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Solutions & sustainability - May 31

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Post Carbon Relocalization Network Meeting

Liz Logan, Sustenance Blog
On Saturday May 20th the Bay Area Outposts of the Post Carbon Institute got together to share what they have been doing. The mission of Post Carbon Institute is to assist communities in the effort to Relocalize and adapt to an energy constrained world. One way they do this is to support the individual Outposts and help them network with each other.

Eventually, as each Outpost learns from working with it's community, it will pass this information back up to PCI, who will compile these into "best practices" which they will then disseminate back to the Outposts. They hope to use the technology of the internet to assist people in joining forces and ultimately having face to face meetings.

Julian Darley, the founder of PCI, explained that they will focus and filter the information they gather because time is of the essence now, and we can't afford to miss any piece. They are upgrading their software, so keep check their website to see what they are offering. New services will roll out soon.

We heard from organizers from Willits to Ventura. Not surprisingly, California has the most Outposts of any state. Each gave a short presentation about their group.
(30 May 2006)
Go to the original article for a great list of links to North American relocalisation activities. -AF

Brian Goodwin on Peak Oil

Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture
[ Brian is the author of Signs of Life : How Complexity Pervades Biology, How The Leopard Changed Its Spots : the Evolution of Complexity, and Form and Transformation : Generative and Relational Principles in Biology.

Perhaps the most interesting answer he gives is to the following question:
-AF ]

Rob: To what extent do solutions to the energy problem involve action in other, non energy, fields?

Brian: I would choose a couple of things. One is the whole issue of currencies and economics. We are in an economic system at the moment which is ingenious; it gives a lot of freedom to exchange of goods, services and so on, but underneath it is deadly. Deadly because it forces economic growth, and economic growth forces the destruction of Nature, and of us. We are on the way to becoming an endangered species if we go down that route. So we need to diversify.

One of the keys in natural phenomena is the diversity of different strategies used. We have adopted a single strategy for currency and economics and our economic system is based on and driven by that. We need to diversify our currencies. This is not something that has never been heard of before, it happens spontaneously all the time. In Argentina the economic system has collapsed, that is the conventional dollar-based system has collapsed, but they’ve put in place an alternative. They are trading and exchanging goods, and they are using their own local currencies. This is therefore a spontaneous thing to happen, it’s part of the process of localization, going local, developing appropriate local currencies, connected to useful resources, like energy, food, buildings and so on.

The other area is education. Education needs to be fundamentally transformed. I’ve been in Universities nearly all my life, and in my experience University education has now become pretty thoroughly irrelevant to the training that people need to receive in order to make the transition that we are going through. We need a new education. So what is the image of this new education process? I have jus been talking about local currencies, well education needs also to ‘go local’. Universities should serve their local communities and they should serve them with the ingenuity that comes out of this concentration of creative energy in Universities in terms of putting together new communities, developing new technologies, so that we develop what I like to think of now as something that Fritjof Capra has introduced into the dialogue here at Schumacher College, looking at the Renaissance, the period of Leonardo da Vinci, which had a workshop culture. A lot of people got their practical skills in workshops. I love this idea. If Universities and schools could become in some sense workshops, playshops, toyshops, whatever you want to call it, but where practical skills are developed for the whole person, and we don’t fragment the world of learning into specialized disciplines. We will still have specialized skills, because people will want to develop high quality abilities in different areas, but that’s up to the individual to choose, and that will give them the creativity to put things together in a new way. So those are the two things I would focus on, currency systems and the education process.
(29 May 2006)

Norway: Wood-to-Diesel Project

Green Car Congress
Hydro, the Norwegian energy company, and Norske Skog, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of newsprint and magazine paper, have agreed to carry out a joint feasibility study relating to the production of synthetic diesel from wood via gasification and Fischer-Tropsch processing.

The partners are examining the possibility of establishing such a Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) production facility in south-east Norway. Such a plant could come on stream by 2012 at the earliest.
(29 May 2006)
Wood based power systems are very controversial in much of the world, however if combined with sustainable logging practices could provide power with a decent Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI) ratio, while promoting reforestation. -AF

Urban Wind Farms - coming to a town near you…

Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture
As I was washing up this evening and listening to the news on Radio 4, a story caught my ear that sounded too good to be true. After endless stories of wind projects being turned down across the country and all the ‘blot on the landscape’ nonsense about wind turbines, did I actually hear that urban wind farms could be the thing of the near future?
(23 May 2006)
Rob's also written a very interesting article about Decentralised Energy Systems which we'll publish in full in the next couple of days. -AF

AfterCulture, and a brief look at population over time
Michael Green, AfterCulture Art
This is a moslty visual presentation. Click the headline to see it.
AfterCulture was a traveling exhibit by Pennsylvanian artist Michael Green of imaginary future artifacts of a post-industrial indigenous culture, ceremonial artifacts which incorporate rubbish and refuse left behind by industrial society. Check out to see some examples.

Michael wrote of the exhibition that: "it will suggest that "future anthropology" is a legitimate, even crucial discipline of our time, a way to envision a way out of the vast social and environmental crises we find ourselves mired in. Can we imagine an authentic, even compelling post-industrial culture able to look back at overpopulation, toxic waste, ozone holes, global pollution, rainforest destruction, runaway species extinction--the whole grim rap sheet of our system, as a brief disturbance in the force?"

I'm not sure if a return to hunter-gather lifestyles is everyone's idea of solutions, but what the heck, I'm putting it in this section anyway. -AF

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