Registration for the Transition Town training: April 4,5

TRANSITION TOWN TRAINING
April 4 and 5, 2009 ~ La Placita Village, Tucson

Click here for Registration Form

Workshop Description: This two-day workshop is designed to provide a detailed introduction to the most important skills necessary to successfully set up, develop, and run a Transition project in Tucson or any other locality. It is designed for people who are already in a group that is working to achieve this or who are thinking of creating such a group.

The training comes out of the community experience of Totnes, England, a town leading an expanding worldwide network of communities desiring to lessen their dependence on fossil fuels and to create more resiliency to withstand the economic and ecological shocks coming from our outworn industrial-growth economic system. The Transition Town organization just recently merged with the Post Carbon Institute and thus is becoming one of the most important sources of education and
guidance for communities worldwide that are preparing to transition to more localized and sustainable economies.

At the end of the course, participants will:
◆ Have a clear understanding of the current global context for transition arising from climate change
and peak oil and gas
◆ Understand the Transition Town model
◆ Have experiences of joint visioning, using Open Space, and organizing effective meetings
◆ Understand the purpose and principles of an Energy Descent Plan
◆ Have the outline of an effective and inspiring talk on Transition Towns
◆ Have an initial plan of action for themselves and their community

Who should attend: Those wanting to take on leadership roles within Sustainable Tucson’s present planning initiative and other sustainability projects-students, educators, activists, community organizers, concerned citizens, permaculture andsustainability practitioners, green economy activists, etc.

Facilitators:

Sarah Anne Edwards, LCSW and PhD, is an ecopsychologist and founder of Let’s Live Local, a nonprofit organization working to build local resilience and sustainability in the mountain village of Pine Mountain Club, CA. Along with husband Paul, Sarah has written 17 books on career and lifestyle change. Her background includes training and consulting with a wide variety of private, nonprofit, and government organizations.

Bill Aal is deeply involved in social and environmental justice work with a particular focus on agricultural sustainability and social healing. Versed in opening the imagination, awakening people’s best thinking and inspiring group transformation, Bill works with group reflection to unleash collective genius in organizational settings. He co-founded Riseup.net to build computer-based communications networks for activists.

Registration: Program fee is $220. Those who register by March 13 are eligible for a $20 discount, for a fee of $200. Register soon, as space is limited to 30 people. A $50 deposit will hold your place, with the balance due by March 27. (You also have the option to pay the full fee when you register.) Use this link for a downloadable registration form:
http://www.sustainabletucson.org/2009/02/26/registration-for-the-transition-town-training-april-45/

Please make your deposit check out to: NEST, Inc.
(NEST, Inc. is the parent tax-exempt nonprofit organization under which Sustainable Tucson is a project.)

Please send your check, along with a registration form, to: Kira Freed, 4500 E. Sunrise Dr., #D-6, Tucson, AZ 85718 When your deposit/fee has been received, you’ll receive an e-mail confirmation letter with directions to the training site.

Questions: Contact Linda Ellinor at (707) 217-6675 or lellinor@q.com

Complimentary coffee and continental breakfast will be available in the morning. We ask that you bring your own lunch (sorry, no fridge space) or let us know when you reserve your space if you would like us to supply you with a box lunch for $10/day.

Click here for Registration Form

Click here to download Flyer

FORMAT FOR SKETCH PLAN

FORMAT FOR SKETCH PLAN
There are 3 sections, each with a few questions. Compile or summarize your groups answers either in paragraphs, or as lists, whatever you feel is clearest.
—————————————————
The Present:
————————
1. How is your topic area (Food, Transportation, etc.) operating today?

2. What currently exists that contributes to or is working toward long-term sustainability in this area?
(businesses, organizations, practices, regulations, incentives, etc.)

3. What current practices, etc., are at-odds with respect to long-term sustainability in this area

The Vision: (The preferred state where Tucson becomes sustainable.)
————————

1. What is the overall benefit in becoming sustainable in your topic area?

2. What activities, businesses, and/or practices** don’t exist today in this area that can lead Tucson towards greater sustainability?

(**regulations, incentives, collaborations, policies, functions, etc.)

Practical Steps: ( What are the next actions toward the above goals that our working group on [Food, Transportation, etc.] can take towards the creation of a comprehensive sustainability plan for Tucson:
————————

1. Identify the organizations, businesses, etc. who are engaged in current sustainability practices.

2. Identify the organizations, businesses, etc. who are engaged in practices that are not considered to be sustainable for our Tucson community.

3. Identify realistic projects and activities that our group on (Food, Transportation, etc.) would like to spearhead during the next few years.

4. How do these group projects and activities address the core problems Tucson is facing at present in terms of such sustainability areas as fossil fuel use, resource depletion, green jobs, and quality of life?

“Water Harvesting: Lessons Learned from Australia”

“Water Harvesting:  Lessons Learned from Australia”
Speaker: Brad Lancaster
When: March 12th 4-6pm
Where: Technicians for Sustainability; 612 N 7th Ave. Tucson 85705
Contact: 520-740-0736

Brad Lancaster will present his findings and stories from his 2007 research trip to Australia. He’ll talk about how rainwater harvesting tanks – once illegal in the major cities of Australia – is now legal, rebated, and mandated on all new home construction. That’s just the beginning. Water-harvesting business, practices, and progressive installations will also be discussed. Other topics will include legal home-made composting toilets, green developments, and more.

More Information: http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/2009/02/06/water-harvesting-in-australia-a-presentation-by-brad-lancaster-tucson-az/

Please post this free event for people to attend.

Thank you.

Danielle Kontovas
Technicians for Sustainability

The Power of Community (video /documentary on 1990 food & economy crisis in Cuba)

Urban Food Growing in Havana Cuba: >>See Video

How Cuba Survived Peak Oil: >> See Video

The whole movie:

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens.

It is an unusual look into the Cuban culture during this economic crisis, which they call “The Special Period.” The film opens with a short history of Peak Oil, a term for the time in our history when world oil production will reach its all-time peak and begin to decline forever. Cuba, the only country that has faced such a crisis – the massive reduction of fossil fuels – is an example of options and hope«

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program coming to the Mercado

Diana Hadley writes:

I’m hoping that you can help me spread the word about a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program coming to the Mercado. This program can provide you with weekly bundles of fresh, locally grown produce at a reasonable price. This is a great way to be green, eat healthy, and support local farming.

Agua Linda Farm, located about 45 minutes away in Amado, AZ, is willing to set up a CSA pick-up site at the Mercado San Agustín as early as March! That means that you will be able to pick up your share of farm-fresh vegetables each week at the Mercado. First, however, we need to find more people in the neighborhood that would like to participate in this program. If you are interested, or you know someone who is, please visit the site: www.agualindafarm.net and go to the CSA page. Where it asks you to specify the pick-up location, type “Mercado San Agustín”.

____________________________________
Amy Graden, Mercado San Agustín Project Assistant, The Gadsden Company, LLC
127 West Franklin Street
Tucson, Arizona 85701
(520) 465-7091

Home

The Drying of the West: Our Future?

drought map

UA climate scientist Jonathon Overpeck confirms previous studies that Arizona is ground zero for the most extreme warming and drying impacts in the U.S. Read article here. UA Regents Professor, Malcolm Hughes recently completed a new study that shows the last decade was the hottest in at least the past 1300 years.

Expert: AZ in climate-change bull’s-eye

By Tony Davis, February 18, 2009, Arizona Daily Star

The state’s best-known climate-change expert presented harrowing forecasts for sharply higher temperatures and drier rivers and reservoirs before a legislative committee in Phoenix on Tuesday.
Jonathan Overpeck told the House Environment Committee that:

  • Temperatures could regularly hit the 130s in Phoenix by the second half of this century due to human-caused climate change. In Tucson, temperatures could periodically go into the 120s by that time, said the University of Arizona scientist in an interview shortly afterward.
  • A group of researchers meeting at a conference Overpeck attended this week in Seattle concluded that the most likely reduction in Colorado River flows from global warming and drought will be about 20 percent by 2050. A separate study, still under review for publication, will predict a 30 percent chance that Lake Mead and Lake Powell could go dry by 2050 if nothing is done about climate change, he said.

That’s far less severe than the prospect of a 2021 drying of those lakes that came from an earlier study from Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers. But it’s still a significant threat. “It’s not if it will happen, it’s when it will happen,” Overpeck said.

  • Various reports indicate Arizona has the country’s fastest or second-fastest warming temperatures and predict that Arizona will warm up and dry faster than any other state.

He warned of an economic calamity if global warming isn’t curtailed. “Once the Central Arizona Project goes dry for one year, our state is dead; people won’t want to live here anymore.”
Larry Dozier, an official with the agency running CAP, said it is trying to avert such a crisis by planning to do cloud-seeding, remove water-sucking tamarisk trees from rivers and search for alternative water supplies.

“We’ve got to spend some money. It will take environmental clearances and political clearances, but if people want water at a rational, affordable price, you can have it,” said Dozier, CAP’s deputy general manager.

But Overpeck, director of UA’s Institute for Environment and Society, said Arizona has one of the country’s best opportunities to combat climate change because of its abundance of solar energy.
Two Republicans on the committee praised his talk but didn’t sign on to all of his solutions to reduce global warming.

The committee will consider legislation to pull Arizona out of a seven-state effort to limit greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants and other sources. Overpeck spoke against the legislation.

The bill targets the Western Climate Initiative, an effort pushed by former Gov. Janet Napolitano that has drawn criticism from many Republican legislators. They have tried unsuccessfully before to pull Arizona out of the agreement, partly on the grounds that Napolitano was wrong to sign the initiative without the Legislature’s backing.

Overpeck spoke the same day that a lobbying group for energy and other business interests released a study warning that the Western Climate Initiative will prolong the recession and will reduce global temperatures by only a tiny fraction of a degree even after a century.

The study, commissioned by the Western Business Roundtable, found the initiative’s greenhouse-gas cap-and-trade plan could “chase away tens of billions of dollars in high-technology investment from the West to other regions” and would “further stress the West’s already strained electricity grid, increasing the threat of potentially catastrophic power outages.”

The climate initiative calls for a system in each state that would limit greenhouse-gas emissions from utilities and other large sources of fossil fuels. Companies that produce fewer emissions than they are allowed to produce could trade those rights to companies producing more emissions than allowed.

Overpeck was a lead author for the 2007 report of the International Panel on Climate Change. It predicted average global temperature increases of more than six degrees Fahrenheit under the fastest growth rate in greenhouse-gas emissions that scientists at the time thought was possible.
Now, greenhouse-gas emissions are growing faster than the report predicted at the time, raising the prospect of dramatically higher Arizona temperatures by mid-century, according to Overpeck.
“Whether it is drought frequency, the increase in temperature or the decrease in soil moisture, we are in the bull’s-eye – the worst in the United States,” Overpeck said.

Overpeck is someone Rep. Lucy Mason, R-Prescott, said she wants to work with in developing policies “toward moving Arizona into the 21st century on renewable energy.” But Mason opposes the state being in the regional climate program, out of concern that having to follow a regional solution would hamper individual efforts made in Arizona to reduce emissions.

Overpeck’s presentation was “direct and to the point,” said Rep. Frank Pratt, R-Casa Grande.
But he said he has not made up his mind on the climate-initiative legislation and finds it hard to decide if global warming is human-caused.

Contact reporter Tony Davis at 806-7746 or tdavis@azstarnet.com.

Wider study shows spike in warming – last decade hottest in 1,300+ years

By Tony Davis, published September 2, 2008, Arizona Daily Star

Data from tree rings, other sources indicate last decade was hottest in
1,300-1,700 years

The decade ending in 2006 was the warmest such period in the Northern Hemisphere for at least the last 1,300 years and possibly longer, says a new study written by a University of Arizona Regents Professor and six other researchers.

The study, is the latest of three reports by some of these researchers contrasting recent temperatures with those of hundreds or more years ago.

Because this study used a broader array of research data, the scholars say they have more confidence in their findings than in the earlier studies. Those studies, involving what was called a “hockey stick” diagram showing a dramatic rise in recent temperatures, brought them worldwide scientific fame and recognition by an international climate-change panel that studies global warming. But they also sparked controversy and a congressional investigation.

The new study concluded that the average Northern Hemisphere temperature over that recent decade was at least a bit more than half a degree Fahrenheit warmer than the historical, decade-long averages dating back 1,300 to 1,700 years. More likely, they were close to a full degree warmer than historical averages, the study found.

The paper is “one brick in the wall” of the case for saying that human-induced causes such as greenhouse-gas emissions are raising temperatures, said Malcolm Hughes, a dendrochronologist at the UA’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

Other pieces of evidence are more important, including the atmosphere’s basic physics and what is already known about the amounts of gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that humans have been putting into the atmosphere, Hughes said.

“It is not the foundation stone. We are not claiming that,” Hughes said of the latest study’s contribution to theories of human-caused global warming. “We are part of the supporting cast of this case. The results that we have are consistent with what we know about how climate is controlled, as consistent as they can be given the uncertainties.”But this study also offers much more reliable conclusions than the earlier studies, because they relied much more heavily on tree-ring records for data, said another researcher who like Hughes worked on both this study and the earlier ones. The new study made much more use of other sources, including data from sediments, stalactites and stalagmites from caverns and other things.

The original studies by Hughes and his colleagues led to a congressional investigation in 2005. That led directly to a National Academy of Sciences investigation.

In the academy’s 2006 report, it agreed with a critic of Hughes’ research that it is hard to quantify that one decade is hotter than any going back 1,000 years. But it said there is high confidence that surface temperatures during the late 20th century were warmer than any comparable period over the past 400 years.

The problems with going back 1,000 years, the academy review panel said at the time, was a lack of evidence besides tree rings such as boreholes, ice cores and retreating glaciers.

By broadening data-gathering, the latest study sought to address the academy’s concerns. The academy, by concluding that the earlier research was overly dependent on one type of data, had put “sort of an asterisk” on the earlier research, said Michael Mann, a Penn State University meteorology professor and colleague of Hughes on both the older studies and the new one.

“We sort of removed that asterisk,” because the new study’s conclusion didn’t depend as much on one kind of data, said Mann, director of Penn State’s Earth System Science Center.

The two earlier studies, published in 1998 and 1999, compared recent temperatures to those dating back first 600 years and then 1,000 years.The latest study will be published Sept. 9 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists.

In a diagram in the new study showing temperature changes over the centuries, a bar graph shows only relatively minor ups and downs from average temperatures until recently. But starting in the late 1980s or the early 1990s, the bar shoots almost straight up from the rest of the graph.

That diagram is similar to those from the earlier studies done by Hughes and other researchers. At the time of the original research, it was called a “hockey stick” diagram.

The original diagram made its way into the 2001 report of the International Panel of Climate Change on global warming, and gave Hughes and his colleagues huge exposure to their work outside scientific circles.

But it also brought controversy from those who felt that theories of global warming had been overblown. As part of an investigation, in June 2005, Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, requested data, documentation of the research methods, the location of all relevant data archives and computer codes pertaining to the past records of Hughes, Mann and a third colleague who worked on the earlier studies.Barton also sought records of all grants and contracts and the agreements for use of grant money that the three researchers had received. Barton at the time chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In his letter to the researchers, Barton referred to a Wall Street Journal article that said questions had been raised about the significance of methodological flaws and data errors in the researchers’ two studies on temperatures and climate change. He also pointed to work by two Canadian researchers and several articles in scientific journals questioning this work.

“As these researchers find, based on the available information, the conclusions concerning temperature histories – and hence whether warming in the 20th century is actually unprecedented – cannot be supported by” the two previous studies done by Hughes and others, Barton wrote at the time.
But the investigation drew sharp criticism from many scientists and other congressmen, including the Republican head of the House Science Committee. “My primary concern about your investigation is that its purpose seems to be to intimidate scientists rather than to learn from them, and to substitute congressional political review for scientific review,” wrote then Rep. Sherwood Boehlert of New York.

Hughes and his colleagues turned over some of the information, told them that other information was in the public record and “that is the last we ever heard from them,” Hughes recalled this week.

Recalling the congressional probe, Mann said that theirs wasn’t the only research on the subject of sharply higher recent temperatures that the IPCC, the climate-change panel, relied on.

“Three other studies came to that same conclusion at the time the IPCC report was published in 2001. By 2005, more than a dozen studies concluded that,” Mann said. “They tried to make it about one seven-year-old paper. It is much easier to attack a straw man.”

The National Academy of Sciences had put “sort of an asterisk” on the earlier research. “We sort of removed that asterisk” with the new work. Michael Mann, Penn State Earth System Science Center

How they arrived at conclusion
Data records used in the three studies by Malcolm Hughes and his colleagues:

  • 1998 study: 373 total records, including 42 not from from tree rings.
  • 1999 study: 39 total records, including 5 not from tree rings.
  • New study: 1,209 total records, including 173 that weren’t from tree rings.

What the researchers found
Hughes, of the University of Arizona, and six other researchers concluded in their latest study that:

  • The average Northern Hemisphere temperature during the decade ending in 2006 has been at least slightly more than half a degree Fahrenheit warmer than the warmest decade over the past 1,300 years – if data coming from tree ring records are excluded.
  • That same gap between the recent decade and historical temperatures dates back 1,700 years, when researchers added tree ring records to their database.
  • The most likely difference between the recent decade and historical temperatures is actually larger -nearly one degree Fahrenheit. That compares to overall figures of a range of 1.8 to 2.16 degrees in all average Northern Hemisphere temperatures over the past 1,300 years and 2.16 degrees over the past 1,700 years.

Contact reporter Tony Davis at 806-7746 or tdavis@azstarnet.com.

Greening our Faith Retreat

cochair of the Green Team at St. Philip’s-in-the-Hills. We are having a “Greening our Faith” retreat at the church canmpus on Feb. 28 from 9 am to 3 pm. We would like to extend an invitation to any churchs in our faith affinity group that might like to participate. For anyone connected to ST’s Faith Affinity group, please email this message to participating churchs, so we could use your help in this. We have an outline of the day’s agenda available. Registrationg fee is $15.00 and includes a ‘green’ lunch.

Donna Cosulich  dbc@netzero.com

Carbon levels rising faster, scientists warn

Carbon levels rising faster, scientists warn

By The Associated Press, Arizona Daily Star February 15, 2009

CHICAGO – Despite widespread concern over global warming, humans are adding carbon to the atmosphere even faster than in the 1990s, researchers warned Saturday.

Carbon dioxide and other gases added to the air by industrial and other activities have been blamed for rising temperatures, increasing worries about possible major changes in weather and climate.

Carbon emissions have been growing at 3.5 percent per year since 2000, up sharply from the 0.9 percent per year in the 1990s, Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“It is now outside the entire envelope of possibilities” considered in the 2007 report of the International Panel on Climate Change, he said. The IPCC and former vice president Al Gore received the Nobel Prize for drawing attention to the dangers of climate change.

The largest factor in this increase is the widespread adoption of coal as an energy source, Field said, “and without aggressive attention societies will continue to focus on the energy sources that are cheapest, and that means coal.”

Past projections for declines in the emissions of greenhouse gases were too optimistic, he added. No part of the world had a decline in emissions from 2000 to 2008.

Anny Cazenave of France’s National Center for Space Studies told the meeting that improved satellite measurements show that sea levels are rising faster than had been expected.

Rising oceans can pose a threat to low-lying areas such as South Florida, New York and other coastal areas as the ocean warms and expands and as water is added from melting ice sheets.

Also, highly promoted efforts to curb carbon emissions through the use of biofuels may backfire, other researchers said.

Demand for biologically based fuels means U.S. fields were switched from soybeans to corn, explained Michael Coe of the Woods Hole Research Center.

Other countries, such as Brazil, increased their soy crops to make up for the deficit.
In turn, Brazil created more soy fields by destroying tropical forests, which tend to soak up carbon dioxide. The forests were burned, releasing the gasses into the air.

The increased emissions from Brazil swamp any declines recorded by the U.S., he said.

On the Net
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)   www.aaas.org

Fluid Situation: What does the future hold for Tucson’s water supply? Only one thing is certain: It’s all going to cost more.

By Dave Devine and Molly McKasson, published by the Tucson Weekly, March 6, 2008

The Tucson City Council may soon be forced to answer some difficult questions about the quality of water that Tucsonans will have to live with.

The stakes are high: Either we’ll see a substantial decrease in our water quality, or a considerable hike in our water rates.

At the same time, a growing number of scientists and policymakers are warning that communities, like Tucson, that rely heavily on the Colorado River for water may not even be asking the right questions. With global-warming concerns on the rise, reports indicate that the river could have much lower flows in the future.

“We have built an unsustainable civilization in the Southwest,” says Tim P. Barnett, a physicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. Barnett is also co-author of an article soon to appear in the journal Water Resources Research titled, “When Will Lake Mead Go Dry?”

Barnett believes cities like Tucson need to ask tough questions now–or risk potentially devastating consequences in the not-so-distant future.

“Currently, the outflow of the Colorado is greater than the inflow,” Barnett comments in an interview. “Apparently, no one has ever looked at the way people keep the books on this river. There has been deliberate overdrafting, while minimizing climate change and infiltration and ignoring increased evaporation due to drought.”

In the coming weeks, a more immediately pressing question before the City Council will deal with water quality: What level of minerals should Tucson Water be delivering to its customers?

Back in the booming 1960s, when the water company–to meet ever-increasing population demands–was beginning to drastically draw down the aquifer, which raised the prospects for land subsidence, Tucson’s groundwater was known for its high quality.

“When we came in 1971,” recalls eastside resident Reggie Barrett, “the water was good. It tasted very good with no chemical taste.”

Fifteen years ago, after Tucson Water introduced treated Colorado River water to the system via the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal, water quality was supposed to be maintained at lower, but acceptable, standards.

Instead, chaos followed: CAP water broke pipes and wreaked havoc in thousands of Tucson homes. In addition, many Tucsonans complained about the poor taste of the water.

Barrett remembers the change clearly: “The water didn’t taste good at all, and I wasn’t pleased about what the city had done.”

In response, the City Council ordered the CAP treatment plant shut off. In 1995, Tucson voters approved the Water Consumer Protection Act, which required the recharging of CAP water. To implement this initiative, Tucson Water began planning to build recharge basins in Avra Valley.

Shortly thereafter, Tucson Water carried out a pilot test in Barrett’s neighborhood. They brought in a blend of water–part CAP, part groundwater–which had a level of total dissolved solids (TDS) less than 420 mg/L (milligrams of mineral content per liter of water) that Barrett and his neighbors found satisfactory.

The taste of water is significantly impacted by the amount of total dissolved solids–including calcium and magnesium and smaller quantities of sodium, potassium and iron–found in CAP water.

Today, by mixing groundwater with CAP water in Avra Valley and then blending it further with other well water throughout its distribution system, Tucson Water supplies a product with TDS levels between 180 and 560, while averaging 386.

That output cannot be continued indefinitely, because the CAP water naturally has a TDS level around 650.

Within a few years, as CAP water replaces groundwater in Avra Valley, it is projected the Tucson Water level will rise to 450, and then reach 650 by 2020.

A few years ago, in an effort to determine what quality of water its customers wanted and were willing to pay for, Tucson Water conducted “Decision H2O.” Officials provided people at mall kiosks and other locations with samples of water at 450 and 650 TDS levels, and participants picked which they preferred.

Those taking this taste test were told the average water bill–which was then $19 per month–would rise to $33 under the 450 TDS option, because of the enhanced filtration required. The monthly bill for the 650 TDS alternative was estimated to increase only to $26 by 2015.

Because of its higher mineral content–which would probably drive up demand for bottled water and water softeners–the 650 TDS level would do more harm to plumbing and household appliances. For instance, one Los Angeles study determined that raising TDS from 400 to 600 decreases the useful life of water pipes from 26.6 to 22.2 years.

This same report also concluded that water with a high TDS level causes “scaling and spotting, reduced lifespan of appliances and greater use of cleaning products such as soap and detergent.”

For its part, Tucson Water estimates these negative costs would run the typical customer between $3 and $4 a month.

According to Tucson Water director David Modeer, of the almost 14,000 people who took the “Decision H2O” taste test, 51 percent preferred the 450 level, while 35 percent picked the 650 TDS water. The remainder were satisfied with either.

To consider the future-water-quality issue in more detail, Tucson Water then organized panels of people to look at questions of affordability, equity, community values and taste.

“They had a 50-50 ranking,” Modeer reports of the tentative panel results. “But they favor the 650 level with the breaking point being cost.”

Tucson Water spokesman Mitch Basefsky adds: “When you take and stack the factors, the cost of the 450 level has the strongest effect (on panel opinions).”

If the Tucson City Council answers the water-quality question by selecting the 650 level, not much will change in Avra Valley.

If the 450 alternative is picked, however, Tucson Water estimates the agency will need to build a $350-$400 million reverse-osmosis plant to remove minerals from the CAP water.

In addition, that treatment process would produce a lot of mineral residue, referred to as “salts.” Projections indicate that 82 tons a day of these salts would need to be placed in a landfill by 2015, a figure which would triple by 2030.

At the same time, the reverse-osmosis process would also require a large amount of electricity to force the high volume of water through filters.

While reverse osmosis has substantial environmental and economic consequences, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has established a suggested maximum guideline of 500 for total dissolved solids in drinking water. The agency emphasizes that while there are no health risks associated with exceeding this figure, there are other household ramifications.

However, UA associate research scientist Martin Yoklic notes that whether solids are removed at a reverse-osmosis plant or go into the water supply and out people’s taps, “it doesn’t matter where you do it; (those solids eventually are) going on land somewhere.”

Yoklic is involved with one aspect of an ongoing study looking at an alternative to distributing high levels of CAP-carried salts to everyone. Being conducted by four water companies–Oro Valley, Metro, Marana and Flowing Wells–the goal of this research is to figure out how to remove much of the material at a proposed slow sand-filtration/reverse-osmosis facility, to be located near Tangerine Road and Interstate 10.

While Tucson Water customers have been receiving a combination of CAP and groundwater for several years, people being served by these northwest-side companies have continued to drink straight from the aquifer. That situation, though, will be changing.

According to Chris Hill, deputy manager of the Metro Water Company, the objective of the CAP pilot project is straightforward: “To maintain TDS and hardness levels,” Hill says. “That’s where the challenge lies.”

Hill is project manager for the study and indicates that the groundwater Metro now pumps has a TDS level around 350. Since the company has contracted to introduce CAP water into its system, the study is looking at a phased facility, which could begin initial operation as early as 2012, to keep the TDS level constant.

Hill estimates the cost of the filtration processÑalong with individual water-conveyance systems–might run between $180 million and $300 million, which would be divided up among the four companies. He acknowledges that would have rate impacts, but he doesn’t know how much. He also indicates that the study is looking at using renewable energy as a power source.

Philip Saletta, of the Oro Valley water utility, states that their water currently has TDS levels between 100 and 150. “With the future CAP water-treatment facility,” Saletta says, “it’s projected to be 300-400 TDS. Most palates don’t notice that difference.”

The water from this proposed northwest-side water-treatment facility will taste better than the higher-TDS alternative being considered by Tucson Water, while also doing less household damage. But it obviously will cost more, too, and the salt issue remains under study.

Back in Tucson, eastside resident Barrett remains concerned about his possible future water supply. “If the city is thinking of going to a 650 TDS level, that’s going the wrong way.”

Barrett adds: “Somewhere down the line, we’ll have to do something, but we ought to catch it in the early stages rather than let it go until it costs even more. In the long haul, keeping that level low will pay off.”

Acknowledging he already has a water softener and osmosis filter in his home, Barrett observes: “Whatever they do, I suppose we’re OK. But what about the rest of the people who can’t afford it, and people in apartments? What are they going to do?”

On the other hand, Modeer labels the TDS issue as one of “aesthetics.” He also says of Oro Valley and the other communities on the northwest side: “The social issues are different, as are the economic ones.”

There is also another difference. The Town of Oro Valley will be paying for its share of this proposed CAP treatment process, in part, through higher impact fees on growth.

“New development,” Saletta says, “will pay for their own water through (water) impact fees. They’re $1,300 a house now, and will be $5,182 per house by 2011.”

The Tucson City Council, however, hasn’t taken a similar step to boost impact fees. Modeer says the state Legislature changed the rules for impact fees since Oro Valley adopted its requirement. Because of that, Tucson Water is now working with a consultant to come up with a system of “forward-looking” water-impact fees which meet current legal standards.

As a result of the potentially divergent paths being taken toward filtering CAP water, within a decade, Tucson Water and its utility neighbors to the north could end up providing water with substantially different qualities. If that happens, what some might call a water-quality ghetto could be created in the center of the community.

In any case, water-utility customers in both places are facing the same economic questions: They will either pay more to filter CAP water, or pay more as a result of the household damage caused by higher TDS levels.

Either way, we’ll all be paying more because of CAP water.

In the communities south of Tucson, salt in the water has yet to become a serious issue. Instead, they’re facing another problem: How will they pay to have the CAP canal extended to Green Valley from its present termination at Pima Mine Road?

Much attention has been given to the offer by Augusta Resource Corporation–which is proposing the Rosemont copper mine nearby–to pick up part of the estimated $120 million tab for extending the canal. In any case, Arturo Gabaldon, of the Green Valley Community Water Company, says CAP water will probably need to be introduced to the area.

“Our water table has declined substantially,” Gabaldon says. “We also have water-quality issues to deal with as a result of (copper-mine) tailing ponds. Some of our wells have been tainted.

“It’s not should we have a pipeline” of CAP water, Gabaldon says. “It’s irresponsible not to have this source.”

As for the quality of that CAP water, Gabaldon says: “You understand the value of water when your well runs dry. … The 600 level of salts coming out of my well is a lot better than no well at all.”

Of course, Green Valley is not alone when it comes to concerns about wells running dry.

The seven states which border the Colorado River have divided up 16.5 million acre-feet (325,851 gallons equal 1 acre foot) of its water on paper, but only about 13 million actually flows now. At the same time, because of global climate change and other factors, that number is predicted to drop–possibly sharply.

Kathy Jacobs, director of the Arizona Water Institute, says climate change is no longer debatable. “It is better to error on the conservative side when it comes to water management now. … We can no longer assume that the future is going to be like the past.”

An article authored last year by Brad Udall, of the University of Colorado’s Western Water Assessment project, summarizes the findings of several studies which examined future flow on the Colorado River. Under the most likely climatic scenarios, these studies predict that over the next century, runoff into the river is expected to shrink between 11 and 45 percent.

Then there is the dramatic forecast predicted by Scripps’ scientists, Barnett and David Pierce. Using a conservative global-climate model–predicting a 20 percent decrease in the flow of the river by the end of the century–they have concluded there is a 10 percent possibility Lake Mead could basically dry up by 2014; by 2021, the chances go up to 50 percent.

“What brings us to this startling conclusion,” Barnett says, “is that our water-budget analysis has factored in not just current evaporation, but future evaporation and infiltration.”

Barnett is hoping the report will be a wake-up call for growing Southwestern cities.

“We don’t mean for people to get hung up on particular dates,” he explains. “What we’re saying, bottom line, is that maybe we have 10 years to deal with this. And the big question is: Is anyone going to do it?”

Recent data coming out of the UA’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research backs up the need to take the current drought extremely seriously. In a recent National Geographic article on the Colorado River, more than a few scientists using that research concluded: “The wet 20th century, the wettest of the past millennium, the century when Americans built an incredible civilization in the desert, is over. … The West is naturally dry, but just how dry it can get is only now being understood.”

If these projections are correct, that could result in a potential catastrophe for those communities, like Tucson, that depend heavily on the Colorado River for water.

While Arizona’s water planners haven’t accounted for the alarming forecast by Barnett and Pierce, they have taken into account some major reductions in flow. The state currently receives approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of Colorado River water, with Tucson Water’s share being 144,000 acre-feet.

Modeer is an elected member of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) board, which oversees the state’s CAP operation, and says he is leaning toward running for re-election later this year. The Tucson Water director points out the CAWCD has factored into consideration the possibility of a shortage of Colorado River water being declared by the U.S. secretary of the interior.

“If a shortage is declared,” Modeer says, “Arizona will take a 350,000 acre-feet cut. But there is now 600,000 acre-feet in excess, because those who contracted for the water aren’t fully utilizing it. These are mostly Native American communities which have 49 percent of the total allocation.

“Last year,” Modeer continues, “projections were the shortage would be declared in 2011 … It’s likely to last 10 to 15 years, but municipal and industrial users (of CAP water) are fairly safe for 20 to 25 years.”

Depending upon who is asked, Tucson’s future water supply may or may not be secure. At the same time, the quality of water in a river with a lower flow is also questionable. With less water in the Colorado, could TDS levels rise accordingly?

Jim Prairie works for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Colorado and says that projects along the river have successfully reduced the TDS level somewhat. Despite that, he concludes: “As the river flow drops, we’ll see increased salinity, but it’s not a linear relationship. With the drought, we’re not seeing dramatic increases in TDS.”

In the short-term, the TDS issue hangs over all local water providers who have banked on CAP water. But another question is even more serious: How much growth can be risked on a dwindling Colorado River?

What the Tucson City Council and other local water providers do to answer that question will guide community planning for decades to come. If the decision is to continue business as usual, the result could be disastrous for Tucson.

Questions that need to be answered:

1. Is metropolitan Tucson’s current water situation sustainable? If it isn’t, what should be done about it?

2. How low in quality should Tucson Water go?

3. Should limitations on population growth, strict mandatory conservation measures and the capture of storm-water runoff all be seriously considered by local elected officials when planning the region’s future?

4. Will the Tucson City Council–saying they have no choice if unlimited growth is to continue–eventually accept the use of treated effluent for drinking-water purposes?

5. Given the variability of predictions, should local water managers be erring more on the conservative side when it comes to projections of Tucson’s future CAP amounts?

6. How would Tucson’s economy be affected if the city has a less-desirable quality of water than surrounding communities?

7. What long-term studies have been conducted about the health effects of higher TDS levels?
Molly McKasson served on the Tucson City Council between 1989 and 1997. Both she and Dave Devine supported adoption of the Water Consumer Protection Act.

Saving the Suburbs. Walkable Urbanism. Green Redevelopment.

Tucson’s problems are increasing. After two years, we continue to have a glut of approximately 8,000 to 10,000 empty, unsold houses. Home prices are plummeting. Families are abandoning their foreclosed houses, especially in the suburbs. Builders are going bankrupt. Skilled workers are losing their jobs and leaving the state. Net population growth in Tucson has stopped. People’s preferences are shifting back to pedestrian-scale urban form. Adapting to climate change means retrofitting our resource-intensive buildings. Peak oil means using other modes of mobility and driving less. So what are the solutions to our mounting economic crises?

This page features articles and interviews containing insights and strategies which Tucson can now employ to stimulate and revitalize our regional economy.

Walkable Urbanism. Christopher Leinberger, a nationally-recognized urban strategist and real estate expert, has helped many cities including Albuquerque and Denver to transform their poorly performing development patterns to successful places where people want to live, work, play and shop. He practices what he calls “Walkable Urbanism.” Walkable urbanism is the development approach that creates pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use and mixed-income places. These places can either be regional-serving (anchored by regionally important employment, cultural and civic institutions, retail and urban entertainment as well as residential) or local-serving (residential with local-serving commercial). Both places benefit tremendously by being transit-oriented.

Go here to read a recent interview with Chris Leinberger.

Go here to read his articles on walkable urbanism.

Green Retrofitting. Strategies are now being discussed in Tucson to retrofit the existing housing stock of nearly 200,000 houses to meet higher energy and water efficiency standards. Solar energy applications and rainwater harvesting are additional green retrofit strategies to utilize renewable resources. Such an effort requires a community-wide mobilization of skilled workers, the building industry, and public-private partnerships. The benefits of green retrofitting include increasing our economic vitality, using fewer resources, and reducing our negative impacts on the climate. The British Government is now planning a program to green retrofit 100% of all homes in the UK.

Go here to read about the UK’s ambitious plans to retrofit 25% of its houses by 2020.

Go here to read about the UK’s ambitious plans to retrofit 100% of its houses by 2030.

Green For All is a national organization dedicated to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.

By advocating for local, state and federal commitment to job creation, job training, and entrepreneurial opportunities in the emerging green economy – especially for people from disadvantaged communities – Green For All fights both poverty and pollution at the same time.

Green For All believes a shift to a clean, green economy can improve the health and well-being of low-income people, who suffer disproportionately from cancer, asthma and other respiratory ailments in our current pollution-based economy. Such a shift can also create and expand entrepreneurial, wealth-building opportunities for American workers who need new avenues of economic advance.

In short, Green For All believes that the national effort to curb global warming and oil dependence can simultaneously create well-paid green-collar jobs, safer streets and healthier communities.

Go to GreenForAll.org to learn more.

Expect climate ‘surprises,’ UA expert says

Expect climate ‘surprises,’ UA expert says

By Evan Pellegrino, published February 14, 2009, Arizona Daily Star

CHICAGO – It’s time to expect the unexpected.

The director of UA’s Institute for Environment and Society issued the warning Friday with two other experts during a symposium to address climate change.

The debate on why the world is warming has ended, according to the presenting scientists. Now that it’s established that humans at least partially responsible, they say, it’s critical to focus on how climate change might affect life in the 21st century and what can be done to manage the impacts.

But while society anticipates changes, it must also be aware that the predictions are shrouded with uncertainties and likely underestimated, the scientists said.

“Be prepared for surprises,” said Jonathan Overpeck, director of the University of Arizona’s Institute for Environment and Society, one of three speakers at the symposium, titled “Global Change and Paleoecology: Ecological Responses to Environmental Change.”

Although scientists can forecast potential effects of climate change, such as sea-level and temperature rises, there are also unknowns and degrees of uncertainty in model projections, he said.

“There’s no spirit of ecosystem’s future to tell us what will happen,” Stephen Jackson, director of the University of Wyoming’s department of botany, said during the symposium. However, he added that “ghosts of ecosystems past” do provide scientists with evidence of potential impacts.

“The good news is that climate change is nothing new. It’s part of the world we live in,” he said.

But the bad news is that a time of climate change is not a good time to be around, Jackson said.

There will be winners and losers, he said, meaning that the changes will be good for some species and bad for others.

As far as what species will benefit and what species will lose, there are “no guarantees,” he said.

Although climate variation is not unique to our planet, human activities have intensified its impact and, thus, its consequences, they said.

Stacking human activity on natural variation will likely have grave ecological impacts, including the extinction of species that have survived climate change in the past.

“We’re facing major obstacles,” said Jason McLachlan, assistant professor at Notre Dame’s department of biological sciences.

McLachlan offered a simple yet powerful metaphor about the threat of global warming’s impact and what needs to be addressed.

Climate change is like an oncoming train, he said. On the train’s tracks are babies in carriages, representing aspects of ecology that are in danger of being struck.

What society must now focus on is evaluating what resources and species are most at risk and develop strategies to get them farther down or off the track, he said.

“But keep in mind we’re driving the train,” he added.

He noted that humans influence the train, but said that at this point, the world has already committed itself to climate change and must face it challenges even if our species were to stop contributing.

High levels of carbon dioxide produced by humans will have a long lifetime in the atmosphere, said Overpeck.

“We can’t magically cool the Earth down,” he said, foreshadowing that impacts will persist for hundreds to thousands of years into the future.

“What we’re talking about is for keeps.”

Overpeck’s forecast
Although Overpeck expressed that there are uncertainties, many of the consequences associated with global warming that scientists have predicted are already occurring, especially in regions like the Southwest, he said.
Major impacts of climate change, according to Overpeck, include:

  • An increased chance of extreme drought, especially in regions such as the Southwest.
  • Major landscape disturbances such as forest fires will likely become routine.
  • There will be a need for society to become more careful managing its resources – climate change could me much more dramatic than expected.

UA represented
Not only did Jonathan Overpeck cite the work of other UA researchers, there are other speakers representing UA at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Annual Meeting in Chicago.
Other UA faculty members who will be presenting this weekend are Regents Professor Vicki Chandler, on “Epigenetic Silencing Across Generations?”; Biosphere 2 director Travis Huxman, on the “Future of the Sonoran Desert”; and professor Michael Sanderson, on “Computational Challenges in Building the Phylogeny of Plants.”

About the reporter
Evan Pellegrino is a NASA Space Grant intern at the Arizona Daily Star. He is reporting from the AAAS’s Annual Meeting as a student journalist with the National Association of Science Writers.
The meeting is one of the largest scientific conferences in the world.
Thousands of participants have gathered for symposia, seminars and workshops, as well as plenary and topical lectures by some of the world’s leading scientists and engineers.
Contact NASA Space Grant intern Evan Pellegrino at 573-4195 or at epellegrino@azstarnet.com.

Expert: AZ in climate-change bull’s-eye

By Tony Davis, February 18, 2009, Arizona Daily Star

The state’s best-known climate-change expert presented harrowing forecasts for sharply higher temperatures and drier rivers and reservoirs before a legislative committee in Phoenix on Tuesday.
Jonathan Overpeck told the House Environment Committee that:

  • Temperatures could regularly hit the 130s in Phoenix by the second half of this century due to human-caused climate change. In Tucson, temperatures could periodically go into the 120s by that time, said the University of Arizona scientist in an interview shortly afterward.
  • A group of researchers meeting at a conference Overpeck attended this week in Seattle concluded that the most likely reduction in Colorado River flows from global warming and drought will be about 20 percent by 2050. A separate study, still under review for publication, will predict a 30 percent chance that Lake Mead and Lake Powell could go dry by 2050 if nothing is done about climate change, he said.

That’s far less severe than the prospect of a 2021 drying of those lakes that came from an earlier study from Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers. But it’s still a significant threat. “It’s not if it will happen, it’s when it will happen,” Overpeck said.

  • Various reports indicate Arizona has the country’s fastest or second-fastest warming temperatures and predict that Arizona will warm up and dry faster than any other state.

He warned of an economic calamity if global warming isn’t curtailed. “Once the Central Arizona Project goes dry for one year, our state is dead; people won’t want to live here anymore.”
Larry Dozier, an official with the agency running CAP, said it is trying to avert such a crisis by planning to do cloud-seeding, remove water-sucking tamarisk trees from rivers and search for alternative water supplies.

“We’ve got to spend some money. It will take environmental clearances and political clearances, but if people want water at a rational, affordable price, you can have it,” said Dozier, CAP’s deputy general manager.

But Overpeck, director of UA’s Institute for Environment and Society, said Arizona has one of the country’s best opportunities to combat climate change because of its abundance of solar energy.
Two Republicans on the committee praised his talk but didn’t sign on to all of his solutions to reduce global warming.

The committee will consider legislation to pull Arizona out of a seven-state effort to limit greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants and other sources. Overpeck spoke against the legislation.

The bill targets the Western Climate Initiative, an effort pushed by former Gov. Janet Napolitano that has drawn criticism from many Republican legislators. They have tried unsuccessfully before to pull Arizona out of the agreement, partly on the grounds that Napolitano was wrong to sign the initiative without the Legislature’s backing.

Overpeck spoke the same day that a lobbying group for energy and other business interests released a study warning that the Western Climate Initiative will prolong the recession and will reduce global temperatures by only a tiny fraction of a degree even after a century.

The study, commissioned by the Western Business Roundtable, found the initiative’s greenhouse-gas cap-and-trade plan could “chase away tens of billions of dollars in high-technology investment from the West to other regions” and would “further stress the West’s already strained electricity grid, increasing the threat of potentially catastrophic power outages.”

The climate initiative calls for a system in each state that would limit greenhouse-gas emissions from utilities and other large sources of fossil fuels. Companies that produce fewer emissions than they are allowed to produce could trade those rights to companies producing more emissions than allowed.

Overpeck was a lead author for the 2007 report of the International Panel on Climate Change. It predicted average global temperature increases of more than six degrees Fahrenheit under the fastest growth rate in greenhouse-gas emissions that scientists at the time thought was possible.
Now, greenhouse-gas emissions are growing faster than the report predicted at the time, raising the prospect of dramatically higher Arizona temperatures by mid-century, according to Overpeck.
“Whether it is drought frequency, the increase in temperature or the decrease in soil moisture, we are in the bull’s-eye – the worst in the United States,” Overpeck said.

Overpeck is someone Rep. Lucy Mason, R-Prescott, said she wants to work with in developing policies “toward moving Arizona into the 21st century on renewable energy.” But Mason opposes the state being in the regional climate program, out of concern that having to follow a regional solution would hamper individual efforts made in Arizona to reduce emissions.

Overpeck’s presentation was “direct and to the point,” said Rep. Frank Pratt, R-Casa Grande.
But he said he has not made up his mind on the climate-initiative legislation and finds it hard to decide if global warming is human-caused.

Contact reporter Tony Davis at 806-7746 or tdavis@azstarnet.com.

Artists Organize to Help Solve the Economic Crisis

Event Name:    Artists Organize to Help Solve the Economic Crisis
Description:    We will hold our second organizing meeting and potluck. Our goal is to build political capital and demonstrate the value of the arts in the economic recovery process. 1) How does the economic recession impact you and/or your organization? 2) What are you doing in response? 3) What do you need? 4) What are possible solutions? These are fun hands on meetings. Hope you can join us.
Time:    Monday, February 23 from 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Location:
Casa Libre (Tucson, AZ)
228 N. 4th Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85705

Directions:    How do I find Casa Libre? We are located on the East side of NORTH 4th Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets. There is a large parking lot across the street from us, with plenty of parking if our lot is full. Most taxi drivers can find us easily if you tell them our address and this information. If you get lost, you can always call us at 520-325-9145. Below is a map of the downtown area, the yellow line is Fourth Avenue, and we are the red dot in the black circle.

More information attached.

See: http://nchaws.org/

Michael B. Schwartz

“Making Public Places Sacred Spaces”
MBSarts@aol.com
520-791-9359
www.MichaelBSchwartz.com

2009 Economic Forum: Creative Strategies for Economic Recovery

2009 Economic Forum: Creative Strategies for Economic Recovery
In an effort to put our minds together, share and gather information, enhance our collective capacities, and meet the challenges we all face in economic revitalization, the Tucson Pima Arts Council will host the Economic Forum: Creative Strategies for Economic Recovery. Facilitated by, Hildy Gottlieb, Community Driven Institute consultant and author of the book “The Pollyanna Principles”, this forum will provide the opportunity for innovative solutions that focus on the strengths within the creative sector where we will ask, “What can we do together that we can’t do alone?” As State Representative Steve Farley described artists and arts organizations at the 2009 Arizona Arts Congress, “We are the recovery”. Bob Booker, Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts and a representative from the City of Tucson will welcome the participants. Please join us for an evening of animated dialogue.

When: Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 6pm -730pm
Where: John Valdez Public Library, Stone Ave

For more information on Hildy Gottlieb see http://hildygottlieb.com/
For more information on the Tucson Pima Arts Council see www.tucsonpimaartscouncil.org <http://www.tucsonpimaartscouncil.org/>
For any questions about the Forum, please contact Reuben Roqueñi, Grants Program Manager at reuben@tucsonpimaartscouncil.org or 520-624-0595 x18

PAG EXPO Speaker Advises “Get out of markets”

Sharon Astyk, a New England family farmer and sustainability writer, is scheduled to speak at Pima Association of Government’s Sustainability and Energy Expo on March 7th. Here is a recent article from her blog. She bemoans, “investing is saving” is the lie we believed. More can be read at Casubon’s Book: http://sharonastyk.com/

Down the Rabbit Hole

By Sharon Astyk

February 11th, 2009

“It was much pleasanter at home, when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits.” – Alice in Wonderland

Rod Dreher has a fascinating observation over at his blog. He talks about watching an interview on CNBC with Taleb and Roubini:

“Both men are notorious bears, and called the current crash long in advance. Both, CNBC tells us, were the hottest tickets at the recent Davos gathering. CNBC called them in to discuss the crisis. Roubini and Taleb were both trying to make their case for why what’s wrong with the economy is radical, is fundamental, goes to the very base of all our economic assumptions.

The CNBC twits just wanted stock tips and investing advice.”

The more I think about his point, the more I think that it epitomizes something fundamental about the intellectual shift we have to make – and about how hard it is to make it. Moreover, it caused me to think about how hard it will be to unmake that shift. I commented on the piece at Rod’s blog, and said,

“I think the biggest problem is that people have been told that investing is a form of saving – *the* form of saving, in fact. And they believe it – even when their “savings” are being ripped out of their hands. So the problem, through that lens, must be investing in the wrong things, rather than the whole fact that what you put into the markets should be what you can afford to lose, not what you depend on for basic things.

Add to that the fact that the society has transformed basic things like security in old age and education into things that can only be achieved through fake saving (investing) in a market that goes up, rather than things ordinary people could have, and it is no wonder that people who live in this never-never land can’t grasp that it is a world of myth. That is, they know they are not going to be able to eat during retirement or send their kids to college on their income or on regular savings. But they haven’t yet grasped that the situation has changed radically and the choices are now – change the system or accept that a college education and independent retirement are no longer choices for most of us.”

I wanted to say more about this, though, because I think that while this does show where we’re not yet, it also gives us a glimpse of where we are a going, a change as radical as falling into Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass.

Here is what Taleb and Roubini are telling us with their answer that they keep their money in cash – roughly translated this means “We expect the markets to decline still more. We expect to lose anything we put into the markets. We believe that money is safer in holes in the backyard than in the stock market.”

Here is what people who kept asking questions about college and retirement savings were saying, in translation: “We’re terrified to take our money out of the markets, and we’re terrified to leave it in. We depend on the “fake saving” message of investment for basic things like food, housing, health care and education. We know we have no way of insuring food in the pantry when we are old, or that our children will get an education without it, and we’re not yet ready to admit that our hope of those things is already lost, and thus, cut our losses. We desperately need the market to go up, so we are in profound denial about what you are saying. We have no alternate plan, and our government has no alternate plan. If what you say is true, we face utter disaster. Please tell me that there’s a way to make that not happen.”

And they are right. Both sides of the discussion are right. Without infinite growth, the hopes of an independent retirement were doomed – everyone was told they’d need half a million dollars or more to live on in retirement? What was the likelihood of that money being saved over the course of 35 working years out a 50K per year salary? Hmmm….

Four years at a State University costs $50,000 – a young family with two kids, who began saving at birth – what was the odds they were going to be able to pay for college without the markets? None.

That is, it isn’t just that people bought the mantra of fake saving, it was that they knew that this mantra was their only hope and clung to it as people being swept away in a current cling to anything in reach. And thus, most of us got into the stock market somehow. In fact, we often didn’t have any choice – our pensions, our health insurance funds, our mortgages were invested without our consent. Our companies matched not our savings, but our 401K contributions. And all of this meant that the markets had an enormous amount of the average person’s money to play with. This enforced participation meant that the growth cycle had a feedback loop going – more people had to play, which meant more pay. Now we’re into negative loops.

We were lied to, and we were betrayed, and most of us will never see our money again. And that leads to an even more important corrollary point – it will be a very long time before our society sees this level of investment again.

Think about it. I’m 35, and my friends in their 40s and early 50s are often already caring for or concerned about aging parents that depend heavily on their investments. Many have lost nearly half of their money already, but haven’t pulled out of the markets because they have been told that this would hurt them, that it is a bad idea, and because they desperately need to believe that they someday will be able to retire. They can’t bring themselves to accept that the money they have now may well be as well as they can do, because it will not support the future they’ve envisioned for themselves. So they leave it in.

Many economists have estimated the bottom – quite a few have estimated it at Dow 4000 or so, while others are optimistic. But let’s assume that the most optimistic estimates are wrong, and that much more of the money is going to disappear. It took *30* years for the Dow to reach the same levels that it hit in 1929 – the recovery was not quick, and there’s really no certainty that we’d recover quickly either.

So millions of baby boomers are facing disaster – either extra years of work, or poverty in old age. And they are going to be angry and betrayed – none of them imagined their later years to be straitened and struggling. They did what they were told. And eventually, they will take what is left of their money out of the markets and salvage what they can – and they won’t put it back. They won’t be able to afford to risk what little they have.

Shift down half a generation or a whole one, to my peers, and those slightly older and younger. As we watch our parents struggle, how many of us are going to trust in the stock market for our own retirement? As we explain to our kids why they may not get to go to college, are we going to put our limited funds there? Universal investmen tis over – and we will remember our whole lives what the dangers of speculation are. I’ve never met a peer of mine who expected to collect social security, and I don’t think that in 10 years, I’ll meet one who expects to derive money from a 401K.

The 20 and 30 year olds buried under massive student loans, the 19 year olds who will have to drop out because the college fund isn’t there – they will remember, inscribed on their chests where their vision of their future lay, that investment is not safe, it is not secure, it is not a way to ensure the future, but a way to betray it.

It took 30 years for the stock market levels to rise back up to the adjusted equivalents of the Dow in 1929 – in part, because it took 30 years for the people who were children in the Depression, and on whom the fear of banks and markets did not imprint, to grow up and tentatively step back into them.

It took 50 years, until the 1980s, to get levels of participation in the markets up to approximate the 1920s – until a generation of children who could not remember the Depression, and had only known growth had grown up.

It was only after that that ideas like giving people their safety nets and letting the gamble in the markets with them came up – and anyone want to bet how long before the next time Social Security privatization comes to the table?

Let’s assume that peak oil and climate change simply aren’t that big a deal (for the record, I assume y’all know that they are). Even without these ecological limits, the idea that the markets will rebound in the long term is probably dubious – because market participation depends on people who believe the “investing is savings” mantra. And people who have seen it shown to be false will not believe it – you have to wait until a new generation of people, more gullible because they have not seen, arises.

And that means that even if we don’t face energy constraints (we do) and ecological constraints (we definitely do), we face capital restraints – much of our current infrastructure, the way of our way of life, was built with other people’s money, invested in the stock market. Who will choose to give their money to corporations to spend? Who will choose to see their health care, housing and education dollars gambled? And that means that our long term recovery prospects must include the reality that the “investing is savings” mantra has been proved to be a lie, and it will be 20 years or more before anyone will come buying that lie again.

Now mixed in with energy and ecological constraints, I think the constraints in investment capital do mean that we must – I don’t mean should, but must, make our plans for the future very carefully, that we must choose now where to put our limited resources and energies, because they may well turn out to be more limited than we thought. Down the rabbit hole we go – and it isn’t very clear what size we’ll be when we stop growing.

Sharon

Deadline for “Form Based Codes – Worth a Try in Tucson?”

Arizona Planning Association February 19 Breakfast Presentation – RSVP by this February 13th, noon

You don’t want to miss this event!  Hurry and save your seat! RSVP no later than noon on February 13, 2009.
Please RSVP to: southernsectionboard@gmail.com

AZPA Southern Section Board is proud to offer a Breakfast presentation on “Form Based Codes ˆ Worth a Try in Tucson?” on Thursday, February 19, 2009 at Viscount Suites Hotel.

Please join us for a presentation by Dan Castro, Planner with Rick Engineering and recent graduate of the University of Arizona Graduate Planning Program and Rebecca Ruopp, UA Instructor and Planner, City of Tucson Department of Urban Planning and Design.

Dan will present the findings of his Master’s report entitled: “Can a Form-based Code Revitalize the Oracle Corridor?” Dan’s work is an analysis of the form-based codes from four cities, and highlights their Best Practices.

Time:

7:00 am, registration;
7:15 am breakfast served;
7:30 – 8:30 am presentation

Place:            Viscount Suites Hotel
Cost:              $18.00
We are offering 1 CM credit for this event.  Please see the attached flyer for additional information.
See you there!
Your Southern Section Board

Deadline to Comment on the Water & Wastewater Study PHASE ONE Report

View and Comment on the Water & Wastewater Study PHASE ONE Report
The City of Tucson and Pima County have completed Phase One of the City/County Water and Wastewater Study – the first major step in a collaborative effort to define a sustainable water future for the Tucson Water and Pima County Wastewater service areas. A 12-member citizen oversight committee has been meeting since spring 2008 to review information on our water and wastewater systems and resources. A draft report is available for public review and the Committee and Study Team would like your input and suggestions.

  • On the Web at www.tucsonpimawaterstudy.com

The report will be available on the study web site in mid-January and comments can be submitted electronically.

  • At Pima County Libraries

A printed copy of the report’s executive summary, a digital copy of the entire report, and
comment cards will be available at public libraries in the Tucson region.

The Nature Conservancy docent training class Deadline

The Nature Conservancy’s docent training class in Events on your website.

Become a docent at The Nature Conservancy\’s rainwater harvesting demonstration site, 1510 E. Ft Lowell.Contact 520-547-3437, dboone@tnc.org to reserve space. Deadline Feb. 20, 2009.  Classes meet Wed., 2-5 p.m., March 4 through April 29.

The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.

YWCA Annual Women & Money Conference

YWCA’s Annual Women & Money Conference .  The conference will be held at the Westin La Paloma Resort on Saturday  February  28, 2009.

This year\’s conference will feature a workshop on \”Socially Responsible Investing and Living\” to learn how to invest in companies that support your values and beliefs. The workshop will discuss integrating personal values and societal concerns with investment decisions. Discussion will include profitable investments in companies with good employee relations, a strong record of community  development, excellent environmental practices, that produce safe and useful products, and respect human rights around the world.

There will also be a workshop exploring economic justice, \”JUST Economics: How Women Can Save the World\”.

For more information on the 2009 Women & Money Conference, including information on how to register, call (520) 884-7810 ext. 113 or visit www.ywcatucson.org and click on Women & Money.

ST Support Statement for Economic Stimulus, Redevelopment, and Green Jobs

February 10, 2009

Honorable Tucson Mayor and Council Members,

Sustainable Tucson acknowledges the dire economic conditions facing the City of Tucson as well as the people and organizations in our community.

While we hope for the best, we also recognize that this emerging situation is unprecedented and may be worse and more long-lasting than we think.

Our core intention is to work together with both public and private groups to help achieve both the immediate and long-term vitality of our community. To this end, Sustainable Tucson has already embarked on a preliminary sustainability planning process to accelerate actions toward community resilience and sustainability.

As such, we are in full support of your efforts to protect key City functions and ensure that new jobs and general fund revenues are stimulated to replace those that have been lost.  We are also in full support of creating sustainable transportation and water infrastructures and enabling a major shift to green redevelopment, all of which, will generate green jobs to provide needed employment.

Neighborhoods have been a vital source of energy for positive change and should continue to be supported through PRO Neighborhoods because of their capacity to facilitate community involvement and contribution.

For Tucson to become sustainable the four challenges of global warming, resource depletion, economic collapse, and unraveling of the social fabric must be met with foresight and resolve. Successful adaptation will require making major new investments while we abandon spending patterns that are no longer needed.

Tucson’s past economy was dominated by growth which now appears more uncertain and unreliable as a basis for prosperity. To respond effectively to today’s challenges, City policies must shift from supporting growth to managing sustainability.

The City’s new economic stimulus program should focus on helping people help themselves and on preparing for these key challenges – access to each other, goods and services, without cheap oil; disruptions of global trade and our reliance on distant and declining resources; inability to raise capital and a trained workforce needed to make major changes in key infrastructures; and breakdown of the social fabric and our ability to work together to support each other.

While we feel the pain of the passing old prosperity, this is a unique, opportune moment to begin the steps to building a new future for our community.

Sustainable Tucson stands ready to bring all groups together, including the business and environmental communities, to tackle these problems and create a broad coalition for positive change.

Thank you for your efforts during this difficult time.
The Sustainable Tucson Core Team

The Crash Course – The unsustainability primer

The Crash Course seeks to provide a baseline understanding of the economy so that everyone can better appreciate the risks that we all face. Created by Chris Martenson, PhD scientist and MBA professional, this set of video tutorials and related articles present a clear, accessible explanation of the complex factors which are converging to create the sustainability crisis we have now already entered. The 20-part set of videos are viewable at his website here.

The following is the list of titles:

Introduction
Chapter 1: Three Beliefs (Time: 1:46)
Chapter 2: The Three “E”s (Time: 1:38)
Chapter 3: Exponential Growth (Time: 6:20)
Chapter 4: Compounding is the Problem (Time: 3:06)
Chapter 5: Growth vs. Prosperity (Time: 3:40)
Chapter 6: What is Money? (Time: 5:55)
Chapter 7: Money Creation (Time: 4:19)
Chapter 8: The Fed – Money Creation (Time: 7:13)
Chapter 9: A Brief History of US Money (Time: 7:14)
Chapter 10: Inflation (Time: 11:48)
Chapter 11: How Much Is A Trillion? (Time: 3:28)
Chapter 12: Debt (Time: 12:32)
Chapter 13: A National Failure To Save (Time: 12:06)
Chapter 14: Assets & Demographics (Time: 13:41)
Chapter 15: Bubbles (Time: 14:10)
Chapter 16: Fuzzy Numbers (Time: 15:52)
Chapter 17: PART A: Peak Oil (Time: 17:52)
Chapter 17: PART B: Energy Budgeting (Time: 12:15)
Chapter 17: PART C: Energy And The Economy (Time: 7:05)
Chapter 18: Environmental Data (Time: 16:22)
Chapter 19: Future Shock (Time: 8:02)
Chapter 20: What Should I Do? (Time: 19:48)

How drought has forced a new constitutional transition in Australian water law

Colloquium – Co-Sponsored by WRRC and Geography and Regional Development

Please make a note of the location for this seminar – see directions below
Title:              How drought has forced a new constitutional transition in Australian water law – the legal issues.
Speaker:     Jennifer McKay, Director of the Centre for Comparative Water Policies and
Law and professor of Business Law at the University of South Australia.
Date:           Friday, February 20, 2009
Time:          3:30 – 4:30 pm
Location:    Harvill Building, Room 404
The Harvill Building is located at 1103 N. 2nd Street.
Paid parking is available at the Park Ave. garage (NE corner of Park and Speedway).
Use the Speedway underpass just east of the garage, continue south along the walkway, the Harvill Building will be on your left (east) side.
Driving directions to the Harvill Bldg – From Speedway Blvd., turn south on Park Ave. and then east on 2nd Street. The building is about a block in on the north side.

Donate Your Tree’s Fruit

DONATE YOUR TREE’S FRUIT

We are Iskashitaa Refugee Harvesting
Network, volunteers working with refugees
to harvest and distribute over 30,000 pounds of produce annually from your fruit trees and local farms.

• Can’t give it away before it spoils?
•We’ll pick up, harvest and distribute your fruit.
•Help feed families in need in your community.
• Reduce the waste of good, healthy food.

CONTACT US FOR:
•Donations of picked fruit or veggies
•Harvesting/donation of your produce
• Inclusion in our database for future harvesting
• Volunteering with us

Call Barbara Eiswerth (520) 440-0100
Email eiswerth@fruitmappers.org
Visit our website: http://www.fruitmappers.org

Find us at the UofA Farmer’s Market on University Blvd, west of campus, on Fridays from 10am-2pm

Special Screening of “FLOW”: A film about Water

THE LOFT CINEMA AND WATERSHED MANAGEMENT GROUP
PRESENT  “FLOW”
Special one night screening:
Tuesday March 10th, 2009 at 7PM

Location: The Loft Cinema
3233 E Speedway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85716 – 3933

Co-presented by: The LOFT CINEMA
http://www.loftcinema.com
WATERSHED MANAGEMENT GROUP (WMG) http://www.watershedmg.org/
Media contact for WMG: Jill Nunes
Jill.nunes@…
(520) 829-6027
Media contact for The Loft Cinema: Jeff Yanc
jeff@…
520-322-LOFT (5638)

FLOW is Director Irena Salina’s award winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st Century- The World Water Crisis.

Water is the very essence of life. It sustains every living being on this planet and without it; there would be nothing… FLOW – Irena Salina’s award-winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st Century – The World Water Crisis. Salina builds a case against the growing privatization of the world’s dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel. Interviews with scientists and activists intelligently reveal the rapidly building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab, while begging the question “CAN ANYONE REALLY OWN WATER”? Beyond identifying the problem, FLOW also gives viewers a look at the people and institutions providing practical solutions to the water crisis and those developing new technologies, which are fast becoming blueprints for a successful global and economic turnaround.

FLOW is currently touring the world and winning awards at film festivals. FLOW was included at the Sundance Film Festival as an “Official Selection” and won the “Best Documentary Award” at the United Nations Association Film Festival. For additional movie information please see the website: http://www.flowthefilm.com

The Loft Cinema and Watershed Management Group (WMG) will present FLOW to the public, members of our government agencies and local environmentally concerned organizations.

Watershed Management Group (WMG) is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization based in Tucson, Arizona. WMG assists local residents and communities in the management of their water and land resources both in the U.S. and internationally.
The mission of the Watershed Management Group, Inc, is to improve rural and urban livelihoods by integrating community development and conservation. WMG provides local residents and community groups with the knowledge and skills necessary to sustainably manage their natural resources.

Brad Lancaster author of “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands” will make a short presentation and additional special guests will appear.

The ticket price is $8.00 per person, $6.00 for Loft Cinema members. Proceeds will benefit The Loft Cinema and WMG (both 501c3 non-profit organizations).

For information about WMG programs and opportunities please contact:

Lisa Shipek. Executive Director
http://www.watershedmg.org/
PO Box 65953
Tucson, AZ U.S.A. 85728
520-396-3266

LOFT CINEMA
520-795-7777 (Showtimes Recording)
520-795-0844 (Box Office)
520-322-LOFT (5638) (For all other inquiries)

For press information and interviews for this special event, please contact:
Jill Nunes
(520) 829-6027   jill.nunes@…

FLOW FACTS:
• Of the 6 billion people on earth, 1.1 billion do not have access to safe, clean drinking water (www.charitywater.org).

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency currently does not regulate 51 known water contaminants (www.foodandwaterwatch.org).

• While the average American uses 150 gallons of water per day, those in developing countries cannot find five (www.charitywater.org).

• The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns (http://www.water.org).

• According to the National Resources Defense Council, in a scientific study in which more than 1,000 bottles of 103 brands of water were tested, about one-third of the bottles contained synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic (http://www.nrdc.org/).

• Water is a $400 billion dollar global industry; the third largest behind electricity and oil. ~CBS News, FLOW.

• There are estimates that from five hundred thousand to seven million people get sick per year from drinking tap water. ~ Erik Olson, Deputy Staff Director of Barbara Boxer’s Environmental and Public Works Committee (EPW), FLOW.

• California’s water supply is running out – it has about 20 years of water left in the state. ~ Maude Barlow, author of Blue Covenant and co-author of Blue Gold, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, FLOW.

• There are over 116,000 human-made chemicals that are finding their way into public water supply systems. ~ William Marks, author of Water Voices from Around the World, FLOW.

• In Bolivia nearly one out of every ten children will die before the age of five.  Most of those deaths are related to illnesses that come from a lack of clean drinking water.  ~Jim Schultz, founder of the Democracy Center in Bolivia, FLOW.

• The cost per person per year for having 10 liters of safe drinking water every day is just$2 USD. ~ Ashok Gadgil, Senior Staff Scientist in the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, FLOW.


James MacAdam
Watershed Outreach Coordinator
Watershed Management Group, Inc.
http://www.watershedmg.org
520-396-3266 office
520-780-9416 mobile