Episode 321. Living a Natural Life, Bill Mollison, Ancient Amazon Farmers, World Congress of Agroforestry and Beekeeping in a War Zone

This is The ChangeUnderground for the 2nd of January 2023.

I’m your host, Jon Moore

Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!

This week start our summer series looking back on the most downloaded episodes from the first seven years of the show.

This episode, 130, was first published on the 20th August 2018.

We begin this week with a quote from Bill Mollison:


Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple. — Bill Mollison

End Quote

This quote is at the top of our first post for this week: Maintaining the Ways of Our Ancestors from Neolithic Lifestyle Rx.


This post is an excoriating attack on the mainstream. The work, debt, consume, repeat mainstream. Now it’s unlikely that people living that life would be reading the blog quoted but we live in hope. The solutions suggested though are worth a look.


We can provide for our own needs, on our own terms.

We can reject the industrial food distribution network that threatens to collapse our global ecology, and instead eat seasonally from the land which immediately surrounds us.

We can reject the profit and status driven mindset that divides us, in favor of an ethic that puts health and wellness first while emphasizing family bonds and community interconnectedness as the pillars of true wealth.

We can reject the polarizing and ultimately distracting political charades of our era and embrace just doing something, anything productive, right now.

End Quote.


That last sentence: We can reject the polarizing and ultimately distracting political charades of our era and embrace just doing something, anything productive, right now.


Put me in mind of another one of my favourite Mollison quotes:


“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” 

End Quote


The more we move from consumption to production, the better we and this world will be.


The rest of the post and it is a good serious length, you can read at the link in the show notes. I would recommend it.


We now come to a post from AncientFoods entitled Ancient farmers transformed Amazon and left an enduring legacy on the rainforest.


I think it possible to underestimate the effect we humans have had in the planet. We’ve been altering ecosystems for far longer than the fossil fuel fueled free for all since the Second world War.


From the post,


Ancient communities transformed the Amazon thousands of years ago, farming in a way which has had a lasting impact on the rainforest, a major new study* shows.

Farmers had a more profound effect on the supposedly “untouched” rainforest than previously thought, introducing crops to new areas, boosting the number of edible tree species and using fire to improve the nutrient content of soil, experts have found.

End Quote.


This is not dissimilar to the affect the indigenous peoples  of Australia had upon that continent. The key element which, from my reading, stands out from Amazonia, to the antipodes, to Africa is the use of fire as part of a landscape management toolkit. The european farming mindset sees fire as damaging. Think barn burnings and lack of winter feed for stock. That fire, when properly used can be beneficial to both the landscape and the humans and other animals living on it, takes some mindset shift to accept. When I say beneficial to the landscape, I mean it alters the landscape but in a way that appears to do very little ecological damage. It alters the balance between trees and understory to favour grasses and herbs over shrubs. Thus reducing the fuel load for wildfires. Given the northern Summer this year, it might be worth having a think about this landscape management tool.


Anyway, I think we need to realise that most landscapes outside of Antarctic have been modified by human activity. Some for the good some not so. So we need to think deeply before we alter any ecosystem fully aware that not matter how deeply we have considered this change, there will be unintended consequences that we will need to adapt to.


Our next post is from the blog Pacific Livelihoods Research Group entitled 4th World Congress on Agroforestry 



The Pacific Livelihood Research Group’s Professor George Curry is on the scientific committee of the World Congress on Agroforestry to be held in Montpellier, France between 20-25 May 2019.

The overall objective of the Congress is to contribute to the progress of agroforestry science and practice in order to bridge the science-policy gap.

More than 1000 delegates and leading keynote speakers from all over the world will make this gathering a unique experience.

End Quote


This looks like a wonderful Congress. I’ve tentatively added it to my diary for next year. Agroforestry is, to my way of thinking, a variation on the Permaculture system. Indeed I heard a podcast some five odd years ago where an academic stated he calls what he does agroforestry because if he called it what it really is, Permaculture, he’d be drummed out of the Academy. Whatever works is how I see the world so agroforestry is a word I can work with. 


Now to post that shows the difficulty some farmers have to face from the blog Middle East Affairs entitled Yemen: Beekeepers are exposed to many air strikes during the war.



SANAA – Yemen’s beekeepers risk air strikes and land mines as they traverse the country’s valleys, transporting their hives on pick-up trucks to produce some of the world’s finest honey.

The impoverished Arab state, known for its Sidr honey made from the jujube tree, has endured three years of war that have pushed it to the verge of famine and shattered the economy.

End Quote.


Droughts come and go, floods too but airstrikes are, thankfully, not many of us have to work with that safety issue. Let’s some time thinking about the efforts required to follow your profession under those conditions.

From further in the post:

“Before the war…we produced large quantities of honey. [But now] honey farmers who move their private farms at night sometimes get hit by mistake,” said Faris al-Howry, who owns one of the main honey stores in the capital Sanaa.

“It’s happened with two or three farmers we know where their farms were bombed [in air strikes].”

End Quote.


In this centenary year of the Great War’s ending let’s all make efforts to bring a more peaceful world.


And on that sobering note I’ll draw this episode to a conclusion. 


Remember: Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!


As a podcast listener you may be thinking of producing your own podcast but you’re not sure where to begin, drop over to mrjonmoore.com and pick up the free checklists I’ve written to help you get started. I’m also doing live presentations twice a week and putting them up as podcasts under the show name “PodThoughts” to help you through the process. Link in the show notes. Details at the website mrjonmoore.com.


A transcript of this episode is available at worldorganicnews.com


Thank you for listening and I’ll be back next week.



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email: jon@worldorganicnews.com

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