We Need to Electrify As Much Transportation As We Can – Heinberg

We Need to Electrify As Much Transportation As We Can

by Richard Heinberg

Transcript:

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

Folks are lining up to reserve electric car automaker Tesla’s Model 3. It’s considered to be one of the first electric cars for the mass market at an expected price tag of 35 thousand dollars. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, will be unveiling the vehicle on Thursday evening, so we can’t show you what it will actually look like. But in this segment we wanted to get beyond the consumerism and ask, will this be a game changer for the automobile industry in America and the environment?

Now joining us to help us answer that question is Richard Heinberg. He’s a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. Thanks so much for joining us, Richard.

RICHARD HEINBERG: It’s a pleasure, Jessica.

DESVARIEUX: So, Richard, why has it taken so long for an affordable electric car to sort of come to the market? I’m reminded of the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” which really highlights how we essentially went from having electric cars on California roads in the ’90s to then, eventually, shredding and destroying those very same vehicles years later. So my question to you, Richard, is, who killed the electric car?

HEINBERG: Well, the bosses at the Detroit automakers decided back in the 1990s that there wouldn’t be a mass market for the electric car because of the short range of the vehicles. They thought consumers wouldn’t buy a car if it didn’t have a two to three hundred mile range, and the batteries at that time were not capable of delivering that kind of range. So even though they built some prototypes and sent them out to drivers, they never produced a mass market car.

Today, battery technology has improved enough so that it is possible to produce an electric car for the masses with at least a 200-mile range, and that’s what’s anticipated for the Tesla Model 3.

DESVARIEUX: Okay. there are some folks that are saying that this isn’t as big of a game changer as people are making it out to be, because essentially you’re getting power to charge your electric vehicle from fossil fuel sources like coal. Do you agree with that?

HEINBERG: Not entirely. First of all, the energy mix is different in different parts of the country. Some parts of the country, electricity is mostly coming from coal. In other parts of the country the mix is more oriented toward natural gas, hydro and renewables. So, first of all, it depends on where you’re getting your electricity from.

And second, you know, if you look out at the energy transition that we’re just beginning right now, away from fossil fuels toward renewables, it’s clear that one of the main strategies that we’ll have to pursue during this energy transition is electrification. Right now only about 20 percent of the final energy that we use in the United States is in the form of electricity. The rest is in the form of liquid fuels for transportation, energy for high heat industrial processes and so on.

We have to electrify as much of that energy usage as we can, because most of our renewable sources of energy produce electricity. That’s true of solar and wind, geothermal and hydro power. So we need to electrify as much transportation as we can.

DESVARIEUX: Okay. You have some automakers, you know, really touting this as a bright future, that we’re going to see more and more electric cars hit the market. I want to ask you about the role of cheap oil. Do you think that threatens he growth of the electric car industry?

HEINBERG: Well, probably not over the long run. We’re headed toward electric cars one way or the other, I think. However, over the short run it definitely takes some wind out of the sails, because from the consumer’s standpoint the biggest draw for an electric car is that over the lifetime of ownership the operating costs are much lower, so if you have cheap gas that changes that differential a bit, so that there’s not as much of an advantage.

DESVARIEUX: Okay, let’s talk about the future. What would a truly green transportation system look like, and are there some states or countries that are really laying out a road map to get us there?

HEINBERG: Well, a truly green transportation system probably wouldn’t rely on electric cars that much because it wouldn’t be relying on cars that much. Cars are an inherently inefficient mode of transportation. I mean, think about it. Most cars just have a driver and maybe one passenger, and meanwhile you’re dragging around two tons of metal, glass and plastic in order to get those one or two people where they want to go.

Much more efficient modes of transportation are light rail, any kind of public transportation, actually. So what we really need is to build up more rail transport and get people walking and bicycling as much as possible.

DESVARIEUX: Okay. Richard Heinberg, thank you so much for joining us.

HEINBERG: It’s been a pleasure. Thanks, Jessica.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Electric car teaser image via shutterstock. Reproduced at Resilience.org with permission.


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

Resilience 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.resilience.org/stories/2016-04-04/we-need-to-electrify-as-much-transportation-as-we-can

Climate Smart Southwest: Ready or Hot? – National climate change conference in Tucson – Sep 20-21

Free lecture Friday evening at the TEP Unisource Building, 88 East Broadway, Tucson AZ

Saturday conference at the Tucson Convention Center (details below)

Tucson will be hosting a climate change conference focused on public health and climate adaptation in September, sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility and 35 other local and national organizations. The following guest article by Susan Waites has more details.

Climate Smart Southwest: Ready or Hot?

article by Susan Waites

We have all been hearing lots about climate change. Have you ever wondered if climate change will affect us here in the Southwest? Have you ever wondered if climate change will affect you and members of your family personally? Here’s an opportunity to find out. You can attend this conference focused on public health and climate adaptation coming up Friday and Saturday September 20th and 21st. The conference is being sponsored by the Physicians for Social Responsibility and 35 other local and national organizations.

To kick off this community event there will be a free talk by Eric Klinenberg, Professor of Sociology at New York University and the author of the bestselling book Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, about the July 1995 week-long triple-digit heat wave that took over 700 lives. Dr. Klinenberg will give his talk Friday September 20 from 7 to 8pm at the TEP Unisource Building Conference Room, 88 E. Broadway in Tucson. While this event is free and open to the public, you are asked to RSVP as space is limited. You can do so by going to the conference website www.psr.org/azclimate

On Saturday September 21 the conference itself will take place from 7:30am to 5:30pm at the Tucson Convention Center. The cost is just $35 ($15 for current students) which includes a free buffet lunch and free on-site parking at the TCC. The morning of the conference will be dedicated to hearing nationally and internationally known speakers present information about climate change and emerging health problems, food security, mental health, and about how we can educate our children, build neighborhood resilience, and address cross cultural issues as we adapt to climate change. In the afternoon conference attendees will have the opportunity to participate in workshops to prepare and respond to the challenges posed by climate change. To register for Saturday’s events go to www.psr.org/azclimate

The Climate Smart Southwest Conference will be a unique opportunity to learn how climate change will affect you and your family. Best of all, you’ll learn what you can do be prepared and help yourself and your loved ones meet the challenges we will face with a changing climate. For more information, go to www.psr.org/azclimate. If you need more information, please contact Dr. Barbara Warren at bwarre01(at)gmail.com

Bisbee Solar Cook-Off and Festival – June 1

Free, at the Bisbee Farmers Market in Vista Park, Warren District, Bisbee Arizona

 

Bisbee Solar Cook-Off and Festival

Join Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture and the Bisbee Farmers Market for the 11th Annual Solar Cook-Off & Festival on Saturday, June 1 from 9am to 1pm.

Activities will include solar cooking demonstrations as well as solar ovens and accessories for sale.  At 10:30am, join local experts for a Solar Cooking Basics class.  At 11:30, learn how to build your own solar oven with a cardboard box and aluminum foil.  Feel free to bring a solar oven and join in the fun (a potluck will follow the event for those who prepare solar food).

Location: Bisbee Farmers Market (in Vista Park, Warren District).
For more info, visit www.bajaaz.org/calendar.  Free.

Questions?  Contact Meghan at meghan.mix(at)bajaaz.org or 520-331-9821.

Building Sustainable Cities – New York Times Conference April 25

See the online video archive of the entire conference at nytenergyfortomorrow.com

ENERGY FOR TOMORROW – BUILDING SUSTAINABLE CITIES

A NEW YORK TIMES CONFERENCE
IN COLLABORATION WITH RICHARD ATTIAS AND ASSOCIATES

APRIL 25, 2013
THE TIMESCENTER, NEW YORK CITY

 
THE CONCEPT

According to U.N. data, the worldwide urban population over the next 40 years will increase by 3.1 billion people. Where will the water come from for these people to drink and use? The fuel to heat and cool their homes? The fresh fruit and vegetables for them to eat? The modes of transportation to move them from home to workplace and back? And how can we build buildings, develop infrastructure and diversify transport in ways that limit the waste and pollutants that could make these urban areas unpleasant and unhealthy places to live? These are the issues The New York Times will tackle in its second annual Energy for Tomorrow Conference: Building Sustainable Cities.

In America and in other countries around the world, there is an enormous amount of innovation going on to make our cities more eco-friendly and sustainable. There are fleets of natural gas-fueled trucks and hybrid taxis. LEED-certified buildings are being constructed. Cutting-edge technology is helping cities cut down on energy and resource use. Summers bring urban and rooftop farming. And this innovation is occurring at both a micro and macro level.

THE FORMAT AND AUDIENCE

The New York Times will bring together some 400 thought leaders, public policy makers, government urbanists and C-suite level executives from energy, technology, automotive and construction industries among others, to debate and discuss the wide range of issues that must be addressed if we can create an urban environment that can meet the needs of its citizens and, thanks to innovation, run cleanly and efficiently. The conference will be invitation-only.

There will be a fee of $795 to attend the one-day conference, but The Times will make some grants available for N.G.O.s, entrepreneurs and start-ups to attend at a discount. The format will mix head-to-head debates, panel discussions, keynote addresses, case studies and audience brainstorming sessions.

 
APRIL 24 EVENING
(THE EVE OF THE CONFERENCE)

7 – 9p.m.
SCREENING OF THE DOCUMENTARY “TRASHED”

The documentary feature film “Trashed” highlights solutions to the pressing environmental problems facing us all. Academy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons has teamed up with British filmmaker Candida Brady to record the devastating effect that pollution has had on some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. The screening will be followed by a conversation with Irons.

Confirmed speakers:
Jeremy Irons, actor and executive producer, “Trashed”
in conversation with David Carr, media and culture columnist, The New York Times

 
APRIL 25 AGENDA

Throughout the day, we will be conducting networking and discussion sessions (via smartphones and BlackBerries) to gather, as well as to submit questions to the panel

7 a.m.
REGISTRATION AND BREAKFAST

7:45 – 8:45 a.m.
BREAKFAST DISCUSSION
SMART VEHICLES ARE HERE: CAN GOVERNMENT KEEP PACE?

The pressures are building for safer and smarter vehicles on our roads, raising questions about the national, state and local policies that will emerge. Several states are already early adopters of legislation to enable the use of autonomous vehicles. But every law is different, no national policies exist and innovations are unfolding rapidly. With the evolution of connected vehicles, intelligent roadways, and cloud-based technologies (first maps, soon much more), there will be a host of choices for consumers and governments.

Moderated by Gordon Feller, director of urban innovations, Cisco Systems; founder, Meeting of the Minds

Confirmed Panelists:
Anthony Levandowski, manager, Google autonomous vehicle project
Alex Padilla, state senator, California
Jim Pisz, corporate manager, North American business strategy, Toyota Motor Sales Inc.
Dan Smith, senior associate administrator for vehicle safety, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Bryant Walker Smith, fellow, Center for Automotive Research, Stanford University

9 – 9:30 a.m.
OPENING ADDRESS

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of the City of New York and chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

Introduced by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher, The New York Times

9:30 – 10:15 a.m.
THE MAYORS’ PANEL
HOW DO WE REINVENT OUR CITIES FOR THE THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION?

The city of 2025 could be crisis-ridden if the world doesn’t create more sustainable models of urban development. Research says that our cities will continue to expand and increase in population, while their populations will bring rising consumption and emissions. Alongside these huge challenges, there are also opportunities for businesses: electric vehicles, new low-carbon means of cooling, and energy efficient buildings. We ask a group of mayors to outline an urban planning strategy for 2025.

Moderated by Bill Keller, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

Confirmed panelists:
Jaime Lerner, former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil
Stephanie Miner, mayor of Syracuse
Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia
Greg Stanton, mayor of Phoenix

10:15 – 10:40 a.m.
COFFEE BREAK

10:40 – 11 a.m.
COLUMNIST CONVERSATION

Jeremy Irons, actor and executive producer, “Trashed”
in conversation with Andrew Revkin, Op-Ed columnist and author, Dot Earth blog, The New York Times

*Please note, there is a screening of “Trashed” on the eve of the conference. Seats are limited and the
screening will be open to the public. Confirmed conference participants will get priority.

11 – 11:30 a.m.
PLENARY: THINK NATIONAL, BUT POWER LOCAL

A sustainable city will use a high proportion of renewable energy, but there is a catch-22: sites that generate renewable electricity – wind farms, solar farms and tidal generators – tend to be far away from urban centers. How can we create grids that get renewable energy from the places it is made to the hundreds of millions who will use it? Meanwhile, how can we increase and incentivize localized power generation and supply? Options include district heating and cooling, and buildings producing their own power through solar powered roofs or single wind turbines, and then sharing that power through a smart grid.

Moderated by Thomas L. Friedman, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

Confirmed panelists:
Sabine Froning, C.E.O., Euroheat and Power
Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S.
Kevin Burke, chairman, president and C.E.O., Consolidated Edison Inc.

11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
COLUMNIST CONVERSATION

Shaun Donovan, United States secretary of housing and urban development
in conversation with Thomas L. Friedman, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

12 – 12:40 p.m.
GAMECHANGERS: THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION

Cutting-edge technology is helping cities cut down on energy and resource use and this innovation is occurring at both a micro and macro level. Can we innovate quickly enough?

Moderated by Joe Nocera, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

Confirmed panelists:
Stephen Kennedy Smith, president, Em-Link LLC
Judi Greenwald, vice president for technology and innovation, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
Adam Grosser, group head and partner, Silver Lake Kraftwerk
Neil Suslak, founder and managing partner, Braemar Energy
Steven E. Koonin, director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP)

12:40 – 2:05 p.m.
LUNCH AND BRAINSTORMING, URBAN FOOD SUPPLY

Lunch will take place in the Hall downstairs; during lunch we will host a brainstorming discussion featuring expert panelists on the Urban Food Supply.

Moderated by Mark Bittman, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

Discussion leaders:
Will Allen, founder and C.E.O., Growing Power
Dave Wann, president, Sustainable Futures Society
Dan Barber, chef and co-owner, Blue Hill at Stone Barns and director of program, President’s Council on
Fitness, Sports and Nutrition

2:05 – 2:40 p.m.
DISCUSSION: GREEN BUILDINGS AND URBAN DESIGN

Sustainable cities need energy-efficient buildings and the current symbol of urban architecture – the glass and metal skyscraper – scores badly in this regard. What kinds of building should be the centerpieces of new sustainable cities? Are current green building codes leading us in the right direction? Nearly half of the world’s new megacities will be in China and India: how can their leaders ensure that the millions of new structures in these cities use energy sparingly and follow sustainable urban planning?

Moderated by Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic, The New York Times

Confirmed panelists:
David Fisk, co-director of the BP Urban Energy Systems Project and Laing O’Rourke Professor in Systems Engineering and Innovation, Imperial College London
Hal Harvey, C.E.O., Energy Innovation: Policy and Technology LLC
Katrin Klingenberg, Passivehouse Institute, USA
Jonathan Rose, founder and president, Jonathan Rose Companies
Martha Schwartz, professor in practice of landscape architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and co-founder, Working Group for Sustainable Cities, Harvard University

2:40 – 3:15 p.m.
DISCUSSION: TRANSPORT AND TRAFFIC

An effective and energy-efficient transport network is the skeleton of a sustainable city, allowing residents to move from home to work with a minimum of congestion, pollution or emissions. The solutions are different for old cities and new cities, and for rich cities and poor cities. But the traditional model of urban expansion followed by new roads has created a vicious spiral where new roads beget more cars, which beget the need for more roads. New, more sustainable ideas for city transportation not only reduce emissions, but also improve quality of life.

Moderated by Joe Nocera, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

Confirmed panelists:
Walter Hook, C.E.O., Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
Peder Jensen, head of programme, governance and networks, European Environment Agency
Anna Nagurney, director, Virtual Center for Supernetworks, Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts
Naveen Lamba, intelligent transportation lead, IBM
Janette Sadik-Khan, NYC transportation commissioner

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.
COLUMNIST CONVERSATION
PLANET-WARMING EMISSIONS: IS DISASTER INEVITABLE?

Klaus Jacob, adjunct professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
in conversation with Joe Nocera, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

3:30 – 4:15 p.m.
NETWORKING DISCUSSION:
Participants will be split into two concurrent sessions to brainstorm two issues on the sustainable agenda. Led by a member of The Times team, and with an expert panel to comment and shape the discussions, participants will brainstorm ideas together. The results of the brainstorming – including suggested actions – will be released after the event.

DISCUSSION 1: TRANSPORT

Ingvar Sejr Hansen, head of city planning, City of Copenhagen
Ari Kahn, policy adviser for electric vehicles, New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability
Bruce Schaller, deputy commissioner for traffic and planning, New York City Department of Transportation
Greg Stanton, mayor of Phoenix

DISCUSSION 2: GREEN SPACES

Kai-Uwe Bergmann, partner, Bjarke Ingels Group
Steven Caputo Jr., deputy director, New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability
Susan Donoghue, senior adviser and assistant commissioner for strategic initiatives, New York City Parks
Deborah Marton, senior vice president of programs, New York Restoration Project

4:15 – 4:35 p.m.
COFFEE BREAK

4:35 – 4:55 p.m.
COLUMNIST CONVERSATION

Carol Browner, senior counselor, Albright Stonebridge Group, and former energy czar
in conversation with Bill Keller, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

4:55 – 5:45 p.m.
CLOSING PLENARY
DEALBOOK: INVESTING IN THE CITY OF TOMORROW

The challenge is to reinvent and retool the cities and urban life in a guise that is more sustainable – and to do it fast. Some of the best minds in the developed and developing worlds are trying to address this global issue. Architects, urban planners and engineers are drawing up plans. Business consultants are looking for new business opportunities as these sustainable cities evolve. The World Bank is trying to figure out how to finance their growth. How can we finance the creation of the city of tomorrow?

Moderated by Andrew Ross Sorkin, columnist/editor, DealBook, The New York Times

Confirmed panelists:
Alicia Glen, managing director, Urban Investment Group, Goldman Sachs
Richard Kauffman, chairman of energy and finance, Office of the Governor, State of New York
William McDonough, chairman, McDonough Advisors

5:45 p.m. CLOSING AND RECEPTION

 
See the online video archive of the entire conference at nytenergyfortomorrow.com

Awakening the Dreamer workshops – Circle Tree Ranch – June 10, Sep 9, Dec 9

 
Free (RSVP) at Circle Tree Ranch, 10500 E Tanque Verde Road, Tucson AZ 85749

 

 

Awakening the Dreamer – Changing the Dream

“Cultural Wisdom: The Indigenous Worldview as a Model for Social and Environmental Justice”

The Awakening the Dreamer – Changing the Dream Symposium is a profound inquiry into a bold vision: to bring forth an environmentally sustainable spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on Earth.

The symposium involves dynamic group interactions, cutting-edge information, and inspiring multimedia. Participants of this half-day event are inspired to reconnect with their deep concern for our world, and to recognize our responsibilities to each other, future generations, our fellow creatures, and the planet we jointly inhabit.

Designed with the collaboration of some of the finest scientific, indigenous and socially conscious minds in the world, the symposium explores the current state of our planet and connects participants to a powerful global movement to reclaim our future.

This dynamic and innovative presentation will explore the ancient wisdom of cultures around the globe and their spiritual, social, and environmental worldview. Recognizing the critical role of community, participants engage with one another in analyzing methods that create earth-honoring systems and ways of being. Experiencing the world as profoundly interconnected, participants will understand how in their living practices they can bring forth an environmentally sustainable, socially just, and spiritual fulfilling human presence on our planet. The goal of the presentation is to provide an experience that inspires each person to stand for an entirely new possibility for our future by embracing the indigenous worldview as a model for social and environmental justice.

Amity Foundation – Circle Tree Ranch
Bear Hall
10500 E Tanque Verde Road
Tucson, AZ 85749

RSVP to Pamela Jay at 520-749-5980 ext.252 or email pjay(at)amityfdn.org

3 Continuing Education Hours, NAADAC Provider #538

Donations welcomed for Dragonfly Village – dedicated to the inclusion and habilitation of children and families marginalized by homelessness, poverty, addiction, crime, racism, sexism, trauma, and violence.

www.circletreeranch.org

Cooking the Books: The True Climate Impact of Keystone XL


Click to view/download a pdf of the full report

Cooking the Books: The True Climate Impact of Keystone XL

April 16, 2013

A new report out today from environmental groups shows that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would, if approved, be responsible for at least 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year, comparable to the tailpipe emissions from more than 37.7 million cars or 51 coal-fired power plants.

In documenting the emissions associated with the controversial pipeline project, the report makes real the scale of climate impact and the further hurdles the project would create for the battle against climate change, putting the State Department’s “business as usual” scenarios into doubt.

The major findings of “Cooking the Books: How The State Department Analysis Ignores the True Climate Impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline” are:

– The 181 million metric tons of (CO2e) from Keystone XL is equivalent to the tailpipe emissions from more than 37.7 million cars. This is more cars than are currently registered on the entire West Coast (California, Washington, and Oregon), plus Florida, Michigan, and New York – combined.

– Between 2015 and 2050, the pipeline alone would result in emissions of 6.34 billion metric tons of CO2e. This amount is greater than the 2011 total annual carbon dioxide emissions of the United States.

– The International Energy Agency has said that two-thirds of known fossil fuel reserves must remain undeveloped if we are to avoid a 2 degree C temperature rise. Constructing the Keystone XL pipeline and developing the tar sands make that goal far more difficult, if not impossible, to reach.

“When evaluating this project, the State Department should apply a simple test: Does its completion bring the U.S. closer to meeting its climate goals? The answer is clearly no, and therefore the project must be denied,” said Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International.

In its 2012 World Energy Outlook, the IEA is very clear about the impact of climate policy on U.S. oil demand. If meaningful climate policy is pursued, U.S. oil demand would necessarily be cut 50 percent by 2035 and 70 percent by 2050 based on a 2012 baseline.

“Alberta’s premier was just in Washington, DC noting how essential the pipeline is to meeting increased production of the dirtiest oil on the planet. The numbers in this report make it clear that we can’t afford to help Big Oil meet that goal,” said Elizabeth Shope of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

U.S. demand for oil has declined since 2005 by 2.25 million barrels per day – or the equivalent of almost three Keystone XL pipelines.

“Any objective analysis of the impact of building Keystone shows that it would be a climate catastrophe,” said Ross Hammond, senior campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “Instead, the State Department seems ready to buy into the pipeline propaganda of an army of lobbyists who are trading on their ties to Secretary Kerry and President Obama to taint the decision. The president must act in the national interest, not the interests of Big Oil, and reject the Keystone XL pipeline.”

“Today’s report clearly demonstrates that we can’t protect future generations from the worst impacts of global warming while allowing ourselves to become hooked on even dirtier sources of fuel,” said Daniel Gatti, Get Off Oil Program Director for Environment America. “We need President Obama and Secretary Kerry to say no to tar sands, and no to the Keystone XL pipeline.”

“If he’s to keep his promise to confront climate change to protect America’s wildlife and communities, President Obama should say no to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,” said Jim Murphy, senior counsel at the National Wildlife Federation. “Our leaders can’t have it both ways – if they’re truly committed to protecting America’s wildlife and communities from climate change, they need to say no to Keystone XL and massive amounts of climate-disrupting carbon pollution it would deliver.”

The report was researched and written by Oil Change International with input and review by the Natural Resources Defense Council, 350.org, Environment America, National Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace.

Original article by David Turnbull – http://priceofoil.org/2013/04/16/cooking-the-books-the-true-climate-impact-of-keystone-xl/

Submit a comment to the State Department regarding the Keystone XL pipeline here.

A Fierce Green Fire – A Film and Panel on Green Activism – April 19

at The Loft Cinema, 3233 East Speedway Blvd, Tucson AZ

Join us for a special post-film panel discussion on opening night, featuring local experts in the field of environmental studies!

Maria Baier – Executive Director of the Sonoran Institute

Roger Clark – Grand Canyon Program Director for The Grand Canyon Trust

Paul Green – Executive Director of the Tucson Audubon Society

Diana Liverman – IE coDirector and Regents Professor of Geography and Development

Kenny Walker – Rachel Carson Fellow and PhD candidate in the University of Arizona’s English Department’s Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English (RCTE) program, studying the rhetoric of science and technology.

Fierce Green Fire movie poster

 
Time: Friday, April 19th at 7:00pm
Location: The Loft Cinema, 3233 East Speedway Blvd. Tucson [MAP]

Spanning 50 years of grassroots and global activism, A Fierce Green Fire, from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Mark Kitchell (Berkeley in the Sixties), brings to light the vital stories of the environmental movement where people fought – and succeeded – against enormous odds. From halting dams in the Grand Canyon to fighting toxic waste at Love Canal; from Greenpeace to Chico Mendes; from climate change to the promise of transforming our civilization, A Fierce Green Fire is “nothing less than the history of environmentalism itself.” (Los Angeles Times).

Inspired by the book of the same name by Philip Shabecoff and informed by advisors like Edward O. Wilson, this fascinating documentary chronicles the largest movement of the 20th century and one of the major keys to the 21st. Through awe-inspiring stories of triumph and struggle, the film focuses on real world activism, people fighting to save their homes, their lives, their futures – and succeeding against all odds.

Narrated by Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Ashley Judd, Van Jones and Isabel Allende. Directed by Mark Kitchell, 2012, 101 mins., Not Rated, First Run Features, Digital.  Watch the Trailer

“Winningly spans the broad scope of environmental history.” Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

“Rousing … the most ambitious environmental documentary since An Inconvenient Truth tries to make the case that we just might win. Noggin-shaking historical truths … jabs you in the heart.” Michael Roberts, Outside Magazine

“Rarely do environmental-themed films come with the ambitious scope of A Fierce Green Fire… which aims at nothing less than the history of environmentalism itself.” Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times

Tucson Time Traders – Tucson’s Local Timebank

Please see timetraders.metasofa.org for more information on our Timebank orientation meetings and other events.

We’re also at Sustainable Tucson Monthly Meetings to give information about timebanking and Tucson Time Traders, and help you sign up online.

 

TUCSON TIME TRADERS

Helping Build Community 1 Hour at a Time

Tucson Time Traders is our local Timebank for the Tucson region.  Check the website for our latest news and events, or open a new account, or login if you’re a member – http://timetraders.metasofa.org

 

What Is A Time Bank?

A Timebank is a group of people who trade an hour of work for an hour of work – everyone’s time is valued equally.  The hours are recorded in the timebank software so we can trade them around the timebank community.  Timebanking is a great way for people to exchange assistance and help build healthy communities.

Core Values

We are all assets – Every human being has something to contribute.

Redefining work – Some work is beyond price.  We need to value whatever it takes to raise healthy children, build strong families, revitalize neighborhoods, make democracy work, advance social justice, make the planet sustainable.

Reciprocity – Helping works better as a two-way street.  “How can I help you?” becomes “How can we help each other build the world we both will live in?”

Community – We need each other.  Networks are stronger than individuals… People helping each other reweave communities of support, strength and trust.

Respect – Every human being matters.  Respect underlies freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and supplies the heart and soul of democracy.

Intrigued?

Open a Tucson Time Traders account online, and come to an orientation meetingMembership is free and open to everyone.

For some background information, take a quick look at these excellent short videos and a sample of resources within our local timebank.

timetraders.metasofa.org

 
Also see Sustainable Tucson joins Tucson Timebank
and ST February Meeting – Tucson’s Economy

Edgar Cahn, TimeBanks USA – How President Obama Can Beat The Odds And Make Good On His Commitments

How President Obama Can Beat The Odds And Make Good On His Commitments

from Edgar S. Cahn, CEO TimeBanks USA,
Distinguished Professor of Law, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law

In his Inaugural Address, President Obama made some commitments that seem to defy fiscal reality:

  “A little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anyone else.”

  “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

  “We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.”

The problem: there are not enough funds, public, private, philanthropic to pay the cost, at market prices, for all the educational services and all the health care services needed to make good on those promises.

For a quarter century, the TimeBanking community has been demonstrating how to make the impossible possible.  There is vast untapped capacity in community.  We have proven that:

  • Healthy seniors and their families can provide reliable, informal care that reduces medical costs.

  • Fifth graders can tutor third graders who otherwise fail to attain essential reading levels.

  • Teenagers can tutor elementary school children using evidence-based cross-age peer tutoring.

How could this get paid for?  How can we record, recognize and reward labor from a work force that is not recognized or valued by the GDP?  For decades, the TimeBank community in the United States and thirty four other countries has been learning how to do it, teaching us all that every one of us has something special to give.

The function of a medium of exchange is to put supply and demand, capacity and need together.  What money does not value, TimeBanking does.  TimeBanking provides a tax-exempt, local medium of exchange that uses Time as a currency.  One hour helping another (regardless of mainstream market value) equal one Time Credit.  TimeBanking has proven capable of harnessing vast untapped capacity that the market does not value to address vast unmet needs.

Ask the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation which just made a major award to Neighborhood Health Centers of Lehigh Valley to utilize its TimeBank program as a resource to help build a super utilizer intervention program to reduce health care costs.  For ten years, home visits by Lehigh Valley TimeBank members functioning as health coaches and providing informal support have helped folks with chronic problems stay healthy and at home.

Ask Mayor Bloomberg’s Department for the Aging which has established TimeBank programs for seniors in all five boroughs to provide the kind of informal support needed to promote health and prevent unnecessary utilization of the emergency room care by elders.

Ask the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (with a 3,000 member TimeBank) that reports that 79% of TimeBank members felt that their membership gives them support they need to be able to stay in their homes and community as they get older and 100% reported they have benefited from becoming a TimeBank member.

Ask the National Education Association or do a Google search to see if Cross-Age Peer Tutoring rates the status of an evidence-based instructional and remedial strategy.

Ask the Washington State Office of Public Instruction for its authoritative manual on Cross-Age Peer Tutoring.

Ask the National Science Foundation why it granted nearly $1million dollars to Pennsylvania State University Center for Human-Computer Interaction to develop mobile apps for TimeBanking so every Smartphone user can be a time banker.

It’s time America discovered its vast hidden wealth: people not in the work force – seniors, teenagers, children, the disabled – whose energy and capacity has been tapped by TimeBanking for over a quarter century to strengthen fragile families, rebuild community, enhance health, promote trust, restore hope.

President Obama, if you want to do the impossible, it’s time to bet on each other and on our collective capacity.  TimeBanking supplies a medium of exchange that translates “Created Equal” into a currency that embodies that equality.  If we take it to scale, we can make good on delivering those “inalienable rights” to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness promised to every one of us by the Founding Fathers.

Also see TimeBanks USA and Tucson Time Traders

Sonoran Permaculture Guild – 18th Annual Permaculture Design Course – 5 weekends starting Feb 9

5 weekends starting Feb 9 in Tucson AZ

Sonoran Permaculture Guild
18th Annual Permaculture Design Course

This Permaculture certification course covers all aspects of sustainable design with a Southwest dry lands flavor, including a balance of hands on experience, classroom time, and design practicum. Dynamic exercises encourage pattern recognition, noticing the links between plants and animals, climate, and landforms that make up natural ecosystems.

The course focuses on dry land communities with a strong urban and semi-rural emphasis, addressing individual site and neighborhood “problems”, such as storm water flooding. Students learn to read the landscape, to map and analyze energies flowing through a site, and to develop integrated designs for sustainable systems.

Our course closely follows the standard 72 hour format developed by Bill Mollison and others. The weekend format of the course makes it easier for people who hold a week day job to attend and promotes better integration of the course material into daily life.

Dates for the the upcoming 2013 course are the following weekends – Feb. 9-10, Feb. 16-17, March 2-3, March 16-17, March 23-24

Cost $695, or $650 for early registration before January 25th.  There is also a class book fee of $42 for a copy of Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison. Also highly recommended is Brad Lancaster’s Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands Vol 1 and Vol 2.

For the last seventeen years this course has been full with a waiting list, so early registration is encouraged. To give a high quality educational experience, we limit the size of the class to eighteen participants. A limited number of Partial scholarships are available.

Contact Dan, the course registrar, dorsey(at)dakotacom.net or 520-624-8030 to register or receive more information.

Sonoran Permaculture Guildwww.sonoranpermaculture.org

Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2013 Campaign

Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2013 Campaign

What would it be like without stars at night? What is it we lose? Starry night skies have given us poetry, art, music and the wonder to explore. A bright night sky (aka light pollution) affects energy consumption, health and wildlife too. Spend a few minutes to help scientists by measuring the brightness of your night sky. Join the GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaign. The first campaign starts January 3 and runs through January 12.

GLOBE at Night is a worldwide, hands-on science and education program to encourage citizen-scientists worldwide to record the brightness of their night sky. During five select sets of dates in 2013, children and adults match the appearance of a constellation (Orion or Leo in the northern hemisphere, and Orion and Crux in the southern hemisphere) with seven star charts of progressively fainter stars. Participants then submit their choice of star chart at www.globeatnight.org/webapp with their date, time and location. This can be done by computer (after the measurement) or by smart phone or pad (during the measurement). From these data an interactive map of all worldwide observations is created.

There are 5 GLOBE at Night campaigns in 2013: January 3 – 12, January 31 – February 9, March 3 – 12, March 31 – April 9, and April 29 – May 8.

Over the past 7 years of 10-day campaigns, people in 115 countries have contributed over 83,000 measurements, making GLOBE at Night the most successful, light pollution citizen-science campaign to date. The GLOBE at Night website is easy to use, comprehensive, and holds an abundance of background information. Guides, activities, one-page flyers and postcards advertising the campaign are available at www.globeatnight.org/pdf. Through GLOBE at Night, students, teachers, parents and community members are amassing a data set from which they can explore the nature of light pollution locally and across the globe.

Listen to a fun skit on GLOBE at Night in a 7-minute audio podcast at http://365daysofastronomy.org/2012/12/17/december-17th-the-dark-skies-crusader-retires-globe-at-night-returns/

Visit us on the Web: www.globeatnight.org
Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/GLOBEatNight
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/GLOBEatNight
Subscribe to our mailing list for updates: globeatnight-list-on(at)noao.edu
Contact us: globeatnight(at)noao.edu

Sustainable Tucson joins Tucson Timebank

Sustainable Tucson joins Tucson Timebank

Sustainable Tucson is a co-sponsor of our local timebank Tucson Time Traders, and Sustainable Tucson is also a member of Tucson Time Traders.

If you volunteer for Sustainable Tucson in the working groups, monthly meetings, or in other ways, you can get hours of credit in the timebank from Sustainable Tucson for the hours you contribute.  Likewise, if you benefit from the work of Sustainable Tucson, or would like to make a donation in support of the work, you can give some of your timebank credit to Sustainable Tucson.

Here is Sustainable Tucson’s member profile in the timebank,

About

Sustainable Tucson
Tucson Arizona USA Earth
www.sustainabletucson.org

Sustainable Tucson is a non-profit grass-roots organization, building regional resilience and sustainability through awareness raising, community engagement, and public/private partnerships.  Our members focus their action, advocacy, and research through working groups addressing the unprecedented challenges of our time, economic meltdown, climate change, population pressures, and resource depletion.

The mission of Sustainable Tucson is to create a community-wide network of people and organizations, facilitating and accelerating Tucson’s transition to sustainability through education and collaborative action.

Offered

Free Public Presentations – monthly meetings with speakers, documentaries, and audience discussion on sustainability issues in relation to education, politics, technologies, projects, and organizations – see www.sustainabletucson.org

Working Groups and Networking on sustainability topics – Water, Food, Green Building, Health & Healthcare, Nature Conservation, Waste Management & Recycling, Money & Local Currency, Neighborhoods & Communities, Transportation, Whole Systems, Climate Change, Renewable Energy, Economics & Relocalization, Politics & Activism, Education & Media, Arts & Culture – also see wanted

Website – current events calendar, local & global sustainability resource links (business, educational, government, and nonprofit organizations), and an archive of news & information articles and event postings since 2006 – www.sustainabletucson.org

Wanted

Leadership and participation in our sustainability working groups, and speakers and facilitators for our monthly public meetings on sustainability (see offered)

Help with updating and organizing our wordpress-based website www.sustainabletucson.org

Funding and donations to cover our operating expenses.  Also, your personal donations of timebank credit here in appreciation for the value of what we are providing (for example if you learned something important at a monthly meeting or from the website).  Your donated timebank credit will help us give timebank credit to our volunteers who are donating their time to the work of Sustainable Tucson.  Thank you!

If you’d like to join Tucson Time Traders, or would like more information, please go to timetraders.metasofa.org or come to a timebank orientation meeting.

Chasing Ice – special film opening at The Loft – Dec 14

at The Loft, 3233 E Speedway, Tucson AZ
Tucson Climate Action Networking starting at 7pm

Chasing Ice

Co-presented by the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment, featuring a special introduction by the Institute of the Environment on opening night, Friday, December 14th at 7:30 pm

Tucson Climate Action Network will be tabling before and after the screening as a networking opportunity for our local groups working on the climate crisis, including TUCAN and 350Tucson as well as Citizens Climate Lobby, Sustainable Tucson, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Best Cinematography, Sundance Film Festival 2012
Named to the short list for the 2013 Academy Award for best documentary!
Watch the trailer at www.chasingice.com

Acclaimed National Geographic photographer James Balog was once a skeptic about climate change. But through his Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), he discovers undeniable evidence of our changing planet. In Chasing Ice, Balog deploys revolutionary time-lapse cameras to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers. His hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate.

Traveling with a team of young adventurers across the brutal Arctic, Balog risks his career and his well-being in pursuit of the biggest story facing humanity. As the debate polarizes America, and the intensity of natural disasters ramps up globally, Chasing Ice depicts a heroic photojournalist on a mission to deliver fragile hope to our carbon-powered planet.

Directed by Jeff Orlowski, 2012, US, 75 min., Rated PG-13, Submarine Films, HD Digital

“NYT CRITICS PICK! Full of stunning images in addition to being timely … as watchable as it is important.” —Neil Genzlinger, New York Times

“This amazingly beautiful, and amazingly frightening, documentary captures the immediacy of what climate change is doing to the Arctic landscape.” —Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News

“Dramatic … Chasing Ice aims to accomplish, with pictures, what all the hot air that has been generated on the subject of global warming hasn’t been able to do: make a difference.” —Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post

The Loft Cinema, www.loftcinema.com, phone 520-795-7777

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)

Eco-Health Relationship Browser – EPA Sustainable and Healthy Communities

Eco-Health Relationship Browser
EPA Sustainable and Healthy Communities (SHC) Research News Flash
September 25, 2012

The EPA Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program is pleased to announce the launch of the Eco-Health Relationship Browser, an easy-to-use new online tool from the SHC program.

The Eco-Health Relationship Browser illustrates the linkages between human health and ecosystem services—benefits supplied by nature. This interactive tool provides information about our nation’s ecosystems, the services they provide, and how those services, or their degradation and loss, may affect people and communities.

Ecosystems, such as wetlands and forests, provide a wide variety of goods and services, many of which we use every day. However, some of these services, such as air filtration, are not obvious and it therefore may be hard to understand the impact they have on our daily lives.

Scientific studies have documented the many tangible and intangible services and health benefits that are provided by our surrounding ecosystems. This tool is designed so that users can easily explore the services ecosystems provide and how those services affect human health and well-being. It is important to note that the studies summarized in this tool are by no means an exhaustive list. However, the inclusion of over 300 peer-reviewed papers makes this browser an exceptional compendium of current science on this topic.

If you have questions or comments please contact Laura Jackson at jackson.laura(at)epa.gov

This service is provided to you at no charge by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Welcome to the EPA Sustainable and Healthy Communities (SHC) research program News Flash. SHC is developing data, tools and approaches to help communities make decisions that better protect human health and community well being. This News Flash will provide subscribers periodic updates about SHC science, products or information. You were added to this mailing list because you are involved or have expressed an interest in sustainable communities work, ecosystem services research, or related topics.

For questions about the SHC News Flash contact Melissa McCullough mccullough.melissa(at)epa.gov, or Carolyn Hubbard Hubbard.carolyn(at)epa.gov

Challenges in Vertical Farming – all-day workshop & live webcast – Sep 26

live webcast from University of Maryland Conference Center

 

Workshop on the “Challenges in Vertical Farming

September 26, 2012
The Marriott Inn & Conference Center, University of Maryland University College
3501 University Blvd, East Hyattsville, Maryland 20783 USA

http://challengesinverticalfarming.org

We are pleased to announce an NSF funded workshop on the “Challenges in Vertical Farming”, which will be held on September 26, 2012 at the University of Maryland Conference Center.

We have assembled a group of experts from around the world to address various aspects – horticulture, lighting, irrigation, automation, architecture, economics, business development and outreach related to Vertical Farming as a form of Urban Agriculture, who will provide their expertise within a full day of presentations and discussions. Attendance may be in person or through live Webcast. More information including the list of speakers and registration for attendance (select ‘in person’, or via ‘live webcast’) are available at http://challengesinverticalfarming.org

The goal of the workshop is to capture the state of the art in agriculture in controlled environments, to define a research agenda for the future and to establish a working group at the nexus of Agriculture, Engineering, Economics and Architecture with focus on Urban Agriculture. The output of the workshop will be a report that could serve as the basis of research agenda by agencies such as the NSF, USDA and USAID.

Please feel free to forward this notice to those interested in participating in the workshop.

The Workshop organizers are led by Sanjiv Singh of Carnegie Mellon University, and include:

DICKSON DESPOMMIER (COLUMBIA) GENE GIACOMELLI (UNIV OF ARIZONA) MARC VAN IERSEL (UNIV OF GEORGIA) JOEY NORIKANE (FRAUNHOFER) GEORGE KANTOR (CARNEGIE MELLON) NIKOLAUS CORRELL (UNIV OF COLORADO) and MICHAEL HOADLEY (FEWZION)

Here is some motivation for these efforts:

By the year 2050, we expect human population to increase to 9 billion and to be further concentrated in urban centers. An estimated billion hectares of new land will be needed to grow enough food to feed the earth. At present, however, over 80% of the land suitable for raising crops is already in use. Further, if trends in climate change persist, the amount of land available for farming will decrease. Since crops consume 87% of all water used globally, an increase in water usage is not possible. Finally, while the need is for 50% higher yield by the year 2050 to maintain the status quo, we expect agricultural productivity to decline significantly across the world, especially in densely populated areas. There is an urgent need for high-yield agriculture that decreases the use of water and carbon based inputs per unit of product, while simultaneously reducing vulnerability of crops to natural environmental conditions. Vertical Farming (using controlled environments for urban agriculture) will reduce transportation energy required from the distant outdoor farms. Recent implementations have shown high yields in the production of vegetables in controlled environments. Water usage has been significantly reduced compared to traditional outdoor farming, and crops are shielded from adverse climate, and, from pests and diseases. In addition, Vertical Farming has the potential to provide fresher and healthier produce to the local consumer.

Since no one community or technology holds the magic key, the opportunity for is to collectively enumerate and prioritize the challenges that must be addressed to bring high yield, resource efficient agriculture to fruition. The greatest contribution from this workshop could be a roadmap for governmental agencies and researchers to follow as they weigh their priorities in the coming years. Obviously the needs will vary depending on the locale addressed– we expect that the needs for developing countries will be different than those that are less resource constrained. The goal of our workshop is to capture the state of the art in agriculture in controlled environments, to define a research agenda for the future and to establish a working group at the nexus of Agriculture, Engineering, Economics and Architecture. The output of the workshop will be a report that could serve as the basis of research agenda by agencies such as the NSF, USDA and USAID.

http://challengesinverticalfarming.org

Fall 2012 One Day Workshops – Sonoran Permaculture Guild

Fall 2012 One Day Workshops – Sonoran Permaculture Guild

For full class descriptions, registration information, and FAQs for these workshops, please go to http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/

 

Designing a Home Greywater System – September 22nd, 2012

This one-day class provides a basic understanding of residential greywater system design, function, application, and applicable building codes. Participants will work with an aerial photo of their own residence (provided by the instructor) to identify and evaluate the potential of their own greywater sources and design a workable plan for a greywater system for their own home. Class will end with a short walking tour (less than 1 mile) of greywater systems at several permculture sites in the neighborhood.

For class details and registration info, please see http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/

Wild Foods of the Sonoran Desert – September 29th, 2012

Learn to eat from what you find in the forest! Join local herbalist, John Slattery, on a wild foraging journey in our local Santa Rita Mountains. We will be exploring the great diversity of native wild foods which exist in our local habitat. Numerous wild foods will be identified, and we will gather and prepare some select edibles. Basic topics covered will include: Proper Identification of Edible Species, Time of Year for Proper Harvest, Methods of Preparation, Location, Environment, and Habitat for each Plant. We will carpool to the Santa Rita Mountains.

For class details and registration info, please see http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/

Introduction to Growing Food at Home – October 6, 2012

The future of sustainable agriculture will be in small to medium scale organic food gardens grown right in and around our cities. In this workshop that includes hands-on work, you will learn how to set up a complete desert vegetable garden. We will show you how to increase your garden’s health, production, and nutrient value, using an integrated system of compost, mulch, companion plant selection, and irrigation to improve fertility, structure, and life in your soil, and produce food with minimum water use. We will conclude the class with an exploration of “food forests”- a diverse layering of annual and perennial food plants that can help increase garden health through permaculture strategies.

For class details and registration info, please see http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/

Introduction to Permaculture Design – October 13th, 2012

In this design workshop, you will learn how to map out the natural story of the place where you live. Then you will put together an exciting, long term plan for your sustainable home and landscape – one that takes care of people and takes care of the environment at the same time. We will practice the skills and strategies needed to do Permaculture design, like mapping out the natural and person-made forces that effect our site and using simple elevation finding tools. Bring a sketch of your site or yard that you want to design. This class is held at the Sonoran Permaculture Guild’s Ramada classroom site one and a half miles north of downtown Tucson, where you will see Permaculture design and implementation demonstrated on site.

For class details and registration info, please see http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/

Build A Straw Bale House or Wall, Tuesday evening – October 16th, 2012

In this non-hands on seminar you will learn about straw bale construction and the advantages of super insulation, thick walls, and ease of construction. Handouts and a complete discussion of the current straw bale code, detail drawings of windows and doors, and additional tips to make your building experience easier are included. This class also includes a complete slide show from start to finish on how to build a straw bale house or wall, as well as a demonstration of special tools and props that work well with straw bale construction. Co-Sponsored by Pima Community College.

For class details and registration info, please see http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/

Natural Building and Passive Solar Design – October 20th, 2012

This workshop includes hands on work with straw bales, adobe blocks,cob, and plasters. We’ll do hands on building of small structures like benches and walls – projects that you can easily do at your own place to create beautiful outdoor spaces. After this hands on work in the morning we’ll cover the building codes related to these materials used in larger projects. We will talk about and demonstrate the main principles of good passive solar design. This class emphasizes integrated design and getting back in touch with the patterns of nature, so we can make design decisions that are in tune with the environment. Using these natural building materials can help make our living environments more healthy and comfortable, and save us money on utility bills.

For class details and registration info, please see http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/

Introduction to Natural Beekeeping – October 20th and 21st, 2012

Want to be a bee keeper but don’t know where to start? How about a full weekend of hands on instruction with one of the Southwest’s most experienced bee keepers? This two day introductory beekeeping workshop in Avra Valley just west of Tucson, Arizona will get you started. Each day may be taken separately as a one day introduction also. The role of bees in a regenerative permaculture design will be discussed and compared to conventional “industrial” methods of hive maintenance and honey production. We will look at the reproduction patterns of the honey bee, the expansion and contraction patterns of the hive throughout the seasons, the roles of queen, worker and drone, and the honey bee’s complex set of duties such as pollination, storing nectar and pollen, and making wax. Suggested reading: The Buzz about Bees, Biology of a Superorganism, by Jurgen Tautz, The Biology of the Honeybee, by Mark L. Winston, and Introduction to Permaculture, by Bill Mollison.

For class details and registration info, please see http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/

Hands On Water Harvesting for your Landscape – November 3rd, 2012

Learning how to use rainfall and storm water run-off is one of the keys to developing a sustainable and lush landscape. Rainwater harvesting helps us to reduce erosion and have a lush multi use landscape without having to import water from outside our bioregion or overpump the groundwater table. In this hands on workshop we will install a metal culvert water cistern, learn how to read the water situation on a site, and do basic calculations on the water flow available. We will install basic earthworks to hold water on site, and talk about contours, plant selection, and mulching. This workshop is more than learning about techniques for harvesting rainwater; it will show you how water harvesting can be integrated into your own lifestyle and into a simple landscape design for your home.

For class details and registration info, please see http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/

Herbal Winter Apothecary: Create Your Own Medicines – November 10th, 2012

Be prepared to ward off illness and promote your vitality! Join local herbalist, John Slattery, for a day of medicine making in preparation for the winter cold and flu season. You will learn to make a variety of preparations (syrups, teas, oxymels, etc.) ideally suited for common viral infections. In our discussions we will explore the nature of host resistance and how to enhance it, and take a closer look at our local herbal pharmacopeia. Each participant will take home some herbal preparations we create in class and the knowledge to make it for themselves. All materials are included in the class fee.

For class details and registration info, please see http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/

Raising Chickens for Eggs and/or Meat – November 18th, 2012

This is a one-day introductory class is for anyone interested in raising chickens for the production of eggs and/or meat. Participants will gain a basic understanding of chicken coop design and construction. This will include a material cost-breakdown for a very basic coop with an easy to follow building plan. Strategies for incorporating a backyard flock into an overall Permaculture based system will be demonstrated and discussed. We will cover how to “tame” your birds and how to teach children to be around them. This class will cover heat tolerant breeds, raising day old chicks, feed requirements, composting, free ranging, predator protection, the pecking order, & culling. A special emphasis on homemade chicken accessories such as feeders, nesting boxes, watering facilities, and kill cones will be included. For participants interested in staying we will demonstrate how to cull a chicken at the end of the class. Recommended Reading Materials: CITY CHICKS: Keeping Micro-flocks of Chickens as Garden Helpers by Patricia Foreman; Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow; Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2 by Brad Lancaster; and Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison

For class details and registration info, please see http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/

 

Fall 2012 One Day Workshops – Sonoran Permaculture Guild

For full class descriptions, registration information, and FAQs for these workshops, please go to http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/ or contact Dan at dorsey(at)dakotacom.net or 520-624-8030

www.sonoranpermaculture.org

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math – by Bill McKibben in Rolling Stone

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy is

by Bill McKibben (350.org)

This story is from the August 2nd, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven’t convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10^99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.

Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the “largest temperature departure from average of any season on record.” The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet’s history.

Not that our leaders seemed to notice. Last month the world’s nations, meeting in Rio for the 20th-anniversary reprise of a massive 1992 environmental summit, accomplished nothing. Unlike George H.W. Bush, who flew in for the first conclave, Barack Obama didn’t even attend. It was “a ghost of the glad, confident meeting 20 years ago,” the British journalist George Monbiot wrote; no one paid it much attention, footsteps echoing through the halls “once thronged by multitudes.” Since I wrote one of the first books for a general audience about global warming way back in 1989, and since I’ve spent the intervening decades working ineffectively to slow that warming, I can say with some confidence that we’re losing the fight, badly and quickly – losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.

When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math. For the past year, an easy and powerful bit of arithmetical analysis first published by financial analysts in the U.K. has been making the rounds of environmental conferences and journals, but it hasn’t yet broken through to the larger public. This analysis upends most of the conventional political thinking about climate change. And it allows us to understand our precarious – our almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless – position with three simple numbers.

The First Number: 2° Celsius

If the movie had ended in Hollywood fashion, the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 would have marked the culmination of the global fight to slow a changing climate. The world’s nations had gathered in the December gloom of the Danish capital for what a leading climate economist, Sir Nicholas Stern of Britain, called the “most important gathering since the Second World War, given what is at stake.” As Danish energy minister Connie Hedegaard, who presided over the conference, declared at the time: “This is our chance. If we miss it, it could take years before we get a new and better one. If ever.”

In the event, of course, we missed it. Copenhagen failed spectacularly. Neither China nor the United States, which between them are responsible for 40 percent of global carbon emissions, was prepared to offer dramatic concessions, and so the conference drifted aimlessly for two weeks until world leaders jetted in for the final day. Amid considerable chaos, President Obama took the lead in drafting a face-saving “Copenhagen Accord” that fooled very few. Its purely voluntary agreements committed no one to anything, and even if countries signaled their intentions to cut carbon emissions, there was no enforcement mechanism. “Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight,” an angry Greenpeace official declared, “with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport.” Headline writers were equally brutal: COPENHAGEN: THE MUNICH OF OUR TIMES? asked one.

The accord did contain one important number, however. In Paragraph 1, it formally recognized “the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below two degrees Celsius.” And in the very next paragraph, it declared that “we agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required… so as to hold the increase in global temperature below two degrees Celsius.” By insisting on two degrees – about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit – the accord ratified positions taken earlier in 2009 by the G8, and the so-called Major Economies Forum. It was as conventional as conventional wisdom gets. The number first gained prominence, in fact, at a 1995 climate conference chaired by Angela Merkel, then the German minister of the environment and now the center-right chancellor of the nation.

Some context: So far, we’ve raised the average temperature of the planet just under 0.8 degrees Celsius, and that has caused far more damage than most scientists expected. (A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere over the oceans is a shocking five percent wetter, loading the dice for devastating floods.) Given those impacts, in fact, many scientists have come to think that two degrees is far too lenient a target. “Any number much above one degree involves a gamble,” writes Kerry Emanuel of MIT, a leading authority on hurricanes, “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 like this: “If we’re seeing what we’re seeing today at 0.8 degrees Celsius, two degrees is simply too much.” NASA scientist James Hansen, the planet’s most prominent climatologist, is even blunter: “The target that has been talked about in international negotiations for two degrees of warming is actually a prescription for long-term disaster.” At the Copenhagen summit, a spokesman for small island nations warned that many would not survive a two-degree rise: “Some countries will flat-out disappear.” When delegates from developing nations were warned that two degrees would represent a “suicide pact” for drought-stricken Africa, many of them started chanting, “One degree, one Africa.”

Despite such well-founded misgivings, political realism bested scientific data, and the world settled on the two-degree target – indeed, it’s fair to say that it’s the only thing about climate change the world has settled on. All told, 167 countries responsible for more than 87 percent of the world’s carbon emissions have signed on to the Copenhagen Accord, endorsing the two-degree target. Only a few dozen countries have rejected it, including Kuwait, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Even the United Arab Emirates, which makes most of its money exporting oil and gas, signed on. The official position of planet Earth at the moment is that we can’t raise the temperature more than two degrees Celsius – it’s become the bottomest of bottom lines. Two degrees.

The Second Number: 565 Gigatons

Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees. (“Reasonable,” in this case, means four chances in five, or somewhat worse odds than playing Russian roulette with a six-shooter.)

This idea of a global “carbon budget” emerged about a decade ago, as scientists began to calculate how much oil, coal and gas could still safely be burned. Since we’ve increased the Earth’s temperature by 0.8 degrees so far, we’re currently less than halfway to the target. But, in fact, computer models calculate that even if we stopped increasing CO2 now, the temperature would likely still rise another 0.8 degrees, as previously released carbon continues to overheat the atmosphere. That means we’re already three-quarters of the way to the two-degree target.

How good are these numbers? No one is insisting that they’re exact, but few dispute that they’re generally right. The 565-gigaton figure was derived from one of the most sophisticated computer-simulation models that have been built by climate scientists around the world over the past few decades. And the number is being further confirmed by the latest climate-simulation models currently being finalized in advance of the next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Looking at them as they come in, they hardly differ at all,” says Tom Wigley, an Australian climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “There’s maybe 40 models in the data set now, compared with 20 before. But so far the numbers are pretty much the same. We’re just fine-tuning things. I don’t think much has changed over the last decade.” William Collins, a senior climate scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, agrees. “I think the results of this round of simulations will be quite similar,” he says. “We’re not getting any free lunch from additional understanding of the climate system.”

We’re not getting any free lunch from the world’s economies, either. With only a single year’s lull in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis, we’ve continued to pour record amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, year after year. In late May, the International Energy Agency published its latest figures – CO2 emissions last year rose to 31.6 gigatons, up 3.2 percent from the year before. America had a warm winter and converted more coal-fired power plants to natural gas, so its emissions fell slightly; China kept booming, so its carbon output (which recently surpassed the U.S.) rose 9.3 percent; the Japanese shut down their fleet of nukes post-Fukushima, so their emissions edged up 2.4 percent. “There have been efforts to use more renewable energy and improve energy efficiency,” said Corinne Le Quéré, who runs England’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. “But what this shows is that so far the effects have been marginal.” In fact, study after study predicts that carbon emissions will keep growing by roughly three percent a year – and at that rate, we’ll blow through our 565-gigaton allowance in 16 years, around the time today’s preschoolers will be graduating from high school. “The new data provide further evidence that the door to a two-degree trajectory is about to close,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist. In fact, he continued, “When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of about six degrees.” That’s almost 11 degrees Fahrenheit, which would create a planet straight out of science fiction.

So, new data in hand, everyone at the Rio conference renewed their ritual calls for serious international action to move us back to a two-degree trajectory. The charade will continue in November, when the next Conference of the Parties (COP) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change convenes in Qatar. This will be COP 18 – COP 1 was held in Berlin in 1995, and since then the process has accomplished essentially nothing. Even scientists, who are notoriously reluctant to speak out, are slowly overcoming their natural preference to simply provide data. “The message has been consistent for close to 30 years now,” Collins says with a wry laugh, “and we have the instrumentation and the computer power required to present the evidence in detail. If we choose to continue on our present course of action, it should be done with a full evaluation of the evidence the scientific community has presented.” He pauses, suddenly conscious of being on the record. “I should say, a fuller evaluation of the evidence.”

So far, though, such calls have had little effect. We’re in the same position we’ve been in for a quarter-century: scientific warning followed by political inaction. Among scientists speaking off the record, disgusted candor is the rule. One senior scientist told me, “You know those new cigarette packs, where governments make them put a picture of someone with a hole in their throats? Gas pumps should have something like that.”

The Third Number: 2,795 Gigatons

This number is the scariest of all – one that, for the first time, meshes the political and scientific dimensions of our dilemma. It was highlighted last summer by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, a team of London financial analysts and environmentalists who published a report in an effort to educate investors about the possible risks that climate change poses to their stock portfolios. The number describes the amount of carbon already contained in the proven coal and oil and gas reserves of the fossil-fuel companies, and the countries (think Venezuela or Kuwait) that act like fossil-fuel companies. In short, it’s the fossil fuel we’re currently planning to burn. And the key point is that this new number – 2,795 – is higher than 565. Five times higher.

The Carbon Tracker Initiative – led by James Leaton, an environmentalist who served as an adviser at the accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers – combed through proprietary databases to figure out how much oil, gas and coal the world’s major energy companies hold in reserve. The numbers aren’t perfect – they don’t fully reflect the recent surge in unconventional energy sources like shale gas, and they don’t accurately reflect coal reserves, which are subject to less stringent reporting requirements than oil and gas. But for the biggest companies, the figures are quite exact: If you burned everything in the inventories of Russia’s Lukoil and America’s ExxonMobil, for instance, which lead the list of oil and gas companies, each would release more than 40 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Which is exactly why this new number, 2,795 gigatons, is such a big deal. Think of two degrees Celsius as the legal drinking limit – equivalent to the 0.08 blood-alcohol level below which you might get away with driving home. The 565 gigatons is how many drinks you could have and still stay below that limit – the six beers, say, you might consume in an evening. And the 2,795 gigatons? That’s the three 12-packs the fossil-fuel industry has on the table, already opened and ready to pour.

We have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn. We’d have to keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away underground to avoid that fate. Before we knew those numbers, our fate had been likely. Now, barring some massive intervention, it seems certain.

Yes, this coal and gas and oil is still technically in the soil. But it’s already economically aboveground – it’s figured into share prices, companies are borrowing money against it, nations are basing their budgets on the presumed returns from their patrimony. It explains why the big fossil-fuel companies have fought so hard to prevent the regulation of carbon dioxide – those reserves are their primary asset, the holding that gives their companies their value. It’s why they’ve worked so hard these past years to figure out how to unlock the oil in Canada’s tar sands, or how to drill miles beneath the sea, or how to frack the Appalachians.

If you told Exxon or Lukoil that, in order to avoid wrecking the climate, they couldn’t pump out their reserves, the value of their companies would plummet. John Fullerton, a former managing director at JP Morgan who now runs the Capital Institute, calculates that at today’s market value, those 2,795 gigatons of carbon emissions are worth about $27 trillion. Which is to say, if you paid attention to the scientists and kept 80 percent of it underground, you’d be writing off $20 trillion in assets. The numbers aren’t exact, of course, but that carbon bubble makes the housing bubble look small by comparison. It won’t necessarily burst – we might well burn all that carbon, in which case investors will do fine. But if we do, the planet will crater. You can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet, or a relatively healthy planet – but now that we know the numbers, it looks like you can’t have both. Do the math: 2,795 is five times 565. That’s how the story ends.

So far, as I said at the start, environmental efforts to tackle global warming have failed. The planet’s emissions of carbon dioxide continue to soar, especially as developing countries emulate (and supplant) the industries of the West. Even in rich countries, small reductions in emissions offer no sign of the real break with the status quo we’d need to upend the iron logic of these three numbers. Germany is one of the only big countries that has actually tried hard to change its energy mix; on one sunny Saturday in late May, that northern-latitude nation generated nearly half its power from solar panels within its borders. That’s a small miracle – and it demonstrates that we have the technology to solve our problems. But we lack the will. So far, Germany’s the exception; the rule is ever more carbon.

This record of failure means we know a lot about what strategies don’t work. Green groups, for instance, have spent a lot of time trying to change individual lifestyles: the iconic twisty light bulb has been installed by the millions, but so have a new generation of energy-sucking flatscreen TVs. Most of us are fundamentally ambivalent about going green: We like cheap flights to warm places, and we’re certainly not going to give them up if everyone else is still taking them. Since all of us are in some way the beneficiaries of cheap fossil fuel, tackling climate change has been like trying to build a movement against yourself – it’s as if the gay-rights movement had to be constructed entirely from evangelical preachers, or the abolition movement from slaveholders.

People perceive – correctly – that their individual actions will not make a decisive difference in the atmospheric concentration of CO2; by 2010, a poll found that “while recycling is widespread in America and 73 percent of those polled are paying bills online in order to save paper,” only four percent had reduced their utility use and only three percent had purchased hybrid cars. Given a hundred years, you could conceivably change lifestyles enough to matter – but time is precisely what we lack.

A more efficient method, of course, would be to work through the political system, and environmentalists have tried that, too, with the same limited success. They’ve patiently lobbied leaders, trying to convince them of our peril and assuming that politicians would heed the warnings. Sometimes it has seemed to work. Barack Obama, for instance, campaigned more aggressively about climate change than any president before him – the night he won the nomination, he told supporters that his election would mark the moment “the rise of the oceans began to slow and the planet began to heal.” And he has achieved one significant change: a steady increase in the fuel efficiency mandated for automobiles. It’s the kind of measure, adopted a quarter-century ago, that would have helped enormously. But in light of the numbers I’ve just described, it’s obviously a very small start indeed.

At this point, effective action would require actually keeping most of the carbon the fossil-fuel industry wants to burn safely in the soil, not just changing slightly the speed at which it’s burned. And there the president, apparently haunted by the still-echoing cry of “Drill, baby, drill,” has gone out of his way to frack and mine. His secretary of interior, for instance, opened up a huge swath of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming for coal extraction: The total basin contains some 67.5 gigatons worth of carbon (or more than 10 percent of the available atmospheric space). He’s doing the same thing with Arctic and offshore drilling; in fact, as he explained on the stump in March, “You have my word that we will keep drilling everywhere we can… That’s a commitment that I make.” The next day, in a yard full of oil pipe in Cushing, Oklahoma, the president promised to work on wind and solar energy but, at the same time, to speed up fossil-fuel development: “Producing more oil and gas here at home has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy.” That is, he’s committed to finding even more stock to add to the 2,795-gigaton inventory of unburned carbon.

Sometimes the irony is almost Borat-scale obvious: In early June, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled on a Norwegian research trawler to see firsthand the growing damage from climate change. “Many of the predictions about warming in the Arctic are being surpassed by the actual data,” she said, describing the sight as “sobering.” But the discussions she traveled to Scandinavia to have with other foreign ministers were mostly about how to make sure Western nations get their share of the estimated $9 trillion in oil (that’s more than 90 billion barrels, or 37 gigatons of carbon) that will become accessible as the Arctic ice melts. Last month, the Obama administration indicated that it would give Shell permission to start drilling in sections of the Arctic.

Almost every government with deposits of hydrocarbons straddles the same divide. Canada, for instance, is a liberal democracy renowned for its internationalism – no wonder, then, that it signed on to the Kyoto treaty, promising to cut its carbon emissions substantially by 2012. But the rising price of oil suddenly made the tar sands of Alberta economically attractive – and since, as NASA climatologist James Hansen pointed out in May, they contain as much as 240 gigatons of carbon (or almost half of the available space if we take the 565 limit seriously), that meant Canada’s commitment to Kyoto was nonsense. In December, the Canadian government withdrew from the treaty before it faced fines for failing to meet its commitments.

The same kind of hypocrisy applies across the ideological board: In his speech to the Copenhagen conference, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez quoted Rosa Luxemburg, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and “Christ the Redeemer,” insisting that “climate change is undoubtedly the most devastating environmental problem of this century.” But the next spring, in the Simon Bolivar Hall of the state-run oil company, he signed an agreement with a consortium of international players to develop the vast Orinoco tar sands as “the most significant engine for a comprehensive development of the entire territory and Venezuelan population.” The Orinoco deposits are larger than Alberta’s – taken together, they’d fill up the whole available atmospheric space.

So: the paths we have tried to tackle global warming have so far produced only gradual, halting shifts. A rapid, transformative change would require building a movement, and movements require enemies. As John F. Kennedy put it, “The civil rights movement should thank God for Bull Connor. He’s helped it as much as Abraham Lincoln.” And enemies are what climate change has lacked.

But what all these climate numbers make painfully, usefully clear is that the planet does indeed have an enemy – one far more committed to action than governments or individuals. Given this hard math, we need to view the fossil-fuel industry in a new light. It has become a rogue industry, reckless like no other force on Earth. It is Public Enemy Number One to the survival of our planetary civilization. “Lots of companies do rotten things in the course of their business – pay terrible wages, make people work in sweatshops – and we pressure them to change those practices,” says veteran anti-corporate leader Naomi Klein, who is at work on a book about the climate crisis. “But these numbers make clear that with the fossil-fuel industry, wrecking the planet is their business model. It’s what they do.”

According to the Carbon Tracker report, if Exxon burns its current reserves, it would use up more than seven percent of the available atmospheric space between us and the risk of two degrees. BP is just behind, followed by the Russian firm Gazprom, then Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell, each of which would fill between three and four percent. Taken together, just these six firms, of the 200 listed in the Carbon Tracker report, would use up more than a quarter of the remaining two-degree budget. Severstal, the Russian mining giant, leads the list of coal companies, followed by firms like BHP Billiton and Peabody. The numbers are simply staggering – this industry, and this industry alone, holds the power to change the physics and chemistry of our planet, and they’re planning to use it.

They’re clearly cognizant of global warming – they employ some of the world’s best scientists, after all, and they’re bidding on all those oil leases made possible by the staggering melt of Arctic ice. And yet they relentlessly search for more hydrocarbons – in early March, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson told Wall Street analysts that the company plans to spend $37 billion a year through 2016 (about $100 million a day) searching for yet more oil and gas.

There’s not a more reckless man on the planet than Tillerson. Late last month, on the same day the Colorado fires reached their height, he told a New York audience that global warming is real, but dismissed it as an “engineering problem” that has “engineering solutions.” Such as? “Changes to weather patterns that move crop-production areas around – we’ll adapt to that.” This in a week when Kentucky farmers were reporting that corn kernels were “aborting” in record heat, threatening a spike in global food prices. “The fear factor that people want to throw out there to say, ‘We just have to stop this,’ I do not accept,” Tillerson said. Of course not – if he did accept it, he’d have to keep his reserves in the ground. Which would cost him money. It’s not an engineering problem, in other words – it’s a greed problem.

You could argue that this is simply in the nature of these companies – that having found a profitable vein, they’re compelled to keep mining it, more like efficient automatons than people with free will. But as the Supreme Court has made clear, they are people of a sort. In fact, thanks to the size of its bankroll, the fossil-fuel industry has far more free will than the rest of us. These companies don’t simply exist in a world whose hungers they fulfill – they help create the boundaries of that world.

Left to our own devices, citizens might decide to regulate carbon and stop short of the brink; according to a recent poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans would back an international agreement that cut carbon emissions 90 percent by 2050. But we aren’t left to our own devices. The Koch brothers, for instance, have a combined wealth of $50 billion, meaning they trail only Bill Gates on the list of richest Americans. They’ve made most of their money in hydrocarbons, they know any system to regulate carbon would cut those profits, and they reportedly plan to lavish as much as $200 million on this year’s elections. In 2009, for the first time, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce surpassed both the Republican and Democratic National Committees on political spending; the following year, more than 90 percent of the Chamber’s cash went to GOP candidates, many of whom deny the existence of global warming. Not long ago, the Chamber even filed a brief with the EPA urging the agency not to regulate carbon – should the world’s scientists turn out to be right and the planet heats up, the Chamber advised, “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological and technological adaptations.” As radical goes, demanding that we change our physiology seems right up there.

Environmentalists, understandably, have been loath to make the fossil-fuel industry their enemy, respecting its political power and hoping instead to convince these giants that they should turn away from coal, oil and gas and transform themselves more broadly into “energy companies.” Sometimes that strategy appeared to be working – emphasis on appeared. Around the turn of the century, for instance, BP made a brief attempt to restyle itself as “Beyond Petroleum,” adapting a logo that looked like the sun and sticking solar panels on some of its gas stations. But its investments in alternative energy were never more than a tiny fraction of its budget for hydrocarbon exploration, and after a few years, many of those were wound down as new CEOs insisted on returning to the company’s “core business.” In December, BP finally closed its solar division. Shell shut down its solar and wind efforts in 2009. The five biggest oil companies have made more than $1 trillion in profits since the millennium – there’s simply too much money to be made on oil and gas and coal to go chasing after zephyrs and sunbeams.

Much of that profit stems from a single historical accident: Alone among businesses, the fossil-fuel industry is allowed to dump its main waste, carbon dioxide, for free. Nobody else gets that break – if you own a restaurant, you have to pay someone to cart away your trash, since piling it in the street would breed rats. But the fossil-fuel industry is different, and for sound historical reasons: Until a quarter-century ago, almost no one knew that CO2 was dangerous. But now that we understand that carbon is heating the planet and acidifying the oceans, its price becomes the central issue.

If you put a price on carbon, through a direct tax or other methods, it would enlist markets in the fight against global warming. Once Exxon has to pay for the damage its carbon is doing to the atmosphere, the price of its products would rise. Consumers would get a strong signal to use less fossil fuel – every time they stopped at the pump, they’d be reminded that you don’t need a semimilitary vehicle to go to the grocery store. The economic playing field would now be a level one for nonpolluting energy sources. And you could do it all without bankrupting citizens – a so-called “fee-and-dividend” scheme would put a hefty tax on coal and gas and oil, then simply divide up the proceeds, sending everyone in the country a check each month for their share of the added costs of carbon. By switching to cleaner energy sources, most people would actually come out ahead.

There’s only one problem: Putting a price on carbon would reduce the profitability of the fossil-fuel industry. After all, the answer to the question “How high should the price of carbon be?” is “High enough to keep those carbon reserves that would take us past two degrees safely in the ground.” The higher the price on carbon, the more of those reserves would be worthless. The fight, in the end, is about whether the industry will succeed in its fight to keep its special pollution break alive past the point of climate catastrophe, or whether, in the economists’ parlance, we’ll make them internalize those externalities.

It’s not clear, of course, that the power of the fossil-fuel industry can be broken. The U.K. analysts who wrote the Carbon Tracker report and drew attention to these numbers had a relatively modest goal – they simply wanted to remind investors that climate change poses a very real risk to the stock prices of energy companies. Say something so big finally happens (a giant hurricane swamps Manhattan, a megadrought wipes out Midwest agriculture) that even the political power of the industry is inadequate to restrain legislators, who manage to regulate carbon. Suddenly those Chevron reserves would be a lot less valuable, and the stock would tank. Given that risk, the Carbon Tracker report warned investors to lessen their exposure, hedge it with some big plays in alternative energy.

“The regular process of economic evolution is that businesses are left with stranded assets all the time,” says Nick Robins, who runs HSBC’s Climate Change Centre. “Think of film cameras, or typewriters. The question is not whether this will happen. It will. Pension systems have been hit by the dot-com and credit crunch. They’ll be hit by this.” Still, it hasn’t been easy to convince investors, who have shared in the oil industry’s record profits. “The reason you get bubbles,” sighs Leaton, “is that everyone thinks they’re the best analyst – that they’ll go to the edge of the cliff and then jump back when everyone else goes over.”

So pure self-interest probably won’t spark a transformative challenge to fossil fuel. But moral outrage just might – and that’s the real meaning of this new math. It could, plausibly, give rise to a real movement.

Once, in recent corporate history, anger forced an industry to make basic changes. That was the campaign in the 1980s demanding divestment from companies doing business in South Africa. It rose first on college campuses and then spread to municipal and state governments; 155 campuses eventually divested, and by the end of the decade, more than 80 cities, 25 states and 19 counties had taken some form of binding economic action against companies connected to the apartheid regime. “The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century,” as Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it, “but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure,” especially from “the divestment movement of the 1980s.”

The fossil-fuel industry is obviously a tougher opponent, and even if you could force the hand of particular companies, you’d still have to figure out a strategy for dealing with all the sovereign nations that, in effect, act as fossil-fuel companies. But the link for college students is even more obvious in this case. If their college’s endowment portfolio has fossil-fuel stock, then their educations are being subsidized by investments that guarantee they won’t have much of a planet on which to make use of their degree. (The same logic applies to the world’s largest investors, pension funds, which are also theoretically interested in the future – that’s when their members will “enjoy their retirement.”) “Given the severity of the climate crisis, a comparable demand that our institutions dump stock from companies that are destroying the planet would not only be appropriate but effective,” says Bob Massie, a former anti-apartheid activist who helped found the Investor Network on Climate Risk. “The message is simple: We have had enough. We must sever the ties with those who profit from climate change – now.”

Movements rarely have predictable outcomes. But any campaign that weakens the fossil-fuel industry’s political standing clearly increases the chances of retiring its special breaks. Consider President Obama’s signal achievement in the climate fight, the large increase he won in mileage requirements for cars. Scientists, environmentalists and engineers had advocated such policies for decades, but until Detroit came under severe financial pressure, it was politically powerful enough to fend them off. If people come to understand the cold, mathematical truth – that the fossil-fuel industry is systematically undermining the planet’s physical systems – it might weaken it enough to matter politically. Exxon and their ilk might drop their opposition to a fee-and-dividend solution; they might even decide to become true energy companies, this time for real.

Even if such a campaign is possible, however, we may have waited too long to start it. To make a real difference – to keep us under a temperature increase of two degrees – you’d need to change carbon pricing in Washington, and then use that victory to leverage similar shifts around the world. At this point, what happens in the U.S. is most important for how it will influence China and India, where emissions are growing fastest. (In early June, researchers concluded that China has probably under-reported its emissions by up to 20 percent.) The three numbers I’ve described are daunting – they may define an essentially impossible future. But at least they provide intellectual clarity about the greatest challenge humans have ever faced. We know how much we can burn, and we know who’s planning to burn more. Climate change operates on a geological scale and time frame, but it’s not an impersonal force of nature; the more carefully you do the math, the more thoroughly you realize that this is, at bottom, a moral issue; we have met the enemy and they is Shell.

Meanwhile the tide of numbers continues. The week after the Rio conference limped to its conclusion, Arctic sea ice hit the lowest level ever recorded for that date. Last month, on a single weekend, Tropical Storm Debby dumped more than 20 inches of rain on Florida – the earliest the season’s fourth-named cyclone has ever arrived. At the same time, the largest fire in New Mexico history burned on, and the most destructive fire in Colorado’s annals claimed 346 homes in Colorado Springs – breaking a record set the week before in Fort Collins. This month, scientists issued a new study concluding that global warming has dramatically increased the likelihood of severe heat and drought – days after a heat wave across the Plains and Midwest broke records that had stood since the Dust Bowl, threatening this year’s harvest. You want a big number? In the course of this month, a quadrillion kernels of corn need to pollinate across the grain belt, something they can’t do if temperatures remain off the charts. Just like us, our crops are adapted to the Holocene, the 11,000-year period of climatic stability we’re now leaving… in the dust.

This story is from the August 2nd, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

Also see http://350.org

Menu for the Future – Discussion Course – Thursdays July 12 thru Aug 16

six Thursdays from July 12 thru August 16
in Central Tucson

Menu for the Future Discussion Course

Thursdays, July 12 to August 16, 2012 – 6:30 to 8:00pm

Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture offers the Northwest Earth Institute’s Menu for the Future Class, a 6-session discussion course that analyzes the connection between food and sustainability.  The goals of the course are to explore food systems and their impact on culture, society, and ecology; to gain insight into agricultural and individual practices that promote personal and ecological well-being; and to consider your role in creating or supporting sustainable food systems.

Topics covered include:

  • What’s Eating America (explores the effects of modern industrial eating habits on culture, society and ecological systems).
  • Anonymous Food (considers the ecological and economic impacts that have accompanied the changes in how we grow and prepare food).
  • Farming for the Future (examines emerging food system alternatives, highlighting sustainable growing practices, the benefits of small farms and urban food production, and how individuals can make choices that lead to a more sustainable food supply).
  • You Are What You Eat (considers the influences that shape our choices and food policies from the fields to Capitol Hill, and the implications for our health and well-being).
  • Toward a Just Food System (explores the role that governments, communities and individuals can play in addressing hunger, equity, and Fair Trade to create a more just food system).
  • Choices for Change (offers inspiration and practical advice in taking steps to create more sustainable food systems).

How it Works:  Prior to each meeting, participants read short selections from the course book relating to one of the topics listed above (book is provided as part of class fee).  Each gathering consists of open conversation regarding the readings.  Dialogue from a wide range of perspectives and learning through self-discovery are encouraged.  While each session is facilitated by one of the course participants, there is no formal teacher.

The Details:

  • Dates/Time: Weekly meetings occur each Thursday, July 12 to August 16, from 6:30 to 8pm.  Participants must attend all sessions.
  • Location: central Tucson.
  • Cost (for course book): $25 BASA members, $30 non-members (or $45 for course and a one-year BASA membership).

Contact Meghan at meghan.mix(at)bajaaz.org or 520-331-9821 for further information.
Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture

Menu for the Future discussion course – Thursdays starting May 3

Six Thursdays, May 3 to June 7, in Tucson AZ

 

Menu for the Future

Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture offers Menu for the Future, a 6-session discussion course prepared by the Northwest Earth Institute that analyzes the connection between food and sustainability.

The goals of the course are to explore food systems and their impact on culture, society, and ecology; to gain insight into agricultural and individual practices that promote personal and ecological well-being; and to consider your role in creating or supporting sustainable food systems.

Topics covered include:

  • What’s Eating America (explores the effects of modern industrial eating habits on culture, society and ecological systems).
  • Anonymous Food (considers the ecological and economic impacts that have accompanied the changes in how we grow and prepare food).
  • Farming for the Future (examines emerging food system alternatives, highlighting sustainable growing practices, the benefits of small farms and urban food production, and how individuals can make choices that lead to a more sustainable food supply).
  • You Are What You Eat (considers the influences that shape our choices and food policies from the fields to Capitol Hill, and the implications for our health and well-being).
  • Toward a Just Food System (explores the role that governments, communities and individuals can play in addressing hunger, equity, and Fair Trade to create a more just food system).
  • Choices for Change (offers inspiration and practical advice in taking steps to create more sustainable food systems).

How it Works:

Prior to each meeting, participants read short selections from the course book relating to one of the topics listed above (book is provided as part of class fee). Each gathering consists of open conversation regarding the readings. Dialogue from a wide range of perspectives and learning through self-discovery are encouraged. While each session is facilitated by one of the course participants, there is no formal teacher.

The Details:

  • Dates/Time: Weekly meetings occur each Thursday, May 3 to June 7, from 6:30 to 8pm. Participants must attend all sessions.
  • Location: central Tucson.
  • Cost (for course book): $25 BASA members, $30 non-members (or $45 for course and a one-year BASA membership).
  • Advance registration is required.

Contact Meghan at meghan.mix(at)bajaaz.org or 520-331-9821 for additional information or to register.

Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture – www.bajaaz.org

Walking Away from Empire – Guy McPherson at Antigone Books – March 2

Walking Away from Empire – Guy McPherson at Antigone Books, 411 N. 4th Avenue, Friday, March 2, 7 PM

Guy McPherson will discuss his book, Walking Away from Empire: A Personal Journey.

McPherson was a successful professor by every imperial measure: tenured, published in all the right places, mentoring students who acquired the best jobs in the field. He earned enough to live on a third of his income and still travel as much as he desired throughout the industrialized world. In other words, McPherson was the perfect model of all that is wrong with the United States!

Rather than questioning the system, he was raising minor questions within the system. During the decade of his forties, he awakened to the costs of the nonnegotiable American way of life: obedience at home and oppression abroad. McPherson transformed his life from mainstream ecologist to friend of the earth and social critic.

The reading will be followed by a question and answer period.
Refreshments will be served.

What Are We Planning For? – A New Advocacy Initiative

What Are We Planning For?
A Sustainable Tucson Issues Paper                                                  March 2012

Since Imagine Greater Tucson’s initiating phase began more than three years ago, Sustainable Tucson has been engaged with the IGT Project at many levels, participating in the steering, community values, outreach, and technical committees. Imagine Greater Tucson has consistently requested input and Sustainable Tucson has tried to contribute ideas in order to make IGT a more relevant and successful visioning process for the Tucson region.

The following text summarizes seven key issues which Sustainable Tucson has previously presented and which the IGT process has yet to address. This document concludes with four specific requests to modify the Imagine Greater Tucson Project.

 

1. There has been no step or focus in the IGT process to sensitize and ground the community in the context of the emerging future. The impacts of climate change, resource depletion, food security, water use, conservation of our natural environment and economic and financial crises were all avoided.

Problem:  Without a grounded understanding of the emerging context, how can we realistically connect our values to a preferred future for the region? IGT views the problem of addressing growth as disconnected from the unprecedented challenges facing us. What does it mean to envision the future with our eyes closed and our heads in the sand?

 

2. Every IGT scenario is built on doubling population and the purpose of the visioning process is to determine the preferred way this growth should happen.

Problem: If this doubling of growth does not happen, IGT will have left us less prepared to adapt to any other possible future. Planning on the basis of doubling population growth constrains the investigation of what is best for the Tucson region. Population may or may not grow as current trends are showing (See Appendix A) and far different scenarios follow from those different assumptions. In planning a sustainable future it would be prudent, considering issues of climate change and resource limitations, to be considering population “build out” or planned decrease. A doubling population may make it impossible to decrease carbon emissions enough to limit uncontrollable climate change effects – important since Tucson is frequently described as “ground zero” for the worst effects of global warming.

 

3. IGT is intended to inform the 10-year comprehensive plans of the regional jurisdictions.

Problem: If IGT is only concerned about how we shape and support growth and if growth does not happen in the next decade (See Appendix A), then what value does IGT actually offer to inform the 10-year comprehensive jurisdictional plans? Worse still is the diversion of time and energy away from addressing the coming unprecedented challenges in what may be the most critical decade of our region’s history.

IGT has surveyed the region’s “values” but again not within the present context of changing eras. These survey results can be used by the jurisdictions but they will not reflect the community’s response to what is important in a coming period of unprecedented social, environmental, and economic change. The elephant in the room that IGT does not address is how to restructure our economy without population growth being the primary economic driver.

 

4. The scope of IGT is limited to how we shape the land-uses and infrastructures for the addition of one million future residents. It is true that the existing community was asked what we value and how we should shape this future addition. But existing residents had no option to define what land-use and infrastructure options we want for ourselves.

Problem: How can we define a preferred future without including the desired changes the existing community would like to see in its mix of infrastructures, especially given that becoming more sustainable and resilient requires significant changes in existing systems? Are the existing residents’ needs and preferences for urban form not an important part of the region’s future?

 

5. The impact of debt restructuring and credit availability were not included as key indicators.

Problem: Preparing for growth and preparing for sustainability both require significant public and private investments. How can we plan for change without estimating availability of funding, especially given the unprecedented local and global credit contraction ongoing these past three years. Population increase, development, economic growth, and protecting our natural environment will all be constrained by credit availability.

 

6. Scalability of scenario features was not included as an indicator or evaluative criterion.

Problem: Regional investment capacity is inherently constrained regardless of population growth level. So it is important that for each level of actual growth, a balanced approach is taken to ensure that all infrastructure categories are adequately addressed. If the investment approach is not balanced, some systems become over-built with excess capacity and others suffer with insufficient investment and capacity. Worse yet is the lack of financial planning for maintenance and repair of both existing and newly planned infrastructures. An obvious example of the latter is our crumbling regional and neighborhood roadways described by Pima County officials as  “rapidly deteriorating”.

IGT staff response to the problematic construct of doubling population has been that if this doubling growth doesn’t happen we will simply scale the implementation of the final “preferred” scenario to what actually happens. However, if an infrastructure cannot be “smoothly” or “linearly” scaled, investment in such infrastructure may preclude other critically-needed system choices should growth not happen as projected.

Thus, the scalability value of features in the alternative scenarios should be presented so that community participants can choose their preferred scenario, in part, by the characteristic of scenario features to be scalable or adaptable to lower growth levels.

 

7.  The 3 IGT scenarios  compare indicators with the reference projection or “trend” scenario, not with current conditions.

Problem:  Because the reference scenario is constructed in such a way as to demonstrate the unsustainability of continuing “business as usual”, the alternative future scenarios automatically show “improvement” over the reference scenario.

Not comparing the 3 alternative scenarios to current conditions – conditions that people can experience and verify now – obscures the very real possibility that for important indicators like greenhouse gas emissions, the values will actually get worse not better under what becomes the final “preferred” scenario.

In the case of greenhouse gases, the goal of regional climate change mitigation planning is to reduce emissions by at least 80% below current levels. It would appear these reductions cannot be met by adding population, even at greatly improved infrastructure efficiencies.

 

Bottomline Conclusion:  The intent of the IGT project to educate the community about “smart growth” concepts and how they can be applied to jurisdictional planning is by itself a worthy effort. Unfortunately, this should have happened 10 to 15 years ago when the region was experiencing the pressures of rapid growth.  Further, these concepts have not been re-calibrated to embody new constraints such as current greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The biggest challenge now is: how do we maintain prosperity and quality of life and environment without continuous population growth and how will we adapt to the unprecedented sustainability challenges in the coming decade.

 

We invite other individuals and organizations to join us in requesting that IGT:

 

1) Directly address and facilitate greater regional understanding of the unprecedented challenges which we face including climate change, peak oil, resource depletion, food security, water use, economic crises, and conservation of our natural environment.

2) Augment its future scenarios to include at least one scenario that considers population stabilization or “build-out” at no or low growth levels.

3) Broaden the scope of participant choices to register “optimal population levels“ along with their scenario preferences.

4) Compare indicators of the alternative future scenarios to actual current conditions, not hypothetical projections.

To support and add your endorsement of this proposal, please post a comment below.

 

Appendix A: Evidence that a new era without growth has begun

The IGT Project’s assertions that regional population “is projected to double in the coming decades” or more recently,  “is expected to grow by as many as 1 million people during this century” are misleading and not substantiated by any facts. At recent rates of change, our population would not even double in a hundred years – a timeframe that climate change and resource depletion research indicate would likely be unfavorable for growth.

For many decades up until five years ago, Arizona and the Tucson region did double their populations at rapid rates: every 20 and 35 years respectively. A major task for every jurisdiction was to manage the pressures and impacts of this growth dynamic. But the rapid growth era has ended as we find increasing evidence that the factors governing growth have indeed changed.

For four years, Americans have been moving less, driving less, and in great numbers, walking away from homes worth less than the mortgage obligation.  The 2010 US Census shows that the Tucson region had less population in 2010 than the 1 million 2006 population estimate. CNBC News recently named Tucson, “The Emptiest City in America” because of high apartment and home vacancies. UA economist Marshall Vest recently revealed that the Tucson region lost net population in 2011.

Declining regional home prices have erased ten years of gains and experts conclude that the local housing market will never return to past levels of activity. All of this points to the likelihood of a  “growthless” decade ahead, perhaps even longer.

www.SustainableTucson.org

The 12 most hopeful trends to build on in 2012

The 12 most hopeful trends to build on in 2012
Published by YES! Magazine on Sat, 12/31/2011
Original article: http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/sarah-van-gelder/12-most-hopeful-trends-to-build-on-in-2012

by Sarah van Gelder

Who would have thought that some young people camped out in lower Manhattan with cardboard signs, a few sharpies, some donated pizza, and a bunch of smart phones could change so much?

The viral spread of the Occupy Movement took everyone by surprise. Last summer, politicians and the media were fixated on the debt ceiling, and everyone seemed to forget that we were in the midst of an economic meltdown—everyone except the 99 percent who were experiencing it.

Today, people ranging from Ben Bernake, chair of the Federal Reserve, to filmmaker Michael Moore are expressing sympathy for the Occupy Movement and concern for those losing homes, retirement savings, access to health care, and hope of ever finding a job.

This uprising is the biggest reason for hope in 2012. The following are 12 ways the Occupy Movement and other major trends of 2011 offer a foundation for a transformative 2012.
 

1. Americans rediscover their political self-respect. In 2011, members of the 99 percent began camping out in New York’s Zuccotti Park, launching a movement that quickly spread across the country. Students at U.C. Davis sat nonviolently through a pepper spray assault, Oaklanders shut down the city with a general strike, and Clevelanders saved a family from eviction. Occupiers opened their encampments to all and fed all who showed up, including many homeless people. Thousands moved their accounts from corporate banks to community banks and credit unions, and people everywhere created their own media with smart phones and laptops. The Occupy Movement built on the Arab Spring, occupations in Europe, and on the uprising, early in 2011, in Wisconsin, where people occupied the state capitol in an attempt to block major cuts in public workers’ rights and compensation. Police crackdowns couldn’t crush the surge of political self-respect experienced by millions of Americans.

After the winter weather subsides, look for the blossoming of an American Spring.


2. Economic myths get debunked. Americans now understand that hard work and playing by the rules don’t mean you’ll get ahead. They know that Wall Street financiers are not working for their interests. Global capitalism is not lifting all boats. As this mythology crumbled, the reality became inescapable: The United States is not broke. The 1 percent have rigged the system to capture a larger and larger share of the world’s wealth and power, while the middle class and poor face unemployment, soaring student debt burdens, homelessness, exclusion from the medical system, and the disappearance of retirement savings. Austerity budgets just sharpen the pain, as the safety net frays and public benefits, from schools to safe bridges, fail. The European debt crisis is front and center today, but other crises will likely follow. Just as the legitimacy of apartheid began to fall apart long before the system actually fell, today, the legitimacy of corporate power and Wall Street dominance is disintegrating.

The new-found clarity about the damage that results from a system dominated by Wall Street will further energize calls for regulation and the rule of law, and fuel the search for economic alternatives


3. Divisions among people are coming down. Middle-class college students camped out alongside homeless occupiers. People of color and white people created new ways to work together. Unions joined with occupiers. In some places, Tea Partiers and occupiers discovered common purposes. Nationwide, anti-immigrant rhetoric backfired.

Tremendous energy is released when isolated people discover one another; look for more unexpected alliances.


4. Alternatives are blossoming. As it becomes clear that neither corporate CEOs nor national political leaders have solutions to today’s deep crises, thousands of grassroots-led innovations are taking hold. Community land trusts, farmers markets, local currencies and time banking, micro-energy installations, shared cars and bicycles, cooperatively owned businesses are among the innovations that give people the means to live well on less and build community. And the Occupy Movement, which is often called “leaderless,” is actually full of emerging leaders who are building the skills and connections to shake things up for decades to come.

This widespread leadership, coupled with the growing repertoire of grassroots innovations, sets the stage for a renaissance of creative rebuilding.


5. Popular pressure halted the Keystone KL Pipeline — for the moment. Thousands of people stood up to efforts by some of the world’s most powerful energy companies and convinced the Obama administration to postpone approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would have sped the extraction and export of dirty tar sands oil. James Hansen says, “If the tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over” for the planet. Just a year ago, few had heard of this project, much less considered risking arrest to stop it, as thousands did outside the White House in 2011.

With Congress forcing him to act within 60 days, President Obama will be under enormous pressure from both Big Oil and pipeline opponents. It will be among the key tests of his presidency.


6. Climate responses move forward despite federal inaction. Throughout the United States, state and local governments are taking action where the federal government has failed. California’s new climate cap-and-trade law will take effect in 2012. College students are pressing campus administrators to quit using coal-fired sources of electricity. Elsewhere, Europe is limiting climate pollution from air travel, Australia has enacted a national carbon tax, and there is a global initiative underway to recognize the rights of Mother Nature. Climate talks in Durban, South African, arrived at a conclusion that, while far short of what is needed, at least keeps the process alive.

Despite corporate-funded climate change deniers, most people know climate change is real and dangerous; expect to see many more protests, legislation, and new businesses focused on reducing carbon emissions in 2012.


7. There’s a new focus on cleaning up elections. The Supreme Court’s “Citizens United decision,” which lifted limits on corporate campaign contributions, is opposed by a large majority of Americans. This year saw a growing national movement to get money out of politics; cities from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles are passing resolutions calling for an end to corporate personhood. Constitutional amendments have been introduced. And efforts are in the works to push back against voter suppression policies that especially discourage voting among people of color, low-income people, and students, all of whom tend to vote Democratic.

Watch for increased questioning of the legal basis of corporations, which “we the people” created, but which now facilitate lawlessness and increasing concentrations of wealth and power.


8. Local government is taking action. City and state governments are moving forward, even as Washington, D.C., remains gridlocked, even as budgets are stretched thin. Towns in Pennsylvania, New York, and elsewhere are seeking to prohibit “fracking” to extract natural gas, and while they’re at it, declaring that corporations do not have the constitutional rights of people. Cities are banning plastic bags, linking up local food systems, encouraging bicycling and walking, cleaning up brown fields, and turning garbage and wasted energy into opportunity. In part because of the housing market disaster, people are less able to pick up and move.

Look for increased rootedness, whether voluntary or not, along with increased focus on local efforts to build community solutions.


9. Dams are coming down. Two dams that block passage of salmon up the Elwha River into the pristine Olympic National Park in Washington state are coming down. After decades of campaigning by Native tribes and environmentalists, the removal of the dams began in 2011.

The assumption that progress is built on “taming” and controlling nature is giving way to an understanding that human and ecological well-being are linked.


10. The United States ended the combat mission in Iraq. U.S. troops are home from Iraq at last. What remains is a U.S. embassy compound the size of the Vatican City, along with thousands of private contractors. Iraq and the region remain unstable.

Given the terrible cost in lives and treasure for what most Americans see as an unjustified war, look to greater skepticism of future U.S. invasions.


11. Breakthrough for single-payer health care. The state of Vermont took action to respond to the continuing health care crises, adopting, but not yet funding, a single-payer health care system similar to Canada’s.

As soaring costs of health insurance drain the coffers of businesses and governments, other states may join Vermont at the forefront of efforts to establish a public health insurance system like Canada’s.


12. Gay couples can get married. In 2011, New York state and the Suquamish Tribe in Washington state (home of the author of this piece) adopted gay marriage laws. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta won a raffle allowing her to be the first to kiss her partner upon return from 80 days at sea, the first such public display of gay affection since Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was expunged. The video and photos went viral.

2011 may be the year when opposition to gay marriage lost its power as a rallying cry for social conservatives. The tide has turned, and gay people will likely continue to win the same rights as straight people to marry.


With so much in play, 2012 will be an interesting year, even setting aside questions about “end times” and Mayan calendars. As the worldviews and institutions based on the dominance of the 1 percent are challenged, as the global economy frays, and as we run headlong into climate change and other ecological limits, one era is giving way to another. There are too many variable to predict what direction things will take. But our best hopes can be found in the rise of broad grassroots leadership, through the Occupy Movement, the Wisconsin uprising, the climate justice movement, and others, along with local, but interlinked, efforts to build local solution everywhere. These efforts make it possible that 2012 will be a year of transformation and rebuilding — this time, with the well-being of all life front and center.


Sarah van Gelder wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful idea with practical actions. Sarah is YES! Magazine’s co-founder and executive editor, and editor of the new book: “This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement.”

YES! Magazine encourages you to make free use of this article by taking these easy steps. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

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


Source URL: http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-12-31/12-most-hopeful-trends-build-2012

Links:
[1] http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/sarah-van-gelder/12-most-hopeful-trends-to-build-on-in-2012
[2] http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/occupywallstreet
[3] http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/this-changes-everything-how-the-99-woke-up
[4] http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/stand-up-to-corporate-power/table-of-contents
[5] http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/rejecting-arizona-the-failure-of-the-anti-immigrant-movement
[6] http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/what-makes-a-great-place/community-land-trusts
[7] http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/the-new-economy/dollars-with-good-sense-diy-cash
[8] http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/time-banking-an-idea-whose-time-has-come
[9] http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/the-yes-breakthrough-15/henry-red-cloud-solar-warrior-for-native-america
[10] http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/lessons-from-a-surprise-bike-town
[11] http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/the-new-economy/clevelands-worker-owned-boom
[12] http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/nebraskans-speak-out-against-the-pipeline
[13] http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/brooke-jarvis/protesters-win-pipeline-delay
[14] http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/new-livelihoods/students-push-coal-off-campus
[15] http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/04/13-2
[16] http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/madeline-ostrander/after-durban-climate-activists-target-corporate-power
[17] http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/water-solutions/real-people-v.-corporate-people-the-fight-is-on
[18] http://www.energybulletin.net/people-power/keeping-it-clean-maines-fight-for-fair-elections
[19] http://www.energybulletin.net/people-power/turning-occupation-into-lasting-change
[20] http://www.energybulletin.net/planet/how-to-fight-fracking-and-win
[21] http://www.energybulletin.net/issues/the-yes-breakthrough-15/cities-take-up-the-ban-the-bag-fight
[22] http://www.energybulletin.net/blogs/richard-conlin/reflections-on-a-growing-local-food-movement
[23] http://www.energybulletin.net/issues/the-yes-breakthrough-15/hope-for-salmon-as-dams-come-down
[24] http://www.energybulletin.net/issues/columns/building-peace-in-iraq
[25] http://www.energybulletin.net/people-power/wendell-potter-on-vermonts-health-care-plan
[26] http://www.energybulletin.net/issues/health-care-for-all/has-canada-got-the-cure
[27] http://www.yesmagazine.org
[28] http://www.energybulletin.net/products/this-changes-everything/this-changes-everything
[29] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/
[30] http://www.yesmagazine.org/about/reprints

Dreaming New Mexico – Peter Warshall – TEDxABQ video

Dreaming New Mexico has built a map of pragmatic and visionary solutions to create a more localized and green economy with greater local self-reliance and enhanced prosperity.

Peter Warshall is Co-Director of the Bioneers’ Dreaming New Mexico Project, and a world-renowned water steward, biodiversity and wildlife specialist, research scientist, conservationist, and environmental activist.

from 2011 September TEDx in Albuquerque New Mexico, posted to YouTube Nov 22 by TEDx
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbyIlbt5_3g

Local Gardening & Farming – Resources & Contacts

A Secure Food Supply for Tucson & Southern Arizona
Resources & Contacts: Gardening & Farming – Production, Distribution, Education
A sampling and an on-going growing list (see this page for updates)

Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona – communityfoodbank.com
Native Seeds/SEARCH – www.nativeseeds.org
Pima County Food Systems Alliance – go to Facebook page
Tucson Organic Gardeners – www.tucsonorganicgardeners.org
Community Gardens of Tucson – www.communitygardensoftucson.org
Tucson Village Farm – www.tucsonvillagefarm.org
Santa Cruz Heritage Alliance – www.santacruzheritage.org
Altar Valley Conservation Alliance – altarvalleyconservation.org
Desert Harvesters – www.desertharvesters.org
Somos la Semilla – www.somoslasemilla.org
Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture – www.bajaaz.org
Sonoran Permaculture Guild – www.sonoranpermaculture.org
Tohono O’odham Community Action – www.tocaonline.org
Slow Food Tucson – www.slowfoodtucson.org
Local Food Concepts – go to Facebook page
Iskashitaa Refugee Harvesting Network – www.fruitmappers.org
Arizona Native Plant Society – www.aznps.com
Food Conspiracy Coop – www.foodconspiracy.org
Local Harvest – www.localharvest.org
Tohono Chul Park – www.tohonochulpark.org
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum – www.desertmuseum.org
University of Arizona “Compost Cats” – compostgolive.blogspot.com
Vermillion Wormery – lindaleigh1.wordpress.com
Tucson AquaPonics Project – www.TucsonAP.org
Local Roots Aquaponics – www.localrootsaquaponics.com
Sabores sin Fronteras – saboresfronteras.com

Farmers Markets

There are lists with locations and times each week in the Tucson Weekly and in Caliente.  For locations of more farmers markets (and farmers/ranchers, CSAs, etc), see Local Harvest, above.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Tucson CSA
Sleeping Frog Farms
Walking J Farm
River Road Gardens
Avalon Gardens
Agua Linda Farm
Down on the Farm CSA
Menlo Farms CSA

In addition, there are many, many farmers, ranchers, and gardeners around Southern Arizona, as well as artisan producers using local food, who supply our farmers markets, CSAs, some of the grocery stores and supermarkets, some of our local restaurants, and many homes.   Names and contact information will be added to this list on an on-going basis.

Sustainable Tucson comments on proposed Rosemont Mine

Sustainable Tucson comments on proposed Rosemont Mine

Sustainable Tucson is a non-profit, grass-roots organization that builds regional resilience and sustainability through awareness raising, community engagement and public/private partnerships. We recognize the need to focus on sustainability within the Sonoran bioregion.

The proposal by the Augusta Resources Corporation to develop a copper mine in the Santa Rita mountains is troubling to us for many reasons.

One of our visions is that water sustainability be assured for future generations and the environment. The mine will be pumping precious groundwater for mining operations in an area surrounded by farming and ranching operations, already stretched beyond local carrying capacity. They will have an allotment of CAP water for recharge, which may or may not fully replace the pumped water and likely be of higher salinity. Climate research continues to reinforce the likelihood that Arizona faces a future that will become more arid and include multi-decadal droughts. Decreasing snowpack in the Colorado river watershed increases the likelihood that waters delivered as our CAP allotment is far from assured into the future. This leaves ground water and renewable harvested rainwater as our major water sources going forward. Sustainable Tucson believes this mine would be a serious threat to water security in the region and would harm nearby communities, farms, and ranches irreparably. On the issue of groundwater quality, all the activities associated with mining, e.g., tailings, leach pits, waste rock, etc., present an unacceptable risk of harm to the aquifer. Additionally, the secondary effects on riparian habitats and their plant and animal populations would most likely be devastating.

Another of our visions is that food be safe, healthy, and regionally produced. Our attempts to move toward regional food security would be threatened by the negative impact the mine would have on water resources available for growing food. We oppose any operation that would jeopardize the success and even the very existence of the small family farms in the area. We consider water for growing food to be a higher use for a precious and very limited resource.

Another vision is that life-affirming cultural and spiritual practices be honored. We believe the negative impacts on or actual destruction of the cultural resources of the area, such as historic properties, critical archaeological sites, tribal sacred sites and resource gathering sites are unacceptable.

Our vision that meaningful work be available to every person is not fulfilled by this mine. We believe that right livelihood does not undermine the natural world that supports us and that short term jobs are no compensation for a degraded future.

Considering the potentially negative economic impacts to our important recreational and tourist industry, degradation of roadways, harm to public health through reduced air quality, loss of the natural beauty of the area, and degradation of astronomical “night sky” quality, we conclude that any potential economic benefit that can be claimed by the developers of the mine is far outweighed by the harms and damages to people and nature that will likely result. It is very important to keep in mind that long after this mining operation ends, we will be left with the permanent damage to a vital area forever.

The Dark Side of the ‘Green’ City

The Dark Side of the ‘Green’ City
By Andrew Ross

PHOENIX

The struggle to slow global warming will be won or lost in cities, which emit 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. So “greening” the city is all the rage now. But if policy makers end up focusing only on those who can afford the low-carbon technologies associated with the new environmental conscientiousness, the movement for sustainability may end up exacerbating climate change rather than ameliorating it.

While cities like Portland, Seattle and San Francisco are lauded for sustainability, the challenges faced by Phoenix, a poster child of Sunbelt sprawl, are more typical and more revealing. In 2009, Mayor Phil Gordon announced plans to make Phoenix the “greenest city” in the United States. Eyebrows were raised, and rightly so. According to the state’s leading climatologist, central Arizona is in the “bull’s eye” of climate change, warming up and drying out faster than any other region in the Northern Hemisphere. The Southwest has been on a drought watch 12 years and counting, despite outsized runoff last winter to the upper Colorado River, a major water supply for the subdivisions of the Valley of the Sun.

Across that valley lies 1,000 square miles of low-density tract housing, where few signs of greening are evident. That’s no surprise, given the economic free fall of a region that had been wholly dependent on the homebuilding industry. Property values in parts of metro Phoenix have dropped by 80 percent, and some neighborhoods are close to being declared “beyond recovery.”

In the Arizona Legislature, talk of global warming is verboten and Republican lawmakers can be heard arguing for the positive qualities of greenhouse gases. Most politicians are still praying for another housing boom on the urban fringe; they have no Plan B, least of all a low-carbon one. Mr. Gordon, a Democrat who took office in 2004, has risen to the challenge. But the vast inequalities of the metro area could blunt the impact of his sustainability plans.

Those looking for ecotopia can find pockets of it in the prosperous upland enclaves of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and North Phoenix. Hybrid vehicles, LEED-certified custom homes with solar roofs and xeriscaped yards, which do not require irrigation, are popular here, and voter support for the preservation of open space runs high. By contrast, South Phoenix is home to 40 percent of the city’s hazardous industrial emissions and America’s dirtiest ZIP code, while the inner-ring Phoenix suburbs, as a legacy of cold-war era industries, suffer from some of the worst groundwater contamination in the nation.

Whereas uptown populations are increasingly sequestered in green showpiece zones, residents in low-lying areas who cannot afford the low-carbon lifestyle are struggling to breathe fresh air or are even trapped in cancer clusters. You can find this pattern in many American cities. The problem is that the carbon savings to be gotten out of this upscale demographic — which represents one in five American adults and is known as Lohas, an acronym for “lifestyles of health and sustainability” — can’t outweigh the commercial neglect of the other 80 percent. If we are to moderate climate change, the green wave has to lift all vessels.

Solar chargers and energy-efficient appliances are fine, but unless technological fixes take into account the needs of low-income residents, they will end up as lifestyle add-ons for the affluent. Phoenix’s fledgling light-rail system should be expanded to serve more diverse neighborhoods, and green jobs should be created in the central city, not the sprawling suburbs. Arizona has some of the best solar exposure in the world, but it allows monopolistic utilities to impose a regressive surcharge on all customers to subsidize roof-panel installation by the well-heeled ones. Instead of green modifications to master-planned communities at the urban fringe, there should be concerted “infill” investment in central city areas now dotted with vacant lots.

In a desert metropolis, the choice between hoarding and sharing has consequences for all residents. Their predecessors — the Hohokam people, irrigation farmers who subsisted for over a thousand years around a vast canal network in the Phoenix Basin — faced a similar test, and ultimately failed. The remnants of Hohokam canals and pit houses are a potent reminder of ecological collapse; no other American city sits atop such an eloquent allegory.

Published 11-6-2011, The New York Times

Andrew Ross is a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University and author of Bird on Fire: Lessons From the World’s Least Sustainable City.

ST Water – resource links

RAINWATER & GREYWATER USE RESOURCE LIST

Hands-On/Workshops

http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/ (Sonoran Permaculture Guild workshops – gray water use; rainwater harvesting; and more)

http://www.watershedmg.org/calendar-tucson (Watershed Management Group calendar of events & workshops – hands-on work with gray water systems, rainwater harvesting systems, earthworks, etc.)

http://communityfoodbank.com/2011/08/10/gardenworkshops/ (Food Bank garden workshops – gray water use; self-watering containers; and more)

Websites for More Information

http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/water/greywater (City of Tucson guidelines for grey water use)

http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/water/harvesting (City of Tucson info on rainwater harvesting)
Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona)

http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/water/permits/download/graybro.pdf (AZ DEQ brochure)

http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/rain-gray-resources.pdf (Comprehensive resource list–may be slightly outdated.)

http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/ (Brad Lancaster’s website)

http://www.azwater.gov/azdwr/default.aspx (AZ Dept of Water Resources)

http://ag.arizona.edu/azwater/ (University of AZ Water Resources Research Center)

http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=cal/WaterFootprintCalculator (Calculate your total water footprint.)

Videos

http://ondemand.azpm.org/videoshorts/watch/2011/8/4/1830-conserving-water-by-planting-rain/ (Interview with Brad Lancaster)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBMpaWq4EKE (Creating a Home Graywater System)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1DfNlxlk-A (How to Implement a Greywater System for your Garden)

Books/Documents

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Vol 1 & 2 ,by Brad Lancaster (Can order from his website, listed above.)

Harvesting Rainwater for Landscape Use by Patricia H. Waterfall. Available for free download at http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/water/az1344.pdf or for purchase at Amazon.com

The Desert Smells Like Rain A Naturalist in O’odham Country by Gary Paul Nabhan. Available at http://www.amazon.com/ and http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/Books/bid1418.htm

Tucson Active Management Area Water Atlas – http://www.azwater.gov/azdwr/StatewidePlanning/WaterAtlas/ActiveManagementAreas/documents/Volume_8_TUC_final.pdf

The New Create an Oasis with Greywater: Choosing, Building and Using Greywater Systems – Includes Branched Drains by Art Ludwig. Available for purchase at http://www.oasisdesign.net/greywater/createanoasis/index.htm

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. Available for purchase at multiple online sites.

Water in the West: a High Country News reader; Miller, Char [Editors].. Available at the Pima County Public Library.

Programs

Tucson Water Zanjero Program – In-home water audit and recommendations…Call 791-3242 or look at website: http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/water/zanjero_program

Water-harvesting Co-Op Program – Developed by Watershed Management Group to promote communities helping each other to design and install water-harvesting features: http://www.watershedmg.org/co-op/tucson

ST Sustainability Book Sale

Sustainable Tucson is offering a very special Book Sale fundraising event at our October  General Meeting. We have more than 150 titles, including some hard-to-find classics. The winter reading season is coming, so come and browse this rich collection of sustainability literature. You can shop with gifts in mind for particular friends, relatives, or colleagues and remember that most of these books are used and are being recycled. The Sale will begin before the meeting at 5:15 and will end after the meeting at 8:30.

 

Sustainability books and materials –  all proceeds will benefit Sustainable Tucson

 

Architecture and Energy, Richard G. Stein, 1997, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert’s Peak, Kenneth S. Deffeyes, 2005, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, Janine M. Benyus, 1997, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Biosphere 2: Human Experiment, John Allen, 1991, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Biosphere Catalogue, Tango Parrish Snyder, 1985, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Biosphere, A Scientific American Book, 1970, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Biospheres: Reproducing Planet Earth, Dorion Sagan, 1990, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Blueprint for Survival, The Ecologist, 1972, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Breaking Gridlock: Moving Toward Transportation That Works, Jim Motavalli, 2001, paperback/hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Build it with Bales, Matts Myhrman and S.O. MacDonald, 1997, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future, Neil Postman, 1999, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Building the Earth, Teilhard De Chardin, 1969, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Building with Straw, VHS video Set: Vol 1 Strawbale Workshop, Vol 2 Strawbale Home Tour, Vol 3 Strawbale Code Testing, Black Range Films, 1995,   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Cradle to Cradle, William McDonough & Michael Braungart, 2002, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered, Bill Devall & George Sessions, 1985, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Desert Gardening, Sunset Magazine & Sunset Books, 1967, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Design For a Livable Planet: How You Can Help Up the Environment, Jon Naar, 1990, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Direct Use of the Sun’s Energy, Farrington Daniels, 1964, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Divorce Your Car: Ending the Love Affair With the Automobile, Katie Alvord, 2000, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Dr. Art’s Guide to Planet Earth: For Earthlings Ages 12 to 120, Art Sussman, 2000, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Dream of the Earth, Thomas Berry, 1988, paperback/hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture, Rosemary Morrow, 1993, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Ecological Identity: Becoming a Reflective Environmentalist, Mitchell Thomashow, 1995, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Ecology and the Biosphere: Principals and Problems, Sharon La Bonde Hanks, 1996, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Ecology of Commerce: Declaration of Sustainability, Paul Hawken, 1993, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind, Theodore Roszak, Mary E. Gomez, & Allen D. Kanner, 1995, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Encounters with the Archdruid, John McPhee, 1971, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

End of Money and the Future of Civilization, Thomas H. Greco Jr., 2009, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

End of Nature, Bill McKibben, 1989, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

End of Nature, Bill McKibben, 1990, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Environment, Power, and Society, Howard T. Odum, 1971, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Envisioning a Sustainable Society: Learning Our Way Out, Lester W. Milbrath, 1989, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Evaporative Cooling Made Easy: Complete Operating Manual, 1985 paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Every Drop For Sale, Jeffrey Rothfeder, 2001, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Evolution’s End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence, Joseph Chilton Pearce, 1992, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Exploring New Ethics for Survival: Voyage of the Spaceship Beagle, Garrett Hardin, 1966, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, Elizabeth Kolbert, 2006, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb Jr., 1989, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Forgotten Pollinators, Stephen L. Bachmnann and Gary Paul Nabhan, 1996, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Full House: Reassessing the Earth’s Population Carrying Capacity, Lester R. Brown & Hal Kane, 1994, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Fundamentals of Ecology, Eugene P. Odum, 1959, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Fundamentals of Ecology, Eugene P. Odum, 1971, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Future of Life, Edward O. Wilson, 2002, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Gaia: The Atlas of Planet Management, Dr. Norman Myers, 1984, paperback/hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World, Alan Weisman, 1998, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Global Brain: Speculations on the Evolutionary Leap to Planetary Consciousness, Peter Russel, 1983, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Global Mind Change: Promise of the Last Years of the Twentieth Century, Willis Harman, 1988, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Global Warming: Are We Entering the Greenhouse Century?, Stephen H. Schneider, 1989, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Green Plans: Greenprint for Sustainability, Huey D. Johnson, 1995, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Green Reader: Essays Toward a Sustainable Society, Andrew Dobson, 1991, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Healthy House, John Bower, 1997, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Heat Is On: The High Stakes Battle Over Earth’s Threatened Climate, Ross Gelbspan, 1997, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Hothouse Earth: Greenhouse Effect and Gaia, John Gribbin, 1990, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

House of Straw: Strawbale Construction Comes of Age; U.S. Department of Energy, 1995, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

How Much is Enough: Consumer Society and the Future of the Earth, Alan Durning, 1992, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage, Kenneth S. Deffeyes, 2001, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Human Impact on Ancient Environments, Charles L. Redman, 1999, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Humanure Handbook: Guide to Composting Human Manure, Joseph Jenkins, 1999, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

I Seem To Be a Verb, R. Buckminster Fuller, 1970, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Michael Pollan, 2008, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity, Sandra Postel, 1992, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Last Whole Earth Catalog, Portola Institute, 1971, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, Margaret J. Wheatley, 1999, paperback/hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Limits to Growth, A Potomac Associates Book, 1972, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century, James Howard Kunstler, 2005, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Machinery of Nature: Living World Around Us-And How it Works, Paul R. Ehrlich, 1986, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Making Peace With the Planet, Barry Commoner, 1975, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Mankind at the Turning Point, Mihajlo Mesarovic and Eduard Pestel, 1974, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Millennium Whole Earth Catalog, Howard Rheingold, 1994, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Money and Debt: A Solution to the Global Crisis. Thomas H. Greco Jr., 1990, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender, Thomas H. Greco Jr., 2001, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Natural House Book: Creating a Healthy, Harmonious, and Ecologically-Sound Home Environment, David Pearson, 1989, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Natural House Book: Creating a Healthy, Harmonious, and Ecologically-Sound Home Environment, David Pearson, 1989, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Nature and Properties of Soils, Harry O. Buckman & Nyle C. Brady, 1960, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

New Economy of Nature: The Quest to Make Conservation Profitable, Gretchen C. Daily and Katherine Ellison, 2002, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

New Money for Healthy Communities, Thomas H. Greco Jr., 1994, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Next Whole Earth Catalog, Stewart Brand, 1980, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

No More Secondhand God, R. Buckminster Fuller, 1963, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

One-Straw Revolution, Masanobu Fukuoka, 1978, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, R, Buckminster Fuller, 1963, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, R. Buckminster Fuller, 1969, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Our Common Future: The Bruntland World Commission on Environment and Development, The Commission, 1987, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth, Mathis Wackernagel & William Rees, 1996, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Owner Built Home: A How-to-do-it Book, Ken Kern, 1972, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Passages About Earth: An Exploration of the New Planetary Culture, William Irwin Thompson, 1973, paperback/hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble, Lester R. Brown, 2006, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Plant and Planet, Anthony Huxley, 1974, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Population Resources Environment: Issues in Human Ecology, Paul & Anne Ehrlich, 1970, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Power Down: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World, Richard Heinberg, 2004, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Quiet Crisis, Stewart L. Udall, 1963, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Real Goods: Designing & Building a House Your Own Way, Sam Clark, 1996, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Rebirth of Nature: Greening of Science and God, Rupert Sheldrake, 1991, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Rebirth of Nature: Greening of Science and God, Rupert Sheldrake, 1991, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Revenge of Gaia: Earth’s Climate Crisis & the Fate of Humanity, James Lovelock, 2006, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Safeguarding the Health of Oceans, Ann Platt McGinn, 1999, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Sand Country Almanac, Aldo Leopold, 1966, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Save the Earth, Jonathon Porritt, 1991, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Sea Around Us, Rachel L. Carson, 1950, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Seven Life Lessons of Chaos: Timeless Wisdom from the Science of Change, John Briggs & F. David Peat, 1999, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Silent Spring, Rachel Carson, 1962, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, E.F. Schumacher, 1973, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Soft Energy Paths: Toward a Durable Peace, Amory B. Lovins, 1977, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Revolutionary Approach to Man’s Understanding of Himself, Gregory Bateson, 1972, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Strawbale Homebuilding, Alan T. Gray & Anne Hall, 2000, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

The Way: An Ecological World-View, Edward Goldsmith, 1992, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Thinking Ecologically: The Next Generation of Environmental Policy, Marian R. Chertow and Daniel C. Esty, 1997, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Timeless Way of Building, Christopher Alexander, 1979, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Toward a Transpersonal Ecology: Developing New Foundations for Environmentalism, Warwick Fox, 1990, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What it Says About Us), Tom Vanderbilt, 2008, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture, Fritjof Capra, 1982, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Twenty-Ninth Day: Accommodating Human Needs and Numbers to the Earth’s Resources, Lester R. Brown, 1978, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Voluntary Simplicity: An Ecological Lifestyle the Promotes Personal and Social Renewal, Duane Elgin, 1981, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems, Fritjof Capra, 1996, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Wisdom for a Livable Planet, Carl N. McDaniel, 2005, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

World Changes: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century, Alex Steffen, 2006, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

World Made by Hand, James Howard Kunstler, 2008, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

World Without Us, Alan Weisman, 2007, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Worlds in Collision, Immanuel Velikovsky, 1965, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig, 1974, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

 

Other Books – may or may not relate to sustainability, you decide…

Adventures of Ideas: A Brilliant History of Mankind’s Great Thoughts, Alfred North Whitehead, 1933, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Age of Missing Information, Bill McKibben, 1992, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Age of Paradox, Charles Handy, 1994, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Age of Unreason, Charles Handy, 1989, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1969, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004, Steven Pinker, 2004, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World, Jeremy Rifkin, 1998, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Cities and the Wealth of Nations: Principals of Economic Life, Jane Jacobs, 1984, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

City In History, Lewis Mumford, 1961, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students, Allan Bloom, 1987, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Complete Pregnancy Exercise Program, Diana Simkin, 1980, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Complexity: Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos, M. Mitchell Waldrop, 1992, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Crackpot or Genius: A Complete Guide to the Uncommon Art of Inventing, Francis D. Reynolds, 1993, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Essays in Pragmatism, William James, 1948, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Facts on File Biology Handbook, Diagram Group, 2000, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement, Milton & Rose Friedman, 1980, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstruction of Social Order, Francis Fukuyama, 1999, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Grunch of Giants, Pre-publication Draft, R. Buckminster Fuller, 1982, Xerox copy   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Hegel Selections, Jacob Loewenberg, 1929, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built, Stewart Brand, 1994, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

How Things Are: A Science Tool-Kit for the Mind, John Brockman & Katinka Matson, 1995, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society, Norbert Wiener, 1950, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Introduction to Organic Laboratory Techniques: Microscale Approach, Saunders Golden Sunburst Series, 1990, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Ironwood 28: Listening to the Invisible, Emily Dickinson & Jack Spicer, 1986, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Liar’s Poker, Michael Lewis, 1989, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Man and Wildlife in Arizona: American Exploration Period 1824-1865, Goode P. Davis Jr., 1982, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Man, the Unknown, Alexis Carrel, 1935, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Mankind Evolving, Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1962, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Maps of the Mind: Charts and Concepts of the Mind and its Labyrinths, Charles Hampden-Turner, 1981, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Masonry, Time-Life Books, Home Repair and Improvement, 1976, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Our Final Hour, Martin Rees, 2003, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Our Knowledge of the External World, Bertrand Russell, 1929, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Periodic Kingdom: Journey Into the Land of the Chemical Elements, P.W. Atkins, 1995, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy, Michael Polanyi, 1958, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Politics of Experience, R.D. Laing, 1967, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Pragmatism, William James, 1907, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Reconstruction in Philosophy, John Dewey, 1920, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Rocks and Minerals, Herbert Zim and Paul Shaffer, 1957, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling, James Hillman, 1996, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas S. Kuhn, 1962, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

This Man from Lebanon: Study of Kahlil Gibran, Barbara Young, 1945, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

True Believer, Eric Hoffer, 1951, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Uncommon Wisdom: Conversations with Remarkable People, Fritjof Capra, 1988, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Up From Eden: Transpersonal View of Human Evolution, Ken Wilber, 1981, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Virtual Reality, Howard Rheingold, 1991, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century, Michio Kaku, 1997, hardcover   [search amazon google wikipedia]

What is Cybernetics?, G.T. Guilbaud, 1959, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

What to Eat When You’re Expecting, Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi Murkoff, and Sandee Hathaway, 1986, paperback   [search amazon google wikipedia]

August ST Film Night  “First Earth: Uncompromising Ecological Architecture

Sustainable Tucson General Meeting
Monday, August 8th,  5:45 – 8:00 pm
Joel D. Valdez Main Library 101 N. Stone
(free lower level parking – off Alameda St
This month’s General Meeting will continue our project on “Becoming a Desert Community” by presenting films relevant to desert natural buildings  and thriving desert communities.

Our Main film is    “First Earth: Uncompromising Ecological Architecture.” Length: 90 minutes.

First Earth is about a massive paradigm shift for shelter-building healthy houses in the old ways, out of the very earth itself, and living together like in the old days, by recreating villages. An audiovisual manifesto filmed over four years on four continents, it proposes that earthen homes are the healthiest housing in the world; and that since it still takes a village to raise a healthy child, we must transform our suburban sprawl into eco-villages.

First Earth is not a how-to film, but a why-to film. It establishes the appropriateness of earthen building in every cultural context, under all socio-economic conditions, from third-world communities to first-world countryside, from Arabian deserts to American urban jungles. In the age of collapse and converging emergencies, the solution to many of our ills might just be getting back to basics, for material reasons and for spiritual reasons, both personal and political.

First Earth features curving art-poem dwellings in the Pacific Northwest in Canada and the US; thousand-year-old apartment-and-ladder architecture of Taos Pueblo; centuries-old and contemporary cob homes in England; classic round thatched huts in West Africa; bamboo-and-cob structures now on the rise in Thailand; and soaring Moorish-style earthen skyscrapers in Yemen. Featuring appearances by renowned cultural observers and activists Derrick Jensen, Daniel Quinn, James Howard Kunstler, Richard Heinberg, Starhawk, Chellis Glendinning, and Mark Lakeman as well as  major natural building teachers Michael G. Smith, Becky Bee, Joseph Kennedy, Sunray Kelly, Janell Kapoor, Elke Cole, Ianto Evans, Bob Theis, and Stuart Cowan.

We hope to see you there. Bring a few friends and neighbors.

The Story of Stuff, and more!

Q: Why should I care about the Citizens united v. FEC ruling?
A: In this landmark case, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that it is unconstitutional to limit how much money corporations can spend to influence elections. Why? They said limits would violate the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. Since the 2010 ruling, corporations have spent $300 million to influence election results. This money has been used to run ads and engage in other activities to sway us – the voters– to support candidates who serve the interests of those corporations. Since the interests of corporations rarely match up with the interests of individuals like you and me, that’s a real concern!

View this informative and entertaining little film here.

 

Watch “The Story of Cap & Trade”

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The Story of Cap & Trade is a fast-paced, fact-filled look at the leading climate solution being discussed at Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill. Host Annie Leonard introduces the energy traders and Wall Street financiers at the heart of this scheme and reveals the “devils in the details” in current cap and trade proposals: free permits to big polluters, fake offsets and distraction from what’s really required to tackle the climate crisis. If you’ve heard about cap and trade, but aren’t sure how it works (or who benefits), this is the film for you. Find about it here: http://www.storyofcapandtrade.org.

 

And what about bottled water?

And, after you’ve seen this one, you might want to see what they have to say about the story of bottled water at http://www.storyof stuff.org/bottledwater/

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Watch “The Story of Stuff”

The Story of Stuff is a wonderful online video about sustainable production and consumption, a culture of practices we don’t see very much of yet. In addition to the suggested “10 Little and Big Things You Can Do”, there is a pressing need for organized, coordinated action at the grassroots level. This is why Sustainable Tucson is so important. Watch “The Story of Stuff” here.

Energy, Ecology, & Economics – Howard T. Odum – intro Bob Cook

Howard Odum’s following paper, published in 1974, was considered one of the most concise—yet most sweeping—examinations made of the real problems of the world up to that time. His groundbreaking book Environment, Power and Society (John Wiley, 1972) also introduced us to his paradigm-changing energetic analysis of economics and ecology. This paper should be included in any top ten list of classic sustainability articles because he shows us that the transition from growth to low-throughput steady state is observed in the succession of eco-systems. He provides good examples such as the transitions involved in the transformation from grass fields to climax forest. For our own current transition to sustainability, he teaches us that “net energy” is the critical concept for making better decisions.
— Bob Cook

Energy, Ecology, & Economics
by Howard T. Odum
May 1974

The true value of energy to society is the net energy, which is what’s left after the energy costs of getting and concentrating that energy are subtracted.

As long-predicted energy shortages appear, as questions about the interaction of energy and environment are raised in legislatures and parliaments, and as energy-related inflation dominates public concern, many are beginning to see that there is a unity of the single system of energy, ecology, and economics. The world’s leadership, however, is mainly advised by specialists who study only a part of the system at a time.

Instead of a single system’s understanding, we have adversary arguments dangerous to the welfare of nations and the role of man as the earth’s information bearer and programmatic custodian. Many economic models ignore the changing force of energy, regarding effects of energy sources as an external constant; ecoactivists cause governments to waste energy in unnecessary technology; and the false gods of growth and medical ethics make famine, disease, and catalytic collapse more and more likely for much of the world. Some energy specialists consider the environment as an antagonist instead of a major energy ally in supporting the biosphere.

Figure 1

Figure 1 A. Generalized world model of man and nature based on one-shot fossil fuel usages and steady solar work. Pathways are flows of energy from outside source (circle) through interactions (pointed blocks marked ‘X’ to show multiplier action) to final dispersion of dispersed heat. The tank symbol refers to storage. Here world fuel reserve storage helps build a storage of structure of man’s buildings, information, population, and culture.

Figure 2

Figure 1 B. Graphs resulting from simulation of the model in Figure 1 A. Available world fuel reserve was taken as 5 X 1019 kilocalories and energy converted from the solar input and converged into man’s productive system of growth and maintenance was 5 X 1016 kilocalories when structure was 1018 kilocalories. Peak of structural growth was variable over a 50-year period depending on amounts diverted into waste pathways.

Figure 3

Figure 1 C. The steady state observed in some simulations of Figure 1 A was an oscillating one as in the graph shown here.

Instead of the confusion that comes from the western civilization’s characteristic educational approach of isolating variables in tunnel-vision thinking, let us here seek common sense overview which comes from overall energetics. Very simple overall energy diagrams clarify issues quantitatively, indicating what is possible. The diagrams and symbols are explained further in a recent book (see Ref. 1).

For example, Figure 1 shows the basis of production in interaction of fuel reserves, steady energies of solar origin and feedback of work from the system’s structure. Figure 1 is the computer simulation of this model for our existence, showing a steady state after our current growing period. As the fuel tank is drained, we return to a lower solar base of simpler agriculture. Simple macroscopic minimodels based on overview of world energy provides the same kind of trend curves as the detailed models of Forrester and Meadows (see Ref. 2). With major changes confronting us, let us consider here some of the main points that we must comprehend so we may be prepared for the future.

1. The true value of energy to society is the net energy, which is what’s left after the energy costs of getting and concentrating that energy are subtracted.

Many forms of energy are low grade because they have to be concentrated, transported, dug from deep in the earth or pumped from far at sea. Much energy has to be used directly and indirectly to support the machinery, people, supply systems, etc., to deliver the energy. If it takes ten units of energy to bring ten units of energy to the point of use, then there is no net energy. Right now we dig further and further, deeper and deeper, and go for energies that are more and more dilute in the rocks. Sunlight is also a dilute energy that requires work to harness.

We are still expanding our rate of consumption of gross energy, but since we are feeding a higher and higher percentage back into the energy seeking process, we are decreasing our percentage of net energy production. Many of our proposed alternative energy sources take more energy feedback than present processes. Figure 2 shows net energy emerging beyond the work and structural maintenance costs of energy processing.

2. Worldwide inflation is driven in part by the increasing fraction of our fossil fuels that have to be used in getting more fossil and other fuels.

Figure 4

Figure 2. Energy flow diagram illustrating energy laws, and the difference between net and gross energy flows.

If the money circulating is the same or increasing, and if the quality energy reaching society for its general work is less because so much energy has to go immediately into the energy-getting process, then the real work to society per unit money circulated is less. Money buys less real work of other types and thus money is worth less. Because the economy and total energy utilization are still expanding, we are misled to think the total value is expanding and we allow more money to circulate which makes the money-to-work ratio even larger. Figure 3 shows the circulation of money that constitutes the GNP in a counter-current to the energy flow.

3. Many calculations of energy reserves which are supposed to offer years of supply are as gross energy rather than net energy and thus may be of much shorter duration than often stated.

Suppose for every ten units of some quality of oil shale proposed as an energy source there were required nine units of energy to mine, process, concentrate, transport, and meet environmental requirements. Such a reserve would deliver 1/10 as much net energy and last 1/10 as long as was calculated. Leaders should demand of our estimators of energy reserves that they make their energy calculations in units of net energy. The net reserves of fossil fuels are mainly unknown but they are much smaller than the gross reserves which have been the basis of public discussions and decisions that imply that growth can continue.

4. Societies compete for economic survival by Lotka’s principle (see Ref. 3), which says that systems win and dominate that maximize their useful total power from all sources and flexibly distribute this power toward needs affecting survival.

The programs of forests, seas, cities, and-countries survive that maximize their system’s power for useful purposes. The first requirement is that opportunities to gain inflowing power be maximized, and the second requirement is that energy utilization be effective and not wasteful as compared to competitors or alternatives. For further discussion see Lotka (Ref. 3) and Odum (Ref. 1).

5. During times when there are opportunities to expand one’s power inflows, the survival premium by Lotka’s principle is on rapid growth even though there may be waste.

We observe dog-eat-dog growth competition every time a new vegetation colonizes a bare field where the immediate survival premium is first placed on rapid expansion to cover the available energy receiving surfaces. The early growth ecosystems put out weeds of poor structure and quality, which are wasteful in their energy-capturing efficiencies, but effective in getting growth even though the structures are not long lasting. Most recently, modern communities of man have experienced two hundred years of colonizing growth, expanding to new energy sources such as fossil fuels, new agricultural lands, and other special energy sources. Western culture, and more recently, Eastern and Third World cultures, are locked into a mode of belief in growth as necessary to survival. “Grow or perish” is what Lotka’s principle requires, but only during periods when there are energy sources that are not yet tapped. Figure 3 shows the structure that must be built in order to be competitive in processing energy.

Figure 5

Figure 3. Relationships of money cycles to the energy circuit loops.

6. During times when energy flows have been tapped and there are no new sources, Lotka’s principle requires that those systems win that do not attempt fruitless growth but instead use all available energies in long-staying, high-diversity, steady-state works.

Whenever an ecosystem reaches its steady state after periods of succession, the rapid-net-growth specialists are replaced by a new team of higher-diversity, higher-quality, longer-living, better-controlled, and stable components. Collectively, through division of labor and specialization, the climax team gets more energy out of the steady flow of available source energy than those specialized in fast growth could.

Our system of man and nature will soon be shifting from rapid growth as the criterion of economic survival to steady-state non-growth as the criterion of maximizing one’s work for economic survival (Figure 1). The timing depends only on the reality of one or two possibly high-yielding nuclear energy processes (fusion and breeder reactions) which may or may not be very yielding.

Ecologists are familiar with both growth states and steady state, and observe both in natural systems in their work routinely, but economists were all trained in their subject during rapid growth and most don’t even know there is such a thing as steady state. Most economic advisors have never seen a steady state even though most of man’s million year history was close to steady state. Only the last two centuries have seen a burst of temporary growth because of temporary use of special energy supplies that accumulated over long periods of geologic time.

7. High quality of life for humans and equitable economic distribution are more closely approximated in steady-state than in growth periods.

During growth, emphasis is on competition, and large differences in economic and energetic welfare develop; competitive exclusion, instability, poverty, and unequal wealth are characteristic. During steady state, competition is controlled and eliminated, being replaced with regulatory systems, high division and diversity of labor, uniform energy distributions, little change, and growth only for replacement purposes. Love of stable-system quality replaces love of net gain. Religious ethics adopt something closer to that of those primitive peoples that were formerly dominant in zones of the world with cultures based on the steady energy flows from the sun. Socialistic ideals about distribution are more consistent with steady state than growth.

8. The successfully competing economy must use its net output of richer-quality energy flows to subsidize the poorer-quality energy flow so that the total power is maximized.

In ecosystems, diversity of species develop that allow more of the energies to be tapped. Many of the species that are specialists in getting lesser and residual energies receive subsidies from the richer components. For example, the sun leaves on top of trees transport fuels that help the shaded leaves so they can get some additional energy from the last rays of dim light reaching the forest floor. The system that uses its excess energies in getting a little more energy, even from so urces that would not be net yielding alone, develops more total work and more resources for total survival. In similar ways, we now use our rich fossil fuels to keep all kinds of goods and services of our economy cheap so that the marginal kinds of energies may receive the subsidy benefit that makes them yielders, whereas they would not be able to generate much without the subsidy. Figure 4 shows the role of diversity in tapping auxiliary energies and maintaining flexibility to changing sources.

Figure 6

Figure 4. Relationship of general structural maintenance to diversity and secondary energy sources.

9. Energy sources which are now marginal, being supported by hidden subsidies based on fossil fuel, become less economic when the hidden subsidy is removed.

A corollary of the previous principle of using rich energies to subsidize marginal ones is that the marginal energy sources will not be as net yielding later, since there will be no subsidy. This truth is often stated backwards in economists’ concepts because there is inadequate recognition of external changes in energy quality. Often they propose that marginal energy sources will be economic later when the rich sources are gone. An energy source is not a source unless it is contributing yields, and ability of marginal sources to yield goes down as the other sources of subsidy become poorer. Figure 4 shows these relationships.

10. Increasing energy efficiency with new technology is not an energy solution, since most technological innovations are really diversions of cheap energy into hidden subsidies in the form of fancy, energy-expensive structures.

Most of our century of progress with increasing efficiencies of engines has really been spent developing mechanisms to subsidize a process with a second energy source. Many calculations of efficiency omit these energy inputs. We build better engines by putting more energy into the complex factories for manufacturing the equipment. The percentage of energy yield in terms of all the energies incoming may be less, not greater. Making energy net yielding is the only process not amenable to high energy-based technology.

11. Even in urban areas more than half of the useful work on which our society is based comes from the natural flows of sun, wind, waters, waves, etc., that act through the broad areas of seas and landscapes without money payment. An economy, to compete and survive, must maximize its use of these energies, not destroying their enormous free subsidies. The necessity of environmental inputs is often not realized until they are displaced.

When an area first grows, it may add some new energy sources in fuels and electric power, but when it gets to about 50 percent of the area developed it begins to destroy and diminish as much necessary life-support work that was free and unnoticed as it adds. At this point, further growth may produce a poor ability in economic competition because the area now has higher energy drains. For example, areas that grow too dense with urban developments may pave over the areas that formerly accepted and reprocessed waste waters. As a consequence, special tertiary waste treatments become necessary and monetary and energy drains are diverted from useful works to works that were formerly supplied free.

12. Environmental technology which duplicates the work available from the ecological sector is an economic handicap.

As growth of urban areas has become concentrated, much of our energies and research and development work has been going into developing energy-costing technology to protect the environment from wastes, whereas most wastes are themselves rich energy sources for which there are, in most cases, ecosystems capable of using and recycling wastes as a partner of the city without drain on the scarce fossil fuels. Soils take up carbon monoxide, forests absorb nutrients, swamps accept and regulate floodwaters. If growth is so dense that environmental technology is required, then it is too dense to be economically vital for the combined system of man and nature there. The growth needs to be arrested or it will arrest itself with depressed, poorly competing economy of man and of his environs. For example, there is rarely excuse for tertiary treatment because there is no excuse for such dense packing of growth that the natural buffer lands cannot be a good cheap recycling partner. Man as a partner of nature must use nature well and this does not mean crowd it, out and pave it over; nor does it mean developing industries that compete with nature for the waters and wastes that would be an energy contributor to the survival of both.

13. Solar energy is very dilute and the inherent energy cost of concentrating solar energy into form for human use has already been maximized by forests and food-producing plants. Without energy subsidy there is no yield from the sun possible beyond the familiar yields from forestry and agriculture.

Figure 5. Diagrams of three systems of solar energy use.

Figure 7

Figure 5 A. Man a minor part of the complex forest ecosystem.

Figure 8

Figure 5 B. Man a major partner in agricultural system on light alone.

Figure 9

Figure 5 C. Fossil-fuel-subsidized agriculture as a colonial member of a technological society of man with maximum possible solar conversion.

Advocates of major new energies available from the sun don’t understand that the concentrations quality of solar energy is very low, being only 10—16 kilocalories per cubic centimeter. Much of this has to be used up in upgrading to food quality. Plants build tiny microscopic semiconductor photon receptors that are the same in principle as the solar cells advocated at vastly greater expense by some solar advocates. The plants have already maximized use of sunlight, by which they support an ecosystem whose diverse work helps maximize this conversion as shown in Figure 5 A. If man and his work are substituted for much of the ecosystem so that he and his farm animals do the recycling and management, higher yield results as in sacred cow agriculture (Figure 5 B). Higher yields require large fossil fuel subsidies in doing some of the work. For example, making the solar receiving structures (Figure 5 C), whereas the plants and ecosystem make their equipment out of the energy budget they process. Since man has already learned how to subsidize agriculture and forestry with fossil fuels when he has them, solar technology becomes a duplication. The reason major solar technology has not and will not be a major contributor or substitute for fossil fuels is that it will not compete without energy subsidy from the fossil fuel economy. Some energy savings are possible in house heating on a minor scale.

14. Energy is measured by calories, Btu’s, kilowatt hours, and other intraconvertible units, but energy has a scale of quality which is not indicated by these measures. The ability to do work for man depends on the energy quality and quantity, and this is measurable by the amount of energy of a lower-quality grade required to develop the higher grade. The scale of energy goes from dilute sunlight up to plant matter to coal, from coal to oil to electricity and up to the high-quality efforts of computer and human information processing.

15. Nuclear energy is now mainly subsidized with fossil fuels and barely yields net energy.

High costs of mining, processing fuels, developing costly plants, storing wastes, operating complex safety systems, and operating government agencies make present nuclear energy one of the marginal sources which add some energy now, while they are subsidized by a rich economy. A self-contained, isolated nuclear energy does not now exist. Since the present nuclear energy is marginal while it uses the cream of rich fuels accumulated during times of rich fossil fuel excess, and because the present rich reserves of nuclear fuel will last no longer than fossil fuels, there may not be a major long-range effect of present nuclear technology on economic survival. High energy cost of nuclear construction may be a factor accelerating the exhaustion of the richer fuels. Figure 4 illustrates the principle.

Breeder Process: The Breeder Process is now being given its first tests of economic effectiveness and we don’t yet know how net yielding it will be. The present nuclear plants are using up the rich fuels that could support the breeder reactors if these turn out to be net yielders over and beyond the expected high energy costs in safety costs, occasional accidents, reprocessing plants, etc. Should we use the last of our rich fossil fuel wealth for the high research and development costs and high capital investments of processes too late to develop a net yield?

Fusion: The big question is will fusion be a major net yield? The feasibility of pilot plants with the fusion process is unknown. There is no knowledge yet as to the net energy in fusion or the amounts of energy subsidy fusion may require. Because of this uncertainty, we cannot be sure about the otherwise sure-leveling and decline in total energy flows that may soon be the pattern for our world.

16. Substantial energy storages are required for stability of an economy against fluctuations of economies, or of natural causes, and of military threats.

The frantic rush to use the last of the rich oils and gas that are easy to harvest for a little more growth and tourism is not the way to maintain power stability or political and military security for the world community of nations as a whole. World stability requires a de-energizing of capabilities of vast war, and an evenly distributed power base for regular defense establishments, which need to be evenly balanced without great power gradients that encourage change of military boundaries. A two-year storage is required for stability of a component.

17. The total tendency for net favorable balance of payments of a country relative to others depends on the relative net energy of that country including its natural and fuel-based energies minus its wastes and nonproductive energy uses.

Countries with their own rich energies can export goods and services with less requirement for money than those that have to use their money to buy their fuels. Those countries with, inferior energy flows into useful work become subordinate energy dependents to other countries. A country that sells oil but does not use it within its boundaries to develop useful work is equally subordinate since a major flow of necessary high-quality energy in the form of technical goods and services is external in this case. The country with the strongest position is the one with a combination of internal sources of rich energies and internal sources of developed structure and information based on the energy. The relations of energy sources to payment balances are given in Figure 6.

Figure 10

Figure 6 A. Diagram showing how energy sources and energy loss pathways affect the balance of payments and general economic competition position of single country. Better balance results when one’s own energy sources are better, and one’s waste less.

18. During periods of expanding energy availabilities, many kinds of growth-priming activities may favor economic vitality and the economy’s ability to compete.

Many pump-priming properties of fast-growing economies have been naturally selected and remain in procedures of government and culture. Urban concentrations, high use of cars, economic subsidy to growth, oil depletion allowances, subsidies to population growth, advertising, high-rise building, etc., are costly in energy for their operation and maintenance, but favor economic vitality as long as their role as pump primers is successful in increasing the flow of energy over and beyond their special cost. Intensely concentrated densities of power use have been economic in the past because their activities have accelerated the system’s growth during a period when there were new energy sources to encompass.

19. During periods when expansion of energy sources is not possible, then the many high-density and growth-promoting policies and structures become an energy liability because their high energy cost is no longer accelerating energy yield.

The pattern of urban concentration and the policies of economic growth stimulation that were necessary and successful in energy growth competition periods are soon to shift. There will be a premium against the use of pump-priming characteristics since there will be no more unpumped energy to prime. What did work before will no longer work and the opposite becomes the pattern that is economically successful. All this makes sense and is commonplace to those who study various kinds of ecosystems, but the economic advisors will be sorely pressed and lose some confidence until they learn about the steady state and its criteria for economic success. Countries with great, costly investments in concentrated economic activity, excessive transportation customs, and subsidies to industrial expansion will have severe stresses. Even now the countries who have not gone so far in rapid successional growth are setting out to do so at the very time when their former more steady state culture is about to begin to become a more favored economic state comparatively.

20. Systems in nature are known that shift from fast growth to steady state gradually with programmatic substitution, but other instances are known in which, the shift is marked by total crash and destruction of the growth system before the emergence of the succeeding steady-state regime.

Because energies and monies for research, development, and thinking are abundant only during growth and not during energy leveling or decline, there is a great danger that means for developing the steady state will not be ready when they are needed, which may be no more than 5 years away but probably more like 20 years. (If fusion energy is a large net energy yielder, there may be a later growth period when the intensity of human power development begins to affect and reduce the main life support systems of the oceans, atmospheres, and general biosphere.)

The humanitarian customs of the earth’s countries now in regard to medical aid, famine, and epidemic are such that no country is allowed to develop major food and other critical energy shortage because the others rush in their reserves. This practice has insured that no country will starve in a major way until we all starve together when the reserves are no longer there.

Chronic disease was evolved with man as his regulator, being normally as a device for infant mortality and merciful old-age death. It provided, on the average, an impersonal and accurate energy testing of body vitalities, adjusting the survival rate to the energy resources. Even in the modem period of high-energy medical miracles, the energy for total medical care systems is a function of the total country’s energies, and as energies per capita fall again so will the energy for medicine per capita, and the role of disease will again develop its larger ,role in the population regulation system. Chronic disease at its best was and is a very energy-inexpensive regulator.

Epidemic disease is something else. Nature’s systems normally use the principle of diversity to eliminate epidemics. Vice versa, epidemic disease is nature’s device to eliminate monoculture, which may be inherently unstable. Man is presently allowed the special high yields of various monocultures including his own high density population, his paper source in pine trees, and his miracle rice only so long as he has special energies to protect these artificial ways and substitute them for disease which would restore the high diversity system, ultimately the more stable flow of energy.

The terrible possibility that is before us is that there will be the continued insistence on growth with our last energies by the economic advisors that don’t understand, so that there are no reserves with which to make a change, to hold order, and to cushion a period when populations must drop. Disease reduction of man and of his plant production systems could be planetary and sudden if the ratio of population to food and medical systems is pushed to the maximum at a time of falling net energy. At some point the great gaunt towers of nuclear energy installations, oil drilling, and urban cluster will stand empty in the wind for lack of enough fuel technology to keep them running. A new cycle of dinosaurs will have passed its way. Man will survive as he reprograms readily to that which the ecosystem needs of him so long as he does not forget who is serving who. What is done well for the ecosystem is good for man. However, the cultures that say only what is good for man is good for nature may pass and be forgotten like the rest.

There was a famous theory in paleoecology called orthogenesis which suggested that some of the great animals of the past were part of systems that were locked into evolutionary mechanisms by which the larger ones took over from smaller ones. The mechanisms then became so fixed that they carried the size trend beyond the point of survival, whereupon the species went extinct. Perhaps this -is the main question of ecology, economics, and energy. Has the human system frozen its direction into an orthogenetic path toward cultural crash, or is the great creative activity of the current energy-rich world already sensing the need for change? Are alternatives already being tested by our youth so they will be ready for the gradual transition to a fine steady state that carries the best of our recent cultural evolution into new, more miniaturized, more dilute, and more delicate ways of man-nature?

In looking ahead, the United States and some other countries may be lucky to be forced by changing energy availabilities to examine themselves, level their, growth, and change their culture towards the steady state early enough so as to be ready with some tested designs before the world as a whole is forced to this. A most fearful sight is the behavior of Germany and Japan who have little native energies and rush crazily into boom-and-bust economy on temporary and borrowed pipelines and tankers, throwing out what was stable and safe to become rich for a short period; monkey see, monkey do. Consider also Sweden that once before boomed and busted in its age of Baltic Ships while cutting its virgin timber. Later it was completely stable on water power and agriculture, but then after a few years of growth became like the rest, another bunch of engines on another set of oil flows, a culture that may not be long for this world.

What is the general answer? Eject economic expansionism, stop growth, use available energies for cultural conversion to steady state, seek out the condition now that will come anyway, but by our service be our biosphere’s handmaiden anew.

References and Notes

1. H.T. Odum, Environment Power and Society (John Wiley) 336 pp. Institutions, customs, and economic policies aid by accelerating energy consumption in an autocatalytic way.

2. D. H. Meadows, D. L. Meadows, J. Randry and W.W. Behrens III, The Limits to Growth (Universe Books, New York, 1972).

3. A.J. Lotka, Contribution to the Energetics of Evolution in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 8, 147—188 (1922).

4. I am grateful for stimulation and collaboration of many in our common effort including especially C. Kylstra, Pong Lem, and our keen graduate student group in the United States, and Jan Zeilon and Bengt-Owe Jansson in Sweden. Simulation work was supported by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission on Contract At-(40-10-4398).

5. Energy systems symbols used for showing mathematical and energetic relationships between the parts of our system of energy, economics and ecology.

All outside energy sources flow in from sources indicated with the circular symbol and these sources deliver causal forcing actions. All storages of energy, structure, money, information, value, etc., are represented by the tank-shaped symbol and these tanks are called state variables. All energies leave systems as dispersed heat that has no more potential for doing useful work. In the diagrams the dispersal of unusable heat energy is called a heat sink.

Figure 11

When two different kinds of flows of energy (or materials, information, or services that carry energy) interact in processes where both are necessary, we draw a work gate symbol. The system has an X if the action of one flow so facilitates the flow of the other and vice versa so that the process is a multiplier action. As in all processes, useful energy that drives the processes emerges as degraded, no longer reusable dispersed energy leaving the earth through the heat sink. (Heat on earth ultimately is reradiated out to space from the top of the atmosphere.)

Self-maintaining entities such as populations, cities, industries, and other organizations that feed energy from storage back into multiplicative pumping actions are shown with the hexagonal symbol. The energy dispersed in maintaining the system, its growth, and its work services is shown passing out the bottom in a heat sink.

Figure 12

When new storages are developed, energy laws require that much of the energy be dispersed into unusable heat in order to make the process of storing go fast enough to be most competitive. The symbol for Potential generating work shows the necessary heat dispersal that is required for any storing Process.

Figure 13

When two energy flows may be substituted for each other, we show their junction as the convergence of lines. This means that the flows add (in contrast to the work gate where other kinds of interactions are the result).

Because money flows as a countercurrent to the flow of energy, goods, and services (the latter two also carrying energy), we represent pathways that involve economic transactions with the diamond shaped symbol and two counter diagrams pathways. The energy cost of doing economic business is shown as the energy lost into the heat sink.

The diagrams may be examined as if they were a series of water tanks and pipes with water flowing between the tanks, being driven by the pressures of the storages or outside pressures and the energy of the water pressure, ultimately leaving the system in the various frictional heat dispersions. The diagrams can thus be visualized to help see the complexity of systems and recognize just from the configurations what kinds of responses might follow proposed manipulations. As further given in Ref. 1 the diagrams are also ways of writing mathematical differential equations for making precise mathematical descriptions of relationships.

Reprinted from the special energy edition of Ambio (No. 6, 1973) with the permission of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden—publishers of Ambio—and Dr. Howard T. Odum. Copyright 1973 by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The late Howard T. Odum, Ph. D. was Director of the Center for Wetlands and a Graduate Research Professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville; Professor of Ecology at the University of North Carolina; Chief Scientist for the Puerto Rico Nuclear Center; and Director of the Institute of Marine Science of the University of Texas at Port Aransas. Howard’s brother Eugene was a key, influencial American ecologist and author of the primary college text, Fundamentals of Ecology.

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Places to Intervene in a System – Donella (Dana) H. Meadows

Dana Meadows was one of four post graduate students in Jay Forrester’s Systems Dynamics Program at MIT in the early 1970s who researched and wrote the widely read, paradigm shifting study sponsored by the Club of Rome titled, The Limits to Growth. The following essay is a helpful guide in how to plan for and effect change in systems. Dana develops a hierarchy of leverage points to show different types and degrees of change.

Places to Intervene in a System

By Donella (Dana) H. Meadows
First published in Whole Earth Winter 1997

Folks who do systems analysis have a great belief in “leverage points.” These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.

The systems community has a lot of lore about leverage points. Those of us who were trained by the great Jay Forrester at MIT have absorbed one of his favorite stories. “People know intuitively where leverage points are. Time after time I’ve done an analysis of a company, and I’ve figured out a leverage point. Then I’ve gone to the company and discovered that everyone is pushing it in the wrong direction !”

The classic example of that backward intuition was Forrester’s first world model. Asked by the Club of Rome to show how major global problems—poverty and hunger, environmental destruction, resource depletion, urban deterioration, unemployment—are related and how they might be solved, Forrester came out with a clear leverage point: Growth. Both population and economic growth. Growth has costs—among which are poverty and hunger, environmental destruction—the whole list of problems we are trying to solve with growth!

The world’s leaders are correctly fixated on economic growth as the answer to virtually all problems, but they’re pushing with all their might in the wrong direction.

Counterintuitive. That’s Forrester’s word to describe complex systems. The systems analysts I know have come up with no quick or easy formulas for finding leverage points. Our counterintuitions aren’t that well developed. Give us a few months or years and we’ll model the system and figure it out. We know from bitter experience that when we do discover the system’s leverage points, hardly anybody will believe us.

Very frustrating. So one day I was sitting in a meeting about the new global trade regime, NAFTA and GATT and the World Trade Organization. The more I listened, the more I began to simmer inside. “This is a HUGE NEW SYSTEM people are inventing!” I said to myself. “They haven’t the slightest idea how it will behave,” myself said back to me. “It’s cranking the system in the wrong direction—growth, growth at any price!! And the control measures these nice folks are talking about—small parameter adjustments, weak negative feedback loops—are PUNY!”

Suddenly, without quite knowing what was happening, I got up, marched to the flip chart, tossed over a clean page, and wrote: ” Places to Intervene in a System ,” followed by nine items:

9. Numbers (subsidies, taxes, standards).

8. Material stocks and flows.

7. Regulating negative feedback loops.

6. Driving positive feedback loops.

5. Information flows.

4. The rules of the system (incentives, punishment, constraints).

3. The power of self-organization.

2. The goals of the system.

1. The mindset or paradigm out of which the goals, rules, feedback structure arise.

Everyone in the meeting blinked in surprise, including me. “That’s brilliant!” someone breathed. “Huh?” said someone else.

I realized that I had a lot of explaining to do.

In a minute I’ll go through the list, translate the jargon, give examples and exceptions. First I want to place the list in a context of humility. What bubbled up in me that day was distilled from decades of rigorous analysis of many different kinds of systems done by many smart people. But complex systems are, well, complex. It’s dangerous to generalize about them. What you are about to read is not a recipe for finding leverage points. Rather it’s an invitation to think more broadly about system change.

That’s why leverage points are not intuitive.

9. Numbers.

Numbers (“parameters” in systems jargon) determine how much of a discrepancy turns which faucet how fast. Maybe the faucet turns hard, so it takes a while to get the water flowing. Maybe the drain is blocked and can allow only a small flow, no matter how open it is. Maybe the faucet can deliver with the force of a fire hose. These considerations are a matter of numbers, some of which are physically locked in, but most of which are popular intervention points.

Consider the national debt. It’s a negative bathtub, a money hole. The rate at which it sinks is the annual deficit. Tax income makes it rise, government expenditures make it fall. Congress and the president argue endlessly about the many parameters that open and close tax faucets and spending drains. Since those faucets and drains are connected to the voters, these are politically charged parameters. But, despite all the fireworks, and no matter which party is in charge, the money hole goes on sinking, just at different rates.

The amount of land we set aside for conservation. The minimum wage. How much we spend on AIDS research or Stealth bombers. The service charge the bank extracts from your account. All these are numbers, adjustments to faucets. So, by the way, is firing people and getting new ones. Putting different hands on the faucets may change the rate at which they turn, but if they’re the same old faucets, plumbed into the same system, turned according to the same information and rules and goals, the system isn’t going to change much. Bill Clinton is different from George Bush, but not all that different.

Numbers are last on my list of leverage points. Diddling with details, arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Probably ninety-five percent of our attention goes to numbers, but there’s not a lot of power in them.

Not that parameters aren’t important—they can be, especially in the short term and to the individual who’s standing directly in the flow. But they RARELY CHANGE BEHAVIOR. If the system is chronically stagnant, parameter changes rarely kick-start it. If it’s wildly variable, they don’t usually stabilize it. If it’s growing out of control, they don’t brake it.

Whatever cap we put on campaign contributions, it doesn’t clean up politics. The Feds fiddling with the interest rate haven’t made business cycles go away. (We always forget that during upturns, and are shocked, shocked by the downturns.) Spending more on police doesn’t make crime go away.

However, there are critical exceptions. Numbers become leverage points when they go into ranges that kick off one of the items higher on this list. Interest rates or birth rates control the gains around positive feedback loops. System goals are parameters that can make big differences. Sometimes a system gets onto a chaotic edge, where the tiniest change in a number can drive it from order to what appears to be wild disorder.

Probably the most common kind of critical number is the length of delay in a feedback loop. Remember that bathtub on the fourth floor I mentioned, with the water heater in the basement? I actually experienced one of those once, in an old hotel in London. It wasn’t even a bathtub with buffering capacity; it was a shower. The water temperature took at least a minute to respond to my faucet twists. Guess what my shower was like. Right, oscillations from hot to cold and back to hot, punctuated with expletives. Delays in negative feedback loops cause oscillations. If you’re trying to adjust a system state to your goal, but you only receive delayed information about what the system state is, you will overshoot and undershoot.

Same if your information is timely, but your response isn’t. For example, it takes several years to build an electric power plant, and then that plant lasts, say, thirty years. Those delays make it impossible to build exactly the right number of plants to supply a rapidly changing demand. Even with immense effort at forecasting, almost every electricity industry in the world experiences long oscillations between overcapacity and undercapacity. A system just can’t respond to short-term changes when it has long-term delays. That’s why a massive central-planning system, such as the Soviet Union or General Motors, necessarily functions poorly.

A delay in a feedback process is critical RELATIVE TO RATES OF CHANGE (growth, fluctuation, decay) IN THE SYSTEM STATE THAT THE FEEDBACK LOOP IS TRYING TO CONTROL. Delays that are too short cause overreaction, oscillations amplified by the jumpiness of the response. Delays that are too long cause damped, sustained, or exploding oscillations, depending on how much too long. At the extreme they cause chaos. Delays in a system with a threshold, a danger point, a range past which irreversible damage can occur, cause overshoot and collapse.

Delay length would be a high leverage point, except for the fact that delays are not often easily changeable. Things take as long as they take. You can’t do a lot about the construction time of a major piece of capital, or the maturation time of a child, or the growth rate of a forest. It’s usually easier to slow down the change rate (positive feedback loops, higher on this list), so feedback delays won’t cause so much trouble. Critical numbers are not nearly as common as people seem to think they are. Most systems have evolved or are designed to stay out of sensitive parameter ranges. Mostly, the numbers are not worth the sweat put into them.

8. Material stocks and flows.

The plumbing structure, the stocks and flows and their physical arrangement, can have an enormous effect on how a system operates.

When the Hungarian road system was laid out so all traffic from one side of the nation to the other had to pass through central Budapest, that determined a lot about air pollution and commuting delays that are not easily fixed by pollution control devices, traffic lights, or speed limits. The only way to fix a system that is laid out wrong is to rebuild it, if you can.

Often you can’t, because physical building is a slow and expensive kind of change. Some stock-and-flow structures are just plain unchangeable.

The baby-boom swell in the US population first caused pressure on the elementary school system, then high schools and colleges, then jobs and housing, and now we’re looking forward to supporting its retirement. Not much to do about it, because five-year-olds become six-year-olds, and sixty-four-year-olds become sixty-five-year-olds predictably and unstoppably. The same can be said for the lifetime of destructive CFC molecules in the ozone layer, for the rate at which contaminants get washed out of aquifers, for the fact that an inefficient car fleet takes ten to twenty years to turn over.

The possible exceptional leverage point here is in the size of stocks, or buffers. Consider a huge bathtub with slow in and outflows. Now think about a small one with fast flows. That’s the difference between a lake and a river. You hear about catastrophic river floods much more often than catastrophic lake floods, because stocks that are big, relative to their flows, are more stable than small ones. A big, stabilizing stock is a buffer.

The stabilizing power of buffers is why you keep money in the bank rather than living from the flow of change through your pocket. It’s why stores hold inventory instead of calling for new stock just as customers carry the old stock out the door. It’s why we need to maintain more than the minimum breeding population of an endangered species. Soils in the eastern US are more sensitive to acid rain than soils in the west, because they haven’t got big buffers of calcium to neutralize acid. You can often stabilize a system by increasing the capacity of a buffer. But if a buffer is too big, the system gets inflexible. It reacts too slowly. Businesses invented just-in-time inventories, because occasional vulnerability to fluctuations or screw-ups is cheaper than certain, constant inventory costs—and because small-to-vanishing inventories allow more flexible response to shifting demand.

There’s leverage, sometimes magical, in changing the size of buffers. But buffers are usually physical entities, not easy to change.

The acid absorption capacity of eastern soils is not a leverage point for alleviating acid rain damage. The storage capacity of a dam is literally cast in concrete. Physical structure is crucial in a system, but the leverage point is in proper design in the first place. After the structure is built, the leverage is in understanding its limitations and bottlenecks and refraining from fluctutions or expansions that strain its capacity.

7. Regulating negative feedback loops.

Now we’re beginning to move from the physical part of the system to the information and control parts, where more leverage can be found. Nature evolves negative feedback loops and humans invent them to keep system states within safe bounds.

A thermostat loop is the classic example. Its purpose is to keep the system state called “room temperature” fairly constant at a desired level. Any negative feedback loop needs a goal (the thermostat setting), a monitoring and signaling device to detect excursions from the goal (the thermostat), and a response mechanism (the furnace and/or air conditioner, fans, heat pipes, fuel, etc.).

A complex system usually has numerous negative feedback loops it can bring into play, so it can self-correct under different conditions and impacts. Some of those loops may be inactive much of the time—like the emergency cooling system in a nuclear power plant, or your ability to sweat or shiver to maintain your body temperature. One of the big mistakes we make is to strip away these emergency response mechanisms because they aren’t often used and they appear to be costly. In the short term we see no effect from doing this. In the long term, we narrow the range of conditions over which the system can survive.

One of the most heartbreaking ways we do this is in encroaching on the habitats of endangered species. Another is in encroaching on our own time for rest, recreation, socialization, and meditation.

The “strength” of a negative loop—its ability to keep its appointed stock at or near its goal—depends on the combination of all its parameters and links—the accuracy and rapidity of monitoring, the quickness and power of response, the directness and size of corrective flows.

There can be leverage points here. Take markets, for example, the negative feedback systems that are all but worshiped by economists—and they can indeed be marvels of self-correction, as prices vary to keep supply and demand in balance. The more the price—the central signal to both producers and consumers—is kept clear, unambiguous, timely, and truthful, the more smoothly markets will operate. Prices that reflect full costs will tell consumers how much they can actually afford and will reward efficient producers. Companies and governments are fatally attracted to the price leverage point, of course, all of them pushing in the wrong direction with subsidies, fixes, externalities, taxes, and other forms of confusion. The REAL leverage here is to keep them from doing it. Hence anti-trust laws, truth-in-advertising laws, attempts to internalize costs (such as pollution taxes), the removal of perverse subsidies, and other ways of leveling market playing fields.

The strength of a negative feedback loop is important RELATIVE TO THE IMPACT IT IS DESIGNED TO CORRECT. If the impact increases in strength, the feedbacks have to be strengthened too.

A thermostat system may work fine on a cold winter day—but open all the windows and its corrective power will fail. Democracy worked better before the advent of the brainwashing power of centralized mass communications. Traditional controls on fishing were sufficient until radar spotting and drift nets and other technologies made it possible for a few actors to wipe out the fish. The power of big industry calls for the power of big government to hold it in check; a global economy makes necessary a global government.

Here are some other examples of strengthening negative feedback controls to improve a system’s self-correcting abilities: preventive medicine, exercise, and good nutrition to bolster the body’s ability to fight disease, integrated pest management to encourage natural predators of crop pests, the Freedom of Information Act to reduce government secrecy, protection for whistle blowers, impact fees, pollution taxes, and performance bonds to recapture the externalized public costs of private benefits.

6. Driving positive feedback loops.

A positive feedback loop is self-reinforcing. The more it works, the more it gains power to work some more.

The more people catch the flu, the more they infect other people. The more babies are born, the more people grow up to have babies. The more money you have in the bank, the more interest you earn, the more money you have in the bank. The more the soil erodes, the less vegetation it can support, the fewer roots and leaves to soften rain and runoff, the more soil erodes. The more high-energy neutrons in the critical mass, the more they knock into nuclei and generate more.

Positive feedback loops drive growth, explosion, erosion, and collapse in systems. A system with an unchecked positive loop ultimately will destroy itself. That’s why there are so few of them.

Usually a negative loop kicks in sooner or later. The epidemic runs out of infectable people—or people take increasingly strong steps to avoid being infected. The death rate rises to equal the birth rate—or people see the consequences of unchecked population growth and have fewer babies. The soil erodes away to bedrock, and after a million years the bedrock crumbles into new soil—or people put up check dams and plant trees.

In those examples, the first outcome is what happens if the positive loop runs its course, the second is what happens if there’s an intervention to reduce its power.

Reducing the gain around a positive loop—slowing the growth—is usually a more powerful leverage point in systems than strengthening negative loops, and much preferable to letting the positive loop run.

Population and economic growth rates in the world model are leverage points, because slowing them gives the many negative loops, through technology and markets and other forms of adaptation, time to function. It’s the same as slowing the car when you’re driving too fast, rather than calling for more responsive brakes or technical advances in steering.

The most interesting behavior that rapidly turning positive loops can trigger is chaos. This wild, unpredictable, unreplicable, and yet bounded behavior happens when a system starts changing much, much faster than its negative loops can react to it.

For example, if you keep raising the capital growth rate in the world model, eventually you get to a point where one tiny increase more will shift the economy from exponential growth to oscillation. Another nudge upward gives the oscillation a double beat. And just the tiniest further nudge sends it into chaos.

I don’t expect the world economy to turn chaotic any time soon (not for that reason, anyway). That behavior occurs only in unrealistic parameter ranges, equivalent to doubling the size of the economy within a year. Real-world systems do turn chaotic, however, if something in them can grow or decline very fast. Fast-replicating bacteria or insect populations, very infectious epidemics, wild speculative bubbles in money systems, neutron fluxes in the guts of nuclear power plants. These systems are hard to control, and control must involve slowing down the positive feedbacks.

In more ordinary systems, look for leverage points around birth rates, interest rates, erosion rates, “success to the successful” loops, any place where the more you have of something, the more you have the possibility of having more.

5. Information flows.

There was this subdivision of identical houses, the story goes, except that the electric meter in some of the houses was installed in the basement and in others it was installed in the front hall, where the residents could see it constantly, going round faster or slower as they used more or less electricity. Electricity consumption was 30 percent lower in the houses where the meter was in the front hall.

Systems-heads love that story because it’s an example of a high leverage point in the information structure of the system. It’s not a parameter adjustment, not a strengthening or weakening of an existing loop. It’s a NEW LOOP, delivering feedback to a place where it wasn’t going before.

In 1986 the US government required that every factory releasing hazardous air pollutants report those emissions publicly. Suddenly everyone could find out precisely what was coming out of the smokestacks in town. There was no law against those emissions, no fines, no determination of “safe” levels, just information. But by 1990 emissions dropped 40 percent. One chemical company that found itself on the Top Ten Polluters list reduced its emissions by 90 percent, just to “get off that list.”

Missing feedback is a common cause of system malfunction. Adding or rerouting information can be a powerful intervention, usually easier and cheaper than rebuilding physical structure.

The tragedy of the commons that is exhausting the world’s commercial fisheries occurs because there is no feedback from the state of the fish population to the decision to invest in fishing vessels. (Contrary to economic opinion, the price of fish doesn’t provide that feedback. As the fish get more scarce and hence more expensive, it becomes all the more profitable to go out and catch them. That’s a perverse feedback, a positive loop that leads to collapse.)

It’s important that the missing feedback be restored to the right place and in compelling form. It’s not enough to inform all the users of an aquifer that the groundwater level is dropping. That could trigger a race to the bottom. It would be more effective to set a water price that rises steeply as the pumping rate exceeds the recharge rate.

Suppose taxpayers got to specify on their return forms what government services their tax payments must be spent on. (Radical democracy!) Suppose any town or company that puts a water intake pipe in a river had to put it immediately DOWNSTREAM from its own outflow pipe. Suppose any public or private official who made the decision to invest in a nuclear power plant got the waste from that plant stored on his/her lawn.

There is a systematic tendency on the part of human beings to avoid accountability for their own decisions. That’s why there are so many missing feedback loops—and why this kind of leverage point is so often popular with the masses, unpopular with the powers that be, and effective, if you can get the powers that be to permit it to happen or go around them and make it happen anyway.

4. The rules of the system (incentives, punishments, constraints).

The rules of the system define its scope, boundaries, degrees of freedom. Thou shalt not kill. Everyone has the right of free speech. Contracts are to be honored. The president serves four-year terms and cannot serve more than two of them. Nine people on a team, you have to touch every base, three strikes and you’re out. If you get caught robbing a bank, you go to jail.

Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the USSR and opened information flows (glasnost) and changed the economic rules (perestroika), and look what happened.

Constitutions are strong social rules. Physical laws such as the second law of thermodynamics are absolute rules, if we understand them correctly. Laws, punishments, incentives, and informal social agreements are progressively weaker rules.

To demonstrate the power of rules, I ask my students to imagine different ones for a college. Suppose the students graded the teachers. Suppose you come to college when you want to learn something, and you leave when you’ve learned it. Suppose professors were hired according to their ability to solve real-world problems, rather than to publish academic papers. Suppose a class got graded as a group, instead of as individuals.

Rules change behavior. Power over rules is real power.

That’s why lobbyists congregate when Congress writes laws, and why the Supreme Court, which interprets and delineates the Constitution—the rules for writing the rules—has even more power than Congress.

If you want to understand the deepest malfunctions of systems, pay attention to the rules, and to who has power over them.

That’s why my systems intuition was sending off alarm bells as the new world trade system was explained to me. It is a system with rules designed by corporations, run by corporations, for the benefit of corporations. Its rules exclude almost any feedback from other sectors of society. Most of its meetings are closed to the press (no information, no feedback). It forces nations into positive loops, competing with each other to weaken environmental and social safeguards in order to attract corporate investment. It’s a recipe for unleashing “success to the succesful” loops.

3. The power of self-organization.

The most stunning thing living systems can do is to change themselves utterly by creating whole new structures and behaviors. In biological systems that power is called evolution. In human economies it’s called technical advance or social revolution. In systems lingo it’s called self-organization.

Self-organization means changing any aspect of a system lower on this list—adding or deleting new physical structure, adding or deleting negative or positive loops or information flows or rules. The ability to self-organize is the strongest form of system resilience, the ability to survive change by changing.

The human immune system can develop responses to (some kinds of) insults it has never before encountered. The human brain can take in new information and pop out completely new thoughts.

Self-organization seems so wondrous that we tend to regard it as mysterious, miraculous. Economists often model technology as literal manna from heaven—coming from nowhere, costing nothing, increasing the productivity of an economy by some steady percent each year. For centuries people have regarded the spectacular variety of nature with the same awe. Only a divine creator could bring forth such a creation.

In fact the divine creator does not have to produce miracles. He, she, or it just has to write clever RULES FOR SELF-ORGANIZATION. These rules govern how, where, and what the system can add onto or subtract from itself under what conditions.

Self-organizing computer models demonstrate that delightful, mind-boggling patterns can evolve from simple evolutionary algorithms. (That need not mean that real-world algorithms are simple, only that they can be.) The genetic code that is the basis of all biological evolution contains just four letters, combined into words of three letters each. That code, and the rules for replicating and rearranging it, has spewed out an unimaginable variety of creatures.

Self-organization is basically a matter of evolutionary raw material—a stock of information from which to select possible patterns—and a means for testing them. For biological evolution the raw material is DNA, one source of variety is spontaneous mutation, and the testing mechanism is something like punctuated Darwinian selection. For technology the raw material is the body of understanding science has accumulated. The source of variety is human creativity (whatever THAT is) and the selection mechanism is whatever the market will reward or whatever governments and foundations will fund or whatever tickles the fancy of crazy inventors.

When you understand the power of self-organization, you begin to understand why biologists worship biodiversity even more than economists worship technology. The wildly varied stock of DNA, evolved and accumulated over billions of years, is the source of evolutionary potential, just as science libraries and labs and scientists are the source of technological potential. Allowing species to go extinct is a systems crime, just as randomly eliminating all copies of particular science journals, or particular kinds of scientists, would be.

The same could be said of human cultures, which are the store of behavioral repertoires accumulated over not billions, but hundreds of thousands of years. They are a stock out of which social evolution can arise. Unfortunately, people appreciate the evolutionary potential of cultures even less than they understand the potential of every genetic variation in ground squirrels. I guess that’s because one aspect of almost every culture is a belief in the utter superiority of that culture.

Any system, biological, economic, or social, that scorns experimentation and wipes out the raw material of innovation is doomed over the long term on this highly variable planet.

The intervention point here is obvious but unpopular. Encouraging diversity means losing control. Let a thousand flowers bloom and ANYTHING could happen!

Who wants that?

2. The goals of the system.

Right there, the push for control, is an example of why the goal of a system is even more of a leverage point than the self-organizing ability of a system.

If the goal is to bring more and more of the world under the control of one central planning system (the empire of Genghis Khan, the world of Islam, the People’s Republic of China, Wal-Mart, Disney), then everything further down the list, even self-organizing behavior, will be pressured or weakened to conform to that goal.

That’s why I can’t get into arguments about whether genetic engineering is a good or a bad thing. Like all technologies, it depends upon who is wielding it, with what goal. The only thing one can say is that if corporations wield it for the purpose of generating marketable products, that is a very different goal, a different direction for evolution than anything the planet has seen so far.

There is a hierarchy of goals in systems. Most negative feedback loops have their own goals—to keep the bath water at the right level, to keep the room temperature comfortable, to keep inventories stocked at sufficient levels. They are small leverage points. The big leverage points are the goals of entire systems.

People within systems don’t often recognize what whole-system goal they are serving. To make profits, most corporations would say, but that’s just a rule, a necessary condition to stay in the game. What is the point of the game? To grow, to increase market share, to bring the world (customers, suppliers, regulators) more under the control of the corporation, so that its operations become ever more shielded from uncertainty. That’s the goal of a cancer cell too and of every living population. It’s only a bad one when it isn’t countered by higher-level negative feedback loops with goals of keeping the system in balance. The goal of keeping the market competitive has to trump the goal of each corporation to eliminate its competitors. The goal of keeping populations in balance and evolving has to trump the goal of each population to commandeer all resources into its own metabolism.

I said a while back that changing the players in a system is a low-level intervention, as long as the players fit into the same old system. The exception to that rule is at the top, if a single player can change the system’s goal.

I have watched in wonder as—only very occasionally—a new leader in an organization, from Dartmouth College to Nazi Germany, comes in, enunciates a new goal, and single-handedly changes the behavior of hundreds or thousands or millions of perfectly rational people.

That’s what Ronald Reagan did. Not long before he came to office, a president could say, “Ask not what government can do for you, ask what you can do for the government,” and no one even laughed. Reagan said the goal is not to get the people to help the government and not to get government to help the people, but to get the government off our backs. One can argue, and I would, that larger system changes let him get away with that. But the thoroughness with which behavior in the US and even the world has been changed since Reagan is testimony to the high leverage of articulating, repeating, standing for, insisting upon new system goals.

1. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system arises.

Another of Jay Forrester’s systems sayings goes: It doesn’t matter how the tax law of a country is written. There is a shared idea in the minds of the society about what a “fair” distribution of the tax load is. Whatever the rules say, by fair means or foul, by complications, cheating, exemptions or deductions, by constant sniping at the rules, the actual distribution of taxes will push right up against the accepted idea of “fairness.”

The shared idea in the minds of society, the great unstated assumptions—unstated because unnecessary to state; everyone knows them—constitute that society’s deepest set of beliefs about how the world works. There is a difference between nouns and verbs. People who are paid less are worth less. Growth is good. Nature is a stock of resources to be converted to human purposes. Evolution stopped with the emergence of Homo sapiens . One can “own” land. Those are just a few of the paradigmatic assumptions of our culture, all of which utterly dumbfound people of other cultures.

Paradigms are the sources of systems. From them come goals, information flows, feedbacks, stocks, flows.

The ancient Egyptians built pyramids because they believed in an afterlife. We build skyscrapers, because we believe that space in downtown cities is enormously valuable. (Except for blighted spaces, often near the skyscrapers, which we believe are worthless.) Whether it was Copernicus and Kepler showing that the earth is not the center of the universe, or Einstein hypothesizing that matter and energy are interchangeable, or Adam Smith postulating that the selfish actions of individual players in markets wonderfully accumulate to the common good.

People who manage to intervene in systems at the level of paradigm hit a leverage point that totally transforms systems.

You could say paradigms are harder to change than anything else about a system, and therefore this item should be lowest on the list, not the highest. But there’s nothing physical or expensive or even slow about paradigm change. In a single individual it can happen in a millisecond. All it takes is a click in the mind, a new way of seeing. Of course individuals and societies do resist challenges to their paradigm harder than they resist any other kind of change.

So how do you change paradigms? Thomas Kuhn, who wrote the seminal book about the great paradigm shifts of science, has a lot to say about that. In a nutshell, you keep pointing at the anomalies and failures in the old paradigm, you come yourself, loudly, with assurance, from the new one, you insert people with the new paradigm in places of public visibility and power. You don’t waste time with reactionaries; rather you work with active change agents and with the vast middle ground of people who are open-minded.

Systems folks would say one way to change a paradigm is to model a system, which takes you outside the system and forces you to see it whole. We say that because our own paradigms have been changed that way.

0. The power to transcend paradigms.

Sorry, but to be truthful and complete, I have to add this kicker.

The highest leverage of all is to keep oneself unattached in the arena of paradigms, to realize that NO paradigm is “true,” that even the one that sweetly shapes one’s comfortable worldview is a tremendously limited understanding of an immense and amazing universe.

It is to “get” at a gut level the paradigm that there are paradigms, and to see that that itself is a paradigm, and to regard that whole realization as devastatingly funny. It is to let go into Not Knowing.

People who cling to paradigms (just about all of us) take one look at the spacious possibility that everything we think is guaranteed to be nonsense and pedal rapidly in the opposite direction. Surely there is no power, no control, not even a reason for being, much less acting, in the experience that there is no certainty in any worldview. But everyone who has managed to entertain that idea, for a moment or for a lifetime, has found it a basis for radical empowerment. If no paradigm is right, you can choose one that will help achieve your purpose. If you have no idea where to get a purpose, you can listen to the universe (or put in the name of your favorite deity here) and do his, her, its will, which is a lot better informed than your will.

It is in the space of mastery over paradigms that people throw off addictions, live in constant joy, bring down empires, get locked up or burned at the stake or crucified or shot, and have impacts that last for millennia.

Back from the sublime to the ridiculous, from enlightenment to caveats. There is so much that has to be said to qualify this list. It is tentative and its order is slithery. There are exceptions to every item on it. Having the list percolating in my subconscious for years has not transformed me into a Superwoman. I seem to spend my time running up and down the list, trying out leverage points wherever I can find them. The higher the leverage point, the more the system resists changing it-that’s why societies rub out truly enlightened beings.

I don’t think there are cheap tickets to system change. You have to work at it, whether that means rigorously analyzing a system or rigorously casting off paradigms. In the end, it seems that leverage has less to do with pushing levers than it does with disciplined thinking combined with strategically, profoundly, madly letting go.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
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Making Other Arrangements by James Howard Kunstler

This article by James Howard Kunstler appeared in the Jan/Feb issue of Orion Magazine; On the web at http://www.orionmagazine.org/pages/om/07-1om/Kunstler.html

Making Other Arrangements
James Howard Kunstler

AS THE AMERICAN PUBLIC CONTINUES sleepwalking into a future of energy scarcity, climate change, and geopolitical turmoil, we have also continued dreaming. Our collective dream is one of those super-vivid ones people have just before awakening. It is a particularly American dream on a particularly American theme: how to keep all the cars running by some other means than gasoline. We’ll run them on ethanol! We’ll run them on biodiesel, on synthesized coal liquids, on hydrogen, on methane gas, on electricity, on used French-fry oil . . . !

The dream goes around in fevered circles as each gasoline replacement is examined and found to be inadequate. But the wish to keep the cars going is so powerful that round and round the dream goes. Ethanol! Biodiesel! Coal liquids . . .

And a harsh reality indeed awaits us as the full scope of the permanent energy crisis unfolds. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, world oil production peaked in December 2005 at just over 85 million barrels a day. Since then, it has trended absolutely flat at around 84 million. Yet world oil consumption rose consistently from 77 million barrels a day in 2001 to above 85 million so far this year. A clear picture emerges: demand now exceeds world supply. Or, put another way, oil production has not increased despite the ardent wish that it would by all involved, and despite the overwhelming incentive of prices having nearly quadrupled since 2001.

There is no question that we are in trouble with oil. The natural gas situation is comparably ominous, with some differences in the technical details—and by the way, I am referring here to methane gas (CH4), the stuff that fuels kitchen stoves and home furnaces, not cars and trucks. Natural gas doesn’t deplete slowly like oil, following a predictable bell-curve pattern; it simply stops coming out of the ground when a particular gas well is played out. You also tend to get your gas from the continent you are on. To import natural gas from overseas, it has to be liquefied, loaded in a special kind of expensive-to-build-and-operate tanker, and then offloaded at a specialized marine terminal.

Half the homes in America are heated with gas furnaces and about 16 percent of our electricity is made with it. Industry uses natural gas as the primary ingredient in fertilizer, plastics, ink, glue, paint, laundry detergent, insect repellent, and many other common household necessities. Synthetic rubber and man-made fibers like nylon could not be made without the chemicals derived from natural gas. In North America, natural gas production peaked in 1973. We are drilling as fast as we can to keep the air conditioners and furnaces running.

What’s more, the problems of climate change are amplifying, ramifying, and mutually reinforcing the problems associated with rapidly vanishing oil and gas reserves. This was illustrated vividly in 2005, when slightly higher ocean temperatures sent Hurricanes Katrina and Rita slamming into the U.S. Gulf Coast. Almost a year later, roughly 12 percent of oil production and 9.5 percent of natural gas production in the gulf was still out, probably for good. Many of these production platforms may never be rebuilt, because the amounts of oil and gas left beneath them would not justify the cost. If there is $50 million worth of oil down there, why spend $100 million replacing a wrecked platform to get it?

Climate change will also ramify the formidable problems associated with alternative fuels. As I write, the American grain belt is locked in a fierce summer drought. Corn and soybean crops are withering from Minnesota to Illinois; wheat is burning up in the Dakotas and Kansas. Meanwhile, the costs of agricultural “inputs”—from diesel fuel to fertilizers made from natural gas to oil-derived pesticides—have been ramping up steadily since 2003 to the great distress of farmers. Both weather and oil costs are driving our crop yields down, while the industrial mode of farming that has evolved since the Second World War becomes increasingly impractical. We are going to have trouble feeding ourselves in the years ahead, not to mention the many nations who depend for survival on American grain exports. So the idea that we can simply shift millions of acres from food crops to ethanol or biodiesel crops to make fuels for cars represents a staggering misunderstanding of reality.

Still, the widespread wish persists that some combination of alternative fuels will rescue us from this oil and gas predicament and allow us to continue enjoying by some other means what Vice-President Cheney has called the “non-negotiable” American way of life. The truth is that no combination of alternative fuels or systems for using them will allow us to continue running America, or even a substantial fraction of it, the way we have been. We are not going to run Wal-Mart, Walt Disney World, Monsanto, and the Interstate Highway System on any combination of solar or wind energy, hydrogen, ethanol, tar sands, oil shale, methane hydrates, nuclear power, thermal depolymerization, “zero-point” energy, or anything else you can name. We will desperately use many of these things in many ways, but we are likely to be disappointed in what they can actually do for us.

The key to understanding the challenge we face is admitting that we have to comprehensively make other arrangements for all the normal activities of everyday life. I will return to this theme shortly, but first it is important to try to account for the extraordinary amount of delusional thinking that currently dogs our collective ability to think about these problems.

The widespread wish to just uncouple from oil and gas and plug all our complex systems into other energy sources is an interesting and troubling enough phenomenon in its own right to merit some discussion. Perhaps the leading delusion is the notion that energy and technology are one and the same thing, interchangeable. The popular idea, expressed incessantly in the news media, is that if you run out of energy, you just go out and find some “new technology” to keep things running. We’ll learn that this doesn’t comport with reality. For example, commercial airplanes are either going to run on cheap liquid hydrocarbon fuels or we’re not going to have commercial aviation as we have known it. No other energy source is concentrated enough by weight, affordable enough by volume, and abundant enough in supply to do the necessary work to overcome gravity in a loaded airplane, repeated thousands of times each day by airlines around the world. No other way of delivering that energy source besides refined liquid hydrocarbons will allow that commercial system to operate at the scale we are accustomed to. The only reason this system exists is that until now such fuels have been cheap and abundant. We are not going to replace the existing worldwide fleet of airplanes either, and besides, there is no other type of airplane we have yet devised that can work differently.

There may be other ways of moving things above the ground, for instance balloons, blimps, or zeppelin-type airships. But they will move much more slowly and carry far less cargo and human passengers than the airplanes we’ve been enjoying for the past sixty years or so. The most likely scenario in the years ahead is that aviation will become an increasingly expensive, elite activity as the oil age dribbles to a close, and then it will not exist at all.

Another major mistake made by those who fail to pay attention is overlooking the unanticipated consequences of new technology, which more often than not add additional layers of problems to existing ones. In the energy sector, one of the most vivid examples is seen in the short history of the world’s last truly great oil discovery, the North Sea fields between Norway and the UK. They were found in the ’60s, got into production in the late ’70s, and were pumping at full blast in the early ’90s. Then, around 1999, they peaked and are now in extremely steep decline—up to 50 percent a year in the case of some UK fields. The fact that they were drilled with the latest and best new technology turns out to mean that they were drained with stunning efficiency. “New technology” only hastened Britain’s descent into energy poverty. Now, after a twenty-year-long North Sea bonanza in which it enjoyed an orgy of suburbanization, Great Britain is again a net energy importer. Soon the Brits will have no North Sea oil whatsoever and will find themselves below their energy diet of the grim 1950s.

If you really want to understand the U.S. public’s penchant for wishful thinking, consider this: We invested most of our late twentieth-century wealth in a living arrangement with no future. American suburbia represents the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. The far-flung housing subdivisions, commercial highway strips, big-box stores, and all the other furnishings and accessories of extreme car dependence will function poorly, if at all, in an oil-scarce future. Period. This dilemma now entails a powerful psychology of previous investment, which is prompting us to defend our misinvestments desperately, or, at least, preventing us from letting go of our assumptions about their future value. Compounding the disaster is the unfortunate fact that the manic construction of ever more futureless suburbs (a.k.a. the “housing bubble”) has insidiously replaced manufacturing as the basis of our economy.

Meanwhile, the outsourcing of manufacturing to other nations has spurred the development of a “global economy,” which media opinion-leaders such as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman (author of The World Is Flat) say is a permanent state of affairs that we had better get used to. It is probably more accurate to say that the global economy is a set of transient economic relations that have come about because of two fundamental (and transient) conditions: a half century of relative peace between great powers and a half century of cheap and abundant fossil-fuel energy. These two mutually dependent conditions are now liable to come to an end as the great powers enter a bitter contest over the world’s remaining energy resources, and the world is actually apt to become a lot larger and less flat as these economic relations unravel.

This is approximately the state of the nation right now. It is deeply and tragically ironic that the more information that bombards us, the less we seem to understand. There are cable TV news networks and Internet news sites beyond counting, yet we are unable to process this deluge of information into a coherent public discussion about the fundamental challenges that our civilization faces—not to mention a sensible agenda for meeting these hardships. Meanwhile, CBS News tells millions of viewers that the tar sands of Alberta will solve all our problems, or (two weeks later) that the coal beds under Montana and Wyoming will sustain business as usual, and CNN tells another several million viewers that we can run everything here on ethanol, just like they do in Brazil.

Of course, the single worst impediment to clear thinking among most individuals and organizations in America today is the obsession with keeping the cars running at all costs. Even the environmental community is guilty of this. The esteemed Rocky Mountain Institute ran a project for a decade to design and develop a “hyper-car” capable of getting supernaturally fabulous mileage, in the belief that this would be an ecological benefit. The short-sightedness of this venture? It only promoted the idea that we could continue to be a car-dependent society; the project barely gave nodding recognition to the value of walkable communities and public transit.

The most arrant case of collective cluelessness now on view is our failure to even begin a public discussion about fixing the U.S. passenger railroad system, which has become so decrepit that the Bulgarians would be ashamed of it. It’s the one thing we could do right away that would have a substantial impact on our oil use. The infrastructure is still out there, rusting in the rain, waiting to be fixed. The restoration of it would employ hundreds of thousands of Americans at all levels of meaningful work. The fact that we are hardly even talking about it—at any point along the political spectrum, left, right, or center—shows how fundamentally un-serious we are.

This is just not good enough. It is not worthy of our history, our heritage, or the sacrifices that our ancestors made. It is wholly incompatible with anything describable as our collective responsibility to the future.

We have to do better. We have to start right away making those other arrangements. We have to begin the transition to some mode of living that will allow us to carry on the project of civilization—and I would argue against the notion advanced by Daniel Quinn and others that civilization itself is our enemy and should not be continued. The agenda for facing our problems squarely can, in fact, be described with some precision. We have to make other arrangements for the basic activities of everyday life.

In general, the circumstances we face with energy and climate change will require us to live much more locally, probably profoundly and intensely so. We have to grow more of our food locally, on a smaller scale than we do now, with fewer artificial “inputs,” and probably with more human and animal labor. Farming may come closer to the center of our national economic life than it has been within the memory of anyone alive now. These changes are also likely to revive a menu of social and class conflicts that we also thought we had left behind.

We’ll have to reorganize retail trade by rebuilding networks of local economic interdependence. The rise of national chain retail business was an emergent, self-organizing response to the conditions of the late twentieth century. Those conditions are now coming to an end, and the Wal-Mart way of doing business will come to an end with them: the twelve-thousand-mile merchandise supply line to Asian factories; the “warehouse on wheels” made up of thousands of tractor-trailer trucks circulating endlessly between the container-ship ports and the big-box store loading docks. The damage to local economies that the “superstores” leave behind is massive. Not only have they destroyed multilayered local networks for making and selling things, they destroyed the middle classes that ran them, and in so doing they destroyed the cultural and economic fabric of the communities themselves. This is a lot to overcome. We will have to resume making some things for ourselves again, and moving them through smaller-scale trade networks. We may have fewer things to buy overall. The retail frenzy of recent decades will subside as we struggle to produce things of value and necessarily consume less.

We’ll have to make other arrangements for transporting people and goods. Not only do we desperately need to rebuild the railroad system, but electrifying it—as virtually all other advanced nations have done—will bring added advantages, since we will be able to run it on a range of things other than fossil fuels. We should anticipate a revival of maritime trade on the regional scale, with more use of boats on rivers, canals, and waterways within the U.S. Many of our derelict riverfronts and the dying ports of the Great Lakes may come back to life. If we use trucks at all to move things, it will be for the very last leg of the journey. The automobile will be a diminishing presence in our lives and, increasingly, a luxury that will be resented by those who can no longer afford to participate in the “happy motoring” utopia. The interstate highways themselves will require more resources to maintain than we will be able to muster. For many of us, the twenty-first century will be less about incessant mobility than about staying where we are.
We have to inhabit the terrain of North America differently, meaning a return to traditional cities, towns, neighborhoods, and a productive rural landscape that is more than just strictly scenic or recreational. We will probably see a reversal of the two-hundred-year-long trend of people moving from the country and small towns to the big cities. In fact, our big cities will probably contract substantially, even while they re-densify at their centers and along their waterfronts. The work of the New Urbanists will be crucial in rebuilding human habitats that have a future. Their achievement so far has been not so much in building “new towns” like Seaside, Florida, or Kentlands, Maryland, but in retrieving a body of knowledge, principle, and methodology for urban design that had been thrown away in our mad effort to build the drive-in suburbs.

It is harder to predict exactly what may happen with education and medicine, except to say that neither can continue to operate as rackets much longer, and that they, like everything else, will have to become smaller in scale and much more local. Our centralized school districts, utterly dependent on the countless daily trips of fleets of yellow buses and oppressive property taxes, have poor prospects for carrying on successfully in an energy-scarce economy. However, we will be a less affluent nation in the post-oil age, and therefore may be hard-pressed to replace them. A new, more locally based education system may arise instead out of home-schooling, as household classes aggregate into new, small, neighborhood schools. College will cease to be a mass-consumer activity, and may only be available to social elites—if it continues to exist at all. Meanwhile, we’re in for a pretty stark era of triage as the vast resources of the “medical industry” contract. Even without a global energy crisis bearing down on us, the federal Medicaid and Medicare systems would not survive the future as currently funded.

As a matter of fact, you can state categorically that anything organized on a gigantic scale, whether it is a federal government or the Acme Corporation or the University of Michigan, will probably falter in the energy-scarce future. Therefore, don’t pin your hopes on multinational corporations, international NGOs, or any other giant organizations or institutions.

Recent events have caused many of us to fear that we are headed toward a Big Brother kind of governmental tyranny. I think we will be lucky if the federal government can answer the phones, let alone regulate anyone’s life, in the post-oil era. As power devolves to the local and regional level, the very purpose of our federal arrangements may come into question. The state governments, with their enormous bureaucracies, may not be better off. Further along in this century, the real political action will likely shift down to the local level, as reconstructed neighborly associations allow people to tackle problems locally with local solutions.

It’s a daunting agenda, all right. And some of you are probably wondering how you are supposed to remain hopeful in the face of these enormous tasks. Here’s the plain truth, folks: Hope is not a consumer product. You have to generate your own hope. You do that by demonstrating to yourself that you are brave enough to face reality and competent enough to deal with the circumstances that it presents. How we will manage to uphold a decent society in the face of extraordinary change will depend on our creativity, our generosity, and our kindness, and I am confident that we can find these resources within our own hearts, and collectively in our communities.

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER is the author of The Long Emergency and The Geography of Nowhere, as well as the novel Maggie Darling: A Modern Romance. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Rolling Stone. He lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.