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The Greening of China

Jamais Cascio, WorldChanging
A successful bright green world requires a green China. A China that continues to spew tons of coal smoke into the air, tear up the landscape for dams and minerals, and push the adoption of the automobile as a “pillar industry” is a China that could drive the world past the environmental tipping point, regardless of the efforts of the rest of the planet. A year or two ago, the likelihood of Chinese leaders seeing this disaster unfolding and changing direction in time seemed slim. Now, we may well see a glimmer of hope.

The last month or so brought us a bonanza of reports about the new choices the Chinese leadership is making regarding the environment. Some are doubtlessly motivated by wanting to look good for the 2008 Olympics. But many of the proposals look to be the kinds of steps necessary for China to head off further environmental disaster — big, risky steps, with the possibility of significant benefit should they succeed.
(11 November 2005)

A muckraker conservationist looks back

Michael Frome, Writers on the Range via Tidepool
An 80-year-old former environmental journalist reflects on a life of reporting and advocacy
…As a journalist living in Washington, D.C., I saw many stories that were not being covered but needed to be during the1960s. One evening I listened to an impressive speech by Gaylord Nelson, then a new senator from Wisconsin. Nelson warned that conservation of lakes, streams and other natural resources constituted the most crucial domestic issue. But to find a report of his remarks in the Washington Post, I had to look to the bottom of the obituary page, where it lay buried below the names of the deceased.

That wasn’t right. I wanted stories like this to get a hearing, and I wanted to be part of what was going on in a time rich in landmark legislation aimed at protecting wilderness, rivers, trails, endangered species of plants and animals and air and water.

The older I grew, the more I loved my work. I found pleasure in digging deeper and in learning through research and reading. Caring about the natural world transcends economics; conservationists illuminate the human condition by refusing to put a price tag on the priceless.
(0 November 2005)

Should we switch to horses?

Jamie Henneman, Capital Press (agricultural weekly)
With unleaded gas around $3 a gallon and diesel hovering at $3.50, many a farmer jokes that perhaps he should put a padlock on the horse pasture gate. After all, as motorized vehicles become more expensive, who hasn’t thought about going back to simpler transportation?

Where cost might be the motivator to go back to horse drawn transportation, both the auto and the equine have pros and cons.

Geo Metro vs. Stud Cart

In comparing two compact vehicles, the Geo Metro and the stud cart, there were interesting differences in speed, fuel efficiency and maintenance.

In the horse world of compact vehicles, the stud cart could best be compared to the small two-seater passenger car. The stud cart was originally used to transport a stud from farm to farm to service mares. The lightweight structure of the cart didn’t burden the single horse and allowed the farmer to clip along at a nice pace….

The Geo Metro is a small, three-cylinder car put out by the General Motors Company. It has a 1.0 liter, 3-cylinder engine and is relatively lightweight.
(8 November 2005)

Hopedance special issue on local food production

Hopedance magazine
Online articles include:
Fields of Plenty Speech at Bioneers Michael Ableman
Diet for a Peak-Oil America Katie Elizabeth Renz
An Enlightened Mayor in California? David Room
A Noble Experiment: A Community Farm Christine Hoffman
Cookin’ Local Linda Buzzell-Saltzman
(November/December 2005)

After the crash: A blueprint for a community-based economy

Dave Pollard, How to Save the World (blog)

Irish Economist Richard Douthwaite, who I have written about twice before, has done (nine years ago) something I had planned to do: Write a book about how to create a bottom-up community-based economy. What’s more, he’s now put it on the web for free, with updates to 2004.

In his previous book, The Growth Illusion, Douthwaite laid out four qualities of a sustainable economic system:

* the need to end or reverse human population increase
* acceptance of a responsibility to leave as healthy an environment with as many resources for future generations, as we inherited from past generations
* valuation of other people’s interest equally with our own
* acceptance that some things are priceless’ and hence off-limits to economic development — they must not be sold, bartered, destroyed or used up regardless of the economic ‘value’ this might bring
(9 November 2005)
Douthwaite’s updated book Short Circuit is available online. (Preface). Also see: Review and a table of contents.