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The Real Green Heretics

Alex Steffen, WorldChanging
… The magnitude of the crises we face, the speed with which they are unfolding (as we’re just beginning to understand) and their interconnectedness and interpenetration into every aspect of human society mean that the solutions we need to embrace are not going to be the same sort of solutions we’re used to thinking of now.

The discussions we see today — whether we’re talking energy sources, farming practices or fashion choices — are not even the right kind of debate. Unable to mentally grapple with the idea that we need to be aiming for total sustainability right now, we talk to death the same series of inadequate baby steps. Faced with the need to reinvent the material basis of our civilization, we argue paper or plastic.

If you want truly dangerous bright green ideas, go way out beyond what the conventional wisdom thinks is possible. The conventional wisdom’s sense of the possible is irrelevant to reality; it’s being melted by climate change and planetary crisis faster than an Alpine glacier. Think, instead, of the implications of ideas like zero energy, zero emissions, zero waste, closed loops, true-cost accounting for the value of ecological services, product-service systems, visible flows, totally transparent backstories, open innovation, green infrastructure, etc. These concepts are really weird, full of new insights and critical uncertainties — and they, or ideas like them, are very quickly going to become the operating principles of our entire society. If we want to avoid a catastrophic collision with ecological reality, we need to change our thinking.

Our ideas of what’s normal, or even what’s possible, will not outlast the next decade.
(28 May 2008)

The Geopolitics of $130 Oil

George Friedman, Stratfor
… It is not altogether clear to us why oil and grains have behaved as they have. The question for us is what impact this generalized rise in commodity prices – particularly energy and food – will have on the international system.

… it seems to us that we have entered a new geopolitical era.

… Obviously, the winners in this game are those who export oil, and the losers are those who import it. The victory is not only economic but political as well. The ability to control where exports go and where they don’t go transforms into political power. The ability to export in a seller’s market not only increases wealth but also increases the ability to coerce, if that is desired.

The game is somewhat more complex than this. The real winners are countries that can export and generate cash in excess of what they need domestically.
(27 May 2008)
At Gristmill, David Roberts summarizes the article:

The U.S. is hit, but not too hard, given its transition from manufacturing to services. China gets the worst of it by far — it lives by manufacturing but it’s forced to hold prices down to avoid unrest, so it’s “squeezing profits out of exports.” Russia’s stock is way, way up, as it’s sitting on big reserves of both oil and gas and foreign currency. Saudi Arabia is sitting pretty, and may actually become a force for peace (or at least stabilization) in the region to preserve its catseat. Iraq may calm down to focus attention on getting oil going, and Iran is kicking itself for letting its oil assets degrade — it too may need to seek peace with the West. Relative to this unfolding dynamic, international terrorism is not particularly significant.

The world must end its addiction to oil

Johann Hari, Independent
This week, a battalion of angry addicts brought London to a standstill. They snarled up the traffic, then marched on 10 Downing Street to demand their fix at prices they can afford. Across the world, in countries as different as the US and Iran, fellow junkies are rising up in rage. Their addiction is to a gloopy black drug called petrol – and we are all about to go cold turkey.

In the past seven years, the price of oil has soared from $30 (£15) a barrel to $140. By the end of next year it could be at $200. No matter how much we plead or howl at our governments, it will never go back: the final act of the Age of Oil has begun.
(29 May 2008)

Interview With Author of The Carbon Age

Scott Nance, Energy Policy TV
Washington, DC – Eric Roston, Senior Associate, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University; Scott Nance, Content Acquisition Manager, Energy Policy TV

Roston is interviewed about his book, titled, The Carbon Age, which uses peer-reviewed scientific papers, interviews with scientists and other primary sources to tell the broad story of carbon through the origins of the universe to modern times.

Related content found at:
Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
(28 May 2008)