Krishna Consciousness & Ecological Awareness

Divine Nature
June 21, 2007, 3:12 pm
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by Michael A. Cremo & Mukunda Goswami

What are the root causes of the environmental crisis? What can we do about them?

“Does a highly spiritual tradition like Krishna consciousness concern itself with concrete problems of this world? Do the teachings have a significant environmental impact?

“Divine Nature is a clear, even eloquent ‘yes’ answer to both questions. The chapter on ‘Meat and the Environment’ is the best succinct statement I have read on the environmental impact of meat consumption. But Divine Nature deftly weaves this concrete factual material into a worldview which includes history, scientific theory, and the metaphysics of karma. The implications of diet are far-reaching. Divine Nature is a must for professors of religion like myself and for students like mine. It shows us that the apparently abstract and ethereal realm of spirituality bears upon the environment in a quite positive and practical way.”

From the back cover:
According to Divine Nature, the real cause of the global environmental crisis is an underlying lack of spiritual understanding. The authors systematically demonstrate that most proposed solutions are only palliative and that humankind must undergo a profound change in consciousness to live in an environmentally sound way.

“Divine Nature leads the human spirit upward. The authors lucidly explore the dimensions of a genuine solution to the world’s environmental crisis. They suggest that the most important changes must come first within each of us—in the way we see ourselves and the universe, the way we eat, and the way we live.” George Harrison, singer, UK

“A book of hope and transformation, conviction, and dedication, and I urge all who care to read and share.” Dr. Michael Fox, Vice PresidentThe Humane Society of the United States

“In view of the crying need for excellent literature concerning the interface of spirituality and the environment, Divine Nature is a Godsend.” Gene Sager, Professor of Religious Studies and PhilosophyPalomar College, California

“Divine Nature reminds us we must learn again to live within the laws of nature …aware and grateful that we are at the mercy of sacred forces larger than ourselves.” From the Foreword by William McDonougharchitect, author of The Hannover Principles.

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Modern Technology- no fuel, no electricity, & pollution free
June 14, 2007, 2:26 pm
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Mr. Chandrakant Pathak, a Mechanical Engineer commenced his career as lecturer in an Engineering institute. His urge to spread technical knowledge for self employment in rural areas impelled him to start some basic productive technical training courses for which he founded Modern Technical Centre in 1964. These courses were extended free of cost to deserving candidates and deaf & dumb students. Due to his inclination towards social service he came in contact with Sakal Relief Fund (SRF), a NGO. Through SRF he associated himself with building shelters for people in flood affected remote areas and also participated in minor irrigations schemes and projects by run by Government of Maharashtra. To save fuel and electricity he has researched and invented bicycle mounted water pump, animal driven modern energy machine and various other non-conventional energy equipments that are run by utilizing manpower and animal power and are pollution free and environment friendly.

Check out some of these revolutionary, modern-day machines.
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From Rooftop to Restaurant – A University Cafe Fed by a Rooftop Garden
June 1, 2007, 7:52 pm
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Co-written by Aimee Blyth and Leslie Menagh, Urban Agriculture Notes

Visible from either side of the Otonabee River, a mere five-minute stroll across the Trent University campus bridge, a rooftop garden and little café are working toward social and environmental change, specifically a shift in food culture.

For about a decade now, Professor Tom Hutchinson, a local farmer and ecologist, has been supervising an intensive vegetable garden on the roof of the Environmental Sciences building at Trent University. The reasons for the garden are many. Historically, it has provided a site for monitoring the effects of air pollution and smog on agricultural crops. More recently, it has served as learning space for students in the Food and Agriculture Emphasis Program at the school. And in Toms’ own words, “it demonstrates our ability to use unused space for productive purposes. Since most people live in cities it behooves us to maximize the ecological aspects of the urban environment. Rooftop gardens clean up pollution and create esthetically pleasing, calming places to be.”


Today, the garden grows organic food for local groups interested in food security and sustainable agriculture. Among these is The Seasoned Spoon Café. “The Spoon” as the restaurant is affectionately called, has a mandate to source its ingredients locally thereby reducing the energy it takes to transport healthy food to consumers. It is the only restaurant of its kind at the university as it is a student-run, independent co-operative that stands as a politically driven alternative to Aramark. The American food catering giant which predominantly provides food on campus contracts other corporations such as Tim Hortons and Pizza Pizza. So, like Tom’s rooftop, The Spoon also provides unique opportunities for practical learning, from studies in small business operation to bioregionalism.

While most students are away for the summer, the rooftop and the restaurant have hired us: a gardener and a summer cook. With a shared love for all things gastronomic and growing, staff, volunteers, and Spoon customers are increasingly aware of the varied components of local food culture, and their interdependence. Spoon cooks can often be found weeding, sifting compost, or harvesting food, in turn deepening their appreciation for seasonality.

Whereas fast food may have been an attractive novelty some decades ago, we have seen a significant shift in the desires of eaters at the university and beyond, toward food that is ethically produced. It tastes better because the flavours are as fresh and varied as local farmers’ produce. Furthermore, the price is as easy to swallow as any other food served at the school, and is often less costly. In fact, what we’re seeing is that taste is determined by much more than what generically-produced, hyper-packaged products could ever offer – the ingredients of which have travelled farther than any human is likely to travel in their lifetime, chocked full of unpronounceable preservatives that enable it to do so. People like to feel good about what they’re eating. It feels – and therefore tastes – better “to know that the means of production are ecologically and socially sound”, says TimWilson, customer and member of The Spoon. And at the rooftop garden, we are committed to doing just that.

The Gardener’s Story

“What is it?”, Scott, my fellow rooftop gardener asked.

I wasn’t sure. I’d never seen this striking, green-black striped caterpillar before. We decided to leave it where we found it on the plant, and I went home to look it up; parsleyworm is its name. It eats the foliage of members of the umbelliferae family, including the parsley plant where we’d seen it. Like so many other gardeners, we were charmed by the beauty of this bug. One of my gardening textbooks – a rather dry book that I had thought contained no adjectives – describes the parsleyworm as “stunning”. This little caterpillar, seems to have escaped the scorn that other garden pests command, such as the cabbageworm (which I, like most other gardeners, pick off whenever I see one). This distinction may not be without justification, however, as the parsleyworm, in the end, did little damage to our parsley crop. The trade-off was the later arrival of a another butterfly to the garden – a black swallowtail.


Working in the treetops among the butterflies, birds, bees and squirrels we cultivate vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers, including many heirloom varieties. Having never taken care of a rooftop garden before, I was surprised by the ways it differs from a traditional garden. The main differences can be summed up in two words: sun and wind. The resulting growing conditions tend to be more extreme. Even after a good rain, it takes very little time for the beds to dry out; our solution is mulch, mulch and more mulch. Even so, not everything grows well on the roof. In particular, we have difficulty with spinach, peas and beans. Other heat-loving plants, however, do very well including tomatoes, peppers and basil.

Another significant limitation on the roof is soil fertility. In the spring we recruit unsuspecting (or very generous) volunteers to help us haul compost from The Spoon. We further amend the soil with sheep manure from Tom’s farm, green manure and compost tea. In particular using green manures or compost tea is labour-saving, because it precludes the need to bring more materials up to the roof through the Environmental Sciences Boardroom (the only access to the roof).

Despite these challenges, rooftop gardening provides a number of incentives. We need not worry about pests such as deer. Furthermore, what is a challenge in the summer – namely the warmer, dryer conditions – is an advantage in the spring when we’re able to start gardening a few weeks earlier than the surrounding area. Thus the rooftop climate acts as a season extension.

Fortunately for us, the rooftop garden was a part of the initial building design. Thus, not only is there proper irrigation and drainage, but the building has sufficient load-bearing capabilities to support eighteen inches of saturated soil. To prevent water and roots from compromising the roof there is an impermeable membrane beneath the soil. The garden acts as a temperature moderator for the building below, cooling it down in the summer and insulating it in the winter.

On a larger scale rooftop gardens and sod roofs can do the same in a city. A recent study prepared by Ryerson University for the City of Toronto, found that green roofs significantly reduce stormwater runoff, reduce energy consumption and the reduce the heat island effect. Furthermore, they help to beautify the city and create more natural green spaces in urban areas – for everyone, including the black swallowtails.

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