Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's Your Money

Give some serious thought to "moving it" in 2010

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Free Virtual School

As we move away from the old societal structures, how we learn and process information is likely going to change. The one shoe fits all approach will give way to a more diverse learning model, especially as education will truly become a necessary lifetime endeavor.

One of the more interesting approaches I've come across is The Kahn Academy, a not-for-profit organization with its mission “of providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere.” With over 1,000 videos, covering everything from basic arithmetic to evolutionary biology, The Kahn Academy provides a virtual and free education across the globe. This site is definitely worth visiting. You can look through the various videos. Go to The Kahn Academy.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saving $14 Billion

So how much food could the average person grow within 100 square feet? What if millions of individuals got rid of those drug addicted lawns and planted gardens instead? For a really interesting article go to  Grow $700 of Food in 100 Square Feet!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sustainability & Local Government

ICLEI-Local Government for Sustainability has issued its 2009 report. This is an association of local governments focusing on climate protection and sustainable development. There are 600 members in the United States. How has your region done? How has your city done? See 2009 Annual Report

Friday, December 18, 2009

More Climate Data

The Annual Global Climate Risk Index for 2010 has just been released. The index shows the vulnerability of each country in the world and the financial costs of climate change. In terms of potential financial loss, the U.S., according to the report, ranks number one on the index. The methodology and the limitation of the report are explained on pp 4 and 13. See Risk Index 2010

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Indirect Carbon Market

Frontline World has a terrific video piece on one of the first “carbon preserves” in the world located in Brazil. As carbon trading begins to take shape, large international corporations look for ways to develop carbon “offsets.” It's how this particular story in one of the most biodiverse forests along Brazil's Atlantic coast started.

It has become a clash of the numerous stakeholders, from indigenous people to farmers, from the black market to preservation, from food to climate change. It is an important story because we are trying to balance how we can survive and prosper on this one planet together. Go to Brazil: The Money Market

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stolen E-Mail

Like it or not, for the time being, environmental journalists and climate scientists cannot ignore the continual mischief, cherry picking, and outright lies of the climate change denialists. In addition to doing a better job explaining climate change to the general public and actively supporting a far stronger science curriculum in schools, scientists and journalists need to demonstrate how climate denial more often than not has little to do with actual science. Too much is at stake.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Spreading the Food

Yes, hunger is a very real problem in America and getting worse. Here is a way communities and backyard gardeners can help. It may seem like a small endeavor but it's a path toward feeding people and building resilient communities throughout the country. Go to Ample Harvest

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Boomerang and Flocking

Is the key cultural change? Marketing people and advertisers have been studying consumer behavior for well over 50 years. In fact, mass marketing began in the United States in the 1920s. Advertisers have to know why what people buy what stuff. Mistakes are costly.

It's the broad areas of environment and energy that have lagged way behind the “detergent” aisle. We've all heard the familiar complaint: “Why don't they get it, we've given them information and handed out brochures. Can't they see it?” Of course we are now beginning to understand a little better just who can not see. We have perhaps met the enemy.

Mistakes are going to be very costly for all of us if we do not get the environmental priorities figured out. How might a better understanding of human behavior move us toward energy efficiency, among other things? See Making buildings more efficient: It helps to understand human behavior. How Understanding the Human Mind Might Save the World from CO2.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Some Farming Visionary (3)

If the goal is to create sustainable societies, how does the natural world work and how might we learn to be part of it?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Some Farming Visionary (2)

How can we fit in and survive within the natural world?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Some Farming Visionary (1)

How does critical thinking, observation, and common sense start the process of change? Watch this video.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Color World None

Could we really do it? I think we could. I saw the movie The Road on “Black Friday,” an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel, who also wrote No Country for Old Men. I'll leave it to the literary and film critics to analyze and dissect the film. This movie is about a lot of things but most important it is about a dying planet, in the literal sense.

While not specified in the novel or the movie we humans, in numerous ways, decided our world was not sacred nor was sustainability an important priority. The film will undoubtedly elicit a range of feelings among the moviegoers, but one of mine was anger. We humans are the supreme dysfunctional narcissists.

In The Road there are no plants remaining, trees are dying and falling over, and all the animals have gone. No, life cannot continue without the prosaic carbon cycle. Some will say that we could conceivably regulate the carbon cycle artificially, food could be synthesized using genetic engineering, and terraforming of the moon, asteroids, and even Mars might be possible someday. Should we start now, just in case?

The movie turns the whole idea of the “glorious” revolution and “rights” into a final, very black comedy. On the Left, workers of the world are not going to unite and sing The Internationale; on the Right, all the stupid guns will run out of bullets and all the silly camouflage uniforms will simply rot away. Now imagine the last dying gasp of an unpleasant species--cannibalism.

As I grow older I find religious fundamentalism of all varieties increasingly repugnant. A collection of death cults conjured up in feverish imaginations during the late Bronze and early Iron Age. For some it is a trip to magic kingdom, for others “may you rot in hell,” wherever that is. But for all, don't worry about planet Earth or all the non-human life, for the Entity will forgive your transgressions, just plead your case only a little. Now that ethereal view is truly a license to kill, maim, and slaughter.

We know the carnage the developed world has wrought upon our planet, but the developing world is anxious to catch up. China is working hard to possibly be the worst plunderer of natural resources in human history, Brazil rationalizes on a daily basis why just one more acre of the rainforest can be cut down for cattle ranches and soybean plantations, and India announces with pride that it now has an inexpensive internal combustion engine for the masses. No longer are those awful bicycles needed.

I'll take the sunset dipping over a wine-dark sea, a hawk nesting in a city skyscraper, a wolf howling to the moon, a whale leaping high into the air, and a child smiling with pure delight while examining the earthworm at his or her feet.

This earthly world is really worth “protecting.” The question should never be why. Now is the time to be working hard to create resilient communities that connect with everything and everyone in some way.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Only a Return

Within the next three weeks I'll be posting articles on my Sanctuary blog, which I started back in 2004 and stopped in August 2007, in order to write Earth Notes, an environmental and sustainability blog with the Kansas City Star.

Two plus years however is long enough and it's time to do something else. Earth Notes will simply cease to exist.

So what will I do with Sanctuary? For the time being I'll focus on the broad area of sustainability. Much has changed in the world and certainly in the U.S. over the past two years. How do we go about creating a sustainable world, sustainable countries, sustainable cities, and sustainable communities in the 21st century? Could we all be embarking on something brand new?

I'd certainly like to post original articles from other writers on sustainability issues, ideas both big and small, keeping the posts to 300 words maximum. Comments are of course always welcomed. We'll see what happens.