09 December 2010

UN Development Programme Adds Footprint to Suite of Indicators

Sourced from Global Footprint Network newsletter, 8 December 2010

'Sustainability is an intrinsic part of people’s ability to live satisfying lives according to the United Nations Development Programme—which is why, for the first time it has included the Ecological Footprint in its annual Human Development Report.

The Human Development Report reveals countries’ latest rankings according to the Human Development Index, a measure that scores countries according to attainment of health, education and income. But, the report explains, “human development is much broader. Empowerment, equity and sustainability are among the intrinsic parts of people’s freedom to lead lives they have reason to value.” The report points out that Norway ranks highest in terms of HDI, but consumes 3.1 times what would be consistent with global sustainability (based on global biocapacity) while the US, which ranks 4th in HDI, consumes 4.5 times that of global biocapacity.'

Japan's Ecological Footprint

Sourced from Global Footprint Network newsletter, 8 December 2010

'A report on Japan’s Ecological Footprint, which identifies leading areas of ecological demand and offers policy recommendations to address them, has generated considerable interest in the country. The Japan Ecological Footprint Report was released this August in Tokyo to an audience of journalists and environment ministry representatives. Findings have been covered by more than 50 print and online news outlets, including a feature in Asahi, a daily newspaper with a circulation of 8.22 million.

Among the report’s findings (based on 2009 National Footprint Accounts data):

Japan’s Ecological Footprint in 2006 was 4.1 gha per capita, about one and a half times the global average, placing it within the highest 25 percent of countries.

Compared with the four countries closest geographically, only Russia’s Footprint exceeds Japan’s (by a small margin). Japan’s per capita Footprint is 10 percent higher than South Korea’s and more than double that of China. However, Japan is the only country in the group to have shown a significant decrease in the Footprint over the last decade. If trends continue, 2010 may well see South Korea’s Footprint surpass that of Japan.

Japan’s production of fisheries products exceeds the available biocapacity from Japan’s continental shelf by more than a factor of three. This strongly suggests that Japan may be at risk of collapsing its fisheries, and with effects that will be felt worldwide.

Japan’s demand on forest products is well within the rate of what its forests can regenerate. At the same time, it places a high demand for wood products on countries that are experiencing deforestation, such as Indonesia. Replacing imports with domestic supply would have positive international impacts.

Read the report in English (15 MB download)

Read the report in Japanese (18 MB download)'

07 December 2010

Taming the Vampire Squid


Sourced from the new economics foundation/The Great Transition, December 2010

'"A great vampire squid, wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." That was how journalist Matt Taibbi described Goldman Sachs in a Rolling Stone exposé from 2008.

Now, after what is perhaps the biggest example of private-sector market-failure the world has ever seen, the banking system that fuelled the crisis is fundamentally unreformed. Even on its own terms the banking system is broken.

To design a banking system that is fit for purpose and able to underpin the imminent Great Transition to a new, low carbon, high well-being, and stable economy, we need to revisit the social and economic contract that banks have with society. We must take back our banks.

We need banking that is more like a public service, a utility that helps the productive economy function. This animation from the Great Transition campaign to take back our banks asks: when will politicians find the will to make it happen?'

'Launched to mark the start of bank bonus season, a new animation is setting out to increase public pressure on government to take on the banks and not sweep reform under the carpet. It ask politicians whether they have a plan to tame the bank, and if not, why not?

The minute-long animation is inspired by Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi's description of investment bank Goldman Sachs as a giant vampire squid "sucking on the face of humanity".

The animation is backed by a wide range of influential pressure groups including: nef, Compass, PLATFORM, ResPublica, 38 Degrees, WDM, Positive Money, Tax Research and the Post Bank campaign.'

05 December 2010

Letting Go of Bananas

...there is a lot in here to explain why it is hard to shift individual, let alone societal behaviour...and why the cult of growth is arguably our biggest banana!

'Some people get upset when you question their bananas...' - LOL!

Excerpt from Reverse Thinking, 5 January 2008

'...A banana is a fixation or a compulsion, which dictates inflexible, repetitive, self-defeating behavior.

The metaphor is taken from an ancient method for catching monkeys - still practiced to this day in parts of Africa and Asia. Here's how the capture works:

The Hunter lays down a wicker basket with a banana inside it, in a grove where monkeys are known to forage. The cage is so constructed that the monkey can get at the banana but can't pull it out because the bars of the cage are too narrow. Indeed, it cannot withdraw its hand at all unless it drops the banana. Most monkeys are smart enough to let go of the banana and go and look for better opportunities. But a minority don't - that banana just means too much to them. They stay put, holding their booby prize until the hunter comes and throws a net over them.

Like some monkeys, a lot of human beings would rather be slaves than let go of their bananas.

Here are some examples of common bananas:

  • I have to be liked
  • I should be in control
  • I must be successful
  • I must not let people down
  • I must never get angry
  • I should always put other peoples' needs first, no matter what happens to me
  • I must be strong

Notice that what makes the banana obsessional is the absolute demand to always act or be that way - as conveyed by the 'musts' and 'shoulds' contained in the injunction. There is nothing wrong with being loved, attracting success, and helping people out. The problem arises when no deviations from the rule are permitted. If that is the case then when we can't cope, we wear ourselves out. Or, when we meet with rejection, failure, bullying or stress, then we no longer know what to do. We go on repeating the same destructive behavior like a broken record. Hoping that, sooner or later, it will work.

Some people get upset when you question their bananas. Their Conscious Mind sees that as a threat to its grasp on reality. To such people, their obsession with the banana is an 'obvious' way to be. Not acting that way is deemed by them to be 'selfish', 'unrealistic', 'immature'. etc. So holding on to bananas - even when they don't apply - is viewed as a right way to be, while discarding them is bad, immoral or stupid. This explains their compulsive character. As does the fact that some people believe that something terrible will happen to them if they let go of their bananas.

This is why so many of us repeat the same toxic relationships over and over again - exploited by 'must-have' employers, abused by 'caring' partners, manipulated by 'helpless' children, let down by 'unlucky' friends', controlled by 'wonderful' parents. Meanwhile, Bodymind is sending us emotional signals to tell us about the way things really are and what we need to be doing about that - saying 'no' when we are tired, asking for help when we are overwhelmed, taking a break when we are frustrated, demanding fairness when we are angry. But if we go on ignoring our emotions, obsessing about bananas and dwelling in toxic relationships, we end up with depression, panic attacks, or what, in Reverse Therapy, we call non-specific illness.'

A Vision for Sustainable Restaurants

Wow!!! This guy is a lot more than a chef...

Sourced from TED, December 2010

'If you've been in a restaurant kitchen, you've seen how much food, water and energy can be wasted there. Chef Arthur Potts-Dawson shares his very personal vision for drastically reducing restaurant, and supermarket, waste - creating recycling, composting, sustainable engines for good (and good food).'