Review: The Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady State Economy

Review: The Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady State Economy

by Jon Walker

 

What I love most about this book is the feeling you get that there is hope: solutions to environmental, social and financial crises do exist, they have been tried and tested all over the planet and all we have to do is get on with it.

 

The book is remarkable from several points of view. The extent and the depth of knowledge on which the arguments are based is truly impressive: it provides a history of money and corporations and co-operatives and land trusts from all over planet – emphasising the initiatives which have worked and survived and those which have been crushed by authoritative regimes.

 

Much of this needs to be common knowledge, for example, many successful banks which charged low-cost fees rather than interest were simply rendered illegal by their governments; booming cooperative movements were destroyed in Italy in 1921 (8,000 coops), in Germany in 1933 (4.5 million members) and Russia in 1918 (26,000 coops).

 

As the history unfolds it becomes clear that many of the kinds of institutions I had assumed were just out-performed by the corporations and banks were never given a chance. In reality, those in power just got rid of them. But there are many survivors – like the JAK bank in Sweden (which doesn’t charge interest) and the Cooperative Group in the UK – both of which continue to flourish.

 

The conclusions derived from this and several other innovations in the book are unavoidable: interest free banking does work and slashes the costs of borrowing, community land trusts are growing and enable far cheaper housing than freehold land schemes, cooperatives continue to grow and employ more people than all the multi-nationals put together. There are better co-operative economy ways to do almost everything: we don’t have to destroy our eco-systems and economics can be re-designed to benefit everyone.

 

The book is packed with inspiration – on local food, energy, housing, farming and, weaving all of this together, a better way of dealing with money. Perhaps the most impressive achievement is the way that the authors manage to hold all these elements together and demonstrate that resilience requires changes in all aspects of our lives. They show we need to change basic attitudes to almost everything, and to create a new set of values where well-being and eco-system health are more important than a set of numbers in your digital bank account. And, as the title suggests, a policy change away from economic growth as the primary objective to a resilient, sustainable way of living is fundamental.

 

The answers are everywhere. We can build houses which require almost no heating, we can feed ourselves with predominantly local foods, we can use the sun and wind and tides to generate energy, we can create communities which live in balance with their environment. The big questions still remain unanswered, however. Can we turn away from the current paradigm and begin to put all these ideas into practice for everyone, rather than see them working just in isolated pockets of resilience?

 

The authors argue their case at several levels but, for me, a constant thread is the need to reform the money-system; this stands out as a pre-requisite for broad-based change. As long as the majority of humanity is trapped into massive debt repayment, the possibilities for change will remain muted.

 

The solutions emerge clearly. We need access to debt-free money, we need access to commonly-held land, we need cooperative businesses which are designed for the benefit of the people who work or use them, we need regional solutions. And we need everyone to play their part in the transformation: a resilient society will only emerge from the efforts of resilient individuals and families. Functioning participatory democracy is needed at all levels from the work-place to the community to local government right up to the global. The authors are clear that international organisations like the farmers federation, La Via Campesina, are of crucial importance in building global alternatives to the current economic systems controlled by corporations and unelected bodies like the WTO.

 

So what if we all decided to live like this? The authors lead us gently through the consequences for the (very average) Hartwick family. For several of the proven innovations they provide us detailed calculations that they bring down to the household level to show the achievable dollar and cent savings. For example, the combined savings for an average household like the Hartwick’s in Canada over 25 years would be $363,000 if fee based financing, community land trust and basic energy conservation measures were applied. For the Hartwicks, a middle class family on average income, this translates into 12,095 hours of work at their wage level; imagine, this saving of almost 500 working hours per year. If one then adds back in the increased cost of paying a fair price for organic food over that time period, one would be better off to the tune of $286,969 plus have time left over to raise some food. Less debt means less pressure to grow, thus one could help save the planet and also save significant cash.

 

In many ways the books feels like a (nonviolent) call-to-arms: everything is collapsing around us, solutions exist and have been shown to work, and as governments seem completely incapable of doing anything, it really is down to the rest of us to stand up and be counted. So get this book and read it slowly – there is a huge amount to inwardly digest – and then decide what you’re going to do.

 

To misquote a previous work proposing radical change: all we have to lose are our economic chains and the threat of catastrophic climate collapse.

 

Jon Walker has worked in the UK co-operative sector since the 1970s, setting up and co-managing shops, warehouses, small-scale manufacturing coops, and most recently a community owned green grocer. He is also a member of the local Transition Town which is working to establish a local food economy, and finding ways to make with the local housing stock more energy efficient. He also lectures and publishes on the application of systems theory to co-operative organisational issues: his current book written with Angela Espinosa “A complexity approach to sustainability” examines the application of the Viable Systems model to the creation of a sustainable world from the individual to the global.

 

Published by Resilience.org on November 26, 2012

Published on Energy Bulletin (http://www.energybulletin.net)

 

Content on this site is subject to our fair use notice.

 

Energy Bulletin is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.

 

Source URL: http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2012-11-26/review-the-resilience-imperative-cooperative-transitions-to-a-steady-state-economy

 

Links:

[1] http://www.resilience.org/stories/2012-11-26/review-the-resilience-imperative-cooperative-transitions-to-a-steady-state-economy

 

World Energy Report 2012

World Energy Report 2012

by Michael Klare

 

Rarely does the release of a data-driven report on energy trends trigger front-page headlines around the world.  That, however, is exactly what happened on November 12th when the prestigious Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) released this year’s edition of its World Energy Outlook.  In the process, just about everyone missed its real news, which should have set off alarm bells across the planet.

 

Claiming that advances in drilling technology were producing an upsurge in North American energy output, World Energy Outlook predicted that the United States would overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the planet’s leading oil producer by 2020.  “North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world,” declared IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven in a widely quoted statement.

 

In the U.S., the prediction of imminent supremacy in the oil-output sweepstakes was generally greeted with unabashed jubilation.  “This is a remarkable change,” said John Larson of IHS, a corporate research firm.  “It’s truly transformative.  It’s fundamentally changing the energy outlook for this country.”  Not only will this result in a diminished reliance on imported oil, he indicated, but also generate vast numbers of new jobs.  “This is about jobs.  You know, it’s about blue-collar jobs.  These are good jobs.”

 

The editors of the Wall Street Journal were no less ecstatic.  In an editorial with the eye-catching headline “Saudi America,” they lauded U.S. energy companies for bringing about a technological revolution, largely based on the utilization of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to extract oil and gas from shale rock.  That, they claimed, was what made a new mega-energy boom possible.  “This is a real energy revolution,” the Journal noted, “even if it’s far from the renewable energy dreamland of so many government subsidies and mandates.”

 

Other commentaries were similarly focused on the U.S. outpacing Saudi Arabia and Russia, even if some questioned whether the benefits would be as great as advertised or obtainable at an acceptable cost to the environment.

 

While agreeing that the expected spurt in U.S. production is mostly “good news,” Michael A. Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations warned that gas prices will not drop significantly because oil is a global commodity and those prices are largely set by international market forces.  “[T]he U.S. may be slightly more protected, but it doesn’t give you the energy independence some people claim,” he told the New York Times.

 

Some observers focused on whether increased output and job creation could possibly outweigh the harm that the exploitation of extreme energy resources like fracked oil or Canadian tar sands was sure to do to the environment. Daniel J. Weiss of the Center for American Progress, for example, warned of a growing threat to America’s water supply from poorly regulated fracking operations.  “In addition, oil companies want to open up areas off the northern coast of Alaska in the Arctic Ocean, where they are not prepared to address a major oil blowout or spill like we had in the Gulf of Mexico.”

 

Such a focus certainly offered a timely reminder of how important oil remains to the American economy (and political culture), but it stole attention away from other aspects of the World Energy Report that were, in some cases, downright scary.  Its portrait of our global energy future should have dampened enthusiasm everywhere, focusing as it did on an uncertain future energy supply, excessive reliance on fossil fuels, inadequate investment in renewables, and an increasingly hot, erratic, and dangerous climate.  Here are some of the most worrisome takeaways from the report.

 

Shrinking World Oil Supply

 

Given the hullabaloo about rising energy production in the U.S., you would think that the IEA report was loaded with good news about the world’s future oil supply.  No such luck.  In fact, on a close reading anyone who has the slightest familiarity with world oil dynamics should shudder, as its overall emphasis is on decline and uncertainty.

 

Take U.S. oil production surpassing Saudi Arabia’s and Russia’s.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Here’s the catch: previous editions of the IEA report and the International Energy Outlook, its equivalent from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), rested their claims about a growing future global oil supply on the assumption that those two countries would far surpass U.S. output.  Yet the U.S. will pull ahead of them in the 2020s only because, the IEA now asserts, their output is going to fall, not rise as previously assumed.

 

This is one hidden surprise in the report that’s gone unnoticed.  According to the DoE’s 2011 projections, Saudi production was expected to rise to 13.9 million barrels per day in 2025, and Russian output to 12.2 million barrels, jointly providing much of the world’s added petroleum supply; the United States, in this calculation, would reach the 11.7 million barrel mark.

 

The IEA’s latest revision of those figures suggests that U.S. production will indeed rise, as expected, to about 11 million barrels per day in 2025, but that Saudi output will unexpectedly fall to about 10.6 million barrels and Russian to 9.7 million barrels.  The U.S., that is, will essentially become number one by default.  At best, then, the global oil supply is not going to grow appreciably — despite the IEA’s projection of a significant upswing in international demand.

 

But wait, suggests the IEA, there’s still one wild card hope out there: Iraq.  Yes, Iraq.  In the belief that the Iraqis will somehow overcome their sectarian differences, attain a high level of internal stability, establish a legal framework for oil production, and secure the necessary investment and technical support, the IEA predicts that its output will jump from 3.4 million barrels per day this year to 8 million barrels in 2035, adding an extra 4.6 million barrels to the global supply.  In fact, claims the IEA, this gain would represent half the total increase in world oil production over the next 25 years.  Certainly, stranger things have happened, but for the obvious reasons, it remains an implausible scenario.

 

Add all this together — declining output from Russia and Saudi Arabia, continuing strife in Iraq, uncertain results elsewhere — and you get insufficient oil in the 2020s and 2030s to meet anticipated world demand.  From a global warming perspective that may be good news, but economically, without a massive increase in investment in alternate energy sources, the outlook is grim.  You don’t know what bad times are until you don’t have enough energy to run the machinery of civilization.  As suggested by the IEA, “Much is riding on Iraq’s success… Without this supply growth from Iraq, oil markets would be set for difficult times.”

 

Continuing Reliance on Fossil Fuels

 

For all the talk of the need to increase reliance on renewable sources of energy, fossil fuels — coal, oil, and natural gas — will continue to provide most of the additional energy supplies needed to satisfy soaring world demand.  “Taking all new developments and policies into account,” the IEA reported, “the world is still failing to put the global energy system onto a more sustainable path.”  In fact, recent developments seem to favor greater fossil-fuel reliance.

 

In the United States, for instance, the increased extraction of oil and gas from shale formations has largely silenced calls for government investment in renewable technology.  In its editorial on the IEA report, for example, the Wall Street Journal ridiculed such investment.  It had, the Journal’s writers suggested, now become unnecessary due to the Saudi Arabian-style oil and gas boom to come.  “Historians will one day marvel that so much political and financial capital was invested in a [failed] green-energy revolution at the very moment a fossil fuel revolution was aborning,” they declared.

 

One aspect of this energy “revolution” deserves special attention. The growing availability of cheap natural gas, thanks to hydro-fracking, has already reduced the use of coal as a fuel for electrical power plants in the United States.  This would seem to be an obvious environmental plus, since gas produces less climate-altering carbon dioxide than does coal.  Unfortunately, coal output and its use haven’t diminished: American producers have simply increased their coal exports to Asia and Europe.  In fact, U.S. coal exports are expected to reach as high as 133 million tons in 2012, overtaking an export record set in 1981.

 

Despite its deleterious effects on the environment, coal remains popular in countries seeking to increase their electricity output and promote economic development.  Shockingly, according to the IEA, it supplied nearly half of the increase in global energy consumption over the last decade, growing faster than renewables.  And the agency predicts that coal will continue its rise in the decades ahead.  The world’s top coal consumer, China, will burn ever more of it until 2020, when demand is finally expected to level off.  India’s usage will rise without cessation, with that country overtaking the U.S. as the number two consumer around 2025.

 

In many regions, notes the IEA report, the continued dominance of fossil fuels is sustained by government policies.  In the developing world, countries commonly subsidize energy consumption, selling transportation, cooking, and heating fuels at below-market rates.  In this way, they hope to buffer their populations from rising commodity costs, and so protect their regimes from popular unrest.  Cutting back on such subsidies can prove dangerous, as in Jordan where a recent government decision to raise fuel prices led to widespread riots and calls for the monarchy’s abolition.  In 2011, such subsidies amounted to $523 billion globally, says the IEA, up almost 30% from 2010 and six times greater than subsidies for renewable energy.

 

No Hope for Averting Catastrophic Climate Change

 

Of all the findings in the 2012 edition of the World Energy Outlook, the one that merits the greatest international attention is the one that received the least.  Even if governments take vigorous steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the report concluded, the continuing increase in fossil fuel consumption will result in “a long-term average global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees C.”

 

This should stop everyone in their tracks.  Most scientists believe that an increase of 2 degrees Celsius is about all the planet can accommodate without unimaginably catastrophic consequences: sea-level increases that will wipe out many coastal cities, persistent droughts that will destroy farmland on which hundreds of millions of people depend for their survival, the collapse of vital ecosystems, and far more.  An increase of 3.6 degrees C essentially suggests the end of human civilization as we know it.

 

To put this in context, human activity has already warmed the planet by about 0.8 degrees C — enough to produce severe droughts around the world, trigger or intensify intense storms like Hurricane Sandy, and drastically reduce the Arctic ice cap.  “Given those impacts,” writes noted environmental author and activist Bill McKibben, “many scientists have come to think that two degrees is far too lenient a target.”  Among those cited by McKibben is Kerry Emanuel of MIT, a leading authority on hurricanes. “Any number much above one degree involves a gamble,” Emanuel writes, “and the odds become less and less favorable as the temperature goes up.” Thomas Lovejoy, once the World Bank’s chief biodiversity adviser, puts it this way: “If we’re seeing what we’re seeing today at 0.8 degrees Celsius, two degrees is simply too much.”

 

At this point, it’s hard even to imagine what a planet that’s 3.6 degrees C hotter would be like, though some climate-change scholars and prophets — like former Vice President Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth — have tried.  In all likelihood, the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets would melt entirely, raising sea levels by several dozen feet and completely inundating coastal cities like New York and Shanghai.  Large parts of Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East, and the American Southwest would be rendered uninhabitable thanks to lack of water and desertification, while wildfires of a sort that we can’t imagine today would consume the parched forests of the temperate latitudes.

 

In a report that leads with the “good news” of impending U.S. oil supremacy, to calmly suggest that the world is headed for that 3.6 degree C mark is like placing a thermonuclear bomb in a gaudily-wrapped Christmas present.  In fact, the “good news” is really the bad news: the energy industry’s ability to boost production of oil, coal, and natural gas in North America is feeding a global surge in demand for these commodities, ensuring ever higher levels of carbon emissions.  As long as these trends persist — and the IEA report provides no evidence that they will be reversed in the coming years — we are all in a race to see who gets to the Apocalypse first.

 

Michael Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, a TomDispatch regular, and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left (Metropolitan Books).  A documentary movie based on his book Blood and Oil can be previewed and ordered at www.bloodandoilmovie.com.

Published by TomDispatch on November 28, 2012

Republished on Energy Bulletin (http://www.energybulletin.net)

Copyright 2012 Michael T. Klare

Content on this site is subject to our fair use notice.

 

Energy Bulletin is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.

 

Source URL: http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2012-11-28/world-energy-report-2012

 

Links:

[1] http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175621/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_a_thermonuclear_energy_bomb_in_christmas_wrappings/

[2] http://www.iea.org

[3] http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2012/november/name,33015,en.html

[4] http://m.npr.org/news/Business/163565485

[5] http://www.ihs.com

[6] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323894704578114591174453074.html

[7] http://www.cfr.org/experts/energy-climate-oil-security/michael-a-levi/b11890%20

[8] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/business/energy-environment/report-sees-us-as-top-oil-producer-in-5-years.html

[9] http://www.americanprogress.org/about/staff/weiss-daniel-j/bio

[10] http://www.amazon.com/dp/0805091262/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20

[11] http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo

[12] http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/name,33339,en.html

[13] https://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2012/october/name,32060,en.html

[14] http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=8490

[15] http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=8070

[16] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/why-775-billion-in-fossil-fuel-subsidies-are-hardto-scrap/2012/06/18/gJQABaQUlV_blog.html

[17] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/world/middleeast/jordan-faces-protests-after-gas-price-proposal.html

[18] http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

[19] http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175435/tomgram%3A_bill_mckibben,_jailed_over_big_oil%27s_attempt_to_wreck_the_planet/

[20] http://eaps4.mit.edu/faculty/Emanuel

[21] http://esp.gmu.edu/people/facultybios/lovejoy.html

[22] http://www.amazon.com/dp/1594865671/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20

[23] http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/greenland-glacier-loses-large-mass-of-ice/2012/07/17/gJQAf5CQsW_story.html

[24] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/science/earth/global-warming-makes-heat-waves-more-likely-study-finds.html

[25] http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175573/william_debuys_the_west_in_flames

[26] http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175579/michael_klare_the_hunger_wars_in_our_future

[27] http://www.bloodandoilmovie.com

[28] http://www.facebook.com/pages/Michael-Klare/316344375093469

[29] http://www.facebook.com/tomdispatch

[30] http://www.amazon.com/The-Changing-Face-Empire-Cyberwarfare/dp/1608463109/

 

Water Resources Research Center – Brown Bag Seminars – Nov 29, Dec 6 & 11

at Sol Resnick Conference Room, Water Resources Research Center, 350 N Campbell Ave, Tucson AZ

See below for details on December 6

 

Water Resources Research Center – Brown Bag Seminars


Thursday, November 29

Time: 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Speakers: Sharon Megdal, Director, Water Resources Research Center, Specialist and Professor, Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, The University of Arizona

Title: Searching for Water Solutions: Experiences from My Sabbatical and Other Travels


Thursday December 6

Time: 5:00 pm –NOTE: Special afternoon start times for this seminar and RSVP Required

Speaker: Emily Brott, Sonoran Institute; Lisa Shipek, Watershed Management Group; Candice Rupprecht, WRRC

Title: Tucson Conserve to Enhance Workshop for Funding Local Enhancement Projects

Tucson Conserve to Enhance (C2E) program leaders will provide an update on C2E successes and share opportunities for new participants to join and grant funding for neighborhood projects. Tucson C2E is seeking community leaders with ideas on how to improve local rivers and washes. In 2013, the Tucson C2E program will invest funds raised from C2E participants and the Tucson Water bill check box to fund Community Enhancement Projects. Community Enhancement Projects will directly benefit a neighborhood’s natural areas and waterways through conservation and restoration practices. More information about the grant process will be covered at the workshop; please come with your project ideas to discuss with the C2E team.

An RSVP is required for this special Brown Bag Workshop. You will need to let us know which session you plan on attending. RSVP to Candice Rupprecht candicer(at)cals.arizona.edu or 520-621-6318.


Tuesday, December 11

Time: 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Speakers: Dave D. White, Co-Director, Decision Center for a Desert City; Senior Sustainability Scientist, Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Title: Linking Knowledge and Action for Water Sustainability and Urban Climate Adaptation: Research Update from the ASU Decision Center for a Desert City

This presentation will provide an update on recent research conducted at the Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) at Arizona State University, which is supported by the National Science Foundation’s Decision Making under Uncertainty (DMUU) program. DCDC is a transdisciplinary research center advancing knowledge, education, and community and institutional outreach for water sustainability and urban climate adaptation. To enhance the linkages between knowledge and action, interdisciplinary research teams collaborate with practitioners to produce credible science and analytical tools relevant to decision making.


Unless otherwise noted, all seminars are held at the Sol Resnick Conference Room, Water Resources Research Center, 350 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson

Contact information: Jane Cripps at jcripps(at)cals.arizona.edu or 520-621-2526

Please distribute and post this information.


Invitation to enroll in Tucson’s Conserve to Enhance (C2E) program

We know you are passionate about watershed health and how water is used in our community! Do you want to take your passion to the next level and make personal water conservation choices that will benefit the watershed?

The WRRC, along with the Sonoran Institute and Watershed Management Group, invite you to enroll in the C2E program see how your water savings can work for the environment. For more information and to join, go to:

The World According to Monsanto Screening

More Than a Food Fight: Monsanto’s War Against Food Security, the Environment, Local Farmers, Local Economies, and Democracy

More Than A Food Fight:

Monsanto’s War Against Food Security, the Environment, Local Farmers, Local Economies, and Democracy

Video clips from “The World According to Monsanto” and a discussion led by Bill McDorman & Belle Starr of Native Seeds/SEARCH and Mascha Miedaner, Founder of GMO Free Project of Tucson.

The is event is FREE and open to the public.

Co-sponsored by Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Native Seeds/SEARCH, Physicians for Social Responsibility, GMO Free Project of Tucson, Iskashitaa Refugee Network, and Progressive Democrats of America – Tucson.

The Historic Y
738 N. 5th Avenue, Tucson

November 30th, 2012 7 – 9 pm

Food Policy links & resources on the internet

Food Policy links & resources on the internet (ST Food working group, November 2012)

National Websites:

http://www.foodsecurity.org/FPC/council.html * (List of Food Policy Councils in North America)

http://www.foodfirst.org/sites/www.foodfirst.org/files/pdf/PB_19_Cutting_Through_the_Red_Tape.pdf (Food First/Institute for Food and Development policy brief)

http://www.socialenterprise.net/assets/files/REDI_Summary_May_2011.pdf (4 food initiatives case studies)

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

Austin, TX: http://www.farmlandinfo.org/index.cfm?function=article_view&articleID=38548/Austin,_TX_Sustainable_Food_Policy_Board.doc (Ordinance creating the Sustainable Food Policy Board)

Baltimore, MD: http://baltimorecity.gov/Government/AgenciesDepartments/Planning/BaltimoreFoodPolicyInitiative.aspx (Food policy website) http://cleanergreenerbaltimore.org/uploads/files/Baltimore City Food Policy Task Force Report.pdf (FP report)

Delaware Valley/Philadelphia, PA: http://www.farmlandinfo.org/documents/38512/Food_System_Planning_4.2010.pdf (Food system planning tool)

Eugene, OR: http://www.eugene-or.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/1087 (Food security plan)

Los Angeles:  http://goodfoodla.org/good_food_for_all_agenda.php (LA food policy council website)

New Mexico: http://www.dreamingnewmexico.org/food (Comprehensive food system research website.)

Northern New Mexico: http://www.socialenterprise.net/assets/files/REDI_Summary_May_2011.pdf. (Excellent report created by student interns.)

Portland, OR: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/416389  (Food policy study)

http://web.multco.us/sustainability/portland-multnomah-food-policy-council  (Food policy council website)

http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?a=8728&c=27429 (A resolution creating the council)

Salt Lake City, NV: http://www.slcclassic.com/slcgreen/food/ (Food policy website)

San Diego:  http://aginnovations.org/alliances/sandiego/ (Food system alliance website)

San Franciscohttp://www.sfgov3.org/index.aspx?page=754 (SF food policy website)

http://sfenvironment.org/sites/default/files/editor-uploads/zero_waste/pdf/sfe_zw_mandatory_fact_sheet.pdf (SF recycling & composting ordinance); http://sfenvironment.org/zero-waste/recycling-and-composting (Food composting program)

Santa Fe, NM: http://www.santafecounty.org/userfiles/FoodPolicyResolution2008-26.pdf  (The resolution creating the food council); http://www.santafefoodpolicy.org (Food policy council website)

Seattle, WA: http://www.seattle.gov/council/conlin/food_initiative/ (Food initiative website) http://clerk.seattle.gov/~archives/Resolutions/Resn_31019.pdf  (Local Food Action Initiative Resolution)

http://www.seattle.gov/util/MyServices/FoodYard/index.htm (Food composting program; includes excellent video on how to handle food/yard waste for collection.)

Shelburne Falls, MA: http://issuu.com/conwaydesign/docs/foodsecurity (Food security plan)

Collaborative Redesign of the Sonoran Desert Foodshed – Localizing Our Food Supply – Gary Nabhan and Michael Brownlee – December 10

Free and open to the public at Pima Community College downtown, Amethyst Room, 1255 N Stone Ave, Tucson AZ (also see campus map for lots of free parking)

Collaborative Redesign of
the Sonoran Desert Foodshed
and Localizing Our Food Supply

with Gary Nabhan and Michael Brownlee

Please note special time and location
for this month’s Sustainable Tucson meeting,

Monday, December 10, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm
Amethyst Room, Downtown Pima College Campus

(near the Bookstore in the Student Union, 1255 N Stone Ave)
Doors open at 6:00 pm, meeting starts at 6:15 pm

Tucson currently imports about 98% of our food from outside the region. Tucson also wastes about 40,000 acre-feet per year of runoff from our streets and rights-of-way. And Tucsonan families spend nearly $2 billion per year on food, almost all of it from thousands of miles away and producing huge amounts of greenhouse gases in transport.

What can we do to insure Tucson has a food supply that is secure, nutritious, tasty, and local?   A lot!   Find out from two leading experts in local food and local economy,

  Gary NabhanCollaborative Redesign of the Sonoran Desert Foodshed: Imagining Next Steps for Tucson

  Michael BrownleeThinking Like a Foodshed: Localizing Our Food Supply

This presentation is co-sponsored by Pima County Food Alliance, Native Seeds/SEARCH, Community Gardens of Tucson, UA Southwest Center, Iskashitaa Refugee Network, Local First AZ, Sabores Sin Fronteras Foodways Alliance, ReZoNation Farm, Plant Based Nation, Local Roots Aquaponics, Local Food Concepts, and Abundant Communities Trust.

Gary Paul Nabhan is the Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona, and co-editor of State of the Southwest Foodsheds and Hungry for Change: Borderlands Food and Water in the Balance (both available on line).  An orchardkeeper of 70 varieties of heritage fruit and nut varieties in Patagonia, Nabhan was a co-founder of Native Seeds/SEARCH, Renewing America’s Food Traditions, and the Sabores Sin Fronteras Foodways Alliance.

A catalyst for relocalization, Michael Brownlee is co-founder of Transition Colorado, the first officially-recognized Transition Initiative in North America, working towards community resilience and self-reliance. Michael is the architect behind the Local Food Shift campaign to localize food and farming systems. He also co-founded Localization Partners LLC, a Slow Money affiliate, which is now investing in local food and farming enterprises as well as offering tools and processes for catalyzing food localization as economic development in communities across North America.

Stop Keystone XL tar sands pipeline – 350.org & TUCAN – Nov 18 & 19

Sunday 1 pm MST (3 pm EST) – online live stream from Washington DC

Monday 12 noon at TEP corporate headquarters, 88 E Broadway Blvd, downtown Tucson AZ

Action Alert – SUNDAY onlineMONDAY in downtown Tucson

Nov 18 Sunday 1 pm MST, live online from Washington DC

350.org is gathering outside the White House and they ask everyone to sign up online. Here is the link: 350.org/en/stop-keystone-xl. And from there you can live stream to watch the event.

Nov 19 Monday 12 noon in downtown Tucson

Young activists blockading the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in East Texas are doing a mass action. They have asked for support rallies, and the Tucson Climate Action Network and 350Tucson are sponsoring a solidarity action at 12 noon in front of the TEP corporate HQ, downtown at 88 E. Broadway Blvd.

This will be a relatively brief demonstration (scheduled for 12:00 to 12:30 pm) and no civil disobedience is planned. However, it will be an important show of strength and solidarity, and a great opportunity to connect with others who are ready to seize the momentum of this crucial moment and raise our voices to STOP the pipeline and bring on a serious and effective approach to climate change in the U.S.

Please come stand in solidarity. Bring your signs and banners. We will speak on behalf of both national actions as well as connecting the dots between TEP as a coal-burning utility, and tar sands, and global warming, and extreme climate events.

Tar Sands Blockade is on Facebook too: facebook.com/TarSandsBlockade?fref=ts

RECENT MAINSTREAM MEDIA

The mainstream media is showing a flurry of unaccustomed attention in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and Obama’s re-election, and new World Energy Outlook report from the IEA—check out David Remnick on why Obama MUST address the nation on climate change NOW

newyorker.com/talk/comment/2012/11/19/121119taco_talk_remnick

and this report on the U.S. military’s latest warnings:

nytimes.com/2012/11/10/science/earth/climate-change-report-outlines-perils-for-us-military.html

Even our Arizona Daily Star is starting to catch on:

azstarnet.com/news/opinion/were-obama-and-romney-derelict-in-not-stressing-climate-change/article_8b3c9710-1122-5594-a2ae-ed8dc740b0e4.html and

azstarnet.com/news/science/global-warming-talk-heats-up-renewing-idea-of-a-carbon/article_fa6862f3-2e08-5ed3-ba2e-390908816e29.html

Hope to see you Monday! Stay tuned for ideas for actions you can take, both on your own and by joining with us as we go forward — because THERE IS NO PLANET B.

Tucson Climate Action Network – tucan.news(at)gmail.com

More Than a Food Fight – Monsanto’s War Against Food Security, the Environment, Local Farmers, Local Economies, and Democracy – film clips & discussion – Nov 30

Free, at the Historic Y, 738 N 5th Avenue, Tucson

 

More Than a Food Fight:

Monsanto’s War Against Food Security, the Environment,
Local Farmers, Local Economies, and Democracy

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom presents
video clips from “The World According to Monsanto
and a discussion with Bill McDorman & Belle Starr of Native Seeds Search
and Mascha Miedaner, Founder of GMO Free Project.

Friday, November 30, 7 to 9 PM, at the Historic Y, 738 N. 5th Avenue

Admission Free

Co-sponsored by WILPF, Native Seed Search, Physicians for Social Responsibility, GMO Free Project, Iskashitaa, and Progressive Democrats of America – Tucson.

Bag It! Is your life to plastic? – free film showing – Nov 16

Free at Prescott College – Tucson, 2233 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson AZ

Free Film showing of “Bag It! Is your life to plastic?

Friday November 16th 7:00 PM-9:00 PM
Prescott College – Tucson
2233 E. Speedway Blvd.
319-9868

Free and open to the public. Limited seating available.

Healing the Whole Community: Conversations on Sustainability – Nov 15

Free at Prescott College – Tucson, 2233 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson AZ

Terril Shorb, Ph.D., Prescott College Faculty will present: Healing the Whole Community: Conversations on Sustainability and Environmental Studies At Prescott College-Tucson.

Thursday November 15th 5:30-7:30 PM
Prescott College – Tucson
2233 E. Speedway Blvd
319.9868
Free to the public

17th Annual Tucson Innovative Home Tour & Tucson Solar Tour

New advances for better green homes and better living, with an emphasis on sustainability and fitting in with the natural environment. Choose among up to 20 exceptional, award-winning and nationally recognized homes and other special locations, speak with owners, designers and builders, and discover new ways to make your home much better and cost a lot less in this special non-profit, non-commercial community sharing of the latest advances, sponsored by dozens of nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and government jurisdictions.
When. Saturday and Sunday, November 10 and 11, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where. Tour is city-wide and self-guided. There are different homes each day. Tickets include a tour guide with directions.
How. Tickets for the tour are $10 per person. Cash only – please bring exact amount. Tickets are good for both days and available in advance at locations around Tucson, and at the seminar.
For more information, see www.solarinstitute.org, or call 792-6578.

Next Generation Home Seminar

“How to have a much better green home at much lower cost.” Tucson’s officially recognized Next Generation Home Program presents the best unbiased, non-commercial information, advice and ideas from local experts for on the latest advances for improving your home, remodeling, building and buying – plus an analysis of the real costs of home ownership and how you can reduce them by up to 50% and more.
When. Saturday, November 10, 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. with registration starting 8:00 a.m. The tour follows, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., with tickets available at the seminar .
Where. Take the seminar and get your home tour tickets at Pima Community College’s Campus Center Auditorium (CC 180), 1255 N. Stone Ave., just north of Speedway. Lots of free parking. Just go in the main entrance.
How. The seminar is $10 per person, $5 with tour ticket. Available only at the seminar. Cash only – please bring exact amount.
For more information, see www.solarinstitute.org or call 792-6578.

UK Tyndall Centre Interview: Rapid and deep emissions reductions may not be easy, but 4°C to 6°C will be much worse

 by Rob Hopkins

Published by Transition Culture on Fri, 11/02/2012  and republished by EnergyBulletin.Net  on Sat, 11/3/2012

Kevin Anderson is the Deputy Director of the UK Tyndall Centre and is an expert on greenhouse-gas emissions trajectories. He will be giving the annual Cabot Institute lecture, ‘Real Clothes for the Emperor’ on 6th November in Bristol, which has already sold out. I was hoping to be able to go and report on it for you here, but no longer can, so instead, I spoke to Kevin last week, by Skype. I am very grateful for his time, and for a powerful, honest and thought-provoking interview.

 

Could you share with us your analysis of where you think we find ourselves in terms of climate change and what’s our current trajectory if we carry on as we are?

 

In terms of the language around climate change, I get the impression that there’s still a widely held view that we can probably hold to avoiding dangerous climate change characterised by this almost magical 2°C rise in global mean surface temperature. This is the target that we have established in Copenhagen and then re-iterated in Cancun and to which most nations of the world have now signed up to; I think the rhetoric that we should not exceed this 2°C rise is still there.

 

It’s not just about our emissions now. If you look at the emissions we’ve already put out into the atmosphere since the start of this century, and you look at what’s likely to be emitted over the next few years, then I think it tells a very different story. It’s hard to imagine that, unless we have a radical sea-change in attitudes towards emissions, we will avoid heading towards a 6°C rise by the end of this century.

 

Can we for definite, in your opinion, say that this year’s extreme weather can be linked to climate change?

 

Certainly not. I think it’s fair to say that it’s unlikely we will ever be able to robustly link any particular single event to climate change. Now that’s not to say we can’t get a greater level of attribution, where we can start to say the things that we are seeing are what we would expect to see with a warming climate. We are struggling to find any other reasons for them and therefore it does seem a high probability that these events are caused, if not exacerbated by, the rise in CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases and hence the increase in temperature. But I think it’s unlikely that we’d ever be able to say that any single event is a ‘climate change event’.

 

But would you say that if we were still at 280 parts per million it would be much less likely that we would have had a summer like this?

 

Yes, I think that would be a fair comment. It would be much less likely. Before this summer, the probability of having this summer’s weather would have been less if we had not seen significant rises in greenhouse gases and their cumulative impact in the atmosphere. We are starting now to see events that it’s difficult to explain in terms of normal probabilities. We get extreme weather events, we always have had such events; extremes do occur. But if extremes start to occur regularly they’re no longer extremes, and what you’re then seeing is not a weather extreme, you’re seeing change in the climate. But it’s hard to say that any particular event in a range of events is a consequence of climate change, and not just an extreme weather event.

 

Sometimes people talk about this idea of ‘a new normal’, that the basic conditions around us have changed. In terms of what’s happening in terms of the climate, how would you characterise the ‘new normal’ that we’re in given the rise we’ve had in emissions so far?

 

I think it would probably be a very short normal, I don’t think this is the normal at all. It’s the normal for today, but I think the rate of increase of emissions, and there is no sign at all of that rate significantly coming down, would suggest that we’ll be reaching a new normal, and then another new normal, and then another new normal. I’m one of the people that concludes that we’re likely to experience significant climate change impacts over the next 1,2,3 decades and obviously beyond that point. At the moment, unless we change our emissions pathways and trajectory, the normal will be changing regularly.

 

You have already argued and you’ll be arguing in Bristol on November 6th that responding adequately to climate change and economic growth are no longer compatible. Could you flesh that case out a little bit for us?

 

Now I’m going to talk specifically about the Annex 1, the wealthy parts of the world, the OECD countries, broadly, the countries that are fairly well industrialised. In those parts of the world, the rate of reduction in emissions that would be necessary for us to even stay within an outside chance of avoiding dangerous climate change, characterised by the 2°C rise that we’re all internationally committed to, would be in the order of around 10% per annum.

 

Though a very approximate guide, it’s far removed from the 1, 2 or 3% that most energy scenarios or emissions scenarios consider. It is well beyond anything we’ve been able to countenance, well beyond virtually anything so far that we’ve analysed. What we know is that in the short term, because we need to start this now, we cannot deliver reduction by switching to a low carbon energy supply, we simply cannot get the supply in place quickly enough.

 

Therefore, in the short to medium term the only major change that we can make is in consuming less. Now that would be fine, we could become more efficient in what we consume by probably 2 – 3% per annum reduction. But bear in mind, if our economy was say growing at 2% per annum, and we were trying to get a 3% per annum reduction in our emissions, that’s a 5% improvement in the efficiency of what we’re doing each year, year on year.

 

Our analysis for 2°C suggests we need a 10% absolute reduction per annum, and there is no analysis out there that suggests that is in any way compatible with economic growth. If you consider the Stern Report, Stern was quite clear that there was no evidence that any more than a 1% per annum reduction in emissions had ever been associated with anything other than “economic recession or upheaval”, I think was the exact quote.

 

So we have no historical precedents for anything greater than 1% per annum reduction in emissions. We’re saying we need nearer 10% per annum, and this is something we need to be doing today. And therefore, we can draw a very clear conclusion from this, that in the short to medium term, the way for the Annex 1, the wealthy parts of the world to meet their obligations to 2°C, is to cut back very significantly on consumption. And that would therefore mean in the short to medium term a reduction in our economic activity i.e. we could not have economic growth.

 

Now we might have a steady-state economy, but my overall sense is that the maths probably point to us having to consume less each year for the next few years, maybe a decade or so.

 

Has that ever happened before? As I understand it, when the Soviet Union collapsed it was 9% cut and that was just for 1 year. What would 10% a year look like?

 

My understanding with the collapse of the Eastern Bloc countries was that the drop was about 5% per year for up to about 10 years. So what we saw there was a relatively prolonged, completely unplanned, and as it turned out very chaotic and uneven reduction in emissions, and even then only delivered about a half to a quarter of, the rate of reduction, what we would need for 2°C.

 

So as their economy collapsed, their emissions dropped by about 5% per annum for about 10 years. We would be needing at least 10% per annum if not considerably higher and for longer than a 10 year period. For the Soviet Union, the economic collapse, though a pretty terrible time for many people, still did not achieve the rate of reductions that we would need to be seeing here.

 

Of course our view is that to deliver on 2°C , we should plan the economic contraction. It need not necessarily have the devastating impact that it very clearly had, and very inequitable impact, in Russia in particular.

 

Given that the current administration or indeed any administration that would be elected in this country would never be able to run on a platform of shrinking the economy by 10% every year, what are the implications? How do the need to do that and democracy sit alongside each other?

 

Firstly I don’t say we have to reduce our level of consumption by 10% per annum in terms of material goods. I’m not saying our economy has to reduce by 10% per annum. The emissions have to come down at 10% per annum, but we should be able to get some efficiency improvements as well. So the economy would not have to come down as fast as the rate of emissions coming down. It’s very important to make that distinction, and of course the more low-hanging fruit that we can find, and I think there’s a lot more out there than we’ve discovered previously- the less the material contraction of the economy would need to be. From some of our provisional work we have identified some very significant improvements in the efficiency of how we do what we do; some technical, some behavioural.

 

I don’t think it’s necessarily as dire as you’re painting from an economic perspective. Nevertheless we are talking here at best a steady-state economy. The analysis that I and colleagues in the Tyndall Centre have undertaken would suggest there probably has to be a reduction in our consumption and an economic contraction.

 

How would we sell that? Well, we’ve sold it at the moment. It’s very clear in the UK and many parts of Europe that what we’re seeing is at best stagnation, if not an economic reduction in our level of consumption. So we have actually got that at the moment. We’re not all finding this utterly dire .. not that it’s been evenly spread, I think it’s been unfairly spread. I think equity should be one of our main considerations here. We have to bear in mind that even if we have an economic contraction that wouldn’t necessarily mean that for many people they would have to consume less.

 

I take the very clear view on this that the distributional effects would very likely mean that many people in the UK for instance would not see a reduction in their levels of consumption or their levels of wellbeing, but others of us in the UK, like myself, would certainly have to see reduction in levels of consumption. Probably not a reduction in levels of wellbeing but certainly in levels of consumption. So I think distributional impacts might mean that it could be much more attractive, or less unattractive, to policy makers than at first sight it would seem.

 

Particularly given that we face a lot of issues now with unemployment, welfare reductions etc., issues that disproportionately affect people in the middle-lower income band; it is these people that could actually benefit from a transition to a much more efficient and lower carbon economy.

 

The implications will obviously have to be thought through, but any government that embraced a more sophisticated analysis of climate change would likely recognise the economic situation that we have got ourselves into anyway with our current model. Put those two together and there are real opportunities now for a significant transition in how we do what we do; a transition away from the dogmatic economic growth model and towards a steady-state low carbon alternative.

 

What do you see as the role, certainly in terms of the Transition approach, as very much about what a bottom-up, community-led response to that looks like, what’s your sense of the role that communities can play in making that happen?

 

I take the view that the community approach, the bottom-up approach, is absolutely pivotal to resolving some of the challenges and issues that we find ourselves facing now. So I think communities are really important here. They’re important in a number of ways.

 

You might make an argument that the actions of any individual, of any household, of any local community, in and of themselves are relatively insignificant, I all too often hear this. The point is less about the emissions of an individual, though still important, but more about the example it sets. It gives other people the opportunity to see that you can do something differently.

 

If communities, and even if it’s only one or two communities are starting to do things significantly differently, that means we have an example of what we can do. If those examples are successful they can spread. Once they spread, policy makers can start to see those examples at work and can start to set a top-down agenda that can coincide with the bottom-up agenda. We can actually point policy makers to where it’s working and make arguments for implementing policies that would facilitate those sorts of changes.

 

If we are going to get out of the hole we’ve got ourselves into there’s real scope for some partnership between bottom-up-individuals, through to communities etc. – and top-down, trying to facilitate initiatives as they emerge. It’s the kind of partnership we need if we are going to see real substantive change. And if we see that in the UK, that helps within the EU and can signal a wider, global transition. I think we all have a responsibility to try and bring these changes about in our own lives and our immediate environments, and actually this could be significant. What we do ourselves is absolutely central to bringing about substantive change.

 

What do you see as being the role of scientists in all this? Should they only focus on definitely proven science or move more towards how James Hansen is taking more of an activist stance. How do you see that balance between science and activism?

 

This is quite a difficult question. My view here is that as scientists we have to behave as scientists. Now we are human beings, and so science will never be the perfect, objective, neutral profession that the textbooks might try to describe it as. Nevertheless I think it is really important in our science to remain neutral and objective, as much as we ever can. Science is not about black and white, there is a huge amount of uncertainty in a lot of science, there’s a huge amount of probabilities and clearly climate change has a lot of this wrapped up in it. But I think it is absolutely pivotal that as scientists we behave as scientists.

 

Now as individuals, as citizens – we may be scientists but we are also citizens – I see nothing wrong with standing up and saying I think my and other people’s science raises concerns for society and so I have to chosen to act on that analysis. There is a duality here. An individual can, as a scientist, produce their work neutrally, and then they can use that work to inform how they act as a citizen.

 

If Hansen and others want to chain themselves to bulldozers building new runways, that is their choice as a citizen, I don’t disagree with that. What I would disagree with is that if anyone starts to misuse science to support other sets of views. Because people like Hansen’s analysis looks to be more extreme, people then assume that he is pushing the boundaries of the science. I think the scientists that are pushing the boundaries are those that are deliberately, and I know many of these people, holding to a line that is politically palatable, because that is what politicians, what their pay masters, what society wants to hear.

 

Actually I think Hansen and some of those scientists who are prepared to stand up and make quite strong statements from their science are the ones that are being more neutral and objective; far too many of the scientists who are working on climate change, are towing, in my view, a political line. It looks like it’s neutral because it doesn’t sound extreme, it fits within the orthodoxy. But that is not the way we should be doing science. Whether it fits within the orthodoxy or not we should be objective, robust, direct and honest about science.

 

You spend a lot of your time surrounded by all the papers and research and stuff that’s coming out, all the models that get worse and worse. How do you personally cope with that, and what do you do in your own life that’s motivated by what you encounter in your professional life?

 

I have to say it gets increasingly difficult, it has affected my personal life quite considerably over the last few years and is getting worse. I find it very hard to engage with the science and then not link that to what we as individuals, what society, what policy makers are doing, or evidently not doing. It has been really challenging for me with some work colleagues, less so in the immediate group that I’m involved with here in Manchester, but certainly wider colleagues who I work with on climate change who, it seems to me, have no regard for what their research tells them.

 

For many, but with significant exceptions, their work seems to be little more than something that pays the mortgage. I find that quite difficult. I take the view that it is incumbent on us as scientists and citizens that we should be changing what we’re doing in our own lives, and I think that people would take much more note of the analysis that we do if we decided to live broadly in accordance with our science. In my view, far too few scientists who work on climate change actually do that.

 

But also I find it increasingly difficult not to challenge friends and family, who often appear to have complete disregard for the impacts of their action. I’ve got to the point now where I think that when we’re profligately emitting, we’re knowingly damaging the lives and the prospects of some of the poorest people in our communities, both in the UK, but more significantly globally. Yet we obscenely carry on doing this. We’re happy to put a few pence into a collection pot in the middle of town to help people living in poorer parts of the world but we don’t seem to be prepared to make substantive changes to how we’re living our lives- even when we recognise the impact our emissions are having.

 

And yet science is pretty clear on this, that vulnerable people in the poorer parts of the world will suffer dire repercussions of what we are doing now and what we’ve already done. I find that almost reprehensible that scientists are able to completely ignore such a very clear message; we know that the people on the coastal strips of Bangladesh will suffer very significantly from our behaviour as will many other people, poor people around the world. And we really do not collectively as a society and even often as individuals demonstrate any meaningful care or compassion.

 

I’ve cut back on many of the activities I previously pursued. Many of my friendships linked to activities; as a keen rock climber, I used to travel away for breaks by plane. This has all had to change quite considerably. I have close friends from when I used to work in the oil industry, friends who think climate change is a serious issue but are not prepared to make any changes to their lifestyles. It has raised some serious challenges for me in maintaining personal relationships.

 

I don’t want to pretend that it’s easy. I do not think that the future, for those of us that are in the very fortunate position of living in the West, is full of win-win opportunities. People who have done well, very well out of our western system, and live very carbon profligate lifestyles are going to face difficult challenges, and we should not pretend otherwise.

 

Until we actually embrace alternative means of finding value in our lives, I think that transition from where we are today, high-carbon, high-energy lifestyles, to ultimately lower-carbon lifestyles is going to be both difficult and unpopular. But ultimately, I do not see an alternative. Rapid and deep emissions reductions may not be easy- but 4°C to 6°C will be much worse.

 

Do you see any possibility that that might come from and be led by government?

 

No, I don’t think it will be led by government. I don’t think it will be led by anyone. I think it will be an emergent outcome of a society that cares, of which government is part and citizens and individuals are part as well. I have never particularly liked the idea of great people, of wonderful leadership, I much more believe in an emergent system, the properties and values that are embedded within a system.

 

Now we might see that, manifested sometimes in a leader, but it actually is an outcome of that society moving in a particular direction. So that’s why, to me, I’m not looking for some great person to come on their white charger and take this forward. I’m looking for all of us to engage, and out of that will emerge a new way of thinking of the world.

 

Given the economic challenges, crisis, whatever we want to call it, that we are seeing at the moment, this is a real opportunity for change. An opportunity we need to grasp. We need to think differently, think positively, but recognise in my view that it will not be easy. We can institute these changes ourselves both bottom-up and top-down. It is this kind of leadership we need, leadership from all of us.

 

Do you think from a climate change perspective actually a deepening and a worsening recession is the best thing that could happen to us?

 

At the moment I just see it as blaming everyone else. Inequity is going up, not down. Recessions are not good times– we clearly are not all in it together. Many of us have not made any changes to the restaurants that we go to, the hotels that we go to, the holidays that we take, and yet the other side is we are completely stripping back welfare, and we’re not investing in green infrastructure. We’re constantly putting money, a third of a trillion into the banks, not into a new grid network or a new set of renewable technologies or retro-fitting houses. So we have the prospect of doing things differently, offered us by the recession but we’re letting those opportunities go, on a day to day basis we’re throwing these opportunities away. It could be a much more positive drive toward a low carbon and resilient society than it’s turning out to be.

 

Bill McKibben argues that we need to get back to 350 parts per million. Is that possible?

 

Well it is in the very long term. But within the sort of time frame that we’re talking about at the moment, unless the geo-engineering routes work and I think we have to be very cautious about sucking the CO2 out of the air when we can’t even turn the lights off when we leave a room at the moment! I find this quite bizarre, but it is not to say we shouldn’t spend some money now on research into negative emission technologies.

 

I think it highly unlikely that we’ll get back to 350 within quite a lot of generations. That’s not to say we shouldn’t have it as a goal, but what I think we should be looking to do is to stabilise the concentration as quickly as possible at the levels they are today. They’ll be higher tomorrow and higher the day after that. What we need to do immediately is to stop that rate of growth and then get the CO2 out of the atmosphere as quickly as we can.

 

I don’t know whether we’ll be able to suck the stuff out. At the moment it’s a long way away. It’s a Dr Strangelove future. That’s not to say it may not have some purchase in the long-term but at the moment we’re digging out shale gas and tar sands and lots of coal. We’re going to be digging under the Arctic. We don’t need to concern ourselves too much with geo-engineering for the future, we just need to stop getting fossil fuels out of the ground today.

 

You talked about the need to cut emissions by 10% a year and how difficult that’s going to be and how it’s not going to be an easy thing and it’ll affect every aspect of what people do, particularly the people who are used to having it better. Can you describe a bit what you think it’ll look like when we get there? What’s your vision of what things would be like if we actually do this successfully, if we’re able to muster the will and the collective spirit and we actually manage to pull it off? Can you describe what it might be like when we get there?

 

This is quite hard… what will the future look like? It’s difficult for us as scientists and engineers not to impose our other personal ways of seeing the world. There are particular changes that I would like to see the world achieve that are not related to carbon or climate change, not to embody those in my view of the future is not easy.

 

I’m 50 years old now. I had a very good life in the 1970s and a pretty good life in the 1980s. I don’t think my quality of life has significantly improved since the 1970s and 80s, and yet my emissions and the emissions per capita have really gone up very significantly.

 

So we have lived good quality, relatively lower-carbon lives than we are today, not very long ago. Now a lot of that was because we consumed less. We still lived fairly high-consumption lifestyles, and I think if we allied the technical expertise that we have now that could really improve the technologies that we actually use to deliver lifestyles that are very good – we’re not talking about going a long way back to times when people were very impoverished.

 

We had good medical treatment, we had good schools, good transport networks. So I think we can ally both our current technical skills and abilities, with a recognition that we consumed considerably less than we consume today but had a not noticeably different lifestyles – going back to the 50s, 40s or the 30s would be very different, but I don’t think that’s true for the 70s and 80s.

 

Such a transition would certainly be challenging, with some significant equity and distributional impacts, and with a shift in emphasis from a strongly individual and consumption based society to one that embraces more collaboration. I acknowledge this would be more attractive to me, but I recognise that some people would not see such change in a positive light. Nevertheless, I think it’s hard to imagine ourselves getting out of the hole we’re in without a greater degree of collective effort.

 

I don’t think we should be looking to go back to the point where we can’t travel, and where we’re living austere lives. With a greater degree of equity, scarce energy resources can be balanced with high-welfare lives.

 

It’s a future about sufficiency more than it is about greed and wants, whether it’ll be radically different from where we are today will depend on how fast we respond now, but I don’t think it necessarily has to be. We will have lots of opportunities to behave differently, adopt lower consumption habits, and ally that with significant changes in the types and the efficiency of the technologies that are already available. All this could steer us in a resilient low-carbon direction.

 

Do you think the tradeable energy quotas that David Fleming came up with would be a useful tool for that?

 

Myself and my colleague Richard Starkey at the time did quite a lot of work on that, in fact we knew David quite well. Yes, I think it’s certainly one very serious route to consider and indeed David Miliband was quite keen on it at the time, DEFRA eventually dismissed it as “an economic instrument beyond its time”, so it was for the future. Well maybe the future’s here now and we should re-consider using it. It adds a very good equity dimension that demands greater changes from those of us that emit more than others. Coincidently, it is this fairness aspect that could drive innovation and the early adopters more than taxes and other economic instruments whereby high-emitters may be able to buy themselves out of change.

 

I think there’s some significant merit in it as an approach. Setting it up will not be easy. But we have to remember – people say it’s like rationing, well we’re all rationed by what’s called our salary, our income. So we’re all familiar with rations. We are all the time juggling our rations of resources because of what we can and cannot afford. This is just one more of them.

 

I’m not sure it’s quite as difficult as some people suggest to imagine to have to ration, particularly if it only relates to our household energy consumption, electricity, gas and so forth and our vehicle consumption. I think as you start to extend it beyond that it becomes more problematic but I think applied to households and transport it could be a useful tool in catalysing widespread and more equitable engagement and more effectively driving innovation and deployment than would standard economic instruments.

 

Content on this site is subject to our fair use notice.

Original article: http://transitionculture.org/2012/11/02/an-interview-with-kevin-anderson-rapid-and-deep-emissions-reductions-may-not-be-easy-but-4c-to-6c-will-be-much-worse/

EnergyBulletin.Net  is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.