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Crisis and Risk: Categories and Mental Maps

Bryn Davidson Dynamic Cities Project (pdf, 0.5Mb)
The following pages stem from our ongoing effort to:
1. Make sense of the various potential crises that are competing for the attention of decision makers.
2. Better understand the crisis-event mechanisms that will bring about step changes in our collective willingness to act.

Thank you for taking the time to review these conceptual models, and for contributing to the dialogue. Regarding the energy and climate crisis classifications, our next steps will be to look more in depth at the ways each type of crisis would impact specific economic/ social/governmental sectors. To those ends, feedback from the global network of researchers is always welcome.

About DCP: The Dynamic Cities Project (DCP) is an enterprising non-profit organization based in Vancouver that helps local communities adapt to unprecedented global challenges including oil depletion and climate change. The DCP conducts scenario-based research in collaboration with local professionals and governments, in order to develop practical tools that foster the growth of more resilient cities, towns, and neighbourhoods.
(17 Nov 2006)
The document has links to presentations that Bryn has created:

Bryn’s striking presentations are on a totally different level than the usual PowerPoint slides. Not only are they attractive, but they present ideas in a compelling, graphic way. Highly recommended.

Bryn is an architect specializing in sustainable urban development. His company is Rao-D Cityworks

See also David Holmgren’s energy descent scenario planning framework.

Coming soon: a green Bill Gates

Moore Eisenberger, UK Times
The environment is about to create the biggest business opportunity of all.

INTERNET STOCKS are surging again. And biotechnology still has great promise. But I’m betting that the next Bill Gates, whoever he or she is, will be an environmental entrepreneur. Why? Because despite the recent focus on the potential costs to society of climate change, solving this challenge may also present the greatest economic opportunity of our time.

The British government report on the economics of climate change by the former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern, for example, indicates that the market for low-carbon technologies could generate $500 billion (£265 billion) by 2050.

But that may be conservative. The energy and transport sectors alone now represent almost 15% of the $43,000 billion global economy. If low-carbon, energy-efficient technologies grow to just 10% of this over the next 45 years, that’s a $645 billion market.

And that does not include any environmentally beneficial innovations in manufacturing, consumer goods and services, or many other industries.

Society seems to be approaching a tipping point in its attitude to the environment and, at times like these, new markets are born. Innovation and productivity are unleashed. That’s why some are thinking the drive towards greater resource and energy efficiency will rival the internet boom.
(19 Nov 2006)

Sitting Pretty
When comfort and conservation collide

Nicole McClelland, Orion Online
Will true love survive a composting toilet? In this Orion Magazine article, Nicole McClelland writes about the alternative toilets she and her fiance used as they spent six months exploring organic farming, alternative waste management, and sustainable relationship practices in the South Pacific prior to their wedding.
(Nov-Dec 2006)

Money Is Material

Carole B. Burgoyne and Stephen E. G. Lea, Science
The psychology of money is now being studied experimentally. Even thinking about money changes behavior in reliable ways.
Despite the importance of money in everyday modern life, the psychology of money has until recently received relatively little attention within science, let alone Science. But on page 1154 of the current issue, Vohs et al. report that even quite trivial exposure to the idea of money (for example, unscrambling phrases about money or reading an essay about money aloud) changes the goals and behavior of test subjects (1).

These changes occur in the direction of what Vohs et al. call “self-sufficiency”: Subjects exposed to the idea of money subsequently show a more self-reliant but also more self-centered approach to problem-solving than subjects exposed to neutral concepts.

These findings of Vohs et al. echo findings in other areas, for example, those of Bargh and colleagues who found that just reading a few words relating to achievement instead of neutral words caused people to outperform controls on a cognitive task (solving word-search puzzles)
(17 Nov 2006)
Access to the complete article requires a subscription. Or a trip to the library.

David Suzuki on life, freedom and the environment
(big PDF)
Christian Martin, Cascadia Weekly
“Why would anyone be interested in my life?” asks David Suzuki in the preface to his new autobiography. It is a question he indirectly answers over the next 400 pages-pages that teem with fascinating stories, insightful reflections, fortuitous encounters and global travels that trace the author’s journey from youth to world-famous environmental guru.

A third-generation Canadian, Suzuki was born in Vancouver in 1936. At the age of six, he and his family were interned during World War II in a remote British Columbian camp. From this decidedly low point in his life, Suzuki went on to graduate with honors from Amherst College in 1958 and earned his PhD in Zoology from the University of Chicago in 1961.

He began his professional career as a geneticist, but his involvement in the birth of the environmental movement led him beyond the laboratory and into the world as both teacher and advocate. Suzuki’s roles are wide-ranging and have garnered him much acclaim.

David Suzuki: … whoever succeeds [George W. Bush as U.S. President] will mark a sea change because the environment has become the issue of our time. The tragedy is that things are much worse today than they were in 1988.

CW: Any specific suggestions on how the environmental movement can stay relevant?

DS: Greens have got to link the issues that we’re concerned about to issues of human health. It is so crystal-clear that the skyrocketing medical costs are related to the fact that we are poisoning the planet. The things that keep us alive-air, water, fire-are being used as toxic dumps. What the heck do we think is going to result from that? What the hell do we expect? What we put into the environment, we’re putting directly into ourselves. I also think we have to really examine the underlying destructive notions of conventional economics. We live in a world that is finite. The biosphere does not go on indefinitely. It’s finite.

And yet we have a system within that biosphere called the economy that thinks it can grow forever. If we didn’t have nature, we wouldn’t even have economies, and we wouldn’t have people. Nature is the very source of our survival, of our health, of all of our productivity. We must stop this crazy, suicidal idea that we must have growth forever. Growth forever is the creed of the cancer cell and the economists. It is not possible.

CW: What is your hope for the future?

DS: My hope is that we’ll be able to make the big changes in time. I feel like we’re in a giant car heading at a brick wall at a million miles an hour. Someone’s got to say, “For God’s sake, put the brakes on and turn the wheel!” But everybody in the car is arguing about where they want to sit. It’s a lot easier to save things by putting on the brakes and turning the wheel than it is to smash in to the wall and then pick up the pieces afterwards.
(15 Nov 2006)
The PDF at the link is for the entire issue – so the file is large and awkward. The article about Suzuki starts on page 14.