Solutions & sustainability - Feb 7
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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage
Dream Farm: How to Beat Climate Change & Post Fossil Fuel Economy
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Institute for Science in Society (ISIS)
Dream Farm refers to the zero-emission, zero-waste farms that living legend Prof. George Chan has created to eradicate poverty in many developing countries around the world.
Dream Farm is more than a highly productive energy and food self-sufficient farm. It is the nucleation for a genuinely sustainable food system, and above all, a microcosm of a new paradigm working, based on reciprocity and synergistic relationships rather than rampant competition of the dominant model.
Our proposal is to set up a Dream Farm II for demonstration, education and research purposes, combining the best and most appropriate technologies to showcase the new paradigm and at the same time, to act as an incubator and resource centre for knowledge and technologies that really serve people and planet.
Although the proposal is specifically for Britain, it is also appropriate for other countries, adapted to local resources and conditions. A network of such farms cooperating and linked up around the world is exactly what we need to feed the world, mitigate climate change and let everyone thrive in good health and wealth in every sense of the word in the post-fossil fuel economy.
(31 Jan 2006)
An HTML version of the development proposal without figures exists here: www.i-sis.org.uk/DFHTBCC.php
A PDF version with images can be found here: www.indsp.org/pdf/DreamFarmHowtoBeatClimateChange.pdf -AF
In appreciation of small towns
Aubrey Streit, Prairie Writers Circle (Land Institute)
Yes, small-town life can be riddled with painful gossip. But shared stories can also weave people and their lives together.
In small towns, people can seem nosy invaders of privacy. But sometimes this is simply unabashed concern. It's for better, not worse, that nothing and no one are forgotten.
There may be cracks in small-town sidewalks, but small-town students don't fall through them. Small class sizes allow teachers to give the personal attention that can truly keep a student from being left behind.
Some small towns are in the middle of nowhere. But that's really somewhere: "now" and "here." Small towns offer an experience of the present that is wholly unmediated, face to face. With nowhere to hide, we can stop trying to. And thanks to technology, these places are no longer isolated from the world outside.
(5 Jan 2006)
Meet the green house pioneers
Neighbours in one street in the north-west of England have turned eco-guinea pigs
Yael Litmanovitz, Guardian
Britain's first eco-street is becoming a reality as residents in the Cumbrian market town of Penrith introduce sustainable living solutions in their homes.
The transformation of Arthur Street is an initiative led by its residents, three of whom came up with the idea and applied for a grant. One of five pilots in the Cumbria sustainable communities project, it is funded by the Department for the Environment's environmental action fund (EAF) alongside 35 other schemes.
(2 February 2006)
Growing demand for organic produce helps young farmers
Michelle Theriault, Bellingham Herald (Washington)
...For a new generation of environmentally-minded youths in their 20s and early 30s, organic farming is a way back to the land, and away from a desk job. The growing market for what they grow - organics are the fastest-growing segment in groceries - is giving young, upstart farmers with little traditional experience or land a chance to enter the profession.
"Organic agriculture has been one little breath of hope that has entered the picture and allowed a lot of people with very limited means to enter into agriculture," says Mike Finger, who has been growing market produce near Bellingham for 18 years, and has helped several young farmers learn the trade.
(5 February 2006)
Winds of climate change are about to make their impact felt in many a boardroom
Larry Elliott, Guardian (economics editor)
Top science adviser sounds death knell for theory that insists growth is good
The old economics is dead. Its death knell was sounded last week, not by a practitioner of the dismal science but by Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser. Sir David King said concentrations of greenhouse gases were already at a level where the warning signs were flashing red: a comment that starkly illustrates the impending clash between economic orthodoxy and environmental sustainability.
Economics is a discipline in which the factors of production - capital and labour - are supposed to be harnessed to maximise production at the cheapest price. By this yardstick, an economy is doing twice as well if it is growing at 4% rather than 2% and disastrously badly if consumers are not in the shops from dawn till dusk. Globalisation is seen as the ultimate form of a market economy, according to the prevailing model, because a more efficient use of the factors of production leads to lower prices and therefore permits higher levels of consumption. In a globalised world, you're only as good as your last GDP number.
But think about it for a minute. Concerns are frequently being raised about the fact that many developed countries are about to see - or are already seeing - a decline in their populations. This will have an impact on their trend rate of growth, which is a function of population and productivity. Stories about falling population are always couched in terms of demographic time bombs, suggesting that they are clearly a bad thing. But fewer people in Germany, Italy or Japan will mean more space, less pressure on resources and a more pleasant life.
(6 February 2006)
Could we get by without new power?
Peter Gorrie, Toronto Star
Only in an ideal world, McGuinty says, but critics push for more green solutions
HAMILTON—If most of us lived like Dave Braden, could Ontario get by without $40 billion worth of new nuclear power plants? Would the lights still glow brightly in Toronto if we didn't erect a generating station on the eastern waterfront?
Braden is a beef farmer, small-scale developer and municipal politician who builds energy-efficient houses. His designs slash heating-fuel consumption and — key to a debate over Ontario's energy future that's to play out at public hearings across the province this month — cut electricity use at least in half.
"In an ideal world, we could get to where we need to go through conservation and renewables like wind," Premier Dalton McGuinty said this week. "But we don't live in that world. We live in this one."
Efficiency advocates insist that "ideal" world can, and should, become the real one. Braden's house is part of their effort to move "green" alternatives into the mainstream, and to change the way we produce and use electricity.
(4 February 2006)