Campaign For Our Lives

Location(s)

Tucson, AZ
United States
See map: Google Maps

I'm Dreaming of an Oil Crisis

Happy Motoring, it's 5 minutes to midnight

I'm Dreaming of an Oil Crisis (White Christmas parody)
Lyrics and vocals by David Farant, Video creation by David MacLeod

In the Holiday spirit, here's a YouTube video I created, from David Farant's parody of White Christmas, as heard on the Financial Sense Newshour with Jim Puplava.

- David M
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7D5n_xpjBA

Bringing Population Into Balance With Resources

This is a guest post by Merry Teesdale.  Merry Teesdale is a field biologist and permaculture designer who specializes in win-win solutions. She manages OwlWood Wildlife Refuge and OwlWood Garden, which displays and encourages the development of sustainable food production within the community. She also writes the Journey to Permaculture series for Whatcom Watch.

 Merry writes:

Thank you for the fantastic job you are doing by giving us cutting edge information.  I love to read your emails.  Good work.  [referring to our weekly Sustainable Bellingham email newsletter - DM]

There is one subject that I haven't seen anything about in the media.  It is that elephant in our living room that no one is acknowledging.  Perhaps you can find some info on it to start a dialog in our society. 
All these problems we are having and will be having would be alleviated if our population was brought into balance with the resources.  How can we lower our population?   This is THE most important question we should be dealing with. 

I suggest we accept for discussion positive reasonable solutions and stay on track with that.  For example, our government could reward young women of childbearing age for not having children until they are 28 yrs old.  (This cuts out approx. 12 years of potential children from each woman.  By the time they are 28, they have established and educated themselves and will have a better life for themselves and their children.    How can we reward these young women for not becoming a parent?  How about refunding their income tax each year as long as they don't have a child?  From age 18 to 24 we could also pay for some credits of school at state funded colleges or tech schools. 

Some positive new language needs to happen too.  
First, we need a good positive word to describe a female person who isn't having a child.  So women can be proud of that condition.     Childless - sounds like lack, 'not a mother' (not so good)  See what I mean?

The people who will ultimately save us all are the young women who choose to not have children, or who only have one.   They deserve thanks and recognition.   We need a world-wide movement about this.   We are all here right now and it would be wrong to complain about those who are now living, but our future is unrealized potential.  We CAN do things about it and these things are really quite easy.  All we have to do is REFRAIN from doing things.  Refrain from having children, refrain from burning stuff. 
I have great faith in the ability and flexibility of our populus to deal with hard times.  A public dialog and educational program about a smaller population and how we can get there will be a great boon to this society. 

Merry Teesdale

[comments/replies are encouraged - DM]

More Connecting the Dots - Oil supplies down, prices up

The Bloomberg article below inadvertently makes clear that orthodox growth economists are now providing some of the best comedy relief available on this beleaguered planet. Despite all the evidence everywhere around them, they still insist on believing that the abstract concept of a market signal (increasing price) can produce a natural resource out of thin air (oil supplies). Now, it can be made to appear as if this were the case while the resource is both plentiful and the capacity to deliver it to the end-user can also be increased. However, neither case exists any longer.

A good friend of mine, with years of experience as an oil field engineer for ARAMCO, points out that we have reached Peak Refining Capacity -- the point at which the building and maintenance of crude refining capacity is limited by available raw materials (iron ore, energy, labor) and transportation and installation of the finished components to the refining site. No one is seriously proposing building more refining capacity anyway, no matter how sky-high the price goes. What Julian Darley pointed out in "End of Suburbia" regarding natural gas holds true for oil as wel; the oil majors all understand, even if their market forecasts for their shareholders don't reflect it, that they'll never recover their investment in additional refining or production capacity.

The two most important factors pertaining to this are the geophysical reality of Peak Oil itself, and the inevitable regulations that will soon curtail fossil hydrocarbon use due to its contribution to anthropogenic global warming. Peak Oil is not, as pundits on both sides of the political divide would have you believe, either an ideological ploy by environmentalists to save the Earth at the expense of humans, or a ploy by energy conglomerates to increase profits -- even though they are taking advantage of the opportunity for price gouging while the distractions are abundant to deflect criticism of their greed. Lack of fossil energy is going to bring the industrial growth economy to an end, but lack of a viable environment is going to destroy the possibility for having any type of economy, even a steady-state one.

It's also necessary to become aware that current political machinations regarding pump price are nothing more than sleight of hand. It takes 3 months to swing crude production by 1 million barrels -- in either direction -- so even if the Saudis can increase their production by the amount they've recently promised the shrub, price at the pump won't be affected until after the summer driving season in America is over anyway. And, there's much reasonable doubt on whether they actually can increase production by any significant amount.

Production at the largest oil field in the world, Ghwar, is down 500,000 barrels per day from it's peak over a year ago. While this is widely taken to be a normal indication of typical reservoir peak, engineers and geologists with actual experience with Middle East oil fields say a more likely explanation is reservoir collapse from overproduction in the 1970s to make up for the oil embargo. This is a geophysical phenomena that occurs when an oil field is drained too quickly. It decreases the overall amount of crude that can be realistically extracted from the reservoir.

This also points to another interesting fact that must be considered when trying to figure out how much oil we actually have left available to create any type of alternative energy infrastructure, regardless of catastrophic climate destabilization concerns. And, let's leave aside for the moment the discussion on whether or not we want, need, or even should create a replacement infrastructure of this magnitude.

One aspect of stated reserves is the (erroneous) assumption used by economists and politicians that extraction is a linear process and that any given oil field can be sucked dry (the geophysics of natural gas reservoirs are different, and not under consideration here). While this assumption isn't true even in the best of cases, when a field has been damaged by the abuse of overuse, even less of what's left after normal peak will ever be available for any use. The full amount of stated reserves (even on the off chance current figures are remotely accurate in the first place) thought to be available in Saudi Arabia (and this is true for all other oil producing regions as well) will never, ever, ever, become available -- they will never see the market and will remain exactly where they are. And this is going to remain true no matter how hard market fundamentalists wave their magic wands of supply and demand -- without quite literally taking a shovel and digging the entire reservoir by hand. Which I suppose might be a good job for these people when they find themselves out of work. I predict that stated global reserve figures are actually off by an order of magnitude in terms of what can actually be put to use, which means we actually have that much less time to figure out a different way of creating living arrangements on this planet.

It's going to take more than prices going to $5-$6 per gallon to reduce demand as mainstream energy analysts are stating, and recession would be the least of our worries at that price point anyway. $7-$10 per gallon is the proper domestic cost right now, not just for fossil fuels but for proposed agrofuels as well, to induce the reduction in North American transportation fuel use so that FOOD IS NOT USED FOR FUEL!

One response to both rising fuel prices and the need to quickly start using less was made by Myron Wlaznak in a recent column published in Bellingham, WA's Whatcom Independent newspaper. He's just quit driving on Tuesdays and Thursdays. While this is more than the purely symbolic gesture of not buying gas on a particular day of the month (an idea that gets forwarded around the Internet about once a year), the approach I'm taking is to reduce my personal fuel use to five gallons per month. This isn't exactly an easy task in a city like Tucson, AZ which has sprawled out to about 20 miles from side to side, and in the summertime 100+ degree heat made worse from the urban heat island effect, you simply can't get from here to there for most things on a bicycle when the sun's out.

Considering the systemic nature of what we're facing, if community leaders and politicians don't start implementing the alternative that relocalization provides to the status quo PDQ, the responsibility for the collapse, chaos, and suffering that will occur will lay entirely, and rightly, on their heads. It's time to drop the excuse of political feasibility to justify inaction (which includes undertaking further studies and other feel-good, high visibility, half measures to make it appear as if they're addressing the problem) and actually start doing things differently.

So, plant your backyard veggie gardens, and change your lightbulbs, but then spend the rest of your time camping out in front of their offices and _demanding_ that they start making the decisions that are necessary instead of those that are convenient for the special interests in order for them to retain a perceived power that is ephemeral at best.

For the Earth...
_dave_(this entire message is composed of recycled electrons)
Natural Systems Solutions
http://www.attractionretreat.org/NSS
http://naturalsystems.blogspot.com
Sustainable lifestyles, organizations, and communities

------- Forwarded message follows -------

Oil Rises Above $133 on U.S. Supply Drop, Bank Price Forecasts
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=atGDWAjDjdx8&refer=h...
By Mark Shenk

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose to a record above $133 a barrel as U.S.
stockpiles unexpectedly dropped and banks raised price forecasts because of
supply constraints and demand growth.

Inventories fell 5.32 million barrels to 320.4 million last week, the
biggest drop in four months, the Energy Department said. Oil for December
2016 delivery rose more than $20 a barrel, or 17 percent, after Goldman
Sachs Group Inc. on May 16 raised its outlook to $141 a barrel for the
second-half of the year.

``What we have here is a situation where essentially higher prices aren't
generating any more supply,'' Paul Sankey, an analyst at Deutsche Bank
Securities in New York said in an interview with Bloomberg radio. ``What we have
to do is keep pricing the commodity higher until demand starts falling,'' which
``is around $150 a barrel.''

Crude oil for July delivery rose $4.19, or 3.3 percent, to settle at $133.17 a
barrel at 2:44 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil touched a record
$133.82 today and has more than doubled from a year ago. Futures, up more than
17 percent this month, are heading for the biggest monthly gain since September
2004.

Gasoline and heating-oil futures in New York also climbed to records.
Gasoline for June delivery rose 9.21 cents, or 2.8 percent, to settle at
$3.3965 a gallon, after reaching a record $3.41. Heating oil for June
delivery rose 13.34 cents, or 3.5 percent, to close at $3.9084 a gallon,
after touching an all-time high of $3.9304.

Higher Pump Prices

Pump prices are following futures higher. Regular gasoline, averaged
nationwide, rose 0.7 cent to a record $3.807 a gallon, AAA, the nation's
largest motorist organization, said today on its Web site.

An inventory increase of 300,000 barrels was forecast, according to the
median of responses by 15 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News before the
inventory report's release.

The supply decline left stockpiles 0.9 percent below the five-year average for
the week, the Energy Department said. Supplies were 0.8 percent above normal a
week earlier.

Imports fell 7 percent to 9.24 million barrels a day, the report showed.
Imports have averaged 9.86 million barrels a day so far this year, down 0.9
percent from the same period last year, according to department figures.

``In this high-priced environment we are seeing refiners cut back on
imports,'' said Antoine Halff, head of energy research at New York-based
Newedge USA LLC. ``High prices and credit tightness are making it much
harder to build supply.''

Brent crude oil for July settlement rose $4.86, or 3.8 percent, to $132.70 a
barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract touched $133.34
today, the highest since trading began in 1988.

`Well Supplied'

The crude-oil market is ``well supplied,'' Libya's top oil official Shokri
Ghanem said today, rejecting calls for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries to increase production to curb prices. OPEC, which pumps more than 40
percent of the world's oil, isn't planning to meet before its next scheduled
conference in September to review production, he said.

``OPEC is playing with fire,'' said Rick Mueller, director of oil practice at
Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Massachusetts. ``While they may be
right from a fundamental standpoint about crude supplies, at this time it will
take more than words from them to bring prices down. We will need to see more
gestures like the Saudis made, to lower prices.''

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters on May 16 that the kingdom is
planning a 300,000 barrel-a-day output increase, to bring June production to
9.45 million barrels a day.

``Once prices hit $150 or $200 like our friends at Goldman are saying, we
are looking at $5 or $6 gasoline, which will really hurt demand and cause a
recession,'' Mueller said.

Goldman Forecasts

Goldman analyst Arjun N. Murti said in a May 16 report that ``the
possibility of $150-$200 per barrel seems increasingly likely over the next
six-24 months.'' Murti first wrote of a ``super spike'' in March 2005,
predicting crude may trade between $50 and $105 a barrel through 2009.

U.S. oil-company executives told Congress oil prices should be between $35 and
$90 a barrel. Representatives of the five largest publicly traded oil companies
appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify on record energy
prices. Appearing today were representatives of BP Plc, ConocoPhillips, Chevron
Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

The price of oil should be ``somewhere between $35 and $65 a barrel,'' John
Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Co., the Houston-based subsidiary of Royal
Dutch Shell, said at the hearing today. Other executives said prices should be
as much as $90 a barrel.

Strategic Reserve

Congress last week approved legislation to halt deliveries to the Strategic
Petroleum Reserve in an effort to respond to record prices.

Airlines have been hit by higher jet fuel costs. The price of the fuel, the
largest expense at many airlines, has climbed 88 percent in the past year and
traded at a record $4.0592 a gallon in New York Harbor today.

AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, the world's largest carrier, said it will cut
``thousands'' of jobs as it responds to high fuel prices and slowing demand.

------- End of forwarded message -------

Practical Steps Toward Relocalization: Part Three of a Three Part Series

Among the initial steps toward relocalization is agreeing to the necessity, and desiring the benefits, of this process. Hopefully, it's become clear from the first two installments of this series that reconnection and relocalization go hand-in-hand, and that they provide a blueprint to remedy what's wrong in the world today.

Relocalization provides the concepts and process for making positive changes -- but what about the power? We only lose the power to make new choices if we willingly give up that power or believe the assertion that we don't have it in the first place.

It's also important to realize that the shift to a sustainable future through relocalization can start first thing tomorrow morning. There is absolutely no need to wait for a new technology to become invented or widely available. We don't have to wait ten generations for our consciousness to evolve to a higher plane. All we have to do is remember that whatever we call the wise, nurturing power that created sustainable ecosystems, created us as well. We embody that wisdom and power. It is lying there dormant, just waiting (crying out, even) for us to tap into it.

It's now clear that we will be dealing with catastrophic climate destabilization at the same time Peak Oil impacts our lives. What does this mean for future energy demands? How will this effect the entire concept of industrial production as the means to prosperity? What are the implications for a cultural identity dependent on economic and material growth? Environmental degradation and resource depletion in dozens of other areas also make it clear that even without global warming and Peak Oil, things must drastically change if we're to have any hope of creating a sustainable future.

Things are starting to fall apart at an accelerating pace. But instead of panicking or giving up, let's take a deep breath and look at reality. The fact is, a major part of what's falling apart is a growth economy which isn't real in the first place -- although it worsens other global crises like Peak Oil and global warming. We can produce what is actually needed to live sustainably with current renewable energy technologies and a dramatic reduction in production capacity. We possess the knowledge to produce efficient, high-quality, lasting goods. What is quickly being lost are the skills -- the craftsmanship -- to do so.

Even if everything we think we know about Peak Oil and global warming turns out to be false, if we start changing the way we do business and re-order our relationships to be in harmony with the natural world, the worst outcome is that we'd leave a healthier and more vibrant world for our children.

As mentioned last month, relocalization has some broad agendas. One of these is to empower and prioritize local decisions on land use and natural resource management based on a regional framework of sustainability. We can rebuild groups of neighborhoods to be friendlier to people and the environment than to cars, and reallocate the money now going to more and wider roads (and other sprawl enablers) to meet peoples' needs for right livelihood, community security, and ecological integrity.

Further, we can rely on local investment where returns are measured in increased quality of life instead of merely profits, and wake up to the fact that growth increases everyone's tax burden -- and beyond a certain point actually decreases quality of life indicators.

We can begin this exercise in rethinking community and economic development by connecting some dots and seeing what picture emerges with just the above two aspects of relocalization.

A relocalized, human-friendly desert community that must reduce sprawl will increase the use of bicycles, other human powered and public transportation, water harvesting, greywater systems, and solar energy. These will synergistically work with the need to quit drawing down and begin recharging the aquifer, and to minimize the energy expended to obtain, deliver and recycle water.

Our community can manufacture waterless composting toilets, bicycle frames and trailers, and water cistern systems. This will involve building a manufacturing base requiring skilled jobs in design, production, and installation. We'll need new skills in urban planning, public works and community health; renovation and redesign of the built environment using environmentally friendly products; and research and application advances in clean production and zero waste techniques.

The waterless composting toilet itself 1) provides ancillary jobs in retrofitting existing infrastructure and solar power installations for the toilet fan and heating element; 2) encourages complimentary production of passive solar devices and other cooling, heating, and energy efficiency improvements; 3) decreases wear and tear on public water and sewer systems; and 4) provides finished compost for neighborhood and community gardens to rebuild soil -- since soil is what actually feeds you. Just this one change provides many opportunities for education, training, and employment in numerous and diverse green collar jobs.

As we shift toward a relocalized economy, we will come to realize that meaningful work doesn't require 40-50 hour work weeks. Human ingenuity and existing technology means that no one must work more than 15-20 hours per week (which could be six months of 40 hour weeks). This would allow technology to deliver on one of its promises -- increased leisure time. Instead of time spent exhausted in front of the television, this can become quality leisure time spent being in community, furthering education, engaging in creative pursuits, and reconnecting with the natural world -- inherently sustainable desires expressed by the majority of people once basic needs are met.

Protecting the poor and middle classes from increasing energy and commodity costs and the effects of global warming begins by creating the process to ensure these basic human needs. This necessarily includes the desire to be a responsibly contributing member of one's community. This can be accomplished without increasing energy demand, or increasing industrial productivity and efficiency (widgets produced per unit of time) as the only true measure of prosperity and progress. The only downside to any of this is that if done sustainably, it doesn't protect a growth economy, and helps clarify why reliance on infinite growth is more accurately described as economic cannibalism.

This fits in with a vision of relocalized, sustainable, environmentally integrated cities that are self-reliant, resilient, and vibrant. It is part of the path toward cities that contain greenbelts among and between neighborhoods, smaller and fewer roads built with permeable surfaces, public transit between neighborhoods and regional centers, electric vehicle co-ops, locally produced food, decentralized renewable energy, sustainable (clean, zero waste) manufacturing, fewer work hours, and full employment. This all leads to people wanting to responsibly contribute to their communities because doing so increases their opportunities to maximize their potential. Social stress and alienation decrease because people know they have something to look forward to -- purpose and meaning returns to daily life.

A future built on the principles of ecological wisdom and social justice may sound utopian, but utopia means "no place." What I'm envisioning by using relocalization as the process to become sustainable is a realistic, pragmatic whole systems view that works the same way nature does. Instead of enriching a small minority at the ultimate expense of all other life, it is more in keeping with true human nature and better able to meet people's needs and desires instead of constraining, limiting, and creating addictive substitutes for them.

Relocalization Nuts and Bolts: Part Two of a Three Part Series

This month’s installment explains what relocalization means and what it offers. Next month I will describe what a relocalized economy might look here in the Southwest desert.

To appreciate the potential of relocalization, it is important to first understand that the status quo is causing our personal, social, and environmental crises. While we know that we’re quickly degrading our life support system with the business as usual approach of economic growth, we can’t say for certain how quickly this is occurring, which adverse impacts will reveal themselves first, or how disastrous these impacts will be. However, there is a large degree of agreement among scientists, and growing agreement among economists, that creating a carbon-cycle neutral economy, and making sure that all human activities and effects are included in evaluating that economy, should be our number one priority.

The real inconvenient truth is that the business as usual approach of infinite and unfettered economic growth has created both catastrophic climate destabilization and Peak Oil. Protecting this system worsens these crises, and attempts to reform a system based on faulty assumptions merely postpones the inevitable collapse. Therefore, we must approach change with a new way of thinking to create an alternative without these liabilities. Relocalization is a whole-systems approach to doing things differently -- a process to achieve sustainability.

Relocalization was developed as a response to global warming and Peak Oil. More than just a band-aid for these symptoms, however, it also seeks to address the environmental, social, political, and economic ramifications at the root of these crises. It includes the concepts that we must rebuild our local economies; recapture our sense of place; reclaim our sovereignty; and restore our community support networks.

From a natural systems perspective, a green economy is a local economy. By meeting the requirements to be sustainable from a bioregional carrying capacity perspective, a relocalized community is “naturally” healthy, vibrant, and resilient.

At its core, relocalization is a strategy to move production of food, goods and energy closer to the point of consumption to reduce dependence on long distance transportation and the whims of distant suppliers. The goal is to increase food and energy security, to empower local decisions in the development of currency, culture, and governance, and to restore ecological integrity and social equity.

If you’re familiar with the mission of anti-globalization activists who use localization to protect local economies and livelihoods from the slow drain of an export economy, relocalization goes a step further with a commitment to reduce consumption and improve environmental and social conditions. It is both antithesis and antidote to the emptiness and inherent inequity of corporate globalization.

Reducing consumption is, of course, directly at odds with a growth economy -- but this is not a call for an austerity program demanding great personal sacrifice and suffering. We can reduce consumption by sharing rarely used items with neighbors. We can reduce consumption by only purchasing items that are built to last and be easily repairable. We can reduce consumption by turning off the TV to decrease its stranglehold on our psyche with its mesmerizing story that popularity and self-worth is dependent on being a walking billboard for this season’s corporate fashion. By removing the need to work longer hours to buy all the stuff that never fulfills its promise to deliver happiness, we will have the time to do all those things that do bring happiness.

The reason all aspects of our society must be included in the task of relocalization is quite pragmatic. The ancient Greek oikonomia is the root of economics. It means the management of a household to increase value to all members over time. It is a systemic view that considers all the relationships -- natural, social, values, language, history -- that contribute to our stay as guests in Mother Earth’s home. Oikonomia looks at the social good, not just the parties to a transaction or claims of ownership of a natural resource.

Relocalization and decentralization are concepts that are feared by the ruling elite because it removes power and control from the hands of those who have become addicted, or think they are somehow entitled by birth, to wield it. This is why you hear about agrofuels and carbon capture, but not relocalization and powering down, on the 6 O’clock News. These latter concepts are ridiculed, marginalized, and said to be unmanageable for a mere “working class” either too stupid to take care of itself or without the capacity to understand how the bigger picture “really” works.

Well, the bigger picture works rather simply by the natural systems principles of mutual support and reciprocity, no waste, no greed, and increasing diversity. It works by self-organizing attraction relationships that make everyone’s life better by making the whole better.

This is what life is all about, and relocalization seeks to return us to it.

~~~~~~~~~~

More information on relocalization can be found at the Relocalization Network, and you're invited to become involved with Tucson's relocalization group, Campaign For Our Lives.

Relocalizing for a Green Economy: Part One of a Three Part Series

These next three posts are the full, unedited versions of a series of articles on relocalization I was asked to write for the Tucson Green Magazine. They were edited either because they were too long for the space available, or because they presented concepts the "mainstream" wasn't considered yet ready for. Since I do tend to preach to the choir quite a bit, there's undoubtedly more than a little merit to this critique.

However, if you're reading these here, I'm going to assume you've already taken the red pill, or are at least considering other ways of breaking free of the consensus trance and looking for ways to start doing things differently; to actively participate in creating a sustainable future based on ecological wisdom and social justice.

Part One:

No matter how clever we are, our cleverness is wholly dependent on the bounty and health of the Earth and the richness of our relationships.

A growth economy of material goods has an unfortunate outcome for living organisms, and we're told to ignore the connection between constant financial growth and the exploitation of people and degradation of the planet. We're told this is the price of progress. However, we cannot escape the fact that the planet's resources are either finite or have a carrying capacity limit to their rate of regeneration, while money is an abstract concept that knows no bounds, nor has a basis in hard physical reality.

We use money to assign value to a person's status and contribution to community well-being. But this value is not necessarily tied to community equity or fairly earned, as can be seen from lotteries, sweepstakes, and mortgage backed securities. We also let ourselves believe that money can be used to meet all human needs and desires. That this is ludicrous as soon as one stops to think about it is why we're told not to. While money can't buy happiness, it can buy the antidepressants necessary to stand in its stead.

My core belief is that today's financial markets are a major contributing factor to the crises life faces. They are little more than a form of legalized gambling in a highly rigged game. They nurture the fantasy of something for nothing. This has worked well for a select few over the centuries, but we've reached a few global tipping points such as overpopulation causing depletion of fisheries and 50% loss of productive topsoil, and with fossil fueled global warming we're quickly approaching others.

That said, socially responsible investing on a local level could be a leverage point in creating the first steps to a sustainable future. There are models available, such as Solari Circles and steady-state economies, that can help communities regain control of their future and develop sustainably. Today, communities have the impetus and the opportunity to pull together, invest in a future that looks at the bigger picture, and provide true and lasting value for all the species that make up that community.

The main points I think people must begin examining in earnest regard economic growth and accumulation as the only allowable meaningful measures of prosperity and well-being. The pervasive mindset is bigger, shinier, faster, more.

But what is this actually doing to our health and the overall quality of life? What longing are we trying to satisfy that we accept baubles for payoff and a story that allows us to rationalize that this is the best we can hope for? The actual results of this mindset are decreases in every quality of life indicator that actually provide meaning to the human condition -- plus of course all the ones pertinent to other species and the natural world itself. Strictly from a mathematical perspective, a growth economy doesn't work; it is unsustainable. All the evidence points to the conclusion that it's time to seriously consider what we might do differently.

One of the reasons it's so scary to think about the collapse of the current system is that no alternatives to the status quo are allowed to be mentioned without being denigrated and marginalized as unnatural, naively idealistic, or communistic. We remain unaware or won't believe that not only is an alternative available that's not dependent on future technologies, but that both rational reality and spiritual yearnings show to be more in keeping with human nature. The alternative will improve overall conditions because it works with the most powerful force in the universe -- the creation and maintenance of mutually supportive attraction relationships.

This alternative is based on reconnecting our disconnection from nature and each other, and using the process of relocalization to create an explicitly defined sustainable future built on ecological wisdom and social justice. It is an optimistic message that is tempered with an outright admission that if we continue in the direction we're heading, the good news will be the end of Western civilization. The bad news will be passing one too many irreversible environmental tipping points.

Bigger depends on denying and ignoring the drivers of economic cannibalism offered by the Industrial Growth Society. Just one aspect of this is the slow poisoning by the petrochemical industry -- and the pharmaceutical industry attempts to alleviate the symptoms while creating different ones -- and refusal to admit that humans are not immune to being effected by the largest walking chemical experiment in history. This is being allowed, encouraged even, because it contributes to a rising GDP. As recent medical research shows, however, the actual cure for breast cancer is shutting down Dow Chemical, et.al.

Better is about having the time and resources available to concentrate on what really matters. It includes having the opportunities available to develop one's potential, without constant distractions that not only support and enrich a small controlling elite by fantasizing that you can be one too, but to go along with an implicit mandate to subvert those natural desires that contribute to fulfillment, community, and life.

Where's our contingency plan?

Thanks to the Relocalization Coordinator forum for a few of the background facts, and as part of the inspiration, for this article. I first submitted it to the Tucson daily newspaper as an Op-ed piece, which they declined, so now I'm sending it out to other places.

As more community forums are being assembled (especially those sponsored by local daily newspapers, economic development agencies, and local government departments that have tacked sustainability onto their name) to deal with the question of growth and a sustainable future, perhaps the most important core question to ask these local leaders is: What is their contingency plan? What set of facts are being used to inform this plan? Is Peak Oil, global warming, or financial catastrophe factored in? What baseline is being used to assess the local assets available to build from? How many acres of arable land are regionally available, what is the current rate of topsoil loss, how many feet per year is the local aquifer dropping, how much compost can we generate and distribute, and thus how many people can realistically be fed?

The US Energy Information Agency reports that global oil production peaked in May, 2005. Saudi Arabian oil production has been declining at about 1 million barrels per day for almost two years. A more interesting and even more unreported fact is that world oil production per capita peaked in 1979, yet we continue to count population growth as an economic positive. How long will local economies as presently constructed survive a cutoff of conventional fuel supplies and products such as plastic and fertilizer derived from fossil fuels?

Supporters of protecting the status quo like to point to the increase in "non-conventional" liquid fuels, but want to conveniently ignore the negative energy return on these fuels, and the manner in which they contribute to undermining the economy and increasing environmental degradation.

A medical analogy is appropriate here. Tar sands, oil shale, and agrofuels are like the extreme measures used in the intensive care unit to keep a patient's heart beating until the family can get to the hospital to say their final goodbye to their loved one.

For example, how many more people will knowingly be subjected to hardship and deprivation when the Central Arizona Project (CAP) that supplies water from the Colorado River to rapidly growing cities is shutdown due to lack of supply as officials continue to entice people to move to the Southwest desert by approving more housing subdivisions and--the ultimate manifestation of insanity -- new water parks and golf courses?

The Ogallala Aquifer, the water source for America's "bread-basket," is being drawn down at a rate 150% beyond recharge. How long will existing local food supplies that come from this area (and the rest of the globe) last, and how much is being grown that can't be consumed locally, such as alfalfa grown with CAP water in the Arizona desert for California cattle? What plans are in place to address price hikes in basic commodities or to secure people's right to stay in their homes as global financial markets finish their meltdown? If local officials don't have a contingency plan, or are unwilling to make current discussions public, we should ask them to step down and get a job they can manage.

This might sound harsh, but the scientific consensus is quickly shifting to realizing that we really only have about a two year window left to lay the foundation for an alternative public infrastructure that drastically reduces greenhouse gas emissions (90% below 1990 levels by 2030) and begins reversing all aspects of biospheric deterioration. People are remarkably resilient and innovative when they have the full facts at their disposal. More people are becoming aware of the bigger picture and the interdependencies amongst these issues. More people are expressing a desire to regain that which has been lost as we've isolated ourselves in our cars and on our couches -- a fulfilling sense of community. More people are calling for a shift to sustainability as they become aware of the permanent nature of the unfolding global crises and their root causes in centralized dominator control hierarchies and the Industrial Growth Society.

The only systemic response that calls for the best in human capabilities and potential I see on the horizon is the process known as relocalization. Building a local economy that is healthy, vibrant, and resilient, that protects and enhances local cultures, must draw on the same natural systems principles that keep an ecosystem sustainable -- mutual support and reciprocity, no waste, no greed, and increasing diversity. We must start measuring progress and defining prosperity in a new way -- a way that isn't dependent on merely increasing in size or material accumulation, but on becoming qualitatively better for all members of the community.

The technology is available today to do so. Can we develop the will to do so in time?

Campaign For Our Lives monthly meeting

Campaign For Our Lives is Tucson's relocalization outpost--building lifeboats in a world that is warming, running out of cheap energy, and increasingly disconnected. In this month's special meeting, we'll be introducing a special reconnecting with nature process to help tap into what nature can inform us about sustainability. Learn how to take a question to nature, recognize your natural attractions to aspects of the natural world, and ways to interpret what they can tell you about what should be in our lifeboats. This process is also very applicable to questions about our role in the web of life, and building and maintaining healthy, mutually supportive relationships. Feliz Paseos is wheelchair accessible and has a .2 mile paved trail loop. For more info call (520) 887-2502 or see www.attractionretreat.org/NSS/Events.html

Event title:
Campaign For Our Lives monthly meeting
Start:
2008-03-08 14:00 (Calendar)
End:
2008-03-08 16:30
Location:

Location(s)

1600 N. Camino de Oeste Feliz Paseos County Park
Tucson, AZ
United States
See map: Google Maps
Contact Email:

Responding to Peak Oil and Global Warming: Beyond Power Hierarchies and Economic Growth

Another excellent article by George Monbiot, published in the Guardian and posted on his website connects some dots amongst Peak Oil, global warming, and the looming environmental disaster known as biofuel. The reality of these crises are becoming slowly accepted by the mainstream, as a new report by Citibank points out the reality of Peak Oil. Monbiot wonders, since governments won't listen to environmentalists or even geologists, will they also ignore the capitalists?

Well, I think this depends on exactly what the capitalists say, and what they continue to ignore and deny. Fossil fuels are decreasing in availability--this is, after all, what nonrenewable means. A switch, even a relatively small one, to agrofuels make our overall situation in regard to environmental degradation and human suffering even worse. There are, however, short term profits to be sucked out of both--which begs the question of what comes next? What the capitalists simply can't bring themselves to publicly admit, however, is that we can neither maintain an elite run class structure nor keep powering a growth economy. They are unsustainable and a barrier to human progress.

So that leaves it up to us (the vast majority of the global population) to take this inescapable conclusion--what Jan Lundberg of CultureChange.org calls petrocollapse--to the next step, where the only logical response that I can see is to start being honest with ourselves and admit that dominator hierarchies and a sense of superiority over the other was a mistake based on false assumptions, incomplete information, discounted variables, and self-centered individualism. We must get over and then go beyond the idea that a growth economy is necessary for prosperity and well-being, and that reversing or simply doing away with economic growth need necessarily cause panic, disruption, and massive suffering.

We must start making people aware that in fact, we could do something that would have the opposite effects. We could begin moving into a dynamic, holistic integration with the creative processes and energies used by natural systems to be sustainable. This would allow us to tap into natural abundance, including our own creativity, that natural resource carrying capacity constraints actually provide and which should guide the direction of our efforts to develop and improve.

Our reliance on technology is making us less human physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I don't see that as a sign of progress. Our goals should be to do away with cars and auto dependent sprawl and infrastructure, rebuild our cities to be livable and walkable, reduce consumption and material lust, adhere to the precautionary principle, instill quality and craftsmanship into clean zero waste production, provide health and food security while voluntarily lowering birthrates, and reclaim the commons for the foundation of community sovereignty that is an integral part of interdependent networks of consensus based bioregional governance. That the entire world desires this is demonstrated best by the international acceptance of the common values expressed in the Earth Charter principles: respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, and democracy, nonviolence, and peace.

We must reconnect the human soul to its home in the soul of the Earth. This is the intellectual and spiritual challenge of the 21st Century. This is the promise of relocalization, which also supplies the antidote to corporate globalization and centralized control. That we continue allowing exploitation and destruction of our life support system by pinning the blame on a lack of political courage is both a distraction and a cop-out.

There is no time to abrogate the personal responsibility to begin making new choices, the first of which is to quit legitimizing the status quo. The second is to accept that we actually deserve to enjoy life naturally, and not by depending on antidepressants, stress reducers, pain relievers, and chemotherapy to make living on a despoiled planet of broken relationships tolerable.

Campaign For Our Lives meeting

Campaign For Our Lives relocalization meeting
1929 N. Forgeus Avenue, Tucson, AZ (near Elm and Tucson in the Blenman-Elm neighborhood)

Campaign For Our Lives, a project of Natural Systems Solutions, is affiliated with Post Carbon Institute's relocalization network, and is a Sustainable Tucson affinity group. Our mission is to address the underlying and connected issues that are currently threatening our planet and create responses that are aligned with Earth's answers. CFOL is a place for people eager to work on building "lifeboats" to a sustainable future according to the principles of natural systems--building relationships of mutual support for reconnecting our lifestyles and relocalizing our social infrastructure.

Among other things, we will:
* rediscover how to be in "right relationship" with our inner selves, others, and the rest of the natural world
* discover how responses that transcend the personal are healthier and have a greater impact because they are more fulfilling
* inspire others to share this process as our growing numbers impact local government and other forces that shape our lives locally.

For more info call (520) 887-2502 or send e-mail to nature@attractionretreat.org

Event title:
Campaign For Our Lives meeting
Start:
2008-02-10 15:00 (Calendar)
End:
2008-02-10 16:30
Location:

Location(s)

Tucson, AZ
United States
See map: Google Maps
Contact Email:

Natural Systems Solutions to Global Warming

Here's a talk I presented on January 31, 2008 at the University of Arizona in Tucson for their "Focus the Nation: Global Warming Solutions" teach-in. This national event had over 1,625 schools, faith organization and civic groups signed up to present events. I felt honored to be included.
----------

With the necessary focus of today's Focus the Nation national teach-in being on solutions, let's first be sure we're responding to the right problem. Putting band-aids on symptoms isn't going to slow this train-wreck we call Western industrial civilization down one whit.

Because one of the problems with planning solutions to global warming, which should more accurately be called catastrophic climate destabilization, is that if we believe that it's just about greenhouse gas emissions, our responses will be ineffective or incomplete, but most probably both.

Mainstream media and government leaders like to portray global warming as just a result of burning fossil fuels, or doing so in a way that is inefficient. While releasing millions of years worth of ancient sunlight in the space of a few hundred years is indeed a major aspect of the crisis we face today, we must examine the reason we think we must continue to burn fossil fuels, or find a way to replace fossil energy sources to maintain the status quo of global economic growth. However, it is also imperative that we fully connect the dots amongst a number of other inextricably intertwined phenomena.

There is the small but significant effect known as global dimming that stems from particulate pollution, which is partially masking the full effects of global warming. We have destruction of rainforests for rare woods, for cattle grazing, and for cropland for agrofuels. We're overfishing the oceans, as they simultaneously become more acidic from both warming and pollution which is destroying plankton, the very foundation of the global food chain. We continue to generate mountains of waste and think there is an "away" when we throw things away.

These each would constitute a crisis by themselves, and they are all brought on and exacerbated by overpopulation, overconsumption, and the holy grail of infinite economic growth.

We're constantly being told that any proposed replacement solutions for the growing demand for energy must meet the supposed requirement to not only cause no harm to the economy, but must stimulate further economic growth. We have forgotten that money can't buy happiness, all it can buy is anti-depressants.

Instead of facing up to what must be done, we're being handed science fiction Rube Goldberg schemes to put giant parasols in space to reflect the sun's rays, or other geo-engineering plans for the oceans and atmosphere such as "carbon capture and sequestration" (known as the kitty litter solution -- bury it and fervently pray it doesn't come back up) to allow fossil fuel based industries to continue on their merry way of profit-taking until we've used up the entire world's supply. Of everything. And in the meantime, don't dare put any competition in their way through investments in alternatives such as wind or solar, and definitely don't touch the billions in subsidies that dinosaur industries get. ExxonMobile now has a book value larger than France.

One of the things that brought anthropogenic (meaning human induced) global heating into the clearest perspective for me was the recent evidence that the last time the earth experienced a warming period of the same magnitude (approximately 6 degrees F) that we are currently on course for due to the buildup of greenhouse gases, it took about two thousand years to happen, and the only large land mammal to survive this was the ancestor of the pig. We are on course to pump even more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere within about a 200 year timespan. Not much time to adapt.

However, we now have a convergence of crises, with more dots to connect. Burning all these fossil fuels has created global warming, which is exacerbated by the loss of forests due to the needs of an ever growing population. Burning coal to fuel power plants, in addition to the regular greenhouse gases, also emits large amounts of sulfur, which causes acid rain, which kills off more forests, as well as lakes, rivers, and the aquatic life they support. Plus all the easy to get to coal is gone, so mountain top removal is now the extraction method of choice, which devastates more large sections of forests. But, we need more forests in order to suck up at least some of all the excessive carbon dioxide we're pumping into the atmosphere from burning all these fossil fuels.

Another factor in the crises is the fact that we've now used up half of all the recoverable liquid fossil fuels, especially petroleum. This is the peak in global oil extraction and production, popularly known as Peak Oil. For the first half of the petroleum growth economy, the oil was easy to get and of high quality--what's known as light sweet crude. For the second half, which unfortunately won't even last the same 100 years, we're stuck with petroleum known as heavy sour crude--more difficult to extract and more expensive to refine--as well as the environmentally devastating tar sands and oil shale.

As a point of reference, in the 1950s for every barrel of oil equivalent in energy, 30 barrels of oil were produced. Today we only get 5 barrels of oil for every barrel of energy put in to the system. When this ratio drops to 1:1 it won't matter if gasoline is selling for $1,000/gal, it will no longer be used for an energy source. The laws of physics and economics will finally coincide.

It's also instructive to bear in mind that many of today's oil reservoirs are being over pumped in order to keep production as close as possible to current levels. This will lead to even earlier collapse of the fields due to geological factors. This is, however, a losing battle. As Dick Cheney pointed out in 1999, global demand for oil is climbing by 3% per year, while global production is falling by 2% per year. This is why most country's strategic petroleum reserves are getting closer to empty.

This brings us back to the global growth economy that is entirely dependent on increasing supplies of cheap and abundant fossil fuels in order to pay back, with interest, the debts of global corporations and governments to central banks. Things don't look good when the energy to power growth is becoming scarce and increasing in price. This relates directly to the obscene profit taking of the major oil companies today, and America's misadventure of illegally invading a sovereign country to lock up the third largest oil reserves on the planet.

A culture of materialism that has let itself become convinced that constant growth is necessary for prosperity and well-being sees the challenge as "how do we protect the economy?" Forget about the living earth. We're told that life simply won't be worth living if the Industrial Growth Society collapses. The media propaganda is that we've just gotta be able to drive our Hummers to the mall from our 10,000 sq. ft. McMansions in the suburbs to get our Twinkie fix. Twice a day.

Is it any wonder that heroin pushers are so successful? They have the best role models in the known universe to look up to and learn from, as well as being able to operate in a social climate of oppression and repression that is so conducive to their trade.

Let's conveniently ignore the inconvenient truth that the Industrial Growth Society is causing a decrease in every quality of life indicator imaginable. Just ignore increasing global poverty and a widening wealth gap, and definitely don't think about your increasing body burden as industrial toxins and pesticides bioaccumulate. Don't question central banker's right to usury, or that a growth economy requires you getting further in debt. Ignore the fact that about 50% of Americans require at least one prescription drug per day in order to either make it through their day or to be able to tolerate their day. Add in alcohol and other recreational drugs that are self-prescribed, and it should be intuitively obvious to the casual observer that this is a very sick, and very sad, culture. Modern psychiatry puts all of its effort into trying to make us feel sane about living in an insane world. But, as J. Krishnamurti famously pointed out, it is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.

This is what we're trying to preserve? This is why we need to find a replacement energy source for toxic, polluting, and rapidly dwindling fossil fuels? Do any of you really believe that continued industrial activity of exploitation and domination would be just fine as long as the products it marketed were labeled as green?

How about a cultural shift from having more to being more? If one third of the global population can create all the stuff the entire population consumes, why aren't we all working two thirds less with full global employment, so we all could have the time to focus on what really matters? Powering down could very well be the best thing to ever happen to the human species and our poor beleaguered planet.

This is why I really prefer to talk about responses to catastrophic climate destabilization and its interconnected linkages instead of solutions. Solutions tend to make us think that as soon as we solve the problem we can just go back to business as usual.

A natural systems response would be one that is in keeping with the creative energies that have kept life evolving for billions of years. These energies are a natural, innate, intimate even, aspect of who we are as humans.

Natural systems solutions start with an understanding and acceptance of the four core principles that keep ecosystems healthy, vibrant and resilient--in other words, sustainable. These four principles are: mutual support and reciprocity, no waste, no greed, and increasing diversity. They are derived from the simple observation that the prime activity of living organisms is to self-organize for the creation of mutually supportive attraction relationships that support the web of life. Only in this way can an individual have any realistic hope of reaching its potential.

Natural systems principles also provide a foundation from which to develop a definition of sustainability that has environmental, moral, and scientifically measurable aspects.

The definition for sustainability is: integrating our social and economic lives into the environment in ways that tend to enhance or maintain ecosystems rather than degrade or destroy them; a moral imperative to pass on our natural inheritance, not necessarily unchanged, but undiminished in its ability to meet the needs of future generations; finding, and staying within, the balance point amongst population, consumption, and waste assimilation where watersheds and bioregions maintain their ability to recharge and regenerate.

This definition provides a framework for making decisions, is legally defensible, and can be used to measure our progress toward a sustainable future that is ecologically wise and socially just.

We can also observe that living organisms grow to a point of maturity, or steady-state, and then stop growing. But they do not become static. They continue to develop and better support their environment; the overall system advances to higher levels of complexity. The only thing that grows without stopping is a cancer cell that only stops when it has consumed its host. Thus, we can see that a growth economy defines the exact opposite of sustainability.

So the question for today becomes how can people easily embody this sustainable way of being? How can we build a culture with social institutions that are sustainable and reverse the trajectory of anthropogenic global heating?

Leading thinkers in the physical and social sciences say that at the root of our global crises today lies our disconnection from the natural world. We see ourselves as separate. We see the Earth as a resource we can control and use for our exclusive benefit, and more narrowly for the primary benefit of a small elite. We see nature as a wilderness to be tamed, and we apply this force-based mindset to subdue our own inner nature in order to become more efficient meat machines.

If the core of the systemic crises is our disconnection, then the most intelligent response would be to reconnect. This is what the field of ecopsychology works toward as it seeks to redefine sanity as if the whole Earth mattered. Nature is known to have numerous benefits for health and healing. It is, after all, the very source of our sustenance. Studies today show surgery patients heal faster if they are in a room that has a window that looks out on a natural area, crime is reduced in inner cities by planting trees along the sidewalks, prison gardens can reduce recidivism, and playtime in natural areas can reduce attention deficit and hyperactivity in children.

But the natural world is more than just a palliative. Going out and reconnecting to the natural world on rational, sensual, and spiritual levels isn't just a form of nature meditation in order to relieve the stress of the artificial industrial world. Nature supplies a source of answers for our questions in the models and metaphors it makes available to humans for their societies to become as sustainable as a climax ecosystem.

As natural systems principles show, it's all about relationships. Reconnecting with nature doesn't just mean the world outside your door, but also to the nature that exists in each person, to our sense of community that has evolved with a natural expectation for fulfillment, and to our own inner nature as well. Healthy relationships start with healing the mind/body/spirit split that dualistic, mechanistic, reductionistic modern science tries to make us think is normal.

The alternatives for what we can do differently become those that have been developed with natural systems as their basis, and this is what the process for becoming sustainable known as relocalization delivers.

The replacement systems for the status quo of infinite economic growth, resource extraction, and labor exploitation are steady-state economies, urban planning based on ecocity and permaculture design, bioregionally produced organic food, non-toxic goods, decentralized renewable energy, and waste management that stay within environmental and economic carrying capacity.

Among the things we can do differently are investing locally in the clean, zero-waste production of sustainable goods (instead of those built to be thrown away), build mutually supportive community relationships, overcome our separation from nature, and remember how to become more self-reliant within our bioregions. Instead of getting bigger, we must concentrate on getting better.

This is the hallmark of sustainable development through relocalization. We can become energy independent, restore ecosystems, and improve our quality of life at the same time as we work on reclaiming our sovereignty, our civil rights, and the commons.

The problem as I see it is what I call the Triumvirate of Collapse: Peak Oil, catastrophic climate destabilization, and corporatism which have their systemic roots in force-based dominator hierarchies. The only systemic, rational response, that also _feels_ right, is to become truly sustainable by relocalizing our lifestyles and our communities, and reconnecting the human soul to its home in the soul of the Earth.

What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire

Natural Systems Solutions presents this powerful documentary of a middle class American coming to grips with Peak Oil, Climate Change, Mass Extinction, Population Overshoot and the demise of the American Lifestyle. Facilitated discussion using Open Question Circles follows. To create solutions we must overcome denial and fully unveil the underlying issues. Start planning what should be in our lifeboats with courage and integrity. For more info call (520) 887-2502 or see www.attractionretreat.org/NSS/Events.html

Event title:
What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire
Start:
2008-01-05 18:00 (Calendar)
End:
2008-01-05 21:30
Location:

Location(s)

Bookman's, 1930 E. Grant Rd.
Tucson, AZ
United States
See map: Google Maps

A Review of Daniel Lerch's "Post-Carbon Cities"

From Adam Brock, of Wild Green Yonder:

...Daniel Lerch, author of the recently released book “Post Carbon Cities,” might be the best messenger for yet for the peak oil cause. I attended one of Lerch’s presentations at the NYU law school last Wednesday, and while it wasn’t quite up to Inconvenient Truth standards, I found it to be the most digestible explanation of peak oil I’ve encountered yet. Unlike Albert Bates, the engaging but decidedly forest-hued peak oiler that spoke in New York about a month ago, Lerch came across as practical-minded and sympathetic to skeptics. His target audience is planners and municipal policymakers, and he framed the dimensions of the peak oil crisis in language familiar to those groups.

The talk began with a few fundamentals: the demand for oil is accelerating, while the supply seems to have hit a plateau. Sooner or later, supply will outstrip demand, causing oil shortages that will get ever more severe as the remaining reserves become more difficult and expensive to extract. This much, to me, seems pretty hard to refute.

But why do most peak oilers predict that this energy gap will wreak havoc on the economy? Can’t we just scale back our consumption slightly for now and eventually replace the gap with energy efficiency and renewables? That’s certainly the popular consensus among politicians and grass greens. To quote Denver mayor John Hickenlooper, who hosted a peak oil conference in 2005, “I don’t think it’ll affect the consumption of consumer products. It’s not gonna have a dramatic negative impact on our economy - we’re just gonna drive less.”

But according to Lerch, oil shortages are a lot less simple than having to turn down the A/C and line up to refill the gas tank. For one thing, models predict that once production starts slipping, it’ll slip fast – far faster than it’ll take to replace our needs with wind, solar or even nuclear. And as Lerch explained, In the last five decades we’ve become dependent on petroleum in countless ways, and seemingly insignificant disruptions in supply can have far-reaching repercussions. During the summer of 2006, for example, the spike in oil prices doubled the price of asphalt, a low-grade petroleum product. Routine road repairs were suddenly wildly overbudget, and many municipalities were forced to defer maintenance on their roadways....

Read Adam Brock's full review at Wild Green Yonder:
http://wildgreenyonder.wordpress.com/2007/11/12/post-carbon-cities-and-t...

Also, check out other city related news:
http://www.energybulletin.net/37162.html

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading (and other multi-media)

Peak Moment: "What a Way to Go" - Meet the Filmmakers
28 minute video with Tim Bennett, Sally Erickson, and Jania Donaldson, 17 Sep 2007, Global Public Media
Tim Bennett and Sally Erickson discuss the influences behind this heartfelt and riveting documentary on "Life at the End of Empire." Framed in Tim's personal story of awakening to the big global issues threatening everyone's survival. It will touch you and make you think. Episode 72.

Janaia Donaldson hosts Peak Moment, a television series emphasizing positive responses to energy decline and climate change through local community action. How can we thrive, build stronger communities, and help one another in the transition from a fossil fuel-based lifestyle?
http://globalpublicmedia.com/peak_moment_what_a_way_to_go_meet_the_filmm...

Peak Moment: Post Carbon Cities - Planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty
28 minute video with Daniel Lerch and Janaia Donaldson, 17 Sep 2007, Global Public Media
Smart municipalities are planning and preparing for energy vulnerability and climate change. Daniel Lerch, manager of the Post Carbon Cities project, has prepared a guidebook including case studies of cities large and small planning how to maintain essential services in the face of energy and climate uncertainty. Episode 73.
http://globalpublicmedia.com/peak_moment_post_carbon_cities_planning_for...

RE Sources, the RE Store and the 'Sustainable Living Center'
Rick Dubrow, On the Level Podcast, Thu, 26 Jul 2007 14:12:01 PST Format: audio/mp3 File Size: 42,301,440 bytes
Looking for a one-stop location for learning how to reduce your ecological footprint? Consider RE Sources, the umbrella organization of the RE Store. Hear about all of their programs, the diversity of which will surprise you. And learn about their new 'Sustainable Living Center', an interactive learning experience housed in the new location for the RE Store (in the former Wilson Furniture Building at 2309 Meridian St. in Bellingham).
http://www.a1builders.ws/rss/on_the_level_005.mp3

Report/Paper: Uncertain Future: Climate Change and its Effects on Puget Sound
Postcarbon Cities, originally published 18 October 2005 by State of Washington
This report examines current scientific literature and new research to provide an overview of projected climate change impacts on Puget Sound in northwest Washington State. It focuses on the consequences of a warmer climate on the larger Puget Sound ecosystem, including impacts on regional temperature and precipitation, snowpack, streamflow, water quality, and marine ecosystem structure and function. Implications for ecosystem management are also highlighted...By starting now to plan for climate change, the region can build the capacity required to prepare for and cope with climate impacts in the Puget Sound region.
Highlights, with a link to the full report:
http://postcarboncities.net/node/418

Outgrowing hunger
Food Bank Farm Project provides produces to low-income
Matthew Thuney - Whatcom Independent, September 20, 2007
Canned goods, peanut butter, blocks of mystery cheese - that’s the kind of fare that springs to mind when you think of the Food Bank. But farm-fresh vegetables? That’s not something you’d expect to see.
Mike Cohen, executive director of the Bellingham Food Bank, is working to change that expectation....This spring, Cohen met with the folks at the Small Potatoes Gleaning Project, Growing Washington, and Alm Hill Gardens, and the pieces of the growing puzzle came together. Amaris Lunde, community programs director at Growing Washington, describes her group as “a non-profit organization dedicated to on-the-ground efforts to make agriculture more efficient by strengthening local sustainable farms.” She was excited about the chance to work with the Bellingham Food Bank. “We joined the project because it is a perfect fit for our organization,” says Lunde...
http://www.whatcomindy.com/news.php?subaction=showfull&id=1190304527&arc...

The Emergence of Organic Agriculture in Washington State
by David Granatstein and Anne Schwartz
Whatcom Watch, September 207
In 2006, over 60,000 acres of farmland were certified organic in the state of Washington, a 40 percent increase from the previous year, which generated farm gate sales in excess of $100 million. Sixty-two percent of the 554 organic farms were in eastern Washington, leaving 38 percent west of the Cascades. Farm numbers are expected to top 700 in 2007 (based on Washington State Department of Agriculture records to date). While organic still represents less than 1 percent of the farmland in the state, the growth of this sector has been dramatic. Where did this come from? Where might it be headed?
http://www.whatcomwatch.org/php/WW_open.php?id=858

Kids Biking to School: It Equals a Less Congested Commute To Work
by Jennifer Karchmer, Whatcom Watch, September 2007
For the first time, 11-year-old Hannah Carpenter is riding her bike to school. It’s a big step for this Bellingham sixth grader who walked during her elementary days at Roosevelt School. Hannah has been riding a bike for years, but riding it to school is different than tooling around the neighborhood.
http://www.whatcomwatch.org/php/WW_open.php?id=861

Climate can't wait for techno-fixes
by Jan Lundberg , Culture Change Letter #168
Originally published on Sept. 5, 2007 in Grist
Jan Lundberg is, at press time, on the Climate Emergency Fast... It is a response to Mike Tidwell's recent piece in Grist, "Consider Using the N-Word Less." [Tidwell is head of ClimateEmergency.org]
We have to do more to minimize global heating and catastrophic climate change than do the same things differently. Rather, it is time for a revolution in our culture's values and pursuits. Climate scientists bear this out with their findings and warnings, which is why we hear Al Gore now calling for a 90 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions. (At this point he's allowing too many years to reach the objective, but he's on the right track.)

...relying on measures such as simply encouraging better light bulbs and more fuel efficient cars will fail. Knowing that the Earth's climate is shaping up to rapidly shift to a new state -- probably not seen since 55 million years ago -- we cannot play politics with what really needs to be done to make a last attempt to curb greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently. Yet under our system of big business and its influence over both legislation and the content of media, we are witnessing a tragic denial of the need to do the possible, now, to slash greenhouse gas emissions. The present economy is held to be more important.
http://www.culturechange.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&...

SHOCKED, SHOCKED!
by James Howard Kunstler, September 17, 2007
Dave Ewoldt comments: "This is marginally a review of Alan Greenspan's memoirs, but it's really more connecting the dots between war, oil, overconsumption, and economic meltdown as only Kunstler can. Those of you keeping track of current financial shenanigans should find it an interesting perspective. Or maybe that's just me 'cause it dovetails my own outlook :-)"
Alan Greenspan's memoirs are being flogged across the airwaves, bandwidths and printing presses, and the cohorts of those who comment on public affairs in these media are shocked by the Maestro's confessions -- first, that a housing bubble emerged out of his leadership in the banking sector, and second that the Iraq war is about oil. As usual, they're getting it all wrong -- about as wrong as Al himself got it. But that is the way of things in this age of cultural dissipation and gross cognitive dissonance.

...Now, as to the shock of Al's revelation that the Iraq war is about oil -- the media and the public has got this all wrong, too. The logic here seems to be that because the Iraq war is about oil it is therefore unnecessary,
optional, a mistake, an indulgence, something we should not dirty our hands in. In fact, the Iraq war is not about oil, per se, so much as it is about America's behavior here at home, about the choices we make for how we live on this continent. None of those who complain most loudly about our military presence in Iraq have advanced any proposals for reforming how we live here -- and hence for our enslavement to oil, much of the world's remaining supply of which happens to be in the neighborhood of Iraq. When these complainers start complaining about the ubiquitous acceptance of suburban sprawl and abject car-dependency -- and this includes the environmental boy scouts out there who want to get merit badges for buying hybrid cars -- then they will deserve to be taken seriously. Until then, the American people have got exactly the grinding war that they deserve. Let them whine about it all the way to the Nascar tracks, and let them console themselves with giant plastic bottles of Pepsi Cola and buckets of chicken raised on corn grown with oil byproducts...
http://jameshowardkunstler.typepad.com/clusterfuck_nation/2007/09/shocke...

Beyond 'Green Shopping'
John Cavanagh and Jerry Mander, The Nation, 6 September 2007
The response of most politicians and corporations to climate change is that new technologies and "green consumerism" will solve the problems. This approach is deeply flawed, argue Jerry Mander and John Cavanagh - any solution should be based on sustainability and equity, not consumerism.

Scientific studies abound on the devastating realities of climate chaos, an imminent "peak" of world oil supplies and a grim future for clean water, forests, fisheries and soil. The response of most politicians and corporations is that new technologies and "green consumerism" will solve the problems: Innovate and shop to save the planet. The Bush Administration is showering the technologies with money: subsidies to develop "clean coal" via carbon
sequestration, proposed subsidies for "clean" nuclear energy and--the big one--massive subsidies to global agribusiness to promote biofuels. Each is deeply flawed...
http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17298

Recommended Reading

On the Level: Know Myself
by Rick Dubrow, Cascadia Weekly, Sept. 11, 2007
Two weeks ago my column entitled “Know Thyself” asked you to consider just how much you believe the dire reports regarding the health of our environment and, therefore, just how far you’re willing to go to change your own ecological footprint. To what degree do you believe in the upcoming, perfect storm of peak oil, climate change and increasing inequity? Will it really affect you, and how hard will it hit?
…Yes, I believe we’re banging on the door of environmental collapse, if collapse is defined as overshoot to the point of irreversibility. We’re touching a doorway we simply don’t know much about.
My own activism is driven by these beliefs; I’m not driven to inaction or paralysis. To the contrary, a close friend recently diagnosed me with CIS (Chronic Involvement Syndrome). I, for one, will not go down without trying. I believe that the scale and speed of curtailment we need to thrive needs leadership and political will as far from today’s offerings as I could possibly imagine.
No, I’m not hopeful. The barriers blocking “… the largest economical and political transformation the world has ever seen” seem overwhelming.
My greatest hope is that I’m wrong.
http://www.a1builders.ws/rss/cascadia_weekly_023.pdf

Jan Spencer’s Eco-Logical Kindrid Spirits Tour in Washington State, July, 2007
The goal of my trip was to meet eco minded people in a number of different locations and to find out from them what kind of positive on the ground models of eco logical culture existed where they live. I also made five public presentations on culture change, Okonagon, Bellingham, Snohomish/Everett, Seattle and Olympia. …I was excited to be crossing over the Cascades although, the morning was cloudy and showery, this on the east side. The west side offered spectacular if cloudy views of mountains, now pack above and dams below. And lush. Bellingham was my destination. My first visit. Late in the afternoon, I found Lynnette's place in an apartment complex...
See "fotos" and read more about Jan's visit to Bellingham:
http://www.suburbanpermaculture.org/Kindred%20tour.htm

Can Environmentalists Live Up to Their Own Standards?
by Janisse Ray, Orion Magazine, Sept. 10, 2007
If I ever preached to the choir, this luncheon was it. The sixty people in the room were professed environmentalists, all of them on the advisory council of an earth center at a college that advertises itself, rightfully, as strongly committed to environmental responsibility. Seated to my right was a friendly but road-weary woman who had arrived minutes before from Chicago. She had rented a car at the airport and driven straight here.

"When will you return home?" I asked.

"I'll go back this afternoon," she said.

My white cloth napkin lay folded in my lap. Two silver forks waited to the left of my plate. In minutes I would rise to speak at a meal for which and only for which one woman had flown from Illinois to North Carolina. In fact, I was speaking about the climate crisis. Could anything I said be worth those 750 pounds of carbon dioxide blasted into the atmosphere? Fifty-nine other people had journeyed here by various conveyances. Surely I was in part responsible.
http://www.alternet.org/environment/61872?page=1

Living Wealth: Better Than Money
by David Korten, YES! Magazine
If there is to be a human future, we must bring ourselves into balanced relationship with one another and the Earth. This requires building economies with heart.
If we are to slow and ultimately reverse the social and environmental disintegration we see around us, we must change the rules to curb the pervasive abuse of corporate power that contributes so much to those harms. Taming corporate power will slow the damage. It will not be sufficient, however, to heal our relationships with one another and the Earth and bring our troubled world into social and environmental balance. Corporations are but instruments of a deeper social pathology revealed in a familiar story our society tells about the nature of prosperity.
http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=1834
See also the interview of David Korten and Vandana Shiva by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now!:
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/14/1421257

See also http://www.energybulletin.net/34665.html for info on the Public Teach-In happening this week on the "triple global crisis" of climate change, peak oil, and global resource depletion happening this week, featuring David Korten, Richard Heinberg, Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, Michael Klare, Winona LaDuke, John Cavenagh, Jerry Mander, Ross Gelbspan, Frances Moore-Lappe, Helena Norberg-Hodge, David Suzuki and Randy Hayes.

Review: Renewable energy cannot sustain a consumer society
by Graham Strouts
Book Review:
Renewable Energy Cannot Sustain a Consumer Society
Ted Trainer
Springer 2007 hardback 197 pages

Ted Trainer, of the University of New South Wales, has made a valuable contribution to the literature of energy and resource depletion with his new book Renewable Energy Cannot Sustain a Consumer Society. The title says a lot I think. With the focus of most mainstream debate
on peak oil and energy being on the supply side - the oil is running low so what are we going to use instead? - Trainer brings a refreshing approach in which he provides a detailed and technically comprehensive analysis of existing renewable energy options- including wind, solar thermal, solar electric, biomass and energy crops, and hydrogen, as well as nuclear and the
issue of storing energy. He concludes:

“ ...we could easily have an extremely low per capita rate of energy consumption, and footprint, based on local resources- but only if we undertake vast and radical change in economic, political, geographical and cultural systems.”
http://www.energybulletin.net/34520.html

Fasting for the climate and self
by Jan Lundberg, Culture Change Letter
The Climate Emergency Fast continues.
After fasting over a week now for a cause, the first time I have done such a thing, I wanted to share my progress and reflections with Culture Change readers. Before doing so, here's the origin of this fast: On Sept. 4th the Climate Emergency Fast was begun as Congress came back into session, for the purpose of raising awareness for federal action to enact:

..."a moratorium on any new coal or coal-to-liquid plants; a national freeze on carbon emissions followed by major reductions; and a $25 billion down payment in fiscal year 2008 for conservation, efficiency and renewable energy programs."

...First, it's crucial to distinguish between what we would like to see happen and what will probably happen. It would be nice if there could be a seamless transition to a much cleaner-energy economy, whereby we would not have to make sacrifices or see upheaval. But peak oil has knocked at the door and there is no way out. Climate change has begun and is intensifying out of control. So, we ask, what about renewable energy? Can't that replace the petroleum infrastructure?
The answer is yes, but only spottily. This is because (1) it's not ready on a huge scale (and requires petroleum to implement it), (2), does not have the net-energy advantage of cheap oil that's already mostly gone, and (3) it cannot provide for today's consumer economy that relies on liquid fuels for distributing products such as food (which is grown increasingly with petroleum) -- given present overpopulation. Ten times as many units of petroleum energy go into agribusiness food production as the amount of energy that the produced food contains. Ahh, progress. Oops, did we max out our collective Petri dish?
http://culturechange.org

10 things we can do: Rebuilding civil society
David Roberts, Gristmill
It's not that individuals can't do anything about climate -- they just can't do it by themselves
---
I've been thinking about this debate over voluntary individual action and its place in the larger fight for sustainability (see here, here, and here). It's missing something.
A huge gulf has developed in America between public and private life. This has put green activism -- all of progressivism, actually -- on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, private life has become all but coextensive with consumerism -- what we choose to buy. Shifting consumer dollars around isn't a sufficient solution to any substantial problem. On the other hand, the levers that control the state are out of reach of the average citizen, even in a democracy. Most people are no longer accustomed to being actively involved in self-government.
To tackle environmental problems, we know we need governments to make big changes, but it's difficult to tell individuals what they should do about that. (Call their representatives? Vote? Then what?) We know individual changes will never add up to the societal shift we need, yet individual changes tend to be the ones that motivate, you know, individuals. We're reduced to hoping that small, ultimately ineffectual personal changes will open hearts and minds, leading to ... something.
Neither position is satisfying. What's missing is the middle ground, the space that used to mediate between private individuals and states. I'm talking about civil society: church groups, NGOs, professional associations, unions, affinity groups, etc.
http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/9/13/233756/402

PEAK OIL UPDATE: Chris Skrebowski on record high oil price
Interviewed by Julian Darley on Sept. 12, 2007
UK Petroleum Review editor Chris Skrebowski discusses today's $80 per barrel record high oil price with Global Public Media's Julian Darley. Skrebowski also talks about his expectations for the rest of 2007.
..For the last 9 to 10 weeks, [oil] stocks have been coming down...this consistent pattern of draining down just at a time when demand should be slackening off a bit, and this has rather un-nerved the markets...

...the expectation is that, although there is notionally more capacity to come on stream in this last quarter, everything this year has been disappointing in terms of things coming in late, things not working as well as people had hoped. So I wouldn't have too many hopes for a glorious flourish for the rest of the year. I think we've really got to now start taking seriously the idea that we are approaching the peak in oil production. Remembering that the peak won't occur all year until quite late in the process - what will happen first of all is that in effect you will be squeezed in the strongest demand quarter, which is typically the 4th Quarter, and sometimes the 1st Quarter of the following year. So I would anticipate very high prices and possibly even a degree of shortage over this coming winter period, unless the winter is exceptionally mild. Things will then ease off as you go into the much slacker 2nd Quarter. By the middle of next year, things will not be good, but they won't be looking too bad, and then you will possibly repeat this process of it getting really tight in the high demand quarters.

Julian Darley: Speaking of the high demand quarters, which are Q4, but also to some extent Q3 (that's the 3rd Quarter), looking at charts put out by the International Energy Agency (the IEA), one might wonder...about this question of whether the 3rd Quarter of 2007 in production and extraction will exceed that of 2006. Perhaps you could say when it is thought that we will know that, and what your expectation is - will Q3 2007 exceed 2006, and either way, what are the implications?

Chris Skrewbowski: If we look at the EIA figures, we find that quite literally since January 2005, there really has been minimal change...we seem to be on some sort of plateau. Now your question was, do I think we can break out of that plateau on the upside in the last quarter of this year. The answer is, notionally, we can. We also are beginning to get a better data handle on the rate of depletion that is occurring around the world. The best publicly available figures from the IEA Medium Term Report...show an average [deletion rate] of a bit over 4%. That's a pretty sobering thought. Total consumption is now around 85 million barrels of oil per day, 4% of that is about 3.2 to 3.3 million barrels a day. What we're saying is we've got to produce that each year to stand still. We've got to make that increment each year in effect to stand still, not to meet a single barrel of new consumption.

Julian Darley: You over the years have been compiling your megafield projects for oil and gas, you're in as good a position as anybody to say whether you think we can meet that depletion of more than 3 million barrels a year, and indeed exceed it with new production. Do you think that's going to happen?

Chris Skrewboski: Well, apparently the numbers tell us that 2007, 2008, 2009, were going to be the good years in terms of new production. This was going to be the period we were going to break out of this extended plateau and move to higher ground. All we can say at this point is we're now well into the 3rd quarter of 2007, and there's absolutely no sign of it. It's just not moving out. Now, production has been coming on stream, new fields have been commissioned, but obviously not enough.

...This is a world-wide picture, that we have very considerable oil field inflation going on in terms of the cost of things, we're short of skilled people, and virtually every major project is being delayed...it's a very unhappy picture really...we're stuck in a pretty high cost oil world at a time when there's concerns about economic activity and financial instability - they're all coming together to make life rather harder for us all.
http://globalpublicmedia.com/chris_skrebowski_on_record_high_oil_price

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Peak Everything

Earlier today I was reading stories on the web about the peaking of world fisheries. For example:

"In 1994, seafood may have peaked. According to an analysis of 64 large marine ecosystems, which provide 83 percent of the world's seafood catch, global fishing yields have declined by 10.6 million metric tons since that year. And if that trend is not reversed, total collapse of all world fisheries should hit around 2048. "Unless we fundamentally change the way we manage all the oceans species together, as working ecosystems, then this century is the last century of wild seafood," notes marine biologist Stephen Palumbi of Stanford University." http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=AAFCC579-E7F2-99DF-33CF444CDD8F7AAF

I'm sure we've all heard the stories as well about the dramatic decline of bees, and the slower but long term decline of many birds. Washington state alone has at least 39 endangered plant and animal species. Climate change has finally become a headline grabbing national concern (better late than never). Some of us are trying to raise awareness about Peak Oil. It becomes a bit overwhelming to think about and comprehend all of these problems at once and together, but it is quite important to do so. As long as we keep thinking about the problems we're seeing with the world's "resources" as isolated problems to be dealt with individually, the more likely we are to turn to technological band-aid solutions. (Albert Bartlett: "We should remember the words of Eric Sevareid; he observed that “the chief source of problems is solutions.” This is what we encounter every day: solutions to problems just make the problems worse.")

All of these problems are connected to the fact that we're living on a finite planet with finite resources at a time when the compounding effect of population growth is finally being felt and experienced. Meanwhile, we live in a culture who's religion is what Erich Fromm called "the religion of industrialism and the cybernetic era" (To Have or To Be, 1976), which worships at the alter of hyper consumption and endless economic growth. So, we have peak oil, peak C02, and past peak on clean water, seafood, wood, resource minerals and metals, etc. etc. On a whim, I decided to Google 'Peak Everything.' What I found was a new book coming out soon by the leading peak oil educator Richard Heinberg, with that exact title: "Peak Everything." I also found an article from New Scientist by David Cohen - Earth's Natural Wealth: An Audit. A good article I recommend, although it falls short on the solutions. Info on Heinberg's book below. Before that, however, I have to stop and highly recommend 2 other presentations. These presentations go deeper than technological band-aids.

1) Albert Bartlett, on Arithmetic, Population, and Energy. This is the most downloaded recording from Global Public Media. It should be required listening for every activist, environmentalist, planner, politician, scientist, theologian, philosopher, and thinker. The retired Professor of Physics from the University of Colorado in Boulder examines the arithmetic of steady growth, continued over modest periods of time, in a finite environment. These concepts are applied to populations and to fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal. Options are given for downloading audio, streaming audio, or reading the transcript:http://globalpublicmedia.com/dr_albert_bartlett_arithmetic_population_and_energy

2) Pat Murphy on Plan C: Curtailment and Community. Massive change is in the offing and we are totally unprepared. We will discuss options for addressing these threats under the rubric of four 'plans' arbitrarily labeled A, B, C and D. The alternative we propose, Plan C, is to tackle the issues of food, housing and transportation, preparing for a world of greatly reduced fossil fuel consumption. http://www.energybulletin.net/20501.html

Now, about Heinberg's forthcoming book...

 

Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines

By Richard Heinberg

The 20th century saw unprecedented growth in population, energy consumption and food production. As the population shifted from rural to urban, the impact of humans on the environment increased dramatically. The 21st century ushered in an era of declines, in a number of crucial parameters: * Global oil, natural gas and coal extraction

* Yearly grain harvests * Climate stability * Population * Economic growth * Fresh water * Minerals and ores, such as copper and platinum

To adapt to this profoundly different world, we must begin now to make radical changes to our attitudes, behaviors and expectations. Peak Everything addresses many of the cultural, psychological and practical changes we will have to make as nature rapidly dictates our new limits. This latest book from Richard Heinberg, author of three of the most important books on Peak Oil, touches on the most important aspects of the human condition at this unique moment in time.

A combination of wry commentary and sober forecasting on subjects as diverse as farming and industrial design, this book tells how we might make the transition from The Age of Excess to the Era of Modesty with grace and satisfaction, while preserving the best of our collective achievements. A must-read for individuals, business leaders and policy makers who are serious about effecting real change. http://www.newsociety.com/bookid/3964

 

Tucson Gets the Opportunity To Elect A Sustainable Mayor!

Author, Affiliation, Date: 
Dave Ewoldt, Campaign For Our Lives, 11 July 2007
Body: 

Political progressives, Peak Oil, and global warming activists have been handed a unique opportunity in Tucson, AZ. While Arizona is generally considered a Red State, Tucson is a Democratic stronghold, with a city council that is 100% Democrats, but a Republican mayor who is up for re-election this November.

Well, the local Dems decided they couldn't mount an effective challenge to the incumbent mayor, who recently announced that the new symbols for Tucson are the hardhat and construction crane. The head of the Pima County Democrats said there are no pressing issues of concern to local citizens. This is in an area where the water table has dropped from 20 feet to over 300 feet since about WWII, continues to drop 2-4 feet per year, and relies for approximately one-third of its water on the Colorado River--whose flow rate is decreasing, is already oversubscribed, has to be pumped uphill for 300 miles to Tucson who is at the bottom of the allocation list, etc.

Tucson has become 195 square miles of strip malls separated by big box stores that relies almost exclusively on Walmartization and trophy subdivisions in the foothills to power what masquerades for an economy.

If this isn't an area that's prime for relocalization, I don't know what is. The local Green Party recently achieved ballot status in the city of Tucson, we have an excellent and committed candidate, and I've been asked to write the campaign platform. So, here we go! Greens vs. Republicans with no Democrats in the way to play the spoiler card.

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - JULY 10, 2007

----------------------------------------

Contact: Dave Croteau
PO BOX 6014, Tucson AZ 85703
phone: (520) 269-7617 e-mail: MayorDave07@cox.net
or
Dave Ewoldt
phone: (520) 887-2502 e-mail: CroteauCampaign@reststop.net
----------------------------------------

Dave Croteau wants to give Tucson voters a choice they can feel really good about. Announcing his candidacy for the 2007 Tucson mayoral race, Croteau, a long-time Tucson neighborhood organizer and past member of the Small Business Commission and Police Advisory Review Board, will build on the momentum of the 46,000 votes he received in the 2000 Pima County Sheriff race to present a campaign for mayor that is green in more ways than one.

Croteau's mayoral campaign will detail ways the Ten Key Values of the Green Party can guide sound policy decisions founded on ecological wisdom and social justice. Under his leadership, Tucson will become a thriving, sustainable region with a strong local economy. This will improve quality of life now---and leave a legacy that future generations can be proud of.

"Last July, the National Green Party held its annual caucus in Tucson. I was reinvigorated by that. While Tucson may be part of the 'Cool-Cities' initiative, I don´t see that the current administration is taking the plight of our desert home seriously. Tucsonans have issues. I want to help bring those issues to light in this election."

The issues Croteau will focus on are citizens' serious and valid concerns about growth, water, safe neighborhoods, and living wage jobs. He will deal with these issues in a manner that will meet human needs while preserving the fragile and beautiful desert ecosystem we all love. He feels the solution is to 'relocalize' our means of livelihood and ensure our food and energy security.

As mayor, Croteau will make sure a serious community conversation takes place that deals realistically with these issues and their relationship to global warming and the energy crisis. He feels that if we continue to ignore these two global crises, or pretend that we don't have to deal with them because some type of technological miracle will save us, we are increasing the likelihood that more suffering will occur for a larger number of people. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Dave's campaign committee would like to challenge all concerned citizens to get involved in this serious campaign for a more positive and fulfilling future. As is typical of the Green Party, no corporate money will be accepted. "I see this as an opportunity for Tucson´s progressive and other disenfranchised voters to have representation," says Croteau.

For more information on the campaign, to learn about the Ten Key Values, and to participate in reaching the Clean Elections goal of 300 donations of ten dollars or more from Tucson voters, go to Dave Croteau for Mayor.

URL of original article: 

Relocalization and Reconnection

From a political perspective, the following 21st Century Populist Declaration of Independence is all well and good. To be successful, however, there is a foundational concept which must be applied, and a realistic goal put forth that speaks to our commonly held values, and thus enable humanity to reclaim its sovereignty.

The foundational concept addresses the root cause that has created the state in which we find ourselves today. This cause is our disconnection from the natural world, the nature that binds us to one another, and our very own inner nature. This disconnection has allowed the rise of force-based ranking hierarchies of domination and separation, and the subsequent belief in the myth that this reflects the natural order.

It can be easily shown that this is not the way that life works when left to its own devices, free of manipulation and imposed control strategies. Life works to create more life. The prime activity of living systems is to self- organize for the creation of mutually supportive relationships that strengthen and diversify the web of life. We can find supporting evidence for this in modern physics and biology, the social sciences, and in ancient wisdom traditions.

The antidote to our disconnection is to reconnect all 53 of our senses to their roots in the natural world in order that our senses can meet their natural expectations of fulfillment without reliance on addictive substitutes. These substitutes only serve the self-interested ends of a small group of elites who have become unaware, or are in active denial, that they're also just bozos on
this celestial bus we call the Earth.

A process to reconnect is readily available, easily learnable, and easily teachable. It is known as the Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) and has been developed and refined by Dr. Michael Cohen and his students over the past 40 years. In an interconnected and interdependent world, we must simultaneously, actively, and responsibly participate in healing the Earth and our selves. The NSTP helps us remember that we must, and can, do more than just rationally understand, but also sensuously experience our connection to that seamless whole we call the web of life. A documentary on Cohen has just been released, and you can find a link to the trailer here: .

Our commonly held values--that cut across political and cultural boundaries--are those articulated by the Earth Charter: ecological integrity, respect and care for the community of life, social and economic justice, and democracy, nonviolence and peace. If you're looking for a political party that embodies those values, you need look no further than the Ten Key Values of the Green
Party.

The goal, which embodies and builds on these foundational concepts, is also available. It's called sustainability, and this goal can be reached through the process of relocalization. Relocalization provides a practical methodology to implement the principles of bioregionalism, permaculture, and a steady-state economy as we become self-reliant (not self-sufficient) at the local level in
providing our food, energy, and governance as we head into a post carbon world that's coupled with climate chaos.

Sustainability can be found by deeply examining and experiencing a healthy, vibrant, and resilient ecosystem. An ecosystem thrives by following four natural systems principles: mutual support and reciprocity, no waste, no greed, and increasing diversity. Since humans are a part of nature, and naturally embody these principles, we can use them to create lifestyles, organizations, and communities that display the same degree of sustainability as a climax
ecosystem.

It comes down to a simple choice of which human tendencies and traits do we desire to focus our attention and energies on? Which do we truly value more? Which makes us feel more alive and fulfilled? Cooperation or competition? Compassion or aggression? Love or fear? Creation or destruction? Global warming, Peak Oil, and corporatism are all direct outcomes of the reliance on
exploitation, waste, and toxicity that dominator control hierarchies have used to create the Industrial Growth Society and its system of economic cannibalism.

We have the capability to become the first species in history to use our intelligence to reverse our course as it becomes impossible to any longer deny we have taken the wrong path. We can create (or more accurately, recreate) a partnership society built on a foundation of ecological wisdom and social justice that meets our present needs, provides increasing opportunities to reach our potential, and ensures that future generations can actualize their potential instead of cleaning up our messes.

Reconnect and relocalize. It's all that's required to come back to life.

For the Earth...
_dave_(this entire message is composed of recycled electrons)
Natural Systems Solutions
http://www.attractionretreat.org/NSS
Sustainable lifestyles, organizations, and communities

------- Forwarded message follows -------

ReceivedWed, 04 July 2007 07:53:36
Subject A 21stCENTURY POPULIST DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

THE CALAMITY HOWLER

July 4, 2007 Independence Day

EDITOR\PUBLISHER: A.V Krebs
E-MAIL: avkrebs@comcast.net
TO RECEIVE: Send name and address to avkrebs@comcast.net

A 21stCENTURY POPULIST DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
" Patriots who believe in the rights, wisdom or virtues of the Common
People"

WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS, it becomes necessary for We the People
to dissolve the political bonds which have connected us with another, and to
assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which
the Laws of Nature and of Nature´s God entitled us, a decent respect to the
opinions of humankind requires that the People should declare the causes which
impel us to that separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men\women are created
equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to
secure these rights Governments --- of the people, by the people and for the
people --- are instituted by the people, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed.

Whenever that Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is
the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new
Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its
power in such form as the people shall seem most likely to effect their
Safety and Happiness.

Whenever a long train of abuses and usurpations are designed to reduce us to an
absolute Oligarchy, it is Our right, it is Our duty, to throw off such
Government, and to provide new Guards for our future security.

Our nation is in a crisis. Our Constitution is being trashed, our
infrastructure is crumbling, the education of our young neglected, the
environment trashed, the lives of young men\women are being wasted in an
illegal war, and the welfare of our veterans jettisoned. We are creating
enemies all over the world while Our government is using fear to stay in
power, enriching itself at the expense of present and future generations.

We live in a society where our government seeks to impose upon its people an
economic, social, political and ecological order designed, not to serve the
People, but rather one that is self-serving and monopolistic in character, and
which has created a gigantic Military-Industrial-Congressional complex that
permeates our entire social, economic and ecological environment.

Such has been the patient sufferance of the farming, working and producing
classes in our nation´s rural and urban communities, and such is now the
necessity which compels us to declare that we will use every moral and
democratic means, save a resort to violence, to overthrow our fascist
despotism and to insure that the common good is served by adherence to the
ideal of "equal justice under law."

THE HISTORY OF THE MODERN CORPORATE STATE has become a history of repeated
injuries and oppressions, all directed to establishing the impersonal as the
dominant institution within our society. The corporate state has carefully
schemed to protect and insure its privileges and powers. It has successfully
managed to protect its interests by cloaking itself as a "person" within the
language of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, while at the same time
manipulating that Document and its Bill of Rights to its own selfish ends.

By establishing "economic growth by means of corporate priorities, corporate
elites and banking elites, not simply having a disproportionate amount of power
and influence," have acquired at the same time "such power and influence rarely
being part of public discussion" such that the public "can question it and
interrogate in a concrete way."

By successfully coercing politicians, in the name of corporate socialism, it has
established a huge corporate welfare system composed of billions of dollars in
tax abatements, tax preferences, grants, inflated contracts, bailouts and a
never-ending number of subsidies to industries and corporate agribusiness.

By promoting its own selfish financial interests it has pitted workers
against workers, race against race, national-born citizens against
immigrants, cultures against cultures, men against women, young against old,
class against class.

By using such empty promises such as "greater productivity," "cost
management," and "efficiency," it has endangered the health, safety, and
economic livelihood of thousands of our workers and family farmers while its
executive´s have remunerated themselves well beyond reason and equitable
standards.

By creating an extravagant and wasteful Military-Industrial-Congressional
complex, of dubious value in protecting the people from terrorism, and
endangering our national security, it has deprived Our nation of the
necessary funding for important domestic programs and infrastructural needs ---
such as universal health care and a challenging public education system,
essential to our survival as a nation.

By misleading its own people into believing that we have not only the right but
the obligation to be an imperial nation in a multi-cultural, multi-religious
world, it has enabled thousands of parasites, "the gamblers in the necessities
of Life", to use such wars and the threat of threat of such wars for the purpose
of exacting exorbitant profits working not to beat an enemy, but to create more
billionaires.

By using bribery, "political action campaign" money and honoraria, primarily
designed to unduly influence and favor our law makers, it repeatedly has
betrayed the true interests of the People to the degree that we now have one
ruling political party beholden to the same corporate paymasters.

WE THE PEOPLE, therefore, aspiring to live in a truly democratic republic,
assembled and conscious of our Populist tradition appeal to the Supreme Judge of
the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do solemnly declare that we will
use not only all lawful and peaceable means to free our ourselves from the
tyranny of the corporatist state and its monopolistic ideology, but will create
a Populist movement designed to humanize Democracy

Reflecting on recent history one can justifiably measure the success of the late
18th "Populist Revolt" by the manner in which corporate America subsequently
reacted so viscerally in the century that followed, For the hallmark of that
"revolt" was that both family farmers and industrial workers defiantly
proclaimed that one cannot have political democracy without economic democracy.

While economic democracy was a stated goal, as members of the Farm Alliance
stated in their Omaha Platform of 1892, it also represented a rebellion against
the American political party system of that day. In order to restructure the
nation´s financial and political structure, the Populist revolt came to reject
both major political parties, which it accused of being in "harmony with
monopoly."

If populists in alliance are to replace today´s corporatist culture, we must
adopt an ideological framework built on aggressive advocacy and create a
"movement culture," Such a populism must be characterized by an evolving
democratic culture in which people can see themselves working together and
aspiring to a society conducive to mass human dignity.

We must also recognize clearly the imminent dangers of the "corporatist"
culture and educate and work together to bring that corporate state under
democratic control.

Thus, rather than isolate and concentrate on a myriad of issues, modern
populism must focus on the system, for the system has become the issue. In
proceeding to build the "sequential process of democratic movement-building" we
can learn valuable lessons from our Populist ancestors.

We must develop horizontal communication between groups of Populist-oriented
people and individuals both within our own communities and nations and then
advance an effort to build an international populism. By teaching each other
what each of us learns and knows and what mistakes we have made --- we can
develop what can be described as "movement forming." In developing such a system
of communication we also create a forum and environment whereby we can continue
to attract masses of people --- "the movement recruiting."

Keeping in mind a commitment to the creative nonviolence and the democratic
process, and remembering that Populism seeks to replace corporate power with
democratic power, We can begin a culturally unsanctioned level of social
analysis --- "the movement education."

Finally, 21st century populists, in alliance, can create an institutional means
--- not by forming another political party --- where new ideas, shared now by
the rank-and-file of a mass political, social and cultural movement, can be
expressed in an autonomous political way --- "the movement politicized."

WE THE PEOPLE MUST ACT NOW. We may not achieve all our objectives but we
must constantly strive toward doing so. We owe it to our children and to
their children. We must join forces and arouse the here-to-fore silent
majority. If we stand together on mutually accepted moral and democratic
principles, we can change the world into a better place for all life.

THAT TO THIS END WE HEREBY DECLARE ourselves absolutely free and independent of
all past political connections. We will give our suffrage only to such men and
women for office as we have good reason will use their best endeavors to the
promotion of these ends, and for the support of this Declaration, with a firm
reliance on Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our
fortunes and our sacred honor.

[This Declaration is derived from the works of Thomas Jefferson, Cornel West
A.C. Townley, Lawrence Goodwyn, J. Glenn Evans and all those populists who have
believed and sought to promote the democratic ideal. Final draft composed and
written by A.V. Krebs.]

Please feel free to distribute

------- End of forwarded message -------

What does sustainability really mean?

Since I see relocalization as the process to create or achieve a sustainable future based on ecological wisdom and social justice, let's start off by defining what sustainability actually means. A major advantage of using a fairly strict definition of sustainability is that it will provide a foundation and a benchmark to evaluate proposals and to measure success in reaching the goal of a sustainable future.

The following definition is much more biocentric than it is anthropocentric. I've distilled the core concepts and commonalities from dozens of working definitions that have been used over the years by sustainability advocates and groups from all over the world who all see protecting and restoring the earth for future generations as a prime imperative. This definition also has the advantage of including the aspect of carrying capacity that has proven to be legally defensible for communities wanting to put the skids on unfettered growth (known in land use law as a growth threshold standard). Here's the definition:

Sustainability means to integrate our social and economic lives into the environment in ways that tend to enhance or maintain rather than degrade or destroy the environment; it is a moral imperative to pass on our natural inheritance, not necessarily unchanged, but undiminished in its ability to meet the needs of future generations; and it entails finding, and staying within, the balance point amongst population, consumption, and waste assimilation so that watersheds and bioregions can maintain their ability to recharge and regenerate.

It follows from this definition that sustainability must adhere to certain natural systems principles, which in my research I've distilled to four core principles: 1) mutual support and reciprocity, 2) no waste, 3) no greed, and 4) increasing diversity. All living systems, which are non-hierarchical and self-organizing, use these principles to create mutually supportive relationships, which is the prime activity of living systems. All activities within a healthy, vibrant, and resilient ecosystem emerge from, or are congruent with, these principles. Healthy and vibrant ecosystems provide the models and metaphors necessary to build sustainability into human systems. It's important to remember that humans, as natural systems themselves, embody these principles.

It's also important to remember that sustainability is not just an environmental movement; it is a community movement. When we talk about communities and economies from the perspective of sustainable development, we also must realize that development is not growth, but a means to improve; make better; to bring to a more advanced or effective state.

To further refine what we're talking about, let's also briefly talk about what growth means.

Growth occurs in nature until a living system reaches the point of maturation and then a steady state of development is maintained. The growth economy, however, depends on bankers loaning more money than they have on deposit, on the assumption that tomorrow's growth will pay for today's debt. Growth in the industrial economy is entirely dependent on ready access to cheap and abundant fossil fuels—-which are no longer either—-to power our factories, move us around, grow our food, produce our plastic trinkets, and create our increasing number of medicines—-which are increasingly necessary to overcome the ill-effects of all of the above.

The rejection of growth is not just a viable policy option, it is a survival strategy.

Campaign For Our Lives

Location(s)

Tucson, AZ
United States
See map: Google Maps
Connecting the Dots to the root causes of global crises and their systemic antidote: reconnecting our lives and relocalizing our communities
Welcome message: 

Our work within the relocalization network is an integral aspect of the community and environmental activism we do in regard to creating a sustainable future built on ecological wisdom and social justice. This entails using a model based on natural systems principles to create lifestyles, organizations, and communities that are as healthy, vibrant, and resilient as any sustainable ecosystem.

The path to a sustainable future begins with realizing why we need to follow it. The first step is becoming aware of the Triumvirate of Collapse: Peak Oil, catastrophic climate destabilization, and corporatism. It then includes connecting the dots between these crises, and the dominator paradigm of force-based ranking hierarchies and the assumption of an inferior other which nurture their roots.

The next step, and the rest of the path, is built from the systemic solution provided by reconnecting with nature (which includes our own and other's inner nature) and relocalizing our communities. This is the process for sustainability. This is a campaign not just for our lives, but for the web of life.

Our main website, and more information on how you can get involved, can be found at:
http://www.attractionretreat.org/CFOL/index.html

Group image 1: 
SSWLogo2.jpg
Welcome message: 

Our work within the relocalization network is an integral aspect of the community and environmental activism we do in regard to creating a sustainable future built on ecological wisdom and social justice. This entails using a model based on natural systems principles to create lifestyles, organizations, and communities that are as healthy, vibrant, and resilient as any sustainable ecosystem.

The path to a sustainable future begins with realizing why we need to follow it. The first step is becoming aware of the Triumvirate of Collapse: Peak Oil, catastrophic climate destabilization, and corporatism. It then includes connecting the dots between these crises, and the dominator paradigm of force-based ranking hierarchies and the assumption of an inferior other which nurture their roots.

The next step, and the rest of the path, is built from the systemic solution provided by reconnecting with nature (which includes our own and other's inner nature) and relocalizing our communities. This is the process for sustainability. This is a campaign not just for our lives, but for the web of life.

Our main website, and more information on how you can get involved, can be found at:
http://www.attractionretreat.org/CFOL/index.html

Group image 1: 
SSWLogo2.jpg
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