A Thought About The Web of Life:
“Insects are the basis of the food chain for so much. Birds, for example, are one of the many creatures that thrive off of them, well certain types that’s for sure but even predatory birds that eat larger forms of life depend on bugs to build the food chain blocks… Des Cartes, the French philosopher said man is separate from nature, mind, and body are separate. Cartesian Dualism is, in fact, the cause of this separation that allows people to read such a thing and then not act. People stopped seeing in patterns and only have a rational worldview. Essentially this is the missing link in the new age spiritual realm and a message I really wish to hit home with…” (From Insect Decline Blog – see below for link)
Personally, I love this way of understanding our environmental predicament. In fact, I’d take it a step further and say we are not “stewards” of nature, but rather, we are nature, and it is us. It is only by viewing our place in the world this way on a deep, intuitive/psychological level, rather than as a Cartesian separation, with humankind lording over nature, that we will begin to heal our biosphere, which is to say, ourselves…
Mexico’s growing renewable generation could cut power prices by 40%
Electricity prices in Mexico could drop by 40% by 2024 because of growing renewable capacity, according to a study released Wednesday by the Mexican Business Coordination Council (CEE), the country’s largest business group.
Greater renewable generation capacity could lead to average locational marginal prices in Mexico of $38/MWh in 2024 from $64/MWh in 2017, according to the study co-authored by the Mexican wind and solar energy associations, AMDEE and ASOLMEX.
Renewable generation can make Mexico a more competitive country, Leopoldo Rodriguez, director of AMDEE, said on Wednesday at a release event for the study.
“It is clear CFE is contracting the lowest electricity prices in the world without investing a peso in new power plants,” Rodriguez said. The price forecast assumes the country achieves its goal of generating 35% of its electricity from clean sources by 2024, he added.
In 2017, Mexico generated 69.4 GWh, or 21% of all of its electricity, from 22.3 GW of clean generation capacity, which represents 30% of its total capacity, data from Mexico’s Energy Secretariat (SENER) shows.
As a result of the three long-term electricity auctions Mexico has held, the country will double its wind and solar generation capacity in the coming years from 11 GW of capacity in 2017, Rodriguez said.
The study is based on market data from long-term electricity auctions, self-supply projects and private bilateral power purchase agreements in Mexico since the energy reform was enacted three years ago, Rodriguez said.
“Data have shown renewable generation in Mexico has more than surpassed all our expectations,” he added.
The study shows that levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for renewable generation in Mexico can be lower than combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants.
While the LCOE for CCGT in Mexico is in a range of $42-78 MW/h, the estimated cost for wind is $19-67/MWh and for solar is $18-$66/MWh, the study found.
The study highlights that the final LCOE of power projects will depend on the quality of resources and the capacity of the companies to execute the projects efficiently.
However, to continue Mexico’s exponential clean generation growth, the country needs to expand its transmission grid, Eduardo Reyes, an energy partner with PwC Mexico, said Wednesday.
Based on the SENER’s latest long-term forecast the country requires 28 GW of new CCGT and 32 GW of clean generation capacity to meet its power demand in 2030.
Today, Mexico has 44 GW of CCGT and clean generation capacity under development applying for grid interconnection, Reyes said.
“All these projects won’t be developed, but the number under development is substantial,” Reyes said, adding that the interconnection demand surpasses the available interconnection capacity in the country by 12 times.
Expanding Mexico’s transmission grid will allow the country to enhance the reliability of its electric system by enabling a higher flow of intermittent electricity among different regions, he added.
To expand the country’s transmission grid, it will be key to attract and further open this segment to private investment, Reyes said.
by — Daniel Rodriguez, firstname.lastname@example.org
The process Holly and I went through in purchasing Ejido property here on the coast of Jalisco was not an easy one. Fortunately, our seller, an expat who had Carte de Poder (Power of Attorney) for the property was someone highly acclimated and 100% fluent, and thus able to navigate the brutal bureaucracy involved. Even with that, the process nearly killed him – literally.
To start with the property needed to go through the process of “dominio pleano” a solicitation to have it removed from the community Ejido land holdings. Next, it had to receive state approvals on its way up the food chain to the final application for titling by RAN (Rural Agrario National) in Guadalajara. Once titled, it still had to be registered back at the state level, then returned for a final “derecho del tanto” (right of first refusal for Ejido members) and payment of taxes at the Ejido level. Normally, once titled by RAN, a coastal property can be held in fideicomiso bank trust and even receive Title insurance with an expat named as the beneficiary. In our case, however, we had to form a Mexican corporation due to the size of the two parcels. This process added an extra six months. In total, the process, start to finish, took three years, with plenty of under-the-table “tips” paid along the way by the seller.
(For more of the back story, check out my memoir “The Mexico Diaries, A Sustainable Adventure” available at Amazon/Kindle.)
The following is offered as a quick-start trouble-shooting guide to any foreign nationals considering the purchase of ejido, or recently privatized ejido property, particularly in the federal restricted coastal zone.
1) Any deal to purchase property that is still part of an ejido (communal land holding) should be considered RISKY. Regardless of what you may be told, using a Mexican national as presta nombre (borrowed name) or any other means to purchase ejido property in the restricted zone can never be a fail-safe proposition regardless of having powers of attorney (carta de poder) or a will (testimento) in place. While many people have successfully “owned” property for years in the name of a presta nombre, there seems to be increasing financial/development pressure that is making that vehicle for holding property ever less stable over time.
2) The litmus for determining if a property is actually private, and not still part of the ejido, is possession of a Title from RAN (Registro Agrario National). A word of caution, however; many sellers will say that properties are titled, and will wave around what’s called an “escritura” (title), however, these are often titles created at a municipal level and are not the same thing as a full RAN title. The fact that there are two types of title creates considerable confusion, however, any Notario can easily determine if the title is a proper RAN title, the kind necessary for a secure purchase. It should also be noted that converting a Ejidal escritura to a proper RAN title can take years. Beware of anyone claiming otherwise. There is a cluster of titles in our town that have been in process since 2006!
4) It is advisable that any deposit money paid should be accompanied by a formal compra y venta agreement, best reviewed by a Public Notario’s office. A formal compra y venta will be drawn up for privately titled property only, not ejido property. Any purchase agreement other than a formal approved compra y venta should be considered extremely risky. Consideration should also be given to the facts that realtors aren’t licensed, escrow accounts are rarely used, and that even deposit money accompanied by a formal compra y venta may be at some risk.
Note here also that even with a compra y venta agreement in place, all members of the ejido are constitutionally entitled to the first right of refusal before the first sale of a property out of the ejido.
5) Final purchase, payment, and transfer of title should be conducted under the supervision of a Public Notario’s office only.
6) Even with proper RAN title and/or municipal subdivision approvals for deeded lots, there are still risks! Unlike the U.S. (or Canada?) where municipal approvals cover the liability for adherence to federal environmental rules, approvals granted Mexican municipalities do not cover this liability. Any subdivided property being sold without a prior Estudio Impactal del Medio Ambiente (Environmental Impact Study) is still at full risk for future fines or even forfeiture for any existing or future development done without the study. In many cases, a Forestry study will also be required.
7) A final cautionary note. Even if you are confident that your papers are all in order, keep in mind that the Mexican legal process makes the legal system in the U.S. look like a bullet train. Legal battles can take many years to resolve, if ever, and a legal fight is usually a true battle of attrition, and largely stacked toward the Mexican nationals.
Good Luck Amigos. Buying property in the restricted coastal zone is definitely not impossible, but it should be considered a gamble, and like all gambling, it should not be done with more than you can truly afford to lose. Purchasing property in the interior, where fee simple deeds are easily acquired, is a straightforward process very similar to the U.S. or Canada. Striking a deal to lease or build on a Mexican’s land are other options that are often successful.
Being The Change – Book review by Dan Gair (as published in from Permaculture North america Magazine)
In “Being the Change”, NASA climate physicist Peter Kalmus takes us on a journey, mostly by bicycle, to a future where humans learn to live in harmony with nature, and themselves. That future also happens to be Kalmus’s present.
In the first third of the book, Being the Change offers a sweeping survey of current climate science, before moving on to explore how individuals can effect real change on a personal level, while elevating that change to a pilgrimage of spirit. Through Kalmus’s entertaining story, the reader is able to imagine transforming one’s own life into a more balanced, sustainable whole. Never losing site of the practical, Kalmus offers solutions for those wishing to reduce the environmental impact associated with work, travel, eating, play and even poo’ing!
Throughout the book, Kalmus offers useful chapter sub-headings that function as guideposts on the road to change. Among these the reader will find general suggestions for opting out of the broken banking and consuming systems, how to best effect political change, and how to strengthening local community ties. In addition, there are practical, sidebar topic tips for getting started with “humanure” composting, converting diesel vehicles to WOV’s (waste oil vehicles), backyard chickens, “slow travel”, wild foraging, labor saving gardening practices, bicycle commuting, and calculating one’s carbon footprint. One aspect of “Being The Change” that I particularly enjoyed was learning about how embracing a lower impact lifestyle has contributed to Kalmus’s spiritual practice, and loving connection to the world around him.
The only things I felt could have made the book more comprehensive would have been the inclusion of a broader discussion of green urban planning, and more information about back-to-the-landers, eco villages, and the global Permaculture movement.
The author’s inherent authority as a leading climate scientist, combined with his passion for freeganism dumpster diving, bee keeping, bicycles, composting, and community, plus misadventures in his waste veggie oil vehicle “Maeby” (maybe it will make it) all shape this book into a deeply inspiring, informative read.
Thinking of moving off the grid? Starting an organic farm or CSA? Are you part of a group considering pooling resources and homesteading together?
Well, shhhh-h-h-h, come closer, I’ve got a few well guarded secrets I can share with you…
Secreto Numero Uno: get your hippi ass south of the border! Be it Mexico, Costa Rica, Columbia, or wherever, there are many reasons that you should consider the southern option. The reasons? Listen in:
Reason #1: Two to Three growing seasons. Yes, you can find extended growing in the southern U.S., but 1000 miles south of Texas you really do get an entire second or even third season. What’s not to love about growing outdoors, year round!
Reason #2: The cost of land & living. Land is cheaper (well maybe not Costa Rica anymore), but equally important for the long haul is that property taxes are nearly zero. On our one hundred acres we pay $200 a year. Tell me that doesn’t help the bottom line! And while some things like farm & solar equipment are expensive there, once you have property you are allowed a one time exemption to bring a moving van’s worth of “household goods” into Mexico without import taxes. Also, the cost of ongoing basic staple goods is roughly half what one pays in the U.S.
Reason #3: Save energy and reduce your carbon footprint: So how much of your precious time and energy do you want to spend every year preparing for the coming winter? 30%? 40% 50% or even higher??? Well how does 0% sound as an option for you? If you are situated in Mexico or further south, the cost of winter is a thing of the past. And then there are the ethics and nuisance factors of winter heating to consider. How much of your life’s energy, not to mention the planet’s carbon resources, do you really want to commit to heating your home, or even, in extremes climes, avoiding the possibility of freezing to death?
Reason #4: Less Regulation: Face it amigos, you just can’t fart in the U.S. anymore without a permit! Seriously, come south of the border and you’ll discover a sense of freedom you would never have dreamed of back in the United States or Canada. Whether you plan to sell in a farmer’s market such as one of the three or four thriving ones in Puerto Vallarta alone, or if you’re planning on having a CSA, selling to restaurant’s, or simply just growing for yourself, you can count on minimal regulation once you’ve crossed the border and made your way south.
Reason #5: Security in the face of what lies ahead. Really, you ask? Is he seriously suggesting that life in Mexico can be more secure than life here in the good olde U.S.A.??? Well, yes, actually, I am. As for the narco violence, there are a few simple, common sense rules to be followed such as staying out of the areas of drug production or major transport corridors. The vast majority of the violence I hear about is limited to three or four states, and even with that, it’s the narcos and cops getting perforated, not tourists, travelers, or organic veggie farmers. (I could go on and on about this subject, but will save that for another post…). So what do I mean by security for what lies ahead? Well, the way I see it, if the energy infrastructure gets disrupted for one of any number of reasons (troubles in the middle east, peak oil, climate change) then simply surviving, let alone thriving anywhere north of 30 – 40 degrees north latitude could get really expensive if not downright impossible. Personally, I’d rather build my off grid infrastructure in a place with great public transport, and where access to plentiful, renewable, energy is a bonus, not a necessity!
Reason #6: Quality of Life. Having shuttled back and forth, splitting parts of the year between the two worlds for nearly a decade now, I can with some authority that QOL south of the border is, in general, superior. Yes there are issues with sanitation, schooling, crime and such, but over all life there is really sweet. The Mexican people are, on the whole, far more open, warm and friendly to strangers than has been my experience in the northern countries, and the pace of life, much more focused on friends and family, is more relaxed, and even festive, than north of the line.
So there you have it. Starting your Permaculture journey in a location with high property taxes or heating demands is like setting off to hike the Pacific Coast Trail with two ten pound rocks in your pack. Why would you do that? Mexico and other points south can help eliminate these handicaps.
If you’re still not sure and want to make a test run first, come spend some time with us in beautiful Mayto! Our off grid goat ranch + sustainability center has a campground and guest house where you can beat the winter and hang out for a while. We also have work exchange programs, a very affordable, hands-on education program, and even the possibility of longer-term involvement. Check us out! www.ranchosolymar.com
Dan Gair, his wife Holly Hunter, along with their daughter Hillary Abrams own and operate Rancho Sol y Mar. Entertaining stories of their Permie adventure in Mexico, from scorpion stings & Narco uprisings, to rescuing chickens from boa constrictors, and paying bribes with fresh goat cheese, are all presented in Dan’s upcoming memoire “The Mexico Diaries (A Sustainable Adventure, South of the Border)” scheduled to be published later this year.
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This entry was posted in Camping, CSA, CSA’s, Farming, homesteading, Mexico, Mexico, off grid living, off grid living, Organic, peak oil, permaculture, permaculture, recycling, sea turtle, solar, solar, Sustainability, Travel and tagged beach, campground, camping, CSA’s, energy, energy issues, farming, food, food production, goat, goat cheese, Jalisco, latin america, Mayto, Mayto Beach, Mexico, off grid living, organic. CSA, peak oil, ranch, solar, sustainability, Travel on September 29, 2012. Edit
Top Above: One of several new building projects underway at Proyecto San Isidro featuring a wonderfully crafted “mashup” of Cob, Straw Bale, Traditional Adobe, and Pajareque (including bottles) construction techniques. Natural building has it all: minimal environmental impact, lowered construction cost, long lasting durability, beauty, and comfort (earthen buildings are well known by Mexicans as being “fresco” (cooler in hot weather than contemporary cement based construction). So what’s not to love???
Bottom Above: Agave and fields of Rancho El Pardo, home of the inspired San Isidro project.
I’m happy to report that the movement to pursue sustainable living practices is gaining ground in Mexico. This last week (October 2014) I attended a natural finishes workshop at the inspired Proyecto San Isidro at Rancho El Pardo in Central Mexico, along with more than twenty others from all around the country and representing a terrific variety of Mexican social strata. The workshop itself was extremely well organized and covered topics from natural plasters ( primarily variations on mixes of builder’s lime, earth, sand, straw, and cow poo) to the making of paint, applying frescos (natural pigments painted directly into fresh lime plaster), waterproof tadelakt (a burnished lime surface used for showers, sinks, and other applications where waterproof finish is needed), and earthen floors.
One thing quite amazing to experience and be part of is the growing web of connections in the Canadian, U.S., and Mexican natural building movements. Much of it originated with Llanto Evans, who single handedly saved cob construction techniques which had been a standard of construction in the British Isles for centuries, but which had gone virtually extinct during the 1900’s. Lanto, and his wife Linda breathed new life into this wonderful building art when they transported the knowledge back to their home in Oregon in the 1980’s, and began experimenting with more sculptural use of the materials than had been used previously in the U.K. It was the combination of practicality and the new artistic expression that Lanto & Linda brought to it, that captured imaginations, and propelled the medium to new life. Lanto later introduced Cob to the Las Cañadas sustainable community in Vera Cruz state of Mexico, as well as builder Pat Hennebery of British Columbia and many others in the Pacific Northwest, and a cross pollination of builders migrating between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico has been evolving ever since.
Like much of the other explosion in cross cultural mashups happening in recent years, the new generation of natural builders are combining cob with other techniques such as straw bale, super adobe, compressed earth block, rammed earth, traditional adobe and others. This all seems to fit the new generation of Mexicans well as they push to cast off their machismo heritage and find identity more relevant to new global realities we’re all grappling with. And no where I know of can this cross pollination of cultural and generational building styles be found in more beautiful expression than at Proyecto San Isidro.
Following are photo’s and descriptions of the various techniques and material mixes taught at the workshop:
above: Proyecto San Isidro Director & Natural building Architect Alejandra Caballo demonstrating a sample of hardened cob mixes.
above: Guest instructor and fresco muralist Pedro at pigment making demonstration (pigments later used in a separate paint making class).
above: Various naturally occurring mineral elements used for making paint pigments.
above: Participants examining earthen floor samples.
above: Cob, Straw Bale, & Pajareque composting toilet room under construction.
above Resident Maestro (master builder & teacher) Guero demonstrating the application of fermented cow dung exterior finish coat.
above: Cob serpent atop Pajareque wall
Unusual example of a vaulted boveda ceiling constrcuted with traditional adobe blocks rather than fired brick.