SEF News-Views Digest No. 81 (2-4-15)

Creating Resilience: Why and How?  (Clifton Ware, Editor-Publisher)

Admittedly, most of the information provided in the SEF newsletter tends to focus more on negative news and views, rather than on positive action and solutions. Why, you may ask? Well, I like to think my role as that of a messenger who’s compelled to deliver a cautionary warning about future converging crises to anyone willing to listen, learn, and respond. There’s no question that my “greenness” is colored in deep, dark green, not bright green or lite green, though I embrace all shades of green in daily life, including such lite-green habits as reducing, reusing, and recycling as much as possible.

Aside from becoming more informed about all aspects of the converging crises we’re experiencing, and as a result, also assuming more activist-oriented initiatives, what can a person do? A loyal but frustrated reader posed this question to me recently. All the bad news weighed heavily upon him, and he was eager to receive some helpful guidance. So thanks to his prompting, I have some reputable sources to recommend.

      To gain a trusted expert’s introduction to the overall world scene, as related chiefly to the interconnections of economy, energy, and environment, I highly recommend Chris Martenson’s The Crash Course, a 4.5-hour series of 26 chapters in a free video format that’s available on the Peak Prosperity website. Chapters vary in length, from 3 to 25 minutes each, so a chapter per day might be the most feasible approach for most readers. But first, one might begin by viewing the ‘Accelerated’ Crash Course, which takes an hour to view and highlights essential information.

      After gaining some valuable insights from The Crash Course, you might want to check out the very practical Peak Prosperity webpage Resilient Life—“What Should I Do?” ( Suggestions are provided that address every aspect of living more resiliently and sustainably. Other websites are also filled with suggestions, including Resilient Living Tips and Living: TreeHugger.

      May we continue finding ways to prepare for an unknown future, one that promises to be increasingly different from the past.

ENVIRONMENT (• Natural Resources • Wildlife • Climate)

> E&E PublishingBloomberg, Paulson And Steyer Release Bipartisan Report On Climate Change Risks To Midwest. The analysis, called “Heat in the Heartland,” is a granular look into the United States’ Midwest and threats the region’s cities and agricultural stakeholders will likely face due to unmitigated climate change and the continuation of present business and political practices.

> Star Tribune: Editorial: As Midwest Warms, Its Economy Will Suffer. That’s the conclusion of a vast majority of climate scientists, data-driven environmental organizations and responsible elected officials fighting a rising tide of irresponsible denial. It’s also the verdict of a group of bipartisan business and political leaders who are aligned with the Risky Business Project on climate change, including former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson and Cargill Executive Chairman Gregory Page.

> MPR: Climate Change In Minnesota: 23 Signs. Without question, the state’s climate has changed in recent decades. And that’s had an impact on the lives of its wildlife, its plants, its people.

> National Geographic: Mass Death Of Seabirds In Western U.S. Is ‘Unprecedented’ (Craig Welch).  Bill Sydeman, a senior scientist at California’s Farallon Institute, believes the most likely scenario is that the deaths are related to a massive blob of warm water that heated the North Pacific last year, contributing to California’s drought and 2014 being the hottest year on record. “I think there’s a strong possibility of it escalating to affect other species in the near future,” he said.

> Resilience: The State Of Our Soil (Ellie Althanasis). Jointly published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, the Soil Atlas highlights the current state of our soils and the ways in which we are draining this precious resource: “We are using the world’s soils as if they were inexhaustible, continually withdrawing from an account, but never paying in.”

> US Geological Society: Report: The Quality of Our Nation’s Waters. Findings: Contaminants from geologic or manmade sources were a potential health concern in one of every five wells sampled in the parts of aquifers used for drinking water; differences in geology, hydrology, geochemistry, and chemical use explain how and why aquifer vulnerability and concentrations of contaminants vary across the Nation; and changes to groundwater flow have also altered groundwater quality.

ENERGY (• Fossil Carbon • Natural Resources • Renewables)

> E&E Publishing5 Reasons Why Oil Prices Won’t Be Recovering Anytime Soon (Saqub Rahlm). Why? 1) The US still has momentum; 2) No one likes a quitter; 3) Shale is getting cheaper; 4) Once in, it’s hard to get out; and 5) For some countries, it’s oil or bust.

> ENSIA: Climate Change Mitigation’s Best-Kept Secret (Jim Motavalli). Methane is derived from multiple sources, including hydrates, melting permafrost, and living creatures. It is also a by-product of oil and gas production, and emissions come from widespread leakage and intentional venting when there’s no commercial use for it. According to The Washington Post, oil and gas operations in the U.S “lose” 8 million metric tons of methane annually.

> Pacific Standard: Yes, Oil Is Behind A Lot Of Wars (Nathan Collins). It’s not just some superstition: Oil really is behind a great deal of military conflict. Third-party states are more likely to intervene in civil wars when the conflict is in an oil-rich nation or the third party is particularly oil-thirsty, new research finds.

> Star Tribune: Ethanol Industry Gets Its Own Biotech Corn.  Six Midwestern ethanol plants now use the hybrid called Enogen, the first corn genetically enhanced for ethanol production. Seven other ethanol makers, including Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. in Benson, Minn., are trying it out.

> Renewable Energy World: Seven Reasons Cheap Oil Can’t Stop Renewables Now (Tom Randall, Bloomberg).  Global investment in clean energy increased 16 percent last year, to $310 billion, according to data compiled by BNEF.

ECONOMY (• Finances • Global • Local)

> National Geographic: A Year Without The Colorado River, As Seen By Economists (Sandra Postel). Imagine if delivered water from the Colorado River –suddenly went dry for a year. What would happen to the West’s economy? A research team at Arizona State University produced some startling results: The region would lose $1.4 trillion – that’s trillion, with a “t” – in economic activity, along with 16 million jobs.

> Commons Transition: Co-Operative Commonwealth: De-Commodifying Land And Money Part 3 (Kevin Flanagan). Here is part 3 from Co-operative Commonwealth: “De-Commodifying Land and Money” a paper prepared by Pat Conaty for the 13th International Karl Polanyi Conference at Concordia University, Montreal on 6-8 November 2014. We published Part 1 on Monday Dec 29th and Part 2 on Wednesday.

> Common Dreams: Can Capitalism Save Itself? (Gary Olson).  In May ’14 Lady Lynn Foester de Rothschild voiced to a gathering of business conference titans claiming “…it is really dangerous for business when business is viewed as one society’s problems. And that is where we are today.”  The challenge for panicky plutocrats and their wholly owned politicians is to convince the 99.0% that capitalism is the answer, not the problem.

> Yes! Magazine: Six Ways The US Is Building A People-Powered Economy (Sarah Van Gelder). Alternative business models such as worker-owned cooperatives are gaining ground, proving that a more just and sustainable future is possible.

> The New York Times: How 2014’s Huge Market Moves Are Affecting The Economy In 2015 (Neil Irwin). Global financial markets made a series of epic moves in the second half of 2014: toward a sharply lower price of oil, much lower interest rates, and a far stronger dollar. We’re now seeing how, for better and worse, those moves will affect the American economy in 2015.

EXPECTATIONS-ENLIGHTENMENT (• Ideas • Psychology • Beliefs)

> The Archdruid Report: The One Way Forward (J.M. Greer). For just that little bit too long, too many people have insisted that we didn’t need to worry about the absurdity of pursuing limitless growth on a finite and fragile planet, that “they’ll think of something,” that the newest technological vaporware might solve our species’ imminent collision with the limits to growth. Greer’s suggestion: Implement intentional technological regression as a matter of public policy, using the technology of the 1950s as a model.

> Post Carbon Institute: After The Peak (Richard Heinberg). Today, society is about to begin its inevitable, wrenching adaptation to having less energy and mobility, just as the impacts of fossil fuel-driven climate change are starting to hit home. How will those of us who have spent the past years in warning mode contribute to this next crucial chapter in the unfolding human drama?

> Culture Change: Challenging The Dominant Culture’s Insidious “Screenism” (Jan Lundberg). It should be self-evident that the computerization of society, including the Internet and cell phones, are mostly about profit and mass control. These global-warming pollution-boxes’ usefulness for communicating radical or dissident ideas is secondary, and do not undo the damage done by computerization and constant “connectivity” on a global scale.

EQUITY (• Equality • Health • Social Concerns)

> Common Dreams: The Collapse of Europe? (John Feffer). The EU is faltering. Unity in diversity may be an appealing concept, but the EU needs more than pretty rhetoric and good intentions to stay glued together. If it doesn’t come up with a better recipe for dealing with economic inequality, political extremism, and social intolerance, its opponents will soon have the power to hit the rewind button on European integration.

> The New York Times: The Shrinking American Middle Class and Middle Class Shrinks Further As More Fall Out Instead Of Climbing UpThe middle class has shrunk consistently over the past half-century. Until 2000, the reason was primarily because more Americans moved up the income ladder. But since then, the reason has shifted: There is a greater share of households on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.

> Transition US: Where Do The Transition Environmental Movement And The Social Justice Movement Intersect? (Pamela Boyce Simms).  Resource depletion and climate changes affect various demographic groups in vastly different ways. Recovery from natural disasters looks radically different within historically disenfranchised than the overall Transition Town demographic, which tends to be predominantly white, educated, post-materialist, and middleclass.

 > Common Dreams: Further Proving One-Sided Recovery, One In Five US Children On Food Assistance (Nadia Prupis) One in five U.S. children relied on food assistance in 2014—a figure higher than before the recession—highlighting the uneven results of the so-called economic recovery, new information from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals.

> Overgrow The System: You Are What You Eat—And What It Eats Too (Liz Carlisle). Recent research suggests it does matter what our plants “eat”. Testing results showed that organically grown crops contained an average of 17 percent more antioxidants than the conventional ones and in certain crops managed organically, as much as a 60 percent antioxidant boost was offered. This study offers some of the best evidence yet that healthy soils lead to healthier plants—and healthier people.

ENGAGEMENT (• Goals • Activism • Solutions)

> A Growing Culture: Homeless Garden Project: Cultivating Community Through Urban Farming. The Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz, California is one of the many community garden projects in the area, yet is unique in its mission and its everyday actions. This particular site is still known for its organic produce and sustainable practices, but it is the devotion to the city and its homeless populations that makes the Homeless Garden Project unique.

> MPR: Citywide curbside composting coming to Minneapolis. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges ran for office on a platform of transforming Minneapolis into a “zero-waste city” and announced the citywide curbside composting plan in her State of the City address. The Hennepin County Board has also pushed the city to incorporate curbside composting.

> Grassroots Economic Organizing: $5 Million For Co-Op Development In Madison (Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo). Madison, Wisconsin’s Capitol Improvement Plan, “Co-operative Enterprises for Job Creation & Business Development,” would authorize the city to spend $1 million each of five years starting in 2016 to fund “cooperative/worker-owned business formation for the purposes of job creation and general economic development in the city.”

> Yes! Magazine: Community-Owned Energy: How Nebraska Became The Only State To Bring Everyone Power From A Public Grid (Thomas M. Hanna). In this red state, 100-year old publicly owned utility grid provides electricity to all 1.8 million people. Here’s how Nebraska took its energy out of corporate hands and made it affordable for everyday residents.

> ENSIA: Aviation Is The Key To Reducing Climate Emissions (Robert Litterman). With its hard-won expertise in risk management, the aviation industry understands that there is uncertainty about how much capacity Earth’s atmosphere has left to safely absorb emissions — tremendous uncertainty that creates tremendous risk. The International Civil Aviation Organization is already designing the world’s first internationally harmonized market-based-measure to reduce emissions.

By Clifton Ware

Sustainability Education Forum Editor-Publisher Dr. Clifton Ware is an international figure in the world of voice pedagogy. During the the past fifty years of teaching students how to sing -- both nationally and internationally -- Clif developed his signature "Efficient and Authentic Voice Technique". What distinguishes his method is its holistic approach, simplicity, and effectiveness. Siingers find that they are able to ensure their vocal health while cultivating their own unique, expressive sound. This approach stands in sharp contrast to faddish techniques that encourage mimicking the vocalism, style, and qualities of other singers, possibly limiting their own vocal imprint and even harming their vocal instrument. The "Efficient and Authentic Voice Technique" produces singers that enjoy vocal power, range, ease, individuality, and a liberating learning process.

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