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Technorama-lama-ding-dong

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Author: the Inkslinger

At this point, I think you really have to bet on technology. By which I mean how we’re going to deal with the climate crisis. It’s not at all clear to me that we (by which I mean humanity) are going to summon the will and the courage and the passion to engage in the kind of behavioral constraints needed to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050, which is pretty much what the science guys tell us we have to do to in order to avert what I’ll politely refer to as a bit of planetary unpleasantness.

Certainly personal behavior is going to be a key part of the equation and certainly even simple changes in the decisions we make and the way we live can and will have an important impact, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to be enough. The way the world is set up now, for example, I’m fairly sure I can’t drive my car 80% less than I do now, which is already relatively rarely. And I don’t see the kind of cultural and infrastructure changes coming anytime soon that would allow me to do it. So I’m figuring I’ve got to count on technology, on clever humans with opposable thumbs and big brains to imagine, invent, create, and use tricks of the material world to give me the equivalent of driving 80% less without my actually having to do it.

Which brings us to today’s edition of what’s going down around town (and by town I mean this big village called Earth). Because while I’ve been sitting here not driving, clever humans have been busy working on encouraging things…

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Numerecology

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Author: the Inkslinger

Lots of enviro fact finding on the radar this week in the form of two major reports and several public opinion surveys that point to a coming crossroads that’s fast approaching. Does humanity blow right through the intersection and run off the rails? Or do we make the right turn and drive into a new era of sustainability? That, dear Yorick, is the question...

The International Energy Agency published it’s annual summary of the global energy situation this week. The World Energy Outlook looks at the state of things around the world and is not so sanguine about what it finds. The burgeoning economies of China and India are getting as hungry for energy as ours is, and we all know what’s happened here where 4% of the world’s population has somehow and against all odds found a way to produce 25% of its greenhouse gases. Think about what happens when 33% of the world’s population develops a similar appetite. That’s essentially what the IEA does here, and believe me when I say this is not a story to read to the kids at bedtime. There’s a scary monster under the bed, and it’s called Inaction…

Meanwhile, just days earlier, the United Nations Environment Programme releasesd its Global Environment Outlook. It’s another tough read and not because it uses big words or is written in Flemish. Rather, it’s a fairly unflinching look at what the environment is up against and the many ways humans need to back off a bit. Still, unlike the IEA report, whose authors probably leapt off the nearest building ledge as soon as they shut off the printer, the U.N. maintains some level of optimism that we can do what has to be done. It’s not like we have no idea how to defeat this beast called unsustainability and have no other option but to hide quivering in caves. The knowledge we need is there. The question in the U.N.’s view is does humanity have the collective cahones to use it and can we summon the will to do what it takes to make the new paradigm it would create work?

Several new surveys suggest that we do and can.

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Charting Tomorrow

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Author: the Inkslinger

This interesting chart floated my way the other day from an equally intriguing website called Permatopia.

Here’s what its creators have to say about it:

Permatopia Patterns is a new way of thinking about permaculture. Historically, most permaculture guides and analyses have been focused on individual properties, often rural homesteads. Zones and sectors are key concepts in permaculture analysis, examining how to locate components of a permaculture system based on distance from the house and ecological factors. These are incredibly powerful tools for the personal level, but are far too limited in their scale for a society wide transformation to cope with Peak Oil and climate change.

This page shows how the concept of zones can be extended to the goal of "permaculture for nine billion people." Learning skills at the more local levels can help with efforts to extend to bigger levels, since effective solutions at the biggest levels depend on understanding how the solutions work at smaller levels.

The sectors concept reflects how there are many paths needed to move away from overshoot and collapse. Different people have different skills and interest, no individual or group could possibly address all of the various facets that are needed. The concept of interdependence between these issues (and levels) is one not normally promoted in our hyper-individualized society, but it is the type of path most likely to accomplish common goals.

Whether you are expanding a local community garden, installing utility scale wind power, teaching environmental education to second graders, starting up a community currency barter system, operating a bicycle shop, creating manufacturing cooperatives, campaigning for accountable elections, or any of thousands of other positive things is irrelevant - the key point is that you are doing something that is a piece of the puzzle.

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Future's So Bright We Gotta Wear Shades

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Author: the Inkslinger

Here’s something you don’t see a whole lot of these days: a new study that says the future looks fairly bright from here.

I have to admit I did a double take, then a spit take, then had to take another look to make sure I was reading it right. It’s not that I don’t think we can get to that place where we really want to go, and we’ll walk in the sun. It’s just that you don’t see too many studies whose bottom line is that those of us who have such goofy rose-colored thoughts don’t need to increase our medication.

Because a bunch of indicators that say things are looking up. Education and life expectancy are rising. Wars (believe it or not) and poverty are falling. (Though it’s bizarro in the extreme to see that the income of wealthiest 225 people in the world equals the income of the poorest 2.5 billion. That’s just freaky twisted weird. And not in a good way…). The report says that, like, you know… there are a couple of things certainly that we need to fix. Like this little global warming thing. Also the aforementioned income gap between those that got and those that don’t is gonna be a problem unless we start slicing the pie a little differently. And there are still some spooky diseases we need to deal with, among other things. But the gist of it is that we can all get to Happyland if we try. We just have to get serious. Get together. Get the collective hive mind working on the hard stuff. Take the money away from all the simian war people and give it to the evolved energy people and education people and farmer people, etc. Which, if you just think of it that way, suddenly doesn’t seem so undoable or even all that difficult and actually maybe even a little bit simple. Will power, baby…

Anyway, worth a read. The day will seem quite a bit sunnier once you do. The Executive Summary is here. The home page for the UN group that produced the report is here.

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Tomorrow: Totally Cool or Kinda Creepy?

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So earlier this week I circulated a link to an interesting video about things to come and asked a few inspired protagonists here and there what they thought.

The future in the video is the future that is being built behind our backs. It is a question whether this is what the Buddhist tradition might call the "right" path... Funny how the designers of this path have not increased love and a genuine sense of humanity to all. Odd how we keep depending on the machine to be consciousness and not develop
our own deep sense of consciousness. This is why we need to think future and be designers of a more conscious world...

Here’s the video

Here’s the commentary it drew in our own circle:

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Sweet Clover Market

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This week I met with Ellen Fox and Heather Belcher at their place Sweet Clover Market, a start up local-organic-natural market in Essex, Vermont. Ellen sent us (Seventh Generation) a letter back in January inquiring about a loan to help get the market off the ground.

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