SEF News-Views Digest No. 110 (11-18-15)
Special Event: Sustainability Fair 2015 (4th), Thurs., Nov. 19th, 5:30-8:00 pm, Silverwood Park, 2500 County Road E W · St. Anthony, MN. Co-sponsored by the Cities of St. Anthony Village, Lauderdale, and Falcon Heights, in collaboration with the U of MN Institute on the Environment (26 sustainability class students and exhibits), Three Rivers Park District, and Citizens for Sustainability. Info: http://tinyurl.com/sustfair. Free!
Most citizens are deeply concerned about learning how to create more resilient, sustainable communities. Since you’re on this mailing list, there’s a good chance you consider yourself a sustainability activist—or at least a semi-activist. Although most people are too busy to volunteer much time in advancing solution-oriented projects, almost everyone can make time available, at least occasionally.
The Sustainability Fair (advertised above) provides an excellent participatory venue for citizens living within commuting distance of Silverwood Park. One good reason for attending is to show support for the creative, scholastic efforts of 26 U of MN sustainability students, all of whom will be presenting their special projects, visually and orally. In addition, more than two-dozen local exhibitors of non-profit organizations will be on hand to explain what they do, and how they can be of help to individuals and groups interested in exploring specific sustainability issues.
This family-oriented event features activities and attractions for all ages. Some examples: a children’s corner for educational games, a tiny house for touring, complimentary handouts and gifts to take home, and refreshments to consume. And everything is free!
So, in answering the question, “What can we do?” How about attending and participating in this sustainability event, or perhaps one like it in your community? For more details about the Sustainability Fair, please view the website (http://tinyurl.com/sustfair), beginning with the short video presentation. ––– Clifton Ware, Editor-Publisher
> Resource Insights: Syria, Climate Change And The Horror In Paris (Kurt Cobb). It might be worthwhile for those who will soon be gathering in this bereaved city in order to negotiate a new worldwide climate treaty to understand any such connection [between climate change and terrorism]. A study released earlier this year suggested that the first link in the causal chain that led to the current conflict in Syria was a severe drought lasting from 2006 through 2009, a drought that yielded some of the strongest evidence yet for the link between climate change and increasingly extreme droughts. It is not that climate change causes people to be violent so much as it exacerbates their violent tendencies. When the guns come out, they get pointed at people for reasons few trace back to climate change.
> Resource Crisis: What Were The Real Origins Of The Great Oil Crisis Of The 1970s? Politics Or Depletion? (Ugo Bardi). The interest in the great oil crisis of the 1970s-1980s is not just a game for academic historians; it is something that has deeply affected the world’s history and it is still affecting our perception of the factors affecting the supply of crude oil that, today, we need as much, and even more than we needed it at that time. So, there is a crucial question to ask: could we see another great oil crisis in the near future?
> The New Internationalist: The Left Should Embrace Degrowth (Giorgos Kallis). Proliferating academic research in peer-reviewed journals has buttressed key degrowth claims: the impossibility to avoid disastrous climate change with growth as usual; fundamental limits in decoupling resource use from growth; the disconnection between growth and improved wellbeing in advanced economies; the rising social and psychological costs of growth. Degrowth is not a clear theory, plan, or political movement. Yet it is a hypothesis whose time has come; and one that the Left can no longer afford to avoid.
> Peak Oil News: Feeling The Elephant (Jason Heppenstall). The story of the elephant works as a nice analogy for our understanding of the world. Each one of us is blind in so many ways and yet we all have to feel the elephant of reality. Our blindness is often educated into us, or sometimes it is because of a lack of experience. Various perspectives include economic, social, cultural, scientific, and religious, all depending on a person’s background, interests, and experiences.
> Yes! Magazine: Why Slower Money Is The Key To A Real Economic Recovery (Keith Harrington). If you want to build a mere façade of prosperity, a house of cards, then fast money is the way to go. But an economy that’s built to last and built for all requires the time and care that’s only possible with a patient financial system. What do investors get for sacrificing speed and control with patient money? It’s mostly the knowledge that they’re building real businesses dedicated to growing community wealth and to promoting other new-economy values such as workplace democracy. By putting limits on investor privilege and curbing the speculator profit motive, patient finance reorients the purpose of investment toward actually developing the long-term viability of enterprise, so that it becomes a source of prosperity for all stakeholders—not just shareholders.
> Huffington Post: France Defiantly Plans To Go Ahead With Climate Change Summit (Reuters). The conference “will be held because it’s an essential meeting for humanity,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls told TF1 television on Saturday evening. He said the summit would also be an opportunity for world leaders to show their solidarity with France after the attacks. About 118 world leaders are expected to attend the opening day of the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 conference, which is due to nail down a global deal to limit rising greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, between 20,000 and 40,000 delegates are expected to attend, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.
> Common Dreams: Climate Crisis Poised To Push 100 Million Into Extreme Poverty (Deirdre Fulton). Adding urgency to the call for bold emissions cuts and a radical rethinking of the global economy, a new report from the World Bank warns that human-caused climate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty within just 15 years. Entitled Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty, the World Bank’s study differs from previous efforts by looking at the poverty impacts of climate change at the household level, rather than at the level of national economies. The bank’s most recent estimate puts the number of people currently living in extreme poverty at 702 million, or 9.6 percent of the world’s population.
> MinnPost: In Keystone XL Rejection, Many See A Campaign On Climate That Won’t Fade Away (Ron Meador). President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL project had been so thoroughly telegraphed that it may have seemed an anticlimax in our national narrative on climate policy. But in much of the analysis and comment that has followed, there’s a plausible suggestion to see Friday’s victory not as an end point but as the birth of a potent, continuing campaign on the order of the U.S. civil rights movement.
> The Hill: Ex-GAO Head: US Debt Is Three Times More Than You Think (Bradford Richardson). The former U.S. comptroller general says the real U.S. debt is closer to about $65 trillion than the oft-cited figure of $18 trillion. Dave Walker, who headed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said when you add up all of the nation’s unfunded liabilities, the national debt is more than three times the number generally advertised. Not the $18T usually quoted, but closer to $65T.
> Daily KOS: The Massive Real Estate Bubble That No One Is Talking About (gjohnsit). What if I were to tell you that the real estate bubble has not only been re-inflated, but is now bigger than ever before? You might find it hard to believe because practically no one in the media is talking about it. Yet the information is out there and readily available.
> Carbon Brief: Analysis: IEA World Energy Outlook Sees Radical Shifts, Despite Conservatism (Simon Evans). The next 25 years will see a radical shift towards renewables and away from coal, a global energy center of gravity pivoting towards India and the prospect of Africa leapfrogging dirty energy. These are some of the insights touted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2015, published this week.
> Resilience: Everyone Talks About Volkswagen, But The Real Question Is Hardly Ever Touched (Christiane Kliemann). According to a report by Carbon Brief the scandal around measuring emissions from cars is one of the root causes of the growing carbon gap in the European Union’s official emission targets – i.e. the discrepancy between recorded or targeted and real emissions. As for the growth trajectory, over the last ten years, global car production has almost doubled from 44,554,268 in 2004 to 87,037,611 in 2014; also, the total number of cars on earth will increase from 1,2 billions in 2014 to about 2 billions in 2035. The environmental and social impacts of such growth rates cannot be simply compensated by technological solutions, even if all cars were electric and ran on renewable energies. What would life look like if we slowly but surely freed ourselves from the dependence on cars?
> Think Progress: Going Off Fossil Fuels Would Boost Disposable Income And Create A Million Jobs (Samantha Page). A new report, from NextGen Climate America, showed that investment in efficiency, renewable sources of electricity, and fuel switching — such as moving from fossil fuel-powered cars to electric vehicles — would add a million jobs by 2030, and roughly 2 million jobs by 2050, while increasing GDP by $290 billion and improving household income. The researchers looked at scenarios that would reduce emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels.
> Sun Times: Designing Resilient Communities (Max Milton of Alternative Energy Resources Organization or AERO). This newsletter focuses on creating resilience, which becomes a theoretical construct for sustainability. Surviving the breach of a major tipping point, whether human induced or natural, will require unprecedented levels of investment, cooperation and other forms of institutional and societal adaptation. Resilience thinking is a complement to sustainability, not a substitute.” A good resource to look to for a fuller picture of the topic from the perspective of people working within a resilience frame is the Communities Guide at Resilience.org.
> Civil Eats: Banding Together to Build a Better CSA (Chris Hardman). On paper, the community supported agriculture (CSA) subscription model is an ideal partnership. Members of the community support the farmer by paying for their produce in one lump sum before the harvest and then receive a weekly box of food during the growing season. In some cases, CSA boxes can provide up to four-fifths of a family’s diet. But boxes can also be inconsistent. The model also can have some downsides for farmers, who not only need to grow a diverse set of crops, but also spend time packing weekly produce boxes and staffing member pick up stations. And despite the upfront investment by CSA members, many such farmers are still struggling to make ends meet. To address these issues, a group of young farmers in Detroit started a cooperative CSA in 2012 called City Commons.
> Post Carbon Institute: On Halloween Costumes And Christmas Cups (Asher Miller). If offensive Halloween costumes and throwaway holiday coffee cups can generate so much discord and animosity, what happens when Americans are faced with far more complex and challenging situations? How we navigate the realities of climate change, the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, the Limits to Growth, and economic and racial inequality will come down—more than any other thing—to how we work and communicate together. Empathetic listening is a skill that’s become more rare but, thankfully, all it takes to build it is opportunity and practice. In my own community, a fantastic little nonprofit organization called Listening for a Change offers programs for students and community members that do just that.
> Oil Price: Tax The Trash: Why The U.S. Needs To Rethink Waste Management (Kurt Cobb). You can read recent commentary suggesting that the recycling rate is too high here, here and here. The number one complaint is that it costs more to recycle some categories of waste than to put them into a landfill. What the critics fail to comprehend is that, unlike a couple of generations ago when most landfills were owned and run by local governments, today most are run by profit-making enterprises such as Waste Management Inc. and Republic Services Inc. which haul some 80 percent of the nation’s refuse.
> Yes! Magazine: 7 Paths To Development That Bring Neighborhoods Wealth, Not Gentrification (Marjorie Kelly & Sarah McKinley). More than a label, community wealth building is also a framework. It has multiple drivers that work together to create a system that delivers the outcome sought: an inclusive, sustainable community economy where all can prosper—particularly those normally excluded. This system can be defined as having seven key drivers: 1) place; 2) ownership; 3) multipliers; 4) collaboration; 5) inclusion; 6) workforce; and 7) system.
> World Population Balance: Send A Letter To President Obama (See Our Letter Here). Let President Obama know that solving overpopulation is crucial to solving climate change! The UN Climate Change Conference begins November 30th. Make your voice heard! A letter written by World Population Balance has been sent. Use this letter, or change it if you wish, and be sure to include your name at the bottom. More: To find out how else you can help, see Our Vision to Solve Overpopulation.
> The Archdruid Report: Retrotopia: A Visit To The Capitol (John Michael Greer). This is the ninth installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Our narrator finally has his interview with the President of the Lakeland Republic, asks some hard questions, and prepares for a trip into unexpected territory involving the republic’s military. [Read previous installments on this website]
SUSTAINABILITY EVENTS AND INFORMATION
> World Wildlife Fund-Annual Fuller Symposium: Wired In The Wild: Can Technology Save The Planet? Wed., Nov. 18. Watch live on Periscope, 9:00 a.m. EST. Register here: http://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/wired-in-the-wild-can-technology-save-the-planet …
> Climate Change: Climate Change and Public Health, Saturday, Sat., Nov., 21, 7:40am-4:30pm, Allina Commons, 2025 Chicago Ave So, Mpls. For health providers and public; Register: https://climatechange2015.eventbrite.com or call: 612-262-5038.
> Clean Energy Resource Teams: Clean Energy Accelerator. Metro CERT – offering rapid energy assistance to cities, counties, & schools. Learn more at: http://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/accelerator/lugs
> Citizens for Sustainability: Open Forum, Sat., Dec. 12, 11am-1pm, St. Anthony Village Community Center, Silver Lake Rd.