05 September 2009

Growing the Green Collar Economy

CSIRO Report, June 2008


'This CSIRO report investigates the skills, innovation and workforce dimensions of the transition to a more environmentally sustainable society, with a particular focus on the challenges involved in achieving deep cuts in greenhouse emissions.'

[for you non-Aussies, CSIRO = Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation]

Integrating Green Roofs in Design

Excerpt from Architecture & Design, 4 September 2009

'Green roofs are being added as “a piece of fluff” to finished designs when they should be integral, according to an expert.

Architects need to stop adding living walls and roofs as an afterthought or simply to meet DA requirements for landscaping and start integrating them in the first stages of design, Sidonie Carpenter, president of the not-for-profit Green Roofs Australia, said.

“The truly sustainable benefits come from integrating green roofs back into storm water management, grey water recycling, increasing capacity of solar output, reducing energy costs of running air conditioning units. When they are totally integrated into the design will really start to make a difference at that sustainable level and not just as a marketing tool,” Carpenter told Architecture and Design...

Up to 19 different professions can be required to design, install and maintain a green roof on a large commercial project, and communication needs to be improved, she said.

Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to green roofs and living walls. While Germany has been working on green roofs for 60 years and North America has notched up 20 years’ experience, Australia has only been making green roofs for three years, said Carpenter...

At the moment, most states – South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, NSW – are all looking at green roof guidelines to be included at the state level in building codes.

Government support can go a long way towards harvesting the “tangible and intangible public benefits” of living roofs, Carpenter said.

“Many cities offer grants and subsidies for green roofs, and there is a mounting body of evidence that they can work as profit-generators for building owners and developers.”'

Affordable Housing from Recycled Materials

Excerpt from Worldchanging, 4 September 2009

'Visionary Dan Philips has been running his construction company Phoenix Commotion for 12 years with a dual purpose: creating beautifully unique affordable housing, and making use of recycled materials. A recent New York Times article reports from Huntsville, Texas, on this environmentally wise and socially responsible endeavor:

"To him, almost anything discarded and durable is potential building material...so far, he has built 14 homes in Huntsville, which is his hometown, on lots either purchased or received as a donation. A self-taught carpenter, electrician and plumber, Mr. Phillips said 80 percent of the materials are salvaged from other construction projects, hauled out of trash heaps or just picked up from the side of the road. “You can’t defy the laws of physics or building codes,” he said, “but beyond that, the possibilities are endless."...

The recycling aspect of the Phoenix Commotion's mission has been wildly successful, making use of everything from salvaged wood and scrap metal to "mismatched bricks, shards of ceramic tiles, shattered mirrors, bottle butts, wine corks, old DVDs and even bones from nearby cattle yards." Inspired by his homes, the community and local government are cooperating to make recycling in this way mainstream:

"[C]ity officials worked closely with Mr. Phillips in 2004 to set up a recycled building materials warehouse where builders, demolition crews and building product manufacturers can drop off items rather than throwing them in a landfill. There’s no dumping fee and donations are tax deductible because the materials are used exclusively by charitable groups or for low-income housing."'

Quotes for Changemakers

From SocialEarth, 3 September 2009

Social Entrepreneurs

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” -Winston Churchill

“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.” - Bill Drayton (Ashoka Founder)

“Social entrepreneurs have existed throughout history. St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order, would qualify as a social entrepreneur — having built multiple organizations that advanced pattern changes in his “field.” Similarly, Florence Nightingale created the first professional school for nurses and established standards for hygiene and hospital care that have shaped norms worldwide. What is different today is that social entrepreneurship is developing into a mainstream vocation, not only in the United States, Canada, and Europe, but increasingly in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In fact, the rise of social entrepreneurship represents the leading edge of a remarkable development that has occurred across the world over the past three decades: the emergence of millions of new citizen organizations.” - David Bornstein (How to Change the World : Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas)

“I’m encouraging young people to become social business entrepreneurs and contribute to the world, rather than just making money. Making money is no fun. Contributing to and changing the world is a lot more fun.” - Muhammad Yunus


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt

“Each time someone stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.” - Robert F. Kennedy


“Slaying the dragon of delay is no sport for the short-winded.” - Sandra Day O’Connor

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

Taking Action

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” - Albert Einstein

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings.” - Helen Keller

“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” - Ann Landers


“My greatest challenge has been to change the mindset of people. Mindsets play strange tricks on us. We see things the way our minds have instructed our eyes to see.” - Muhammad Yunus

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” - Albert Einstein

04 September 2009

How Psychology Can Help the Planet Stay Cool

Excerpt from the New Scientist, 19 August 2009

'"I'M NOT convinced it's as bad as the experts make out... It's everyone else's fault... Even if I turn down my thermostat, it will make no difference." The list of reasons for not acting to combat global warming goes on and on.

This month, an American Psychological Association (APA) task force released a report highlighting these and other psychological barriers standing in the way of action. But don't despair. The report also points to strategies that could be used to convince us to play our part. Sourced from psychological experiments, we review tricks that could be deployed by companies or organisations to encourage climate-friendly behaviour...

Though conservative pundits have been known to attack such efforts, characterising them as psychological manipulation or "mind control", experiments indicate that people are willing to be persuaded. "From participants in our experiments, we've never heard a negative backlash," says Wesley Schultz of California State University in San Marcos. In fact, according to John Petersen of Oberlin College, Ohio, we are used to far worse. "Compared to the barrage of advertising, it seems milder than anything I experience in my daily life," he says...

Here & Now

People have to be persuaded to act on climate change even though the benefit won't be felt for decades. Research by David Hardisty and Elke Weber of Columbia University in New York suggests ways to achieve this.

Hardisty and Weber have found that people respond in exactly the same way to decisions involving future environmental gains and losses as they do when making financial decisions (Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol 138, p 329). This allows psychologists' knowledge of how to manipulate financial decision-making to be brought into play....

Social Networks

As social animals, we like to interact with others and take inspiration from their actions. Psychologists are working out how to exploit this to spread behaviours that will help limit climate change. "My sense is that social networks are going to be important," says Swim.
Allowing people to document successes in saving energy on their Facebook pages could drive change among their friends, and the Oberlin team is considering integrating this into its urban residence experiment.

Tawanna Dillahunt and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, think such opportunities presented by Facebook can be combined with our liking for furry animals. Inspired by the attachment that people can develop towards Tamagotchi virtual pets, the team is testing the persuasive power of a "virtual polar bear" standing on an ice floe that grows bigger as people adopt environmentally friendly behaviours such as taking shorter showers. Initial results suggest the polar bear has pull.'

Catastrophe Bonds

I can't get my head around this mad world sometimes...

Excerpt from The Ecologist, 1 September 2009

'The reinsurance - as opposed to insurance - industry offers a revealing insight onto how our environment is changing. And bound up in that are hurricanes. The way insurers have traditionally dealt with the prospect of a seriously big payout, such as to the thousands who lost their homes in New Orleans, is to take out reinsurance – essentially an insurance policy against having to pay for the insurance policies people have taken out with them. Without reinsurance such a payout could be crippling - in 2005, hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita wiped out about $55 billion in insured losses. Last year's total was about $30bn. (I'm not pretending this is anything next to the human toll. Over 1800 people died during Katrina and in the floods that followed).

For years, the system worked. The big insurers relied on a few big reinsurers and everyone made money. But 2005, and Katrina, nearly brought the industry to its knees. Too much damage was caused, at too great a cost, and too few reinsurance companies were forced to foot the bill. As a result, they almost couldn’t make the payments. Once the waters receded, the question remained, could it happen again? When the insurers and reinsurers looked, they decided yes, it could. Our environment is changing, with both the number of hurricanes and their ferocity expected to increase. So what to do? Business moves faster than politics and the insurance industry soon settled on a response.

Catastrophe bonds are, depending on who you talk to, either a smart way to spread the insurance risk around to ensure the market doesnt buckle under another Katrina, or a way of making money by trading on others' misfortune...

Essentially, rather than taking out reinsurance, an insurer offers to sell a specific catastrophe bond. The buyer (say, a trader at an investment bank) puts down his money on the understanding that he will get it all back over time, plus a high rate of interest. The only catch is that he will lose it all if some specified bad thing happens within a specified number of years (say, Bermuda being wiped out by a hurricane). If it does, the insurer keeps the lot.

Catastrophe bonds are in their infancy, but you can measure their development against specific human tragedies. Between 1998-2001, the market grew to $1-2 bn of catastrophe bonds being issued per year. After 9-11, the market broke the $2 bn barrier. It doubled again, to roughly $4 bn a year, in 2006, after Hurricane Katrina. And having found its feet the market continued to grow, with over $4 bn being issued in the second quarter of 2007 alone...catastrophe bonds are one sure signpost to our new, climate-changed, world.'

Agenda for a New Economy

Discussion Guide from David Korten's 'The Great Turning' site


'Changing Our Story

“Each [great social movement of our time] began with a conversation among a small group of people that rapidly expanded and ultimately challenged a false story that justified the particular oppression the movement sought to end. As the story changed, so too did history. It was accomplished through conversations that built a social consensus around a new story, and throughactions that created a new reality and gave concrete expression to the benefi ts of a different wayof doing things.”—David Korten'

Psychogeography, Secret Histories & The Joy of Strolling

A beautiful article!

Excerpt from The Ecologist, 1 September 2009

'In the age of high-speed travel, walking - alone or in groups - is the foremost way to reconnect to cities, our environment and one another...

In the 1960s, the French Situationists coined the term ‘psychogeography' to describe a radical method of mapping cities. Through aimless walks, they would recover what was unnoticed in the urban landscape, performing a phrenology of all nooks and crannies in the Parisian metropolis...

As a community activity that can be freely undertaken in groups or individually, one that raises awareness of our surroundings and fosters connections between people, walking should be seen as powerful technique for defragmenting communities that have been hijacked by mass culture and capitalism...

As I strolled around the narrow historic streets of the Marais, I noted my own curiosity as to what lay behind the intricate facades and towering wooden gates guarded by lion-headed door knockers. Meandering without fixed destination and mapless, I was hopeful that the city would reveal to me some treasured secret as yet undetected on the tourist radar.

The experience did indeed reveal some hidden worlds [secret gardens, lost cafes, canalside refugees camps] but most excitingly, it unearthed in me an emotional connection to the rhythms of the city and a deeper understanding of how we as urban walkers connect and disconnect with the city and spaces around us. This understanding of how we as human beings relate to our immediate environment is, I believe, a fundamental prerequisite for creating responsible citizens and a basis for sustainable communities...

We city dwellers fly though our lives as if there were no tomorrow. Division of labour has resulted in people being treated as commodities - no more than cogs in a giant machine that turns relentlessly, regardless of our toils and troubles. We get up, catch a train, grab breakfast on the run, sit a computer for 8 hours, catch a train, go back to bed and live equally fast on the weekend - relaxing at the speed of light. The cycle is set to speedwash - time is of the essence and efficiency is king. We are living in what Henryk Skolimowski (1995) described as the fourth great cycle of western mind, ‘Mechanos.'

'Mechanos has been the worldview of modern times: it is based on the frighteningly simple yet powerful metaphor of the clockwork universe.'Reason, 1998.

The supersonic speed at which we live in urban environments is unnatural, unhealthy and destructive and results in our inability to stop, see and notice. Such city living takes its toll on people and communities in many detrimental ways: bad health and stress; deteriorating local environmental conditions; social polarisation and crucially a lack of time to reflect - which prevents us from seeing the consequences of our actions on the larger global community. Rushing through our lives so quickly causes us to become disconnected from the places we dwell and work and we neglect to see what is happening around us. The prevalent growth of ‘non-places' and ‘clone towns' goes unchallenged surrounded by such apathy...

Walking for pleasure as well as practical reasons allows us to understand what is important to us. What we value reveals itself with each step instead of whizzing past us and remaining hidden when we choose a four-wheeled mode of transport. Richard Register in his book Ecocities: Rebuilding Cities in Balance with Nature writes of pedestrian-orientated ecocities and situates urban living within the larger biosphere. This points to a new wave of pedestrian-friendly designed architecture as encapsulated in Paulo Solieri's visionary Arcosanti, an experimental town that aims to fuse the architecture with ecology and the New Urbanist movement where the emphasis is on mixed use community building, walkability, connectivity and public space rather than the homogenised urban planning we know so well...

HistoryTalk is one organisation which unearths local stories, based on the premise that local histories and stories build social capital. By organising a variety of themed community walks, from those that uncover local sites of historical interest to Spanish or black communities for example, to cemetery walks that provide information about the famous and infamous people buried there - making people feel that they matter, inspiring pride based on ancient vibes and nurturing in them the confidence needed to participate as active citizens.

A commissioned series of local psychogeographic pamphlets by historian Tom Vague are HistoryTalk's attempt to counter the dissolution of community spirit in North Kensington and Notting Hill. This is a move away from the mass culture that has overwhelmed our communities towards a more folk-based culture where the myths and quirks of locality are revealed through the tapestry of local history...

Walking the city has now become a means of satisfying that unquenchable thirst for adventure and curiosity that I believe to be emblematic of human nature. I see through new eyes, rather than feeling despair at crumbling walls, zombied unhappy people and static traffic by choosing to unearth what I now know is there - because I have free will. I hope to use the knowledge and insight it gives me to pass on stories and open other people's eyes, because if anything, walking helps to change our perspective of what we value through participation and when we recognise what we value, we can see what it is that we are trying to preserve.'

Bandaids for Capitalism? Or Something Completely Different?

Excerpt from Worldwatch Institute blog, 'Green Economy', 28 August 2009

'Mondragón is a town in the Basque region of Spain, and also the home of the Mondragón Corporación Cooperativa (MCC), a corporation with a twist. MCC began in 1943 as a 25-worker factory making cookers and stoves. Today it is a highly diversified corporation (Spain’s seventh largest) with over 100,000 workers, annual sales of US$20 billion, and 65 plants overseas.
Sounds like any other successful multinational. So what’s the twist? It’s not capitalist.

MCC began as a worker-owned firm, grew as a worker-owned firm, and remains a worker-owned firm. Democratic worker participation is at the root of MCC’s management style...

The 2008–09 economic crisis has triggered a lot of talk about the potential for a Green New Deal, and we’ve done our share here at Worldwatch. But one of the striking things about the meltdown—especially in view of the spectacular collapse of markets, the trillions spent on recovery, and the staggering and still mounting human costs—is the lack of discussion of genuine alternatives to capitalism. Maybe most of us believe there really aren’t any, except socialism and Communism—notions that are increasingly anathema, especially in the United States. But economic democracy is neither socialist nor Communist. The government doesn’t own firms, and decisions are made by the people who do: the workers...

Under economic democracy, workers don’t get paid wages, they receive shares of their firm’s profits—a strong motivator for good performance. But such firms generally don’t focus on sheer growth so much, so competition is less intense, thus avoiding the “grow or die” tendency of capitalism. That alone would be kinder to the environment, but there’s another benefit: In economic democracy, investment is also democratized. Investment funds come from redistribution of a tax on each firm’s capital assets, rather than from private investors (“capitalists”). There are no external owners, i.e., shareholders. And because nobody is demanding ever-increasing returns on their investments—and threatening to sell their shares if they don’t get them—the perpetual-expansion impulse of capitalist firms is subverted.

This could all be theoretical pie in the sky—except for Mondragón...Maybe it’s time to begin thinking beyond band-aids for the capitalist economy, and consider a system better suited to our times...'

URGENT ACTION!!! Give Our Leaders A Global Climate Wake Up Call @ Copenhagen!!

With 1.26 million members worldwide Avaaz is effective - they mobilise people over the internet and then co-ordinate the delivery of this collective voice via billboards, newspaper ads or media events:


'Journalists from Sao Paulo to Stockholm repeatedly approach Avaaz to get a feel for the world’s opinion on issues like Climate Change and the war in Iraq. Avaaz campaigns have been covered in the Economist, the Independent, the Jerusalem Post, the BBC, UPI, The Guardian, the Washington Post, Guardian Online, El Universal, Liberation, O Estado de Sao Paolo, ABC News, and Jetzt.'

I've just donated them some dosh...

From Avaaz.org

'Over 100,000 of us from 182 countries voted in the Avaaz global poll last week - and the results were nothing short of stunning! 96% of people said, YES, let's go all out on climate this month and commit to a "global wake-up call" to world leaders on September 21st.

With our ambition now sky high, our collective challenge is to fund what could be the largest coordinated global climate event ever - and in a way that lives up to our global mandate. We have just days left. If together we can raise $150,000 by Monday, Avaaz can commit to the project big time: building a world map and twitter-like blog that links all the September 21 climate events together; establishing a global phone database so that thousands of us can flood leaders with calls; and hiring top professionals to help us win the media battle with the mighty coal and oil industries.

If 5000 of us donate even a small amount, we'll give our leaders a deafening climate wake-up call they can't ignore:


The climate crisis is a massive challenge, but our global vote has shown that the Avaaz community is up for the fight. Now we have the mandate, let's pull together to organise thousands of wake-up events in public places all over the world in the knowledge that together we have the financial resources to make leaders sit up and listen.When Presidents and Prime Ministers gather at the UN on September 22, we have to show a massive public demand for them to sign a fair and binding deal in Copenhagen. Thousands of simultaneous events will give us a unique chance to seize the attention of world media and of leaders everywhere - but we need to know we can make it BIG!

Donate now to turn our mandate into tangible climate action on the streets all over the world:

World leaders are already hearing our voices - now they need to know that they have no choice but to agree to a global climate treaty in Copenhagen in December. We have the team signed up. Let's pitch in together so we can pull off a global wake-up call that can't be ignored.

With hope, Brett, Paula, Ricken, Iain, Taren, Ben, Graziela, Luis, Alice J, Pascal, Benjamin, Alice W, Milena, Raluca, Julius, Margaret, Veronique, Chris -- and the whole Avaaz.org team'

A New Kind of Fast

I'm in two minds about this - on the one hand, its not the message people want to hear (sustainability = sacrifice); on the other, if restraint challenged excess as a virtue it might be seen as something positive to aspire to. In terms of religious connection, there is also a Christian precedent with Lent...

Excerpt from Worldwatch Institute 'Transforming Cultures' blog, 1 September 2009

'Recently, Muslims all over the world started their month-long fast for Ramadan. It is a time when many Muslims traditionally refrain from food, drink, smoking, and sexual relations from dawn until sunset. While there is a particular religious imperative attached to Ramadan fasting, fasting can be universally appreciated as an act of virtue in the process of self improvement for the benefit of the individual and society.

A fast refers to abstinence from something, usually food, but it implies a small sacrifice in exchange for something of greater value. Fasting is associated with atonement of sins in the Jewish faith, enlightenment in Buddhism, and the cultivation of conscience in Islam. In today’s consumption-oriented culture, fasting is a concept that is scarcely seen or heard.

But when it comes to our environment, we see collective actions that resemble something of a fast. Earlier this year, several major cities participated in an Earth Hour by turning off lights in some buildings. This act of restricting energy usage is just one of several themed events that encourage self-control and discipline, such as Buy Nothing Day, TV-Turnoff Week and World Carfree Day...

Refraining from using one’s car or TV for the planet is indeed a conscious, selfless act, one that offers benefits other than energy savings. For example, TV-Turnoff Week can bring families closer together as they reacquaint themselves with each other rather than their television set.

But how could these fasts better empower people and unify them—just as Ramadan increases cohesiveness of Muslim communities? One example is Take Back Your Time Day,which–as part fast from work, (a great idea) and part protest of Americans’ long working hours–is now engaging with 350.org in order to use that day (October 24th) to mobilize millions of Americans to demonstrate the importance of restoring quality time along with aggressive climate action. Part fast, part consciousness raiser, part community builder, Take Back Your Time Day is a powerful example of a fast that can help build a movement.'

Steady State, Economy of the Future: An Interview with Brian Czech

Excerpt from ecohearth, 29 August 2009

'EH: How did you become interested in and committed to steady-state economics?

BC: During my PhD research in the 1990s, I decided to transition from my earlier career as a wildlife biologist to assist with conservation policy at the national level. I was conducting a policy analysis of the Endangered Species Act; part of this entailed assessing the causes of species endangerment in the US. I noticed that these causes were like a who’s who of the American economy.

Naturally that led me to the study of ecological economics, economic growth theory, history of economic thought, and political economy. Eventually I established CASSE because I noticed there was no other organization focused on educating the public on the need for a steady-state economy...

EH: What happens to jobs in a steady-state economy? The stock market?

Retirement? Healthcare? The standard of living? Poverty? Hunger? War?

BC: Let’s remember, for example, that one of the underlying philosophies of the Third Reich was Lebensraum (living space). That was basically nothing more than an implicit acknowledgement that the Third Reich did not have the resources available to sustain its level of economic activity, so it burst out the seams and rolled into Czechoslovakia and Poland for the agricultural resources...

EH: Would the steady state lead to the collapse of some businesses?

BC: Probably not as traumatically as a bloating economy leads to the collapse of so many businesses...

EH: Would entrepreneurship, creativity, individuality and scientific progress be negatively impacted by a steady-state system?

BC: No, I think we have yet to see our finest entrepreneurship, which would occur in a steady-state economy. I mean that both in the nonconventional sense of policy-making entrepreneurship and in basic business entrepreneurship. As with any economy, there will be competition for market share and we’re starting to see signs—even among industries that would least be associated with sustainability—of some efforts to at least appear green. This is perhaps one of the early signs of entrepreneurship, to marry the goals of a competitive enterprise with macroeconomic stability and sustainability.'

The Eco-city That Never Was

An observation to heed in bold (my emphasis)...in relation to urban form, its not just about density, but design...and another great phrase for the 21st century, 'carbon-fetishising'!

Excerpt from
Spiked, 1 September 2009

'Dongtan, a new city development (three quarters the size of Manhattan Island) was to have been built on Chongming Island, near Shanghai, in the Yangtze River Delta. The first phase, comprising a city of 25,000 people, was due to have opened for the Shanghai Expo in 2010...

Dongtan had been feted for so long that it is remarkable to some people to learn that it hasn’t already been built. It’s even more incredible to learn that it probably never will be.

In five years, practically nothing constructive has happened. The site has been cleared, the farmers and peasants moved off the land, and large areas prepared – but, as one observer puts it, ‘no construction has occurred there – indeed it’s gone backwards, as a visitor centre previously built is now shut’. All references to it have been removed from both the Shanghai Expo’s website as well as Arup’s...

Engineering company Arup was contracted in August 2005 by Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC) to become the lead consultant for the design and masterplan of Dongtan. Since the initial sketches, the environmental PR machine has kicked in. Small-scale, computer-generated bird’s eye images of the eco-city proposals featured in practically every architecture magazine, and Arup found itself the centre of an eco-renaissance of urban sustainability...

The UK’s New Statesman described how ‘all housing will be within seven minutes’ walk of public transport. Most citizens will work within the city, which will produce sufficient electricity and heat for its own use, entirely from renewable sources. There will be no emissions from vehicles. Food will be produced on the island’. The striking thing is that while everyone seemed to love this radical urban development, nobody ever questioned the layout: the design, the form, the architecture, or even the reality. They were all too busy promoting the carbon neutral dream.

In the course of five years’ promotional editorial for this project, you will be hard pressed to find one critical assessment of the project, and, I would wager, any negative articles at all. The mainstream and architectural press have a lot to answer for in blindly accepting the hype without asking the most basic questions. But given that the prefix ‘eco’ tends to provide immunity from criticism, the Dongtan bandwagon became unassailable...

Dongtan, the city that was intended to be the ‘model for how to build sustainable cities worldwide’ should still provide a lesson for us all. Blindly praising its environmental credentials without recognising its squat, low-rise, parochial, carbon-fetishising, architecturally unappealing, unworkable urban eco-clichés, is a recipe for future disasters.'

03 September 2009

Deal or No Deal

GOLD! Now this is more like it!

From Rising Tide North America - gets the message across, but in an accessible way, with some mickey-taking thrown in!

Excerpts from 'Deal or No Deal':

'Dogged history of Conference of Parties process

The Recipe:

- Take one hefty acronym: UNFCCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (convention not as in badges or stamps or Star Trek, but as in big-ass meeting)

- Mix with one ubiquitous title: The Kyoto Protocol (Kyoto, as in is the coolest-sounding city in Japan, Protocol as in souped-up Rules)


- Line up the players: nation state governments, presenting themselves as representative of peoples across the world

- Set up the bargaining table and give each nation equal bargaining power

- Ignore the differentiated access each team has to staff, expenses and resources

- Leave the Liberian delegates outside Poland waiting for visas in December 2008

- Have a voluntary Treaty only to guide domestic carbon emission reduction targets

- Make the Kyoto Protocol binding because it involves market-based mechanisms, which are great for economic growth

Tips for Stirring:

- Use a soft angle on the climate science – why accept climate scientists advice that we need to get below 350 greenhouse gas parts per million when 450ppm is easier to swallow over an opulent buffet breakfast?

Don’t believe the hype.

We need to act together rather than believe the atomizing guilt-hype of ‘individual responsibility’. It is collective action on the systemic causes of climate change - not a few energy saving lightbulbs - that will bring us a better world.

Do keep breathing.
Look after each other and party whenever there’s a chance.'

Email It! Facebook It, Tweet It, Blog It!

Demographic Winter

[deep sigh]

I'm not quite sure what the agenda of Demographic Winter is - its certainly not looking at the science presented by everyone from demographers (world population will be DECLINING by 2040?!?) to biologists to climatologists...I think any reasonable person would agree that addressing population must happen sensitively and fairly (forced sterilisations, infanticide etc are unacceptable). How we will meet the needs of an ageing population is a serious question for the political economy - but didn't we humans invent the political economy? Can't we shape it to meet our needs? I almost laughed out loud with the disparaging reference to The Population Bomb: 'they keep saying these famines are going to happen, and they don't happen...' - really? Tell Africa. Just because its not part of the lives of well-off suburbanites doesn't mean its not happening, and for a large part of the world's population who live with, or on the edge of hunger in a perpetual state of food insecurity.

End Extreme Poverty

Ultimately, population does - absolutely - need to be addressed.

If we do not, it will be done for us by the laws of physics. So we had better get on with it!




Roads Ruin Rainforests

Excerpt from New Scientist, 30 August 2009

'THE best thing you could do for the Amazon is to bomb all the roads." That might sound like an eco-terrorist's threat, but they're actually the words of Eneas Salati, one of Brazil's most respected scientists. Thomas Lovejoy, a leading American biologist, is equally emphatic: "Roads are the seeds of tropical forest destruction."

They are quite right. Roads are rainforest killers. Without rampant road expansion, tropical forests around the world would not be vanishing at a rate of 50 football fields a minute, an assault that imperils myriad species and spews billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year. We will never devise effective strategies to slow rainforest destruction unless we confront this reality.

In our increasingly globalised world, roads are running riot. Brazil has just punched a 1200-kilometre highway (the BR-163) into the heart of the Amazon and is in the process of building another 900-kilometre road (the BR-319) through largely pristine forest. Three new highways are slicing across the Andes, from the Amazon to the Pacific. Road networks in Sumatra are opening up some of the island's last forests to loggers and hunters. A study published in Science found that 52,000 kilometres of logging roads had appeared in the Congo basin between 1976 and 2003 (vol 316, p 1451)...

In remote frontier areas, where law enforcement is often weak, new roads can open a Pandora's box of other problems, such as illegal logging, colonisation and land speculation. In Brazilian Amazonia, 95 per cent of deforestation and fires occur within 50 kilometres of roads. In Suriname, most illegal gold mines are located near roads. In tropical Africa, hunting is significantly more intensive near roads.

Environmental disasters often begin as a narrow slice into the forest. Rainforests are found mostly in developing nations where there are strong economic incentives to provide access to logging, oil and mineral operations and agribusiness. Once the way is open, waves of legal and illegal road expansion follow. For instance, the Belém-Brasília highway, completed in the 1970s, has developed into a 400-kilometre-wide swathe of forest destruction across the eastern Amazon.

Beyond the forest itself, frontier roads imperil many indigenous peoples, especially those trying to live with limited contact with outsiders. As I write, indigenous groups in the Peruvian Amazon are stridently protesting the proliferation of new oil, gas and logging roads into their traditional territories. The roads bring loggers, gold miners and ranchers who often subjugate the indigenous people. Even worse, the invaders can bring in deadly new diseases.

Throughout the tropics, infections such as malaria, dengue fever, enteric pathogens and HIV have all been shown to rise sharply after new roads are built. Some indigenous groups, such as the Surui tribe of Brazilian Amazonia, have been driven to the edge of extinction by roads and the invading loggers, colonists and diseases they bring.

...we have to...fight to keep the most destructive roads from being built - the ones that penetrate pristine frontier areas. There is no shortage of battles to wage. A proposed highway between Colombia and Panama, for example, would expose one of the world's most biologically important areas, the Chocó-Darién wilderness, to rampant destruction. Likewise, Brazil's BR-319 highway is threatening to open up the central Amazon region like a zipper.

Finally, we need to pressure those promoting these frontier roads. These include timber corporations like Asia Pulp & Paper and Rimbunan Hijau, international lenders such as the Asian, African and Inter-American Development Banks, and massive infrastructure schemes such as Brazil's Programme to Accelerate Growth. In their scramble for tropical timber, minerals, oil and agricultural products, China and its corporations have become perhaps the biggest drivers of destructive road expansion.

Restricting frontier roads is by far the most realistic and cost-effective approach to conserving rainforests and their amazing biodiversity and climate-stabilising capacity. As Pandora quickly learned, it is far harder to thrust the evils of the world back into the box than to simply keep it closed in the first place.'

Australian Councils Push for National E-Waste Ban

Excerpt from Greener Computing, 1 September 2009

'SYDNEY, Australia — Four regional Australian councils have adopted a ban on sending electronic waste to landfill, in the hopes that the move will force the federal government to finalize a national recycling scheme.

The four councils -- Mosman, Manly, Warringa and Pittwater, which together cover all of Sydney's northern beaches -- have enacted a no-landfill policy effective in January 2010, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The move, which comes in advance of the expected announcement of a national e-waste policy, will forbid the collection of computers and home electronics at curbside collections; the four councils intend for the devices to be collected in the forthcoming - but as-yet-undefined - national recycling system...

According to Australia's Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC), of the 16.8 million devices discarded in the country in 2007-2008, only 9 percent were recycled, 88 percent were sent to landfill, and the remaining 3 percent were exported...'

Planting the Seed for a Municipal Carbon Economy

Excerpt from Greenbiz, 2 September 2009

'Local governments are looking for powerful tools to create momentum for addressing climate change: What if our taxes and fees were calculated according to greenhouse gas emissions?

Nearly a thousand mayors have signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, sprinting past a virtually toothless federal climate change commitment and creating momentum for real grassroots action toward sustainability...

Alas, some local governments are limiting these strategies to a narrow field of concern, such as LED traffic lights, random building audits, electric building inspection vehicles - or worse yet, recycling older energy efficiency plans. While we're all for recycling, now is the time for innovation. Cities are in a unique position to take advantage of the new energy economy and determine their own fate. This is a tremendous opportunity to rethink the status quo regarding municipal policy and large-scale efficiency. '

02 September 2009

1.4 Billion Reasons - End Extreme Poverty

Global Poverty Project promo - great stuff, captures the spirit and the main messages of the full length presentation!

'1.4 Billion Reasons is a keynote presentation by The Global Poverty Project that answers your questions about extreme global poverty, and explores the way forward as we work towards the dream of eradicating extreme poverty in our lifetimes.'

E.O. Wilson Signs Position on Steady State Economy

Distinguished scientist and author E.O. Wilson, Professor of Biology at Harvard University, Pulitzer Prize winner and winner of the US National Medal of Science has just signed the Center for the Advancement of theSteady State Economy position (see Notable Signatories) - a coup for CASSE!

Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, not Disaster

Book review from Ethical Markets, 18 February 2009

'Hundreds if not thousands of intellectuals across the world have by now come to their own conclusion that continued economic growth on this planet no longer makes sense, since the present rates of consumption in developed countries are unsustainable. Nevertheless, any mention of an economy without growth brings derision in business and government circles, to the point that it cannot seriously be mentioned. It is a non-starter...

It requires a great deal of temerity to embark upon a serious work on an economy without growth, and it needs skilled presentation to bring it off. Peter Victor has managed this well, beginning with much of the history of growth, excellently referenced, and providing a fine list of earlier authors who have warned of the impossibility of growth continuing indefinitely. By citing key works in economics at every stage, the author builds up a case no economist could lightly dismiss. It is essential that economists and people in business read this book, because it plots possible first stages toward a future economy that will eventually have to be sustainable. It behooves others to read this book too, as it contains the elements with which one can defend oneself against the nonsense protagonists of growth can hurl at anyone proposing new economic thinking.'

Do We Have To Outgrow Growth?

Excerpt from New York Times Dot Earth: Nine Billon People. One Planet, 31 August 2009

'Following the Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow, Herman Daly has responded to my query about whether there is an upside to the recent consumption slowdown, and to the broader question of whether humans can or should shift from their current growth-focused economic norms to a new definition of progress. Does he see a viable real-world path to his “steady state” vision of the economy?

...[former World Bank economist Herman Daly] When we “grow up” the first thing to do is to stop further growth, to become a mature steady state in physical dimensions, and then concentrate on qualitative development and maintenance: knowledge, wisdom, justice, the noosphere, etc. Arrested development in the adolescent growth phase leads to giantism, obesity, overpopulation, resource wars, and massive die-offs."'

01 September 2009

White House Kitchen Garden

First lady Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass talk about gardening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

From the White House via AOL

Watch more AOL News videos on AOL Video

How to Talk About Climate Change

Excerpt from Green Biz, 27 August 2009 - my emphasis in last paragraph:

'[Climate change]...we're concerned, but apathetic. Those are among the findings of an exceptionally detailed public opinion study called Global Warming's Six Americas 2009: An Audience Segmentation Analysis.

The 132-page study breaks down the populace into six groups, which it calls Alarmed, Concerned, Cautious, Disengaged, Doubtful and Dismissive, and analyzes each of their views. It was conducted by the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, which is led by Ed Maibach....

[Ed] "I found nothing more surprising than the fact that of the group of people most concerned about climate change - the group we call alarmed - 75 percent say they have rewarded and punished companies based on their environmental performance, but most hadn't taken the time to write or call their congressman," Ed said.

"They are more comfortable expressing their wishes through they shopping patterns than they are by acting as citizens in a democracy," he added.'

The Rights of Future Generations

Excerpt from Worldchanging, 1 September 2009

'If someone set a bomb to go off in a public square 100 years from now, is he committing a crime? Should he be stopped? Almost everyone would say yes. Should he be tried before a court of law and prevented from doing further harm? Most of us would agree that he should.

Now, here's the tricky part: climate change is the bomb, and your great-grandkids are the victims...

And we don't really have the ethical or legal right to inflict it on our descendants. There is no legitimate basis for thinking that we have the right to use the planet up, that the property rights of our generation trump the human rights of all generations to come...

As Paul Hawken says, “We have an economy where we steal the future, sell it in the present, and call it GDP."'

31 August 2009

Hijacked By Climate Change?

Excerpt from BBC, 27 August 2009

'In large part, what journalists report reflects what is going on in the big world; but have we, too, forgotten the larger messages of the UN Geo-4 report, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and other audits of a society whose environmental problems run much wider and deeper than climate change?

...Some believe a narrow focus on climate is justified - either because they feel it is so much more serious than every other issue, or because they feel there is real political momentum to solve it now and time enough to deal with everything else once that is done.

But others argue there is no time; that society needs, urgently, to see the wider picture of global decline in all its complexity - and that climate concerns have hijacked the broader agenda, to the detriment of us all.'

The Fallacy of Climate Change Activism

High time this debate happened...posting this piece by Adam Sacks in full!

From Grist, 23 August 2009

'In the 20 years since we climate activists began our work in earnest, the state of the climate has become dramatically worse, and the change is accelerating—this despite all of our best efforts. Clearly something is deeply wrong with this picture. What is it that we do not yet know? What do we have to think and do differently to arrive at urgently different outcomes?[1]

The answers lie not with science, but with culture.

Climate activists are obsessed with greenhouse-gas emissions and concentrations. Since global climate disruption is an effect of greenhouse gases, and a disastrous one, this is understandable. But it is also a mistake.

Such is the fallacy of climate activism[2]: We insist that global warming is merely a consequence of greenhouse-gas emissions. Since it is not, we fail to tell the truth to the public.

I think that there are two serious errors in our perspectives on greenhouse gases:

Global Warming as Symptom

The first error is our failure to understand that greenhouse gases are not a cause but a symptom, and addressing the symptom will do little but leave us with a devil’s sack full of many other symptoms, possibly somewhat less rapidly lethal but lethal nonetheless.

The root cause, the source of the symptoms, is 300 years of our relentlessly exploitative, extractive, and exponentially growing technoculture, against the background of ten millennia of hierarchical and colonial civilizations.[3] This should be no news flash, but the seductive promise of endless growth has grasped all of us civilized folk by the collective throat, led us to expand our population in numbers beyond all reason and to commit genocide of indigenous cultures and destruction of other life on Earth.

To be sure, global climate disruption is the No. 1 symptom. But if planetary warming were to vanish tomorrow, we would still be left with ample catastrophic potential to extinguish many life forms in fairly short order: deforestation; desertification; poisoning of soil, water, air; habitat destruction; overfishing and general decimation of oceans; nuclear waste, depleted uranium, and nuclear weaponry—to name just a few. (While these symptoms exist independently, many are intensified by global warming.)

We will not change course by addressing each of these as separate issues; we have to address root cultural cause.

Beyond Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The second error is our stubborn unwillingness to understand that the battle against greenhouse-gas emissions, as we have currently framed it, is over.

It is absolutely over and we have lost.

We have to say so.

There are three primary components of escalating greenhouse-gas concentrations that are out of our control:

Thirty-Year Lag

The first is that generally speaking the effects we are seeing today, as dire as they are, are the result of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide in the range of only 330 parts per million (ppm), not the result of today’s concentrations of almost 390 ppm. This is primarily a consequence of the vast inertial mass of the oceans, which absorb temperature and carbon dioxide and create a roughly 30-year lag between greenhouse-gas emissions and their effects.
We are currently seeing the effects of greenhouse gases emitted before 1980.

Just as the scientific community hadn’t realized how rapidly and extensively geophysical and biological systems would respond to increases in atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations, we currently have only a rough idea of what that 60 ppm already emitted will mean, even if we stopped our emissions today. But we do know, with virtual certainty, that it will be full of unpleasant surprises.

Positive Feedback Loops

The second out-of-control component is positive (amplifying) feedback loops. The odd thing about positive feedbacks is that they are often ignored in assessing the effects of greenhouse-gas emissions. Our understanding of them is limited and our ability to insert them into an equation is rudimentary. Our inability to grasp them, however, in no way mitigates their effects, which are as real as worldwide violent weather.

It is now clear that several phenomena are self-sustaining, amplifying cycles; for example, melting ice and glaciers, melting tundra and other methane sources, and increasing ocean saturation with carbon dioxide, which leads to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. These feedbacks will continue even if we reduce our human emissions to zero—and all of our squiggly lightbulbs, Priuses, wind turbines, Waxman-Markeys, and Copenhagens won’t make one bit of difference. Not that we shouldn’t stop all greenhouse-gas emissions immediately—of course we should—but that’s only a necessity, not nearly a sufficient response.

We need to find the courage to say so.


The third component is non-linearity, which means that the effects of rising temperature and atmospheric carbon concentrations may change suddenly and unpredictably. While we may assume linearity for natural phenomena because linearity is much easier to assess and to predict, many changes in nature are non-linear, often abruptly so. A common example is the behavior of water. The changes of state of water—solid, liquid, gas—happen abruptly. It freezes suddenly at 0°C, not at 1°, and it turns to steam at 100°, not at 99°. If we were to limit our experience of water to the range of 1° to 99°, we would never know of the existence of ice or steam.

This is where we stand in relationship to many aspects of the global climate. We don’t know where the tipping points—effectively the changes of state—are for such events as the irreversible melting of glaciers, release of trapped methane from tundras and seabeds, carbon saturation of the oceans. Difficult to pin down, tipping points may be long past, or just around the corner. As leading climatologist Jim Hansen has written, “Present knowledge does not permit accurate specification of the dangerous level of human-made GHGs. However, it is much lower than has commonly been assumed. If we have not already passed the dangerous level, the energy infrastructure in place ensures that we will pass it within several decades.”[4]

Evidence of non-linearity is strong, not only from the stunning acceleration of climate change in just the past couple of years, but from the wild behavior of the climate over millions of years, which sometimes changed dramatically within periods as short as a decade.

The most expert scientific investigators have been blindsided by the velocity and extent of recent developments, and the climate models have likewise proved far more conservative than nature itself. Given that scientists have underestimated impacts of even small changes in global temperature, it is understandably difficult to elicit an appropriate public and governmental response.

Beyond the Box

We climate activists have to tread on uncertain ground and rapidly move beyond our current unpleasant but comfortable parts-per-million box. Here are some things we need to say, over and over again, everywhere, in a thousand different ways:

Bitter climate truths are fundamentally bitter cultural truths. Endless growth is an impossibility in the physical world, always—but always—ending in overshot and collapse. Collapse: with a bang or a whimper, most likely both. We are already witnessing it, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

Because of this civilization’s obsession with growth, its demise is 100 percent predictable. We simply cannot go on living this way. Our version of life on earth has come to an end.

Moreover, there are no “free market” or “economic” solutions. And since corporations must have physically impossible endless growth in order to survive, corporate social responsibility is a myth. The only socially responsible act that corporations can take is to dissolve.

We can’t bargain with the forces of nature, trading slightly less harmful trinkets for a fantasied reprieve. Geophysical processes care not one whit for our politics, our economics, our evening meals, our theologies, our love for our children, our plaintive cries of innocence and error.

We can either try to plan the transition, even at this late hour, or the physical forces of the world will do it for us—indeed, they already are. As Alfred Crosby stated in his remarkable book, Ecological Imperialism, mother nature’s ministrations are never gentle.[5]

Telling the Truth

If we climate activists don’t tell the truth as well as we know it—which we have been loathe to do because we ourselves are frightened to speak the words—the public will not respond, notwithstanding all our protestations of urgency.

And contrary to current mainstream climate-activist opinion, contrary to all the pointless “focus groups,” contrary to the endless speculation on “correct framing,” the only way to tell the truth is to tell it. All of it, no matter how terrifying it may be.[6]

It is offensive and condescending for activists to assume that people can’t handle the truth without environmentalists finding a way to make it more palatable. The public is concerned, we vaguely know that something is desperately wrong, and we want to know more so we can try to figure out what to do. The response to An Inconvenient Truth, as tame as that film was in retrospect, should have made it clear that we want to know the truth.

And finally, denial requires a great deal of energy, is emotionally exhausting, fraught with conflict and confusion. Pretending we can save our current way of life derails us and sends us in directions that lead us astray. The sooner we embrace the truth, the sooner we can begin the real work.

Let’s just tell it.

Stating the Problem

After we tell the truth, then what can we do? Is it hopeless? Perhaps. But before we can have the slightest chance of meaningful action, having told the truth, we have to face the climate reality, fully and unflinchingly. If we base our planning on false premises—such as the oft-stated stutter that reducing our greenhouse-gas emissions will forestall “the worst effects of global warming”—we can only come up with false solutions. “Solutions” that will make us feel better as we tumble toward the end, but will make no ultimate difference whatsoever.

Furthermore, we can and must pose the problem without necessarily providing the “solutions.”[7] I can’t tell you how many climate activists have scolded me, “You can’t state a problem like that without providing some solutions.” If we accept that premise, all of scientific inquiry as well as many other kinds of problem-solving would come to a screeching halt. The whole point of stating a problem is to clarify questions, confusions, and unknowns, so that the problem statement can be mulled, chewed, and clarified to lead to some meaningful answers, even though the answers may seem to be out of reach.

Some of our most important thinking happens while developing the problem statement, and the better the problem statement the richer our responses. That’s why framing the global warming problem as greenhouse-gas concentrations has proved to be such a dead end.

Here is the problem statement as it is beginning to unfold for me. We are all a part of struggling to develop this thinking together:

We must leave behind 10,000 years of civilization; this may be the hardest collective task we’ve ever faced. It has given us the intoxicating power to create planetary changes in 200 years that under natural cycles require hundreds of thousands or millions of years—but none of the wisdom necessary to keep this Pandora’s Box tightly shut. We have to discover and re-discover other ways of living on earth.

We love our cars, our electricity, our iPods, our theme parks, our bananas, our Nikes, and our nukes, but we behave as if we understand nothing of the land and water and air that gives us life. It is past time to think and act differently.

If we live at all, we will have to figure out how to live locally and sustainably. Living locally means we are able get everything we need within walking (or animal riding) distance. We may eventually figure out sustainable ways of moving beyond those small circles to bring things home, but our track record isn’t good and we’d better think it through very carefully.

Likewise, any technology has to be locally based, using local resources and accessible tools, renewable and non-toxic. We have much re-thinking to do, and re-learning from our hunter-gatherer forebears who managed to survive for a couple of hundred thousand years in ways that we with our civilized blinders we can barely imagine or understand.[8]

Living sustainably means, in Derrick Jensen’s elegantly simple definition, that whatever we do, we can do it indefinitely.[9] We cannot use up anything more or faster than nature provides, we don’t poison the air, water, or soil, and we respect the web of life of which we are an intricate part. We are not separate from nature, or above it, or in any way qualified to supervise it.[10] The evidence is ample and overwhelming; all we have to do is be brave enough to look.

How do we survive in a world that will probably turn—is already turning, for many humans and non-humans alike—into a living hell? How do we even grow or gather food or find clean water or stay warm or cool while assaulted by biblical floods, storms, rising seas, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, snow, and hail?

It is crystal clear that we cannot leave it to the technophiliacs. It is human technology coupled with our inability to comprehend, predict, and prevent unintended consequences that have brought us global catastrophe, culminating in climate disruption, in the first place. Desperate hopes notwithstanding, there are no high-tech solutions here, only wishful thinking—the tools that got us into this mess are incapable of getting us out.[11]

All that being said, we needn’t discard all that we’ve learned, far from it.[12] But we must use our knowledge with great discretion, and lock much of it away as so much nuclear weaponry and waste.

Time is running very short, but the forgiveness of this little blue orb in a vast lonely universe will continue to astonish and nourish us—if we only give it the chance.

Our obligation as activists, the first step, the essence, is to part the cultural veil at long last, and to tell the truth.'

See Grist web site for Endnotes

30 August 2009

Crash Course in Economics

Chris Martenson is not an economist - he is a trained research scientist, and a former Fortune 300 VP. He has developed this 'Crash Course in Economics' - a series of videos and transcripts to offer an insight into the links between the economy, monetary system, growth, climate change and other environmental impacts.

'If it seems like the pace of change is speeding up, well, that’s because it is. You happen to live at a time when humans will finally have to confront the fact that our exponential money system and resource use will encounter hard, physical limits...

The fact that you live here, in the presence of multiple exponential graphs relating to everything from money to population to species extinction, has powerful implications for your life and the lives of those who will follow you. It deserves your very highest attention.'

Sustainable Transport Sourcebook

'The Sustainable Transport Sourcebook is a successful attempt to disseminate the knowledge of the sustainable transport principles and the the importance of the various elements in an integrated transport system.

Modules are focused on topics such as Non-motorised Transport, Bus Rapid Transit, Car-free Development, CDM in the Transport Sector, Gender and Urban Transport, Public awareness and behavioural change...the sourcebook also consists of training materials that can be used by transport institutions in developing courses.'

Game Theory - Winners, Suckers, Rewards & Punishment

Highly relevant to sustainability, communications and any kind of social negotiation...

Excerpt from the School of Thinking


There are two basic meanings of success:
1. You-Lose, and
2. I-Win.

You-Lose is the kind of success a boxer enjoys in a World Champion title fight. For him to win the title - be Champion of the World - and collect the purse he has to see that the other fighter fails to win. This kind of situation is called, by games theorists, a ‘zero sum’ game and is where success for one player means failure for the other...

I-Win is more like what happens in life itself. At home (whether in a relationship between lovers or families), or at school, or at work, I can be successful by playing I-Win without anyone having to lose or fail.

- I-Win can happen without my mate having to fail.
- I-Win can happen without my customer having to lose.
- I-Win can happen without my neighbour having to suffer...

Success in life consists of how well we manage the unfolding series of encounters with others. In each encounter we can cooperate and be NICE or we can defect and be NASTY. We see examples of those who always play NASTY, others who always use NICE and still others whose strategy is a mix of NICE and NASTY...

It’s the I-Win-You-Lose philosophy where for you to win the other loses; you beat the opponent, you conquer the adversary. “Greed is Good” is the motto of this strategy and in the Game it is the strategy where the other played NICE and you played NASTY.

The Sucker is the biggest loser of all in the Game. You become a Sucker when you play NICE and the other plays NASTY.

The Game always punishes winners. Whatever the outcome of today’s round there will always be future rounds to play and that’s where the Winners get punished. Because the game of life is unfolding it is a cybernetic or feedback loop.

Tit-for-tat means payback. The Dutch call it ‘dit vor dat’ and the French ‘tant pout tant’. Caesar called it ‘quid pro quo’. To Shylock it was a ‘pound of flesh’ and the Hebrews called it ‘an eye for an eye’. In the Game it is NASTY/NASTY.

Tit-for-Tat is how you reward a nice guy. When he or she plays NICE you always play NICE. You NEVER play NASTY. You NEVER yield to the Temptation to Win the million. You build trust and you ALWAYS both succeed.

In both the Game and in real life this is the best strategy of all yet it is one which has a very poor reputation because it is so widely misunderstood. tit4tat is usually considered childish at best and uncharitable, even heartless, at worst. Yet it is the fairest strategy of all and, as it turns out, the most successful strategy in life and, therefore, the only one which qualifies as the #1 Law of Success.

In Game Theory, t4t or the tit4tat strategy is also called the NICE Strategy and has two basic rules:
1 Always play NICE first, then
2 Always match the other’s play thereafter.

• Always REWARD NICE tit4tat … (NICE/NICE)
• Always PUNISH NASTY tit4tat … (NASTY/NASTY)
• Always avoid the TEMPTATION to WIN … (NICE/NASTY)
• Always avoid the SUCKER’S PAYOFF… (NASTY/NICE)

The Circular Economy

''Waste = Food' is an inspiring documentary on the Cradle to Cradle design concept of the chemist Michael Braungart and the architect William McDonough. Winner of the Silver Dragon at the Beijing International Science Film Festival 2006.

OUTLINE: Man is the only creature that produces landfills. Natural resources are being depleted on a rapid scale while production and consumption are rising in na­tions like China and India. The waste production world wide is enormous and if we do not do anything we will soon have turned all our resources into one big messy landfill. But there is hope. The German chemist, Michael Braungart, and the American designer-architect William McDonough are fundamentally changing the way we produce and build. If waste would become food for the biosphere or the technosphere (all the technical products we make), produc­tion and consumption could become beneficial for the planet. A design and production concept that they call Cradle to Cradle. A concept that is seen as the next industrial revolution:

• Design every product in such a way that at the end of its lifecycle the component materials become a new resource.

• Design buildings in such a way that they produce energy and become a friend to the environment.

Large companies like Ford and Nike are working with McDonough and Braun­gart to change their production facilities and their products. They realize that economically seen waste is destruction of capital. You make something with no value. Based on their ideas the Chinese government is working towards a circular economy where Waste = Food. An amazing story that will definitely change your way of thinking about production and consumption.'