultural practices, poor water management, overlogging, and overgrazing. These things, I told the group, are conspiring to create the “Great California Desert.” After the talk, I was invited for a private conversation with Ms. Grew, a geologist, in her office on the thirteenth floor of the Resources Building.

We discussed how Japan and California were roughly the same latitude, that both the vegetation and the parent rocks in the two places were similar, and that long ago the Asian and American continents were one. The fossil record shows, for example, that vast forests of Metasequoia1 existed in both places. The mosses and lichens I saw growing in the undisturbed forests of the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Range were also the same as I observed in the virgin forests of Japan.

It was my conjecture that the desertification and climate change in California has been accelerated by mistaken agricultural methods. I suggested that deforestation and the change from the perennial bunchgrasses that once covered the plains to annuals such as foxtail and wild oats contributed to the decrease in rainfall.2 “Rain doesn’t only fall from the sky,” I suggested. “It also falls up from below.” The vegetation, especially trees, actually causes the rain to fall.

After we left her office, someone suggested that I come along and visit an interesting place nearby. That “interesting place nearby” turned out to be a hot, dry plateau in the Coast Range about one hundred miles away.

About twenty young people from several countries were somehow managing to live in this remote area on national forest land. They asked me to teach them how to use natural farming to help them make their livelihood. They did not even have proper sickles or hoes. The entire area was covered with dry grass, with not a spot of green in sight. There were only a few oak trees here and there.

In the midst of such hopeless circumstances, I was unable to sleep. Early the next morning, as I was washing my face at a small spring, I noticed that water soaking a mouse’s nest had caused some weed seeds to sprout and grow a few inches tall.

I had always thought that the grass in California died because the summers are hot and dry, but I realized it was only the introduced annual grasses that gave that impression. They come up in the fall with the first rain, set seeds, and then die by early summer. These annuals had chased out the native grasses, which remain green all summer. Grazing probably had a lot to do with it, but there were no grazing animals in the area anymore. Thinking that the green perennial plants ought to come back if we got rid of the weedy annuals, I set about doing an experiment.

After broadcasting the seeds of various Japanese vegetables amid the dried grasses and mowing them down with an improvised sickle, I brought water from the spring near the top of the hill by plastic pipe and sprinkled it fairly deeply over the area. I thought the few days until the water evaporated would tell the tale. Eventually, green began to grow among the brown grass. Of course, it was the green of the weedy foxtails. As I expected, when the water had disappeared by the end of a week’s time, the grass that had sprouted up began to wither in the heat, but in its midst Japanese pumpkin, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra, daikon, and corn began to flourish. The center of the field turned into a vegetable garden. The stubborn foxtails sprouted, then withered and became mulch, and in their place, vegetables had grown up.3

We should revegetate California. We should wake up the seeds of weeds that are lying dormant during summer by giving them water, and then let them die before they can make more seeds. At the same time, it would be good if the state government would broadcast seeds of perennial grasses from the air in clay pellets. After this experiment, however, I had to press on with my travels, so I left the mountain and entrusted these hardy souls with my dream.

Later that year, I was shown around Europe by a Greek gentleman and a young Italian woman who had stayed in one of my hillside huts. The European countries are, for the most part, very careful about protecting the natural environment and maintaining the lovely vegetation. At first glance the entire area looks like a natural park, but it is only the beauty of a picture postcard. If you look closely, you will find that there are very few varieties of trees. The soil is thin, hard, and unfertile. It appeared to me that the earth in Europe had been damaged by an agriculture made up of mismanaged pastures used to produce meat for royalty, and vineyards to produce wine for church use.

Generally speaking, the farther south you go from the Netherlands, up the Rhine, and toward Italy, the more the number of trees decreases and the green color fades. In addition, much of the Alps are composed of limestone and have few large trees. The farther south you go, the higher the soil temperature, and the drier the climate. The soil becomes thinner and increasingly less fertile. My impression was that in Europe, the soil was dry and depleted just below the surface.

When people started plowing, that marked the beginning of modern European civilization. Culture, in its original sense means “to till the soil with a plow.” When tractors were introduced, production increased, but the earth lost its vitality even more quickly. Throughout human history civilizations have been founded in areas with rich soil and other resources. After the soil was depleted as a result of cutting too many trees, overgrazing, harmful irrigation practices and plowed-field agriculture, that civilization, which had been wearing the mask of prosperity, declined and often disappeared altogether. This has happened over and over again.

From my observations in Europe and the United States, I could see how the errors of modern agriculture were damaging the earth. That strengthened my conviction that natural farming methods are the only ones capable of reversing this degradation.

This excerpt is reprinted with permission of the publisher, Chelsea Green Publishing. For more information about this book, and Mr. Fukuoka, visit: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/sowing_seeds_in_the_desert:hardcover or www.chelseagreen.com

1• This is one of three types of redwood trees, the others being the coast redwood and the giant sequoia. The Metasequoia, or dawn redwood, was thought to be extinct until a few groves were discovered in southern China in 1944. It is now a popular landscape tree widely available in plant nurseries.

2• The grasslands of California originally consisted of perennial grasses. These plants have deep and extensive root systems and stay green all summer. When the Spanish introduced grazing sheep and cattle in the late 1700s, they also brought the seeds of annual grasses such as rye and oats. The grazing animals selectively ate the more nutritious native perennials, giving the annuals a big reproductive advantage. The native grasses were supplanted by the annuals in just a few generations, leaving the soil depleted and much drier.

3• This technique of watering annual weeds to get them to sprout and then wither before they can set new seeds—known as premature germination—has been used by organic farmers for many years to control weeds. When the weeds grow up, they shade and cool the ground long enough for the vegetables to get off to a good start, then they act as mulch for the vegetable garden, cooling the ground and conserving moisture. When the autumn rains arrive, fewer weeds come up since they were “tricked” into germinating too soon. Mr. Fukuoka is suggesting that this technique could also be useful in broad-scale rehabilitation for establishing trees, shrubs, and perennial grasses.

###

Masanobu Fukuoka

Masanobu Fukuoka (1913–2008) was a farmer and philosopher who was born and raised on the Japanese island of Shikoku. He studied plant pathology and spent several years working as a customs inspector in Yokohama. While working there, at the age of twenty-five, he had an inspiration that changed his life. He decided to quit his job, return to his home village, and put his ideas into practice by applying them to agriculture.

In 1975 he wrote The One-Straw Revolution, a best-selling book that described his life’s journey, his philosophy, and farming techniques. This book has been translated into more than twenty-five languages and has helped make Mr. Fukuoka a leader in the worldwide sustainable-agriculture movement. He continued farming until shortly before his death in 2008, at the age of ninety-five.

Sandor Katz: The Acres U.S.A. Interview

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

The latest book from fermentation revivalist Sandor Katz — The Art of Fermentation — has been a huge hit with fermentos and foodies alike, which is evidenced by it reaching The New York Times bestseller list for two weeks in a row.

The two interviews on NPR’s “Fresh Air” program have certainly helped fuel interest in Sandor and the new book, which is about the most comprehensive guide to fermentation that you’ll find in print today.

If you’re a subscriber to Acres U.S.A.: The Voice of Eco-Agriculture (and you should be), you’re in for a real treat in their August issue, which will hit mailboxes, and subsequently newsstands, soon.Our friends at Acres U.S.A. are printing one of the most comprehensive, and therefore fascinating, interviews with Sandor since his new book has hit bookstores.

Here’s a snippet from their introduction to the interview:

Sandor Katz is our leading apostle of fermentation, a tireless explainer and promoter of just about anything that involves beneficial molds and bubbling broth, ending in something tangy, tart, sour or sweet. Or more likely, some combination of those. (. . . ) He spoke at the Acres U.S.A. Conference in 2004, and as anyone who was there or anyone who has seen him in another forum can attest, his enthusiasm is infectious.  — Chris Walters

After this introduction, Walter and Katz delve deeply into a variety of topics covered in The Art of Fermentation, from Sumerian beer to the important connection between fermentation and agriculture.

Here’s one exchange:

ACRES U.S.A. One of the terms you use in your book seems especially fertile with meaning — cultural ecology. What does the concept mean to you?

KATZ: Each of those words in themselves has an interesting, multi-layered meaning. There’s a very specific microbiological and fermentation connotation of the word “culture,” where the cultures are the communities of organisms that we introduce into something when we want to guide them toward the specific type of fermentation. You have some mature yogurt, you want to turn your new milk into yogurt, so you culture it with a little bit of the old batch. We call these communities themselves cultures, we call the act of introducing them into what we wish to ferment “culturing,” and we call the products cultured foods. We use the same word, “culture,” to describe this much larger thing which is language, music, science, and belief systems — really the totality of all the things that people seek to pass down from generation to generation. I think that cultured foods are intrinsic to culture, and I think these are more than incidental culinary novelties. They’ve been very important in the evolution of culture in different ways and different places. Now the ecology, when I talk about cultural ecology, I guess I’m mostly talking about in a microbial sense. We could talk about the cultural ecology of our gut, or we could talk about the cultural ecology of our kitchens, the environments in which we might be trying to ferment things, and every environment would be a little bit different. I think that these are really rich, multi-layered words and concepts with lots and lots of distinct meanings embedded within them. Cultural ecology is an important concept — it exists within us, it exists within the foods that we eat, it exists in the environments which we inhabit, and it exists at all these different levels.

It’s truly a phenomenal interview, and Acres U.S.A. is giving Chelsea Green readers a special chance to download a free PDF of the interview in advance of the magazine hitting the newstands – for which we’re greatly appreciative. In turn, we’re asking our readers who aren’t already subscribers to Acres U.S.A. to take a gander at the publication and consider subscribing and supporting another independent publisher that shares a similar mission when it comes to food, agriculture, the environment, and sustainability. You won’t be disappointed.

Guides for Natural Builders on Sale

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Are you looking for some easy energy efficiency projects you can do around the house to reduce your carbon footprint? Are you planning to build a new house and want to work with local materials? Maybe you want to try your hand at building and baking in an earth oven. Humans were made to build, and the Earth has all the materials we need if we know where to look and how to use them.

We’ve put a selection of our keystone books on sale to inspire and guide you to think about natural methods for your next building project.

Chelsea Green has published classic how-to texts on natural building techniques since the mid 1980s, with some of them among our all-time bestsellers, like The Straw Bale House. We have continued this proud tradition with the recent publication of The Natural Building Companion and Passive Solar Architecture.

From curvaceous houses sculpted by hand out of cob, to the soft colors of natural plaster over straw bales, and the efficient radiant warmth put out by masonry stoves, natural building techniques have been making people comfortable for centuries. These ancient methods of construction have never really gone out of style, and today they’re more important than ever.

Happy reading (and building) from the folks at Chelsea Green Publishing.

The Natural Building Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to Integrative Design and Construction

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Retail Price: $59.95
Sale Price: $38.97

In this complete reference to natural building philosophy, design, and technique, Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton walk builders through planning and construction, offering step-by-step instructions on siting, choosing materials, planning for heat and moisture, developing an integrative design, plastering, budgeting, and much more.

The book is part of the The Yestermorrow Design/Build Library, and includes an instructional DVD with dozens of step-by-step projects designed to help better guide you in the construction of your natural home.

What distinguishes “natural building” from the more mainstream designation “green building”? Author Jacob Deva Racusin discusses the differences, and how to bridge the gap in this video lecture. WATCH IT HERE…

Passive Solar Architecture: Heating, Cooling, Ventilation, Daylighting, and More Using Natural Flows

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Retail Price: $85.00
Sale Price: $55.25

In this comprehensive overview of passive solar design, two of America’s solar pioneers give homeowners, architects, designers, and builders the keys to successfully harnessing the sun and maximizing climate resources for heating, cooling, ventilation, and daylighting.

 

Bainbridge and Haggard draw upon examples from more than three decades of experience to offer overarching principles as well as the details and formulas needed to successfully design a more comfortable, healthy, beautiful, and secure place in which to live. Even if the power goes off.

 

Bookbuilders of Boston gave Passive Solar Architecture an award for its professional and informative design. READ MORE HERE…


Adobe Homes for All Climates: Simple, Affordable, and Earthquake-Resistant Natural Building Techniques

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Retail Price: $34.95
Sale Price: $22.72

Adobe bricks are an easy way to achieve a solid masonry-wall system. Contrary to stereotypes, adobe is adaptable for use in cold, wet climates as well as hot, dry ones. Energy and resource efficient, and requiring minimal effort for long-term maintenance, the humble adobe brick is an ideal option for eco-friendly building throughout the world.

 

Equipped with this book, you will be able to obtain a building permit, make and build with adobe bricks to create a beautiful, energy-efficient home that will last for generations to come.

Su Casa magazine reviewed Adobe Homes for All Climates. READ IT HERE…

Masonry Heaters: Designing, Building, and Living with a Piece of the Sun

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Retail Price: $39.95 
Sale Price: $25.97

Masonry Heaters is a complete guide to designing and living with one of the oldest, and yet one of the newest, heating devices. The value of a masonry heater lies in its durability, quality, serviceability, dependability, and health-supporting features. And it is an investment in self-sufficiency and freedom from fossil fuels.

Those who are looking to build, add onto, or remodel a house will find comprehensive and practical advice for designing and installing a masonry heater, including detailed discussion of materials, code considerations, and many photos and illustrations.

 

Check out the Google Preview for gorgeous photos from the book. READ IT HERE…

Roundwood Timber Framing: Building Naturally Using Local Resources

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Retail Price: $39.95 
Sale Price: $25.97

This definitive manual marks the birth of a new vernacular for the 21st century.

 

Over 400 colour photographs and step-by-step instructions guide you through the building of anything from a garden shed to your own woodland house. This practical ‘how to’ book will unquestionably be a benchmark for sustainable building using renewable local resources and evolving traditional skills to create durable, ecological and beautiful buildings.

What does a roundwood building look like? Take a tour of Ben Law’s home in this brief video. WATCH IT HERE…

The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage

The Hand-Sculpted House Cover Image
Retail Price: $35.00 Sale Price: $22.75

Cob is a building method so old and so simple that it has been all but forgotten in the rush to synthetics. A cob cottage, however, might be the ultimate expression of ecological design, a structure so attuned to its surroundings that its creators refer to it as “an ecstatic house.”

 

The Hand-Sculpted House is theoretical and philosophical, but intensely practical as well. You will get all the how-to information to undertake a cob building project. As the modern world rediscovers the importance of living in sustainable harmony with the environment, this book is a bible of radical simplicity.

You can browse and preview the full book here. READ IT HERE…

The Straw Bale House

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Retail Price: $30.00 
Sale Price: $19.50

Imagine building a house with superior seismic stability, fire resistance, and thermal insulation, using an annually renewable resource, for half the cost of a comparable conventional home.

 

Welcome to the straw bale house! Whether you build an entire house or something more modest—a home office or studio, a retreat cabin or guest cottage—plastered straw bale construction is an exceptionally durable and inexpensive option.

This book is our all-time #1 bestseller!  

Athena Steen tells her story in this excerpt from the book. READ IT HERE…

The Carbon-Free Home: 36 Remodeling Projects to Help Kick the Fossil-Fuel Habit

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Retail Price: $35.00
Sale Price: $22.75

You probably know that energy used in your home produces more global-warming pollution than your car, but what can you do to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels?

 

Read this book—then grab your handsaw, tape measure, and drill, and get started! A life powered by the sun is waiting for you. Meant as a guide for renovating existing homes, The Carbon-Free Home gives you the hands-on knowledge necessary to turn your existing house into an environmental asset.

Save money this summer: ditch your clothes dryer! Just one of many great projects from the book. GET STARTED…

Build Your Own Earth Oven: A Low-Cost Wood-Fired Mud Oven; Simple Sourdough Bread; Perfect Loaves

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Retail Price: $17.95
Sale Price: $11.67

Earth ovens combine the utility of a wood-fired, retained-heat oven with the ease and timeless beauty of earthen construction.

 

Build Your Own Earth Oven is fully illustrated with step-by-step directions, including how to find materials, build an oven, tend the fire, and how to make perfect sourdough hearth loaves in the artisan tradition.

Why an earth oven? What is this “cob” stuff anyway? Read the book’s introduction to find out. READ IT HERE…

The Passive Solar House, Revised and Expanded: The Complete Guide to Heating and Cooling Your Home

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Includes instructional DVD Retail Price: $40.00
Sale Price: $26.00

For the past ten years The Passive Solar House has offered proven techniques for building homes that heat and cool themselves, using readily available materials and methods familiar to all building contractors and many do-it-yourself homeowners.

 

This is the building book for a world of climbing energy costs. Applicable to diverse regions, climates, budgets, and styles of architecture, Kachadorian’s techniques translate the essentials of timeless solar design into practical wisdom for today’s solar builders. Includes a CD-ROM with Custom Design Software.

 

Use your windows to heat your home. FIND OUT HOW…

 

More New and Noteworthy Titles On Sale

The Solar House coverDesign of Straw Bale Buildings coverMaking Better Concrete coverNatural Home Heating coverThe Natural House cover
The New Ecological Home coverStone House coverUsing Natural Finishes coverEnergy Free coverRainwater Harvesting cover

 

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* Books on sale until August 15th*

Occupy World Street: The Music Video

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

This may be a first for Chelsea Green: An author who’s created a music video to promote his book.

The author is Ross Jackson, of Denmark, and the book is Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform. The book shows how the uprisings around the world stem from a similar source: A populist response to the selfish, swashbuckling behavior of global financial elites who wreck economies and then call on governments to enact punishing “austerity” measures that keep them off the hook (and out of jail), while further harming people already in distress.

The book also offers a roadmap for how several countries, banding together, could break away from the boom and bust neoliberal economic cycles and chart a new bath based on shared prosperity and sustainability.

You think he’d be satisfied with offering such a radical, but at the same time rational, view of the world. Nope. Jackson is now offering us a global sing-a-along — a protest song that we can all get behind. We’ve embedded the video below for your viewing, and singing, pleasure.

The catchy folk song — written and composed by Jackson who also appears in the video strumming a guitar and sauntering the streets — is an homage to the Occupy movement that has seen occupations spring up around the world, often fueled by the imagination and anger of the younger generation. Jackson also uses the song to offer a critique of the Euro and why it’s been so damaging to sovereign economies.

We’re posting the complete lyrics below so you can sing along to Jackson’s ditty. You can also find a downloadable lyric sheet on Jackson’s website, where he’s calling himself “The Singing Economist.”

Let’s see Paul Krugman top that. We’re waiting.

OWS The Song – Lyrics
Written by Ross Jackson, June 2012   

Well I walked downtown to Zuccotti Park.
It was 6 p.m. and getting dark
When I saw a young couple chattin’ and drinkin’ cokes.
I asked them what was going on here,
And the young lady answered loud and clear,
“We’re here to send a message to our folks.

“This land was once the land of the free,
Of justice and democracy.
Now America’s lost her way and got off track.
One man one vote was the order then.
Now our land’s been stolen by the money men
And all of us here are just trying to get it back.”

Occupy New York City
Occupy Santa Fe
Occupy Cincinnati
Occupy San José

We might be in Salt Lake City
Or in Washington D.C.
¬Speaking out for human
Rights and more equality.

The young man said his name was Bob
And recently he’d lost his job.
His firm had pulled up stakes and moved offshore.
“They say it’s cheaper in Shanghai
Where profit rates are record high
And they don’t pay much in taxes anymore”.

“The one percenters cheat and steal
And don’t produce a thing that’s real.
Asset speculation is their style.
These guys are parasites,” he said.
“They ought to get real jobs instead,
And make a contribution that’s worthwhile”.

Occupy San Francisco
Occupy Wichita
Occupy Sacramento
Occupy Omaha

Occupy Minnesota
Occupy Tennessee
Standing up for nature
And sustainability

Then I went to Europe to just check out
What the euro fuss was all about.
The youth are without jobs and that’s the key.
The young folks want their countries back
But leaders take a different tack;
Bank bailouts and more austerity.

The euro was a big mistake;
A backdoor to a Eurostate
That citizens would rather be without.
The people want a deal that’s fair
Where bankers pay their rightful share.
Until that day they’ll roam the streets and shout.

Occupy Copenhagen
Occupy Birmingham
Occupy Londonderry
Occupy Amsterdam

We are camping out in Athens
As we make a final plea:
“We’d rather leave the euro
Than have more austerity.”

We will occupy Milano
Occupy Luxembourg
Occupy Barcelona
Occupy this whole world

Now our numbers they are growing,
And we won’t accept defeat,
Time to end injustice;
Time to Occupy World Street

Time to end injustice………..

Time to Occupy World Street

July Belongs To Berries

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Tiny, colorful explosions of summer flavor, berries have captivated the imaginations of hungry mammals like us for millennia. Nowadays it’s easy to grab a pint of strawberries from the produce section any time of year, but why not try growing your own? Even shady corners of your yard can support some types of berries, you’ll avoid nasty pesticides, and get the experience of popping a sun-warmed berry into your mouth right off the vine or bush!

July is a perfect month to celebrate these petite, luscious fruits, so we’re putting a few of our berry best books on sale for 25% off. Enjoy!

The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way by Michael Phillips
Extensive profiles of how to grow raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, currants, and elderberries will have you savoring the prospects of your very own berry patch.
The Backyard Berry Book: A Hands-on Guide to Gardening Berries, Brambles, & Vine Fruit in the Home Garden by Stella Otto
Includes all the information that backyard gardeners need to grow strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, lingonberries, currants, gooseberries, grapes, and kiwi fruit.
The Grape Grower: A Guide to Organic Viticulture by Lon Rombough
A book for grape growers who wish to use organic growing methods to raise healthy, thriving vineyards in the backyard or on a small commercial scale.
Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, a Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious, Easy-to-Grow Edibles by Eric Toensmeier
Berries are perennial crops you plant once and reap the benefits of year after year. This book introduces these and other crops that just keep giving.

Selected books on sale until July 31.

Eight Ways the World Will Change by 2052

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Originally published by Fast Company.

Editor’s Note

Forty years ago, The Limits to Growth study addressed the grand question of how humans would adapt to the physical limitations of planet Earth. It predicted that during the first half of the 21st century the ongoing growth in the human ecological footprint would stop–either through catastrophic “overshoot and collapse”–or through well-managed “peak and decline.”

So, where are we now? In 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, Jorgen Randers–one of the co-authors of Limits to Growth–issues a progress report and makes a forecast for the next 40 years. This excerpt is reprinted with permission of Chelsea Green Publishing.

Let me answer some of your likely questions about the next 40 years as I expect them to unfold.

1. Will I Be Poorer?

Some of us will, others will not.

In order to give a clearer answer, the question must be asked more precisely. The question must be: Will I be poorer compared to x? And you must decide whether x should be (a) today, (b) what you would have been if humanity rose to the occasion and ran a rational world, or (c) relative to your peers.

Furthermore you must be precise about what future time you are asking about. Is it 2052? Or the halfway mark, 2032? You do remember, I hope, that the average income path to 2052 will not be a straight line. Per capita consumption in my forecast grows to a peak sometime within the next 40 years and is in decline in 2052—details depending on where you live.

If we’re willing to sacrifice some precision, though, I can provide this general answer: As long as you are not a citizen of the United States, you will be richer in 2052 than you are today. But only slightly so, unless you live in China or BRISE. I can add some detail: you will be much poorer than you would have been in 2052 if a benevolent dictator took control in 2012 and forced through the necessary investments to keep everyone employed and global warming below plus 2°C.

And I can add: Unless you do something very stupid (or very unconventional) during the next 40 years, you will be in the same position vis-à-vis your neighbors and peers as you are now. Both you and your peers will experience the same parallel development over the next 40 years. The only exception is if you are presently very affluent. Then it may be that your social rank will have declined through the processes of redistribution, which I believe will occur during the next 40 years in order to reduce some of the tension implicit in the rapid increase in inequity in the capitalist world.

Finally, I will give you a piece of uninvited advice: Yours is the wrong question. You should not ask, “Will I be poorer?” You should rather ask, “Will I be more satisfied?” Whether you are satisfied with life is more important (for you) than whether you are somewhat richer or poorer. Empirically, for some, income is the sole determinant of life satisfaction. But for the majority, a whole host of factors influence our well-being—job, health, family, community, prospects for the future—in addition to income. It is the sum total of all aspects of life that determine your well-being, both now and in the future.

So when you privately assess the implications for yourself of my global forecast, try to judge what it will mean for your well-being, not only what it will mean for your income.

2. Will There Be Enough Jobs?

Yes.

Or to be slightly less flippant: there will be as many jobs in the future as there have been in the past—relative to the workforce, that is. Or to be more scientific: there is little reason to expect that underemployment will be much higher (or lower) in the future than it has been over the last generation. This means that 10% of those who would like to get a paid job won’t get it overnight. The number will be closer to 5% during business upturns and closer to 15% during downturns. In the future, like in the past.
The reason is simple. A job is absolutely crucial from the point of the individual in industrial and postindustrial urbanized society. It is the only way in which the individual can get part of the societal pie–without engaging in theft. Since a job is crucial, the individual will do his utmost to obtain one. And society–at least in the long run–will do its utmost to ensure there are jobs, typically by seeking rapid economic growth. But we know from recent history that this is a taxing task, and that politicians often fail. As a result we do experience lengthy periods of excessive unemployment, even in the advanced economies. And the task of securing full employment may become harder in the future, since I forecast lower growth rates in GDP.

But given the importance of employment for societal peace and order, and given the real fear among the elite about a reshuffling of the cards, the necessary effort will be applied–sooner or later. The reason why I am willing to state this so blatantly is that the task is solvable in principle. When the unemployment problem is not solved in the short term, it is because society is not immediately willing to use the tools that the ruling elites actually have at hand. Because these tools imply taking from the rich (those with a job) and giving to the poor (those without a job).

For in the end the rulers can print paper money and pay unemployed people to do what society needs to get done, in return for the paper money. For example, politicians can decide that society needs to build dikes to protect against rising sea levels, or remove litter from public places and highways, or paint all roofs white (in order to reflect more sunlight and reduce global warming), or create new pieces of art for public enjoyment. And they can print the necessary money to pay for this work. The new money will boost demand for everything that the workers need–food, shelter, energy, vacation–and have the traditional expansionary effect. The cost will be higher inflation, but that bothers the rich more than the poor. As long as there are underutilized resources in the economy, deficit financing of compulsory work for the state is sustainable. It is possible to lower unemployment by printing new money. But the rich will scream. Because they will see this for what it is: namely, a transfer of wealth and income from the rich to the poor.

If the elite is stupid enough not to solve the unemployment problem within reasonable time, revolution (or at least sufficient rattling of the system to get crisis work going) will result. Such disruption will lower incomes in the short term, but it will distribute the cards in new ways in the longer run and therefore provide new opportunity for the formerly unemployed. Disruption makes unemployment more bearable, and probably gets it back down into the 10% range.

So I see little reason why there should be higher levels of unemployment in the future. But that is not the same as saying there will be smooth sailing. Unemployment figures will continue to fluctuate between the barely acceptable and the totally unbearable. And all along there will be unnecessary suffering.

3. Will the Climate Problem Hurt Us?

Yes, but not critically before 2040.

My forecast shows in quantitative detail how I believe the global average temperature will increase over the next couple of generations. The average temperature will go from plus 0.8°C relative to preindustrial times in 2012 to plus 2.0°C in 2052, and a maximum of plus 2.8°C in 2080.

The forecast maximum in 2080 is above the threshold that world leaders agreed would place us in the danger zone for runaway climate change; but it is important to realize this is a politically negotiated goal. Views differed, and still differ, on what will be safe. Or in other words, what will hurt us.

There is a large body of literature about what will happen at plus 2°C. Science agrees on the broad lines–more drought in drought-prone areas, more rain in rainy areas, more extreme weather (strong winds, torrential rains, intense heat spells), more melting of glaciers and the Arctic sea ice, somewhat higher sea levels, and a more acidic ocean, in addition to the higher temperature and the higher CO2 concentration in the atmosphere that will boost food and forest growth in higher northern latitudes. Ecosystems will move poleward and uphill.

But science cannot yet predict the detailed strength and regional distribution of these impacts. Thus it is impossible to forecast what will be the effect on your surroundings over the next generation. But you can get a strong indication if you start looking slightly beyond science. By asking locals in daily contact with nature, you will get to know what has changed over the last 20 or 40 years. You can do worse than assuming that these changes will strengthen during the rest of your life.

Let me give a concrete example. The only rational reason to live in a cold, northern city like my hometown of Oslo during the dark subfreezing period from mid-November to mid-March is the great opportunity for cross-country skiing (ideally on moonlit white glades in the pine forests just north of the city) on the one meter or so of cold fluffy snow that covered the ground until the last real winter in 1986.

But over the last 25 years, the average winter temperature in Oslo has gone up by plus 2°C. This has shortened the period of stable cold weather from four to two months. Instead, we now have two months of good skiing and two months of wet, gray, and cold slush, which keeps the forest dark and makes it impossible to even go jogging there after work. One-half of the Oslo winter is gone, sacrificed on the altar of climate change. This is clearly visible in the eyes of someone who has been skiing regularly over the last fifty years. It is discernable in the snow statistics, but it is not yet an established fact in the urban public mind. And certainly not institutionalized in a strong Norwegian climate policy.

This loss of skiing is a nuisance, but not catastrophic. As is the prolongation of the dry period in the western United States, or the increased number of very hot days in Provence. But they do constitute a loss. And a longing, among the grown-ups, for the good old days. A little more problematic, to say the least, is the slow rise of the ocean level around those Pacific islands that will be submerged if the ocean actually rises by a meter—just twice the expected sea-level rise by 2052.

So if you want to find out how climate change will hurt you, ask a local elderly outdoorsman or old farmer what he believes is going on. And then try to answer the question “Will I be more satisfied?” under the conditions that he thinks are emerging. But please be aware how subjective the answers you get will be: Most Norwegian farmers living next to my moonlit skiing forest are delighted at the prospect of higher temperatures, better forest growth, and the opportunity to clear-cut more often, with less snow bothering the cutting operations.

KEEP READING

Summer Cooling Advice from the Author of The Passive Solar House

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Not only are Chelsea Green authors experts in their fields, from organic farming to green building, they’re incredibly nice folks! Just last week we got an email from James Kachadorian including this article full of tips to help fight the extreme heat a lot of the nation is feeling.

So here they are, some passive solar strategies for keeping your home cool without frying the planet.

by James Kachadorian, Author: The Passive Solar House

With temperatures soaring across our country and heat records breaking on a daily basis, let’s consider the summer cooling aspects of a properly designed solar home. On the cover of my book, The Passive Solar House, one will find the words The Complete Guide to Heating and Cooling Your Home.

Is this an oxymoron? Most people only associate a passive solar home with heating. However a properly designed passive solar home can and will be cooler in the heat of the summer than a conventional home.

First let’s start outside, with proper siting and the strategic planting and placement of trees. The following two pictures illustrate what can be done with deciduous trees. When the leaves have dropped, the winter sun is allowed to penetrate through the bare branches to heat the home. When the trees have leafed out, the summer sun is blocked. We all know it’s a lot more comfortable to sit under a leafed out maple tree in summer than to sit in the open sun.


Winter

Summer

The trees in these pictures were all planted when the home was built.

Next, by siting the home to face true south, the summer south sun that does get to the home is so high in the sky that there is little to no penetration via the south windows and patio doors. The next picture shows the amount of sun penetration at solar noon on the June summer solstice. Not only does the sun penetrate the home just a few inches; but the high angle of incidence “bounces” most the sun’s heat away from the patio doors and windows.

Summer Solstice

However, this is not the case for east and west facing windows. These windows are important heat collectors in spring and fall but can be detrimental in summer. The reason being that the sun’s east-south-west sweep around the home is greater in summer. The next diagram shows how the “slice of the pie” gets greater from December to June. The south aperture goes from 106 degrees in December to 234.6 degrees in June at north latitude 40 degrees.

Sun Angles

Window treatments are effective in controlling east and west heat gain in summer. Keep in mind that the sun’s rays are almost perpendicular to east and west windows in summer making the heat gain far greater than what happens with the  south faced windows. The following diagram and photograph show how east and west windows can be shuttered to keep the morning and/or afternoon sun out of the home. Of course, these same Thermo-Shutters are used in winter to reduce heat loss at night.

Thermo-Shutters

Decorated Thermo-Shutters

So far we have seen how we can control the macro environment by proper siting and the use of deciduous trees. We have also seen how we can keep the morning and afternoon sun out of the home by utilizing window treatments.

Now let’s go inside the home and see what we can do to keep the home cool. The most obvious is proper insulation. Almost everyone understands the importance of roof and wall insulation in controlling heat.  So let’s move on to discuss the use of thermal mass and simple ventilation techniques.

Thermal mass is used in a solar home to absorb heat both winter and summer. In winter the sun’s heat is stored in the thermal mass during the day and then released to the home at night when the sun is no longer shining. If the thermal mass is sized properly, the home stays at a comfortable temperature day and night. My term for this is that the home is in Thermal Balance. Or, the home has thermal inertia. Too much thermal mass and you have a cave. Too little thermal mass and you end up with a hothouse.

In summer, if the thermal mass is sized correctly, by the time that the house heats up, the heat of the day is over. Because of this, a thermal lag has been built into the home. In summer, the technique is to ventilate the home at night and let the night’s cooler air displace the heat retained in the thermal mass.

The formally patented Solar Slab described in The Passive Solar House book effectively accomplishes these heat exchanges because air is allowed to pass through the mass. The following diagram illustrates the air flow.

Note the ventilator placed in the attic. By running this fan at night the cooler night air drawn into the home and reduces the temperature of the Solar Slab. The home is then ready to take on the heat of the next day.

There are areas of the country where all the techniques discussed will not be sufficient to control heat and humidity; and mechanical air conditioning is needed.  In these areas the return air to the central air conditioner (heat pump) is passed through the Solar Slab. This will pre-cool the air and constantly assist the central air conditioner. Experience has shown that size of the air conditioner can be reduced because of the pre-cooling of the returning house air. This is analogous to present day hybrid cars where gravity is used in tandem with the mechanical engine. Whereby gravity charges the battery when the hybrid decelerates.  In the solar home described, the engine is the central air conditioner unit and “gravity” is the Solar Slab thermal mass.

Hopefully this discussion has demystified and illustrated how a solar home can be cooler in summer than a conventional home.


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