Are Sustainability Promoters a Happy Bunch? Clif Ware, Editor
Kurt Cobb, an accomplished author, speaker, and columnist, writes a blog on sustainability. In his latest blog—“I’d be happier if I didn’t write this stuff!”—Kurt explains how he manages reading and writing about all of the negative news and views related to the series of converging crises humanity is increasingly facing.
As a way of explaining our human predicament, Kurt offers a turkey story. It seems that, although this turkey had enjoyed a safe, nurturing existence throughout its short life, it was unprepared for its sudden demise—soon after a human arrived with hatchet in hand.
The moral: perhaps it’s better to be ignorant about a situation over which one has no control. On the other hand, although a solitary turkey (or human) might be incapable of foreseeing a dreadful self-ending, a turkey (or human) may gain valuable life-saving insights in studying the history of other turkeys (or humans).
For example, history shows that civilizations typically cycle through stages of growth, stability, decline, and collapse, so perhaps we should heed history’s lessons. Where do you suppose we are on this historical cycle? Contrary to standard growth proponents, we’re most likely on the decline cycle. Time will tell.
In response to an email I sent Kurt thanking him for his blog, he responded with this comment, which serves to encapsulate the essential message of this latest blog:
“Attempts to convey the big picture to others are often difficult, but necessary work. We live inside systems we don’t fully understand. To engender respect for those systems is one of our highest priorities. Not everyone needs to understand the big picture completely. But it is helpful to understand at least the outlines in order to place one’s personal efforts into a larger context, to see one’s relationship to the broader sustainability community worldwide, and most important, to coordinate our efforts.”
In winding down my comments—so you can read Cobb’s blog (Resource Insights)—I’d like to suggest that maybe a life goal isn’t necessarily to be happy, but rather to be content, fully satisfied that one is doing the right thing in becoming an informed citizen who actively promotes sustainability. Those who fail to act responsibly—and that’s the majority of humankind—will simply be getting a free ride, thanks to those who are concerned and taking constructive measures.
Other links of special interest that I highly recommend are Chris Martenson’s A Brief History Of US Money: The Fed – Crash Course Chapter 9 and Gail Tverberg’s Energy And The Economy – Twelve Basic Principles. The latter article provides a concise overview of energy and economy connections.
ECONOMIC AND ENERGY NEWS-VIEWS
> Peak Prosperity: A Brief History Of US Money: The Fed – Crash Course Chapter 9. Looking at the past 100 years of the US dollar’s history, one theme becomes abundantly clear: in times of crisis, the US government has no issue with changing its own rules or breaking its own laws. And those “temporary” emergency measures have a nasty habit of quickly becoming permanent.
> Our Finite World: Energy And The Economy – Twelve Basic Principles. There is a standard view of energy and the economy, briefly summarized as follows: Economic growth can continue forever; we will learn to use less energy supplies; energy prices will rise; and the world will adapt. A different view of how energy and the economy fit together is based on the principle of reaching limits in a finite world.
> Resource Crisis: Peak Mileage And The Diminishing Returns Of Technology. Oil depletion is destined to make oil less and less affordable, even though market oscillations may hide this phenomenon. Wages are unlikely to grow in real terms after having been static for the past 40 years. And technological miracles are unlikely.
> Bloomberg: Solar Boom Driving First Global Panel Shortage Since 2006. The solar industry is facing a looming shortage of photovoltaic panels, reversing a two-year slump triggered by a global glut. Installations expected to swell as much as 29 percent this year.
> LA Times: 36% Of Adults Lack Retirement Savings, Including Many 65 Or Older. More than a third of American adults have no retirement savings, and 14% of those ages 65 and older also haven’t put money away yet, according to a new study.
> Market Watch: Your Paycheck Has Been Shrinking For 5 Years. Since the Great Recession ended five years ago, the amount of money Americans earn each hour after adjusting for inflation has actually fallen, largely explains why the U.S. economy is growing less than two-thirds as fast as it normally does.
> Economy and Markets Daily: The U.S. Economic Collapse Will Trigger A Revolution. When the next economic collapse comes, and it’s inevitable, the revolution against the upper class will kick into higher gear! Instead of peaking in 2007, as it should have, the rich have continued to prosper while everyday people have stagnated or declined.
CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS-VIEWS
> Common Dreams: Keystone Xl’s Climate Impact Worse Than Thought: Study.The emissions generated as a result of the pipeline could be as much as four times greater than the State Department indicated in its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) of the project.
> Climate Central: Expanding Existing Farmland Would Benefit Climate. A new study shows by expanding agriculture on the edges of regions that are already heavily farmed and confining new farming to specific areas across the globe, about 6 billion tons of carbon can be saved worldwide and 350 million tons in the U.S.
> MPR: Groups To EPA: Stop Muzzling Science Advisers. Journalist and scientific organizations accused the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday of attempting to muzzle its independent scientific advisers by directing them to funnel all outside requests for information through agency officials.
> Resilience-World Watch Institute: Does Ecoliteracy Prevent Environmental Action?: State Of The World 2014. The existing ecological literacy, or “ecoliteracy,” model of simply addressing the knowledge deficit, rather than addressing the real issue of the behavior deficit, has tended to yield highly knowledgeable individuals who, despite their understanding, often fail to take action.
> The Guardian: Global Warming Is Moistening The Atmosphere. In a recent study the authors show that the long-term increase in water vapor in the upper troposphere cannot have resulted from natural causes – it is clearly human caused.
> The Guardian: Earth Sliding Into ‘Ecological Debt’ Earlier And Earlier, Campaigners Warn. The Global Footprint Network, which calculates earth overshoot day, said it would currently take 1.5 Earths to produce the renewable natural resources needed to support human requirements.
> ENSIA: Ecosystems Are Not Machines. If we want to save the world, we need to treat nature more as an organism and less as disposable and replaceable technology.
> Common Dreams: Towards A New Co-Existence: On Reframing Our Ecological Crises. Co-existence may sound trite to some, a bumper-sticker concept. It involves seeing oneself as one part of a system in which all the interconnected aspects are essential and valued. One aspect is not dominating the system and hogging all the resources.
> PhysOrg: Water Scarcity And Climate Change Through 2095. Future water scarcity may pose a significant challenge to our ability to adapt to or mitigate climate change. Without any climate policy to curb carbon emissions, half the world will be living under extreme water scarcity.
LOCAL, STATE, AND REGIONAL NEWS-VIEWS
> MPR: Good Buzz: U Researchers Find Hope In The Thriving Urban Bee. Bee colonies are dying off in alarming number locally and nationwide, but hives on the rooftop of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts are doing very well.
> Twin Cities Daily Planet: Loon Commons: Saving Minnesota’s Grasslands: Conservation, Cattle And Community. Plans are underway to reintroduce cattle into grasslands to help restore them to their natural, long-term conditions. A collaborative community effort is sought to appease various interests, including farmers, hunters, and environmentalists.
> Minnpost: Letter: Minnesota Could Be A Solar Leader If We Move Forward With Smart Policies. Solar is quickly becoming competitive with options like natural gas, and it creates 91 percent less global warming pollution over its lifetime, according the Environment Minnesota’s new report called “Lighting the Way.”
> Reuters: After 23 Million Rides, No Deaths In U.S. Bike Share Programs. Not a single rider in New York City’s bike share program has been killed since it launched in May 2013, a Citi Bike representative said. This safety record is largely due to the bike’s design, construction and speed limitations, creating a safety net that cyclists riding standard bikes don’t experience.
> Minnesota 2020: Minnesota’s Flooding & The EPA’s Flood Resilience Checklist. Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new set of recommendations and planning guides to help communities improve their flood resilience. Check them out.
SUSTAINABLE CHALLENGES, IDEAS AND PRACTICES
> Shareable: You Did This! The Birth Of The Sharing Cities Network. The Sharing Cities Network is a grassroots network of communities from around the world that are want to live happier, healthier, and more sustainably by sharing resources and knowledge. Watch the 6” video for an overview.
> Yes! How America’s Largest Worker Owned Co-Op Lifts People Out Of Poverty. By spreading risk and pooling resources, co-ops offer people with little individual wealth a way to start their own businesses and build assets. That said, if starting and sustaining a successful cooperative business were easy, there would probably be more of them.
> Minnesota 2020: Bike Sharing and Safety. It was reported this week that not one person in United States has died pedaling a bike share bike. That’s in 36 cities and an estimated 23 million rides. So while biking instead of driving can make you more physically fit, it also increases your chances of staying healthy and whole, especially on a shared bike.
> ENSIA: Infographic–Can Insects Feed a Hungry Planet? 2 billion world citizens eat insects, largely beetles. Can we? Read more...
> Shareable: Can Walkable Urbanism Boost the Economy? Foot Traffic Ahead convincingly demonstrates that, in many localities, “walkable urban” has replaced “drivable suburban” as the development model of choice for business owners, office workers, and shoppers. Yet it also makes clear that the end of sprawl is far from guaranteed.
>Transition US: Unlikely Suspects – Deep Outreach: Resilience For Whom, And To What End? – “Transitioning For All”. Transitioners must address how resource depletion and climate change will affect various groups, how re-localization may be applicable to everyone, and why some people are more adaptable than others.
> UM Institute on the Environment: Focusing Ag Expansion Can Save Billions Of Tons Of Carbon. A U of MN study found that limiting agricultural expansion to several key global regions could meet the predicted need to double food production by 2050 while preserving nearly 6 billion metric tons more carbon than would be safeguarded with unguided expansion.
CFS UPCOMING EVENTS
> SUSTAINABILITY BOOK CLUB: Sat. Aug. 23, 3-5 p.m., St. Anthony Village Library (SAV Shopping Center). Books: Decline and Fall: The End of Empire (John Michael Greer; The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivor’s Toolkit (Dmitry Orlov). Open to public.
> GROWING GROCERIES III WORKSHOP. Sat., Sept. 20, 1-4 p.m., SAV Community Center -City Council Chambers. UM Master Gardeners—Dawn Pape, Lynette Thompson, and Patrick Fischer. Register ($10; 612-706-1166)
NOTABLE UPCOMING LOCAL EVENTS
> Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Eco Experience: Minnesota Goes Green. “Best Attraction 2013”. Also, Renewing the Countryside: Healthy Local Foods Exhibit at MN State Fair. Aug. 21-Sept. 1, MN State Fair, St. Paul; Info: http://www.ecoexperience.org.
> Alliance for Sustainability- AfroEco: Cooperative Solutions: A Convergence For A Just And Sustainable Economy. Sat., Aug. 23, 9am-6pm, Laura Jeffrey Academy, 1550 Summit Ave, St Paul, MN. Registration
> SAV Chamber of Commerce: Touch-A-Truck. A fun, educational, “hands on” experience for kids of all ages! Saturday, September 13, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., 39th Ave NE, Silver Lake Village. Info: Tony Fragnito (firstname.lastname@example.org; 651-748-7860), or Jan Fillmore (email@example.com; 612-788-1675).
> Sustainable Cities Institute: Midwest Convening On Climate Resilience, Sep. 21-23, Saint Paul Hotel – 350 Market St, St. Paul, MN. Register by August 31st >>