WHAT’S UP WITH THE PROPOSED ROSEMONT MINE?

Sustainable Tucson’s October meeting

Sustainable Tucson’s October meeting

 

6:00 – 8:00 PM, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018

(Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)

Tucson City Council Ward 6

3202 East 1st Street · Tucson, AZ

If you’ve been looking at the newspaper recently, you will have seen an op-ed from the Tucson Chamber of Commerce saying that it is time for us all to stop “fighting” and for the Rosemont mine to start. That was followed by a number of letters to the editor that clearly explained why the mine is a really bad deal for southern Arizona.

In this talk Gayle Hartmann, president of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, will bring you up to date on what is happening and what is likely to happen in the near future. We’ll also screen a documentary about the Rosemont Mine by Frances Causey: “Ours Is The Land” is the new short film that depicts in moving and powerful detail the spiritual, cultural, and physical connection of the Tohono O’odham people of Arizona to Ce:wi Duag or the Santa Rita Mountains which are imperiled by the proposed creation of the mile-wide, half-mile deep Rosemont open pit copper mine. Desecrating this revered area with a mine would fundamentally alter the cultural landscape of the Tohono O’odham nation.

 

Sustainable Tucson at TENWEST!

At 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 14th, look for our tents at Discover Local Day in the Tucson Museum of Art Courtyard. “Discover Local Sustainability” Fun activities for all ages that show how our desert town can flourish in the future. Activities include:

  1. “Design your Neighborhood”: Create a walkable, inviting neighborhood from a typical Tucson neighborhood map using movable pieces that represent elements of complete streets. (Model built by Changemaker High School students.)
  2.  “Planning Tucson’s Future”: Draw your ideas of what we can do now to make Tucson a great place to live in 2038.
  3. “Understanding Our Groundwater”: Nothing is more important in the desert than water and the water we use in Tucson comes from underground. Understand how this works with an interactive groundwater model from Arizona Project Wet.
  4. “Note to the Future” letter-writing activity. Adult participants will be prompted to write a letter to a young person to be read 20 years from now, and young people will be prompted to write to a parent or other elder, looking ahead 20 years.
  5. “Tales of the Future”: Attendees will be inspired to tell their own 2-3 minute stories on their vision for a sustainable future for Tucson. The show will be hosted by local comedian Jeremy Segal.

 

TACTICAL URBANISM BLOCK PARTY

From 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 20th, you can find our tent at Sixth Avenue and Seventh Street (near EXO coffee.) “Design your Neighborhood” and “Understanding Our Groundwater” activities. Volunteers with vehicles needed to transport tables and activities. For more information call Jana at 325-9175.

Sustainable Water – A mirage or our future?


At this month’s Sustainable Tucson meeting we will continue our investigation of water sustainability in Tucson.

A five person panel of water experts from academia, government, and the community will present their viewpoints about what water sustainability means in Tucson and how we can achieve that goal. There will be a moderated question session and then we will open the discussion up to the audience.

There’s nothing more important to life in the desert than water, so be sure to join us for this fascinating and essential discussion.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018
6:00 pm (Doors open at 5:30)
Ward 6, 3202 E 1st St

Aug 11, 2017 Jonathan Overpeck Interview

Here’s the UA’s former Institute for the Environment  Director Jonathan Overpeck in his final interview with Metro Week. The August 11 program in which this interview was aired no longer appears on the UA’s podcast site for MetroWeek. Due to size limitations this 10 minute clip is presented in low resolution.

LowResOverpeck

 

 

July Workshop
What are our best opportunities for action?
What’s next? How do we get governments, businesses, financial organizations, educational institutions, and just plan folk to work together to make Tucson more sustainable and resilient?

One answer is to know what we want … and then talk “amongst ourselves” – every chance we get.

Come to the next Sustainable Tucson meeting, July 11 at Ward 6 office from 6-9pm, and help create the next step in developing “Principles for Our Sustainable Future”. Please register now, so we know how many people to plan for and can provide additional materials for next Tuesday’s meeting.

At this workshop, we will build on the principles developed at the June Sustainable Tucson meeting. These principles were developed by over 40 people in a 3 hour workshop and cover five areas – water, transportation, local jobs and businesses, green redevelopment, and financing.

At the July workshop, you will help identify overlaps and connections between these principles and then craft community-wide opportunities that the City of Tucson could help promote. (Example connection)

The results of this meeting will guide our City Council Candidates forum on August 9. The goal will be to identify 4-6 such opportunities and ask the City Council Candidates to discuss the City’s role in making Tucson more resilient and sustainable, using these opportunities as examples. These principles and connections may also be used in candidate forums for the Board of Supervisors, next year.

This should be a fun evening. You will be working with other creative and caring Tucsonans who want to make Tucson a better place for all of us. So put on your creative cap, and join in the fun. Register now.

Initiatives for Climate-ready, Resilient Buildings – the Emerging Tucson 2030 District and More

2030 Districts are a national network of organizations in 15 cities in North America that are working to reduce building energy, water waste, and carbon transportation emissions by 50% by 2030.

At Sustainable Tucson’s April General Meeting, come hear the update of the Tucson Emerging 2030 District, Tucson’s new Community Partnership to transform our commercial and institutional buildings.

The Tucson Emerging 2030 District continues to evolve, and their executive committee will share their progress and expectations with Sustainable Tucson to describe how far the concept has proceeded since earlier presentations. Learn about the workshops, forums, PCC classes, and community events, which are attracting interest in this important new initiative in Tucson.

After Tres English presents a brief overview of the conditions of our quarter million aging tract homes, the second half of the April General Meeting will feature David Eisenberg, Director of the Development Center for Appropriate Technology.

David will present an overview of what people need to know to embark on the green building journey. This will include information on building codes, building science, green building materials, and reliable sources for further information. If you are interested in the subject of green retrofitting of existing residences or designing and building your own eco-house, this part will be of particular value. David will also describe the potential for green retrofitting Tucson’s vast housing stock built between 1950 and 1990.

• Ward 6, 3202 E 1st St
• Tuesday, April 11, 2017
• 6:00 pm (doors open 5:00)

“Transformational Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation and Water Sustainability in the Colorado River Basin”

Seminar by UA Center for Climate Adaptation Science & Solutions: “Transformational Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation and Water Sustainability in the Colorado River Basin”

February 8 at 4:30 p.m.

UA Campus, ENR2 Bldg. Room S0107, 1063 E. Ft. Lowell St.

Speaker: Dave White, Professor, School of Community Resources and Development, Arizona State University

Drawing from use-inspired sustainability science and decision making under uncertainty, this talk will address the overarching question: Given environmental and societal uncertainties, how can cities dependent on the Colorado River Basin develop transformational solutions to implement water sustainability transitions? Managing transitions toward urban water sustainability will require innovative approaches to water governance that are anticipatory, adaptable, just, and evidence-supported.

Sustainability and Architecture: USGBC ADVANCE and Tucson’s Prospective 2030 District®

For our May General Meeting, Sustainable Tucson is very pleased to present “Sustainability and Architecture: USGBC ADVANCE and Tucson’s Prospective 2030 District®.” This program will present the innovative partnership between the 2030 Districts and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)-Arizona Sonoran Branch, with the goal of developing a 2030 District® here in Tucson.

First established in Seattle, 2030 Districts® are unique private/ public partnerships that bring property owners, managers, and developers together with local governments, businesses, and community stakeholders to provide a business model for urban sustainability through collaboration, leveraged financing, and shared resources. Now in 11 other cities across North America, 2030 Districts® are forming to meet the energy, water, and vehicle emissions reduction targets for existing buildings and new construction called for by Architecture 2030 in the 2030 Challenge for Planning.

Here in Tucson, since late January of this year, a growing group of representatives from community environmental organizations, City and County departments, and building professionals have been meeting regularly to explore the development of a 2030 District in Tucson. Initial focus has been on forming a District in the Bonita neighborhood in Menlo Park, but there is also interest in expanding to include downtown Tucson and the U of A. The 2030 Challenge for Planning goals, which need to be adopted to form a District, if successfully met, would result in reducing energy use, water use, and CO2 transportation emissions by 50% District-wide by 2030.

USGBC-Arizona Sonoran Branch members, working together with Architecture 2030 and 2030 Districts® representatives, have formed the Tucson ADVANCE/2030 District Partnership (TADP), in a joint effort to provide free resources and tools such as ENERGY STAR to benchmark, develop, and implement creative strategies, best practices, and verification methods for measuring progress towards the goals of the 2030 Challenge for Planning and the Tucson 2030 District. (See article below for related training event.)

Speakers include:
Peter Dobrovolny: Retired Architect/Planner and 2030 District Advocate. Peter was instrumental in forming the first 2030 District in Seattle and is currently facilitating the exploration of a 2030 District in Tucson
Michael Peel: Community and Government Relations Liaison, Pima Community College. Michael is facilitating the USGBC ADVANCE training that is focused on development of the Tucson ADVANCE Prospective 2030 District.
Ray Clamons: Owner of Xylon Designs Sustainable Architecture & Water Harvesting Landscapes. Ray has produced the concept of the Bonita District – Tucson 2030 District and is currently active in planning for that District.
Joel Loveland: Professor Emeritus University of Washington (UW) School of Architecture and Director, UW Center for Integrated Design; 2030 District Advocate. Joel is currently supporting Peter and Michael in the area of building performance analysis and benchmarking for the emerging 2030 District in Tucson.

Monday, May 9, 2016
Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower level Conference room
101 N Stone (lower level parking off Alameda St.)
Program begins at 6:00pm. Doors open at 5:30 for networking.

“Catching the Sun” New Film Screening

You are invited to a screening of the new film “Catching the Sun” on Friday, April 22nd at 7pm at Casa Video Film Bar at 2905 E Speedway Blvd.

Catching The Sun is a feature length documentary that explores the global race to a clean energy future. The event will be done by donation, as Tucson Solar Punk is fronting the cost for distribution rights. Check out the Trailer at catchingthesun.tv.

The film follows the hope and heartbreak of unemployed American workers seeking jobs in the solar industry, and sheds light on the path to an economically just and environmentally sustainable future. Set against the struggle to build a ‘green economy’, Catching the Sun will engage new audiences in solutions to climate change and income inequality. Please spread the word to others among your networks.

I hope to see you at the theater!

Climate Change and Pima County Operations

Climate Change and Pima County Operations:

Mitigation and Adaptation through Energy Efficiency, Water Efficiency, and Renewable Energy

The Sustainable Tucson general meeting for March continues this year’s focus on climate change and local impacts and actions.

In Pima County, residents, businesses, and public services primarily rely on energy generated by natural gas and coal-fired thermoelectric plants and on water supplied by the Colorado River and transported by the Central Arizona Project (CAP).

The production and transmission of energy and water supplies are linked, and the costs of these resources are rising as a result of scarcity issues, growing demands. and regulatory uncertainty around renewables. Furthermore, energy and water supplies are vulnerable to the effects of climate variability, such as prolonged drought, which further influence costs. Electricity and water costs for Pima County are projected to rise 10-30% in the coming years. While existing County policies and tools have thus far kept rising costs at bay, new strategies and infrastructure need to be considered in the context of these increasing and compounded risks.

Speakers will include:

Dr. Julie Robinson, Pima County Sustainability Program Manager

Others to be announced.

Presentations will be followed by audience Q&A.

The event will take place in the downstairs conference room of the Joel Valdez Main Library in downtown Tucson. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for meet & greet begins at 5:30; the program will begin at 6:00.
Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone, Lower Level Meeting Room
(Free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

Urban Farm Tour

Tucson currently grows millions of pounds of food right in the urban area, but we don’t see it because it comes from many, many places in small quantities.

Now you can join the Feeding Tucson Urban Farm Tour on March 5 to see examples of the future of Tucson’s secure food system.

During this 5-hour tour, participants will visit different sets of aquaponics and hydroponics systems, a long-time urban orchard, market gardens and community gardens. The tour will end at the Mission Garden for a locally-sourced lunch, catered by Caridad Community Kitchen, and a discussion of “What do we need to do to produce and eat lots more local food?”

The March 5 tour is organized by Feeding Tucson, a project of Sustainable Tucson. It is part of our ongoing efforts to create a more sustainable and resilient community.


Tickets are available at the Feeding Tucson website. The $25 charge covers the catered meal and a contribution to Mission Garden.

UA Earth Transformed Lecture Series

UA Earth Transformed Lecture Series

A Series of Six Lectures
Exploring Our World and Ourselves

Mondays, January 25 – March 7
7:00-8:00 PM
UA Centennial Hall

Climate change and its impacts are no longer merely abstract projections for the future. Instead, they are on-going and growing challenges for both humans and many of the natural systems upon which we depend. Globally, changes in the oceans, ice sheets and atmosphere provide clear fingerprints of the human causes, but also important lessons for society to learn as we seek solutions. Even more than when the UA Science Lecture Series originally turned to climate change a decade ago, the Southwest is dealing with a looming water crisis, unprecedented severe wildfire risk, emerging human health concerns and much more. Scholars and the public alike need to brainstorm and work to ensure a resilient and vibrant future for the Southwest and the planet.

Lectures are held at Centennial Hall on the campus of the University of Arizona. Parking is available on a pay-per-use basis in the Tyndall Avenue Garage.
All lectures begin at 7:00 PM and are free to the public. Doors open at 6:00 PM. We encourage you to arrive at Centennial Hall before 6:30 PM as seating is limited.
For More Information
Visit the Earth Transformed website or call 520-621-4090.

Upcoming Lectures

Monday, January 25, 2016
The Ocean’s Role in Climate: Heat and Carbon Uptake in the Anthropocene
Joellen Russell, 1885 Society Distinguished Scholar and Associate Professor of Geosciences, College of Science, University of Arizona
The oceans play a key role in shaping the Earth’s climate and its variability on both short and long time scales. Central to this role is the ability of the ocean to store both carbon dioxide and heat, not only at the surface but also in its deepest layers. New technologies are revolutionizing how we study and predict changes in our dynamic oceans.
Monday, February 1, 2016
Climate Change and Global Food Security
David Battisti, Tamaki Endowed Chair and Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington
Increasing stresses on major crops due to climate change, coupled with the increasing demand for food due to increasing population and development, present significant challenges to achieving global food security. This lecture explores the likely impact of climate change and volatility on food production and availability in the foreseeable future.

Monday, February 8, 2016
Ecosystem Resilience: Navigating Our Tenuous Connection to Nature
Russell Monson, Louise Foucar Marshall Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, College of Science, University of Arizona
Sustainability of the services provided by Earth’s ecosystems is dependent on mechanisms of resilience that include maintenance of biotic diversity and avoidance of climatically-controlled ‘tipping points’. This lecture will explore how recent trends in land use and anthropogenic climate warming have exposed vulnerabilities in the mechanisms of ecosystem resilience, and revealed the potential for surprising shifts in the productivity and persistence of ecosystems.

Monday, February 15, 2016
No lecture this week.

Monday, February 22, 2016
Climate Change and Human Health: Impacts and Pathways to Resilience
Kacey Ernst, Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public Health, University of Arizona
Climate change will inevitably lead to negative impacts on human health. Certainty in predicting negative health outcomes is higher when changes are more directly related to the natural environment. Research is advancing our understanding of these complex systems and how they might be altered under different climatic conditions. Mitigation strategies can be applied now to improve both the current and future health of populations.

Monday, February 29, 2016
Carbon Sequestration: Can We Afford It?
Kimberly Ogden, Professor, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Arizona
Carbon sequestration is defined as removing carbon from the atmosphere to mitigate climate change. Although there are commercially available technologies, the main barrier to implementation is economic. This lecture will explore proposed methods for carbon capture from the simple to the complex. The potential of alternative energy to reduce emissions and sequestration using biological processes will be emphasized.

Monday, March 7, 2016
The Changing Earth: It’s Not Just a New Normal
Jonathan Overpeck, Co-Director, Institute of the Environment; Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Professor of Science and Regents’ Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, College of Science, University of Arizona
Climate change is ever-intensifying at scale of the globe, and the Southwest is already dealing with climate change challenges in the form of unusually hot drought, looming water shortage, widespread death of trees, unprecedented severe fire risk, dust storms, hotter heat waves and more. With the economic vitality of the Southwest at stake, climate adaptation and mitigation are key.

From the Pope to Paris: Climate Change Action Updates

Greetings and wishes to you all for a very Happy & Sustainable New Year!

2016 marks Sustainable Tucson’s 10th Anniversary. To mark that milestone, we will be planning this year’s meetings around the theme of “Climate Change and Actions for Our Sustainable Future.”

Join us at the next Sustainable Tucson General Meeting for a review of two major climate-change events from the past year: Pope Francis’s Encyclical and the COP21 meeting in Paris.

Hank Krzysik. local sustainable architect and policy advisor with Pima County Interfaith Council, will provide an analysis of the Pope’s Encyclical, focusing on its implications for action not just by world powers but also by each of us as individuals.

Vince Pawlowski, UA graduate student and board president of Association for the Tree of Life, recently returned from COP21, the UN Climate Conference in Paris. He will tell us what really happened behind the scenes in Paris — and particularly the US commitment will mean for Tucson (and for Arizona). “National promises will become the basis for city agendas. More than ever, cities will the first impacted, and in many cases the first actors.

Discussion following these presentations will focus on climate activism here in Tucson, in light of both the Pope’s Encyclical and the Paris agreement, and what we can (& must) do to reach our goals.

Climate change is a moral issue and a survival issue. The time for action is NOW.

The event will take place in the downstairs conference room of the Joel Valdez Main Library in downtown Tucson. Meet & greet begins at 5:30; the program will begin at 6:00. Doors open at 5:30 pm.

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

Movie at Loft on Fracking

      PLEASE JOIN US

AT THE
LOFT THEATER (Screen 3)

GROUNDSWELL RISING

ON THE HEALTH, ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF FRACKING FOR NATURAL GAS AND OIL

Free Admission, space limited to 98 people

Co-sponsored by

Center for Biological Diversity

PDA -People
Demanding Action

Physicians
for Social Responsibility

The
Sierra Club, Rincon Group

 

   
Contact
bwarre01@gmail.com or
520-325-3983 for questions.

Film on Fracking

      PLEASE JOIN US

AT THE
LOFT THEATER (Screen 3)

GROUNDSWELL RISING

ON THE HEALTH, ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF FRACKING FOR NATURAL GAS AND OIL

Free Admission, space limited to 98 people

Co-sponsored by

Center for Biological Diversity

PDA -People
Demanding Action

Physicians
for Social Responsibility

The
Sierra Club, Rincon Group

 

   
Contact
bwarre01@gmail.com or
520-325-3983 for questions.

Special event for November

Sustainable Tucson is co-sponsoring a special movie at the Loft Theater – “This Changes Everything” by Naomi Klein.

The presentation also features a post-film panel discussion with Luis Alberto Perales of Tierra y Libertad, Bob Cook of Sustainable Tucson, and Diana Liverman of UA Institute of the Environment.

This presentation is part of Science on Screen at The Loft, an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloane Foundation. Movie starts at 7:00pm. Loft Theater, 3233 E. Speedway.

Important movie – This Changes Everything

In place of the November Sustainable Tucson meeting, ST is co-sponsoring the movie This Changes Everything at the Loft.

Featuring a post-film panel discussion with Luis Alberto Perales of Tierra y Libertad, Bob Cook of Sustainable Tucson, and Diana Liverman of UA Institute of the Environment.

This presentation is part of Science on Screen at The Loft, an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloane Foundation.

Movie starts at 7:00pm. ST and other groups will be presenting information on various sustainability topics. SO GET THERE EARLY.

ENVISION TUCSON SUSTAINABLE FESTIVAL


Join us at this year’s 5th annual Envision Tucson Sustainable Festival, October 18, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the YWCA, 525 Bonita Avenue. The Festival will showcase the many features of sustainable living in Tucson and our desert Southwest.

We’re very excited about the great variety of activities and exhibits at this year’s event. Over 40 exhibitors, demonstrators, and vendors will be sure to provide something for everyone.

A few of the highlights of this event:
** The Festival is the starting point for PAG Solar Partnership’s neighborhood Solar Tour.
**The Tucson Electric Vehicle Association will display a wide variety of electric vehicles
** The Southern Arizona Green Chamber of Commerce will present this year’s Climate Leadership Challenge recognition awards.
** In recognition of National Co-op Month, the ‘Co-op Cluster’ will showcase local co-ops that use this sustainable business model.
** The Festival is the kick-off event for 10West, a weeklong celebration of innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship.

Throughout the day, local and native foods will be featured in food preparation demonstrations. Examples of solar cooking will demonstrate an exciting way to be sustainable. Visionary speakers will be looking at how we can attain the sustainable future we need and want. The Annual Green School Recognition will again honor a local school that promotes ecological education, school gardening, and related activities. This year, that award goes to Davis Bilingual Magnet School. And we’ll dedicate Phase 2 of the Festival-installed vegetable garden at the YWCA.

Admission and parking are free, or come by bike and Living Streets Alliance will provide a Bike Valet service for those who come by bike.

Come to the Festival! Explore what’s going on now in our community, get more involved, learn new skills, and share your own vision of a sustainable community.

For more information: www.envisiontucsonsustainable.org and like us on Facebook at Envision Tucson Sustainable, or contact Paula Schlusberg .

Economic development: Start with a Tucson metropolitan microgrid

Economic development: Start with a Tucson metropolitan microgrid

By Terry Finefrock Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

January 23, 2015

There is great potential that electricity costs could be reduced, increases avoided, system reliability improved and recurring economic benefits provided by establishing utility-scale photovoltaic solar electric facilities within and adjacent to the Tucson distribution grid.

By using rapidly developing energy storage equipment on feeder circuits we can manage fluctuations in demand or supply, essentially creating a metropolitan microgrid.

Why is this move to multiple solar facilities dispersed around the area so important?

The cost of electricity has a great impact on our economy and all residents, businesses, ratepayers and taxpayers, especially those with little or no discretionary income. Energy, like water, is not a discretionary expenditure.

Conventional fossil-fueled generation of electricity via coal or natural gas simply costs more than solar electric generation technology. Here are just two examples why: “Freight” costs for transmission infrastructure account for about 10 percent of an electric bill; another 3 percent pays for the energy lost during transmission requiring incremental generation costs and surcharges.

Additionally, there are environmental costs. Coal combustion emits carbon and natural gas mining emits methane. Both emissions trap heat in the atmosphere, result in higher average temperatures, greater energy consumption and costs, and less local precipitation.

Methane is cleaner than coal but traps 26 times more heat than coal/carbon.

Generation of electricity via steam and turbines loses to evaporation billions of gallons of potable water each year.

That water, so precious now, will be even more so in the future. As David Modeer, general manager of the Central Arizona Project, has stated, the cost to develop alternative water sources is 10 to 50 times more than the cost of current sources. Not only will future water bills rise, but so will the cost of food crops.

I believe we should not continue to incur the operational expenses of obsolete technology such as coal-fired plants or attempt to upgrade and prolong their life for a short period of time.

Instead, I’m advocating that ratepayer revenues should be invested in new technology that avoids these expenses.

By accelerating the reduction and displacement of conventional generation with solar and energy storage, we minimize those costs and allow continued harvesting of prior investments until those assets are fully depreciated.

According to the Arizona Corporation Commission, Tucson Electric Power’s 2014 cost to generate electricity via pulverized coal is 12.5 cents/kWh; the least costly generation technology is 8.8 cent/kwh; rapid-response generation, used to balance supply and demand, ranges from 26 to 29 cents/kWh.

Local utility-scale solar photovoltaic facilities can be established at less than 5 cents/kWh, and incur no fuel, emissions, water or transmission-related costs. Pima County recently contracted solar facilities at a much smaller scale for 5.7 cents/kWh.

Considering conservatively projected annual increases in utility costs, satisfying their electricity requirements via self-generation could reduce the county’s operational costs by $663 million over 30 years. Since the city of Tucson uses about twice as much energy as the county, the combined savings would total about $2 billion over that time period. (That would fill a lot of potholes or pension funds).

Federal energy-program funding for a metro microgrid could be acquired; local governments could provide zero-cost leases of public land in exchange for fixed energy prices.

In addition to electricity cost reductions, the demand for the equipment would help our economic development organizations to entice higher-wage manufacturers and solar-system providers to locate here and supply the Western U.S. and Mexico who are implementing a renewable energy mandate. The resulting population growth would increase property values, local and export trade and the various tax revenues required for community improvements.

If you believe a private-public partnership to implement some form of these concepts has merit, contact your Tucson City Council (government.tucsonaz.gov/city-government) and Pima County Board of Supervisors (webcms.pima.gov/government/board_of_supervisors), and ask that they establish a project team to work with TEP, the Arizona Corporation Commission, Residential Utility Consumer Office, and our Arizona congresspersons to make this happen.

Terry Finefrock, a Tucson resident since 1956 and a graduate of the University of Arizona and the Eller Graduate School of Management, is a former high-technology manufacturing operations and supply chain director. He has provided testimony and comment to the Arizona Corporation Commission. Contact him at tlfinefrock@comcast.net

 

LET’S TALK TRASH

Garbage: Waste Or Resource?

  • Compost is a good alternative to chemical fertilizers…It doesn’t pollute groundwater, wells, or waterways.
  • Compost keeps organic materials out of landfills, reducing methane gas emissions.
  • Compost sequesters carbon deep in the soil
  • Compost promotes healthy microbial activity in the soil, providing micronutrients to plant roots and discouraging soil diseases.
  • Compost improves soil structure, thereby protecting topsoil from erosion.
  • Compost helps soil retain more rainwater.
  • Compost helps grow plants rich with nutrients that sustain good health.
  • Compost manufacturing support green jobs.
  • It’s easy and it’s satisfying.
  • Composting turns food scraps into new food!

Come to our next Sustainable Tucson general meeting on September 8, 2014

to learn more about composting from our three presenters:

 

PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING PROGRAM CHANGE…
Chet Phillips, Project Director of Compost Cats, had to cancel his presentation, due to an unforeseen circumstance, but we will have the following presentation instead:

EMILY ROCKEY, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Fairfax Companies, which includes Tank’s Green Stuff, will tell us about their large-scale composting operations.  Tank’s Green Stuff rescues local plant material that would otherwise be considered “waste” and transforms it into something valuable: a rich, water saving, nutrient filled organic compost.

Linda Leigh, Co-owner with partner Doug Shepherd of Vermillion Wormery, will talk about the use of worms for composting, aka vermicomposting, to achieve their goal of zero organic waste.  They partner with restaurants and friends, taking kitchen scraps and feeding them to earthworms to produce a beautiful, full-of-life soil amendment called vermicast.

Joy Holdread, Proprietor and resident of Joy’s Happy Garden, will be talking about her creative low-cost, low-water, low-labor composting strategies for sustainable desert living.  Joy is a passive-aggressive desert gardener!

ST July Mtg — Tucson CAN Have Abundant Urban Food Production

Tucson CAN Have Abundant Urban Food Production

Monday, July 14, 5:30-8:00 pm

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room, 101 N. Stone

(free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

Urban agriculture is becoming much more common — in many forms, not just backyard gardens. Voters of Tucson recently adopted a General Plan that endorses urban food production, and City of Tucson is developing a Sustainability Land Use Code that supports urban agriculture, while still maintaining appropriate nuisance and noise regulations. We need urban food production (including distribution/sale) to flourish, legally, in Tucson  — as it has in so many urban areas around the country and around the world.

 

Many things will need to happen to bring this about, but at least one important thing is for City regulations to allow it to happen. For example, under current codes, up to 24 chickens are allowed almost anywhere — as long as your lot is over 100’ in all directions (very rare within the city). Over the past few years, much work has been done to develop appropriate regulations, with numerous opportunities for public input. But now, because of misunderstandings, the whole process may get dropped, leaving the city with its current, restrictive and/or confusing regulations.

 

Tucson needs pro-food-production regulations and a vision of a community with an abundant, flourishing local food system. The July Sustainable Tucson meeting will provide an opportunity to join the discussion of that vision and what is needed to make it happen.

 

The program will begin with short videos showing some ideas of what has succeeded in other cities — and could be possible here. Then, Merrill Eisenberg, retired professor, UA College of Public Health, will provide a brief overview that summarizes work to this point and contrasts current and proposed regulations. We will then discuss how to get appropriate regulations passed and how to promote a community vision for creating a secure and sustainable local food supply for Tucson.

 

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s July 14th meeting and be part of the discussion.

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

What climate activists should learn from the Monterey Shale downgrade

What climate activists should learn from the Monterey Shale downgrade

by Kurt Cobb

Published by Resource Insights on 2014-06-01

Original article: http://resourceinsights.blogspot.com/2014/06/what-climate-activists-should-learn.html

 

There is an important hidden lesson for climate activists in the vast downgrade of recoverable oil resources now thought to be available from California’s Monterey Shale. Almost all climate activists have rejected any talk that the world’s oil, natural gas and even coal supplies are nearing plateaus and possibly peaks in their production. That’s because they fear that such talk will make the public and policymakers believe that climate change will be less of a problem as a result or no problem at all.

 

Any yet, for obvious reasons climate activists rejoiced when the Monterey downgrade was announced. But this only served to highlight the fact that climate activists have lost control of the public narrative on energy and can only steal it back by including constraints on fossil fuel supply as part of their story.

 

In fact, climate activists have been content to accept fossil fuel industry claims–the two parties agree on little else–that we have vast resources of economically recoverable fossil fuels, the rate of production of which will continue to grow for decades–unless, of course, climate activists stop this trend. This stance makes for an heroic narrative, but misses what is actually happening in the minds of the public and policymakers, minds which must be won over in order to address climate change effectively.

 

Let me explain.

 

The hype surrounding the now vastly downgraded treasure trove of oil once thought to be recoverable from California’s Monterey Shale acted as a siren song on a state long devoted to energy innovation and a gradual transition away from fossil fuels. After all, California is the only state that has a climate change policy that will force businesses, localities and households to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions drastically and thus reduce their fossil fuel use drastically.

 

Sirens, mythological beings who are part woman and part bird, are said to send sailors to their demise through irresistible singing that lures them to crash on rocks they would normally attempt to avoid. It turns out that the thought of large amounts of readily available hydrocarbons under California has had a similar effect on the state’s sustainability-minded population.

 

Of course, large deposits of readily available oil would have spelled large amounts of money, both as income to individual Californians and as tax revenues to various California governments. And, such oil deposits would have also spelled large contributions to California politicians in whose hands the fate of drilling and production regulations lie.

 

But the siren song of oil in California ended abruptly when the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that, based on new information, the Monterey Shale actually contained 96 percent less recoverable oil than previously thought. Climate and anti-fracking activists were overjoyed. This vast resource in all likelihood will not be heavily exploited, and most of the oil in it left unburned. (Yes, the oil is still down there. The EIA just doesn’t think anyone will be able to recover it profitably using known technology.)

 

Since the 2008 spike in oil prices, the oil industry had been looking for a way to convince the public and policymakers not to abandon fossil fuels in favor of renewable, sustainable alternatives. When the so-called “revolution” in hydraulic fracking provided a temporary bump in U.S. oil and natural gas production, the industry found its message. With rising production America would now become a new oil and gas superpower, ending its fossil fuel imports and even exporting some of its largesse to the rest of the world. (This claim is proving to be a wild exaggeration, but that doesn’t keep it from being effective.)

 

The other purpose of this narrative–which has been heavily touted in the media–is to change the conversation from climate change to rising fossil fuel supplies and the benefits that such supplies will bestow on America and ultimately the world.

 

So far, the oil industry’s strategy has worked famously. The media and the public are abuzz with the message of renewed American strength and prosperity resulting from fracked oil and natural gas. Yes, there are stories about the environmental and health hazards of this process. But, the vast majority of Americans remain far away from and therefore unaffected by these hazards.

 

As long as the news is about the success of fracking and even about its hazards, the public will fixate on the question of how to obtain the country’s supposed newfound abundance safely rather than on the unfolding horror of climate change.

 

But, there are, in fact, two justifiable reasons for us to move away from burning fossil fuels: climate change and supply constraints. We need to transition to other energy sources because fossil fuels are accelerating climate change AND because we simply do not know when these fuels will decline in their production rates. Current evidence suggests that the risks of such a decline are mounting.

 

Unless climate activists embrace this dual message, they will be ceding the argument to the fossil fuel industry. With its huge financial resources the industry will continue largely unopposed to spout the abundance narrative which experience now tells us trumps discussion of climate change.

 

Read for yourself any glowing account of America’s new oil and gas abundance and you will ALMOST NEVER see any mention of climate change.

 

But, the Monterey Shale downgrade is not an isolated incident. It’s part of a pattern of downgrades that are making expectations about the trajectory of oil and natural gas production in the United States more realistic.

 

Moreover, world prices for oil when measured using the average daily price have hovered at or near record levels for the past three years despite the shale boom in America. Worldwide oil supplies have barely grown since 2005, even as China, India and the rest of Asia have increased their demand. (That demand has been in large part accommodated by declines in U.S. and European oil use resulting from sluggish economies and changes in driving habits due to declining incomes.)

 

U.S. natural gas production has been stagnant since the beginning of 2012 even as prices have more than doubled. The shale gas miracle is gradually unravelling and we may even be headed for a natural gas supply crisis in the United States.

 

The evidence is compelling that the risks to fossil fuel supplies are rising and that the world’s and the nation’s reliance on them is a dangerous dependency. That combined with the national security implications suggests that the United States (which remains a huge importer of oil) and all other energy importing nations are far better off moving toward energy supplies that are entirely homegrown and can be relied upon indefinitely.

 

This is a forceful argument when combined with concerns about climate change. And it is a necessary addition to the arsenal of climate change activists if they expect to refocus America and the world on the imperative of addressing climate change effectively.

ST June Meeting – BUILDING RESILIENT NEIGHBORHOODS: Eco-villages and Social Cohesion

BUILDING RESILIENT NEIGHBORHOODS:

Eco-villages and Social Cohesion

Monday, June 9, 2014, 5:30 – 8:00 pm

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,

101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

With climate change increasing the likelihood of heat waves, flooding and other emergencies that may overwhelm first responders, and when “sheltering in place” becomes the default response, will your neighborhood be a caring and sharing place? Do you have a neighborhood association or group projects?

What is the level of trust on your street? How meaningful are conversations with your neighbors? Do you recognize your neighbors? Are they trustworthy? Do they keep to themselves?

Whether at an Eco-village start-up in Avra Valley, or an Tucson urban neighborhood the challenges and opportunities are great.

Join Sustainable Tucson’s public meeting to explore the value of community cohesion. It may move you to organize where you live.

Speakers will include:

David Burley, organizer at Tortillita Eco-village, Avra Valley. This rural effort to create community can teach us much about starting from scratch including the fundamentals of sharing water and gardening.

Joanie Sawyer, teacher and community activist, past City of Tucson PRO neighborhoods facilitator, Sustainable Tucson core team founder.

Michael Ray, Limberlost Neighborhood Association, President; Inventor and owner of Nurse Tree Arch, LC3.

Both Joanie and Michael are members of the Vulnerable Communities and Neighborhoods Task Force, 2014 (an outcome of the 2013 Climate Smart Southwest national conference).

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s June 9th meeting to find out more.

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

Not Up the Creek…Yet/ ST in Tucson Weekly

http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/not-up-the-creekyet/Content?oid=4135802

 

Not Up the Creek…Yet

As Arizona faces potential water shortages, experts on divided on the solutions, though many remain optimistic.

by

Karl Flessa will tell you that it’s not that hard to collect seashells. All it takes is a bucket.

But the average beachcomber isn’t bringing the specimens back to a lab to study population densities, reconstruct the salinity levels of the ecosystem and figure out how long ago the creatures that inhabited the shells were alive.

Flessa, the founding director of the University of Arizona’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has focused on the Colorado River delta since 1992. During his first trip there two decades ago, he found beaches made up almost entirely of mollusk shells—a result of the dry delta, which hadn’t seen water from the river in years.

“The puzzle was that we couldn’t find very many live individuals of the species that made those shells, and it was at that point we realized the environment had changed,” he said. “What we were looking at … was the remains of the former living community. That was a record of what the delta used to look like before upstream dams and diversions used up most of the water before it got to the gulf.”

Though Tucson sits some 200 miles from the Colorado River delta, Southern Arizona’s use of the river’s water contributes to the drying of the region, and many question how long Arizona communities can rely on the state’s share of it.

Recent reports from the Arizona Department of Water Resources predict a supply gap of roughly 1 million acre-feet by 2060—enough water for a million five-person families—thanks to population growth and climate change. But as the discussions about the water supply in Arizona continue, opinions vary among lawmakers, scientists and environmentalists on the next logical step.

Assessing the situation

In early April, 400 water experts from around the country packed a ballroom at the UA’s Student Union. The conference, hosted by the university’s Water Resources Research Center, served as a daylong think tank to address the supply gap that the state first announced in 2011. The gathering included representatives from water users’ associations, the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Native American tribes and the Central Arizona Project.

Although speakers tossed in the occasional water joke, the attendees were serious about coming up with solutions. In an adjacent room, dozens of posters displayed various data that included crop patterns, water’s effect on forest restoration and the anticipated water needs of Arizona’s tribes.

Nathan Bracken, assistant director and general counsel for the Western States Water Council, sat on a panel that discussed the problems of water overuse and the benefits of reuse. Though the Southwest remains at the forefront of a possible water shortage, he said the region’s problem is not unique.

“The Midwestern states that we represent have water-supply issues, too, but they have relatively more water, so it’s not as acute there,” Bracken said. “But even states like Kansas are looking very intently at this, and Oklahoma, too. Oklahoma is a very water-rich state compared to other Western states, but they have a goal now to make sure to use no more water in 2060 than they are now.”

Kathleen Ferris, executive director of the nonprofit Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, attended the conference to advocate for Arizona towns such as the municipalities surrounding Phoenix. Municipal water use accounts for 50 percent of water use across the state, and Ferris said that providing clean and safe water requires years of preparation.

Conservation techniques have become more widely adopted over the past 30 years, she said, noting that the city of Phoenix’s per-capita-per-day water use declined 32 percent between 1980 and 2010.

“We have done a remarkable job at reducing water use,” Ferris said, speaking of residents in the 10 municipalities that her association serves. “We’re using far less water than we used to use for the kind of population that we’re serving. And the same is true in Tucson.”

Tom Davis, who was representing the state’s agricultural community at the conference, said farmers are among the most cognizant of the state’s water supplies. Keeping the Colorado River flowing through Yuma, he said, is important to the region’s agricultural stability.

“The thing about Yuma is that we have senior rights; we’re the first diverters of the Arizona Colorado River water,” he said. “In fact, our right is that we can divert whatever we need, consumptive use-wise, to produce our crop. So our farmers are able to farm year-round and they’re able to farm a variety of crops.”

Weighing the options

In an interview in the weeks after the conference, Sharon Megdal, director of the UA’s Water Resources Research Center, said population growth is at the heart of the supply-gap issue. While noting that population projections can fluctuate, she didn’t downplay the significance of projected gap.

“A million acre-feet is a lot of water,” she said. “But is that the right number, or is that symbolic of the fact that if communities in the state wish to grow and develop in the ways they’re anticipating now, there’s going to be a need to figure out how to meet the water needs?”

While many avenues are being explored—including conservation, reuse and augmenting the existing supply—Megdal said that efforts to conserve water have been on the state’s radar for years. She pointed to the Groundwater Management Act, signed in 1980, which outlines conservation goals for groundwater users throughout the state.

But conservation is not enough, she said.

“Conservation, demand management, using less, is certainly within the legal purview of the state of Arizona,” she said. “What got said at the conference … is that conservation alone will not close the gap. Fifty years from now, whether there will be something really, really different about the way people bathe themselves or wash their clothes, I can’t tell you, but I certainly believe there’s more room for conservation.”

Much of the current focus is on augmentation of water supplies, mostly through desalination, which comes in two forms: the separation of minerals from brackish groundwater already stored in Arizona aquifers and the removal of salt from ocean water, which would require a plant somewhere along Mexico’s Gulf of California.

A desalination plant in Mexico would require a trade agreement with that country, said Mitch Basefsky, the Central Arizona Project’s spokesman for Pima and Pinal counties. Theoretically, Basefsky said, CAP would pay for the operation of the plant, Mexico would use the water that it produces, and that same amount of Colorado River water that currently goes to Mexico would remain in Nevada’s Lake Mead to be used in Arizona.

But desalination also comes with its own problems. Because it is an energy-intensive method, the cost of water would grow exponentially. The cost of desalinating an acre-foot of water, Basefsky said, runs from $1,000 to $1,200. The CAP, he noted, currently sells the same amount of water to Tucson for around $160.

The technology is “getting better, but it’s still very expensive,” Basefsky said. “There are a lot of studies that have to be done in terms of environmental issues that come with desalination, the energy issues that come with desalination, how you dispose of the waste product.”

Still, desalination remains at the center of many water discussions, even at the state capital. Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin recently sponsored a bill, later vetoed, that would have allocated $30 million to augmentation efforts.

But desalination alone isn’t enough, Tobin acknowledged.

“The cost of desal is huge, but any money we can put towards giving Arizona more options when it comes to water management is a step in the right direction,” Tobin said in an email. “But desal is only one part of a long-range solution. The state has to look at all options to protect, increase and conserve our water supply.”

When discussing water supply augmentation in general, the focus usually returns to proper planning. Without asking the right questions first, Megdal said, moving forward will be difficult.

“Some of these solutions do require a significant amount of advanced planning; they’ll require significant investments of dollars,” she said. “Obviously these decision can’t be made without public input, and them being acceptable to a majority of the public. There’s a lot of work to be done and I think there’s going to be a spectrum of time frames over which these solutions will be developed.”

The road less traveled

The patio leading into Tres English’s office just south of East Broadway Boulevard is home to a 4-by-16-foot aquaponics bed. A homemade contraption of mostly wood, metal and PVC pipe, the bed is used for growing tomatoes with rainwater from last December that English has kept in two 450-gallon cisterns. The pipes carry the water through one filtration system and into a small pond underneath the bed, where the waste from 18 koi fish is then carried through another filter and onto the plants as a source of hydration and fertilizer.

One cistern is already empty. English won’t make it through the summer on the remaining rainwater, but he’s satisfied with coming this far without using a drop from the city.

A core member of Sustainable Tucson and director of the Tucson Feeding Program, English doesn’t mince his words when discussing Tucson’s water policy.

“All of our water is wasted,” English said. “One hundred percent of it.”

During his research to find ways of creating a renewable food supply in Tucson, English analyzed data on rainwater provided by the Pima Association of Governments and the Tucson Active Management Area. His findings include how much water goes into decorative landscaping efforts, how much is collected and used to recharge the area’s aquifers, and how much is lost to evaporation.

English concluded that of the roughly 235,000 acre-feet of water that Tucson receives in annual rainfall, 92,000 acre-feet are spent on landscaping, 4,000 acre-feet are collected and used to recharge area aquifers, and 139,000 acre-feet are left to evaporate.

The core of the issue, English said, is how policymakers determine how water is allocated.

“What we haven’t done, ever, is set priorities for water uses,” he said. “What we have is priorities for water users. So whatever agriculture uses water on, they’re allowed to do that; whatever the mines want to use it for, they’re allowed to do that. There’s some restrictions on water quality issues, the farms are required to be more efficient, but there are no priorities for water uses.”

English said that, in theory, Tucson gets enough harvestable rainfall to produce all of the area’s food. But choosing to prioritize water use for things such as food production, as opposed to landscaping, is the challenge, he said.

English said that determining water needs by estimating population growth is the wrong approach because lawmakers equate a growing population with a growing economy.

“Their perspective is that we will have an ever-growing population, an ever-growing water need and therefore we need an ever-growing water supply,” he said. “But what I say to everyone on the subject is that it’s not up to us to decide. We don’t control the factors that control how many people live here.”

English also denounced the idea of desalination as a viable method of augmentation, citing the lack of funding available and the international treaty issues that would come with a plant in Mexico. He said a move toward desalination would result in the state learning “the hard way” that pinning the economy’s success on population growth is a mistake.

English isn’t alone in his frustration at the lack of effort to expand rainwater harvesting. Sustainable Tucson Director Bob Cook said he is also displeased with the city’s approach, and that rainwater harvesting has been treated by the local media as a hobby for those interested in living sustainably.

A former chairman of the Tucson-Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission, Cook argues that lawmakers and researchers have fallen short in providing a serious comparison of rainwater harvesting with other water conservation measures.

Although the city of Tucson provides incentives of up to $2,000 for city-approved residential rainwater-harvesting systems, Cook said that adopting the method for the commercial and industrial sectors hasn’t been considered.

“We need an apples-to-apples comparison of all alternatives so we can make a rational choice,” he said.

Still, rainwater harvesting has caught the eye of some local water experts. Megdal points to her center’s Conserve to Enhance initiative, a program that partners with local businesses to encourage water conservation. The program currently includes local businesses such as the Epic Cafe and even national chains such as Panda Express.

Wider consideration of sustainable water practices, Cook said, likely won’t come until there are hard numbers available for the cost of desalination and other methods.

“I think, first, people are going to have to see what the price tag for these other things is going to be,” he said. “When the numbers come in, we really need to scrutinize those numbers. What are they including? What are they not including for both desalinization and the others?”

Moving forward

Though views on how Southern Arizona should approach a potential water shortage differ, most experts agree that something needs to be done. For some, that means more water sources; for others it means fewer swimming pools.

As far as English is concerned, conservation is only effective when combined with good policies.

With current conservation efforts, “You’re talking about shifting who uses water,” he said. “It’s not like if we conserve more, we’re going to use less. What’s going to happen at that point is the people who conserve more will give it up to other users, and we’ll end up using the same amount.”

For scientists such as Flessa of the UA’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, a multifaceted approach seems the most logical.

“When you really get down to it, I think everybody realizes that there’s not one single solution to this problem,” Flessa said. “It’s going to have to be a combination of solutions. No one thing is going to do the trick. There’s going to have to be some increase in water conservation; there’s going to have to be some increase of water recycling. Desalinization may be part of the picture, (along with) greater water efficiencies on farms as well as in homes.”

Megdal said that a proactive attitude toward eliminating the water-supply gap is popular among researchers. The struggle lately, she said, is that many everyday users aren’t making an effort to learn more about the problem.

What’s needed most at this point, Megdal said, is public involvement.

“I’d like people to get excited rather than alarmed, because I don’t think people should have a sense of impending doom,” she said. “What is really needed is for the general citizen, the public, to become engaged, to become interested in these water issues … because decisions will have to be made.”

ST May Meeting: CAN MUSHROOMS SAVE THE WORLD?

 

Sustainable Tucson’s May Meeting:

CAN MUSHROOMS SAVE THE WORLD?

 

Monday, May 12, 2014,    5:30 – 8:00 pm

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,

101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

 

What do human health, environmental detoxification, consumer waste recycling and a great-tasting and healthy locally produced food source have in common? – MUSHROOMS! Learn about the current state of the mushroom industry, its potential for growth, the health implications for mushrooms in our diets, and their potential role in environmental cleanup and recycling.

Join Sustainable Tucson’s public meeting to explore the value of mushrooms to our environment, economy and enjoyment.

Speakers will include:

Barry M. Pryor, PhD, Associate Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in the School of Plant Sciences. Dr. Pryor is internationally renowned for his work studying fungi in the genus Alternaria, and this research includes study in Alternaria ecology, biology, systematics, mycotoxicology, and the role of Alternaria in childhood-onset asthma. Additional research programs include disease management in agricultural and horticultural crops, characterization of fungal communities in native ecosystems, and cultivation of edible mushrooms and their co-utility in landscape and consumer waster recycling.

Andrew Carhuff, Old Pueblo Mushroom Growers. OPMG is growing oyster mushrooms and selling at 3 local farmers markets as well as to local eateries. All this is being done using local growing materials with efficient water use. Andrew is willing to share his experience as a Tucson business start up with this “growing” sustainable crop.

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s May 12th meeting to find out more.

 

For an excellent 17 minute introduction to 6 ways mushrooms can save the world, watch Paul Stamets on TED Talks:

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

April 20th: “Welcome the Third Economic Revolution”

Welcome the Third Economic Revolution

A talk on converting from a Consumer Killer Economy to a Sustainable Green Economy
by John ‘Skip’ Laitner, featured speaker at Sustainable Tucson’s December 2013 General Meeting.

Skip is a Resource and Energy Economist, International Economic Conversion Consultant, and Visiting Fellow to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Hear how he is advising the Government of Normandy, France in their conversion to an Energy-Efficient Economy NOW. They are not waiting until all of Greenland’s ice is in the sea.

SUNDAY, APRIL 20 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Milagro Cohousing Common House at 3057 N. Gaia Place in the Tucson Mountains
Refreshments, Q A, Tours of this eco-designed neighborhood following the talk.

Bring a Friend and learn how we can achieve prosperity by reducing energy consumption through conservation, efficiency and renewables and  reduce our climate changing greenhouse gas output!

More information from Holly at 520-743-1948

ST’s April Meeting: Local Water – Localized Food?

Sustainable Tucson’s April Meeting:

Local Water – Localized Food?

 

Monday, April 14, 2014,    5:30 – 8:00 pm

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,

101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

 

How much local food can Tucson produce? And how much local water is available to produce it?

For several thousand years the Tucson region has been producing food for its human population using renewable rainwater and surface flows. Now our food supply is almost entirely imported from long distances, at great energy cost and with potential for disruption. Many Tucsonans are growing food locally for a variety of reasons, and these efforts will tend to make Tucson more resilient should those disruptions come.

But how much is Tucson’s locally grown food dependent on the water supplied by the Central Arizona Project canal with its huge carbon footprint and diminishing supply? Is it possible to grow local food from our seasonal rainfall and, if so, how much? What about water-supplied agriculture from our watershed and aquifer?

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s April 14th meeting to find out.

Speakers will include:

Jay Cole: Off-grid Water Harvesting at the residential scale

Victoria White: Gardening in Avra Valley

Tarenta Baldeschi: Avalon Organic Gardens and Ecovillage, Tumacacori; Community-Scale food production

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

ST March Meeting: Preparedness for a World of Change

 

Sustainable Tucson’s March Meeting:
Preparedness for a World of Change

Monday, March 10, 2014,    5:30 – 8:00 pm

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

Join the Sustainable Tucson community and extended network to hear Nicole Foss, world-renown lecturer and co-creator of TheAutomaticEarth.Com speak from their DVD on Preparedness. Time will be taken to discuss this important subject which all of us are interested in.

Topics include Navigating an Epic Predicament, Psychology of Contraction, De-Globalization, Community and Society, Energy and Resources, Goods and Services, Nutrition and Health, Entertainment and Education, Be Prepared with Hard Goods, To Rent or Own, Community Building, Depression-proof Employment, and Building Robust Systems.

This General Meeting should begin the conversation of what we actually should start doing and acting on.

We hope to see you all there.

Doors open at 5:30. Program begins at 6:00 until 8;00pm

In addition to the General Meeting on Monday, March 10th, there will be an online Whole Earth Summit March 11 -13th, featuring 42 global sustainability leaders including Tucson’s own Brad Lancaster. To see the schedule of speakers and get more info on how you can connect, go to:

    www.WholeEarthSummit.org

This should be an unforgettable convergence of like hearts and minds considering: What’s your vision for a resilient world? How are you creating it now? Food + water + community + regenerative design + social transformation!

February General Mtg: IS YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?

Sustainable Tucson’s February Meeting:
IS YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?

Monday, February 10, 2014,    5:30 – 8:00 pm

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

Last November 14th, the State of Arizona ran a simulation of an emergency event that included a 72-hour power outage – the kind of event climate change may visit upon the Tucson region.

Within the first hour of this mock climate emergency county officials realized hospitals would be overwhelmed by those seeking shelter from the 110+ degree heat. With no power for air conditioners or water delivery, and with severely curtailed communications capacity, hospitals became the first option for the most vulnerable seeking safety and shelter.

In the meantime, local emergency response teams with generators powered limited operations but (as in most emergencies) the general public is left to their own resources to manage until outside help arrives. For most, the physical setting of home is where they will wait out the event.
This mock exercise was an eye-opening experience for those who participated – driving home the fact that healthy connections between neighbors will be essential to best outcomes during such an event.

But are Neighborhoods able to respond in such circumstances? Do residents feel part of a community and trust they can turn to their neighbors for assistance?  Who makes sure the most vulnerable are taken care of? Is there a method for neighborhood communication when commercial communications go down? What supplies should be stored and available?

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s February 10th meeting to find out.

Speakers will include:

Louis Valenzuela:  Pima County Health Department

Donna Branch-Gilby:  Climate Smart: Ready or Hot? Building Resilient Neighborhoods working group, and

Donald Ijams:  Neighborhood Support Network

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

Will the real International Energy Agency please stand up?

Will the real International Energy Agency please stand up?

Published by Resource Insights on 2013-11-16
Original article: http://resourceinsights.blogspot.com/2013/11/will-real-international-energy-agency.html by Kurt Cobb

It was as if the International Energy Agency were appearing on the old American television game show To Tell the Truth last week as it offered a third contradictory forecast in the space of a year.

You may recall that on To Tell the Truth the host would begin by reading a statement from a person with an unusual story or profession. Then, a celebrity panel would question three contestants who claimed to be that person. Afterwards, the panelists would vote on whom they believed was the real person. Finally, the host would say, “Will the real [name of person] please stand up?” (Some episodes are still available here on YouTube.)

The difference is that the contestants on To Tell the Truth would try to tell similar, plausible stories so as to stump the panel. In the non-game-show world of energy forecasting, the IEA–a consortium of 28 countries, all net oil importers except for Canada and Norway–plays all three contestants and does not even attempt to be consistent. So, it’s possible that the agency is just a collective mental case with multiple personality disorder.

However, one has to allow for the fact that the IEA is not just one person or one voice. Still, if the agency were a single person, what it has released over the last year as official pronouncements would likely have a psychiatrist reaching for the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition).

Last November in its 2012 World Energy Outlook (WEO), the agency noted rising U.S. oil production and even predicted that the United States would become energy self-sufficient by 2035 (a doubtful call, in my view). It also noted that growing oil demand in the Asia has more than outweighed declines in European and U.S. consumption, keeping upward pressure on prices. It said that growth in Iraq’s oil exports was not a sure thing. While the 2012 WEO is really a rather optimistic document on supply, it did not paint an especially rosy picture, indicating that obtaining the supplies of oil necessary to meet projected demand was not a foregone conclusion.

Then, only six months later came the agency’s so-called Medium-Term Oil Market Report which read like an ad for the North American oil and gas industry. The agency touted a “supply shock” in oil from American tight oil fields unleashed by a new kind of hydraulic fracturing–a shock that would send “ripples throughout the world.” Unlike six months earlier, worldwide supply was supposed to take flight on the wings of fracking.

This enthusiasm didn’t last long. In its latest report, the just-issued 2013 World Energy Outlook, the agency sounded like a group of Gloomy Guses noting that “Brent crude oil has averaged $110 per barrel in real terms since 2011, a sustained period of high oil prices that is without parallel in oil market history.”

The report goes on to say, “The capacity of technologies to unlock new types of resources, such as light tight oil (LTO) and ultra-deepwater fields, and to improve recovery rates in existing fields is pushing up estimates of the amount of oil that remains to be produced. But this does not mean that the world is on the cusp of a new era of oil abundance.” The most recent forecast calls for rising oil prices in real terms through 2035. This is in part because the agency expects that “no country replicates the level of success with LTO” that we are seeing in the United States today.

What’s really happening here? Is the IEA getting better at seeing the future? Not really. What’s happening is that the IEA is being asked to do something which it cannot possibly do: accurately predict oil supplies 22 years into the future. So, given this impossible task, the agency responds by following current trends (and industry hype) and then extrapolating them.

Now that the IEA has had a chance to re-examine the industry’s claims in light of more experience with tight oil development, it is backing off its previous assessment in its Medium-Term Oil Market Report from May. Fatih Birol, chief economist for the IEA, told the Financial Times that he would now characterize rising oil production in the United States as “a surge, rather than a revolution.” He expects OPEC to become dominant once again in oil markets early in the next decade. The Financial Times characterized the report as predicting an oil supply crunch.

But, will the IEA have a change of heart once again? It might, depending on what it hears from industry sources and what it chooses to believe. But, the takeaway from the last year of IEA projections is not that the agency is suffering some sort of breakdown, but that it has been given an impossible task that in the volatile world of oil supplies has it casting about for a coherent story. In short, it is trying to tell the truth without knowing the truth for the simple reason that in this case the truth cannot known. That has made it a poor contestant in its own real-life episode of To Tell the Truth stretched out over the past year.

It is a fool’s errand to try to predict the future of world energy supplies. But, it is even more foolish to base our public policy, business and personal decisions on such predictions.

P. S. There is a minor acknowledgement that such forecasts are exercises in futility in a disclaimer at the end of the 2013 World Energy Outlook summary. The disclaimer reads: “The IEA makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, in respect of the publication’s contents (including its completeness or accuracy) and shall not be responsible for any use of, or reliance on, the publication.” This is standard boilerplate, I know. But, it is not the kind of language that inspires confidence.

 

Editor: the thumbnail image, of course, is the logo from The Oil Drum website, whose work lives on.


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

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


Source URL: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-11-16/will-the-real-international-energy-agency-please-stand-up

Green Redevelopment & the Rise of 2030 Districts

at Tucson Association of Realtors conference room,  2445 N. Tucson Blvd   (one block north of Grant Rd)

 

But, could something like a 2030 District in Tucson help align many efforts to support economic re-generation in our community?    Come join us on:

Monday. November 11, 5:30 – 8:30 pm 

PLEASE NOTE: SPECIAL MEETING LOCATION

Tucson Association of Realtors

2445 N. Tucson Blvd   (one block north of Grant Rd)

Come hear our speakers, and bring your questions and opinions for an active conversation – where we go from here.

Peter Dobrovolny, architect, planner and City of Seattle liaison to the Seattle 2030 District

Robert Bulechek, Tucson building science and energy-efficiency expert

Peter will show how across the United States, 2030 Districts are being formed to meet the energy, water and vehicle emissions targets called for by Architecture 2030 in the 2030 Challenge for Planning. In response to climate change, resource depletion, and financial challenges, communities everywhere are raising the bar on these criteria as well.

Through unique public/private partnerships, property owners and managers are coming together with local governments, businesses and community stakeholders to provide a model for urban sustainability through collaboration, leveraged financing, and shared resources.  Together they are developing and implementing creative strategies, best practices, and verification methods for measuring progress towards a common goal.

Green redevelopment is increasingly being viewed as a first tier strategy for community economic development, generating significant reductions in operating costs and climate-altering emissions and creating long-term sustainable jobs. Green redevelopment also benefits from new investment mechanisms that could provide the financial push toward developing a larger-scale redevelopment industry. With very few good alternatives facing us, green redevelopment could be the next big thing in Greater Tucson.

Robert will show how green redevelopment, at the scale of one building at a time, can practically reduce household resource consumption significantly. He will present how everyone can significantly reduce waste in electricity, natural gas, water, and gasoline consumption and do so by saving money every step of the way. His strategies are cash flow positive at every level of efficiency-mitigation down to zero consumption. At the same time, they also produce other positive benefits including improved comfort and significant reduction in climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Using the Minnesota Power Pyramid of Conservation and the HERS home energy modeling system, Robert will demonstrate that resource efficiency is the first step toward financial improvement which does not require government subsidies to advance the general welfare.

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

ST September Mtg: Working Together Toward a Sustainable Community Part IV – Sept 9th

Monday, September 9, 2013

5:30 pm to 8:00 pm

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

ST September Meeting
Working Together Toward a Sustainable Community
Part IV

Sustainable Tucson’s “Conversations with our Public Officials” series provides Tucson community members the opportunity to meet with local public officials to discuss a wide range of sustainability issues. The venue offers a unique opportunity to converse with our public officials in a supportive atmosphere designed to build understanding and establish relationships.

Join Sustainable Tucson for our fourth Conversation with our Public Officials.

Jessie Baxter, Outreach Coordinator for Congressman Raul Grijalva, Ray Carroll, Pima County District 4 Supervisor, and Claire Zucker, Director, Sustainable Environment Program, Pima Association of Governments, will share their vision of a more sustainable Tucson. A networking session will precede the meeting from 5:30 to 6:00.

We believe that building a sustainable future will take the cooperation and partnering of residents, government, institutions and organizations. It is in this spirit that we are reaching out to our public officials by bringing them together with Sustainable Tucson and the wider public in this discussion process. Our ultimate intent for these popular “fishbowl discussions” is to build partnerships and work together toward our common goals.

We invite you to join us on September 9 for this exciting conversation with our local public officials.

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

 

A Radical Approach to the Climate Crisis

A Radical Approach to the Climate Crisis

by Christian Parenti, July 19, 2013

Several strands of green thinking maintain that capitalism is incapable of a sustainable relationship with non-human nature because, as an economic system, capitalism has a growth imperative while the earth is finite. One finds versions of this argument in the literature of eco-socialism, deep ecology, eco-anarchism, and even among many mainstream greens who, though typically declining to actually name the economic system, are fixated on the dangers of “growth.”

All this may be true. Capitalism, a system in which privately owned firms must continuously out-produce and out-sell their competitors, may be incapable of accommodating itself to the limits of the natural world. However, that is not the same question as whether capitalism can solve the more immediate climate crisis.

Because of its magnitude, the climate crisis can appear as the sum total of all environmental problems—deforestation, over-fishing, freshwater depletion, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, chemical contamination. But halting greenhouse gas emissions is a much more specific problem, the most pressing subset of the larger apocalyptic panorama.

And the very bad news is, time has run out. As I write this, news arrives of an ice-free arctic summer by 2050. Scientists once assumed that would not happen for hundreds of years.

Dealing with climate change by first achieving radical social transformation—be it a socialist or anarchist or deep-ecological/neo-primitive revolution, or a nostalgia-based localistaconversion back to a mythical small-town capitalism—would be a very long and drawn-out, maybe even multigenerational, struggle. It would be marked by years of mass education and organizing of a scale and intensity not seen in most core capitalist states since the 1960s or even the 1930s.

Nor is there any guarantee that the new system would not also degrade the soil, lay waste to the forests, despoil bodies of water, and find itself still addicted to coal and oil. Look at the history of “actually existing socialism” before its collapse in 1991. To put it mildly, the economy was not at peace with nature. Or consider the vexing complexities facing the left social democracies of Latin America. Bolivia, and Ecuador, states run by socialists who are beholden to very powerful, autonomous grassroots movements, are still very dependent on petroleum revenue.

A more radical approach to the crisis of climate change begins not with a long-term vision of an alternate society but with an honest engagement with the very compressed timeframe that current climate science implies. In the age of climate change, these are the real parameters of politics.

Hard Facts

The scientific consensus, expressed in peer-reviewed and professionally vetted and published scientific literature, runs as follows: For the last 650,000 years atmospheric levels of CO2—the primary heat-trapping gas—have hovered at around 280 parts per million (ppm). At no point in the preindustrial era did CO2 concentrations go above 300 ppm. By 1959, they had reached 316 ppm and are now over 400 ppm. And the rate of emissions is accelerating.Since 2000, the world has pumped almost 100 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere—about a quarter of all CO2 emissions since 1750. At current rates, CO2 levels will double by mid-century.

Climate scientists believe that any increase in average global temperatures beyond 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels will lead to dangerous climate change, causing large-scale desertification, crop failure, inundation of coastal cities, mass migration to higher and cooler ground, widespread extinctions of flora and fauna, proliferating disease, and possible social collapse. Furthermore, scientists now understand that the earth’s climate system has not evolved in a smooth linear fashion. Paleoclimatology has uncovered evidence of sudden shifts in the earth’s climate regimes. Ice ages have stopped and started not in a matter of centuries, but decades. Sea levels (which are actually uneven across the globe) have risen and fallen more rapidly than was once believed.

 

Throughout the climate system, there exist dangerous positive-feedback loops and tipping points. A positive-feedback loop is a dynamic in which effects compound, accelerate, or amplify the original cause. Tipping points in the climate system reflect the fact that causes can build up while effects lag. Then, when the effects kick in, they do so all at once, causing the relatively sudden shift from one climate regime to another.

 

Thus, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says rich countries like the United States must cut emissions 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020—only seven years away—and thereafter make precipitous cuts to 90 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This would require global targets of 10 percent reductions in emissions per annum, starting now. Those sorts of emissions reductions have only occurred during economic depressions. Russia’s near total economic collapse in the early 1990s saw a 37 percent decrease in CO2 emissions from 1990 to 1995, under conditions that nobody wants to experience.

 

The political implications of all this are mind-bending. As daunting as it may sound, it means that it is this society and these institutions that must cut emissions. That means, in the short-term, realistic climate politics are reformist politics, even if they are conceived of as part of a longer-term anti-capitalist project of totally economic re-organization.

 

Dreaming the Rational

Of course, successful reformism often involves radical means and revolutionary demands. What other sort of political pressure would force the transnational ruling classes to see the scientific truth of the situation? But let us assume for a second that political elites faced enough pressure to force them to act. What would be the rational first steps to stave off climate chaos?

 

The watchwords of the climate discussion are mitigation and adaptation—that is, we must mitigate the causes of climate change while adapting to its effects. Mitigation means drastically cutting our production of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons, that prevent the sun’s heat from radiating back out to space.

 

Mitigation means moving toward clean energy sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal kinetic power. It means closing coal-fired power plants, weaning our economy off fossil fuels, building a smart electrical grid, and making massive investments in carbon-capture and -sequestration technologies. (That last bit of techno-intervention would have to be used not as a justification to keep burning coal, as is its current function, but to strip out atmospheric CO2 rapidly and get back to 350 ppm and away from the dangerous tipping points.)

 

Adaptation, on the other hand, means preparing to live with the effects of climatic changes, some of which are already underway and some of which are inevitable. Adaptation is both a technical and a political challenge.

 

Technical adaptation means transforming our relationship to non-human nature as nature transforms. Examples include building seawalls around vulnerable coastal cities, giving land back to mangroves and everglades so they can act to break tidal surges during giant storms, opening wildlife migration corridors so species can move away from the equator as the climate warms, and developing sustainable forms of agriculture that can function on an industrial scale even as weather patterns gyrate wildly.

 

Political adaptation, on the other hand, means transforming social relations: devising new ways to contain, avoid, and deescalate the violence that climate change is fueling and will continue to fuel. That will require progressive economic redistribution and more sustainable forms of development. It will also require a new diplomacy of peace building.

 

Unfortunately, another type of political adaptation is already under way—that of the armed lifeboat. This adaptation responds to climate change by arming, excluding, forgetting, repressing, policing, and killing. The question then becomes how to conceive of adaptation and mitigation as a project of radical reform—reforms that achieve qualitative change in the balance of power between the classes.

 

The core problem in the international effort to cut emissions is fundamentally the intransigence of the United States: it failed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and has played an obstructionist role at subsequent negotiations. Domestically, progress has been just as frustratingly slow. We have no carbon tax, nor any program of robust investment in clean technology. Even the minimal production tax credit for clean energy generated by solar, wind, and hydro power has not been locked in as a long-term commitment. This creates uncertainty about prices, and, as a result, private investment in clean tech is stalling.

 

China, on the other hand, though now the world’s second-largest economy and largest greenhouse gas polluter, is moving ahead with a fast-growing clean-tech industry—that is to say, with mitigation. The Chinese wind sector has grown steadily since 2001. “According to new statistics from the China Electricity Council,” reported American Progress senior fellow Joseph Romm, “China’s wind power production actually increased more than coal power production for the first time ever in 2012.” This growth is the result, in part, of robust government support: China has invested $200.8 billion in stimulus funding for clean tech. Estimates of U.S. stimulus funding for clean technology range from $50 to $80 billion.

 

The European Union is also moving forward to create a €1 trillion regional supergrid. Germany and Portugal in particular are moving aggressively to expand their already quite large clean-tech sectors. Action in the core industrial economies is essential because only they have the infrastructure that can propel the clean-tech revolution and transform the world economy.

 

A De Facto Carbon Tax

Environmental economists tend to agree that the single most important thing the United States could do to accelerate the shift to clean energy would be to impose a carbon tax. Despite our political sclerosis and fossil fuel fundamentalism, the means to do that already exist.

 

First and foremost, there is the Environmental Protection Agency, which could achieve significant and immediate emissions reductions using nothing more than existing laws and current technologies. According to Kassie Siegel at the Center for Biological Diversity, “The Clean Air Act can achieve everything we need: a 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels by 2020.”

 

Rather boring in tone and dense with legalistic detail, the ongoing fight over EPA rulemaking is probably the most important environmental battle in a generation. Since 2007, thanks to the pressure and lawsuits of green activists, the EPA has had enormous—but under-utilized—power. That was the year when the Supreme Court ruled, in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, that the agency should determine whether greenhouse gases threaten human health. In December 2010, the EPA published a science-based “endangerment finding,” which found that CO2 and five other greenhouse gases are, in fact, dangerous to human life because they cause global warming.

 

Once the EPA issues an endangerment finding, it is legally bound to promulgate regulations to address the problem. The first of these post–Massachusetts v. EPA “tailoring rules” were for “mobile sources.” Between 2011 and 2012, regulations for cars and for trucks went into effect. Then the EPA set strict limits for new power plants in 2012. But other major sources of greenhouse gas pollution—like existing electric power plants (which pump out roughly 40 percent of the nation’s total GHG emissions), oil refineries, cement plants, steel mills, and shipping—have yet to be properly regulated pursuant to Massachusetts v. EPA.

 

If the EPA were to use the Clean Air Act—and do so “with extreme prejudice”—it could impose a de facto carbon tax. Industries would still be free to burn dirty fossil fuels, but they would have to use very expensive, and in some cases nonexistent, new technology to meet emission standards. Or they would have to pay very steep and mounting fines for their emissions. Such penalties could reach thousands of dollars per day, per violation. Thus, a de facto carbon tax. Then cheap fossil fuel energy would become expensive, driving investment toward carbon-neutral forms of clean energy like wind and solar. For extra measure we could end fossil fuel subsidies. Before long, it would be more profitable to invest in clean energy sources than dangerous and filthy ones.

 

Big Green Buy and U.S. “Shadow Socialism”

According to clean-tech experts, innovation is now less important than rapid, large-scale implementation. In other words, developing a clean-energy economy is not about new gadgets but about new policies. Most of the energy technologies we need already exist. You know what they are: wind farms, concentrated solar power plants, geothermal and tidal power, all feeding an efficient smart grid that, in turn, powers electric vehicles and radically more energy-efficient buildings.

 

But leading clean technologies remain slightly more expensive than the old dirty-tech alternatives. This “price gap” is holding back the mass application of clean technology. The simple fact is that capitalist economies will not switch to clean energy until it is cheaper than fossil fuel. The fastest way to close the price gap is to build large clean-tech markets that allow for economies of scale. But what is the fastest way to build those markets? More research grants? More tax credits? More clumsy pilot programs?

 

No. The fastest, simplest way to do it is to reorient government procurement away from fossil fuel energy and toward clean energy and technology—to use the government’s vast spending power to create a market for green energy. Elsewhere, I have called this the Big Green Buy. Consider this: federal, state, and local government constitute more than 38 percent of our GDP. In more concrete terms, Uncle Sam owns or leases more than 430,000 buildings (mostly large office buildings) and 650,000 vehicles. (Add state and local government activity, and all those numbers grow by about a third again.) The federal government is the world’s largest consumer of energy and vehicles, and the nation’s largest greenhouse gas emitter.

 

Government procurement is one of the hidden tools of American capitalism’s “shadow socialism.” By shadow socialism I refer to the massively important but often overlooked role of government planning, investment, subsidy, procurement, and ownership in the economic development of American capitalism. A detailed account of that history is offered in Michael Lind’s book Land of Promise. From railroads, to telecommunications, and aviation and all the attendant sub-industries of these sectors, government has provided the capital and conditions for fledging industries to grow large. For example, government didn’t just fund the invention of the microprocessor; it was also the first major consumer of the device. Throughout the 1950s, more than half of IBM’s revenue came from government contracts. Along with money, these contracts provided a guaranteed market and stability for IBM and its suppliers, and thus attracted private investment—all of which helped create the modern computer industry.

 

Now consider the scale of the problem: our asphalt transportation arteries are clogged with 250 million gasoline-powered vehicles sucking down an annual $200 to $300 billion worth of fuel from more than 121,000 filling stations. Add to that the cost of heating and cooling buildings, jet travel, shipping, powering industry, and the energy-gobbling servers and mainframes that are the Internet, and the U.S. energy economy reaches a spectacular annual tab of 1.2 trillion dollars.

 

A redirection of government purchasing would create massive markets for clean power, electric vehicles, and efficient buildings, as well as for more sustainably produced furniture, paper, cleaning supplies, uniforms, food, and services. If government bought green, it would drive down marketplace prices sufficiently that the momentum toward green tech would become self-reinforcing and spread to the private sector.

 

Executive Order 13514, which Obama signed in 2009, directed all federal agencies to increase energy efficiency; measure, report, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from direct and indirect activities; conserve and protect water resources through efficiency, reuse, and storm water management; eliminate waste, recycle, and prevent pollution; leverage agency acquisitions to foster markets for sustainable technologies and environmentally preferable materials, products, and services; design, construct, maintain, and operate high performance sustainable buildings in sustainable locations.

 

The executive order also stipulates that federal agencies immediately start purchasing 95 percent through green-certified programs and achieve a 28 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2020. But it has not been robustly implemented.

 

Government has tremendous latitude to leverage green procurement because it requires no new taxes, programs, or spending, nor is it hostage to the holy grail of sixty votes in the Senate. It is simply a matter of changing how the government buys its energy, vehicles, and services. Yes, in many cases clean tech costs more up front, but in most cases, savings arrive soon afterward. And government—because of its size—is a market mover that can leverage money-saving deals if it wishes to.

 

Protest and the “Relative Autonomy” of the State

Why would the capitalist state move to euthanize the fossil fuel industry, that most powerful fraction of the capitalist class? Or put another way, how can the state regain some of its “relative autonomy” from capital? History indicates that massive, crisis-producing protest is one of the most common reasons a modern state will act against the interests of specific entrenched elites and for the “general interest” of society. When the crisis of protest is bad enough, entrenched elites are forced to take a loss as the state imposes ameliorative action for the greater good of society.

 

Clearly, we need to build a well-organized, broadly supported, yet tactically and strategically radical movement to demand proper climate policy. For such a movement to be effective it must use myriad tactics, from lawsuits and lobbying to direct action such as tree-sits, road blockades, and occupations aimed at the infrastructure of the fossil fuel industry. Only by disrupting the working of the political and economic system as a whole can we forge a consensus that ending the fossil fuel sector is essential. (The work of Francis Fox Piven and Richard Cloward is, in my opinion, still among the best in tracing the dynamic of this process of rebellion and reform.)

 

At question, then, is not just the state’s capacity to evolve, but the capacity of the American people to organize and mobilize on a massive scale. Far be it from me to say exactly how such movements could or should be built, other than the way they always have been: by trial and error and with good leadership. Movement building is a mass and organic process.

 

The Rebellion of Nature

Along with protest, a more organic source of crisis is already underway and may also help scare political elites into confronting big carbon. Climate change is a “rebellion of nature,” by which I mean the disruption caused by ecological breakdown. The history of environmental regulation in the West is, in many ways, the story of protest and advocacy combining with the rebellion of nature at the local (urban) scale. Together, they have forced rudimentary regulation in the name of health and sanitation.

 

By the 1830s, America’s industrial cities had become perfect incubators of epidemic disease, particularly cholera and yellow fever. Like climate change today, these diseases hit the poor hardest, but they also sickened and killed the wealthy. Class privilege offered some protection, but it was not a guarantee of safety. And so it was that middle-class “goo-goos” and “mugwumps” began a series of reforms that contained and eventually defeated the urban epidemics.

 

First, garbage-eating hogs were banned from city streets, then public sanitation programs of refuse collection began, sewers were built, safe public water provided, and housing codes were developed and enforced. Eventually, the epidemics of cholera stopped. Soon other infectious diseases, such as pulmonary tuberculosis, typhus, and typhoid, were largely eliminated. At the scale of the urban, capitalist society solved an environmental crisis through planning and public investment.

 

Climate change is a problem of an entirely different order of magnitude, but these past solutions to smaller environmental crises offer lessons. Ultimately, solving the climate crisis—like the nineteenth-century victory over urban squalor and epidemic contagions—will require a re-legitimation of the state’s role in the economy.

 

The modern story of local air pollution offers another example of the “rebellion of nature.” As Jim McNeil outlines in Something New Under The Sun, smog inundations in industrial cities of the United States and Europe used to kill many people. In 1879–1880 smog killed 3,000 Londoners, and in Glasgow a 1909 inversion—where cold air filled with smoke from burning coal was trapped near the ground—killed 1,063. As late as 1952, a pattern of cold and still air killed 4,000 people in London, according to McNeil, and even more according to others. By 1956, the Britons had passed a clean air act that drove coal out of the major cities. In the United States there was a similar process. In 1953, smog in New York killed between 170 and 260 people, and as late as 1966 a smog inversion killed 169 New Yorkers. All of this helped generate pressure for the Clean Air Act of 1970.

 

Today, a similar process is underway in China. Local air quality is so bad that it is forcing changes to Chinese energy policy. A major World Bank study has estimated that “the combined health and non-health cost of outdoor air and water pollution for China’s economy comes to around $US 100 billion a year (or about 5.8% of the country’s GDP).” People across China are protesting pollution. Foreign executives are turning down positions in Beijing because of the toxic atmospheric stew that western visitors have taken to calling “airpocalypse.” The film director Chen Kaige, who won the Palme d’Or for his 1993 filmFarewell My Concubine, told the world he couldn’t think or make films because of the Chinese capital’s appallingly bad air.

 

These local pressures are a large part of what is driving Chinese investment in renewable energy. Last year China added more energy capacity from wind than from the coal sector.

 

Capitalism vs. Nature?

Some of the first thinkers to note a conflict between capitalism and non-human nature were Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They came to their ecology through examining the local problem of relations between town and country—expressed simultaneously as urban pollution and rural soil depletion. In exploring this question they relied on the pioneering work of soil chemist Justus von Liebig. And from this small-scale problem, they developed the idea of capitalism creating a rift in the metabolism of natural processes.

 

Here is how Marx explained the dilemma:

 

Capitalist production collects the population together in great centers, and causes the urban population to achieve an ever-growing preponderance. This has two results. On the one hand it concentrates the historical motive force of society; on the other hand, it disturbs the metabolic interaction between man and the earth, i.e., it prevents the return to the soil of its constituent elements consumed by man in the form of food and clothing; hence it hinders the operation of the eternal natural condition for the lasting fertility of the soil….All progress in capitalist agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the worker, but of robbing the soil.

 

And as with “soil robbing,” so too concentrations of atmospheric CO2: the natural systems are out of sync; their elements are being rearranged and redistributed, ending up as garbage and pollution.

 

It may well be true that capitalism is incapable of accommodating itself to the limits of the natural world. But that is not the same question as whether or not capitalism can solve the climate crisis. Climate mitigation and adaptation are merely an effort to buy time to address the other larger set of problems that is the whole ecological crisis.

 

This is both a pessimistic and an optimistic view. Although capitalism has not overcome the fundamental conflict between its infinite growth potential and the finite parameters of the planet’s pollution sinks, it has, in the past, addressed specific environmental crises.

 

Anyone who thinks the existing economic system must be totally transformed before we can deal with the impending climate crisis is delusional or in willful denial of the very clear findings of climate science. If the climate system unravels, all bets are off. The many progressive visions born of the Enlightenment will be swallowed and forgotten by the rising seas or smashed to pieces by the wrathful storms of climate chaos.

 

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

Source URL: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-07-19/a-radical-approach-to-the-climate-crisis

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2013 edition of Dissent Magazine and is reproduced at Resilience.org with the permission of the author.

Original article: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/a-radical-approach-to-the-climate-crisis by Christian Parenti

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

 

 

Our Coming Food Crisis by Gary Paul Nabhan

Our Coming Food Crisis

By Gary Paul Nabhan,  Published by the New York Times: July 21, 2013

 

TUCSON, Ariz. — THIS summer the tiny town of Furnace Creek, Calif., may once again grace the nation’s front pages. Situated in Death Valley, it last made news in 1913, when it set the record for the world’s hottest recorded temperature, at 134 degrees. With the heat wave currently blanketing the Western states, and given that the mercury there has already reached 130 degrees, the news media is awash in speculation that Furnace Creek could soon break its own mark.

 

Such speculation, though, misses the real concern posed by the heat wave, which covers an area larger than New England. The problem isn’t spiking temperatures, but a new reality in which long stretches of triple-digit days are common — threatening not only the lives of the millions of people who live there, but also a cornerstone of the American food supply.

 

People living outside the region seldom recognize its immense contribution to American agriculture: roughly 40 percent of the net farm income for the country normally comes from the 17 Western states; cattle and sheep production make up a significant part of that, as do salad greens, dry beans, onions, melons, hops, barley, wheat and citrus fruits. The current heat wave will undeniably diminish both the quality and quantity of these foods.

 

The most vulnerable crops are those that were already in flower and fruit when temperatures surged, from apricots and barley to wheat and zucchini. Idaho farmers have documented how their potato yields have been knocked back because their heat-stressed plants are not developing their normal number of tubers. Across much of the region, temperatures on the surface of food and forage crops hit 105 degrees, at least 10 degrees higher than the threshold for most temperate-zone crops.

 

What’s more, when food and forage crops, as well as livestock, have had to endure temperatures 10 to 20 degrees higher than the long-term averages, they require far more water than usual. The Western drought, which has persisted for the last few years, has already diminished both surface water and groundwater supplies and increased energy costs, because of all the water that has to be pumped in from elsewhere.

 

If these costs are passed on to consumers, we can again expect food prices, especially for beef and lamb, to rise, just as they did in 2012, the hottest year in American history. So extensive was last year’s drought that more than 1,500 counties — about half of all the counties in the country — were declared national drought disaster areas, and 90 percent of those were hit by heat waves as well.

 

The answer so far has been to help affected farmers with payouts from crop insurance plans. But while we can all sympathize with affected farmers, such assistance is merely a temporary response to a long-term problem.

 

Fortunately, there are dozens of time-tested strategies that our best farmers and ranchers have begun to use. The problem is that several agribusiness advocacy organizations have done their best to block any federal effort to promote them, including leaving them out of the current farm bill, or of climate change legislation at all.

 

One strategy would be to promote the use of locally produced compost to increase the moisture-holding capacity of fields, orchards and vineyards. In addition to locking carbon in the soil, composting buffers crop roots from heat and drought while increasing forage and food-crop yields. By simply increasing organic matter in their fields from 1 percent to 5 percent, farmers can increase water storage in the root zones from 33 pounds per cubic meter to 195 pounds.

 

And we have a great source of compostable waste: cities. Since much of the green waste in this country is now simply generating methane emissions from landfills, cities should be mandated to transition to green-waste sorting and composting, which could then be distributed to nearby farms.

 

Second, we need to reduce the bureaucratic hurdles to using small- and medium-scale rainwater harvesting and gray water (that is, waste water excluding toilet water) on private lands, rather than funneling all runoff to huge, costly and vulnerable reservoirs behind downstream dams. Both urban and rural food production can be greatly enhanced through proven techniques of harvesting rain and biologically filtering gray water for irrigation. However, many state and local laws restrict what farmers can do with such water.

 

Moreover, the farm bill should include funds from the Strikeforce Initiative of the Department of Agriculture to help farmers transition to forms of perennial agriculture — initially focusing on edible tree crops and perennial grass pastures — rather than providing more subsidies to biofuel production from annual crops. Perennial crops not only keep 7.5 to 9.4 times more carbon in the soil than annual crops, but their production also reduces the amount of fossil fuels needed to till the soil every year.

 

We also need to address the looming seed crisis. Because of recent episodes of drought, fire and floods, we are facing the largest shortfall in the availability of native grass, forage legume, tree and shrub seeds in American history. Yet current budget-cutting proposals threaten to significantly reduce the number of federal plant material centers, which promote conservation best practices.

 

If our rangelands, forests and farms are to recover from the devastating heat, drought and wildfires of the last three years, they need to be seeded with appropriate native forage and ground-cover species to heal from the wounds of climatic catastrophes. To that end, the farm bill should direct more money to the underfinanced seed collection and distribution programs.

 

Finally, the National Plant Germplasm System, the Department of Agriculture’s national reserve of crop seeds, should be charged with evaluating hundreds of thousands of seed collections for drought and heat tolerance, as well as other climatic adaptations — and given the financing to do so. Thousands of heirloom vegetables and heritage grains already in federal and state collections could be rapidly screened and then used by farmers for a fraction of what it costs a biotech firm to develop, patent and market a single “climate-friendly” crop.

 

Investing in climate-change adaptation will be far more cost-effective than doling out $11.6 billion in crop insurance payments, as the government did last year, for farmers hit with diminished yields or all-out crop failures.

 

Unfortunately, some agribusiness organizations fear that if they admit that accelerating climate change is already affecting farmers, it will shackle them with more regulations. But those organizations are hardly serving their member farmers and ranchers if they keep them at risk of further suffering from heat extremes and extended drought.

 

And no one can reasonably argue that the current system offers farmers any long-term protection. Last year some farmers made more from insurance payments than from selling their products, meaning we are dangerously close to subsidizing farmers for not adapting to changing climate conditions.

 

It’s now up to our political and business leaders to get their heads out of the hot sand and do something tangible to implement climate change policy and practices before farmers, ranchers and consumers are further affected. Climate adaptation is the game every food producer and eater must now play. A little investment coming too late will not help us adapt in time to this new reality.

 

Gary Paul Nabhan is a research scientist at the Southwest Center at the University of Arizona and the author of “Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons From Desert Farmers in Adapting to Climate Uncertainty.”

 

Link to original article:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/22/opinion/our-coming-food-crisis.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

Desert Climate Composting Workshop – Aug 16/17

Community garden at 901 East 12th Street, Tucson AZ

Saturday – rain date or overflow second workshop

 

Composting workshop specifically designed for dry deserts

Specifically designed for dry deserts, this workshop focuses on
• Low water use, conserving water for hot composting rather than dry slow
• Cold method
• Easy on your back
• Low maintenance saves you water and time.
• Bin rehab and modification for desert conditions.

Plus
• Garden tips for kinked hoses, plant and tool hangers.
• Raised movable beds designed for gardeners who need work from a siting position.
• Lots of ideas using materials you probably have sitting around.

$5.-$10 sliding scale.
Workshop limited to 25 participants.
E-mail Mudnjoy(at)aol.com to register.

Composting Coach to Your Rescue

DESPITE YOUR BEST INTENTIONS is your garden compost a big solid dry hard lump, a soggy dense smelly mess, or just stalled? Are your dreams of producing your own rich earth not realized? You deserve rich fertile earth. I’ve rehabbed several old unusable compost piles into rich fertile earth!

INVEST IN YOUR OWN ON-SITE COMPOST instead of commercial fertilizers, soil conditioners, sterile (worthless) potting soil. Have better soil, be more GREEN! We can cheaply modify that old bin that dries out too often into a
workable unit that doesn’t require frequent watering. SAVE WATER and time. You can use a large open compost bins as a winter compost-heated green house. I can help you design your garden to harvest rainwater or use gray water.

Joy Holdread is the self proclaimed composting queen of the universe. No degree in earth science, just a green thumb, personal success, references, a commitment to garden using practical simple, resourceful, creative and sustainable options. I’ll work hard right beside you and we’ll have fun making your garden grow. Flexible schedule. Glowing testimonials. Email Mudnjoy(at)aol.com

Building Sustainable Cities – New York Times Conference April 25

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

ENERGY FOR TOMORROW – BUILDING SUSTAINABLE CITIES

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

APRIL 25, 2013
THE TIMESCENTER, NEW YORK CITY

 
THE CONCEPT

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

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

THE FORMAT AND AUDIENCE

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

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

 
APRIL 24 EVENING
(THE EVE OF THE CONFERENCE)

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

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

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

 
APRIL 25 AGENDA

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

7 a.m.
REGISTRATION AND BREAKFAST

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

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

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

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

9 – 9:30 a.m.
OPENING ADDRESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

10:15 – 10:40 a.m.
COFFEE BREAK

10:40 – 11 a.m.
COLUMNIST CONVERSATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DISCUSSION 1: TRANSPORT

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

DISCUSSION 2: GREEN SPACES

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

4:15 – 4:35 p.m.
COFFEE BREAK

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

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

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

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

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

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

5:45 p.m. CLOSING AND RECEPTION

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

Watershed Management Workshop at Avalon EcoVillage – May 25

at Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage in Tumacácori, AZ

 

A Food Forest Enhancement Project within an EcoVillage

Learn Stormwater Management Techniques
Prevent Erosion • Reduce Runoff • Conserve Water

Guest Speakers David Seibert (Conservation Director of Borderlands Habitat Restoration Initiative-BHRI, Seibert Ecological Restoration, LLC) and Caleb Weaver (BHRI-Ecologist, Environmental Educator, and Sustainable Landscape Designer) will share their expertise in restoring native pollinator habitats on and around Southern Arizona farms.

Borderlands Habitat Restoration Initiative has pioneered a 3-pillared approach to habitat restoration in the Arizona/Sonora Borderland region by:

1) Restoring the physical processes such as stream flow and groundwater recharge necessary to support both people and wildlife.

2) Restoring vegetation and filling gaps at the base of the food chains that support biological diversity.

3) Reconnecting people and nature by engaging local citizens in the restoration of local ecosystem services.

Time: Saturday, May 25, 2013 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Location: Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage in Tumacácori, AZ
Cost: Workshop fee is $50 (includes a Certificate of Completion and Organic Lunch)
Contact: Call (520) 603-9932 to register

Co-Sponsors:
Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage
Borderlands Habitat Restoration Initiative
Sonoran Institute
Watershed Management Group

For information visit avalongardens.org/events

Local Food Summit at U of A – Gary Nabhan & Jeff Silvertooth – May 14

at Student Union Memorial Center, South Ballroom, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ

 

Local Food Summit

with Gary Nabhan and Jeff Silvertooth

At this working summit, participants will develop action plans for how University of Arizona entities and partners can support socially equitable, economically viable, and environmentally sound local food systems. To break out of our disciplinary silos, this summit will foster collaboration within the university for those working on issues related to local food systems. The summit is free but limited to 100 participants, so application is required with this form.

http://www.portal.environment.arizona.edu/events/local-food-summit

Pima County Food Alliance – April Meeting – April 29

at the Sam Lena Library, 1607 S 6th Ave, Tucson AZ

 
Join the Pima County Food Alliance for our monthly meeting on Monday, April 29 from 6:00 to 8:00pm at the Sam Lena Library (1607 S 6th Ave, Tucson).

April is Native Foods Month at the Pima County Food Alliance!

This month we’ll be hearing from two experts on native foods. The first is Chef Barry Infuso, who works with Pima Community College and is known for his work with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. In particular, Infuso’s work has explored the use of native, culturally appropriate foods as an avenue to (re-)establishing health with a population that has suffered tremendously from the pervasiveness of the Western diet.

Amy Schwemm, known around town for her delicious mesquite cookies and prickly pear lemonade, comes to us from a local organization called Desert Harvesters. If you’re not familiar with the organization, well…you should be. Come learn about all the great native food- and plant-related work they’re doing, and find ways to plug in.

The Pima County Food Alliance works to engage community partners to understand and develop our food system through the following strategies:

Education: Creating opportunities for coalition members, their families, friends, neighbors, schools, and elected officials to learn about the importance of sustainably growing and eating healthful food as well as relevant food policy issues.

Networking: Having a space to meet and learn from other food councils and individuals in the community who are involved in community-based food projects and programs.

Outreach: Meeting with and inviting other individuals, organizations, agencies and policy makers to collaborate around the goals of the group.

Policy change: Determining what governmental, institutional, and corporate policies are barriers to or opportunities to improve the conditions involved in growing and eating sustainable, local, and healthful food. Work to promote healthy and sustainable policies based on community-wide collaboration.

Contact Meghan at 520-331-9821 with any questions!

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

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

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

Maria Baier – Executive Director of the Sonoran Institute

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

Paul Green – Executive Director of the Tucson Audubon Society

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

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

Fierce Green Fire movie poster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sustainable Tucson Community Fundraising Appeal

Sustainable Tucson needs your support to continue to present timely, interesting and informative monthly programs. With minimal financial support from the larger community we have provided continuous monthly programs for nearly seven years, drawing particularly on local talent and sustainability leaders. As we increasingly bring in cutting-edge speakers from other cities and regions, Sustainable Tucson faces greater costs and increased organizational needs.

A brief review of previous programs archived on our website shows the breadth and depth of subject matter we have produced for the emerging sustainability community free of charge. More than 2,000 people have directly benefited from our educational, networking, and advocacy opportunities. Efforts to provide media coverage of our events will reach many thousands more.

There are two ways you can help us further our mission to foster greater understanding  and collaborative activities ensuring resilience and a sustainable future.  One way is to use your credit card and go to our online donation webpage: (http://www.sustainabletucson.org/contactcontribute/donate). The other is simply to write a check to “NEST Inc — Sustainable Tucson”  and mail it to P.O. Box 41144, Tucson, AZ 85717

Thank you for your support and remember that every dollar donated to Sustainable Tucson goes a long way to help all of us find our way to more sustainable lives and a more sustainable community.

ST May Meeting – Food Resilience in the Time of Global Climate Change – May 13

at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N Stone, Downtown Tucson (in the large lower-level meeting room, free lower-level parking off Alameda St)

Food Resilience in the Time of Global Climate Change

Almost all the food we eat in Tucson is not grown here. It isn’t even grown in Arizona.

Please join us for the May Sustainable Tucson meeting, and discuss with a panel of local food experts what Tucson can do to become more food resilient, and connect with local food organizations and vendors. Find out what you can do here in Tucson at the Resource and Networking session.

Nobody knows for sure how much of Tucson’s food is grown in Arizona, but the best informed guesses are that it is only a small percentage (perhaps as little as 2%-3%). The rest comes from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Are we food secure? Can we be? Should we even try? Can we become more food resilient? Tucson can grow a lot more of our food locally than we do today, and do it sustainably and healthily. Is that important? What will it take? What are our options?

Our panel of speakers will be

Bill McDorman, Native Seeds/SEARCH
Elizabeth Mikesell, Pima County Food Alliance
Stéphane Herbert-Fort, Local Roots Aquaponics
Rafael de Grenade, Desert Oasis Initiative
Adam Valdivia, Sleeping Frog Farms
Dan Dorsey, Sonoran Permaculture Guild

And take the opportunity to meet with these organizations that are making Tucson more food resilient,

Community Gardens of Tucsonwww.communitygardensoftucson.org
Local Roots Aquaponicswww.localrootsaquaponics.com
Tucson Aquaponics Projectwww.tucsonap.org
Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculturewww.bajaza.org
Native Seeds/SEARCHwww.nativeseeds.org
Flor de Mayo Artswww.flordemayoarts.com
Iskashitaa Refugee Networkwww.iskashitaa.org
Tucson Organic Gardenerswww.tucsonorganicgardeners.org
Walking J Farmwww.walkingjfarm.com
Pima County Public Library Seed Library – www.library.pima.gov/seed-library

Explore with us what Tucson could become: 
“Resilient Tucson 2020 – Visions of a local, healthy, sustainable food supply for Tucson”. Find out what’s happening now, what’s possible, and what you can do.

We meet at the Joel Valdez downtown library, lower level meeting room (free parking under the Library, enter from Alameda Street).

Doors open at 5:30 pm
The meeting will begin at 6:00 pm
Free and open to the public

Also see Local Food Summit May 14 at U of A with Gary Nabhan & Jeff Silvertooth

Sonoran Permaculture Guild – Spring Semester Workshops

For full information, go to

www.sonoranpermaculture.org/courses-and-workshops

 
The Sonoran Permaculture Guild finishes out its Spring Semester of workshops…

The Art of Fermentation – Sunday, April 7th

Wild Foods Walkabout – Saturday, April 13th

Bee Keeping – Saturday and Sunday, April 20th and 21st

How to Raise Chickens the Natural Way – Saturday, May 18th

The End of Growth: David Suzuki & Jeff Rubin

The End of Growth: Rubin & Suzuki

From Ideas with Paul Kennedy

Economist Jeff Rubin and biologist David Suzuki might seem an unlikely pairing. But they’ve been touring Canada together, talking about the natural limits to growth from their very different perspectives. We listen in as they try to convince a Calgary audience that we’ve already exceeded the capacity of the planet.

Click here to listen to Jeff Rubin and David Suzuki.

 

Originally published by CBC Radio on 2013-03-15; article: http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2013/03/13/the-end-of-growth/ by Jeff Rubin , David Suzuki

Re-published on Resilience (http://www.resilience.org)

 

 

ST April Meeting – Power to the People: Should TEP be municipalized? – April 8

at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone, Downtown Tucson (in the large lower-level meeting room, free lower-level parking off Alameda St)

Power to the People:
Should TEP be municipalized?

with guest speaker Leslie Glustrom, Research Director for Clean Energy Action, Boulder Colorado

also speaking – Dan Millis (Sierra Club)

The science is clear. We need to slow the rate of atmospheric carbon emissions to avoid the worst effects of run-away climate change. A “Manhattan Project”-scale effort is needed to de-carbonize our culture if present and future generations are to have a chance to adapt. There is plenty we can do as individuals to tackle the problem: modify our lifestyle; reduce our energy and material consumption, the carbon footprint of our travel, diet, and so forth. But there are aspects of our energy consumption where we seem to have little or no choice – like the carbon-intensive electricity supplied by our local utility, Tucson Electric Power (TEP).

Or is there a choice?

Initiatives have begun to spring up around the country to municipalize privately owned utilities, like TEP, that are resisting the transition to clean energy sources. In 2011, voters in Boulder, Colorado approved two ballot measures to allow the city to create a municipal utility placing it among the nations’ first communities in decades to do so.

The city’s most recent analysis found that Boulder could get 54% of its energy from renewable resources and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% at a lower cost than the current provider, Xcel Energy.

On Monday, April 8th, Sustainable Tucson is bringing Leslie Glustrom, Research Director for Clean Energy Action, to town to share the lessons learned from Boulder’s campaign to reclaim its energy future. We hope you’ll come and join the conversation about whether or not Tucson might pursue a similar path.

We meet at the Joel Valdez downtown library, lower level meeting room.

Doors open at 5:30 pm
The meeting will begin at 6:00 pm
Free and open to the public

Followup – For a download of Leslie’s informative powerpoint, an audio recording of this important presentation, and further info & notes, please see (and contribute to) the comments on this post, below…

Navigating the Perfect Water Resources Storm – U of A – Feb 28

at Integrated Learning Center, Room 140 (underground), 1500 E University Blvd, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ

Las Vegas – Navigating the Perfect Water Resources Storm

Speaker: Patricia Mulroy, General Manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority

What does a water manager do when the perfect storm strikes? Las Vegas, for decades the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States, serves as an excellent case study for those interested in navigating through extreme conditions.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear a prominent leader in western water talk about the many challenges of sustaining our limited water supplies. Open to all.

Bio: Patricia Mulroy oversees the operations of the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Las Vegas Valley Water District. Mulroy joined the LVVWD in 1985 and assumed the role of general manager in 1989. She was a principal architect of the SNWA, which has served as a model for other Western water agencies since its creation in 1991. Mulroy is President of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Water Research Foundation and the National Water Resources Association. She is a member of the American Water Works Association.

Co-Sponsors: UA Water Sustainability Program, Water Resources Research Center, James E. Rogers College of Law

Contact: Jackie Moxley jmoxley(at)cals.arizona.edu

UA Water Sustainability Program – http://wsp.arizona.edu

The 4th Annual Water Festival – Tucson Arts Brigade – Earth Day – April 21

Earth Day at Reid Park, Tucson Arts Brigade presents
 

THE WATER FESTIVAL

Synergy of Art, Science, and Community

The 4th Annual Water Festival, presented by Tucson Arts Brigade, raises awareness and promotes stewardship for water and water-related themes relating to sustainability, health, and community.

The Water Festival brings community together through creative and diverse activities for learning, networking, and family friendly fun – featuring an exhibitor fair, workshops, speakers, performances, art show, “The Vibe” Live Art Happenings, Design for Water Solutions Contest, 3-mi Walk for Water, and a mermaid in a wishing well.

This year, The Water Festival is partnering with The Earth Day Festival at Reid Park on Sunday, April 21, 2013, 9am-2pm, and expects over 5,000 people.

 
CALL FOR PARTNERS, EXHIBITORS, ARTISTS & VOLUNTEERS!

Register as a Sponsor, Exhibitor, Artist / Inventor, Activity Leader, or Volunteer.

More info / Register:
phone: 520-623-2119
email: info(at)WaterFestivalTucson.org
web: www.WaterFestivalTucson.org

c/o Tucson Arts Brigade
PO Box 545, Tucson AZ 85702
www.TucsonArtsBrigade.org

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

5 weekends starting Feb 9 in Tucson AZ

Sonoran Permaculture Guild
18th Annual Permaculture Design Course

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sonoran Permaculture Guildwww.sonoranpermaculture.org

Watershed Management Group – Short Courses – Jan Feb March

Tucson AZ

 

Watershed Management Group’s Watershed Technical Trainings (WTT) are hands-on design and implementation trainings to build the knowledge and skills of property-owners and practitioners alike.

As a non-profit organization, WMG’s goal is to offer green job trainings based in collaboration not competition; build applied skills of professionals; and teach universal principles and systems instead of product promotion.  Our courses bring together a wide variety of people, such as architects, engineers, resource managers, consultants, educators, policy makers, community activists, and property owners.

Upcoming courses are:

Urban Stream Restoration, Next scheduled course: Friday, January 18, 2013.  Apply by December 10 to get the most affordable rate.

Ferrocement Cistern Construction, Next scheduled course: January 31 – February 2, 2013 (tentative dates)

Community-based Green Infrastructure & Parking Lot Retro-fits, Next scheduled course: March 15-16, 2013 (tentative dates)

For more information and registration visit watershedmg.org/tech-trainings

WMG Water Harvesting Certification Program – Feb & April

Feb 22 – March 2 in Phoenix, and April 5-13 in Tucson AZ

 

Water Harvesting Certification Program

The Watershed Management Group’s Water Harvesting Certification program is a hands-on training course that provides certification in water harvesting system design and implementation.

WMG’s goal is to transfer water harvesting knowledge to those who will utilize these practices in their professions and teach them to others. Our program provides the highest quality and greatest depth of training in integrative water harvesting offered in the nation.

The course teaches design, implementation, and installation of:

  • Greywater systems
  • Water harvesting earthworks
  • Plastic cisterns

February 22 – March 2, 2013: Phoenix, Arizona (register by January 21, 2013)

April 5-13, 2013: Tucson, Arizona (register by February 25, 2013)

For more information and registration visit watershedmg.org/tech-trainings