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Ashes to ashes isn’t such a hot idea

Vancouver Sun
While various political parties differ and those in government dither over which specific steps will best help stem climate change, a few are so simple, cheap and obvious they should be undertaken without delay.

One such is suggested by a recent story out of Australia. A researcher there has found that human cremation directly contributes about 50 kilos of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, not to mention all the CO2 that results from producing the energy required to reduce a body to ash.

We’re reluctant to call for a total ban on cremation. But surely there’s a role for government regulators to step in and impose a firm limit of one per person.
(21 April 2007)

The Complicated Equation for Going Green
Doing the Math on Carbon Neutrality

Jessica Marmor, Wall Street Journal
Going green is the new black in 2007. Advice abounds on how to cut your carbon dioxide output and do your part in the battle against global warming. But how much does a person have to spend to go green–and what kind of environmental impact would that spending actually have?

…We set out to evaluate a few of the in-vogue recommendations based on what they cost and what they’d do for the environment. In each area we offer up three levels of feasibility–hard, medium and easy. Where possible, we’ve crunched the numbers to estimate how much a change would cost, how many pounds of CO2e each step can save and the percentage each would knock off one person’s emissions.

Starting at Home

Sixteen percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are generated from our homes–from the fossil fuels burned to power our electronics, lighting, heating and cooling systems.

The Hard Way: Buy an Energy-Efficient House…
The Medium Way: Switch to “Green Power”…
The Easy Way: Use Low Energy Light Bulbs …
(20 April 2007)

More retailers go for green — the eco kind

Jayne O’Donnell and Christine Dugas, USA Today
Home Depot announced plans Tuesday to offer more environmentally friendly products and make it easier for consumers to find them.

Included are more than 2,500 items ranging from all-natural insect repellents to front-load washing machines. Products that meet the criteria will be tagged Eco Options to make them easier to find.

“We don’t have people banging on our doors, saying, ‘Give us your green products,’ ” says Ron Jarvis, Home Depot (HD) vice president of environmental innovation. “But it’s the right time to educate consumers that their shopping habits can have an impact and that they can make a difference without going out of their way.”

The move by the country’s second-largest retailer comes after the largest, Wal-Mart, kicked off an environmental initiative last fall that favors suppliers who restrict carbon emissions and embrace sustainability.

In the past two years, many retailers have started going greener in the way they build stores, use direct mail and package their products.
(18 Apr 2007)

How do you end up at Findhorn?

Jonathan Dawson, New Statesman
A weekly insight into life inside one of Britain’s best known eco-villages – Findhorn – by resident Jonathan Dawson.
So, how do people wind up at a place like this? Lots of reasons, really, generally embracing the political, the personal and the spiritual in ways that defy easy classification. As good a place to start as any is to describe my own journey here.

I spent the 15 years or so before arriving at Findhorn working as a development professional, living in Africa for most of the 1980s and then based in the UK, making regular visits as a consultant on community economic development. By the mid-1990s, I was beginning to get disillusioned and to feel lonely. Life lived out of suitcase, with precious little time between recovering from the last trip and preparing for the next one, was not fulfilling my need to belong within a supportive and caring community.

In parallel, the impact of economic globalisation made it progressively more difficult to truly believe in the effectiveness of the work I was engaged in. While the system was severing limbs, it seemed to me, we were dishing out Elastoplast.

I have had the privilege of working with numerous noble international and indigenous NGOs. Yet, rather than system change in favour of the poor, the marginalised and planet, it felt to me that we were increasingly being left to clean up the mess created by the distorted and destructive global economy.

Having reached the conclusion that the root of the global malaise lay in the North rather than in the South – in affluence rather than poverty – I started looking for ways of getting involved back here in Europe.

My first break with the conventional career I had followed up to then was to go and live with my girlfriend in a small community on the Dorset/Devon border called Monkton Wyld. I had a great year, learning how to milk cows, grow vegetables, keep bees and relearning the art of serious playfulness.

By the end of a year, however, while my soul and body were nourished, my brain was in meltdown. I left my relationship and the community, in the belief that intentional communities were cool and fun places that were keeping alive many of the labour-intensive skills we will need as we head into energy descent, but unable to provide the stimulation required by the intellectually curious and the politically engaged.

…So, now here I am, organising inspiring Findhorn conferences of my own – next up is Positive Energy: Creative Community Responses to Peak Oil and Climate Change in Easter 2008 that I have put together.
(19 April 2007)