margonaut blog archive (2004-2014)


“being your own (have a go) architect”

This link went over well on Facebook, so I thought I'd repost here (thanks to the special person who showed it to me!)

A Low-Impact Woodland House
The house was built with maximum regard for the environment and by reciprocation gives us a unique opportunity to live close to nature. Being your own (have a go) architect is a lot of fun and allows you to create and enjoy something which is part of yourself and the land rather than, at worst, a mass produced box designed for maximum profit and convenience of the construction industry. Building from natural materials does away with producers profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings.

Filed under: sustainability 1 Comment

you’re “carbon neutral”? So what!?

Part of the story I'm working on involves a character (I changed his name to Colin) who works for a "Green Marketing" company. He soon learns his employers are not so eco-friendly and mostly interested in the other kind of green, money.

Tonight I am researching "carbon credits" and found this story.

The great carbon credit con: Why are we paying the Third World to poison its environment?

In the fields around this giant chemicals factory in Gujarat, the barren soil smells of paint stripper and the water from the well makes you gag. So why has it been given tens of millions of pounds of taxpayer-funded UN ‘green reward points’, which are traded hungrily on the financial markets at huge profit?
Companies that cut their emissions gain credits. If, on the other hand, they exceed their quotas, they have to acquire credits. The credits are traded on markets such as the ECX and have become such an established part of the financial world that trading involves Europe’s biggest banks, including RBS and Barclays. Until the global slowdown, carbon was one of the most profitable ‘commodities’, nearly doubling in value between 2007 and 2008.


why is gold valuable?

During "economic downturns" many choose to invest in (and or hoard) gold.

Why is gold so valuable anyway? Is it just for its jewelry value or is there something more to it?

Does it matter?

Free investment advice for those with money right now: invest in SEEDS, LAND, and/or GREENHOUSES!



where to live?

From David Suzuki's awesome Nature Challenge, which offers ways to reduce one's ecological "footprint" on the Earth:

Live close to work

Choose a home within 30 minutes walk, bike or transit to daily destinations

Living close to work, school and shopping reduces time spent driving and frees up time for you to spend on things you care about. Buying a home in a new subdivision often contributes to urban sprawl and the destruction of valuable farm and wild lands.

Essential Facts:

* It’s been estimated that the average person spends 32 hours a month driving and 27 hours a month paying for their car use.

* Locating close to work, school and shopping reduces time spent in your automobile, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

* Keeping development within existing urban areas protects valuable agricultural land and wildlife habitat.


Filed under: sustainability 3 Comments

living Christmas trees!

I love the smell of a "real" Christmas tree, however it seems as it's time to make the tradition of every family cutting one down & throwing it away every December obsolete.

Here's a trend I predict we'll see catching on more & more in the years to come!

Living Christmas Trees
These trees are dug from a field with their roots encased in a soil ball, then wrapped in burlap and potted. After their brief stay inside for the holiday, they are transplanted outside to continue growing.

Filed under: sustainability 3 Comments


Permaculture is a way of designing landscapes (or any kind of system) in a way that works with what is already there to produce more variety of plants for less labour. It's wise and wonderful.

Yesterday I took part in an introductory class on the topic.

Wikipedia: Permaculture
Permaculture design principles extend from the position that "The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children" (Mollison, 1990). The intent was that, by rapidly training individuals in a core set of design principles, those individuals could become designers of their own environments and able to build increasingly self-sufficient human settlements — ones that reduce society's reliance on industrial systems of production and distribution that Mollison identified as fundamentally and systematically destroying the earth's ecosystems.

Permaculture Education Template Design Building
visioning a workshop template
for permaculture education-in-action
this is a virtual record of an applied workshop template
for introducing basic permaculture concepts
in the context of creating a community permaculture education demo site

Filed under: sustainability 1 Comment

American politicians who could save the world choose greed, fear, and personal comfort

The US Government is working on drafting changes to the Endangered Species Act, many of which are actually designed to help business make more money (this is not about creating jobs here, ok?) and will weaken animal protections.

I am not an animal rights activist & I eat meat. However, the fact that more and more species are dying out every year combined with the fact that we are part of an interconnected web of life (what we do to them we do to ourselves) is an indication that weakening these laws is a bad idea.

If you want to help sign up for the mailing list below! I especially encourage Americans to get involved.

Save our Species Alliance
The first step to making a difference in the debate over and future of the Endangered Species Act is to be informed. We encourage you to use all of the resources on this website to inform yourself about the ESA and how it impacts citizens. The next step is to speak out. Talk to your family, co-workers and neighbors. If you are concerned about the failure of the ESA to recover species and the negative impact it has on everyday citizens, then so should the people around you!

Use the materials below to aid you in your effort to get involved and to inform others about the importance of updating the ESA.


don’t drink where you…

The things we humans flush down the toilet (into our water supply!) would be better used to fertilize the soil (as is done traditionally in many cultures.) The plants would even thank us.

Composting Toilets
The most efficient toilets are composting toilets. They have less odor than conventional flush toilets, use no water, are simple to maintain, and produce nutrient-rich compost. In general, they require emptying only once every 6 months. The humus produced is odorless and can be applied directly to a garden like any other fertilizer.

Composting toilets have been widely used in Scandinavia for many years. They have been around since 1964, when the multrum toilet, invented by a Swedish engineer, was introduced.

Filed under: sustainability 2 Comments

obscene destruction of the forest

Today I went hiking in an area near my house that is slated to be logged soon. It was both gorgeous and totally depressing to imagine.

The plan is to leave only a very small buffer around the creek and a few of the "veteran" old trees in place. One of the bigger trees was spraypainted in blue with the word "leave" on it!

The forest is not just a bunch of trees. It's an ecosystem that includes other plants, mosses, animals, insects, fungi, soil microorganisms, and more. It's possible to do sustainable forestry (where only some of the trees are cut down so everything else can survive and continue) but unfortunately, today the forestry business is all about clearcutting, because it means more money now. Even if new trees are planted, the ecosystem of the forest is destroyed. The area I visited today has rare frogs, salamanders, mosses, and a few amazing 700+ year old trees.

Unfortunately, sustainability isn't compatible with a stock market driven economy where business is under pressure to continually grow profits! To "succeed" requires greed! It doesn't take a math genius to see that eternal growth is not possible and something has to give.

One of the worst parts about this is that this destruction is government sponsored. Tax dollars are being used to destroy the environment! Timber is big business and corrupt governments keep this going because of money and dangerous short-term economic thinking.

It used to seem like there would be trees available forever and ever, but today logging methods are high tech and devastatingly fast. In some areas, they're up there with lights and going 24/7.

I seriously wonder if the people who direct and approve these projects have any concience whatsoever. Perhaps they don't understand that what we do to the Earth, we ultimately do to ourselves. Perhaps they just don't care about future generations or anyone but themselves.


an interesting ethics concept

Since we can't fully escape from using environmentally destructive fossil fuels just yet, here's an interesting concept on how individuals and organizations can attempt to balance that out ethically: pay an additional fee that will be applied towards climate change research!
Climate Care Trust Limited sells CO2 reductions, and funds projects around the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change. The reductions made balance our clients’ emissions, making their activities climate neutral.

I'm not sure how effective this will be in practice, but it's certainly better than doing nothing. It's also good to see The Guardian using it on a business-wide scale.

Imagine what could be done if the US Government would spend billions on developing alternative energy sources instead of on an endless War! Now THERE'S something that would make a difference!

Unfortunately, that won't happen until enough people wake the *&#$ up and stop electing oil barons into office.