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Solutions & sustainability - Nov 20

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Sustain magazine for a sustainable South East Australia

Australian Community Network
Here in the South East [of Australia] we are building a new magazine called Sustain:

  • About social, economic and environmental sustainability

  • A snapshot of a regional community in transition to a genuinely sustainable lifestyle
  • A free, 48 page full colour quarterly with 10,000 copies of each issue (plus 5,000 extra in March)
  • Both hard copy and online at http://sustain.org.au
  • Distributed by us to our regional network of retailers, businesses and community groups and the public
  • Available and distributed online through our many national and international contacts (eg Permaculture groups)
  • Also being distributed in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra to a select audience of like minded groups.
  • Printed using an accredited recycled high quality paper stock with soy based inks

(19 November 2007)
Geoffrey Grigg writes:
I am from a not-for-profit group - The Australian Community Network, based in Bega, South East NSW. thebegavalley.org.au and australiancommunities.org.au - we use our locally developed web technology to help build sustainable communities.

As the peak community networking organisation in the South East we have formed strategic alliances with Clean Energy for Eternity and the Sapphire Coast Producers' Association (SCPA) and as part of that we have created a combined journal 'Sustain'.


Bill McKibben interview
(text and Podcast)
Thomas C. Fox, National Catholic Reporter
In our runaway economy, “more” no longer means “better,” says Bill McKibben, an American environmentalist who frequently writes about global warming. Beginning in the summer of 2006, he organized the largest demonstrations against global warming in American history.

McKibben: ...For the first time in human history “more” is no longer synonymous with “better.”

A recent sampling of Forbes magazine’s “richest Americans” showed they have identical happiness scores with Pennsylvania Amish, and are only a whisker above Swedes taken as a whole, not to mention the Masai hunters in Africa.

As we got more affluent, we lost a lot of our social connections and communities. We moved to the suburbs, built big houses and filled them with screens to stare into. It’s no wonder the average American has half as many close friends as 50 years ago.

Q: What’s your prescription for getting out of this mode?

McKibben: The time has come to move beyond “growth” as the paramount economic ideal and begin pursuing prosperity in a more local direction, with cities, suburbs and regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment.

This concept is already blossoming around the world with striking results, from the burgeoning economies of India and China to the more mature societies of Europe and New England.

Q: So the road map is both political and personal?

McKibben: Yes, we’ve got to screw in new light bulbs and then screw in new congresspersons, or upgrade the existing one so he or she understands what needs to happen.

If we get enough moral passion behind this, like we did with the civil rights movement, then we’ve got a shot.

Q: There is both a moralistic tone and a spiritual base to your writing. What kinds of spiritual formation took place in your life?

McKibben: I’m an old Methodist Sunday school teacher. The Old Testament’s Book of Job has moved me powerfully. When God appears out of a whirlwind and queries Job at the end, that is the first statement in the Judeo-Christian tradition of the idea that humans are not the center of the universe.

The global climate change underway decisively violates the Gospel injunction to love our neighbors as ourselves. In fact, we are busy drowning our neighbors, making it impossible for them to farm croplands that are already marginal.

It’s clear now that oil is going to be harder to get. As we begin to run out, it’s going to be tempting to use more coal. That will be hard for people in the southern Appalachians who watch their mountaintops cut off and flattened, and sad for the world, because burning coal produces even more carbon dioxide.

In the future people will want community and an economy that is less dependent on far-flung lines of supply, on the Pentagon managing Mideast politics, on food that is handled through huge concerns like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland. They will probably want more self-sufficient communities rich in human relationship. I don’t know anyone who thinks they have enough community. Many know they have more than enough stuff.

In a country where storage lockers are the biggest growth industry, it’s obviously time to balance those scales.
(16 November 2007)


Managing Winter Energy Bills
(PDF)
Bob Waldrop, Energy Conservation News and Resources
North American natural gas production is in decline. The price of oil is rising. The days of cheap energy are gone. Plan now for more energy price increases.

Windows. Warmth always wants to move towards cold. That’s why windows are like open holes in your walls. They stop the wind, but they radiate heat to the outdoors. The best solution is insulation over the windows, such as heavy curtains, blankets, or indoor shutters. One inexpensive option is to duct tape 2 or 3 mylar auto sunshades together (depending on the size and shape of the window), and then sandwich them between two blankets. Hang over the inside of the window. Several layers are better than one. You could hide the blankets and sun shades behind regular curtains.

...Even MORE ideas for free heat. There are about a gillion different designs for solar air heaters that are easy and inexpensive to build. The best free source of such info is www.builditsolar.com/ .

Bundle up your body! Dress for the season indoors. Wear several loose layers of clothes. Clean clothes keep you warm better than dirty clothes. Don’t forget a hat, even when you are indoors and when you go to bed! Put blankets and quilts on sofas and chairs, so people can bundle up while they are sitting around. When you go outside, beware of wind and wet. Keep dry. Wet clothing loses its ability to insulate, and can suck heat right out of you. Stay out of the wind as much as possible.

Heat less of your house. Organize your household so you can live in fewer rooms. Where possible, “zone heat” – heat only the area occupied by people, when the people are there. Keep unused rooms closed and close any heating vents in those rooms. It is easier to keep a room warm when several people are inside it, than when there is only one.

Caulk and Weatherize. Do all the obvious places – windows, doors, but also think about less obvious places.
(13 November 2007)
Contributor Bob Waldrop writes:
Each winter I write a flyer which we distribute with the bags of groceries our Catholic Worker house gives to the poor. I hope others can benefit from these suggestions.


Green Computing Update, Part 2: Components

Jeremy Faludi, World Changing
Part 1 of the green computing update was on data centers. This week I'll begin to describe what's happening on the level of individual machines by covering components: efficient CPUs, monitors, and power supplies, as well as greener material choices in other components.

As I mentioned in Part 1, momentum is building on green computing. GreenBiz now has a portal just for this field; there's a Green PC blog, and articles on it are showing up in just about every IT publication around. The tech executive site CIO.com has an excellent overview of the field by Katherine Walsh.

The rise of bright green computers is not just taking place in the Western world, either. Asia Eco-Design Electronics, a project by the European Commission, is organizing conferences in China, India, and Thailand as well as Europe to raise awareness and distribute knowledge about green electronics design.
(16 November 2007)

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