Transitioning (Clifton Ware, Editor/Publisher)
In company with many organizers of sustainability-oriented groups, I’ve learned that promoting sustainability and recruiting active participants is quite a challenge, especially for an old fellow. The reality is that most people are up to their hairlines in negotiating a variety of personal and professional activities, including earning a living and caring for loved ones.
Next March I’ll be 78 years of age, so this seems to be an opportune stage in life to turn the CFS leadership reins over to others. To make it official, I recently submitted my retirement announcement (via email attachment) to core CFS members.
Nearly two years after the founding of CFS (Jan.’12), I’m confident that a substantial foundation is in place. A group of dedicated members have accomplished some significant initiatives, with others underway. There’s no question that, with ongoing interest and commitment, CFS will continue creating greater resilience and sustainability within St. Anthony Village and surrounding communities.
Of course, Bettye and I intend to continue participating in some type of supportive roles. For instance, I’ll probably continue producing this newsletter, though changes will be made, including the temporary title (Sustainability News-Views Digest).
The newly formed sustainability education forum (formerly sustainability book club) is expected to continue on a reduced level, with perhaps six forums annually. The new forum format is meant to encourage more individual participation, as organizers, presenters, and coordinators.
At the Nov. 15th Sustainability Education Forum, which will be held at the St. Anthony Library (3-5 p.m.), participants will discuss if they wish to continue holding sustainability education forums, and if so, according to what collectively determined terms and conditions. Please note that this forum is open to anyone interested in studying, presenting, and discussing all topics and issues associated with sustainability. However, since seating is limited to 20 persons, RSVPs will be greatly appreciated (firstname.lastname@example.org). Also, any feedback you wish to offer is warmly welcomed.
In closing, I extend my sincerest thanks to all who have participated in CFS activities and events, especially those who have taken on leadership roles. I also wish to thank readers of this newsletter for allowing this publication to grace your email inbox I hope my commentaries, and the news and views expressed in numerous articles, have expanded your awareness of primary sustainability issues, and possibly encouraged you to take constructive action.
And now, here’s some of the week’s top sustainability articles, plus upcoming events.
> Peak Prosperity: Fuzzy Numbers – Crash Course Chapter 18. What if it turned out that our individual, corporate and government decision-making was based on misleading, if not provably false, data? As we detail in this latest chapter of the Crash Course series, that’s exactly the case today with the key indicators (inflation, GDP, employment, deficits, etc.) our central planners are using to guide the future of the global economy.
> Telesur: The Next Financial Crisis May Be Just Around The Corner “The market pathologies we all grew to know during the crisis of 2008 are returning,” writes the Financial Times.
> The Daly News: The New Economy Versus Today’s Flat Earthers (Eric Zencey). Beyond all reason and evidence, standard economics remains dedicated to the idea of perpetual increase in our species’ stock of wealth, income, and material wellbeing. We need a new, steady state economy suited to the planet we have, not the one that economists thought we had two hundred years ago.
> Star Tribune: Commentary: Will Steger: In Minnesota, Jobs Are The Newest Sign Of Climate Change Today we can celebrate more than 15,300 Minnesotans working in a clean-energy economy that is creating an increasing number of high-paying jobs, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and improving air and water quality in the state.
> Daily KOS: Wealth Inequality Hurting Corporate Profits. Corporations that get their revenue from the shrinking middle class are starting to worry about their customer base. 68% of the top 100 retail companies in the U.S. (including Walmart, Apple, McDonald’s and J.C. Penney) say that stagnant wages pose a major threat to their bottom lines, according to a Center For American Progress report.
> MinnPost: Anchor Initiatives: Local Food Means Business For Local Neighborhoods. “Anchor” describes institutions that are rooted in a particular locale, and want to make sure their communities remains stable and safe. “Colleges and hospitals are embedded in their community and have a real stake in seeing that it thrives.”
> Resilience: Peak Oil Review – Oct 20. Four oil-related topics are discussed.
> Common Dreams: World War III: It’s Here And Energy Is Largely Behind It (Kurt Cobb). It can be no accident that the raging fights in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and the Ukraine that all coincide with areas rich in energy resources or for which imported energy resources are at risk. There are other conflicts. But these are the ones that are transfixing the eyes of the world, and these are the ones in which major powers are taking sides and mounting major responses.
> Resilience-Resource Insights: Oil Decline: Price Makes The Story (Kurt Cobb). When it comes to short-term price movements, the whole issue of oil prices is too complex and too lacking in transparency to be discussed intelligently. In what looks like declining demand, it’s likely the Saudis are encouraging falling oil prices to maintain their worldwide market share, by cutting prices.
> New Economics: Energy Round-Up: Sinking Oil. High oil prices threaten our economy; low prices threaten the oil industry. How much longer will we rely on this volatile industry that is not only destroying our environment but also destroying itself? The argument for kicking oil before it kicks us is stronger than ever.
> Weathering the Storm: Oil’s Unsustainable Surge (M. Conley). The perfect storm clock is ticking. An intertwined array of recent energy and economic events has accelerated the countdown. See also: “Energy 101: There is a Better Way“.
> Duluth News Tribune: Save Or Shiver: Ways To Conserve Energy As Winter Looms. Here are some practical energy-saving steps to take in your home this winter, and for all seasons.
> Peak Prosperity: Ebola! (C. Martenson), Let’s spend some time understanding the nature of Ebola, specifically, and viral contagion, more generally. At the very least, Ebola can serve as an instructive reminder about how our society’s responses to a viral outbreak could prove to be at least as disruptive and damaging as the virus itself.
> MPR-Associated Press: Ebola Escalation Could Trigger Major Food Crisis. U.N agencies and non-governmental organizations are scrambling to scale up efforts to avert widespread hunger.
> Huffington Post: Another Month, Another Global Heat Record Broken. Earth is on pace to tie or even break the mark for the hottest year on record, federal meteorologists say. That’s because global heat records have kept falling in 2014, with the hottest September in 135 years of record keeping.
> Common Dreams: 2014 Set To Be Hottest Year In Recorded Human History: NOAA. The “combined average temperature” of land and ocean surfaces for September was the highest in recorded history, the report states. Furthermore, October 2013 to September 2014 was the warmest 12-month period ever recorded.
> Inside Climate News: Will Climate Change Denial Become A Political Liability? U.S. climate change envoy Todd Stern speaks at Yale University on October 14 about U.S. climate policy and global climate treaty talks. “I doubt, even a year from now, whether major political candidates will consider it viable to deny the existence of climate change,” he told the audience.
> Grist: Why Minneapolis’ Beautiful Bike Freeways Are Totally The Best. Minneapolis is unusual, as cities go, because it has a funny-shaped park system called the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway that encircles most of the city like a ring road, a nice freeway system for bikes.
> Common Dreams Small Scale Food Producers Are The Solution To The Global Food Crisis. Governments around the world have sidelined small-scale food producers for decades, pushing millions of them into hunger. Yet, even today, most of the world’s food is still grown by them, using traditional seed varieties and without the use of industrial inputs.
> ENSIA: When It Comes To Food Packaging, What We Don’t Know Could . [Hurt Us]. Recent analyses raise disturbing questions about the health and environmental effects of the stuff that encases our edibles.
> ENSIA: The Vaults In This Bank Hold Something More Precious Than Money. Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is working to provide a safety net for global plant diversity by collecting and storing seed samples from plants all across the globe. View this 5-minute video.
> Organic Consumers Association: Ten Reasons Why You Should Care What You Wear. The choices you make regarding your clothing are not only expressions of style or identity, but are vital to personal health as well as environmental and ethical responsibility. Every consumer dollar spent on clothing has an impact—from economic to environmental, ethical to health.
> Mercola.Com: Herbicide & Insecticide Use On GMO Crops Is Skyrocketing. Over 99% of GMO acreage is engineered by chemical companies to tolerate heavy herbicide (glyphosate) use and/or produce insecticide (Bt) in every cell of every plant over the entire growing season. The result is massive selection pressure that has rapidly created pest resistance.
> NY Times: Where Are The Hardest Places To Live In The U.S.? A Times magazine study looked at six data points for each county in the United States: education (percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree), median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity. Then each county’s relative rank in these categories was averaged to create an overall ranking. Conclusion: Several southern states were ranked the lowest.
> Common Dreams: The Top 1% Own… Half. The 2014 Global Wealth Report (pdf) provides figures that give more evidence that inequality is extreme and growing, and that economic recovery following the financial crisis has been skewed in favor of the wealthiest.
> Grassroots Economics Organizing: Another World Emerging? Well, Maybe. Some thinkers and observers are envisioning a new kind of economics that fosters cooperation, abundance, and solidarity on a broad scale. That fosters a lot of caring rather than a lot of gouging or co-opting, and requires four core elements related to the infrastructure of regional cooperative/solidarity movements.
> Resilience: Challenging Corporate Power In A Not-For-Profit World. A not-for-profit (NFP) model presents an alternative macroeconomic framework with the potential to revolutionize how we produce goods and services, and thereby pave the way for an ‘economics of enough’ approach.
> MinnPost: Blog: Become A Midlife Revolutionary: Walk To Work. Minneapolis is among the 10 safest cities for pedestrians in the country. Although walking to work is most common among young adults with relatively low incomes, it creeps up again among people 55 and older.
> Kateraworth: Want To Get Into The Doughnut? Tackle Inequality (Kate Raworth). Humanity’s central challenge in the 21st century is to meet the human rights of all people within the capacity of Earth’s life-support systems.
> Resilience-Truthdig: The Imperative Of Revolt (Chris Hedges). “Democracy has been turned upside down,” Sheldon S. Wolin said. “It is supposed to be a government for the people, by the people. But it has become an organized form of government dominated by groups that are only vaguely, if at all, responsible or responsive to popular needs and popular demands.”
EXPECTATIONS, ENLIGHTENMENT, EDUCATION
> Resilience: The Krugman Function, Part 2: Whole-System Thinking (Erik Lindberg). Whole-system thinking reminds us that our economy cannot be intelligently assessed without an understanding of resources and energy.
> Archdruid Report: Dark Age America: The Hour Of The Knife (J.M. Greer). The disintegration of social hierarchies, the senility of ruling elites, and the fossilization of institutions all lead to the hour of the knife.
> Resilience: Shades Of Green: A Movement In Search Of A Narrative (Part 3; Kari McGregor). There really is no wrong shade of Green, provided one’s environmentalism is approached with integrity and a willingness to observe the system as a whole. Assimilating shared values and working toward shared goals with complementary means is integral to the success of the movement, but it does not have to come at the cost of diversity.
> Contributoria: Bringing The Jungle To The City (Brett Scott). Here’s a techno-shamanic quest to reconnect urban life to ecological reality.
> Media Matters: The More You Watch, The Less You Know. Viewers who watch cable news closely are the ones who are the most misinformed about Ebola. The overheated rhetoric of the news media is to blame: http://mm4a.org/1ra06PQ
> MPR: A Classroom Runs Through It: Vermillion Teaches Students, Stewardship. A teacher and his students study and work to save Lake Vermillion.
> Resilience: Limits To Growth: Where We Are And What To Do About It (Nate Hagens). In this video talk (for the New Economy Week 2014 in Vancouver, BC) Nate Hagens synthesizes the current landscape of global energy, environment and financial risks while offering suggestions on what to do as a hominid living on a full planet.
> Peak Prosperity: Richard Gould: Learning From Ancient Human Cultures. Hunter-gatherer societies, while often rarely exceeding subsistence-level living standards, were quite successful at meeting their needs. This stands in stark contrast to modern society, where our base needs may be easily met, but we have an endless string of unfulfilled wants and manufactured “needs”.
ENGAGE (Local Events and Information)
> SUSTAINABILIY EDUCATION FORUM (New Format): HUMANS AND THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT. Sat., Nov. 15th, 3-5 p.m., St. Anthony Village Library in St. Anthony Shopping Center. Presentations and discussions include “The Ebola Crisis”, material presented by Peter Daughty; plus discussion of articles by various writers, and presented by participants. Limited seating—20 people. RSVP (email@example.com)
> THIRD ANNUAL EVENT: SUSTAINABILITY FAIR, Thurs., Nov. 20th, 5:30-8:00 p.m., Silverwood Park Visitors Center, St. Anthony Village (Map). Co-sponsored by the cities of St. Anthony Village, Lauderdale, and Falcon Heights, in collaboration with Three Rivers Park District and U of MN sustainability faculty and students. Poster exhibits presented by 43 students and other exhibits presented by local sustainability groups, including CFS. Free and open to the public.
> U of MN Institute On the Environment-Frontier Lecture Series: The Role Of The Environment In This Year’s Minnesota Elections, Wed., Oct. 29, Noon-1 p.m., R-380 Learning and Environmental Sciences, St. Paul; Online via UMConnect. Speakers: David Gillette, special correspondent, Twin Cities Public Television; Amy Koch, small business owner and former Minnesota Senate majority leader; and Mark Andrew, president, Greenmark. Learn more >
> CERTs: Midwest Gateway To Solar Conference. Tues., Nov. 4, 8 a.m to Wed., Nov. 5, 5 p.m., Hilton-Airport/Mall of America. Learn more and Register >>
> UM Cont. Ed: Building Minnesota’s Capacity For Climate Adaptation: Second Conference On Climate Adaptation, Nov. 6, 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Hyatt Regency Hotel (1300 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.) Information: (http://wrc.umn.edu/news/PreparingMinnesotaforClimateChangeAConferenceonClimateAdaptation/) Online Registration>>
> Sierra Club-North Star: Minnesota Beyond Coal To Clean Energy, Sat., Nov.15, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Minneapolis (location TBD).RSVP: http://sc.org/MNBeyondCoalRetreat Questions: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
> MN Dept. of Health (planning tools; data): Minnesota Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment ; Public Health Data & Resources for Planning ; MDH Strategic Plan