> CFS FINAL FORUM (in past format): Sat. Oct. 11, 3-5 p.m., SAV City Hall Council Chambers. Speaker–Erin McKee VanSlooten, Local Foods senior program associate, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Topic—“From Farm to School: Encouraging Food Literacy for Children”. Business—Establishing a sustainability coalition in SAV; Social—Refreshments and networking. Free, and open to the public!
EVERYTHING CHANGES, INCLUDING CFS (Clifton Ware, Editor/Publisher)
If you’ve paid attention to the announcement above, you’ve observed that the title is “CFS FINAL FORUM” (final in terms of past format). You’re probably wondering what this means, so here’s a brief explanation.
Since CFS’s kick-off meeting in January ’12, several positive initiatives have occurred, with a few individuals assuming leadership roles in pursuing specific areas of interest. At least three participants’ initiatives were already established, but CFS has provided a forum for sharing their projects and promoting them within the sustainability community.
In the meantime, my self-proclaimed role as co-founder/organizer has grown increasingly more complex, with expanding responsibilities, all attributable to my unrealistic personal expectations and goals for CFS. No one is to blame but myself for this situation. Hoping that more citizens would take up the sustainability banner and take on leadership roles was an idealistic vision. It turns out this vision was unrealistic, at least at this time. At some point, when the converging crises we’ve addressed in newsletters and forums begin to affect people’s lives more profoundly, I suspect the community will rally and set about getting more involved. But at my advancing age (771/2), I’m full aware that I’ll not be able to maintain the level of organizing and management it will take to fulfill our original vision of CFS as a long-term sustainable community.
Thankfully, I’m wise enough to understand when it’s time to withdraw from undertaking worthwhile initiatives, especially when positive outcomes have occurred. Overall, I’m proud of our collective accomplishments, and I remain committed to supporting any genuine effort undertaken by citizens seeking to create greater resilience and sustainability—for themselves, their families, their friends, and their community.
So CFS is in a changing mode, a reorganization or revision. In sum, key members of the education-communication team have decided to revisit our educational mission of providing information, instruction, and support to any individuals or groups interested in creating greater resilience and sustainability, within SAV and surrounding communities, and anywhere else. The forum concept will probably continue, but the format will likely morph into a more informal study-discussion group that addresses relevant topics, with support from presenters, books, articles, videos, and the like. CFS will also likely continue as a key member of any sustainability coalition formed in SAV.
This weekly newsletter will also continue, though perhaps on a modified publishing schedule, and, at some point, perhaps in an altered, upgraded format. But, first, in order to improve our effectiveness and services, we need to redefine our new CFS mission, goals, and objectives. If you have any suggestions or recommendations to offer, please feel free to share them.
Finally, for a perceptive, informative overview of the existing world situation, as related to the sustainability challenges associated with economy, energy, and environment, I encourage you to read Chris Martenson’s latest commentary: Ready Or Not… And if you really want to be better informed, study his Crash Course, beginning with the free chapters listed for the past few weeks in previous newsletters. Chapter 15 follows.
ECONOMIC AND ENERGY NEWS-VIEWS
> Peak Prosperity: Ready Or Not… (Chris Martenson). Most of the negative news and major world events we see around us are symptoms of the disease, not the disease itself. We are on an unsustainable course; economically, ecologically, and — most immediately worryingly — in our use of energy. It’s really this simple: Anything that can’t go on forever, won’t.
> Peak Prosperity: Demographics – Crash Course Chapter 15. Our national demographic architecture no longer can afford the entitlement system we have. And that’s even assuming entitlements were currently sufficiently funded. But as the last chapter showed, the existing programs are underfunded to the tune of $100-200 Trillion.
> Economy & Markets Daily: Ten Things That Affect Your Purchasing Power. Almost every group in every category suffered a decline in income over the past six years. The exceptions were households led by those over 65 years old, households of retirees, and those with net worth in the 90% to 100% range.
> Common Dreams: Broken Dreams: Amidst Economic Insecurity, Americans Can’t Get Ahead. A new study shows that a majority of Americans have “a decidedly gloomy” economic outlook and have lost faith in the so-called American Dream.
> Great Transition: Monetizing Nature: Taking Precaution On A Slippery Slope. In embracing the monetary valuation of nature as a strategy for mobilizing support for environmental conservation, environmentalists are resigning themselves to a political status quo that can only comprehend value in terms of money and markets.
> Resilience: Post-Capitalism (Charles Eisenstein). What is more relevant to me [than the fiction of property] is the precise nature of the social agreements that define and underlie property.
> The Archdruid Report: Dark Age America: The Senility Of The Elites (J.M. Greer). The behavior of the holders of wealth and power in contemporary America is a textbook example of the way that a mature elite turns senile. Some elites realize that it’s crucial to play to the audience, to convince those outside elite circles that the holders of wealth and power still have some vague sense of concern for the survival of the society they claim the right to lead.
> Daily Kos: ‘The Most Important Chart About The American Economy You’ll See This Year’. Pavlina Tcherneva’s chart showing the distribution of income gains during periods of economic expansion reveals a shocking trend in income between the top 10% and the rest of the American population, whose earnings have gradually decreased since the 1980s.
> Daily Kos: Americans Want CEO Pay To Be Lower, But They Don’t Get Just How High It Is. Americans believe that CEOs make 30 times as much as unskilled workers. By contrast, Americans believe that CEOs should only make seven times as much as unskilled workers. In reality, CEOs make far, far more: 354 times as much in 2012, by some measures.
> Huffington Post: Why An Unequal Planet Can Never Be Green. The super-rich don’t just consume at rates that dwarf the consumption of mere financial mortals. Their profligate spending stimulates endless consumption all the way down the economic ladder. In more equal societies, most people can afford the same things. In that environment, things don’t matter all that much.
> OilPrice: How Rising Interest Rates Could Spell The End Of The U.S. Energy Boom. The winding down of extraordinary measures taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve to ameliorate the effects of the financial crisis could reverberate through energy markets.
> Fortune: Climate Summit Kicks Off With Promises Of $200 Billion For Clean Energy. Obama says the U.S. will lead a global effort to forge an international agreement on emission targets by 2020.
> Resilience: Peak Oil Review – Sept 29. Here’s a summary of oil news from around the world.
CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS-VIEWS
> Common Dreams: Sizzle, Sizzle, Fossil Fuels And Trouble: Study Confirms Climate Change Drove Extreme Heat Waves. NOAA’s latest report’s analyses “overwhelmingly show” a link between the five heat waves included in the study—ones in 2013 that hit Australia, Korea, Europe, Japan and China—and climate change.
> The Hill: EPA: Greenhouse Gases From Major Polluters Grew Last Year. The more than 1,550 power plants in the EPA’s database emitted more than 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, the largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 32 percent. Power plants’ emissions grew by 13 million metric tons [with coal serving as a major energy source].
> E360 Yale: Beyond Treaties: A New Way Of Framing Global Climate Action. It sounds bleak. Yet, strangely, all may not be lost. The answer may lie in Plan B — reframing the entire climate issue as one of national decision-making and self interest, rather than global treaty writing.
> Common Dreams: What 35,000 Walruses Forced To The Beach Tell Us About Global Warming. “The walruses are telling us that the Arctic environment is changing extremely rapidly, and it is time for the rest of the world to take notice and also to take action to address the root causes of climate change.”
> Media Matters: Sunday News Shows Ignore Historic Climate March. While upwards of 400,000 people were marching for climate action in New York City, Sunday news shows on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox failed to cover the People’s Climate March, a massive protest against climate change held September 21 in New York City, in conjunction with events in more than 150 countries worldwide.
> Resilience: Extracting Ourselves From The Extractivist Mindset (Robert Jensen). An insightful, informative review of “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate” by Naomi Klein.
> CBS News: Half The World’s Wildlife Gone Over Last 40 Years. According to the Living Planet Report 2014, “the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish across the globe is, on average, about half the size it was 40 years ago, the result of inordinate stresses on our planet’s limited bio-capacity due primarily to increasing global human population.
> Ecologist: UN: Only Small Farmers And Agroecology Can Feed The World. Modern industrial agricultural methods can no longer feed the world, due to the impacts of overlapping environmental and ecological crises linked to land, water and resource availability. Agroecology is a traditional way of using farming methods that are less resource oriented, and which work in harmony with society.
LOCAL, STATE, AND REGIONAL NEWS-VIEWS
> Fresh Energy: Minnesota Slams Door (And Insulates It) On Drafty Homes With New Energy Code. Energy codes set the bare minimum requirements for energy use in buildings, and impact every area of your home. Because buildings make up 40 percent of our nation’s energy use they’re a key strategy in reducing our energy consumption.
> Midwest Energy News: Minnesota Faith Groups Featured In ‘Climate Reality’ Project. Minnesota faith communities were in the spotlight again this week as part of the 24 Hours of Reality, a series of videos hosted by Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.
> MinnPost: Earth Journal: Why So Much Oil From The Fracking Boom Is Moving By High-Risk Rail. Rail shipping is inherently more prone to problems than pipeline transport. Also, a much higher risk of catastrophe as oil-laden “unit trains” of 80 to 120 tank cars move through the nation’s largest, densest metropolitan areas, including the Twin Cities.
> MPR: Managing A Herd: Bison Could Help Restore Minnesota Prairie. Although the land is not suitable for farming, it is good enough for six-foot-high stands of blue stem and other prairie grasses that make up most of the diet of the Blue Mounds bison herd.
> CBS Minnesota: Good Question: Why Do We Use So Much Plastic? According to the plastics industry, 90 percent of grocery bags in the U.S. are still plastic. They cost between 1 to 2 cents, while paper bags can run 4 to 5 cents. But, what we do with these plastic bags has serious environmental consequences.
SUSTAINABLE CHALLENGES, IDEAS AND PRACTICES
> Resilience-Shareable: The World’s First Tiny House Hoteliers. All over blogs and documentaries about tiny houses, people are saying the same thing: I’d rather have a life full of experiences than things. There’s this turn away from consumerism toward more meaningful living.
> Resilient Life: Why Bother Composting? Here’s a succinct overview of the why, when, and how of composting. Anyone can do it.
> Common Dreams: Organic Vs. ‘Climate-Smart’: Can The UN Fix Farming In Time? An array of scientists other sustainably minded folks have been proposing that farmers adopt growing methods that leverage the soil’s capacity to absorb carbon. This proposed type of agricultural practice would be as much based on environmental stewardship as it is on productivity and profit.
> Psyblog: This Is What Heavy Multitasking Could Be Doing To Your Brain. A recent study of people who multitasked more across different media indicates lowers gray-matter density in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC: indicated by white dots in the image shown). [What might be the long-term effects on overall learning and behavior?]
> HowEricLives: Wallowing In Bias (Eric Garza, blog). Scientists have worldviews just like everyone else, and just like everyone else their worldviews are, at best, imperfect models of how the world works. Because scientists’ worldviews are imperfect, scientists have biases, just like everyone else, that inevitably show up in how they design and carry out their research.
> Resilience: Plowing Bedrock: How Bad Is Soil Erosion In US Cropland? (Bob Wise, blog) New studies, in which actual runoff9 from test fields is collected and measured, show that actual soil erosion is 100-200% worse than the most sophisticated estimate. With actual soil erosion this severe, we may be losing topsoil at 10 to 30 times the rate it is forming.
> Resilience: Building Different Relationships Before It’s Too Late (Chris Hedges, an 8-minute video and summary). “We must build movements to serve as a check on power and commit to doing all of the hard work that movement building entails: “If we are not willing to sacrifice, stand up and mobilize for the forces of life then we won’t have any life.”
> Slate: America Is Overlooking A Plentiful Renewable Resource: Animal Poop (Daniel Gross). The Biogas Opportunities Roadmap estimates that the animal manure produced in the U.S. each year could support some 8,241 digester systems that could collectively produce enough electricity to power nearly 1.1 million homes.
> Resilience: Uncharted Territory For A System In Overshoot (Mary Odom). We are in uncharted territory with the Ebola virus disease (EVD). There is no benchmark for EVD, which kills 3 out of 4 people it touches, and is emerging into a global population of 7 billion.
> The Conversation: Life In A ‘Degrowth’ Economy, And Why You Might Actually Enjoy It. What does genuine economic progress look like? The orthodox answer is that a bigger economy is always better, but this idea is increasingly strained by the knowledge that, on a finite planet, the economy can’t grow forever.
NOTABLE UPCOMING LOCAL EVENTS
> Minnesota Renewable Energy: Minnesota Solar Tour. Sat., Oct. 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free, self-guided tour of homes, farms, businesses, schools, and governments featuring solar. Info: www.mnsolartour.org
> UM Institute on the Environment: Frontiers In The Environment, a series of presentations held in R350 Learning & Environmental Sciences Building. Information: http://environment.umn.edu/events/
> Pilgrim House Unitarian Universalist Fellowship: The Top Conservation Threats We Face, And What One Can Do To Make A Difference (presented by Sierra Club North Star Chapter). Sun., Oct. 12, 10:15 a.m, 1212 W. Highway 96, Arden Hills. Info: http://www.pilgrimhouseuua.org
> Pilgrim House Unitarian Universalist Fellowship: Sand, Cattle & Land Stewardship: How Can We Keep The Land And People Together? (George Boody, Executive Director, Land Stewardship Project). Sun., Oct. 19, 10:15 a.m., 1212 W. Highway 96, Arden Hills. Info: http://www.pilgrimhouseuua.org