ST January 2013 Meeting – Jan 14

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

Sustainable Tucson 2013
How We Can Take Action in the New Year

Lots of powerful efforts are happening in Tucson and around the world to make a more sustainable and secure future. Join Sustainable Tucson on Monday, January 14 as we begin a new year and decide on the main focuses of Sustainable Tucson in 2013.

This year, Sustainable Tucson will continue our efforts to help you find ways you can take action to make your own life, Tucson, and the whole world more and more sustainable.

At the January meeting, we will join our passions and find the areas that we really want to act on. Our goal is to find those things that not only excite you, but excite a lot of people. That way, it isn’t each of us acting alone. It is many people acting together.

What’s your passion – Having healthy, local food to eat? Tackling our share of global climate change? Developing a sustainable local economy that serves Tucson? – Come to this month’s Sustainable Tucson General Meeting and find others who share your passions. It is time to act… together.

Please join us Monday, January 14th, 2013 at the Joel Valdez 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

Also see Sustainability Actions Everyone Can Do and personally What You Can Do – Top 10, sketches for community-wide Sustainability Plans in the menu above, and articles & resources in the Topics in Focus menu and Archive Categories below.

Stop TUSD closing eco-schools before Dec 20th ! – Public meetings Dec 8 & 10

at Catalina Magnet High School Auditorium, 3645 East Pima St (at Dodge Blvd)

 
Dear climate activists,

As you probably know, many Tucson schools are slated for possible closure, especially on the west and southwest sides of town. Some of these schools have shown great leadership in preparing our students for the real future: teaching ecology, climate science, and practical skills like gardening and bicycling.

These decisions cannot be finalized without public input, and a series of meetings is taking place in preparation for a final vote by the TUSD governing board, set for Dec. 20.

Public meetings at Catalina High, tomorrow and Monday, will address the closings of Manzo Elementary and Wakefield Middle schools, among others. – Saturday, Dec. 8, at 10:00 a.m., and Monday, Dec. 10, at 6:00 p.m., Catalina Magnet High School Auditorium, 3645 E. Pima St. (at Dodge Blvd.)

Tucson Audubon Society is participating in a campaign to save Manzo Elementary in particular. According to the Tucson Audubon Society,

“Tucson has a groundbreaking elementary school that engages students in practical ecology. … This innovative flagship school serves an unmet need … in Tucson. As such it is a key asset in Tucson’s future ability to reverse habitat loss, support declining wildlife species, mitigate for and adapt to climate change, and make the most of our scarce water resources. Manzo’s rainwater harvesting, urban food production and wildlife programs provide a model for all schools across the arid southwest and beyond.”

They invite you to view their letter to the TUSD board, tucsonaudubon.org/images/stories/temporary%20events/Manzo_Letter_LO_Final.pdf, and to write to the board yourself; contact info here tusd1.org/contents/govboard/govboard.html

A good source of info on the school closings issue in general is Equity for TUSD Schools, on Facebook, facebook.com/equityforTUSDschools?ref=stream

Wakefield is one of the schools most involved in bike education and with among the highest proportion of students who bike to school: tucsonvelo.com/news/pima-countys-biggest-bicycle-school-on-tusd-closure-list/14967

Thanks for giving your attention to the health of our planet at all scales, from local to international!

Suzanne and Miriam, members of the Tucson Climate Action Network

Tucson’s visionary Graywater Ordinance is at risk – Mayor and Council meeting at City Hall – Dec 4

Mayor and Council regular meeting at City Hall, 255 W Alameda, Tucson AZ

 

ACTION ITEM: Urge Mayor and Council Not to Repeal Tucson’s Graywater Ordinance

In 2008, the City of Tucson passed a Residential Graywater Ordinance, mandating inclusion of graywater plumbing stub outs on all new homes built in Tucson. This ordinance is among the first of its kind in the nation and demonstrates a visionary approach to address water scarcity through creative, community-driven solutions. By using graywater as an on-site landscape irrigation resource, Tucson can offset demand on potable water supplies and ultimately reduce water treatment costs.

Now the ordinance is under attack. Concerns over the added cost to homebuilders have led to a recommendation to repeal the ordinance with no review by the stakeholders who helped craft the ordinance originally.

Mayor and Council will address this issue at their regular meeting on December 4, Tuesday 5:30 p.m., at City Hall (255 W Alameda). Consider attending the meeting to support this ordinance that is an important part of our local, non-extractive water portfolio.

If the meeting doesn’t fit your schedule, please call or email Mayor Rothschild and the council members to urge them to vote NO on repealing the Residential Graywater Ordinance.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater — instead, ask Mayor and Council to establish a stakeholder committee to address cost concerns and identify opportunities to improve the ordinance.

Email addresses and phone numbers for the mayor and all the council members are available here – cms3.tucsonaz.gov/citygov?qid=197768

Need more information before you call? — read WMG’s letter to Mayor and Council here – watershedmg.org/node/489

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

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

by Jon Walker

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Published by Resilience.org on November 26, 2012

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Links:

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

 

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

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

See below for details on December 6

 

Water Resources Research Center – Brown Bag Seminars


Thursday, November 29

Time: 12:00 – 1:30 pm

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

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


Thursday December 6

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, December 11

Time: 12:00 – 1:30 pm

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

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

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


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

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

Please distribute and post this information.


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

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

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

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

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

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

with Gary Nabhan and Michael Brownlee

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Michael BrownleeThinking Like a Foodshed: Localizing Our Food Supply

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

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

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

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

 by Rob Hopkins

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Climate Change and Energy Decline: Building resilient communities in the SW United States – Guy McPherson – November 5

at Pima Community College downtown, Amethyst Room, 1255 N Stone Ave

 

Climate Change and Energy Decline:
Building resilient communities
in the southwestern United States

with Guy McPherson

Co-sponsored by Tucson Audubon Society
and Sustainable Tucson

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

When:  Monday, November 5, 2012, 7:00 pm
Where:  Pima Community College’s downtown campus, Amethyst Room on 1255 N. Stone Ave. Easy parking! Central location! See map

Consider how many of the things that you do in your life have been made simpler by the use of cheap fossil fuels and how our planet has changed as a result. How will increasingly scarce and expensive fossil fuels affect how you live your life? Guy McPherson changed his life completely when he considered this question, reducing his use of non-renewable resources and living a more sustainable existence. He has now moved on to considering the social and economic effects of our changing climate. Guy will sign copies of his memoir, Walking Away from Empire, after his talk.

Guy was one of the “local voices” in 2006 and 2007 during the time when  a diverse group of community activists formed Sustainable Tucson. His 2006 article, “Rising gas prices, sporadic shortages are signs of the impending Tucson apocalypse” in the Tucson Weekly and his 2007 article, “Peak oil scenario paints frightening future for all”  published by the Arizona Daily Star helped educate Tucsonans to begin to respond to the emerging sustainability crisis.

To understand the latest climate change scenarios, read this recent interview with Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the UK Tyndall Centre, a major global climate science research center, click here.

5th Annual Free Green Living Fair – Nov 3

at the HabiStore, 935 W. Grant

 
Experts on “green” building, alternative modes of transportation, rainwater-harvesting, gardening, air quality, water and energy conservation, solar power and more will be available to discuss ways to save money with a more “green” home and lifestyle.

The Green Living Fair will be at the HabiStore, 935 W. Grant, 1/4 mile east of I-10.
Call 889-7200 for information or visit HabitatTucson.org

Eco-Health Relationship Browser – EPA Sustainable and Healthy Communities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rainwater Harvesting Rebate Class – WMG – Oct 11

Rainwater Harvesting Rebate Class

Spaces are still available in Watershed Management Group’s upcoming session to fulfill the educational requirement for Tucson Water’s rainwater-harvesting rebate. The next class is scheduled for Thursday, October 11, from 2 to 5 p.m.

Tucson Water is offering rebates on qualifying rainwater harvesting projects, including tanks and earthworks. Two tiers of rebates cover full-system expenses up to $300 or 50 percent of expenses up to $2,000. A requirement to receive the rebate program is attendance at a three-hour educational session such as this one. We expect to offer approximately one session per month, depending on demand.

Complete information and online registration can be found here or by calling 520-396-3266.

Storm Water Harvesting – WMG Green Living Co-op Workshops – Oct 11,13,14,21,27

Click these links for more details:

Thursday October 11, 7am – 12pm
Saturday October 13, 8am – 1pm
Sunday, October 14, 7am – 12pm

Sunday, October 21, 8am – 1pm

Saturday, October 27, 8am – 1pm

 

Watershed Management Group – Residential Green Infrastructure Workshops

Join Watershed Management Group’s Tucson Green-living Co-op for a series of workshops this October that are designed to turn a stormwater problem into a plant irrigating, street shading, solution. We will use Green infrastructure techniques to slow down and keep storm water on site and to divert street floods into streetside infiltration basins via curb cuts.

These small scale Green infrastructure workshops will be associated with a single residence and the home owner will be required to maintain the basins both on their property and in the right of way.

Watershed Management Group’s Green Living Co-op has been helping Tucson residents install home-conservation features since 2008. Based on a barn-raising model (which we call “doing labor with your neighbor”), free Co-op membership allows residents to earn a discount on installations at their own homes by volunteering hours at other members’ homes.

All workshops are led by WMG’s expert workshop instructors, who can also help design professional water harvesting systems that qualify for both Tucson Water’s rainwater-harvesting and greywater rebates.

Visit www.watershedmg.org/co-op for more information,
and see WMG’s Tucson calendar www.watershedmg.org/calendar-tucson

Earth Harmony Festival – Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage – Oct 6-7

at Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage, Tumacácori, AZ (South of Tucson)
Free admission, donations appreciated

Earth Harmony Festival

A weekend celebration devoted to creating a sustainable future now. EcoVillage tours on water harvesting, green building, organic gardening, solar energy, composting, and more. Live music, food, arts, children’s village, hay rides, pony rides, and other activities including special eco-presentations featuring Gary Nabhan.

For info & directions – http://earthharmonyfestival.org/ or call (520) 398-2542

 

Earth Harmony Festival Promotes Global Cooperation to Achieve Sustainability

Tumacácori, Arizona – Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage presents the Earth Harmony Festival, a weekend celebration devoted to creating a sustainable future now. The festival will be held Saturday & Sunday, October 6-7th in Tumacácori, Arizona, South of Tucson.

The vision of the Earth Harmony Festival is to encourage a restoration of balance to the world’s people and ecosystems through environmental awareness, education, and a commitment to peace and unity without uniformity. Festival coordinator TiyiEndea DellErba says, “This year’s Earth Harmony Festival shares some practical solutions to the social, spiritual and environmental issues we face in our world today.”

The Earth Harmony Festival is held at Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage, one of the largest member EcoVillages in the world, nestled on 165-acres in the beautiful Santa Cruz Valley. Their sustainable practices include organic farming, education and the preservation of food diversity, permaculture principles, green building techniques, water harvesting, composting, alternative clean energy, and more. Avalon Gardens’ Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program was the first established in Arizona, feeding more than 100 people since 1995.

Internationally-celebrated author Gary Paul Nabhan will be the keynote speaker on Saturday, October 6th. Nabhan is a conservation biologist, a seed saver, and sustainable agriculture activist and has been called “the father of the local food movement”.

The core of the festival will be the ongoing tours of their working EcoVillage. From Solar Panels, to Rain Water Harvesting, to Organic Gardening, to Green Buildings, to Home-Made Goat Cheese, these EcoVillage tours will have something for every interest. Participants are encouraged to donate for the tours to help foster the EcoVillage’s many projects which are prototypes for creating a more sustainable, environmentally-conscious world.

In addition, live music, fine local art, locally made breads, food, and other natural products’ booths, a children’s village, hay rides, and special presentations by Master Gardeners, Kamon Lilly and Tarenta Baldeschi, will round out the weekend festivities.

Live music for the festival is provided by Global Change Music Nonprofit Record Label, featuring TaliasVan & The 11-piece Bright & Morning Star Band performing CosmoPop, music of the future for minds of the future. Additional artists performing are Van’sGuard, Starseed Acoustic Ensemble, and The Change Agents Band. Global Change Music lyrics speak of taking action against any form of injustice. Global Change Music promotes sustainable living, which includes growing organic food, building green, permaculture, sharing services and goods (trade and barter), and having a protective environmental consciousness.

Admission to the festival is free. Donations are appreciated to help support Avalon Gardens Internships and the Personality Integration Rehabilitation Program — nonprofit programs that assist individuals from diverse backgrounds in various levels of healing, training, and education in order to actualize their dreams and talents.

Amadon DellErba, an activist and festival promoter, encourages people to Occupy Avalon Gardens for a few days at the Earth Harmony Festival. “I hope this festival can teach and inspire others to live a more sustainable lifestyle, to come out of the age of competition, and into the age of cooperation.”

The Earth Harmony Festivals were started in the late 1990s by Gabriel of Urantia and Niánn Emerson Chase in Sedona, Arizona.

Camping is available by donation. For more information and camping reservations visit http://earthharmonyfestival.org/ or call 520-398-2542.

Sam Hughes Neighborhood Garden Tour – Oct 21

get tickets at Sam Hughes Elementary School, 700 N Wilson

 

Sam Hughes Neighborhood Garden Tour on Sunday October 21

Sam Hughes Neighborhood is having a first-time garden tour featuring 8 residen

ces and 2 public properties, including demonstration site for the “first in the nation” neighborhood phenology trail. Phenology is the study of the timing of plant and animal life cycles.

The tour will feature water harvesting, solar, water features, xeriscaping, hardscape, raised beds, a rooftop view, hummingbird garden, gazing balls, outdoor cooking features, use of color, sculptures.

Garden tour sponsor is Solar Solution AZ, LLC, which will be available at the tour to answer questions about solar energy.

Admission $10 adults, free for children with paying adult; get tickets at Sam Hughes Elem. School, 700 N. Wilson, 12 noon to 5 p.m.Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl / Alt+Shift + B)Italic (Ctrl / Alt+Shift + I)Strikethrough (Alt+Shift+D)Unordered list (Alt+Shift+U)Ordered list (Alt+Shift+O)Blockquote (Alt+Shift+Q)Align Left (Alt+Shift+L)Align Center (Alt+Shift+C)Align Right (Alt+Shift+R)Insert/edit link (Alt+Shift+A)Unlink (Alt+Shift+S)Insert More Tag (Alt+Shift+T)Toggle spellchecker (Alt+Shift+N)▼
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get tickets at Sam Hughes Elementary School, 700 N Wilson

Sam Hughes Neighborhood Garden Tour on Sunday October 21
Sam Hughes Neighborhood is having a first-time garden tour featuring 8 residences and 2 public properties, including demonstration site for the “first in the nation” neighborhood phenology trail. Phenology is the study of the timing of plant and animal life cycles.
The tour will feature water harvesting, solar, water features, xeriscaping, hardscape, raised beds, a rooftop view, hummingbird garden, gazing balls, outdoor cooking features, use of color, sculptures.
Garden tour sponsor is Solar Solution AZ, LLC, which will be available at the tour to answer questions about solar energy.
Admission $10 adults, free for children with paying adult; get tickets at Sam Hughes Elem. School, 700 N. Wilson, 12 noon to 5 p.m.
Path:

Second Annual Home-scape Tour – Watershed Management Group – Oct 20

Tucson, AZ

 

Second Annual Watershed Management Group Home-scape Tour
Saturday, October 20

Did the new City of Tucson rainwater-harvesting rebate rouse your interest in capturing the rain that falls on your own property?

Curious about implementing other backyard sustainability practices such as chicken coops, food production, greywater, composting systems, and even solar-heated outside showers?

Not really sure where to start and what practices are best suited to you and your site?

Watershed Management Group’s second annual Home Tour will demonstrate best water saving practices and more. Come and find out how landscape water savings do not equal zero scape or even necessarily Xeriscape, how soil building can have multiple benefits.

The self-guided tour will be on Saturday October 20 between 10 am to 4 pm. Residents will be on hand to guide tourists through the green-living features at their homes, as well as give tips and answer questions about their site and installations.

Cost is $5 to those on a bike or using public transportation and $10 to those in a car. Discounts are available for those who rideshare. Children under 14 participate free!

Local bike Co-op BICAS will be leading a leisurely ride taking in many of the sites. Leave from BICAS at 10 a.m. Cost of $10 with half the proceeds going to WMG and half to BICAS.

For more information visit our home tour website or contact Rhiwena Slack at co-op(at)watershedmg.org or 520-396-3266. To sign up click here.

www.watershedmg.org

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

live webcast from University of Maryland Conference Center

 

Workshop on the “Challenges in Vertical Farming

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

http://challengesinverticalfarming.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is some motivation for these efforts:

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

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

http://challengesinverticalfarming.org

How Do We Grow Our Food? – Native Seeds/SEARCH Free Monthly Salon – Sep 17

at Native Seeds/SEARCH Retail Store, 3061 N Campbell Ave, Tucson (please note new time)

 

How Do We Grow Our Food?

A panel discussion with growers from River Road Gardens, High Energy Farm, Sleeping Frog and the NS/S Conservation Farm.

No till, cover crops, Effective Microorganisms, biodynamic and good ole elbow grease are some of the many strategies employed by our local growers. Learn about favorite methodologies from our favorite farmers and take some great insights home to your own garden!

Native Seeds/SEARCH Retail Store, 3061 N. Campbell Ave.

www.nativeseeds.org

Fall 2012 One Day Workshops – Sonoran Permaculture Guild

Fall 2012 One Day Workshops – Sonoran Permaculture Guild

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

 

Designing a Home Greywater System – September 22nd, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Introduction to Growing Food at Home – October 6, 2012

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

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

Introduction to Permaculture Design – October 13th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fall 2012 One Day Workshops – Sonoran Permaculture Guild

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

www.sonoranpermaculture.org

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

in Tucson AZ
 

Designing a Home Greywater System

Leona Davis, Sonoran Permaculture Guild

This one-day class provides a basic understanding of residential greywater system design, function, application, and applicable building codes.

Participants will work with an aerial photo of their own residence (provided by the instructor) to identify and evaluate the potential of their own greywater sources and design a workable plan for a greywater system for their own home. Some basic plumbing experience is helpful, but not required.

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

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

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

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

Who Owns Our Food? – Native Seeds/SEARCH free monthly salon – Aug 20

Free at NS/S Retail Store, 3061 N. Campbell Ave.

 

“Who Owns Our Food?” with Bill McDorman

Aug. 20th, 5-7 pm (Note new time)

Ten companies own and control 75% of the worlds seeds. How does this affect local food security and the health of our region? More importantly what does this have to do with the nationwide drought and the treasure trove of seeds in the Native Seeds/SEARCH Seed Bank? Join NS/S Executive Director Bill McDorman for a deep discussion on this vital topic and hear about the solutions as close as your own backyard!

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Join us for viewing five great sustainability films in August!

PLEASE NOTE:

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

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

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

Rainwater Harvesting

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

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

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

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

 

OCCUPY ARCOLOGY LECTURE – June 26

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

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

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

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

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

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

Native Seeds/SEARCH free monthly salon – June 18

at NSS Retail Store, 3061 N. Campbell [south of Ft. Lowell]

Ancient and Traditional Water Harvesting in the Southwest

Native Americans have successfully farmed the arid lands of this region for centuries and continue to produce abundant crops.

Join us for another thought-provoking Salon with Melissa Kruse-Peeples, Collections Manager at Native Seeds/SEARCH, for an exploration of the water harvesting practices of ancient farmers in the Southwest.

Community Water Coalition – Open House – May 23

at Ward 6 Council Office Community Room, 3202 East 1st Street (near Speedway and Country Club)

Community Water Coalition – Open House

Please join the us for a fun and informative meeting of professionals and passionate advocates for a sustainable water future in Southern Arizona! Come find out how you or your organization can get involved. We are having a great year so far, and want to share our vision and successes with you. Snacks and beverages will be provided.

For more information contact Karilyn at 396-3266 or email kroach(at)watershedmg.org

Please use this link to RSVP for this event! – http://watershedmg.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=2030&qid=119753

 
The Community Water Coalition’s mission is to provide leadership and guidance toward water policy that sustains healthy ecosystems and quality of life in the lower Santa Cruz River watershed.

Accomplishments in 2012:
  * Became a prominent voice in the review of the Tucson Water Service Area policy
  * Published a Guest Opinion in the Arizona Daily Star on Rosemont Mine.

Current Actions:
  * Engaging Imagine Greater Tucson leadership to encourage a focus on sustainability in their process.
  * Supporting efforts to resolve lawsuits and legislation seeking to force water delivery to proposed development at Painted Hills.

 
Member Organizations

Center for Biological Diversity
Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection
Coalitions of Mutual Endeavor
Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
­Desert Watch
Native Seeds/SEARCH
Primavera Foundation
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas
Sustainable Tucson
Tucson Audubon
Tucson Mountains Association
Watershed Management Group

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

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

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

Scheduled so far are,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watershed Management Groupwww.watershedmg.org

Soil is Life – Restoring the Soil Food Web – lecture and local foods potluck – May 31

at Saint Marks Church, Third and Alvernon, Tucson

 

Soil is Life – Restoring the Soil Food Web
A Lecture and Local Foods Potluck

Join Watershed Management Group’s Tucson Co-op to celebrate the end of our busiest season to date and to revel in anticipation of the coming monsoons, with our semi annual local foods potluck and lecture.

This event will be held in conjunction with our newest Soil Stewards program and we are excited that Dr. Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman (of the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2) will lead an interactive session on the soil food web after the potluck.

Dr Paveo-Zuckerman will discuss its importance for food production, plant growth, and soil water storage. We will examine techniques to enhance soil ecology in the arid urban environment, and help participants develop plans to boost the soil web in their own home landscape.

To find out more and sign up to this free event go to our Tucson Co-op website http://watershedmg.org/co-op/tucson

Date Thursday, May 31
Time: 6:00 p.m. — 8:00 p.m.
Location: Saint Marks Church, Third and Alvernon

Plan Tucson – Urban Agriculture Policy Working Group – May 3

at Sentinel Building Conference Rooms, 320 N. Commerce Park Loop

 

PLAN TUCSON
ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY FOCUS AREA
Urban Agriculture Policy Working Group

Meeting Invitation
Thursday May 3, 2012

Hello,

The Plan Tucson Team appreciates the active participation by agency, organization, and other stakeholders in the Working Groups to develop policies for elements to be addressed in Plan Tucson, the City’s new General Plan now in preparation.

During the Working Group discussions regarding a variety of elements from public health to green infrastructure to land use to economic development, the topic of urban agriculture has come up often enough that staff decided it would be helpful to have a separate meeting devoted to the topic. Therefore, we have arranged a meeting that will include brief presentations on efforts already underway in the City and County to address urban agriculture issues and to provide an opportunity for interested stakeholders to share their thoughts about the topic.

The URBAN AGRICULTURE meeting is scheduled for:

Thursday, May 3, 2012
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Sentinel Building Conference Rooms
320 N. Commerce Park Loop

If you would like to attend this meeting, please RSVP by sending an email to plantucson(at)tucsonaz.gov by Tuesday, May 1, and type “Urban Agriculture” in the subject line. If you have any questions, please contact Gina Chorover at gina.chorover(at)tucsonaz.gov or 520‐837‐6946.

If you are unable to join us on this date, but have ideas about Urban Agriculture that you would like considered, please email them to Gina Chorover at the above email address.

Thank you,

Gina Chorover
Plan Tucson Team

Water Harvesting Lecture Series – May 4-7

 

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

 

Water Harvesting Lecture Series

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

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

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

The four-session series includes:

May 4 Friday, 10 a.m. to noon

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

May 5 Saturday, 3 to 5 p.m.

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

May 7 Monday, 1 to 3 p.m.

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

May 7 Monday, 3 to 5 p.m.

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

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

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

Overpeck lecture – audio recording online here

An audio recording of Dr. Jonathan Overpeck’s presentation at DuVal Auditorium in Tucson February 13th 2012 is now available here on the Sustainable Tucson website.

To listen or download, please go to the first comment on ST February Meeting – Climate Change in Tucson and the Southwest – Dr Jonathan Overpeck.

Brown Bag Lunch Seminars – Water Resources Research Center – March & April

Unless otherwise noted, all seminars are held at the Sol Resnick Conference Room, Water Resources Research Center, 350 N Campbell Ave, Tucson AZ 85721

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

 

WRRC Brown Bag Lunch Seminars

 

Wednesday, March 21, 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Gardenroots: The Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona Garden Project

Speaker: Monica Ramirez-Andreotta, PhD Candidate, Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, University of Arizona

Project web link is: http://garden-roots.org/

 

Tuesday, April 10, 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Biofuel Production and Water in the Southwest

Speaker: Kim Ogden, Professor, UA Department of Chemical & Environmental Engineering

The Southwest is under consideration for production of fuel from plants and algae due to the long days and ample sunlight. However, water is an issue for sustainable production. This presentation will focus on the potential for using algae and sweet sorghum as feedstocks for biofuels in the Southwest. Strategies for reducing water usage, recycling water and using wastewater for cultivation will be highlighted.

 

Thursday, April 19, 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Valuing the multi-benefits of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan using an ecosystem service framework

Speaker: Rosalind Bark, PhD, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Australia

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan aims to maximise the benefits of river reform to the Australian public. Valuing the benefits from changed flow and inundation regimes under the Basin Plan requires linking ecological outcomes and economic valuation. An ecosystem service framework is used as the bridge between ecological sciences and economic valuation.

 

The views, opinions, advice or other content expressed by the author(s) or speaker(s) are their own and do not represent those of the Water Resources Research Center.

Solar Grant Applications Open Until March 21 – Technicians for Sustainability

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

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

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

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

About Technicians For Sustainability

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

What Are We Planning For? – A New Advocacy Initiative

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

www.SustainableTucson.org

Tucson Aquaponics Systems Tour – Feb 11

The first TAPST (Tucson Aquaponics Systems Tour) is officially happening!  Saturday 2/11/12 all around Tucson, 9AM-3PM.  The full range of aquaponics systems will be featured.  So far we have at least 10 systems on 5 different sites.  

Here is a link to more info: http://www.facebook.com/events/239007656182410/

ST committee on Food/Water

The ad hoc committee on Food & Water, we begin to develop a Sustainable Tucson General Meeting for later in the year.  The goal of that meeting will be to initiate some sort of action in the area of food and water.  It is up to the ad hoc committee, working with the Core Team, to determine what that action will be.

This meeting will end at 6:00 and the goal is to identify a preferred topic(s) for the General Meeting, and then identify the agenda for the next ad hoc committee meeting and assign tasks for it.  PLEASE BE PREARED to make a brief statement of any topic that you would like to offer as a possible action to be initiated at the General Meeting.

If you plan to attend, please let Tres English (795-3413) (tres1@mindspring.com> — ASAP.  We will be meeting near Alvernon & Broadway.  

WMG Composting Toilet Program – Seeking Participants – Feb 9

Soil Steward Composting Toilet Program – Seeking Participants

 

Are you…

  • An early adopter who likes to be part of a cutting-edge pilot program to influence city and state policy?
  • Tired of flushing potable water down the toilet and interested in building a legal composting toilet for your home?
  • Interested in using alternative composting systems to improve your soil and fertilize trees and other plants?
  • Want to get geeky about soil – how to build healthy soils and conserve water while producing food and lush native landscapes?

Watershed Management Group invites you to attend an informational session: Thursday, February 9th, 6-8pm. Register (free) to attend this informational session on participating in WMG’s Soil Steward Compost Toilet program (attendance required to apply to be a pilot participant) – Register here.

This informational session will include:

  • The activities and information taught in the Soil Stewards program
  • Composting toilet designs offered through the program (site-built), proper use, permitting, and legal issues
  • How to apply to receive a subsidy and be an exclusive pilot participant to receive a legal site built composting toilet

If you’re interested in participating or learning more about our Soil Stewards program, please contact Catlow Shipek at catlow(at)watershedmg.org.

The project is possible through grant funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 9 for their environmental education projects.

Pima County Food Systems Alliance – Meeting & Potluck – January 31

On January 31st, there will be a meeting of the Pima County Food Systems Alliance, at Tucson Village Farm, 4210 N Campbell Ave

The Pima County Food Systems Alliance (PCFSA) is an open membership network comprised of a variety of groups and individuals—including but not limited to farmers, chefs, restaurants, schools, educators, youth, gardeners, researchers, food banks, health professionals, attorneys, nonprofits, activists, and consumers.  The Alliance works in a collaborative manner to serve as a space to invite discussion and foster learning and education for those who are directly affected by food insecurity, as well as legislative decision makers about food policy.

Also see the new PCFSA website at http://pimafoodalliance.org/ and PCFSA on Facebook

Ten Good Things About a (Not So) Bad Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(27 December 2011)

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

Energy Bulletin is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities. Content on this site is subject to our fair use notice.

The 12 most hopeful trends to build on in 2012

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

by Sarah van Gelder

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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

Energy Bulletin is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities. Content on this site is subject to our fair use notice.


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

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

ST February Meeting – Climate Change in Tucson and the Southwest – Dr Jonathan Overpeck

at DuVal Auditorium, University Medical Center, 1501 N Campbell Avenue

Sustainable Tucson’s February Meeting will be a special public lecture event in collaboration with the Tucson Audubon Society and the Community Water Coalition.

University of Arizona climate scientist Dr. Jonathan Overpeck will speak on Climate Change: What does it mean for Tucson and the Southwest?

drought mapLast year’s increase in carbon emissions to our atmosphere, an estimated extra half-billion tons, was almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, and the largest percentage increase since 2003.

This trend of ever-rising emissions will make climate change an increasing challenge in coming decades. What are the particular possible outcomes for Tucson and the southwest? Water supply, food security, fire risk, habitability for people and wildlife will all be affected.

Dr. Overpeck is a founding co-director of the Institute of the Environment, as well as a Professor of Geosciences and a Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona, and an author of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment.

Monday, February 13, 7:00pm
Free and open to the public

DuVal Auditorium
University Medical Center
1501 N Campbell Avenue
(NE section of the main University Medical Center building)

Directions: Go in the main entrance of the Medical Center building, which faces east toward Campbell Avenue. Immediately turn right down the hall where you will find the doors to the DuVal Auditorium on your left.

Parking Note: There is parking in the multi-tiered Patient/Visitor parking garage closest to the auditorium; however, a fee is charged. Free parking is available south of Mabel Street, across from the College of Nursing.

See map at http://www.azumc.com/body.cfm?id=13

[The audio recording of this lecture is now available here online – go to the first comment below…]

Greywater Systems – Watershed Technical Training – Feb 6-8

Early registration ends January 6!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreaming New Mexico – Peter Warshall – TEDxABQ video

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

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

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

Oppose the Rosemont Mine – public meetings Dec 1st, 7th, 8th, 10th

Thursday, Dec. 1, at Corona Foothills Middle School, 16705 S. Houghton Rd., from 5 to 9 PM (and see comments below for further meetings at other locations)

From: Keith Willmarth <canduthis(at)toast.net>
Subject: Oppose the Rosemont Mine

I am sending this message to mobilize informed opposition to the proposed Rosemont Mine. Several organizations, in particular Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, are doing yeoman work for the same purpose. I was only slightly acquainted with this issue until a few weeks ago. As I‘ve become more fully informed, I feel impelled to do what I can so that this mine will not become a reality.

The National Forest Service held its first public meeting, on November 12, to hear comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Rosemont copper mine. (View the DEIS at www.rosemonteis.us). The Arizona Daily Star reported that comments ran 50 to 6 in favor of the project. However, all major local news media completely ignored the second meeting, held a week later at Empire High School, at which a huge majority in the packed hall, at least 3 to 1, opposed the project.

Whatever their reasons for failing to cover the second meeting, it’s important to ensure that:

· There is an even greater turnout at the next meeting, on Thursday, Dec. 1, at Corona Foothills Middle School, 16705 S. Houghton Rd., from 5 to 9 PM.

· The media show up at subsequent public meetings on this issue

· Local residents express their opposition to Rosemont in other ways, through written statements, phone calls, networking, etc.

There are many good reasons to oppose the Rosemont Mine:

1. The sheer size of the tract of land within Coronado National Forest which would be obliterated: roughly seven square miles, including a vast pit half-a-mile deep and over a mile wide.

2. It would suck an enormous quantity of groundwater from the Earth — many times more than the annual usage of Nogales, for example — for the profit of a single company.

3. It will be across the road from one of the few protected and relatively undisturbed riparian areas left in the desert Southwest. A more incompatible land use than the mine is hard to imagine.

4. It would significantly reduce the night sky darkness, to the detriment of astronomical research in southern Arizona, and to the dismay of campers and nearby residents.

5. Rosemont has latched onto the premise that hybrid cars use three times as much copper as conventional cars, to greenwash the public. Considering the heavy machinery, small army of large trucks, plant-site emissions, electricity, de-vegetation, etc. that would be required, it is most doubtful that the mine would contribute to fighting climate change..

6. The scale of environmental degradation which would occur due to the Rosemont Mine runs contrary to the stated mission of the Forest Service to “sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands for present and future generations.” Rights granted by the Mining Act of 1872 do not pre-empt the provisions of the Forest Service Act.

7. Mitigation plans are not insurance against environmental damage. The largest EPA Superfund site is the result of copper mining (The Upper Clark Fork River Superfund Site in Montana). In 1990, at the Ray Mine near Kearny, AZ, rainwater washed 324,000 gallons of wastewater loaded with copper sulfates into the Gila River.

8. Rosemont’s boasts of long-term job creation are conjectural. Copper prices are currently at a peak; consequently there is a clamor of activity to develop new mines and expand production at existing ones. In Arizona alone, at least four other new copper mine proposals are seeking regulatory approval. Resolution Copper reports that their planned mine could supply 25% of expected US demand for decades. When prices drop with rising supply, or for any other reason, some mines can be expected to close.

9. The economic viability of the Rosemont Mine over its projected 20-year productive life is questionable, since it depends on the continued growth of the US and global economies. But we know that the perpetual growth paradigm is unrealistic on a finite planet. There are portents of a global ecological and economic crash, possibly in the near future. Projects like the Rosemont Mine are obsolescent.

There are numerous other reasons. Your reason here: info(at)rosemonteis.us

If your schedule allows, please come to the public meeting this Thursday evening, to
let your views be known. I’m supporting Project Alternative 1 – no action!!

Thanks,

Keith Willmarth
(520-661-0034)

P.S. — I welcome passengers in my car as long as there is room.

Pima County Food Systems Alliance – Meeting & Potluck – Nov 30

On November 30th (this Wednesday) from 6-8 pm, there will be a large group meeting of the Pima County Food Systems Alliance (PCFSA) with a potluck at the Sam Lena Library (1607 S. 6th Ave, Tucson; call 520.594.5265 for directions)

The Agenda is as follows:

  1. Welcome & Introduction (Nick) (5 min; 6:00-6:05)
  2. Presentation by PCFSA Consultants (Bryn/Lewis) (25 min; 6:05-6:30)
  3. Break & Get Food; Potluck (5 min; 6:30-6:35)
  4. Workgroup Activity (Bryn/Lewis) (1 hour; 6:35-7:35)
  5. Activity: Getting involved in the Policy Process (Jaime) (5 min; 7:35-7:45)
  6. Next Steps (Lewis) (15 min; 7:45-8:00)

Bring your friends & colleagues, plus a taste of your favorite or signature Thanksgiving dish.  And check out our Facebook page!

The Pima County Food Systems Alliance is an open membership network comprised of a variety of groups and individuals—including but not limited to farmers, chefs, restaurants, schools, educators, youth, gardeners, researchers, food banks, health professionals, attorneys, nonprofits, activists, and consumers.  The Alliance works in a collaborative manner to serve as a space to invite discussion and foster learning and education for those who are directly affected by food insecurity, as well as legislative decision makers about food policy.

Local Gardening & Farming – Resources & Contacts

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

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

Farmers Markets

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

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

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

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

Sustainable Tucson comments on proposed Rosemont Mine

Sustainable Tucson comments on proposed Rosemont Mine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UA Professor Walks Away From Empire

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

 

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

 

 

 

The Dark Side of the ‘Green’ City

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

PHOENIX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 11-6-2011, The New York Times

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

Eco-Sanitation Course with David Omick & Brad Lancaster – Dec 5-7

Eco-Sanitation Course with David Omick & Brad Lancaster

December 5 – 7 in Tucson

Note: Dates have changed from those previously advertized. Early registration extended to Oct 30. Early registration cost is $250. Scholarships are available.

Learn cutting-edge principles in simple living technology in a hands-on setting – join WMG for a Watershed Technical Training in Eco-Sanitation!

Expert instructors David Omick and Brad Lancaster will provide an introduction to the concept of eco-sanitation, an overview and tour of various types of composting toilets, and information on human and environmental health considerations and social acceptability challenges. Students will participate in the design and hands-on construction of a composting toilet.

This training is open to professionals, educators, and activists from a wide variety of backgrounds who have the capacity to implement the principles of eco-sanitation presented in the course, either professionally or personally.

Apply by October 30 for the reduced course fee! For more information and to apply, download the full course announcement and application, available at http://www.watershedmg.org/node/268 or contact Rhiwena Slack at rslack(at)watershedmg.org or 520-396-3266.