Designing a Home Greywater System – Sonoran Permaculture Guild – Sep 22

in Tucson AZ
 

Designing a Home Greywater System

Leona Davis, Sonoran Permaculture Guild

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. Some basic plumbing experience is helpful, but not required.

Class will end with a short walking tour (less than 1 mile) of greywater systems at several permculture sites in the neighborhood.

Taught by Leona Davis. Class size is limited to seven participants.

Date: Saturday, September 22nd, 2012
Time: 9:00AM – 4:00PM
Location: Site location provided with registration, one and a half miles north of downtown Tucson.
Cost: $49 – includes all workshop materials, handouts, and a plan you will produce on a greywater system for your own residence.

Call or e-mail Leona for registration or information. (520) 205-0067 or leonafdavis(at)gmail.com

ST September Meeting – Sept 10 – Sustainability of Urban Mobility and Urban Form continued – Broadway Boulevard Project

at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone, Downtown (free lower level parking off Alameda St)

Broadway Boulevard Project:
Sustainable Urban Mobility and Form?

As a follow up to Sustainable Tucson’s July meeting, The Sustainability of Urban Mobility and Urban Form, the September 10th meeting will be convening a public conversation furthering the discussion, using the Broadway Boulevard Project as a focus.

Presenters will include
Jen Burdick – Broadway Corridor project manager for the TDOT
Colby Henley – Citizen’s Task Force and local Neighborhood Association member
Tres English – Sustainable Tucson
• and others to be announced

Efforts to incorporate local Neighborhood goals with those of the transportation planning agencies are moving forward through the efforts of the Broadway Citizen’s Task Force (CTF). By the time Sustainable Tucson convenes its meeting on September 10th, the CTF will have conducted 2 public meetings. The findings of the 1st meeting are posted online at http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/broadway

Neighborhood and City goals should be updated and integrated given the interrelated issues of mobility and urban form. In this age of fiscal and environmental constraints, we have the opportunity (and calling) to redirect limited funds to support live-ability and vibrancy at the neighborhood level while implementing a transportation system that unites and serves the larger city. Additionally, now is the time to address larger embedded issues such as the Urban Heat Island effect (UHI) and Climate Change.

A recent Arizona State University study by leading author, Matei Georgescu (http://geoplan.asu.edu/georgescu-megapolitan) notes that urban development could by itself, increase average June-August temperatures by as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. Add in another 5 degrees due to the effects of greenhouse gas emissions over the same period (United States Global Change Research Project), and it becomes apparent “business as usual” will significantly affect the health, live-ability, and pocketbooks of Tucsonans.

To mitigate temperatures neither current nor future inhabitants of Tucson want to endure and to ensure live-able and vibrant communities we must seek alternatives to current built-environment and mobility practices that solve rather than add to an unsustainable city. The Broadway Boulevard Project discussion is a great place to start.

Join us in conversation September 10th at the Joel Valdez Library, lower level meeting room.

Doors open at 5:30 pm.
The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

Sustainable Tucson August Film Festival – August 12th and 13th

at Joel D. Valdez Main Downtown Library, Large Lower Level Meeting Room, 101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St)

 

Sunday, August 12th 1:00 to 5:00pm, Sustainable Tucson will show three top-rated sustainability films covering critical sustainability topics:

• The U.S. financial crisis erupted in 2008 and still looms on the horizon.

• Resource depletion including non-renewable fossil fuels and clean water threatens further economic growth.

• Global warming and climate change threaten most life-forms including people and future food.

• Social disruption following economic dislocation and government contraction can threaten our capacity to solve-problems and build a more sustainable culture.

• Many solutions are being identified but most require abandoning “business as usual.”

The first film will be shown from 1:00 to 2:30pm and includes a comprehensive presentation of the sustainability crisis and a path way out of our predicament. Many sustainability leaders are interviewed including  Wes Jackson, Paul Hawken, David Suzuki, Kenny Ausubel, David Orr, Janine Benyus,, Stuart Pimm, Richard Heinberg, Paolo Soleri, Thom Hartmann, Lester Brown, James Hillman, Joseph Tainter, James Woolsey, Stephen Schneider, Stephen Hawking, Sandra Postel,  Bill McKibbon, James Hansen, Dr. Andy Weil, Ray Anderson, Andy Lipkis, Tom Linzey, Herman Daly, Peter Warshall, Jerry Mander, Mikhail Gorbachev, Bruce Mau, William McDonough, John Todd, and Gloria Flora among others.

The second film is an award-winning documentary describing the financial crisis which erupted in 2008 and continues to play out today as the global economy is beginning to contract. Financial experts help tell the story of how the largest financial bubble in history grew and finally burst. These include Simon Johnson, George Soros, Satyajit Das, Paul Volker, Nouriel Roubini, U. S. Rep. Barney Frank, Eliot Spitzer, Kenneth Rogoff, Raghuram Rajan, Martin Wolf, Christine Lagarde, and Martin Feldstein among others. This film will be shown from 2:30 to 4:15.

The final film to be shown from 4:15 to 5:00 is a special film which describes how the island nation of Cuba became more self- sufficient and resilient after the food and energy subsidies ended from the Soviet Union which collapsed in 1991.

 

Monday, August 13th, 5:00 to 8:00 pm, Sustainable Tucson will present two excellent films.

The first is a documentary about how the many electric street car systems in U.S towns and cities were intentionally scrapped by a group of automobile-related corporations. The result is that the U.S. is the only industrial country in the world without electric rail systems within and between most cities.  This film will be shown from 5:00 to 6:00pm.

The second film will be shown from 6:15 to 7:45pm and includes a comprehensive presentation of the sustainability crisis and the need to find a path way out of our predicament. Many sustainability leaders are interviewed including Richard Heinberg, Lester Brown, U. S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, Albert Bartlett, Joseph Tainter, David Pimental, Terry Taminen, Bill McKibben, James Hansen, David Korten, Derrick Jensen, and William R. Catton, Jr. among others.

Due to unanswered questions about public licensing, the titles of the films were omitted in this public announcement. The Pima-Tucson Library System does have a general license for showings of films free to the public for educational purposes. This license is granted by a film company consortium but we don’t know for sure about each film. ST falls back on its “fair use” rights under copyright laws to show the films for educational purposes.

We believe that building a sustainable future will take the cooperation and partnering of residents, businesses, government, institutions and organizations. It is in this spirit that we are reaching out to our members, interested people, and community leaders, bringing them together to focus the wider public on these critical sustainability discussions. Our ultimate intent is to build partnerships and work together toward our common goals.

Join us for viewing five great sustainability films in August!

PLEASE NOTE:

Doors open at 1:00 pm on Sunday, August 12th.
Doors open at 4:45 pm on Monday, August 13th

What do we do about climate change?

What do we do about climate change?

by Brian Davey

After Copenhagen it was by no means obvious that simply calling upon governments to act would achieve very much. Yet the situation is urgent – so what do we do? The aim of this chapter is to look at options for getting from where we are now to adequate climate mitigation. It starts by looking at all the obstacles to getting things done – but this is not so that we get discouraged and give up. It is so that we are realistic and can find our way around the obstacles.

 

A recent book by the Financial Times columnist and academic, John Kay, points out that the most successful ways of achieving policy, business or other goals in human affairs is not to approach our goals directly but indirectly. It is the oblique approach that often achieves most[1].

 

There is a very good case for approaching climate mitigation obliquely particularly as the task is huge and complex, because much of what needs to happen is unclear – and because the resistances to getting action put in place by vested interests are very powerful. At the same time there are powerful pressures to get something done about a growing crisis in the energy system and millions of people are having to adjust their lives to this energy and economic crisis. So how can an indirect response to the climate crisis be put in place as part of a general programme for the wider crisis? How can we enlist the active involvement of millions of people and win them over for adequate climate policies – for example those who have become involved in the Occupy movement that has sprung up the world over?

 

If it is not as easy as it is supposed to be to make the democratic process work for us perhaps this is because we have pinned our thinking too much to the head-on direct route. People are struggling to cope with lots of problems – how about ideas about how to help them and deal with the climate crisis too?

 

Most of us know the head-on direct route very well. It is the route of political common sense. We are supposed to put credible policy ideas into letters and articles for newspapers and in the letters that we write to our MPs. Having convinced our MPs what is supposed to happen is that our ideas are passed on to ministers and examined by officials. If enough members of the public want something the policy will eventually be enacted. What we are supposed to do is to lobby the politicians and officials with credible ideas. That is the theory and most of us know in our hearts that it doesn’t work – even if we do not acknowledge it yet in our heads and in what we do and say.

As if!

As is very clear the chances of getting adequate climate change mitigation in the current growth economy are very slim. The UK government’s former advisers, the Sustainable Development Commission, have published studies that say so. For example, “Prosperity without Growth” written by Professor Tim Jackson, showed how a growing economy could not possibly achieve the carbon emissions reductions required even to reach an inadequate 450ppm CO2 target by 2050. To achieve an average year on year reduction of emissions of 4.9% with 0.7% population growth and 1.4% income growth would require technological change to reduce emissions per unit of economic output at 7% per annum. That is ten times the current rate.[2]

 

Nevertheless the policy makers and business are locked into a commitment to growth. Growth is a central idea in what John Jopling and Roy Madron term “the elite consensus” in their book Gaian Democracy. [3] Those people who argue for non growth economics are ignored by policy makers, business and most journalists. The Sustainable Development Commission and Tim Jackson told the government that growth and sustainability were not compatible – and this probably helped to seal the fate of the SDC – it was abolished by the coalition government as one of the victims of the cuts.

 

If you follow the route of political common sense and lobby for ideas outside the elite consensus – ie the growth consensus – you get ignored. Although everyone says that they like thinking that is “outside the box”, they do not mean thinking outside the growing economy box.

 

Now there are systemic reasons for this addiction to growth. There are reasons as to why it is considered more important than dealing with climate change. For one thing growth has come to be seen as “the” answer for all political problems. Writer Clive Hamilton describes this as fetishistic:

 

“Growth alone will save the poor. If inequality causes concern, a rising tide lifts all boats. Growth will solve unemployment. If we want better schools and hospitals then economic growth will provide. And if the environment is in decline then higher growth will generate the means to fix it. Whatever the social problem, the answer is always more growth” [4]

 

Over and above the fetishist mind set of the policy establishment there are deeper, structural reasons for their collective fixation. These reasons arise out of the nature of the money and financial system. The argument here is not new – green economists have called attention to this problem for decades and it is explored in the other chapters of this book at length.

 

Debt based money and growth

Since we all depend on the smooth functioning of the money and financial system, and since we all use it in our everyday life, the money system should be regarded as a commons resource. It should be managed in the interests of everyone. However, the financial system has been effectively privatised because almost all money comes into existence as bank deposits when banks lend money to their customers. The banks create the money that they lend and money is backed, not by gold as it used to be a long time ago, but by debt – by promises to repay loans to bankers with interest.

 

The important point here is that, while the banks create the money that they lend, they do not simultaneously create the money that their customers also need in order to pay the interest on their bank borrowings. The economy has to keep on growing in order for there to be a basis to motivate new lending. Without new lending, and hence new debt being created, there is no source for the next round of additional money needed to pay the interest on the previous debt.

 

This kind of economy does not have a reverse gear. Because of its debt based money arrangements the economy must keep growing or the banks get into trouble. If the economy does not grow then it needs something else to grow instead – like asset value bubbles, mainly in the real estate markets, so that banks have a basis to keep on inflating their lending.

 

If the banks stop lending and people repay their debts the money supply and liquidity starts to dry up, people get into trouble repaying debts and the banks get into problems too. Remember – since almost all money is backed by debt, then in those times when the main dynamic in the economy is that debts are being repaid the money in circulation starts to fall and demand starts to shrink. Horror of horrors the process becomes a vicious deflationary cycle. The economy goes into a downward spiral. Confidence in the banks begins to wobble and people want to take the money out of the machines in the wall.

 

This explains at a deeper structural level why growth is the taken for granted and self evident goal that few politicians, economists or journalists dare question. It enables us to understand the toxic group-think of the political economic elite – I write ‘toxic’ because, as argued earlier, it is impossible to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently if the economy does keep on growing…. which means, conversely that, at least when growth does stall, so too do carbon emissions….

 

…it also gives us an important topic for dialogue with the movement for deep change that has suddenly emerged in tents in cities all over the world, a movement focused on seeking to challenge a crisis of injustice whose roots are the banking system.

 

Policy making as an in club… of addicts

So problem number one is that, if you argue the case for policies that would cut emissions adequately, you will be arguing for the ultimate heresy, no-growth economics, and you will get ignored by the growth junkies – at the same time however we have something important to say to the movement in the street.

 

That’s not all either. Most kinds of addicts share their lifestyle with others – it is so hard to give up their addiction not only because of a brain-chemical dependency but because it means giving up on a social network. That’s partly why groups like Alcoholics Anonymous work so well – AA gives another social network based on staying off the drink.

 

Money and energy junkies are not that different. Inside the addiction circle of very important people it is difficult to get a look-in for other ideas anyway. Policy is largely formulated by officials in a dialogue with vested interests or ‘stakeholders’. Some lobbyists are much more influential than others. These are the ones well connected to people who own newspapers or other mass media and the journalists working for them. To a large extent public relation companies set the agenda. People of influence have been to the same public schools as the politicians, meet regularly in the same clubs, set up their own think tanks, set up foundations to fund pet causes and operate both behind-the-scenes – or in front of the cameras – all in a way that people without money and time are unable to do. It is in this way that the 1% consolidate their position in the corridors of power.

 

Regulatory Capture

This helps explain what is called “regulatory capture”. The officials working for ministries and public departments which are supposed to regulate private interests instead develop a cosy relationship with those same interests. It seems quite natural for people in a particular economic sector, who have some knowledge of it, to apply for jobs in the regulatory agencies. Likewise people in government, and in the regulatory agencies, regularly take jobs in the very same sectors which they previously had a role in regulating. It is true in the banking sector, which, as an increasing number of people are aware, has taken over and neutralised state regulation. It is also, to a very large degree, true in the energy sector.

 

Nobody likes to maintain stressful confrontational relationships with others over long periods. It is more congenial when relationships between regulators and regulated are cosy. Then poachers and gamekeepers can switch roles from time to time too. People outside the comfortable clubs, who are losing out, may try to rock the boat to get a problem dealt with – but will often need considerable resources and endurance to maintain pressure to get anything done, particularly if it involves bad vibes.

 

If they have that endurance, the resources and a good case, outsiders like critical NGOs may, in some cases, be an embarrassment – so they may then be co-opted. Concessions may be made and the critics are allowed to join the club and become instead a force for inertia. Their radical rhetoric gives the appearance that the democratic and consultative system is working.

 

In the relationship between governments and commercial interests there are few businesses more powerful than the fossil energy companies and the industries closely connected to them – e.g pharmaceuticals. Wherever one looks in the world fossil energy companies and states exist in a symbiotic relationship. Political economic power goes with the deployment of technologies, infrastructures and armaments that use huge quantities of fossil energy. The companies that deliver that energy are therefore of strategic importance and are tightly bound into governments. It is not exaggerating too much to say that either energy companies own the state or, in some cases, are owned by the state. A revolving door relationship exists at the highest level between the personnel of the energy companies and those of governments. What’s more, support for democracy takes second place when it comes to securing fossil energy – one has only to point to the cosy relationship between western governments and the autocrats in oil producing countries like Saudi Arabia. Perhaps only the banks have more influence than the energy corporations.

 

It is against this huge inertia that climate policy in general, and cap and share in particular, have to be developed. The capacity of the political system and vested interests to fundamentally reform themselves is very limited.

 

On first impressions, given this context, the situation appears to be pretty hopeless. It is certainly an illusion to imagine that a clearly articulated argument about the survival of life on Earth, and social justice, is enough to make a difference in the policy arena as thus described. Even brilliantly expressed arguments can be ignored and they are ignored. One can even define power as ‘the ability to ignore’. The higher up the political hierarchy one goes the better at ignoring other ideas and agendas the post holders become. Indeed they have to ignore others because the number of issues that they have to deal with becomes too great. Power holders choose their agendas for focus and ignore the rest. In this regard the whole purpose of seeking power is to pursue one’s own agenda choices.

 

The source of change lies outside the mainstream

However, this is to misunderstand the sources of change, which lie outside the mainstream. The physicist Max Planck described how change occurs in science – and his words also give us a clue as to how it might possibly change in society and in the economy too:

 

“An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way rapidly winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarised with the idea from the beginning” [5]

 

The alternatives to the present log jam have to be constructed outside the political and economic mainstream. Preparations are needed for a rapid transfer over to a new system that is running in embryo when things begin to breakdown, when an older generation flounder and prove quite unable to understand what is going on and quite incapable of coping.

 

How that might happen has been explored in various writings by different authors and activists who have looked for concept systems that put their local and limited activities in a broader context. The slogan “Think global and act local” is now well known and much recent thought has gone into working out, more exactly, what the phrase, “think global” actually means and how it touches on local practice. In cities all over the world an active movement for change is seeking for how this be done – refusing to prematurely focus on demands, because there is a realisation that this is a complex task and if you are going a long way you need to travel slowly.

 

Big Ideas and Grand Narratives – for inspirational intrinsic motivations

We are entering a period of great economic and social turmoil and millions of people are showing clearly that they are yearning for a clear way forward out of the chaos. This will be a time when people will be looking for big picture explanations as to what is happening and big picture credible ideas as to the way out. Policies and ideas for climate change mitigation must become an integral part of these big picture narratives. It is important that our ideas are there otherwise the mass movements will be in danger of over-simplifying, thinking that if only we get rid of the bankers then all our problems will be solved.

 

New arrangements and new thinking about the management of commons is part of the big picture for a future transformation. People are much more prepared to do “their bit” when they feel that what they are doing is part of a larger whole. This gives greater meaning to lives which would otherwise be small because lived in the pursuit of trivial purposes.

 

In times of turmoil people struggle to understand the bigger picture and embrace new purposes which provide a focus for new intrinsic motivations. As they struggle to understand, to orientate themselves, and to find a way forward that makes sense, they discover causes for themselves in the sense explained by Arnold Bennett. (“A cause may be inconvenient, but it’s magnificent. It’s like champagne or high heels, and one must be prepared to suffer for it”).

 

This should be compared to the approach of mainstream economics to climate change which proposes that we be nudged towards climate mitigation by changes in prices. It suggests that we need to be “incentivised” – and that we will make money or save money by doing climate mitigation – an approach that relies on extrinsic motivations.

 

In complete contrast to solving the climate crisis through cash based incentives we need a “Big Idea” which will provide a focus for intrinsic motivations – creating a movement of people working to protect and share common resources. That “Big Idea” is a programme for commons management arising out of a convergence of thinking from different places and requiring new structures and processes based on collaborative networks.

 

It is beginning to happen. In the years and months before the camps of tents people and movements who have seen their role as protecting common natural resources (the oceans, the atmosphere, fresh water resources) are coming together in a dialogue with those who have realised that they are creating and seeking to defend an “information commons”. In the internet, resources like linux, wikipedia and other design processes are effectively creating resources for free in peer to peer work relationships – which corporations try to recapture and enclose to privatise the value created by others for themselves.

 

“The commons” is therefore a key “big idea” for a policy and ideological platform. Cap and share, as well as our other climate policy approaches, needs to be clearly contextualised as an approach that fits best with the management of the earth’s atmosphere and climate as a common resource, co-managed and shared by all for the benefit of all, including future generations.

 

It should be acknowledged here that there is a point of view that big idea explanations which a signpost the future, ‘grand narratives’ as they are called, are unwanted and dangerous. The fear is that signposting “inevitable and necessary futures” for billions of people to march towards would bring new tyrannies into being. This implies that if we develop global policies like cap and share to deal with global problems then inevitably we need global bureaucratic hierarchies with immense power. The worry is that these bureaucracies will, in turn, morph into new top down regimes. Such tyrannies will have great power because, in the face of the big picture which underpins them ideologically, the grandeur and importance of the end – preventing runaway climate change and ecological collapse – would justify any means.

 

But the point here is that cap and share does not require a big bureaucracy. It is appealing because of its very simplicity.

 

It is certainly true that a great deal would need to be done to adjust to, and cope with, a rapidly tightening cap. A lot of things will have to be done at the level of households, communities, and in each locality. In each case there will be a need for a unique and location-specific transformation of energy technologies, buildings, production systems, as well as cultivational landscapes and transport configurations.

 

The Great Transition

Another way of thinking about the tasks at hand is to use the ideas of the “Great Transition”. [6] The authors and activists who are developing this overarching framework describe the economy and society as existing in three zones or spheres: a cultural landscape, the dominant economic and political regime and a realm of niche alternatives.

The “cultural landscape” consists of the common motivations of the people in a society and the narratives that the people use to understand the way the world works and their place in it – this is dominant culture of that society.

 

The culture is embedded and embodied in a second sphere – the economic and political “regimes”. These are the powerful institutions that take decisions and allocate resources that have already been described as tightly integrated together. Most of the effort of NGOs and civil society organisations is currently focused on trying to influence these regimes. But as we have seen, these efforts are often too weak and are frequently ignored – or where they do have an impact they tend to be co-opted and then neutralised.

 

Nevertheless a third zone does exist as a potential source of change. It is not currently very large but it can be found as a place of niche experiments, of small scale developmental projects. In the theory of the “Great Transition” these niche experiments are described as “seed projects”. They are run on motivations and narratives which do not fit into the cultural mainstream. If you talk to people in Transition Initiatives, in community gardens, or urban farms, or community energy projects you will typically find that they share a similar story about how the future is likely to look, or how they would like it to look. You will find too that they are much more committed to helping vulnerable people and not in it primarily to make money for themselves. [7]

 

“Seed projects” like this are embodied and embedded in different motivations and narratives and represent an alternative culture. It is by these projects developing further, networking together, becoming stronger that they might start to look more credible as the embryonic basis of new regime, a new economy that is more appropriate to the troubled times.

 

Since climate change is a system problem, rooted in the use of fossil energy to power a “consume more – bigger – faster” economy, an economy that is getting more unequal all the time, it follows that a lot more than a single policy will be required to get to deal with it. A system change is needed – but how does one achieve system change? It is one thing to explain how the current system works, it is quite another to explain how a transition is to be made from this system to another one that is non destructive. Agreeing what the transition will look like, and then making it happen, in a collective social process is the task at hand. And it is a very challenging task. Nor are we likely to find many mainstream businesses lending a hand as they have an inbuilt growth imperative. This is a task for people – not people playing roles in institutions.

 

Variants of the Great Transition

The commons and the Great Transition are just two of a growing number of ‘bigger picture’ approaches to what we have to do. There are many different people around the world attempting to envisage what a new system would be like and how it might emerge as the further development of current projects and practices. Despite superficial differences of approach the different eco-social “visions of the future” have a lot in common. These different approaches are mostly compatible and can converge with one another.

 

For example, from Germany there are ideas being developed about how to develop a “solidarity economy” – which is forseen as emerging from the development and networking of co-operatives, social and community enterprises focused on ecological and energy goals, community energy companies, community gardens, community supported agriculture and the like.[8]

 

Then there are the ideas of the Transition Movement, originated in the UK and Ireland and now globally spread – a town and city based mixture of practical projects and reskilling activities which bring communities together around a positive vision of energy descent.[9]

 

There are ideas too developed by the Decroissance (Degrowth) Movement in France and the Post Wachstum (Post Growth) Movement in Germany, as well as the “Steady State Economy” thinkers in the UK and USA. [10] [11] [12] Under these ‘umbrellas’ thinkers and practitioners of alternative economics have come together. They seek to counterpose different lifestyles, economic arrangements and the projects associated with them to the growth fetishism in the economic and cultural mainstream. Major conferences on the theme of post growth economics have occurred in Barcelona, Paris and Berlin over the last few years. The conference in Berlin in May 2011 was attended by 2,500 people, many of them young. This is an up and coming generation who will make the future. When we write about the reduction of carbon emissions up to 2050 we are talking about the bulk of their working lives. What they think and the ideas they share will be the future “Zeitgeist”.

 

As is obvious these movements are best visualised as overlapping networks of smaller groups, either of campaigners and/or of project activities – whose ideas are mostly either very similar, or at least mutually compatible and non competitive.

 

Thus what seems to be emerging is not an “alternative system” like “socialism” and/or “communism” was envisaged to be – a centralised, pre-conceived system created and driven through top down hierarchical relationships and established through a violent seizure of state power. Rather this is a gradual ‘bottom upwards’ process of local level projects and groups that are networking and cross fertilising in a variety of local, national and international forums. Nor is this an internationalisation that is merely between the rich countries. There has been participation by groups and communities from countries of the south in these discussions which have been more than formal and tokenistic. For example, the ideas of ‘Buen Vivir’ from indigenous communities in Bolivia and Ecuador, pre-colonial ideas of a good life with harmony between peoples and with nature, have been important in shaping the understanding how to motivate and guide a good life beyond growth.[13]

 

In his book Sacred Unrest Paul Hawken suggests that there are perhaps a half million organisations around the world focused on local economic development, environmental and social justice, and the rights of indigenous people.[14] The characteristics of all these organisations are their huge diversity. Yet they can evolve together in a coherent way. As Elinor Ostrom has argued, it will require a poly centric and multi level approach if the variety of each group, appropriate to the place it operates, is to be recognised and continued and yet, at the same time, the very different groups are to operate together coherently. [15] What is required here is not a top-down bureaucracy which would be incapable of coping with the variety. We need, instead, a network of active groups in which each node has a high level of autonomy and in which overall coherence is created by mutually adaptive arrangements, activated horizontally only as and when needed. Such mutual adaptation between autonomous nodes of activity would be organised to minimise conflicts, maximise synergy, to create and share information about evolving operating environments and to share and create joint value systems to facilitate the common sense of purpose. The ideas here parallel those of the late Stafford Beer and his Viable Systems Model, with its approach to networked management and nested organisations. [16]

 

This kind of networked coming together is the best hope for the world. It is out of this coming together that we can see how climate action and policy can be shaped in the future. In the meta systems that then emerge to link local level responses we will find ourselves creating a new operating environment in which firstly local government and then national governments will find themselves operating – having a powerful influence on their policy making process. The only sustainable and resilient world economy, an economy which is not climate destructive, is based on a re-localisation of economies. So it is through the networking of local initiatives to grow a greater power that a coherent response to climate change can be developed.[17]

 

It is processes like these which make it credible to believe that in the future a Climate Trust of the type envisaged by John Jopling in his chapter will emerge (see chapter 5).

This, in turn, might then provide a different kind of future as the carbon intensive regime of the old men looks less and less credible and has more and more trouble sustaining itself.

 

Generation change and Zeitgeist

There are good reasons to believe that we are entering a period in which the economy developed and managed by baby boomers on the brink of retirement will find sustaining itself very difficult. Much has been written about the impending peak of world oil production and a peak in world gas production to soon follow. Many argue that we are already at the oil peak and, in fact, on a plateau, so that the decline is soon to come. What is less well known is that this is occurring at a time of generation change in the oil and gas industry itself.

 

Almost exactly at the time predicted by the IEA for an energy crunch, there is a retirement peak in the oil and gas industry – and this is an international phenomenon. At the time of writing roughly half of the overall professional workforce in production and exploration are aged between 40 and 50 while barely 15% are in their early 20s to mid 30s. According to Booz Allen Research about 33% of those employed in the industry will retire by 2012. It is against this background that we should assess the oil and gas industries’ ability to rise to the technological challenges like that of successfully and safely tapping ultra deep water oil. [18] [19]

 

A similar phenomena can be found in the nuclear industry. There have been serious problems, delays and major cost overruns in the attempts to build a nuclear reactor in Finland. An article in Der Spiegel drew attention to no less than 3,000 construction faults at Olkiluoto. In large part this is because the expertise is not there and this problem is due to get worse. 40% of the personnel in US nuclear plants are due to retire soon and the industry will have to recruit 26,000 over the next decade even if it does not build a single new reactor. In 2008 however US universities turned out 841 graduates. The situation in Germany is even more alarming where between 1998 and 2002 only two students graduated in nuclear engineering prompting Areva to fund a training facility in Karlsruhe.[20]

 

At the same time any young person with an ability to read who is interested in technology and engineering and who is starting their careers are bound to have noticed that “green jobs” are being touted as much more recession proof and also that employment in “green jobs” – or in “cleantech” – are growing fast – albeit starting from a very low point. The idea that these jobs are more in tune with the future is a plausible one because, while the fossil fuel and nuclear sectors are running down with their engineers and their personnel are retiring, over the very same period “clean energy” employment is growing rapidly. This is especially the case in countries like Germany and China but it is even the case in the USA where employment in this sector grew by 9.1% per annum between 1998 and 2007. [21]

 

The point is that employment changes in terms of training and new job entry at one pole and retirement at the other pole are lagging indicators of a trend that is occurring now anyway. The twin process can be seen as a powerful reinforcing feedback in a transition that is and will occur consisting of an acceleration of the decline of traditional carbon based energy sectors and creating an upward dynamic in those replacing them.

 

A contested and confusing transition

Notwithstanding, caution is needed. The employment and generational transition is not occurring, and will not occur, without conflicts and considerable contestation. There is obviously a battle opening up around what the future energy system will be like – gas, nuclear or renewables. These are alternatives and it is not easy for governments to have a mixture.

 

The crisis at the nuclear reactor at Fukushima after the earthquake and the Tsunami, a crisis which will clearly not go away and which will run for months and months, perhaps year after year, has been a serious blow to the nuclear sector. It has had its greatest effect in Germany where the country appears to have decided to stake its future much more on renewable energy. At the time of writing Germany is looking at how it will upgrade and change its grid to make this possible – perhaps by adapting and upgrading the electric power lines of the railways, thus minimising the nimby backlash. [22]

 

Simultaneously the oil and gas industry are contesting moves towards a future based on renewable energy. They want political backing for the further development of fossil fuels and, in particular, supporting for so called “unconventional gas” – by technologies which drill into and shatter shale rock formations to release the gas trapped in them.

 

In the USA shale gas development has become hugely controversial. There are environmental and health effects from the toxic materials that have been used and released into surrounding rocks, water, the atmosphere and soils. In the UK shale gas has been associated with an earthquake near Blackpool. Shale gas is controversial too because the fracking production process, as well as pumping gas from production source to its place of combustion, has been found to entail significant leakage. The natural gas thus leaked, mainly methane, is itself a powerful source of global warming. These facts are undermining the claim that natural gas a source of relatively climate friendly energy. Fracking has been banned in France – but it looks as if it will go ahead in the UK.[23] [24] [25]

 

The change in energy system is thus contested and its outcome unclear. Nevertheless the fall in oil production after peak is likely to be fast and we are witnessing processes that will progressively change the conditions in which all governments operate. If governments fail to recognise what is going on at this point in time it is because they are still operating under the influence of old men and old financial institutions. The new networks of groups that were described earlier are not strong enough to impose their ideas and will on the state. Will this change soon?

 

The political system – waking up a bit late to impending chaos

What we have been witnessing are the thrashing agonies of a dying energy system that is using its traditional links and grip on the political system to try to maintain its influence. This influence is, however, beginning to wane. The death agony is well covered up by PR and spin but it is a death agony without doubt.

 

The political establishment and vested interests have been very resistant to change. As a result we are entering a period of crisis with a woefully unprepared political system. Crises like this are periods of danger but they are also periods of opportunity – because it becomes clear to thinking people that things cannot go on in the same way. It is the preparation for such a generalised crisis that we must now apply ourselves to.

 

As is generally recognised, the full force of the climate crisis lies some way in the future. However, if not enough is done in the next few years then, by the time the terrifyingly destructive impacts are felt it will be too late to do anything meaningful. The effects will keep on rolling relentlessly for centuries. Nevertheless, here and now, the energy and economic system is about to enter a period of convulsion anyway. Cap and share and our climate policies thus need to be made fit for purpose as part of a package that millions of people identify with as being necessary to deal with the structural problems, not in the future but now.

 

An immediate future of great uncertainty

There are arguments that what we can still do will not be enough when measured against the huge necessities for change required for substantive climate mitigation. This is the argument of Clive Hamilton in his widely praised the book Requiem for a Species. However Hamilton assumes that the recession unleashed by the credit crisis which has stabilised global emissions is merely a temporary problem.

 

This is very unlikely to be the case. As argued it is very probable that we are now in a period of economic instability because of peak oil and peak debt which will continue. Although emissions bounced backed strikingly in 2010 after the recession, one must wonder how long the “recovery” will continue.

 

In important respects, the instability will not help. Worse case scenarios suggest that the interaction between declining oil supplies and the fragile financial system could cause huge dislocations and these, in turn, could undermine the basis for large scale engineering solutions to energy shortages and the carbon crisis. Under these worse case scenarios the deflationary collapse of the economic system, which at the time of writing seems very likely, would lead to a disintegration of the very fabric of complex economic organisation needed to deliver the components for a renewable based rebuild of the energy infrastructure.

 

Nevertheless one can turn the pessimistic argument on its head. In the face of floundering economic, industrial and ecological policy in the next few years the best thing to help would be to unify and mobilise all of society behind a major investment programme for energy and agricultural transformation – before it is too late. When societies are in chaos, malevolent elites pick a fight with neighbouring countries and an external enemy creates internal cohesion. An elite that finally realises it must fight to prevent a breakdown of the energy system instead of an external enemy might be able to pull things round.

 

Alternatively this idea of a global fight to renew the energy and the cultivation systems, particularly in a way that stresses commons can provide a large part of the unifying vision for the movements of the streets, offering work and justice at the same time. Once underway, the accumulation of renewable energy equipment and its infrastructure would create its own self feeding dynamic, delivering more energy than it costs to build up. In that kind of future context there is some kind of vision of hope against mass destitution which a collapsing finance sector is bringing down on our heads.

 

There do seem to be huge opportunities for renewable energy systems – in particular offshore wind energy around the UK and concentrated solar power in southern countries and deserts. There are also opportunities for considerable reductions in energy consumption. There are arguments that, for example, the energy return on energy invested in offshore wind are considerable and the scale of the engineering challenge is no greater than the previous construction of an offshore oil infrastructure.[26]

 

The open question – Chaos or Grand Transition?

It will be challenging. In some parts of the political system a few officials and politicians are just beginning to get a belated understanding of this. Although there is a great reluctance to transform the energy economy in face of climate change there is the first dawning of a recognition that the energy economy will have to be transformed because of peak oil. The code words for ‘peak oil’ in business and government are ‘energy security’. Some parts of the business establishment too have finally acknowledged the message of peak oil and are looking at what will be done about it. Although the peak oil and climate imperatives are not identical they do overlap.

 

With this growing awareness the danger is that politicians and business will take the wrong decisions. The peaking of conventional oil could worsen climate change by driving an increased use of more carbon intensive substitutes and biomass. In order to keep global temperatures within 2°C or preindustrial levels, cumulative CO2 emissions must be kept well below the amount per would be produced from burning the remaining proven economically recoverable fossil fuel reserves.

 

Nevertheless, there is an increasing recognition that if the energy system must be transformed it makes more sense to deal with climate change and peak oil at the same time. Some can see already that it is a dead-end to try to use the remaining fossil fuels and that it makes more sense to go directly over to renewables.

 

An example is the Centre for Alternative Technology’s second edition of Zero Carbon Britain – Zero Carbon Britain 2030 – in which cap and share is described as one of a number of possible policies in the framework that will be needed to drive decarbonisation. [27] Another example of cap and share in a general package of policies from our own ranks is the Holyrood 350 Programme for Scotland. [28]

 

Another example of a policy which connects action on energy security (peak oil) with action on climate change is a Lloyds/Chatham house report on sustainable energy security. This argues that:

 

“Energy security is now inseparable from the transition to a low carbon economy and business plans should prepare for this new reality. Security of supply and emissions reductions objectives should be addressed equally as prioritising one over the other will increase the risk of stranded investments or requirements for expensive retrofitting.” [29]

 

In summary we can expect to see energy transformation being pushed up the political agenda. In the best scenarios we would expect to see a search for new and more effective, policy mechanisms for carbon reduction occuring too. This is because, while it is becoming blindingly obvious that these are absolutely core issues, the global political establishment has clearly shunted itself into a dead end in trying to do something about these issues.

 

The Copenhagen Debacle

In this regard there is a most extraordinary situation opening up. For all the reasons explained at the beginning of this chapter the global political and economic elite have totally failed to provide anything at all credible in the way of a response to the climate crisis and energy crisis. The collapse of the UNFCCC process at Copenhagen and the collapse of Obama’s efforts to introduce climate legislation in the USA can be seen as a stalemate between an old energy order and political system and a new one that is not yet powerful enough to emerge and make its dynamic the dominating one. The energy system of the old men and old money is still too powerful. But, as we have seen most of these old men will have gone in a very few years – and the carbon energy that they supply, and which is their power basis will be in precipitate decline.

 

We are, in short, moving towards a situation where policies like cap and share and a carbon maintenance fund to prevent loss of soil carbon need to be argued for as part of packages of transformation in order to avert a generalised collapse caused by the wooden headedness of fixated old men. The support for the new developments will largely have to be found outside the political mainstream in the emerging new movements that were mentioned earlier in this chapter.

 

Through the projects and networks of these movements only so much can be done in energy efficiency and carbon reduction at the household community and local level if there is not some wider framework to “lock in” what is achieved. Without an adequate framework the improvements that are made would be immediately lost because of “rebound effects” of the type explored by Nick Bardsley in his chapter. Also, the energy and carbon saved in one place would be squandered by irresponsible people and companies in another place. These community-based activities will inevitably be driven by a stronger prioritisation for social justice issues and the share in cap and share will be more attractive and influential here.

 

The key idea here, to return to the idea of indirectness, is that climate policies need to be not just head on attempts to tackle climate change but ideas for society – for reconstructing energy systems, for maintaining macro economic activity and employment (if not growth), for expressing new ideas of social justice and also for making clear how we are going to look after each other. Let us now turn to these points.

 

The macro economics of climate policy and the politics of rent at the limits to growth

Given the wider picture we should not forget that cap and share can be promoted not only for driving decarbonisation but because of its effect on purchasing power as energy prices rise. Cap and share has more to offer than as a driver of climate mitigation alone. After peak oil each new impetus to economic recovery is likely to lead to a spike in oil prices that will, in turn, crash the world economy. This volatility will not help long run structural changes and nor give the security needed to encourage productive investment in new energy systems.

 

As fossil energy prices soar upwards many non-marginal energy producers will, for example, still be supplying from fields with low production costs. During the price spikes they will be raking in money way above their production costs and there will be a transfer of what economists call “scarcity rents” to these producers. (Rent is here the large amount of money made when there are high prices because of high demand and scarcity even though some producers are still able to pump oil and gas relatively cheaply). These “rents” will be taken from the pockets of everyone else. Rent transfers like this unbalance the economy, lead to unrest and bring on the next crash.

 

Beyond the “limits to growth” there is still room for money junkies to get rich if we let our unjust system continue – not because of their inventiveness, or their enterprise, or what they produce, but because they succeed in cornering the ownership of the scarce resources that everyone needs – energy, the atmosphere, fresh water, land, food commodities… and then are able to charge a high price, enriching themselves while the poor are driven into destitution. This threatens to be a 21st-century “politics of rent” and we have to find answers to it.

 

From this point of view, arrangements like cap and share have a wider relevance. It is necessary to manage the Earth’s atmosphere as a global commons for which we are all equally responsible, in a way that ensures that, when there are benefits to be had, we all get them – also ensuring that particular groups are not unfairly burdened. The energy transformation should be arranged in such a way as to ensure that the mass of the global population get a share from the sale of permits. This will balance purchasing power, moderate the contractionary process and part-provide some of the capital resources needed to help people transform their homes and gardens. At the same time it can help provide the incentives and stability for large investments, like offshore wind, where there are the resources, the capacity and will for these to be developed.

 

Similar principles need to be applied, adapted to context, across other natural and human commons – including in the monetary system regarded as a Commons. Earlier we explained that the debt based money system is a major part of the problem. It has no reverse gear and is implicated in the growth fixation of mainstream politics. That’s because the money commons has been privatised in the interests of the moneylenders and a major part of the overhaul that is needed is to transform the money system too – to manage it in the interests of everyone.

 

Commons resources should be managed in the interests of all – including future generations who should inherit them intact and healthy – the oceans, fresh water supplies, land rent and the like. That means not only policies but appropriate institutional architectures. These are major agenda items but it seems unlikely that top down policies from governments will emerge until a lot of bottom upwards improvisation from grass roots movements of the type described earlier has been tried and been found to be practical and workable. [30]

 

Conclusion

 

To sum up, the existing economic and political system has proved incapable up to now of embracing anything like an adequate level of climate mitigation. It can be argued plausibly that it is already too late to prevent runaway climate change. It is certainly touch and go. There is nothing inevitable about the future. Nevertheless it is clear that we are entering a period of economic, social and political turmoil brought about by peak oil, peak debt and the decomposition of a political system that millions of people now regard as corrupt and not to be trusted. There is increasing recognition even in parts of the business elite that major changes in the transformation of the energy system are going to be needed and that it does not make sense to deal separately with peak oil and climate change. In this context the relevance of policy ideas like cap and share to these other problems must be made clear and such policies firmly located in packages for transformation.

 

What is still not a clear is how far governments are capable of contributing to the new future. There is an argument that states are being increasingly hollowed out and incapable of real social and ecological leadership. It has been argued, for example by Naomi Klein, that states are led by parties functioning as brands, backed by PR machines, intent on organising society to whatever the financiers want. It is certainly this view that makes most sense of the utter failure of the state to control the financial markets and the financial sector. [31]

 

Of course, we want government support for what we are doing if they will give it – but meanwhile if there is indifference and hostility from governments then we must get on and set up the organisations that we need. We can do that by setting up organisations where we are and then networking them together. When we do this we do it in the hope that there will be a supportive government buy-in later, when pressured by our movements with their different commons based ideologies and their practical community relevance on the ground. If we cannot get governments to do the job we must move to set up the organisations that we need and then struggle to win them the power to do the job directly. At the current time governments will not go against the elite consensus – but in the profound turmoil ahead we should not underestimate the extent to which power relationships will change if we are well organised, with clear ideas that attract a mass following.

 

In this context it makes sense to evolve a package of economic energy and climate policies to address the different crises together – financial, energy, climate, cultivational. Such packages of policies which seek to reconfigure the world we live in have already begun to appear – like “Zero Carbon Britain 2030” and the programme of “Holyrood 350” in Scotland. These programmes will be immeasurably strengthened by being based in new forms of networked commons organisations operating with charters of rights and responsibilities that they win from the existing political system.

 

To fully complete the reconfiguration of our economy and society we need to connect with the emerging movements with new ideas that captures rights to defend the commons and new ways of managing them which do not rely on yet another top-heavy bureaucracy.

 

Original article: http://www.sharingforsurvival.org/index.php/what-do-we-do-about-climate-change-brian-davey/

 

 

 

Endnotes

 

1. John Kay, Obliquity, Profile Books, 2010.

2. Tim Jackson, Prosperity without Growth?, Sustainable Development Commission, 2009

3. Roy Madron and John Jopling, Gaian Democracies, Schumacher Briefings/Green Books, 2003

4. Clive Hamilton, Requiem for a Species, Earthscan, 2010, p33.

5. Max Planck, The Philosophy Of Physics, W. W. Norton & Co. 1963

6. http://www.smart-csos.org/

7. See for example, Nadia Johanisova, Living in the Cracks, Feasta/Green Books, 2005

8. http://www.solidarische-oekonomie.de

9. www.transitionnetwork.org

10. www.decroissance.org

11. www.jenseits-des-wachstums.de

12. http://steadystate.org

13. Thomas Fatheuer, Buen Vivir, Hsg. Heinrich Boell Stiftung, Band 17, 2011

14. Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest, Penguin Books, 2007

15. Elinor Ostrom, A Multiscale Approach to Coping with Climate Change and other collective action problems, http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/565

16. Stafford Beer, Think before you Think, Wavestone Press, 2009, pp134-157. See also Jon Walker’s article at http://www.esrad.org.uk/resources/vsmg_3/screen.php?page=preface

17. Richard Douthwaite, Short Circuit: Strengthening Local Economies in an Unstable World, online edition, June 2003 downloadable at http://www.feasta.org/2003/06/16/short-circuit/

18. Jodie Humphries, Oil and gas workforce – a shortage in skilled labour, Jodie Humphries August 2010 at http://www.ngoilgasmena.com/article/oil-and-gas-workforce-a-shortage-in-skilled-labour/

19. www.cres.ch/Documents/SKILLS%20SHORTAGE%20PART%20I%20pdf.pdf

20. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,655409-2,00.html

21. http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/40051

22. “Germany explores using Train Lines as a Power Grid” http://www.spiegel.de/international/ germany/0,1518,758698,00.html

23. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/9255520.stm

24. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/04/us/04gas.html?_r=2&hp

25. Robert W Howard, Renee Santoro, Antony Ingraffea, “Methane and the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations. A letter.” Climatic Change, Accepted March 2011

26. http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/blogs/greeninc/Howarth2011.pdf

27. The Offshore Valuation Group, A Valuation of the UK’s offshore renewable energy resource,

published by the Public Interest Resource Centre, 2010

28. www.zerocarbonbritain.com

29. http://holyrood350.org

30. Lloyds/Chatham House Report “White Paper. Sustainable energy security. Strategic risks and opportunities for business” www.chathamhouse.org.uk/files/16720_0610_froggatt_lahn.pdf

31. www.boell.de/economysocial/economy/economy-commons-10451.html

32. http://www.alternet.org/media/145218/naomi_klein:_how_corporate_branding_took_over_the_white_ house?page=entire

 

 

Links:

[1] http://www.sharingforsurvival.org/index.php/what-do-we-do-about-climate-change-brian-davey/

[2] http://www.sharingforsurvival.org/index.php/contents/

[3] http://www.smart-csos.org/

[4] http://www.solidarische-oekonomie.de

[5] http://www.transitionnetwork.org/

[6] http://www.decroissance.org/

[7] http://www.jenseits-des-wachstums.de/

[8] http://steadystate.org/

[9] http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/565

[10] http://www.esrad.org.uk/resources/vsmg_3/screen.php?page=preface

[11] http://www.feasta.org/2003/06/16/short-circuit/

[12] http://www.ngoilgasmena.com/article/oil-and-gas-workforce-a-shortage-in-skilled-labour/

[13] http://www.cres.ch/Documents/SKILLS%20SHORTAGE%20PART%20I%20pdf.pdf

[14] http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,655409-2,00.html

[15] http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/40051

[16] http://www.spiegel.de/international/ germany/0,1518,758698,00.html

[17] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/9255520.stm

[18] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/04/us/04gas.html?_r=2&hp

[19] http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/blogs/greeninc/Howarth2011.pdf

[20] http://www.zerocarbonbritain.com/

[21] http://holyrood350.org/

[22] http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/files/16720_0610_froggatt_lahn.pdf

[23] http://www.boell.de/economysocial/economy/economy-commons-10451.html

[24] http://www.alternet.org/media/145218/naomi_klein:_how_corporate_branding_took_over_the_white_%20house?page=entire

Rainwater Harvesting – Native Seeds/SEARCH free monthly salon – July 16

Free, at Native Seeds/SEARCH Retail Store, 3061 N. Campbell Ave. (just south of Ft. Lowell)

Rainwater Harvesting

Leona Davis, Education and Advocacy Coordinator
Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

Harvest those wonderful monsoon rains. Learn about the benefits of rainwater harvesting both in the soil and in storage tanks. Gain an understanding of the cost, system sizing, and materials involved in a variety of home rainwater harvesting systems.

Occupy Arcology – ecological city design lecture & discussion – June 26

Free, at Historic Y conference room, 738 North 5th Ave (at University)

 

OCCUPY ARCOLOGY LECTURE – June 26

Come be a part of a lecture and lively discussion on Occupy Arcology. In this part of the lecture series, hosted by Occupy Tucson’s Doctress Neutopia, we will focus on the question of ecology and economy within the context of an arcology (ecological city design). Any knowledge you have about alternative economics—alternative currencies, time banks, labor relationships, the rights of nature, etc, are welcome in our discussion. So, please come and share your wisdom and knowledge.

Some of the questions to be raised in the discussion are:

What kind of economy fosters health and sustainability with our natural resources?
How do we move into a no-growth, zero-carbon city?
How would William McDonough’s “cradle-to-cradle industrials” move us beyond 20th Century industrials that are polluting our world?
What kind of labor-force is needed to construct an evolutionary city design?
Do we need a new definition of work?
What would a feminist economy, outlined in Riane Eisler’s book The Real Wealth of Nations, look like?
How do we convert military monies into building solar-powered arcologies so that a peace time economy can lead us into a beautiful future?

When: Tuesday June 26th, 2012
Time: 5:00 – 6:30 P.M.
Place: Historic Y’s conference room, 738 North 5th Ave (at University)

For More Info: Contact doctress(at)lovolution.net

Also see http://www.lovolution.net/MainPages/arcology/arcology.htm

A pre-monsoon storm of water harvesting activity – Free workshops May 14 thru 26

Watershed Management Group’s Sweat Equity Co-op is ending its 2012 pre monsoon season with a storm of rain water implementation workshops that are free and open to the public. Snacks and liquid refreshments are always provided.

Come on out and learn how to get the most out of your home’s natural resources, and find out how WMG’s Co-op is working to make sustainable home retrofits accessible, affordable, and enjoyable for all its participants.

Scheduled so far are,

Rain barrel building workshop – May 14, Monday 8 am – 1 pm

Bushmann tank installation – May 19, Saturday 8 am – 1 pm

Bushmann tank installation – May 20, Sunday 7 am – 12 pm

Bushmann tank installation – May 22, Tuesday 7 am – 12 pm

Earthworks Workshop – May 24, Thursday 7 am – 12 pm

Earthworks Workshop – May 25, Friday 7 am – 12 pm

Driveway Rip Workshop – May 26, Saturday 7 am – 12 pm

Please see our events calendar for more details – watershedmg.org/calendar-tucson
For more information about the Co-op program, visit our website here – watershedmg.org/co-op

Watershed Management Groupwww.watershedmg.org

Water Harvesting Lecture Series – May 4-7

 

at St. Mark’s Church, 3809 E. 3rd Street
 
Open to the public, $25 per session

 

Water Harvesting Lecture Series

Watershed Management Group’s Water Harvesting Certification program provides the highest quality and greatest depth of training in integrative water harvesting offered in the nation.

We’re opening four of the lectures from our upcoming Tucson Certification course in May to the public — an ideal opportunity for people interested in learning more about water harvesting, but not ready or able to commit to our full nine-day Water Harvesting Certification. And we’re offering each lecture for just $25 a session.

All presenters are dynamic educators and experts in their fields, and whose informative and accessible introduction to water-harvesting design concepts will inspire you to make the most of your water resources at home.

The four-session series includes:

May 4 Friday, 10 a.m. to noon

Water Harvesting Earthworks – Instructor James DeRoussel. Learn design and application of basins, berms, swales, terraces, and french drains. This lecture covers lot-scale to watershed-scale practices with information on soils, landscape materials, and integration with plants. Click here to register

May 5 Saturday, 3 to 5 p.m.

Water Harvesting for Food Production – Instructor Brad Lancaster. Brad’s lecture covers a diverse range of agricultural applications from backyard to large-scale systems, showing how rainwater and greywater can enhance food production while conserving water. This lecture happens right before our Second Annual Local Foods Iron Chef fundraiser — so you can learn how to sustainably grow foods to support a locavore diet, then enjoy an evening eating local-foods delectables! Click here to register

May 7 Monday, 1 to 3 p.m.

Cisterns – Instructor Mark Ragel, owner of Water Harvesting International. Mark presents a comprehensive overview of cistern systems from guttering, filtration, storage, and distribution, including best management practices and cistern types for different applications. Click here to register

May 7 Monday, 3 to 5 p.m.

Greywater Systems – Instructor Brad Lancaster. Greywater systems harvest water from laundry machines, bathroom sinks and showers, and air conditioning condensate.  Learn how to reuse greywater in your yard, with a focus on gravity-fed systems, plumbing considerations, and appropriate uses. Click here to register

Pre-registration and pre-payment is required for each session. All lectures will be held at St. Mark’s Church, 3809 E. 3rd Street, Tucson.

Please contact Rhiwena Slack at rslack(at)watershedmg.org or 520-396-3266 with questions.

Plan Tucson – Urban Design Policy Working Group – Feb 29

Plan Tucson – Smart Growth Focus Area
Redevelopment and Revitalization Policy Working Group

Meeting Invitation for Wednesday February 29, 2012

Subject: Plan Tucson – Redevelopment and Revitalization Policy Working Group Meeting Invitation

Dear Colleague:

We are sending you this invitation because you expressed an interest or were recommended to participate in the Urban Design Policy Working Group. The first meeting will be held on:

Wednesday February 29, 2012
1:30 – 3:30 PM (Check in starting at 1:00 PM)
Sentinel Building, First Floor
320 Commerce Park Loop, Tucson, AZ 85745

Plan Tucson staff will make a brief presentation on the status of Plan Tucson activities and the Working Group schedule. This will be followed with background information and a discussion of current initiatives in Redevelopment and Revitalization. The second part of the meeting will be devoted to a group exercise designed to begin identifying concepts that should be considered in the development of Redevelopment and Revitalization policy for Plan Tucson.

To ensure that we have sufficient material for participants, please RSVP by sending an email to plantucson(at)tucsonaz.gov and include the phrase “Will Attend Redevelopment and Revitalization Policy Working Group” in the subject line. Please include your name and affiliation in the body of the email. There will be no response to this email.

If you have any questions about this meeting or would prefer that someone else from your agency/organization be the primary contact for Plan Tucson, please send an email to plantucson(at)tucsonaz.gov and include the phrase “Redevelopment and Revitalization Policy Working Group Question or Comment” in the subject line, or call María Gayosso at (520) 837-6972.

We value your time, and thank you in advance for participating in the development of Plan Tucson.

Sincerely,

María Gayosso, Project Manager
Plan Tucson Team
City of Tucson Housing and Community Development Department

Solar Grant Applications Open Until March 21 – Technicians for Sustainability

TFS’s 2012 Solar Grant – Applications Open from now Until March 21

Technicians for Sustainability (TFS) is proud to announce the opening of our 2012 Solar Grant application process. Starting immediately we will be accepting applications until March 21st, the Spring Equinox.

The TFS grant program is funded by 1% of our revenue to help non-profit groups install renewable energy systems. This program includes both matching grants as well as full grants. The matching grant calculates the retail cost of the system, subtracts the utility rebate, and then TFS pays for 50% of the remaining amount. The full grant calculates the retail cost of the system, subtracts the utility rebate, and then TFS pays for 100% of the remaining amount.

The grant is open to nonprofits in Tucson, AZ who qualify as 501(c)(3) and who share our values of sustainability. You can find more information about the solar grant itself, past grant recipients and the application materials on our website: www.tfssolar.com/about-us/community-involvement/. If there are any questions, please contact our community outreach coordinator, Tiernay Marsh at 520-740-0736 or tiernay(at)tfssolar.com.

About Technicians For Sustainability

Technicians For Sustainability (TFS) is a locally owned, mission-driven business, committed to walking their talk. They provide businesses, public institutions, and residential homeowners with high quality, clean, renewable energy systems, helping to translate environmental values into practical reality. The company employs proven technologies to meet customers’ specific needs, including solar electricity, solar hot water heating, and water harvesting. TFS has installed over a megawatt of solar power in southern Arizona. For more information about Technicians For Sustainability visit www.tfssolar.com

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

Ten Good Things About a (Not So) Bad Year

Ten Good Things About a (Not So) Bad Year
Medea Benjamin, CommonDreams

I had the privilege of starting out the year witnessing, firsthand, the unfolding of the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square. I saw people who had been muzzled their entire lives, especially women, suddenly discovering their collective voice. Singing, chanting, demanding, creating. And that became the hallmark of the entire year–people the world over becoming empowered and emboldened simply by watching each other. Courage, we learned in 2011, is contagious!

1. The Arab Spring protests were so astounding that even Time magazine recognized “The Protester” as Person of the Year

Sparked by Tunisian vendor Mohamed Bouazizi’sself-immolation to cry out against police corruption in December 2010, the protests swept across the Middle East and North Africa—including Egypt,Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, and Jordan. So far, uprisings have toppled Tunesian President Ben Ali, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi–with more shake-ups sure to come. And women have been on the front lines of these protests, highlighted recently by the incredibly brave, unprecedented demo of 10,000 Egyptian women protesting military abuse.

2. Wisconsin caught the Spring Fever, with Madison becoming home to some 100,000 protesters opposing Governor Walker’s threat to destroy collective bargaining and blame the state’s economic woes on public workers. …

3. On September 17 Occupy Wall Street was born in the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District. Protesters railed against the banksters and corporate thieves responsible for the economic collapse.

The movement against the greed of the richest 1% spread to over 1,400 cities in the United States and globally, with newly minted activists embracing–with gusto–people’s assemblies, consensus decision-making, the people’s mic, and upsparkles. Speaking in the name of the 99%, the occupiers changed the national debate from deficits to inequality and corporate abuse. Even after facing heightened police brutality, tent city evictions, and extreme winter weather, protesters are undeterred and continue to create bold actions–from port shut-downs to moving money out of big banks. As Occupy Wall Street said, “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come.” Stay tuned for lots more occupation news in 2012.

4. After 8 long years, U.S. troops were finally withdrawn from Iraq. …

5. The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was presented to three terrific women: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia; Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian peace activist; and Yemeni pro-democracy campaigner Tawakkol Karman.

6. The bloated Pentagon budget is no longer immune from budget cuts. The failure of the super-committee means the Pentagon budget could be cut by a total of $1 trillion over the next decade — which would amount to a 23 percent reduction in the defense budget. The hawks are trying to stop the cuts, but most people are more interested in rebuilding America than fattening the Pentagon. That’s why the U.S. Conference of Mayors, for the first time since the Vietnam war, passed a resolution calling for the end to the hostilities and instead investing at home to create jobs, rebuild infrastructure and develop sustainable energy. 2011 pried open the Pentagon’s lock box. Let’s make the cuts in 2012!

7. Elizabeth Warren is running for Senate and Rep. Barbara Lee continues to inspire. …

8. Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is running for Parliament!

9. Opposition to Keystone pipeline inspired thousands of new activists, together with a rockin’ coalition of environment groups across the U.S. and Canada.

They brought the issue of the climate-killing pipeline right to President Obama’s door, with over 1,200 arrested in front of the White House. The administration heard them and ordered a new review of the project, but the Republican global warming deniers are trying to force Obama’s hand. Whatever way this struggle ends, it has educated millions about the tar sands threat and trained a new generation of environmentalists in more effective, direct action tactics that will surely result in future “wins” for the planet.

10. Following the tragic meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, the growing appetite for nuclear energy has been reversed.

(27 December 2011)

Related: 2011’s Big Wins – Brought to You by Women.

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.

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

ST January Meeting – Topics and Working Groups for 2012

at Joel D. Valdez Main Library
101 N. Stone, Downtown (free lower level parking off Alameda St)

ST December 2011 Meeting

How do we “green” our homes and neighborhoods?
How do we work together and contribute to each other?
How do we prepare for climate change?

Join us on January 9th to learn of some exciting efforts now underway in your home town to prepare for the challenges ahead.  A half-dozen of the most innovative and effective people in Tucson will distill their ideas for a sustainable Tucson into concise presentations to ignite your own ideas and enthusiasm…

» Karin Uhlich (Tucson City Council) – Re-establishing PRO Neighborhoods
» Bob Cook (NEST, Inc) – Green re-development initiative
» Dan Dorsey (Pima Community College) – Co-op Permaculture projects program
» Winona Smith (Tucson Time Traders) – Time Banking and local communities
» Tres English (Empowering Local Communities) – Secure food supply
» Ron Proctor (Sustainable Tucson) – Mobilizing for climate change

… and we’ll have a review of working group topics and project ideas from discussion tables in the ST December meeting, including

Recycling / Waste management
Composting toilets
Water use
Water harvesting
Solar Hot Water / Energy / Gas
Paradigm change
Land use planning (density, etc.)
Climate Change – Reducing greenhouse gases
Defining sustainability & adopting it legally
Food security

(This is not a complete list and can be added to… please use the comment form for this page!)

Sustainable Tucson is committed to engaging our audience in a participatory process. Following the presentations, we will ask everyone to engage in table discussions focusing on what actions we can take to make Tucson a more vibrant and sustainable community. Actions might be in the form of policy development, support of on-going projects, or the initiation of new projects.

The ideas generated will be used to develop topics and working groups for future Sustainable Tucson meetings, where in-depth presentations and audience discussions will continue. The goal is to create projects and initiatives that we believe will build our resilience as a Desert People.

also see recent 2011 Sustainable Tucson meetings,

ST December Meeting – The Politics of Sustainability
ST November Meeting – Food Security
ST October Meeting – Water Priorities
ST September Meeting – Non-GMO Food
ST August Meeting – Natural Building in the Desert
and an index of past ST Monthly / General Meetings

Doors open at 5:30 pm.
The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

Greywater Systems – Watershed Technical Training – Feb 6-8

Early registration ends January 6!

Brad Lancaster, Senior Watershed Specialist with Watershed Management Group and author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, will lead this hands-on technical training covering advanced greywater systems.

Greywater use is not only allowed by an increasing number of municipalities, it’s actively encouraged by many authorities in efforts to preserve water, reduce energy and chemical use in treatment plants, and deliver nutrients to soils.

This three-day, hands-on training course is designed to give advanced technical knowledge in greywater systems to individuals who will implement these practices in their work. In particular, this course is relevant to architects, landscape architects, permaculture designers, plumbers, developers, irrigation specialists and other professionals in the building trades.

This course will build on knowledge of greywater systems gained through WMG’s Water Harvesting Certification. The focus of this course will be on gravity-fed kitchen sink, pumped greywater systems, integrated design, policy, and plumbing best practices.

For more information about our technical trainings and Water Harvesting Certification please visit our certification and technical trainings page http://www.watershedmg.org/tech-trainings, where you can apply for the Expanded Greywater Systems training online. Or contact Rhiwena Slack, rslack(at)watershedmg.org or 520.396.3266

Community-based Green Infrastructure – Watershed Technical Training – March 29-31

Introductory webinar: March 20th, 3-5pm (PDT).
Hands-on training: March 29-31, 2012, Tucson, Arizona.
 

Watershed Management Group has been working with community members to install neighborhood level Green Infrastructure (GI) projects in Tucson since 2008. Now WMG is offering an in-depth professional training covering the “how to” of organization and design for community led GI installations.

James MacAdam, Green Streets Program Manager at WMG, Catlow Shipek, Senior Program Manager at WMG, and landscape architect James DeRoussel also with WMG will lead this hands-on technical training in community based infrastructure best practices.

The training will draw on WMG’s experience working with neighborhoods and local governments to install GI in the Southwest, and will cover:

  • Integrated design for GI
  • Technical application of GI in a variety of urban environments
  • Maintenance and trouble shooting
  • Community engagement
  • Policy & permitting
  • Tools for overcoming municipal fears

WMG’s goal is to transfer this advanced technical knowledge to professionals, educators, and community activists who will implement these practices in their work and teach others. This course may be particularly appropriate for landscape architects, architects, permaculture designers, developers, engineers, policy makers, restoration ecologists and community activists. While WMG’s focus is on Southwestern neighborhoods, the intent is for the knowledge gained in this training to be transferable to other regions.

The focus of this technical training will be on retrofitting and redevelopment. Learning will be achieved through a blend of classroom lectures, site assessments and design exercises, hands on workshops and a tour of local GI sites.

The technical training will follow on directly from the conclusion of Arid LID 2012 conference on Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development in Arid Environments. It will start at 2 pm on Thursday March 29 and will run through to 6 pm on Saturday March 31. An introductory webinar which is part of the course has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 20th, 3-5pm (PDT).

Snacks, water and one lunch are included in the course fee. On request an additional brown bag local food lunch option can be provided at $10 per day for the additional day.

WMG offers a limited number of scholarships of $50 to $200 to help defray the cost of the course. To be considered for a scholarship, please include an explanation of your financial need in your application.

Early Registration Deadline is Feb 17 2012 for the reduced rate of $400. Discounts of an additional $50 off both the early registration and regular rates, are available to alumni of previous WMG trainings and AridLID 2012 conference participants.

Visit http://watershedmg.org/tech-trainings for application details.

For more information, please email Rhiwena Slack rslack(at)watershedmg.org or call 520-396-3266

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

$4B Public-private Program for Energy-efficiency planned

The following national plan for investing in the energy-efficiency of our buildings is a further evolution of  Ed Mazria’s 2009 Plan which Sustainable Tucson is suggesting as a model to develop a local green retrofit  stimulus program. See the Mazria Plan here:

 

$4B public-private program for energy efficiency planned

Jim Kuhnhenn The Associated Press , Arizona Daily Star, Friday, December 2, 2011

WASHINGTON – Enlisting former President Bill Clinton as a partner, President Obama is announcing a $4 billion effort to increase the energy efficiency of government and private-sector buildings, aiming for fuel savings and job creation at no cost to taxpayers.
The proposal, to be announced by Obama and Clinton today, would upgrade buildings over the next two years with a goal of improving energy performance by 20 percent by 2020. The federal government would commit $2 billion to the effort and a coalition of corporations, labor unions, universities and local governments would undertake the other half. The contractors who do the work would be paid with realized energy savings, thus requiring no up-front federal expenditure.”Upgrading the energy efficiency of America’s buildings is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money, cut down on harmful pollution and create good jobs right now,” Obama said in a prepared statement.
The president will make the announcement after touring a downtown Washington office building whose owners have agreed to make more energy efficient.The program, known as Energy Savings Performance Contracts, has been in place since the Clinton administration but has been little used. Obama’s announcement is yet another in a string of White House initiatives designed to address the weak economy without congressional approval.
Gene Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council, said private economic analyses indicate that the $4 billion plan could generate about 50,000 jobs over two years.The program builds on an initiative that Obama launched in February and that Clinton led through his Clinton Foundation to get the private sector to invest in greater energy efficiency. Clinton announced commitments of $500 million in projects in June.Joining
Obama and Clinton will be Thomas Donohue, the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a longtime proponent of Energy Saving Performance Contracts.”We have been pushing the ESPC program for more than a decade because this holds tremendous potential,” Donohue said in a prepared statement. “The program has been grossly underutilized.”

 

Inside Tucson’s Civano Project

Inside the Civano Project: A Case Study of Large-Scale Sustainable Neighborhood Development (Mcgraw-Hill’s Greensource Series) 2009

By C. Alan Nichols and Jason A. Laros

Forward by Sustainable Tucson — Co-Founder Bob Cook

Forward

The following story is about a group of people who recognized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and took it upon themselves to reinvent the future and work for its realization.  The great vision of this project was understood long before those still preoccupied with the status quo could accept its premise. Yet, the story unfolds despite all the resistance and pitfalls in its path.  While the final outcome was never assured, the dream and ultimate value of this opportunity would never be shaken.

 

And so this is the story of the Tucson Solar Village Project later to be renamed Civano.

 

The 1970s was a decade much like the present period – a protracted energy crisis, a long global recession, major changes in our monetary system, high unemployment, conflict and wars, heightened global competition for resources and markets, price inflation, and growing interest in solar energy and new, more efficient technologies. In short, the world was burdened with uncertainty but also drawn to the possibilities of great and needed change.

 

The key scientific finding during the seventies was that Planet Earth is a finite system and that unconstrained growth would lead to dangerous resource shortages and degradation  of natural systems. When the bad news would arrive in the future – when the limits to growth would be reached  — was debated endlessly among “experts.”  However, in everyday terms, these limits seemed so far off in time that more immediate, pressing issues absorbed most peoples’ attention. Except for a relatively small community of scientists and environmental thinkers, the value of alternatives to growth was very low. Why pursue sustainability when the presumed nature of the economy and the world’s capacities is to always grow.

 

In the United States, the seeds of the sustainable development movement germinated in the seventies in response to these scientific findings and the social and cultural fallout from economic instability. For those of us who came to see this coming paradigmatic change, many would have to carry this knowledge patiently into the eighties and nineties before the time was right to actually work on planning, engineering, and building a different world.

 

The story of Civano is a story of many diverse people and events coming together at different points in time to move forward the proposition that now is the time for a prototype sustainable community development. The designs changed and evolved, but the vision was always a comprehensive treatment of all functions of the human built environment in harmony with the natural cycles of energy, water, materials, and eco-systems.

 

When this opportunity appeared to the first wave of Tucson innovators in the 1980s, it was clear that the next evolutionary phase was beginning. We would lead the first major  experiment in the desert Southwest for learning how to create a community land development based on regenerative cycles and significantly reduced resource consumption.  The promise of wide-scale utilization of solar energy in the future would be furthered by this single venture in a new approach to development.

 

The chronology of  Civano spans three decades with important milestones achieved in each.  At many points, the realization of the dream stood in doubt as challenges overwhelmed the participants and the institutions backing its progress. But key actors always kept the effort moving forward up to its current state as a living, breathing place where people and families live their lives.

 

An experiment should never be labeled either a success or failure because the underlying purpose of an experiment is to test hypotheses and learn about something which often has never been attempted before. Civano provides us with a unique set of valuable lessons for designing ongoing responses to the intensifying sustainability crises unfolding all around us.

 

The story of Civano is ultimately a story of local heroes carrying forward a noble and important mission. In particular, I want to acknowledge Al Nichols, engineer extraordinaire, for his many roles throughout the past two decades in bringing Civano into being and making its beneficial lessons available to all those now and in the future who will take on the next critical sustainability challenges.

 

Robert Cook,

Former Chair, Tucson-Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission

Co-Founder, Sustainable Tucson

March 2009

Ed Mazria’s Two-Year, Nine-Million-Jobs Investment Plan

By Caroline Dobuzinskis

 

(Ed Mazria’s  Revised One-Year, 4.5 Million-Jobs Investment Plan available here:)

 

With the job market crashing and a reported one in five mortgages underwater, the need for complex solutions to fix the US economy grows increasingly urgent. Ed Mazria, founder of the non-profit research and education organization Architecture 2030, has put forward a proposal to combat two urgent economic crises with one plan that will not only relieve financially strapped homeowners and generate job opportunities, but also leave us with a more resilient, more efficient built environment when this crisis is over.

Mazria believes the government should invest in the private building sector by giving developers and homeowners financial incentives to build (and retrofit) greener buildings – thus boosting jobs around construction and renovation. To outline his plan, Mazria and Architecture 2030 have developed the 2030 Challenge Stimulus Plan, a proposal that Mazria calls the “Two-Year, Nine-Million-Jobs Investment Plan. (Download details of the plan here.)

According to Mazria, the next energy bill to come through Congress is already likely to include a plan for making all buildings carbon neutral by the year 2030. President Obama made this promise during his campaign. The Architecture 2030 Challenge lays out a timeline: all new buildings and major renovations should should meet a 60 percent fossil fuel reduction standard by 2010; all buildings should be carbon neutral by 2030, and all state and federal buildings should follow suit. But Mazria and his team are making a case for implementing these goals in the private building sector now. And the way they see it, no start date is too soon.

I spoke with Mazria about his investment plan, and how he expects industry representatives, government officials and homeowners to react.

Caroline Dobuzinskis: When did the idea for the Two-Year, Nine-Million-Jobs Investment Plan come about?

Ed Mazria: We have a unique perspective because, as a research organization, our focus is the building sector, climate change, and the economy. At Architecture 2030 we were able to address the [economic] situation from that perspective, looking at the economy and the building sector that was dragging the whole economy down because of the mortgage prices. And, since we know the building industry really well having been in it for forty years, we know what it takes to bring it back, and we want to bring it back in an environmentally sound way. That was the reason why we investigated the economic crises in the building sector, and then how to create the jobs in the building sector to bring the US economy back.

CD: Tell me how your plan aims to help the private building sector and homeowners.

EM: We think now the federal government should step in and create an incentive for the private building sector to get back on its feet. Probably the largest segment of unemployment driven by the economic downturn is in the private building sector, both in construction and manufacturing of materials that go into the building sector and services that support the building industry. So in order to turn the economy around, you must address the building sector.

For every federal dollar that you put in, you want the private sector to add at least $2 to that, so that you can create at once as many jobs as possible. And the one way to do that is to tie federal money to energy reduction targets, so that the private sector has to then come in and fund energy upgrades in order to get the federal dollars.

Homeowners get greater incentives for the greater reductions that they can accomplish on their buildings. With a mortgage buydown tied to energy reduction, the homeowner saves on his monthly mortgage, and he also saves on his utility bills. He not only saves on mortgage interest, he also recaptures the money that’s [currently being] lost because most housing is leaking energy. [The money generated by creating] more jobs, and by the taxes from the folks paid to do the renovations, can go back to the federal government and the states to fund both infrastructure projects and to pay the government back for the outlay. It’s kind of a full circle proposal.

CD: How can homeowners receive lower mortgage rates to improve the energy efficiency of their homes?

EM: Homeowners can aim for 30, 40, 50 or 75 percent below the energy use target required by the IECC 2006 and ASHRAE 90.1-2004 code standards, or they can aim for carbon neutral, and each target is tied to different incentives. So one of the examples we give is, if you want to get 75 percent below code — basically saving 75 percent on your energy bills — we estimate that [the renovations] would cost about $51,000. So you add that amount into a new mortgage but as an incentive you receive a much, much lower interest rate so that your monthly outlay, even with $51,000 added to the amount of the mortgage, would be much, much less.

You would be investing that $51,000 in upgrades like replacing equipment that was outdated, not working properly or not really efficient. You might be adding insulation; you might be adding skylights and windows to let the sun in; you might be making windows operable so you have natural ventilation so you can look at passive solar heating/cooling strategies. You could take advantage of tax credits, for example, to install a solar voltaic system. There are almost an infinite number of ways you can make your home more efficient if you have an existing home.

CD: The federal government would be setting the mortgage rates?

EM: Right now the federal government is the only one that is buying mortgages. Banks that are lending mortgages are selling them to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We think that number is now 90 to 95 percent of all mortgages so [the federal government] can then set the targets.

CD: Is the average homeowner ready to make these changes?

EM: Absolutely, because everyone wants to save money and have more expendable income on a monthly basis. The reason the first stimulus last year didn’t work was because you gave everybody a check on a one-time basis. In our plan, you are talking about $300 to $500 a month in savings. That’s huge. We think people will be lining up at the doors to take advantage of this.

The one place we think people will invest is in their own house. The other thing we think is, by taking advantage of the lower rates, people would not only make the efficiency upgrades but they would probably spend some more to do some things that they had put off for awhile because the rates are fairly lucrative. Our analysis just took into account the spending on efficiency, but we think there would be a lot more spending as we go along.

CD: Do you see your plan as part of an upcoming bill?

  I think that the plan will come up when [legislators] talk about how we get the building sector back on track. Right now what they have been doing is focusing on the foreclosure crisis, not on the building sector as a whole. They haven’t yet focused on the private sector, but I think that is going to be coming up. I am not sure which committee is going to take the lead on that, but it has to be dealt with because it is a sector that is dragging the economy down. I think right now the administration is focused on putting out fires.

CD: At your presentation at the National Building Museum in February, you and John Podesta talked about the US serving as a model for other countries. Do you think that there needs to be international policy to follow?

EM: I certainly do. I think the US must take a leadership role when it comes to the environment, and climate change, and building efficiency. How we turn our economy around is going to influence how other entities and governments turn their economies around. If we just deal with the economic situation without dealing with the energy crisis and the climate change issue, we are not going to get very far, because those are coming right up and will drag us down again. And, we have a great opportunity to deal with all three issues at one time, and that will set the stage in terms of other governments.

Caroline Dobuzinskis is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

Published by WorldChanging Team,   April 15, 2009

http://www.worldchanging.com

2012 Green Retrofit Stimulus Proposal for Tucson

With half of all mortgaged homes “underwater” and owing more than their market value, housing prices continue to decline even after four years of collapsing prices. The ongoing global credit and debt crisis combined with declining house prices spell disaster for the home-building industry for at least the next decade. The escalating climate crisis also requires that the built-environment be transformed to reduce its current and future impacts on rising climate-changing emissions. Politically, the most urgent issue on Americans’ minds is the growing employment crisis.

Is there a way forward that addresses all these challenges? And specifically, can we in Tucson address these issues and create a way to re-employ construction trades and train people for green retrofitting of our existing homes, businesses, and apartments?

Santa Fe, New Mexico architect, Ed Mazria has proposed a national version of this concept for both new and existing residences which could create 4.5 million jobs in one year and significantly reduce the country’s carbon footprint.

To review Ed Mazria’s plan click here:

To read an interview with Ed Mazria  click here:

If you are interested in forming a study group around this proposal contact Sustainable Tucson by clicking here:

Thank you for your interest.

2012 Green Retrofit Economic Stimulus Proposal for Tucson

2012 Green Retrofit Economic Stimulus Proposal for Tucson

With half of all mortgaged homes “underwater” and owing more than their market value, housing prices continue to decline even after four years of collapsing prices. The ongoing global credit and debt crisis combined with declining house prices spell disaster for the home-building industry for at least the next decade. The escalating climate crisis also requires that the built-environment be transformed to reduce its current and future impacts on rising climate-changing emissions. Politically, the most urgent issue on Americans’ minds is the growing employment crisis.

Is there a way forward that addresses all these challenges? And specifically, can we in Tucson address these issues and create a way to re-employ construction trades and train people for green retrofitting our existing homes, businesses, and apartments?  Read more…

 

UA Professor Walks Away From Empire

UA Natural Resources Professor Emeritus Guy McPherson and Sustainable Tucson founding coalition member addresses the International Conference on Sustainability, Transition and Culture Change: Vision, Action, Leadership recounting his journey to personal accountability in the current crisis of civilization. Taking material from his latest book, “Walking Away From Empire” , Guy demonstrates Gandhi’s  recommendation: “Become the change you want to see in the world.” This TED-like talk is video-streamed from the conference and is viewable here:

 

http://www.livestream.com/localfuture/video?clipId=pla_91f8a1ea-47fd-42b7-a983-e9bd2cd9d76d

 

 

 

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.

Sustainability Lessons for the United States


How Germany became Europe’s green leader: A look at four decades of sustainable policymaking

by Ralph Buehler, Arne Jungjohann, Melissa Keeley, Michael Mehling

In Brief

Over the last 40 years, all levels of government in Germany have retooled policies to promote growth that is more environmentally sustainable. Germany’s experiences can provide useful lessons for the United States (and other nations) as policymakers consider options for “green” economic transformation. Our analysis focuses on four case studies from Germany in the areas of energy, urban infrastructure, and transportation. We show how political challenges to the implementation of green policies were overcome and how sustainability programs were made politically acceptable at the local, state, and federal levels of government. Within the three highlighted sectors, we identify potential opportunities and barriers to policy transfer from Germany to the United States, concluding with specific lessons for policy development and implementation.

Key Concepts

  • Germany’s experience with policies aimed at “greening” the economy provides several lessons for the United States about how to make sustainability politically acceptable in a federal system of government:
  • Start small and implement policies in stages. Many sustainability policies in Germany were first implemented at a small geographic scale or with a small scope. Successful pilot projects were expanded in stages over time.
  • There is no silver bullet. Policies have to be coordinated and integrated across sectors and levels of government to achieve maximum effectiveness.
  • Foster citizen participation and communicate policies effectively. Citizen input reduces potential legal challenges, increases public acceptance, and has the potential to improve projects and outcomes.
  • Find innovative solutions and embrace bipartisanship. Successful green policies in Germany were designed to meet the needs of multiple constituents.

How does one “green” an economy? For governments seeking a cleaner, more efficient, and ultimately more sustainable pathway to economic prosperity, this question entails both promise and great challenges. For one, the scale of transformation it requires is exceptionally daunting: in his 2011 State of the Union speech, for instance, President Barack Obama called on the United States to generate 80 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources and to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail, both within 25 years.1 Compared to where the country stands now, these objectives presuppose unprecedented levels of investment in new infrastructure, new technologies, and relevant skills and education; yet at the same time, they also hold the prospect of new opportunities for job growth, innovation, industrial efficiency, and energy independence. With that in mind, one will invariably wonder, is such a transformation feasible at a time of constrained public budgets and slowly recovering economies? And perhaps more importantly, are the expected benefits of such a green transformation compelling enough to persuade a public that is exposed to conflicting messages about the underlying rationale, is critical of new regulation and expenditure, and generally is disillusioned with political authority?

Fortunately, the green transformation of economies is no longer a theoretical concept. Several nations have put the green economy to the test. While far from being the only country to venture down this path, Germany has earned wide recognition for its successful alignment of prosperous and sustainable growth. Unlike many of its European neighbors, Germany has emerged from the recent recession with a robust economy, thanks in large part to flourishing exports. Germany has a dominant market share in various green technologies as well as a substantial part of its workforce employed in the environmental sector.2 Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen in absolute terms, effectively decoupling economic growth from Germany’s environmental footprint.

Admittedly, not all factors contributing to this success story can be replicated in other countries and regions: challenged with scarce natural resources and a high population density, Germans have traditionally been forced to embrace sustainability in virtually all facets of economic activity, from land use to transportation. Historical transition processes, such as postwar reconstruction and, more recently, the reunification of East and West Germany, also resulted in the renewal of infrastructure and replacement of outdated industrial facilities.

Still, the greening of the German economy is also unmistakably the product of several decades of targeted policy design and implementation, particularly in the past decade. Policies related to environmental protection and resource conservation have been mainstreamed in all areas of economic activity and have been described by a former government minister as central to Germany’s recent success: “green policy is merely good industrial policy.”3 Drawing on a series of relevant case studies, this article shows that the transformation witnessed in Germany would not have been conceivable without the policy decisions that preceded it. Each case study—energy taxation, renewable-energy promotion, green infrastructure, and sustainable transportation—offers valuable insights into how to design and implement green policies.

Photo: Green roofs like this one in Berlin, Germany, support specialized, hearty vegetation and provide environmental services such as stormwater retention, urban heat island effect amelioration, habitat for urban wildlife, and energy savings resulting from better thermal insulation.

Pricing Energy for Jobs and Resource Conservation: Germany’s Energy Tax Reform

After months of heated political debate, especially regarding the role of nuclear power in Germany’s energy mix, the federal government adopted its new Energy Concept document in September 2010, setting out a broad framework for German energy policy until 2050. Developed by the ruling center-right coalition, this document aims at turning Germany into one of the “most energy efficient and greenest economies in the world, while enjoying competitive energy prices and a high level of prosperity.”4 In line with a campaign pledge set out in the government’s coalition agreement, the new energy policy defines ambitious targets for the medium and longer term: primary energy consumption is to fall by 20 percent from 2008 levels by 2020, and at least 50 percent by 2050; renewable energy is to account for 18 percent of final energy consumption in 2020, and at least 80 percent of electricity consumption in 2050; and greenhouse gas emissions are to see cuts of 40 percent by 2020 and at least 80 percent by 2050, both relative to 1990 levels.

Energy pricing through taxes and other fiscal instruments has traditionally held a prominent position in the German energy policy mix. As any visitor to Germany will be quick to notice, gasoline prices are significantly higher than in most other regions: in early 2011, a gallon of regular gasoline cost over U.S.$7, more than double the average price in the United States. The price difference is almost entirely due to higher tax rates on oil and other fuels, a system of excise taxes that dates back to prewar Germany and has since been harmonized at the European level. It was not until the late 1990s, however, that energy taxation also became a vehicle for Germany’s green agenda. In 1998, a center-left coalition of Social Democrats and Green Party members pledged to introduce new fiscal instruments to reduce the tax burden on labor and shift part of it to energy consumption. This campaign promise sought to harness the multiple dividends invoked by advocates of environmental taxes, including greater flexibility and cost efficiency than traditional regulation, incentives to develop innovative clean technologies, and the ability to raise revenues for public investments or tax cuts in other areas, such as labor costs.5

In 1999, the German legislature passed the Ecological Tax Reform Act, which mandated gradual increases in the tax rates on oil and gas and introduced a new levy on electricity.6 This initiative was by no means uncontroversial. From the outset, it encountered public opposition triggered by rising prices for crude oil and concerns over industrial competitiveness. Resistance to this measure was, in fact, so great that many observers expected the energy tax project to be a casualty of partisan politics. And yet, in 2006, new legislation by the European Union and a change of government in Germany, coupled with a yawning gap in the federal budget, heralded a new chapter in German energy taxation. That year, the legislature adopted a comprehensive Energy Tax Act, setting up a common fiscal framework for energy products through harmonized definitions, taxation rules, and exemptions.7 This important step led to a complete revision of the framework for energy taxation in Germany, effectively ending years of deadlock in Parliament; but critics were also quick to say it would do little to help transform the German economy. Nearly half a decade later, what has the German energy tax reform achieved?

A Positive Macroeconomic Balance

Between 1999 and 2003, Germany’s energy tax reform resulted in a gradual increase in energy costs. A number of exceptions motivated by social and economic considerations were initially included to safeguard the competitiveness of the manufacturing, agricultural, and forestry sectors and to avoid undue hardship for lower-income households. Overall, however, the fiscal burden resulting from the energy tax reform has been moderate compared to already existing taxes: for instance, only €0.15 of the €0.66 currently charged as taxes on every liter of gasoline is a result of the tax reform, with the far greater share originating in the excise taxes already imposed prior to 1999. Altogether, the share of environmentally motivated taxes in the overall tax revenue only rose from 5.2 percent in 1998 to 6.5 percent in 2003 and has since declined again to 5.3 percent in 2008, nearly the level where it started in 1999.8 Not only does this reflect the fact that other tax categories—notably value-added taxation—have seen greater increases in recent years, but it also is a direct consequence of changing energy consumption patterns.

Fossil fuel consumption has continually declined in Germany since the introduction of the energy tax reform. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, gasoline consumption in 2000 decreased by 4.5 percent compared to the previous year, and it continued to decrease in 2001 and 2002 by 3 and 3.3 percent, respectively, exceeding the previous average reduction of 2 percent due to general improvements in vehicle technology and transportation planning. The targeted increase in energy costs has also created an identifiable incentive for behavioral change in other sectors, encouraging deployment of energy-efficient technologies and processes, including alternative energy sources. Reductions of CO2 emissions are estimated to have reached 3 percent annually, equivalent to 24 million metric tons of CO2.9 At the same time, revenues of the energy tax reform have been almost fully returned to taxpayers, with the largest share used for a gradual reduction of social security contributions. In 2003, for instance, roughly €16.1 billion raised through the tax reform was used to reduce and stabilize nonwage labor costs, allowing pension contributions to be lowered by 1.7 percent.10 With hiring rendered less expensive, the energy tax reform has helped promote employment and has contributed to the creation of an estimated 250,000 new jobs. A smaller fraction of proceeds has been used to subsidize the deployment of renewable-energy projects and the modernization of buildings.

Lessons from Energy Pricing in Germany

Like everywhere else, taxes are a politically sensitive issue in Germany. Unsurprisingly, opponents of the energy tax reform—including the current ruling coalition—were quick to launch a determined media campaign against the proposed legislation. Given the complexities of its design, it was easy for critics to portray the tax reform as a mere increase in the fiscal burden, while downplaying or disputing the accompanying reduction in labor costs and expected employment benefits. Germany’s parliamentary system and its strict party discipline allowed the governing coalition at the time to pass the tax reform against partisan resistance. In countries with different legislative processes, that option may not be available. Ironically, the need to close a growing budget deficit has made the current conservative government, previously an ardent adversary of environmentally motivated taxes, now dependent on the revenue created by the energy tax. As the rationale and benefits of the tax reform have become more widely known, there has been greater public acceptance of the incremental increase in energy cost.

Fea_Germany_Figure2.jpg
Photo credit: Ralph Buehler. The light rail system in the car-free city center of Freiburg, Germany. In the mid-1970s Freiburg was the first German city to ban cars from a network of streets in its city center.

It stands to reason that better communication in the initial stages of the tax reform could have alleviated some of the early concerns. Also, its portrayal as an environmentally motivated tax may have incurred avoidable partisan strife; focusing on the innovation and employment benefits of the proposed tax may have been strategically preferable. And clearly, a gradual and transparent trajectory of rate hikes was of central importance in making the tax reform acceptable in the first place. Ultimately, however, the positive outcome of the tax reform is the most compelling lesson from the German experience: contrary to the early fears, behavioral change and innovation prompted by the rising energy prices have actually strengthened the German economy. Energy-efficient technologies are now among the fastest-growing export products, and the incentive to reduce energy use has helped the German economy become more resilient to fluctuations in global oil and gas prices. Overall, greater efficiency throughout the economy has translated into lower energy costs for households and industry. Despite significantly higher energy tax rates, average German utility bills and fuel expenditures tend to match or lie below those seen in the United States. As the Federal Environmental Agency has concluded, the Ecological Tax Reform Act delivered on its promise of improved labor conditions and greater sustainability, resulting in what the agency describes—in a typically German understatement—as a “positive macroeconomic balance.”11

Promoting Renewable Energy

As a member state of the European Union (EU), Germany’s energy policies are driven by a mix of national and European legislation. Formally, the 27 EU member states regulate energy policies within their own national borders. However, EU treaty provisions concerning the European internal market, free competition, and environmental protection have created a European energy policy.12

In 2009, a major piece of renewable-energy legislation was passed as part of an overall climate and energy package. The European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive13 requires each member state to increase its share of renewable energy—such as solar, wind power, biomass, or hydroelectric—to raise the overall share from 8.5 percent in 2010 to 20 percent by 2020 across all sectors (e.g., power generation, heating and cooling, and transportation fuels).

Achievements in Renewable Energy

Germany has seen a remarkable expansion of renewable energy in the last decade. The share of renewable energy in electricity generation rose from 6 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2009.14 Over this time, the German government revised its own targets twice, given that previous targets had been exceeded ahead of schedule. The German government is expecting a share of 38 percent renewable power by 2020 and continues to drive the transformation “towards an energy system based completely on renewable energies.”15,16

The economic benefits of this development are impressive. By 2010, the field of renewable-energy-related jobs employed around 340,000 people, most of them in biomass, wind power, and solar.17 In comparison, the German lignite industry employs only 50,000 people—from mining to the power plant.18 The key policy responsible for this success is the Renewable Energy Sources Act, first enacted in April 2000.19 This feed-in tariff policy is embedded in a climate and energy policy framework that promotes renewable energy and efficiency technologies, including laws to encourage combined-heat-and-power plants, a cap and trade system, the energy tax reform described earlier in the article, and several additional measures. The next planned revision to the law will aim to incentivize grid access and grid improvement, offshore wind power, and technologies for peak management and power storage.20

Comparison with Renewable-Energy Practice in the United States

The United States currently employs a mix of short-term tax credits, loan guarantees, state-level renewable portfolio standards, and limited feed-in tariffs. In contrast to Germany, the U.S. policy framework has evolved less quickly at the federal level, where time horizons have been shorter-term. The uncertainty engendered by this short-term policy framework has led to repeated falloffs in renewable-energy capacity additions in the United States as support measures have neared expiration.21 For example, in contrast to Germany, new wind turbine construction in America has fluctuated greatly from year to year, because incentives have repeatedly expired.22 Even with this policy uncertainty, however, the United States in 2008 still led the world in total installed wind-power capacity, with 20.8 percent.23 In 2008, renewable energy provided 9 percent of electricity production in the United States, with large-scale hydropower being the largest source.24

Fea_Germany_Figure3.jpg
Photo credit: Ralph Buehler. Cyclists on Freiburg’s car-free Wiwili bridge. The bridge was closed to cars in the early 2000s and is now open only to cyclists and pedestrians.

In many ways, the United States relies more on a state-level approach through renewable portfolio standards to increase renewable-energy capacity. These standards require power companies to provide a certain proportion of electricity from renewable-energy sources. Currently, renewable portfolio standards regulations apply in 29 states and in the District of Columbia; five additional states have established targets for renewable expansion.25 In many cases, long-term supply contracts for green power have been signed. Typical target percentages for green power are 15 percent for 2015, 20 percent for 2020, and 25 percent for 2025. These figures are significantly lower than the target set in Europe (21 percent for 2010).26

Feed-in tariff policies, the most common renewable-energy policy in the world,27 are slowly spreading in the United States. In most cases, these policies guarantee grid access and a 20-year premium contract for renewable energy technologies. As of January 2011, Gainesville Regional Utilities, Hawaii, and Vermont have adopted feed-in tariff policies based on the cost of generation. Maine and California have also adopted a light version of a feed-in tariff, though in California legal struggles are being fought. In addition, representatives in ten different state legislatures have proposed different feed-in tariff models.28

Transferable Lessons for Renewable Energy in the United States

The German success in rapid renewable-energy deployment relies on a robust feed-in tariff law and an overall comprehensive climate and energy framework with a long-term perspective. This policy environment comes with streamlined administrative procedures that help shorten lead times and bureaucratic overhead and that minimize project costs. All of the above create a high investment certainty that the United States overall and most of its states independently currently lack.

Given the abundance of natural resources (e.g., wind, biomass, solar) in the United States, the deployment of renewable energy should be cheaper than in Germany, which has an average solar input close to that of Alaska (and Iowa’s cornfields alone, which could be used for biogas production, are double the size of Germany’s agricultural land).29

Across the political spectrum, all major German parties support an industrial transformation toward a low-carbon economy, and there is a strong consensus concerning the need to address climate change. Constituent groups from both the progressive (e.g., renewable-energy industry) and conservative side (e.g., farm community) benefit from this approach. The understanding is that strong environmental policies drive ecological modernization and create new market opportunities. Germany as an export-oriented country aims to sell the solutions to a carbon-constrained and high-energy-price world.30 By contrast, the United States lags behind, where political debates over climate-change-related policy actions are hindering opportunities and leadership in this arena. As long as the public perceives a trade-off between environmental regulation and industrial competitiveness, it will be extremely difficult for the United States to fundamentally turn toward a low-carbon economy. U.S. policymakers should adjust elements of a feed-in tariff policy to regional contexts to drive rapid growth in renewable-electricity markets, to promote strong manufacturing industries, and to create new jobs in a cost-effective manner.

Encouraging Green Infrastructure

Over the past 40 years, northern Europe, and Germany in particular, has been a hotbed for the innovation and application of green technologies to enhance the urban environment.31 These technologies, sometimes referred to as green infrastructure or low-impact development, include such innovations as green roofs, green facades, and permeable pavements. They mimic the natural processes of soils and vegetation to provide “environmental services” such as stormwater management, urban heat island amelioration, and habitat, even in dense urban areas.32–38 What is clear is that the proliferation of green roofs and other green infrastructure in Germany has been supported by a complex assortment of incentives and requirements at multiple levels of government.31 Significantly, federal nature-protection laws and building codes require “compensation,” or restoration, for human impairment of natural landscapes and of environmental services in greenfield developments (development on previously undeveloped land).39 In many cases, green infrastructure techniques can be used to fulfill these requirements. Federal laws also require that German states create landscape plans.40 As a result, German states have innovated a variety of approaches to environmental protection, many of which have involved elements that first incentivized and later required the creation and maintenance of green infrastructure.

Fea_Germany_Figure4.jpg
Photo credit: Melissa Keeley. Potsdamer Plaz is an office, entertainment, and retail center at the heart of Berlin, raised during World War II and then redeveloped after the reunification of east and west Berlin in 1990. This mixed-use site features an elaborate, naturalistic stormwater retention system designed to minimize the burden on the city’s existing water infrastructure. The system incorporates green roofs (seen here) on most buildings in the complex to reduce stormwater runoff.

In addition to this, a series of German federal and state court rulings beginning in the 1970s have required increased transparency and equitable rate structures for stormwater services.41 As a result, the majority of German households are charged for stormwater services based on an estimate of the stormwater burden generated from their properties. This approach of individual parcel assessments (IPAs) differs from the approach used in the United States, where the same charges are levied on all parcels or all parcels of the same class (such as residential). Since IPAs in Germany are used to assess fees that relate directly to conditions present on specific parcels, and because land-use decisions (like paving a driveway or installing a green roof) have major impacts on the amount of stormwater leaving a property, this approach creates incentives for individuals to incorporate green infrastructure on their properties.41

Comparison with Green Infrastructure Practice in the United States

While there is interest in the multiple benefits of green infrastructure in the United States, green infrastructure techniques have gained recent attention in relation to stormwater management. Federal Clean Water Act programs require that local governments overhaul stormwater-management strategies to protect and improve surface-water quality.42 The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, for instance, has already invested U.S.$3.1 billion in a multiphase tunnel and reservoir plan to improve stormwater management.43 To raise needed funds, the creation of stormwater utilities and the assessment of stormwater fees are becoming increasingly widespread. To date, however, the vast majority of U.S. cities have chosen to assess stormwater fees on a class basis; they assess the same fee to all parcels within a given class based on the average stormwater burden their property type contributes.44 This methodology is used almost exclusively for residential parcels and greatly simplifies billing.

Transferable Lessons for Green Infrastructure in the United States

While the United States has focused attention on green infrastructure in relation to stormwater, most U.S. municipalities currently lack the kind of overlapping, reinforcing incentives and requirements that have led to the prominence of these techniques in Germany. This is particularly important given the multiple benefits provided by green infrastructure—such as stormwater management, air-quality improvements, and enhancement of urban quality of life.

Focusing on stormwater management specifically, however, there are further lessons that the United States could draw from German experience with parcel-level assessments, or IPAs. Specifically, this approach might improve watershed planning and stormwater management and address the public relations needs of cash-strapped water-management authorities in three ways: (1) data from IPAs could increase public awareness of human impacts on watersheds; (2) this detailed information could inform watershed planning; and (3) this data could be the basis of fee systems designed to create incentives for on-site stormwater management where cost effective.41

In Berlin, public participation in assessing IPAs is credited with helping the public understand the connections between land-use decisions on their own property and environmental problems in local lakes and rivers. IPAs also provide detailed spatial information about impervious surfaces and their connectedness to the storm sewer system. The latter can only be assessed through on-site surveys, and thus it is otherwise rarely available to engineers and planners. Since connected impervious surface coverage is such a key variable in estimating stormwater burden, this information could enhance watershed planning and the development of stormwater models designed to optimize the efficiency of existing systems.41,45

Fea_Germany_Figure5.jpg
Photo credit: Melissa Keeley. Stormwater runoff in Potsdamer Plaz is collected in this pond. Vegetation on the banks of the pond and other treatments are used to purify and remove nutrients from the water, which is then reused in a grey water system for toilet flushing, irrigation, and fire systems within the complex.

Ascertaining each property’s share of the stormwater burden effectively turns what is a diffuse, nonpoint pollution source into a point-source problem. Such a fee-assessment system makes it possible to reduce fees for parcels that manage stormwater with green infrastructure or other best practices. IPAs could, therefore, create a foundation for economic incentives, such as a fee-and-subsidy system or emissions trading, to encourage green infrastructure where it can cost-effectively manage stormwater.46 A significant obstacle to this in the United States is the low rate currently charged for stormwater removal.47 It could prove politically and legally difficult for U.S. stormwater utilities to charge fees high enough to serve as incentives for on-site stormwater management.48

Implementing Sustainable Transportation

Governments at federal, state, and local levels in Germany determine the sustainability of the transportation system. Federal gasoline taxes, sales taxes, and regulations make automobile use and ownership expensive and encourage demand for less polluting and smaller cars. In 2008, sales taxes on automobiles in Germany were three times higher than in the United States, and gasoline taxes were nine times higher.49–53 However, higher gasoline taxes do not translate to higher household expenditures for transportation in Germany compared to the United States. Germans own fewer and more energy efficient cars and drive fewer miles than Americans. Thus, in 2008 transportation accounted for roughly 14 percent of household expenditures in Germany, compared to about 19 percent in the United States. The German federal government provides dedicated matching funds for investments in local public transportation. Flexible federal matching funds for local transportation improvements can also be used for local public transportation, walking, and cycling projects.54 German states distribute federal funds for regional rail systems and coordinate public transportation services statewide.55 Many German states set minimum parking requirements for local developments. Federal and state governments provide the framework for more-sustainable transportation, but cities have played a crucial role in developing and implementing innovative policies (see Box).

The Freiburg Model of Transport Sustainability

Since the late 1960s, the city of Freiburg (population 220,000) has been at the forefront of promoting sustainable transport.1,2 Since then, the number of trips by bicycle has tripled, transit ridership has doubled, and the share of trips by car has fallen from 38 to 32 percent. Since the early 1990s, the level of motorization has stagnated and per capita CO2 emissions from transportation have fallen, in spite of strong economic and population growth. Up to the late 1960s, Freiburg promoted greenfield development, widened streets, abandoned trolley lines, and built car parking lots. Motorization increased rapidly, transit ridership plummeted, and the city was sprawling. Air pollution, traffic fatalities, and traffic congestion caused by cars and other environmental concerns shifted public opinion away from automobile-centered growth.2 Freiburg achieved a more sustainable transportation system by (1) successfully integrating land-use and transportation planning, (2) coordinating and integrating public transportation regionally, (3) promoting bicycling, (4) restricting automobile use, and (5) encouraging citizen participation throughout the process.2,3

Integrating Transportation and Land-Use Planning

Even though Freiburg started implementing sustainable transportation policies in the early 1970s—such as creating pedestrian zones in the downtown area—there was no formal link between land use and transportation planning. The two have become more formally coordinated since then. The comprehensive transportation plan of 1979 called for explicit integration of both planning sectors. The land-use plan of 1981 prescribed that new development was to be concentrated along public transportation corridors. In 2006, two-thirds of Freiburg’s residents’ jobs were located within a quarter mile of a light-rail stop.2

Freiburg’s most recent land-use and transportation plans in 2008 were developed simultaneously and are fully integrated. Both reiterate the goals of reducing car use and favor central mixed-use development over settlements on the suburban fringe. Vauban and Rieselfeld, two new inner suburbs built around light-rail line extensions, are good examples for today’s complete integration of transportation and land-use planning. Both communities are compactly laid out and mix residential, commercial, educational, and recreational land uses. Car access and parking are limited, and streets are traffic-calmed with speed limits of 30 kilometers per hour, or even 7 kilometers per hour, to give priority to pedestrians, cyclists, and playing children.2

Expanding and Coordinating Public Transportation Services

In the early 1970s, the city decided to expand its public transportation network, but it took until 1983 before the first new light-rail line was added to the existing 14 kilometers of track. Since then, Freiburg has opened four new lines for a total of 36.4 kilometers in 2008, and the amount of light-rail service has tripled. In 1984, Freiburg’s public transportation system offered Germany’s first monthly ticket—transferable to other users.4 In 1991, the geographic coverage of the ticket was expanded to include the city and two adjacent counties. Services, fares, subsidies, and timetables for bus and rail operators are coordinated regionally. The monthly ticket offers unlimited public transportation travel within the entire region for about U.S.$60. Over 90 percent of passengers have monthly or annual tickets.2,3 Due to the high demand, Freiburg’s transit system has become one of the most financially efficient in Germany—requiring operating subsidies of only 10 percent (compared to 65 percent for public transit systems in the United States).4

Making Cycling a Viable Transportation Alternative for All Trips

Separate bike infrastructure and cyclist-friendly streets make the bicycle a feasible option for all trips and all destinations in Freiburg. Since the early 1970s, Freiburg has expanded its network of separate bike paths and lanes fivefold to 160 kilometers in 2007. This network is complemented by bike routes through forests, traffic-calmed roads, and bicycle streets. Additionally, the city has traffic-calmed almost all residential streets. In 2008, nine out of ten Freiburgers lived on streets with speed limits of 30 kilometers per hour or less. Slow automobile speeds encourage more cycling and make it safer. The total number of bike trips in Freiburg has nearly tripled since 1976—amounting to almost one bike trip per inhabitant per day in 2007.2

The city requires bike parking in all new buildings with two or more apartments, as well as in schools, universities, and businesses. Between 1987 and 2009, the number of bike parking spaces in downtown and at transit stops increased significantly—including a major bike parking garage at the main train station, with space for 1,000 bikes.2

Restricting Automobile Use

Many of the policies that promote public transportation, bicycling, and walking involve restrictions on car use—such as car-free zones and traffic-calmed neighborhoods.2,5 Freiburg’s official goal is to reduce car use wherever practical and to accommodate automobile trips that cannot be made by any other mode. Thus, the city combines disincentives to use cars in the town center and residential neighborhoods with improvement of arterials in various ways (such as widening) to increase their carrying capacity. Freiburg’s parking policy is designed to make car use less convenient and more expensive. Parking garages are relegated to the periphery of the city center, which was converted to pedestrian use in the early 1970s. In many residential neighborhoods, parking is reserved for residents only and requires a special permit. On-street parking in commercial areas of the city becomes more expensive with proximity to the center.2,5

Citizen Involvement

Since the 1970s, citizen participation has been a key aspect of transportation and land-use planning in Freiburg. For example, citizen groups worked with the city administration to redevelop Vauban into an environmentally friendly car-free neighborhood.2 Moreover, Freiburg’s latest land-use plan has been developed with sustained input from 900 citizens, 19 neighboring municipalities, and 12 special-purpose governments in the region. Citizen involvement and public discourse has kept the environmental benefits and sustainability of the transportation system in the news for decades in Freiburg. Over time, public opinion has become more and more supportive of sustainable environmental policies. Even politicians from the conservative party have accepted restrictions on car use and have promoted public transportation, bicycling, and walking as alternatives.

Lessons Learned from Freiburg

It is inappropriate to assume that Freiburg’s experience can be copied wholesale in the U.S. However, there are many lessons from Freiburg for U.S. cities that intend to become more sustainable.2,5

First, Freiburg implemented most of its policies in stages, often choosing projects everybody agreed upon first. Residential traffic calming was initially implemented in neighborhoods whose residents complained most about the negative impacts of car travel. Successful implementation in one neighborhood encouraged other areas of the city to request traffic calming as well.

Second, Freiburg phased in and adjusted its policies and goals gradually. The initial decision to stop tearing out the trolley tracks was made in the late 1960s. In the early 1970s, the city council approved the extension of the light-rail system, which finally opened in 1983. Once the expansion proved successful, more light-rail lines followed.

Third, Freiburg has simultaneously made public transportation, cycling, and walking viable alternatives to the automobile, while increasing the cost of car travel. Improving quality and level of service for alternative modes of transportation made car-restrictive measures politically acceptable.

Fourth, citizen participation has been a key aspect of transportation and land-use planning in Freiburg. For example, citizen groups worked with the city administration to redevelop Vauban into an environmentally friendly car-free neighborhood.

Lastly, changing transportation, land-use systems, and travel behavior in Freiburg took almost 40 years. Planners in the United States should curb their expectations for quick success. Clearly, some policies can be implemented quickly, but changes in travel behavior and the development of a more sustainable transportation system take much longer.

References

  1. Please see the sources cited in the four publications listed below for more detailed references and additional information for this case study.
  2. Buehler, R & Pucher, J. Sustainable transport in Freiburg: lessons from Germany’s environmental capital. International Journal of Sustainable Transportation 5, 43–70 (2011).
  3. Buehler, R. Transport policies, automobile use, and sustainable transportation: a comparison of Germany and the USA. Journal of Planning Education and Research 30, 76–93 (2010).
  4. Buehler, R & Pucher, J. Making public transport financially sustainable. Transport Policy 18(1), 128-136 (2011).
  5. Buehler, R, Pucher, J & Kunert, U. Making transportation sustainable: insights from Germany (The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, 2009). www.brookings.edu/reports/2009/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2009/0416_german….

Sustainability Lessons for the United States

Implementing German-style policies in the United States requires careful consideration of the political, cultural, and institutional context. For example, legal and political barriers could hamper a transfer of German policies to the United States. Nevertheless, our case studies of energy, urban infrastructure, and transportation provide some overall lessons that could help encourage development of sustainability policies in the United States.

First, start small and implement policies in stages. Many sustainability policies in Germany were first implemented at a small geographic scale or with a small scope and were expanded in stages over time. Small-scale pilot projects allow policymakers to experiment and the public to experience a real-life example of the proposed program. Unsuccessful projects can be discontinued and successful programs can be expanded. For example, many German cities initially implemented traffic-calming technologies in those neighborhoods where residents complained most about traffic safety, noise, and air pollution from car travel. Successful implementation of a pilot project in one neighborhood led other neighborhoods to demand traffic calming as well. This approach can also work at other scales and in other sectors. For example, the German Renewable Energy Sources Act initially covered only very basic technologies, but it was extended over time and rewarded innovations and new approaches. To some extent the United States is using this approach already, as witnessed by the creation of pedestrian zones in New York City’s Times Square or the new bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. On the federal level, however, the U.S. Congress does not have a consistent history of passing incremental improvements to energy policy or climate legislation.

Another aspect of staged implementation is political acceptability. For example, the German Ecological Tax Reform Act, which increased taxation on energy to reduce social security taxes, was implemented in stages, with taxes increasing annually over a period of five years. Consolidating the staged tax increases into one large tax hike would not have been politically feasible. Staged implementation, the five-year time horizon, and lower social security taxes enabled citizens to adjust to the new taxes. Similarly, many policies encouraging green infrastructure on private properties began as financial incentives and only later were replaced by requirements, once there was greater acceptance and experience with these techniques.

Fea_Germany_Figure6.jpg
Photo credit: Ralph Buehler. Pedestrians and light rail in Freiburg’s car-free zone in the city center.

Second, there are no silver bullets. Policies should be coordinated across sectors and levels of government to achieve maximum effectiveness. Despite the high public visibility of flagship projects like the Ecological Tax Reform Act, no silver bullet has proven to be the single factor for successful results. The case studies show that individual policies were integrated into a larger policy framework. At its best, this framework is comprehensive and long-term oriented. For example, in transportation, the German federal government increased taxation on gasoline, while local governments improved conditions for walking, cycling, and public transportation—thus offering a viable alternative to the car. This approach increased political acceptability with the public, since drivers had a choice to continue driving at higher cost or to shift modes of transportation.

In Germany, green infrastructure has been incentivized and in some cases required by a suite of overlapping programs. Significantly, these initiatives come from various governmental levels and sectors and were created because of different benefits provided by green infrastructure—such as stormwater management, air-quality improvements, and urban quality of life. It is this suite of policies as a whole that has moved green infrastructure into the German mainstream. Energy policy is another good example of coordinated decision making and planning: Germany’s policy portfolio comprises more than 30 legislative measures that address all aspects of energy sustainability, with binding long-term targets guiding implementation efforts and the necessary review of policies at regular intervals. In the United States, by contrast, short-term incentives, fragmented regulations, and a lack of planning certainty—in the absence of a binding policy framework—have dampened private-sector investment and technology deployment.

Third, foster citizen participation and communicate policies effectively. Policies that affect people’s everyday lives have to be developed with active citizen participation. Citizen input reduces potential legal challenges, increases public acceptance, and has the potential to improve projects and outcomes. Public participation in assessing parcel-level charges and new stormwater fees in Berlin helped the public to understand how their properties contribute to environmental problems. Further, individuals can take steps to reduce fees by integrating green infrastructure techniques on their properties. The initial draft of the city of Freiburg’s land-use plan was rejected by the citizens as not being progressive enough (see Box). The second draft was developed with the ongoing participation of 900 residents. The public sector has to effectively communicate the intentions of policy. This often involves political trade-offs. For example, Germany’s Ecological Tax Reform Act increased the cost of energy but at the same time reduced social security taxes. While many citizens agreed to increase taxation on energy, the reduction in social security taxes was also very important.

Fourth, find innovative solutions and embrace bipartisanship. The implementation of several of the highlighted policies came with strong political controversy in Germany. However, the policies survived because, over time, parties across the political spectrum benefited from them or could not afford reversing them. For example, the Renewable Energy Sources Act was supported by both the political left and right because both the progressive renewable-energy industry and the conservative German farm community benefited from its implementation. Before and during the introduction of the Ecological Tax Reform Act, Germany’s center-right parties opposed the reform and promised to roll it back once they were in power again. However, after winning elections in 2005, the conservatives found it impossible to forfeit the robust tax revenue generated by the reform.

References

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  31. Köhler, M & Keeley, M in Green Roofs: Ecological Design and Construction (EarthPledge Foundation, ed), The green roof tradition in Germany: the example of Berlin (Schiffer, New York, 2005).
  32. Watchel, J. Take it from the top: storm water management, green roof style. BioCycle, 42–46 (2007).
  33. Mentens, J, Raes, D & Hermy, M. Green roofs as a tool for solving the rainwater runoff problem in the urbanized 21st century. Landscape and Urban Planning 77, 217–226 (2006).
  34. Teemusk, A & Mander, U. Temperature regime of planted roofs compared with conventional roofing systems. Ecological Engineering 36, 91–95 (2010).
  35. Saiz, S, Kennedy, C, Bass, B & Pressnail, K. Comparative life cycle assessment of standard and green roofs. Environmental Science and Technology 40(13), 4312–4316 (2006).
  36. Lükenga, W & Wessels, K. Oberflächentemperaturen von Dachflächen. Stadt + Grün 6/2001, 399–403 (2001).
  37. Currie, B & Bass, B. Estimates of air pollution mitigation with green plants and green roofs using the UFORE model. Urban Ecosystems 11, 409–422 (2008).
  38. Oberndorfer, E et al. Green roofs as urban ecosystems: ecological structures, functions, and services. Bioscience 57, 823–833 (2007).
  39. Keeley, M. Green Roofs Incentives: Tried and True Techniques from Europe. Proceedings from the 2nd Annual Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Conference [online] (2004). www.greenroofs.ca/grhcc.
  40. Keeley, M. The green area ratio: site-scale urban environmental planning. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management (forthcoming).
  41. Keeley, M. Using individual parcel assessments to improve stormwater management. Journal of the American Planning Association 73(2), 149–160 (2007).
  42. National Research Council. Urban Stormwater Management in the United States (The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2008) www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/nrc_stormwaterreport.pdf.
  43. Garcia, MA & Schmidt, AR. Applied research: tunnel and reservoir plan [online] (n.d.). http://vtchl.uiuc.edu/applied-research/environmental-hydraulics/tarp.
  44. Busco, D & Lindsey, G. Designing stormwater user fees: issues and options. Stormwater 2(7), 42–44 (November/December 2001).
  45. Perez-Pedini, C, Linbrunner, JF & Vogel, RM. Optimal location of infiltration-based best management practices for storm water management. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 131(6), 441–448 (November/December 2005).
  46. Thurston, HW, Goddard, HC, Szlag, D & Lemberg, B. Controlling storm-water runoff with tradable allowances for impervious surfaces. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 129(5), 409–418 (September/October 2003).
  47. Kaspersen, J. The stormwater utility, will it work for your community? Stormwater 1(1), 22–28 [online] (November/December 2000). www.forester.net/sw_0011_utility.html.
  48. Parikh, P, Taylor, MA, Hoagland, T, Thurston, H & Shuster, W. Application of market mechanisms and incentives to reduce stormwater runoff: an integrated hydrologic, economic and legal approach. Environmental Science and Policy 8(2), 133–144 (2005).
  49. International Energy Agency (IEA). Energy Prices and Taxes (IEA, New York, 2008).
  50. Bundesministerium der Finanzen [German Federal Ministry of Finance] (BMF). Mehrwertsteuer [Value-added tax] (BMF, Berlin, 2008).
  51. Buehler, R & Pucher, J. Sustainable transport in Freiburg: lessons from Germany’s environmental capital. International Journal of Sustainable Transportation 5, 43–70 (2011).
  52. Buehler, R. Transport policies, automobile use, and sustainable transportation: a comparison of Germany and the USA. Journal of Planning Education and Research 30, 76–93 (2010).
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  54. BMVBS. Bericht fuer das Jahr 2005 ueber die Finanzhilfen des Bundes zur Verbesserung der Verkehrsverhaeltnisse der Gemeinden nach dem Gemeindeverkehrsfinanzierungsgesetz [Federal Subsidies for Local Transportation Projects] (German Federal Ministry of Transportation and Urban Development, Berlin, 2005).
  55. Buehler, R, Pucher, J & Kunert, U. Making Transportation Sustainable: Insights from Germany (The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, 2009). www.brookings.edu/reports/2009/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2009/0416_german….

Ralph Buehler: Assistant Professor in urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech
Arne Jungjohann: Director for the Environment and Global Dialogue Program of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Washington, DC
Melissa Keeley: Assistant Professor in geography and public policy and public administration at George Washington University
Michael Mehling: President of the Ecologic Institute; Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University

 

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

Published by Solutions on Mon, 10/10/2011 – 08:00

Original article: http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/981

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.


Links:
[1] http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/981
[2] http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2009/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2009/0416_germany_transportation_buehler/0416_germany_transportation_report.pdf
[3] http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/25/remarks-president-state-union-address
[4] http://www.newsweek.com/id/143679
[5] http://www.bmu.de/files/english/pdf/application/pdf/energiekonzept_bundesregierung_en.pdf
[6] http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:140:0016:0062:EN:PDF
[7] http://www.erneuerbare-energien.de/files/pdfs/allgemein/application/pdf/ee_in_deutschland_graf_tab_2009_en.pdf
[8] http://www.bmu.de/english/current_press_releases/pm/46293.php
[9] http://www.bmu.de/files/pdfs/allgemein/application/pdf/nationaler_aktionsplan_ee.pdf
[10] http://www.bmu.de/english/renewable_energy/downloads/doc/46291.php
[11] http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.362416.de
[12] http://www.braunkohle-wissen.de/#arbeitspl%20
[13] http://www.erneuerbare-energien.de/inhalt/42934/20026
[14] http://www.dbcca.com/dbcca/EN/_media/DBCCA_Creating_Jobs_and_Growth_The_German_Green_Exp.pdf
[15] http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.346123.de
[16] http://www.gwec.net/index.php?id=13&L=0
[17] http://www.dsireusa.org
[18] http://www.ren21.net/Portals/97/documents/GSR/REN21_GSR_2010_full_revised%20Sept2010.pdf
[19] http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/pdfs/47408.pdf
[20] http://boell.org/web/139-658.html
[21] http://www.greenroofs.ca/grhcc
[22] http://www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/nrc_stormwaterreport.pdf
[23] http://vtchl.uiuc.edu/applied-research/environmental-hydraulics/tarp
[24] http://www.forester.net/sw_0011_utility.html
[25] http://www.taxadmin.org

Bean Tree Farm Workshops – Fall 2011

Here are Bean Tree Farm’s workshop listings for fall, 2011, plus a special solar energy class we’re excited to be hosting.  For more info and any questions, check out www.beantreefarm.com, or email beantreefarm(at)gmail.com

October 8 ~ Earth Plasters, Paints and Pigments ~ 8am-12noon:
Art, mudslinging and a feast of harvested native foods and garden bounty

The morning will include:
~ harvesting and preparation of native clays (that are most likely right in your back yard);
~ natural additives for durability and workability (also likely in your back yard or kitchen);
~ a tour of existing plaster examples on Bean Tree Farm buildings, local plants used in plasters for their gels and fibers, and their importance in rewilding and regenerating urban landscapes for wildlife, beauty, green building and health;
~ several hands-on projects to explore and develop your skills, both on the wall (or board) and in the round;
~ and complete the workshop with a feast of delicious local food and drink.

November 5: Cob Building and Sculpting more mudslinging, cob building tricks and fall feast

December 3: Making Tinctures and Cold Season Teas – Hot tonics, warm food, good company
Bean Tree Farm workshop facilitators: Barbara Rose, Jill Lorenzini, Julie Newcombe, Sonoran Permaculture Guild team and guests

Workshop schedule: Saturdays 8am-12pm, subject to change with cooler weather.  Each workshop is $50 including native and heritage foods lunch (see registration form for specials and early-bird discount)

Also see Understanding PV (photovoltaics) with Ed Eaton, November 7-11 at Bean Tree Farm.

More info: www.beantreefarm.com or beantreefarm(at)gmail.com

Let us know if you’d like to be on Bean Tree Farm email lists for classes, workshops, or our weekly farm stand.

For more great classes and workshops check out: www.sonoranpermaculture.org

Thanks!

Barbara Rose
Bean Tree Farm
Tucson, Arizona
www.beantreefarm.com

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]

Sustainable Tucson – General Meeting – October 2011

Sustainable Tucson General Meeting – at Milagro Cohousing Community

Monday, October 10th, 5:45 – 8:30 pm, and come early at 5:15 pm for a tour

Note: this meeting will be at the Milagro Cohousing Community instead of the library (click here for map). If you can come earlier, there will be a tour of Milagro from 5:15 to 5:45 pm before the meeting starts.  Also, bring a flashlight!

Also, because of VERY LIMITED PARKING at Milagro, we need to CARPOOL from the Safeway parking lot at Grant and Silverbell (park on the north side of the Wells Fargo building).  Try to come 15 minutes early to the Safeway parking lot for carpooling (5:00 pm for the tour, 5:30 pm for the meeting), and no single occupant cars to Milagro, please!

WHAT DO WE NEED OUR WATER FOR?

Sustainable Tucson will continue to tackle the central question for a sustainable community – What are our water priorities? Find out where our water really comes from, and what we really use it for (the answers will surprise you!)

Hear from a panel of VERY thoughtful people about what our priorities could/should be, if we really become One Desert Community. Find out things that YOU can do now, to make your own life and neighborhood, to be more efficient in our water use, or to capture or reuse the water we aren’t using.

Gary Nabhan (Institute for the Environment) – Water for relocalization

Kelly LaCroix (Water Resources Research Center) – Where does our water come from now and what do we use if for now?

Dan Dorsey (Sonoran Permaculture Guild) – Water for food and nature

Sandy Elder (Tucson Water) – Sustainable water from the perspective of current policy

Tres English (Empowering Local Communities) – Connecting people, creating community

(and others TBA…)

A Special Sustainable Tucson Book Sale

A Special Sustainable Tucson Book Sale will be held before and after this General Meeting. The Sale will start at 5:15.  Visit this page to browse more than 150 titles. All proceeds to benefit Sustainable Tucson.

Last minute news flash! – There will be a door prize from the books for sale – a book by Gary Nabhan …

 

Watershed Management Group Residential Site Tour

Sept 17, 2011

10 am – 4pm

Looking for inspiration and ideas as to how to green and beautify your home landscape without increasing your water bill? Watershed Management Group (WMG) is offering a self guided tour of residential rainwater harvesting systems. The tour will include examples of earthworks, greywater systems, and various types of cisterns and rainbarrels that capture rooftop run off for landscape and drinking water use. Tour attendies will be provided with a brochure which will contain maps, suggested bike and bus routes, as well as an overview of each site. Homeowners will be on hand to answer any questions that tour participants have.

Tour Costs are $5 for those taking the tour by bike or bus, or $10 per person if by car (sign in is required at each site).

To sign up please pay by credit or debit card at http://www.watershedmg.org/contribute and write hometour in the comments section or mail a check made to Watershed Management Group, P.O. Box 44205, Tucson, Arizona 85733. Checks should be received by Sept 10. Please leave an email address, so we can send your brochure electronically to save paper.

For more information call (520)396.3266 or email Co-op@watershedmg.org

Cob Workshop (natural building with clay and straw)

Stimulated by the positive response at Sustainable Tucson’s August general meeting on alternative building.
Javier Lopez and Tom Mendola are organizing an opportunity to play in the mud (tell your friends!)

You are invited to come participate in a cob/adobe bench building and green tea party.

We will make a few adobes and put together mud and straw in the “cob” tradition….and green tea will be served.

We will create/construct a serviceable bench, at Harmony and Health’s harmonic sauna on it’s land west of town.

Javier, a noted alternative underground home builder will instruct us in the finer points of building with the earth.

Saturday September 17th from 8am to noon
(don’t be afraid to come late)


Directions

approx 35 minutes from downtown Tucson, west on Ajo Way to mile marker 155,then right turn onto Hermans Rd, past the big bio-diesel bus with the solar panels, and 1st right (about 1/4 mile) onto Avra Rd, proceed 2/3 mile(going north) to”Terra Sante” gate on left, then approx 1/4 mile to Harmony and Health land on right,

Javier 520-313-6050 <tel:520-313-6050>
Tom 520-400-4489 <tel:520-400-4489>

please rsvp to tmendola@gmail.com

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.

WMG Call to Action

Ground-breaking Watershed Management Group Invites Public to Take Action

WMG invites the public to their OpenHouse Thursday, June 2nd 2011 from 7:00pm – 8:30pm at the Ward III Council Office. Presentations by board, staff, and community members on local, regional, and international programs in sustainability will be featured. Come and learn about opportunities to get involved; find out how to join WMG as a volunteer, Co-op member, neighborhood leader, board member, program supporter, and much more.

WMG is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has led the way in advocating urban sustainable living through community engagement, capacity building, and training. WMG program highlights include:  Creating eleven public water harvesting demonstration sites, including four of Tucson’s City Council Offices Training 100 professionals from the US, Canada, and Mexico through 10-day Water Harvesting Certification program Creating a unique Co-op to implement affordable backyard sustainability projects through a sweat equity model; WMG has run 65 half-day workshops to install cisterns, greywater systems, veggie gardens, chicken coops, and native habitat gardens Receiving the American Planning Association, Arizona Chapter’s “Making Arizona Competitive in the 21st Century Award” for our neighborhood-scale green infrastructure work in Rincon Heights neighborhood located south of the University of Arizona Publishing the most comprehensive guide on green infrastructure in the Southwest, “Green Infrastructure for Southwestern Neighborhoods,” with design details adopted by the City of Tucson, available for free download on WMG’s website

WMG is also developing programs in Phoenix, Santa Barbara, and the U.S./Mexico border region along with other international work. After successful projects in Costa Rica, Ghana, and Burkina Faso, WMG has established a permanent base in Panchgani, Maharashtra, India. Most recently WMG won YouTube’s 2011 Nonprofit Video Awards for a video on how to build a tippy tap – a simple hand-washing device that WMG has been teaching in India and Africa to prevent deaths caused by diarrhoea.

The Open House will be at Ward Three Offices, one of WMG’s water harvesting demonstration sites, located at 1510 E Grant Road. Please RSVP by email to jschafferaz@gmail.com or call 520-396-3266 by Monday, May 30th, 2011.
For information about WMG programs and opportunities please contact Lisa Shipek, Executive Director, at lisa@watershedmg.org or 520-396-3266.

Solar Home Tour

Please join the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood Association, the Arizona Solar Energy Association, and the Southern Arizona Regional Solar Partnership in a free solar home tour on May 8, 11-3. Check in at the Old San Pedro Chapel, 5230 E Ft Lowell, for a map of the houses. Meet neighbors who have gone solar and get all your questions answered!

Building Resilience and Sustainability

 

So what is the sustainable path forward?

The most often-adopted definition of sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  What is important about this definition is that we have to consider the needs of future generations. What is most productive though is that considering this definition leads people to the logical conclusion that almost everything we do is fundamentally unsustainable because everyday we are depleting non-renewable resources at irreplaceable rates and loading the atmosphere with climate-changing, carbon-based greenhouse gases. While this definition may be effective in raising awareness about unsustainability, it provides little guidance or tools to move forward.

At its base, sustainability is the capacity to continue a desired condition or process either social, ecological or both. Resiliency is the ability of a system to adjust its configuration and function under disturbance. Both concepts are important as we seek to ensure a sustainable built-environment and economy which can function under changing conditions in the emerging future.

At a pragmatic level, considering sustainability entails answering these bounding questions: “of what, for whom, for how long, and at what cost?”  Thus, clarifying our values is just as important as understanding nature. This leads to a synthesis definition informed by both ecological and social science: “Sustainability is maintaining, or fostering the development of the systemic contexts including both ecosystems and the built-environment that produce the goods, services, and amenities that people need or value, at an acceptable cost for as long as they are needed or valued.”

In this highly uncertain transitional period we are living through, one characteristic is certain. Simply put, our present economy does not have the capacity to withstand the converging challenges of the twenty-first century.

Building resilience is our biggest challenge as the complexity and uncertainty of our situation make it evermore problematic how we are going to thrive.  All is not lost however, because with resolve and purpose, we the people of this region can redirect our energies in this remaining window of opportunity to secure our future. The next 10 years will be the most critical period of the last four thousand years in which a human economy has existed here.

The focus of Sustainable Tucson’s April meeting will be to put the pieces of the economy together and explore how we got into this mess and how we may get out of it.  The future of our economy should be the fundamental conversation in the community.

Because it is yet unclear whether sustainability and resilience will emerge as a core value and goal, ST is encouraging everyone to get involved with community initiatives at any level and lobby for a strong sustainability framework to facilitate the community-wide coordination of actions.

Fulfilling this mission entails a sense of urgency, especially concerning how we respond in this next critical decade to significant change. The past five years have taught us that we are already transitioning to a new set of sustainability issues which are gaining momentum at every turn. Whether it’s real estate collapse, foreclosure crises, rising unemployment, extreme weather and climate changes, new migration patterns, increasing health problems, significant shortfalls in public revenues, rising energy and food prices, growing debt and shrinking credit, troubled youth, and dysfunctional political discourse, the world is presenting us with increasingly unsettling events and trends which spell a dark future unless we respond now with imagination.

After four presentations, attendees will explore and offer ideas for economic initiatives to make the vision of a resilient economy a reality in Tucson.

 

 

 

June Sustainable Tucson General Meeting

On Becoming One Desert Community

A Desert Community is a group of people that have the culture, the tools and knowledge, and the commitment to thrive here in the normal times, and survive here, in the worst time.  Becoming a desert community is our future, or we don’t have one.

What will it take…  What can we do… to become a Desert Community?  Join your neighbors and some of Tucson’s best thinkers and practitioners, and find out at “On Becoming One Desert Community”, the new initiative of Sustainable Tucson to go beyond more talk to Action.

Sustainable Tucson has initiated an effort to re-think and re-create Tucson as a sustainable, resilient desert community that thrives and survives in the 21st century and beyond.  This series of presentations  will address:

* What does it mean to BE a “Desert Community”?

* What do we need to be good at?  (REALLY good at)

* What stands in our way and what are our strengths?

* What, specifically,  can we do?

At each meeting, you will hear from some of Tucson’s best thinkers on what we need to BE and need to DO so we can HAVE what is important.

And you will find ways to Act.  Representatives of groups that are acting on important pieces of this puzzle will invite you to join them to do something important.  And, as you share your ideas, we will help you find others who want to develop other ways to make a difference.

Come to the next Sustainable Tucson meeting, as we continue the never-ending journey toward a bright, resilient and sustainable future.   Learn from experts and each other, what it will mean to BE One Desert Community.

 

Common Ground Two

Time again to invite you all to proclaim local community from the rooftops. One rooftop at least.

Join in on the action on the roof of the Pennington St Parking Garage, 110 E. Pennington St.

What is Common Ground?

What it is… is a CELEBRATION, where every group, organization, congregation, small business, performer, artist, EVERYBODY in the Tucson community is invited to show up, share what they do, and… meet the neighbors. It’s a celebration of talent and skills, resources and passions, but most of all, it’s a celebration of connection, of possibility, because in celebrating, the boundaries between us are softened, familiarity then is not so much about agreement as it is about pleasurable proximity. The event is engineered to continually invite interaction, and from that interaction, to draw to the surface defining experiences of what our common needs, and emerging common vision, truly are. What more fertile ground for sustainability could there be?

Come on UP!

Our IGT Conversation

On January 10th, as part of our General Meeting, Sustainable Tucson held its own version of the community conversations being held around the city by Imagine Greater Tucson. After completing a paper survey about what we liked and what we wanted to change about the Tucson region, four groups of people discussed their answers to two questions about how we might move forward to plan our future with sustainability in mind. Each group selected their “top three” responses, and we are planning to discuss how to move them forward at our next meetings.

Response to first question

What criteria must be included in planning a sustainable future in the Greater Tucson area?

First Table

Transportation and untransportation-neighborhood networks; focus on urban villages

Reliance on local renewable resources including food and water

Reduced reliance on imported resources

Second Table

Water,

Renewable Energy,

Communication and Trust, transparency

Third Table

Long-term water policy

Long-term energy policy

Carbon neutrality

Fourth Table

Compassionate social justice/sustainable government

Healthy ecosystem

Regional sustainability, green local jobs, nature, water and food

Second Question

Considering these criteria, what changes must we begin to make to create a sustainable future for the Greater Tucson Region?

Table One

Change our emphasis from CAP water to TAP water [Tucson Arizona Project water]

Dedicating water to the environment to increase habitat for wildlife

Identify needs to meet the jobs and services needed here in the local market; create a trade mission for local opportunities and employment possibility [and the education necessary to support that].

Table Two

Accountability and transparency in local government

Individual empowerment and increased meaningful citizen participation

Eliminate influence by monied interests

Table Three

Decrease energy use and supply it from renewables

Increase water harvesting and decrease per capita water consumption

Measuring the carbon footprint of everything

Table Four

Communication is key to enforce transparency of governance

Better ways to access and participate in the policy processes

More structured ways to access local government

Use technology to pool and coordinate efforts that get larger groups involved in the policy process

Bring urgency into our conversation through education and excitement

Limit developers’ access to water

2011 Workshops at Bean Tree Farm

Starting January 15th, Bean Tree Farm will have a series of workshops to help you explore native and local foods, herbs and earth crafts. To find out more, visit the website here.

All Sonoran Permaculture Guild classes and workshops can be viewed at:
http://www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops/

Sonoran Permaculture Guild Workshops

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010- Natural Building and Passive Solar Design – This workshop includes hands on work with straw bales, adobe blocks, mud based plasters, cement based plasters, and cob. 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. We’ll cover briefly the building codes related to these materials used in larger projects, and look at the main principles of good passive solar design. Location: Central Tucson location about a mile and a half north of downtown Tucson. Time: 9AM to 4:30PM Cost: $69 – includes all course materials and handouts.  Contact Dan Dorsey at dorsey@dakotacom.net or visit www.sonoranpermaculture.org for more info on all of our upcoming classes.

Saturday, November 6th, 2010 – Complete Hands on Water Harvesting –  Learning how to use rainfall and storm water run-off is one of the keys to developing a sustainable and lush landscape. In this hands on workshop we will install a 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. Location: Central Tucson location about a mile and a half north of downtown Tucson. Time: 9AM to 4:30PM Cost: $69 includes all class materials and handouts. Contact Dan Dorsey at dorsey@dakotacom.net or visit www.sonoranpermaculture.org for more info on all of our upcoming classes.

Green Building Expo and Green Home Tour

The U.S. Green Building Council, AZ Chapter, Southern Branch's 3rd annual Expo featuring up to 60 exhibitors of green building products, businesses, and organizations; public and professional educational seminars; and a Green Home Tour. Jerry Yudelson, world-renowned author and sustainability expert is the keynote speaker. For more information, or to purchase tickets for the Green Home Tour, please visit www.usgbcaz.org/SonoranGreenExpo.

Colloquium on Critical Habitat

This is a Seven Event Series which traces the origins and current status of our landscape and cultural evolution, transitions into a focused conversation on local resources, scarcity and the regulations which address our use of these resources within the environmental design community, next moves into a specific discussion of our contemporary perspective on developing the built fabric of our community from the perspective of two local architects and historians and concludes with three conversations on the perspectives of local Architects, Planners and landscape Architects and their views of Critical Practice in Arid lands.

The Series begins with two of Tucson’s most accomplished critical observers: David Yetman and Corky Poster. Yetman and Poster will share their perceptions on our natural and cultural landscape and join an invited circle of guests from our community in the Colloquium circle which follows.

All Speakers will deliver their message between 4:30 and 6:00 pm at The Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Building on Campus(AME) at the N/E corner of Speedway and Mountain, Room S202.

Following the talks all attendees will be invited to attend the Colloquium Conversation which will follows from 6:00 to 7:30pm in the Sundt Gallery at the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (CALA) 1040 N. Olive Dr.

Green Infrastructure Showcase

Salpointe Catholic High School

Join Watershed Management Group (WMG) for a Green Infrastructure Showcase & Open House celebration with Samos Neighborhood, Salpointe High, WMG, and the City of Tucson, all leaders in green infrastructure for Southwest neighborhoods. This event will include an introduction to WMG\’s Green Streets – Green Neighborhoods program, an outdoor tour of Salpointe\’s new green infrastructure, and a Q&A session with a panel of local experts. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Tory Syracuse, 396-3266 or tsyracuse@watershedmg.org.

Permaculture workshop

Introduction to Permaculture – In this one day overview of Permaculture design, ethics, and principles you will have the opportunity to put together a long term plan for your sustainable home and landscape – one that takes care of people and takes care of our environment at the same time.

Location: Mesquite Tree Permaculture Site, one and a half miles north of downtown Tucson.  Cost: $59 – includes all course materials, handouts, and mesquite bread cooked in our solar oven. Contact Dan Dorsey at dorsey@dakotacom.net or visit www.sonoranpermaculture.org for more info on all our Fall classes.

Imagine Greater Tucson

Imagine Greater Tucson, a collaborative effort to define a publicly supported vision and clear action plan to help shape the region’s future is kicking off its multi-year campaign at the end of the month. There are many opportunities to get involved and to help ensure that sustainability is a fundamental concern of the campaign. Learn more about the effort here.

Green Infrastructure Tour

Tucson is emerging as a regional and national leader in the implementation of green infrastructure strategies. Green infrastructure uses natural processes to provide environmental services. Many local examples use small basins to capture, clean, and infiltrate stormwater from streets and parking lots, while providing passive irrigation to gardens of native plants.

Join Watershed Management Group’s Green Streets-Green Neighborhoods Program Manager James MacAdam on a tour of some of Tucson’s finest applications of green infrastructure, including business parking lots that demonstrate Tucson’s new Commercial Water Harvesting Ordinance; residential neighborhoods that have been extensively retrofitted with street-side rain gardens; University sites that capture and utilize rainfall from rooftops and parking lots as well as waste water from AC units and water fountains; and green infrastructure in Tucson’s downtown redevelopment projects.

The cost of the tour is $20 per person, and includes van transportation as well as light breakfast and snack foods. The tour is limited to 14 participants, and registration is required. To register, contact James MacAdam at 520-396-3266, james@watershedmg.org. For more information, visit watershedmg.org.

Save energy and money too!

The Teaching & Helping Program of Empowering Local Communities, Inc. is organizing a project to reduce the energy use of as many Tucson homes as possible on the Day of Climate Action, October 10, 2010 (10-10-10). We are looking for Tucson homeowners who want to participate in doing energy conservation projects on their homes on that day. We are also looking for two qualifying families (low-income homeowners) for September, where we will be training some of our experienced volunteers to be team leaders for the 10-10-10 project.

Are you interested?

Teaching & Helping will be fielding teams of Mentors and volunteers on October 10 to weatherize and insulate as many homes as we can. We expect to be able to simultaneously do 6-10 homes, train 15-30 volunteers, and reduce annual energy use at least $150 and CO2 production by at least 1500 pounds (probably more). We will be doing some combination of weatherization, insulation, and window replacement, depending on the houses’ needs.

On October 10, you can participate, regardless of your income. If you own your own home and are of modest income, we have a County grant to cover the cost of the Mentor and overhead. You pay for the materials. If you have more income, you can still take part in October. The Mentor and overhead cost will be about $300 +/- as well as the materials. Someone will inspect your house in September and give you a closer estimate of the total cost. (Weatherization involves caulking, sealing, and/or weather-stripping outlets, switches, plumbing penetrations, light fixtures, doors and windows.)

Also, if you meet the County’s requirements, we are looking for two homes to weatherize were we can train some of our experienced volunteers to be team leaders on October 10. An experienced Mentor will lead a small volunteer team to practice the special techniques we are developing for efficient weatherization of older homes.

If you are interested in finding out more — either to include your home in the project, or to participate as a volunteer and learn yourself and help others — please contact me, Tres English, at 795-3413 or <tres at sustainabletucson.org>

Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program

ENERGY EFFICIENCY RETROFITS FOR HOMEOWNERS

Are you interested in improving the energy efficiency
of your home?

Approximately 300 homes located within the City of Tucson will be selected to receive energy efficiency upgrades to reduce the home’s energy use by 15-20%.

Residential energy efficiency retrofit work may include things like substituting compact fluorescent light bulbs for incandescent light bulbs, installing low-flow faucets and showerheads, installing solar screens on the windows on the west side of the house and improving overall weatherization of the home.

The City will contract with a non-profit organization to conduct the energy efficiency retrofit work. The organization will meet with each homeowner to identify the areas of greatest need in the home. There is no charge to the homeowner.

To be eligible for the program, you must meet certain criteria.
Please read the INFORMATION SHEET carefully to determine if you are eligible.

Visit the site to get more information here.