> SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION FORUM: DISCUSSION OF RELEVANT NEWS-VIEWS FOR 2015 (including information provided in SEF newsletters). Sat., Jan. 10th, 2:30-4:30 p.m., St. Anthony Village Library, SAV Shopping Center, Pentagon Drive. Free. Info/RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR (Clifton Ware)— Out With the Old, In With the New
Now that the holiday rush is subsiding, it’s likely that most folks are thinking ahead and making plans for the rapidly approaching New Year. I think we all agree that looking ahead constructively usually requires looking back over the past year to assess what’s been accomplished, overlooked, or postponed. A serious desire to improve life for our selves, and others, requires a candid appraisal of both achievements and unfulfilled objectives.
This time of year provides an excellent opportunity for taking stock of our accomplishments and our failures. I’ve certainly had my share of both, and I imagine you have as well. The saying that we learn more from our failures than from our successes rings true for me. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over my lifetime is that it’s OK to let go of anything that restrains a sense of freedom or hinders the accomplishment of worthwhile goals.
When principal values and goals have been determined, it’s easier to decide what should be dropped, as well as what should be adopted. Typically, unnecessary material things are the first to go, as I increasingly learn that we can live with much less stuff. Owning excessive stuff requires expending considerable time and effort caring for items, including cleaning, moving, or storing. So one recurring resolution is to continue going through stuff and getting rid of items that will likely never be used. Our intended mantra remains “reduce, reuse, recycle!”
Activities that drain energy and cause emotional stress are also on the chopping block. Who needs negative stress? Because of work and family obligations, younger people have limited options. But retirees, like me, appreciate the freedom we have to selectively choose pursuits. Regardless of age or life circumstances, everyone can improve his or her overall life. How? By focusing more on initiatives that foster positive opportunities, including time for convivial social relations, creative pursuits, recreational activities, and rewarding charitable work.
In creating greater resilience and sustainability, however, we face greater challenges. So learning as much as possible about economic, social, political, and environmental issues and conditions is a necessary first step. As the sayings go, “Being forewarned is being forearmed”, and “knowledge is power”.
As I’ve written previously, the mainline media primarily deliver news and views of institutionalized pundits dedicated to promoting the conventional “growth paradigm”, which some highly respected futurist experts claim is no longer creditable. The bad-but-factual news is that our finite planet cannot continue supporting a bulging human population that’s dedicated to constant material growth.
The good news is there’s plenty of room for growth in non-material terms, including personal growth in psycho-emotional and spiritual dimensions. And the same applies to communities committed to providing the basic needs of all citizens, while living in harmony with nature. Living more simply and frugally is a “degrowth lifestyle” concept that most Americans have yet to accept, but eventually will adopt in order to create adequate resilience and long-term sustainability. (See articles about degrowth in the Economy section)
Best wishes to you, your family, your friends and colleagues, and your community for continuing growth in the things that truly matter—in the New Year 2015!
ENVIRONMENT (Natural Resources-Wildlife-Climate)
> Climate Progress: What We Learned About Climate Change In 2014, In 6 Scary Charts (Joe Romm). The 2014 chart I consider the most important is the one that best captures our latest understanding of what has emerged as the greatest danger to humanity this century from human-caused climate change — Dust-Bowlification, and the threat to our food supplies.
> NPR (MPR): Arctic Is Warming Twice As Fast As Anyplace Else On Earth. Here’s the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card — a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
> Resilience: Climate: The Crisis And The Movement. Allen White, Senior Fellow at the Tellus Institute, talks with writer and activist Naomi Klein, author of the new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, about how our economic system has driven us to the point of crisis and how we can build a movement to confront the root causes of contemporary planetary perils.
> Common Dreams: What Climate Change Asks Of Us: Moral Obligation, Mobilization And Crisis Communication (Margaret Klein). The future of humanity falls to us. This is an unprecedented moral responsibility, and we are by and large failing to meet it. Passivity, in a time of crisis, is complicity. It is a moral failure. Crises demand that we actively engage; that we rise to the challenge; that we do our best.
> Daily Telegraph: Global Warming Blamed For ‘Worst Ever’ Marshall Islands Coral Bleaching. Coral bleaching is widespread across the northern Pacific, apparently due to greenhouse gas emissions causing elevated temperatures under climate change.
ENERGY (Fossil Carbon • Natural Resources • Renewables)
> The Archdruid Report: Déjà Vu All Over Again (J.M. Greer). What’s going on with the recent plunge in the price of oil and the apparent end of the fracking bubble is something that a number of us in the peak oil scene have been warning about for a while now. To start with, oil isn’t the only thing that’s in steep decline.
> Resilience: The Oil Price Crash Of 2014 (Richard Heinberg). Since it’s almost the end of the year, perhaps this is a good time to stop and ask: (1) Why is this happening? (2) Who wins and who loses over the short term? and (3) What will be the impacts on oil production in 2015?
> Resilience: Are Small-Scale Renewable Energy Grids Already Starting To Replace Mega-Utlility Corporations. The environmental magazine Ensia shows that lithium-ion battery prices have fallen by 40 percent since 2010 while solar panels are 80 percent cheaper than five years ago. Wind turbine prices have also fallen up to 35 percent from their 2008 high.
> CASSE-The Daly News: Peace, Love, And The Gift (James Magnus-Johnson). Today, money acts as a profane separator when seen as an end in itself rather than a means to an end. Rather than understanding money as a tool that helps facilitate the exchange of goods or truly improve our quality of life, we tend to see money–its accumulation and growth–as the ultimate end
> Feasta: Degrowth – A Vocabulary For A New Era: Review (Brian Davey). Reviewer Davey respects parts of the book but weighs in with some keen insights as to its shortcomings.
> DeGrowth: Revolution, Part 1: The End of Growth? (Nafeez Ahmed). New research suggests that the ongoing global economic crisis is symptomatic of a deeper crisis of industrial civilization’s relationship with nature. The continuation of the crisis is part of major phase shift to a new form of civilization that could either adapt to post-carbon reality and prosper, or crumble in denial. See also: Revolution, Part 2: The New Paradigm (An summary comparison of old vs. new paradigm)
> USA Watchdog: Financial Fantasy Land Continues To Prevent Collapse (Bill Holter). The entire distribution chain runs on credit, and if credit seizes or even hiccups, you could very well see a panic and shelves clean up lock, stock and barrel.” This same thing could happen in America.
EXPECTATIONS-ENLIGHTENMENT (Ideas • Knowledge – Psychology – Beliefs)
> The Conversation: Even Climate Change Experts And Activists Might Be In Denial. For at least a century, psychoanalysis has taught us that we might be consciously thinking and saying one thing, but unconsciously doing another. In this context that means people are very consciously aware of the threats posed by climate change, even if they aren’t doing too much about it.
> Resource Insights: Greed Explained: J. Paul Getty, Aristotle And The Maximum Power Principle (Kurt Cobb). Do we–meaning the human species as a whole–have any choice in the matter? Or are we as a species destined to live by the Maximum Power Principle to its seemingly inevitable and calamitous conclusion–a story in which the drive for maximum energy gain is no longer adaptive, but rather dangerous to the continued existence of humankind?
> Huffington Post: Everything’s Coming Together While Everything Falls Apart (Rebecca Solnit). Americans are skilled in a combination of complacency and despair that assumes things cannot change and people are powerless to change them. One has to be abysmally ignorant of history and current events not to see that our country and our world have always been changing, occasionally through the power of the popular will and idealistic movements.
EQUALITY (Equity-Health-Social Concerns)
> Common Dreams: Wealth Gap Between Rich And Poor Americans Highest On Record. An analysis released Wednesday by Pew Research Center finds that the wealth gap between the top 21 percent of families and everyone else is the widest since the Federal Reserve began collecting such income data 30 years ago.
> Inequality.Org: Program On Inequality And The Common Good. The Program on Inequality and the Common Good focuses on the dangers that growing inequality pose for U.S. democracy, economic health and civic life.
> Peak Prosperity: An Opportunity To Live Resiliently (Adam Taggart). After watching the Crash Course, who among us hasn’t felt insecure with where we live? The idea of a sustainable community has a powerful allure. But what exactly is a “sustainable community” anyways? How do you find one? What’s it like to live there? How do you know if it’s all going to work out in the long run?
> Resilience: Connecting With Nature: Farmsters + Citizen Science. Getting back to the roots. What does it really mean? Check out this 30-minute discussion on radio.
> Grain: Food Sovereignty: 5 Steps To Cool The Planet And Feed Its People. A worldwide redistribution of lands to small farmers and indigenous communities – combined with policies to support local markets and ecological agriculture – can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by half within a few decades, significantly curb deforestation and meet the food needs of the world’s growing population.
> Star Tribune: Some Minnesotans Garden Under The Snow. In Dawn Pape’s Shoreview yard, under a blanket of snow, is a polycarbonate-topped, 2- by 8-foot box, or “cold frame” that contains healthy spinach, kale, salad greens and other veggies growing in the frigid ground. Cold-weather gardening is not for everyone, but a hardy few are giving it a try.
> Product Design & Development: Vehicles Powered by Electricity from Renewables Could Save Lives. Driving vehicles that use electricity from renewable energy instead of gasoline could reduce the resulting deaths due to air pollution by 70 percent.
> E&E Publishing: Commuting By Bike Begins To Roll, Lowering Emissions And Enriching Cities. An unfinished billion-dollar urban planning project set to connect downtown Atlanta with green spaces, affordable housing, and trails for biking and walking may already be paying dividends.
> Yes! Magazine: Walking: The Secret Ingredient For Health, Wealth, And More Exciting Neighborhoods (Jay Walljasper). Over recent decades, walking has come to be widely viewed as a slow, tiresome, old-fashioned way to get around. But that’s changing now as Americans recognize that traveling by foot can be a health breakthrough, an economic catalyst, and the route to happiness.
EVENTS AND INFORMATION
> Minnesota Environmental Partnership: Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment Fifth Anniversary Celebration and Forum, Thurs., Jan.15, 2015, Noon to 6 p.m. (program begins at 12:30) Minneapolis Marriott Northwest, 7025 Northland Drive North, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428 Fee: $10.To register click here.