The SourceBook is a concise (58 pages), attractive and user-friendly personal manual for contributing to a sustainable world. It contains essential information on the state of the planet and recommended solutions, effective actions for greening your life, and a resource directory of useful organizations, books, films and websites.
We will make available updates on the book periodically that can be downloaded from our site.
• Overview of the global vital signs and trends in the most critical areas: aaa- Environment: Ecosystems and Natural Resources
• Wherever possible, accompanying these trends with viable solutions, and ideas about how to best implement these solutions.
• Principles and actions for "greening" one's personal life and lowering one's ecological footprint, covering energy use, purchasing & investment guidelines, waste, transportation, food choices, etc.
• How communities can become (and are becoming) more sustainable.
• Guidelines for creating and running Community Action Teams.
• Directory of organizations relevant to personal engagement and action, with description by category. This includes a regional section (San Francisco Bay Area), national and international.
• Listings of useful books, films and websites that similarly support citizen education and engagement.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
National Strategy 2006-2014
The document collect the main objectives and strategies that national authorities will developed during the next years in order to improve the Sustainability in Mexico through Environmental Education. I want to share the document, because
1. To consolidate environmental education for sustainability as a public policy based on specific legislation and mainstreamed in other related fields, on solid governmental and civic institutions, on significant financial resources earmarked for important programs and project that aim for the construction of an environmental culture in
2. To create a broad of environmental education and capacity building alternatives that will provide the country and its different areas with environmental educators responding to environment demands for the construction of sustainability and critical activities.
3. To have frameworks, at different levels, for the development of environmental education for sustainability.
4. To consolidate the Environmental Education as field of knowledge through programs to systematize and evaluate practices, foster educational innovations, training researchers, and create mechanisms for articulating, communicating, etc.
The strategy and the main objectives of the strategy sounds really great, but until now that´s just paper. The Sustainable are in the National Strategy Plan as a main goal for the country for the next 6 years, but the specific plan are not ready yet, during the next months we will know what exactly the government are going to develop in order to achieve the goal.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has released its latest detailed report, "Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4)," which examines the state of the planet from a number of different aspects. The scientists who put the report together are concerned. They identified a number of "major threats," including "climate change, the rate of extinction of species, and the challenge of feeding a growing population."
GEO-4 is the latest in UNEP's series of flagship reports. The first one, "Environment and Development, Our Common Future" [the Brundtland Commission], appeared 20 years ago. The reports assess the current state of the "global atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity." The latest one describes the changes since 1987 and identifies priorities for action.
"GEO-4 is the most comprehensive UN report on the environment, prepared by about 390 experts and reviewed by more than 1 000 others across the world," UNEP's bulletin noted.
The report is not entirely negative. There has been progress "in tackling some relatively straightforward problems," and environmental concerns are now "much closer to mainstream politics everywhere." However, there remain "the harder-to-manage issues, the 'persistent' problems." A look at these concerns led the GEO-4 report to state: "There are no major issues raised in Our Common Future for which the foreseeable trends are favorable."
In addition the UNEP warns that "failure to address these persistent problems may undo all the achievements so far on the simpler issues, and may threaten humanity's survival." But it did add: "The objective is not to present a dark and gloomy scenario, but an urgent call for action."
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, noted that the "international community's response to the Brundtland Commission has in some cases been courageous and inspiring. But all too often it has been slow and at a pace and scale that fails to respond to or recognize the magnitude of the challenges facing the people and the environment of the planet.
"But, as GEO-4 points out, there continue to be 'persistent' and intractable problems unresolved and unaddressed. Past issues remain and new ones are emerging - from the rapid rise of oxygen 'dead zones' in the oceans to the resurgence of new and old diseases linked in part with environmental degradation. Meanwhile, institutions like UNEP, established to counter the root causes, remain under-resourced and weak," Steiner continued.
The report makes clear that the world community "does not face separate crises - the 'environmental crisis', 'development crisis' and energy crisis' are all one."
Specifically, a phenomenon such as climate change is interconnected with "extinction rates and hunger." Other problems are driven simply by the world's increasing population – highlighted by the "rising consumption of the rich and the desperation of the poor."
Copies of the GEO- 4 report are available for download at: www.unep.org/geo/geo; and on UNEP's official distributor's web site: http://www.earthprint.com/go.htm?to=DEW0962NA; printed copies are also available through EarthPrint Limited, - P.O. Box 119, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 TP, U.K., or by fax: + 1 38 7 88 -Tel: + 1 38 7 8 111 and e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: UNEP - www.unep.org
>> DOWNLOAD REPORT
Full Report (Large file: 22.5 MB)
Monday, October 29, 2007
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba's economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens. It is an unusual look into the Cuban culture during this economic crisis, which they call "The Special Period." The film opens with a short history of Peak Oil, a term for the time in our history when world oil production will reach its all-time peak and begin to decline forever. Cuba, the only country that has faced such a crisis – the massive reduction of fossil fuels – is an example of options and hope.
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil is a project of The Community Solution, a non-profit organization that designs and teaches low-energy solutions to the current unsustainable, fossil fuel based, industrialized, and centralized way of living. Visit www.communitysolution.org for more information.Presentation: Low-energy Cuba
But as we enter the 21st century, serious questions are beginning to emerge about the sustainability of this way of life. With brutal honesty and a touch of irony, The End of Suburbia explores the American Way of Life and its prospects as the planet approaches a critical era, as global demand for fossil fuels begins to outstrip supply. World Oil Peak and the inevitable decline of fossil fuels are upon us now, some scientists and policy makers argue in this documentary.
The consequences of inaction in the face of this global crisis are enormous. What does Oil Peak mean for North America? As energy prices skyrocket in the coming years, how will the populations of suburbia react to the collapse of their dream? Are today's suburbs destined to become the slums of tomorrow? And what can be done NOW, individually and collectively, to avoid The End of Suburbia ?
Full movie (low image quality. only audio quality is fine):
Sunday, October 28, 2007
· Output peaked in 2006 and will fall 7% a year
· Decline in gas, coal and uranium also predicted
· Decline in gas, coal and uranium also predicted
The German-based Energy Watch Group will release its study in London today saying that global oil production peaked in 2006 - much earlier than most experts had expected. The report, which predicts that production will now fall by 7% a year, comes after oil prices set new records almost every day last week, on Friday hitting more than $90 (£44) a barrel.
“The world soon will not be able to produce all the oil it needs as demand is rising while supply is falling. This is a huge problem for the world economy,” said Hans-Josef Fell, EWG’s founder and the German MP behind the country’s successful support system for renewable energy.
The report’s author, Joerg Schindler, said its most alarming finding was the steep decline in oil production after its peak, which he says is now behind us.
The results are in contrast to projections from the International Energy Agency, which says there is little reason to worry about oil supplies at the moment.
However, the EWG study relies more on actual oil production data which, it says, are more reliable than estimates of reserves still in the ground. The group says official industry estimates put global reserves at about 1.255 gigabarrels - equivalent to 42 years’ supply at current consumption rates. But it thinks the figure is only about two thirds of that.
Global oil production is currently about 81m barrels a day - EWG expects that to fall to 39m by 2030. It also predicts significant falls in gas, coal and uranium production as those energy sources are used up.
Britain’s oil production peaked in 1999 and has already dropped by half to about 1.6 million barrels a day.
The report presents a bleak view of the future unless a radically different approach is adopted. It quotes the British energy economist David Fleming as saying: “Anticipated supply shortages could lead easily to disturbing scenes of mass unrest as witnessed in Burma this month. For government, industry and the wider public, just muddling through is not an option any more as this situation could spin out of control and turn into a complete meltdown of society.”
Mr Schindler comes to a similar conclusion. “The world is at the beginning of a structural change of its economic system. This change will be triggered by declining fossil fuel supplies and will influence almost all aspects of our daily life.”
Jeremy Leggett, one of Britain’s leading environmentalists and the author of Half Gone, a book about “peak oil” - defined as the moment when maximum production is reached, said that both the UK government and the energy industry were in “institutionalised denial” and that action should have been taken sooner.
“When I was an adviser to government, I proposed that we set up a taskforce to look at how fast the UK could mobilise alternative energy technologies in extremis, come the peak,” he said. “Other industry advisers supported that. But the government prefers to sleep on without even doing a contingency study. For those of us who know that premature peak oil is a clear and present danger, it is impossible to understand such complacency.”
Mr Fell said that the world had to move quickly towards the massive deployment of renewable energy and to a dramatic increase in energy efficiency, both as a way to combat climate change and to ensure that the lights stayed on. “If we did all this we may not have an energy crisis.”
He accused the British government of hypocrisy. “Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have talked a lot about climate change but have not brought in proper policies to drive up the use of renewables,” he said. “This is why they are left talking about nuclear and carbon capture and storage. ”
Yesterday, a spokesman for the Department of Business and Enterprise said: “Over the next few years global oil production and refining capacity is expected to increase faster than demand. The world’s oil resources are sufficient to sustain economic growth for the foreseeable future. The challenge will be to bring these resources to market in a way that ensures sustainable, timely, reliable and affordable supplies of energy.”
The German policy, which guarantees above-market payments to producers of renewable power, is being adopted in many countries - but not Britain, where renewables generate about 4% of the country’s electricity and 2% of its overall energy needs.
The speed at which mankind is using and abusing the Earth’s resources is putting humanity’s survival at risk, scientists have said.
The bleak assessment of the state of the environment globally was issued as an “urgent call for action” amid growing concerns of worldwide waste, neglect and governmental inertia.
Fundamental changes in political policy and individual lifestyles were demanded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as it gave warning that the “point of no return” for the environment is fast being approached.
The damage being done was regarded by the UN programme as so serious that it said the time had come for the environment to be a central theme of policy-making instead of just a fringe issue, even though it would damage the vested interests of powerful industries.
Marion Cheatle, of the environment programme, said that damage sustained by the environment was of fundamental economic concern and, if left unchecked, would affect growth.
“The report provides incontrovertible evidence of unprecedented environmental change over the last 20 years that, unless checked, will fundamentally undermine economic development for current and future generations,” she said as the report was released in London.
The report, the fourth Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4), assessed the impact on the environment since 1987.
It was drafted on the basis of reports by almost 400 scientists, all experts in their fields, whose findings were subjected to review by another 1,000 scientists.
Climate change was identified as one of the most pressing problems but the condition of freshwater supplies, agricultural land and biodiversity were considered to be of equal concern.
It came 20 years after the publication Our Common Future by the Brundtland Commission, the first attempt by the UN to provide a comprehensive review of Man’s impact on the environment.
The authors of the latest report said there had been progress on some environmental problems in the past two decades, most notably the international agreement to protect the ozone layer. But while maintaining that they wanted to avoid presenting a “dark and gloomy scneario”, they concluded: “There are no major issues raised in Our Common Future for which the foreseeable trends are favourable.”
They said the scale of the challenge was huge and highlighted a series of problems that need to be faced and tackled by people and governments around the world before damage to the environment becomes irreversible.
Increases in the world population, which has risen almost 34 per cent from 5 billion in 1987 to 6.7 billion today, have caused many of the challenges because of the demands on the Earth’s natural resources.
Demand, heightened by a three-fold increase in trade since 1987, means that more is now being produced than can be sustained in the long term. On average, each person needs 21.9 hectares of the Earth’s surface to supply their needs whereas, it was calculated, the Earth’s biological capacity is 15.7 hectares per person.
The report was critical of the lack of action by governments in protecting the environment. The response to climate change was described as “woefully inadequate” but it was regarded as one of several significant problems that need to be addressed effectively.
“We appear to be living in an era in which the severity of environmental problems is increasing faster than our policy responses,” it said. “To avoid the threat of catastrophic consequences in the future, we need new policy approaches to change the direction and magnitude of drivers of environmental change.
“The need couldn’t be more urgent and the time couldn’t be more opportune, with our enhanced understanding of the challenges we face, to act now to safeguard our own survival and that of future generations.”
Overfishing was singled out as an issue that needed to be tackled as a priority. Measures to protect biodiversity, with species being forced into extinction at a rate 100 times faster than any in fossil records, were regarded as equally urgent.
Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP, said that the international community’s response to environmental issues was at times “courageous and inspiring”, but all too often was inadequate.
“The systematic destruction of the Earth’s natural and nature-based resources has reached a point where the economic viability of economies is being challenged - and where the bill we hand to our children may prove impossible to pay,” he said.
Mike Childs, of the environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth, said: “The steady degradation of the world’s environment threatens the well-being of everybody on the planet.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the report illustrated the importance of living sustainably: “It is the only way to improve global life expectancy and income inequality, beat climate change, reduce deforestation and protect biodiversity.”
These come via Tuco Rides - A cyclist and vegetarian willing to do some fairly crazy stuff to save a few polar bears.
1. Photographer Norbert Rosing planned to take some sunset photos of a group of sled dogs near Churchill, Manitoba, in northern Canada on the Hudson Bay, when from stage left comes a 1200 pound polar bear.
2. The dogs' owner thinks he's just about to lose his pack. The dogs, though, don't growl, but crouch down and bark and wag their tails as though they want to play.
3. The polar bear thinks, yeah, I want to play, too!
4. And it turns out that you don't have to weigh less than a thousand pounds to be gentle.
5. So the dogs say "You should come back and play some more."
6. The polar bear does. He comes back several times during the course of the next week to roughhouse with his little friends.
It's pretty wonderful, this planet we've been given to live on. Need I say more?
People ask me if the reduced use of consumer conveniences that goes with the No Impact project doesn't mean a lot of deprivation. I say that I spend more time with my family, eat more healthily, get more exercise and am a better dad. Then I ask: "Was I more deprived before or am I more deprived now?"
The point is that the money we make, the things we buy and the planetary resources we use--or waste--aren't what make us happier. This is the finding of the forthcoming book The How of Happiness by University of California, Riverside researcher Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky.
Her findings show that contributions to our happiness come:
- 50% from a genetically-determined set point (which we can do nothing about)
- 10% from our life circumstances or situations (which means we could trash the entire planet to get ourselves the biggest house and fastest car and still barely feel better)
- 40% from--are you ready?--how we act and how we think.
This confirms my No Impact experience that environmentalism--preserving rather than using up planetary resources--means nothing like depriving ourselves of happiness. Instead, it suggests that using less and treating the planet kindly means we get to stop distracting ourselves from what really makes us happy.
Of our assumptions about happiness, Lyubomirsky writes:
"Perhaps the most common error is that we assume that positive events ... will provide much more happiness than they really do. Take materialism, the pursuit of money and possessions, as an example. Why is it so hard for us (even myself!) to believe that money really doesn't make us happy? Because the truth is that money does make us happy. But our misunderstanding, as one happiness researcher eloquently puts it, is that 'we think money will bring lots of happiness for a long time, and actually it brings a little happiness for a short time.' Meanwhile, in our effortful pursuit of such dead ends to pleasure, we end up ignoring other, more effective routes to well-being."
What are the more effective routes? Well, that gets you back to how you think and how you act, and for more on that, you'll have to read Lyubomirsky's book. But a few bullet points include:
- Nurturing and enjoying relationships with family and friends
- Being comfortable expressing gratitude
- Being the first to offer help to coworkers and passersby
- Practicing optimism about the future
- Savoring life's pleasures and living in the moment
- Exercising at least once a week
- Committing to lifelong goals and ambitions
- Coping with challenges with strength and poise
Monday, October 22, 2007
Values guide decision making
Values guide decision making. They provide a shorthand to help your mind figure out what actions to take when a decision has to be made.
If you were faced with a choice, for example, between buying a hybrid vehicle or buying an SUV, the decision would be based partly on how much they cost and how much room you needed for groceries, kids, etc. But at least part of the choice is also made based on your values — which is more important to you?
If you are faced with a choice to purchase organic apples versus buying the regular apples, part of the choice is made based on price and taste — but again part of the decision is based on values. How important is eating organic to you compared to eating the normal foods?
Values guide decision making in every part of your life. When you make a decision — even the simple decisions you don’t think about — your values help your brain figure out what to do. Your mind frames the decision against your internal values and makes a decision that’s in line what what’s important to you.
You can tell how much you have in common with other people based on their values. If their values are aligned with yours, that means they would likely make the same decisions as you when faced with certain choices.
The 21st Century Requires New Values
In order to meet the challenges we will all face together in this new century, our values will have to change. Different things will have to become important to us in order to change our behaviors, consumption patterns and the way we solve problems.
The main reasons for this are:
- Global Warming and other environmental challenges won’t be met without significant changes in individual behavior.
- The world will face many new challenges that can’t be met by any single country. We will need to work together differently.
- Governments and corporations can’t be counted on to solve these problems on their own. They have their own agendas.
- The consumption patterns of people are currently unsustainable.
In order to solve the problems of the 21st century, individual citizens will need to play a more active role. We will need to ask — or more likely push and demand — that governments and corporations take the steps required.
This will require that we as individual citizens make decisions differently. It will require that different things become important to us as individuals. It will require, in other words, that our values change.
The New Values of the 21st Century Citizen
What values will people need in the 21st Century to meet the challenges before us?
People will need to adopt values that allow us to work together and collaborate to resolve our common challenges. This means both changing our consumption patterns and our collaborative problem solving skills.
We’ll need to reduce our consumption of resources. Plus we’ll have to begin making a lot of the things we need in sustainable ways. This will be a challenge. We’ll also have to move faster to resolve problems, as well as solve problems that are big.
Governments can’t move fast enough. Worse, they can’t be trusted to provide solutions that are the best for everyone. Governments can force solutions that are only optimal for certain groups.
Corporations can’t be trusted to provide the best solutions to our problems. They work mainly in the interest of their shareholders.
So people will need to work together in collaborative groups to resolve their common problems. And our values will have to change in order for us to do so.
While there are really many, many values that people need — including those that revolve around family, community and faith — here is a set of fundamental values that the 21st Century Citizen will find valuable as we work to face the challenges of this new century:
- Reduce, Recycle, Reuse
- The Individual is more important than the corporation
- Those who make the mess, should clean it up.
- Collaboration between people is more important than government efforts. And more effective.
- You can make an impact. To magnify your impact, collaborate with others.
- Don’t blindly trust your leaders.
- Don’t blindly believe the media.
Following is a short discussion of each of the above.
Reduce, Recycle, Reuse
I knew people who had lived through the Great Depression when I was young. Their values with regard to waste, saving and getting by on less were much different than today.
A friend’s grandmother always used less detergent to wash clothes than was recommended on the box. And when the box was empty, she’d rinse water through the box to use any detergent dust that was left.
Reduce, Recycle, Reuse means that we will have to learn to adopt some of these same values.
The Individual is more important than the corporation
Corporations are perfect if you want to efficiently turn an old growth forest into paper and building materials. But if what you want is to preserve it for future generations, corporations don’t work.
There are resources on earth that need to be protected from corporations. They only way to do that is if governments put the needs of people before the desires of corporations. Governments won’t do this unless the people force it to.
It’s critical that one of our fundamental values is the assumption that corporations are subservient to the needs of people.
Those who make the mess, should clean it up.
Once I went to a concert with a friend and we sold lemonaid in the parking lot to help pay our expenses. After we’d sold a dozen or so glasses, I began to see the empty plastic cups we’d sold our lemonaid in blowing through the parking lot. One of our customers told us we should’ve provided a garbage can so people didn’t throw the cups on the ground.
She was right. We should’ve.
And if Walmart is going to sell 100 Million Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs a year, they should somehow enable you to recycle them after they burn out. Each of the bulbs contains mercury that may otherwise end up in local landfills.
The costs for cleaning up the mess should be built into the price. Otherwise, they’re just creating problems that others will have to pay for later.
Collaboration between people is more important than government efforts. And more effective.
Individuals collaborating are more effective than governments for solving many kinds of problems.
The Linux Operating System is one of the best examples of individuals collaborating on a project that changed the world. If corporations or governments had begun a project to develop Linux, they would’ve failed.
Meeting the challenges of the 21st Century will require bringing the best people in the world together in ways that are flexible and that allow them to quickly and easily share and organize information.
The scientific breakthroughs that solve the next flu crisis could come from a team that includes a scientist in China, a corporate researcher in Texas, a government official in Belgium and a university grad student in Buenos Aires. Teams like that can come together quickly and move faster than government sponsored research groups or corporate think tanks.
Problem solving approaches that rely on governments coordinating research are slower and can be subject to political interference.
One of our fundamental values should be that we work to resolve problems through the creation of collaborative groups, rather than wait for or assume that governments will solve problems for us.
You can make an impact. To magnify your impact, collaborate with others.
One of the key components of collaborative problem solving is having individuals who really believe they can make a difference. A small, committed group of individuals can move faster and accomplish more than groups many times their size.
And the truth is, individuals **can** make a difference. But when individuals change the course of history, it’s normally because they banded together with others to address a common problem.
Two people together make a bigger impact than either would by themselves. Three people can make an even bigger impact. Large groups of committed, collaborating individuals can truly change the world.
In fact, I’d propose that there is almost no problem that can’t be solved by a dedicated group of people collaborating — the trick is just to get a large enough group together.
Don’t blindly trust your leaders.
Your leaders have an agenda. That agenda is likely to be influenced by the individuals who support and fund their efforts to stay in office. Also, they may lie to you in order to retain their elected position and their control of power.
This is especially true in societies where corporations or rich individuals can exercise undue influence over government.
It’s critical then that our values reflect a fundamental distrust of government. This fosters healthy skepticism as well as a belief that government won’t solve our problems for us.
Don’t blindly believe the media.
Media is a business. As a business, it’s charter is to maximize the profits of its shareholders. It is the job of the leaders of the media corporations to put their shareholders first.
That is, you and your well-being is not first in the minds of the media. Their corporate profits are.
For example, media companies that count on advertising revenue from Oil companies and Auto manufacturers are likely to have their presentation of global warming data colored by their need to protect that advertising revenue.
As a result, there are times when news presentation is influenced by the desire to protect or increase profits. It is critical that we build into our values a basic distrust of any media source.
To meet the challenges of the 21st Century, we will need good, accurate information on Global Warming and the many other challenges we’ll face. We need to demand this from the media and learn to impact their profits when they don’t provide it.
Link to "Living Values Education"
Young people around the world are increasingly affected by violence, social problems, and a lack of respect for each other and the world around them. Parents, educators and concerned citizens in many countries are asking for help to turn around this alarming trend. Many of them believe that part of the solution is an emphasis on teaching values.
We must not just educate our children and youth "to know" and "to do", we must also educate them "to be" and "to live together". Quality education recognizes the whole person and promotes education that involves the affective domain as well as the cognitive. Values such as peace, love, respect, tolerance, cooperation and freedom, are cherished and aspired for the world over. Such values are the sustaining force of human society and progress. What children and youth learn is later woven into the fabric of society and so education must have positive values at its heart and the resulting expression of them as its aim if we are to seek to create a better world for all.
Living Values Statements
The call for values is currently echoing throughout every land, as educators, parents and even children are increasingly concerned about and affected by violence, growing social problems, and the lack of social cohesion. Educators are, once again, asked to address problems which have arisen within their societies.
Living Values Education (LVE) is a values education program. It offers a variety of experiential values activities and practical methodologies to teachers and facilitators to enable children and young adults to explore and develop 12 key personal and social values:
LVE also contains special modules for use by parents and caregivers, as well as by refugees. The Refugees Module is specifically for children-affected-by-war.
Values in Focus
We can do ANYTHING. In this new millennium humanity can achieve whatever it fixes its will upon – even the evolution of our species into something more compassionate, wise, enduring and endearing. Or we can keep on repeating the mistakes of our grandparents, fighting our way into common graves. Maybe deep change – though strange and unknown and even slightly scary – will be better than following our quaint, superstitious forebears to early extinction.
If we want to survive and thrive in the Third Millennium it’s time most of us realised we’re all a vast, single consciousness, individual creatures existing at every conceivable stage of development living in a plenitude of sizes, shapes and experiences. We’re all eyes and ears and noses of a unified planetary being, myriad sensors and transducers with infinite potential; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
These parts – species and races, for instance - all interpenetrate and rely on each other. They can’t really be parted from each other without the holographic whole being impoverished. Whether you believe a global entity can be conscious or that life is a random artefact of chemical ecology, we are all made of the same stuff – mindstuff.
Twentieth Century science came to realize all matter is made of energy. It may be some time before humanity ascertains that energy is conceived and shaped by conception, by mind itself. It may be a while before most of us realize that our thoughts literally create reality – if only because so few of us are trained to apprehend the nature of thought and to listen to ourselves. And to learn that we’re all telepathic, along with all other life-forms.
But you can do it – any time or even right now. Listen to your thoughts for five minutes. Ten. Twenty. See where they come from and go to. You may find it’s a good idea to stop them completely – for a while – and concentrate on something else. The ‘monkey mind’ fears extinction and believes that when it stops running through the infinite maze of thoughts it dies. So when you can stop all thought a large part of you no longer fears death and even has some degree of understanding, an intimation of immortality.
Our human cell-cultures – our nations and tribes and races – can all co-exist in a beautiful balance in the Third Millennium, now that information flows at the speed of light through the world wide web almost as fast as it does naturally through the plenum of the web of life. This suddenly evolving telepathic nervous system of humanity makes it possible to survive the blind gropings of our nascent space-faring technology, as it makes it possible for us all to decide for ourselves truth from fiction, honesty from lies and certitude from error.
Everyone IS everyone, everyone is telepathic, everyone is an individual in a shoal of near-clones parading their minute differences of colour and shape before each other. Now that evolution has been interrupted by civilization, aesthetics become the primary driver of species selection.
There is something that creates mind and thoughtforms – an ineffable substance that renders badly into English as ‘spirit’ or ‘aether’ – or will. Beyond bodies, forces and mind is a refined level of conscious awareness, emanating a musical multifarious dialog.
Geometry, music, harmonics and resonance are the keys to the new awareness and our new technologies. ‘Free’ energy and plenty for all is very easy to achieve with surprisingly little disruption to human life and culture. We all have free will – that’s what it takes to create infinity.
Scarcity is an illusion. Anything is possible. All we have to do is to learn to enjoy living together – for a long time. That’s all it takes to have a long, good time. Where are you sitting right now? Who is your neighbour, anyway? Time to find out.
How to create abundance
The question is not, ‘How will humanity survive?’ The real question is, ‘What kind of life do I want to live now?’
- R. Heru Ayana
“You believe in things you don’t understand…”
- Superstition by Stevie Wonder
Human-type beings are dynamic, warm-blooded domesticated primate mammals attempting to fit our varied dreams and destinies into a painful straightjacket that’s not designed for us. You could be excused for thinking that our bright shiny civilization - with its nuclear family structure created to feed the maws of factories and offices – is something that’s been around for a long time.
It hasn’t. It’s a new and temporary invention that’s impossible to sustain. A ‘family’ that’s comprised of mum, dad and the kid/s is a dangerous illusion, a pernicious superstition that is one of the biggest elephants in our cultural lounge room and the major problem that we need to resolve if we’re to learn to share and preserve the world.
The ongoing isolation that most of us in developed countries are experiencing is the end result of a deliberate policy of divide and conquer carried through to its logical extreme. In ‘wealthier’ countries the nuclear family itself is no longer the norm; many people live almost completely separated from their loved ones and dwell at a tolerable distance from their friends. We screen out the world and live behind walls that separate us from the potential for noble, happy, healthy and integrated lives.
And yet we must learn to share the planet Earth and to actually care about and like our fellow human beings, enjoying their company and striking a much better balance between shared space and our occasional need for privacy. There’s actually far more than enough to sustain us all – we can all live at a high ‘Western’ standard of living without destroying the ecosystem. The concept of Humanity’s huge ecological footprint being too large to sustain is only accurate when the old technological and social fixes aren’t exchanged for new ones that are already waiting in the wings for their overdue cue. People could continue leading their profligate lives with impunity - if the fuel and power sources were clean and the materials used for all our daily needs weren’t made of toxic chemical time bombs. The alternatives are all ready for us to adopt and use – when we’re allowed to. Or you can take matters into your own hands and bring about radical change in your life – where it matters most. Something far more fundamental than the props and scenery has to change – we have to write new scripts and roles for ourselves or someone else will do it for us.
Humans live most happily in medium-sized groups that mimic the extended family structure of our nomadic ancestors, who generally stuck together in bands numbering between twelve and three dozen. Smaller groups tend to die out and larger ones fission into smaller ones. Extended families work particularly well when you have a lot of empty space to fill; they’re a recipe for species suicide in our new millennium. And yet they remain the time-tested template for a satisfying human life and the substrate of our simian minds and emotions.
The essential difference between humans and other primates (and other animals) is that we need to invest so much time and energy into our children, to fit them into our complex temporal-lobe driven societies and make them fit to fill a useful niche in our skill-based survival machine.
Humans bond sexually for a period of time lasting from puberty to menopause. During this time younger men and women in most nomadic human bands separate out from the group for a time – until the female is pregnant and returns to the mothers and the family fold that make pregnancy, childbirth and parenting easy – and tolerable. Human pair bonding makes it possible to grow our great big brains – but it also creates something not present in other primates, when our old tribal structures break down; a nation of two that becomes separated from the rest of the clan in the modern feudal world, left to sink or swim on their own. Parents are forced to stand alone under the meager prideful possession of a shared roof (that’s purchased at the cost of their freedom and the chance to actually live their lives together) or fracturing under the strain – and they actually pay strangers to watch their children so they can work to afford ‘childcare’.
When couples have children they’re often radically disenfranchised of their childless friends, developing a new circle of acquaintances that exist in similarly isolating circumstances. The utterly altered lifestyle of isolated parents leaves little time or room for anyone but those who are part of a children’s support structure and they end up trapped in the hideous suburban nightmare we’ve foisted on our straining planet.
Wage slaves inhabit rows of near-identical expensive little boxes full of isolated and exhausted people, living next door to people in identical circumstances – prisoners of time and space, with walls between their overstrained ears. They help to build a prison planet in which the inmates actually lock themselves up each night behind barred windows and double-locked doors.
Normal, huh? Something to aspire to? Something to pass on to the kids? And so many mistake hiding in their dens and burrows as ‘getting a life’. It’d be tragic if it was an accident, or something imposed on people by a totalitarian regime - but people choose to do it to themselves and choose to ignore the pointless idiocy of their existence, so life itself is misunderstood to be a meaningless filling in of vacant time, just a joke in poor taste, like the stupid structures and ugly sterile décor people choose to live in.
The imperial hive-like pyramid structure of our militarily-incepted civilizations serve us well - if all we want to do is grab as many of the resources we all need to share as quickly as possible; if all we want to do is expend those resources as quickly as possible amid an illusion of expansion and progress in an artificially created illusory world of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
The structure of our modern - yet still feudal - societies is a structure built for insects trapped in an unchanging hive; its top-down pyramidal power systems are designed to stop change and evolution. All the power flows up to the top from the base, while those at the top get to shit on everyone else; like the primate tree-structure of society that this inhuman hive system’s been so easily grafted onto. We live in a civilization best suited to the needs of an insect colony.
In the eyes of those at the top of the human totem pole, this mass of easily led and controlled Humanity is a hitherto necessary gene pool of skilled (wage) slaves whose time has come and gone; with modern automation, the ultra-wealthy can live lives of emperors and empresses without having to maintaining a horde of underlings at a living standard that makes revolution unnecessary. A few million underlings each will do, to maintain the hierarchy of illusory privilege.
The family structures of your rulers barely resemble the nuclear template they’ve foisted on everyone else, whatever the surface appearance of their interlinked dynasties. Their children are shared in a small pool of families that are linked by ties of blood, often fathered by the related business associates of their apparent parents. With such a structure, loyalty to one’s peers is as automatic as despising the poor. If you think such a system is unlikely or impossible, consider for a moment the nature, habits and history of royalty and you’ll see that their interlinked brood of inbred despots is the template for the modern inbred gerontocracy of ‘businessmen’ and ‘CEOs’ (common enemy overlords) who preside over the patently unfair distribution of our planet’s common wealth.
The rich know that this system can’t be sustained without radical changes and that it’s really a pyramid money scam - the newly comfortable populace will be easily shaken out of the tree’s upper branches when the coming large scale war, environmental collapse and ‘market correction’ blow away everything not securely rooted in actual, tangible resources - real wealth, real capital and real estate – and also secured with guns and hired murderers/soldiers.
It works every time; whatever the ostensible political system that appears to prevail, we still live in a fundamentally feudal epoch - one that we finally have a real chance of transforming into something altogether more fair and just in our own lifetimes. The era of these hierarchical self-serving institutions is drawing to a close. If we’re smart and wise and quick we can claw victory from the jaws of defeat and heal ourselves, each other and the planet – if we knock down the physical and mental fences and walls that we’ve built to protect us from ourselves and to keep our children from their playmates.
You can’t get on easily with everyone and you wouldn’t be able to share your house with many people; it’s a natural matter of chemistry and affinity. But there are people you could live with, share your life with - if you give it a chance. As humans we need to connect with the people that mean something to us - and those that can, if given the chance. Sharing and exploring the world together is a prerequisite for a healthy society of sane, free individuals.
On the day that you die, human connexions are the only meaning you’ll divine from life; possessions and accomplishments will count for nothing. Love is the only thing you can take with you.
Try something new with your eyes wide open (to avoid the obvious and well-mapped pitfalls of human interaction) and be ready to see and experience the unexpectedly wonderful. Let’s give the next generations of humans a better loving cradle full of friendly faces to grow up in, a place where parents and children and elders all feel needed, wanted and secure. All we have to do is open our hearts and our spare spaces and link our fractured lives and disparate, poorly designed structures together into the seamless whole they can so easily become. We only need to join the dots – the puzzle pieces are all there and most of the connexions are obvious, just waiting for us to meld them together.
There are many people fed up to the teeth with the same old crap, in positions of wealth and power and have far more than they need. Many would share it with others who had similar aims and hopes – if only they could learn to trust them. There are many, many isolated people who spend their days wandering through empty, friendless rooms in houses too large for them to maintain or use. If we tear down our fences we can all share the commons again and children can learn to play in tribal groups that don’t have to become violent, disenfranchised gangs of semi-literate bozos.
The standard ‘alternatives’ are commonly plain to see; if you prefer to pace through a boring existence in the same old rat run then just do nothing new and forget all this – you can be one of the self-deceiving unhappy herd, the dreaming gene-pool of potential, brooding without actualisation.
Or you can link up with people you like and try something old and new for a change, experiment with your very lives and creativity in a catalytic spirit of truth, beauty, art and love. We an create the next Enlightenment without the need of a cleansing Black Death if we play with our potential consciously instead of existing as half-living animated corpses.
United we dance, divided we’re dead. Let’s live! Let’s party! Let’s get to know and appreciate each other, our children and grandchildren – and those of others. We have the power to achieve whatever we choose – what’s truly good for us all will come together easily. Let’s build a real civilization that fits out actual nature. Let’s live on a happy planet!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
What’s the Big Deal?
1. CFL: The better bulb
Compact florescent bulbs (CFLs) are those swirley little guys that look like soft-serve ice cream cones. Actually, they come in a myriad of different shapes, sizes, and colors of light. Economically speaking, they’re a great deal, too. CFLs cost a bit more than an incandescent, but use about a quarter as much energy and last many times longer (usually around 10,000 hours). It is estimated that a CFL pays for its higher price after about 500 hours of use. After that, it’s money in your pocket. Also, because CFLs release less heat, not only are they safer, but your cooling load is less in the summer. CFLs aren’t hard to find anymore, and many cities will give them away for free. Wal-Mart has plans to sell 100 million of them.
2. Get the LEDs out
LEDs are a definite TreeHugger favorite. LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are a technology that allows for extremely energy efficient and extremely long-lasting light bulbs. LEDs are just starting to hit the consumer market in a big (read affordable) way and still cost quite a bit more than even CFLs, but use even less energy and last even longer. An LED light bulb can reduce energy consumption by 80-90% and last around 100,000 hours. They even light up faster than regular bulbs (which could save your life it there are LEDs in the brake lights of your car). They are almost always more expensive presently, but we have seen the cost go down steadily. It’s no coincidence that the Millennium Technology Prize went to the inventor of the LED.
Most LED lamps on the market have the bulbs built into them, so you buy the whole unit. For screw-in bulbs, check out Ledtronics, Mule, and Enlux. For desk lamps, check out a few affordable ones from Sylvania and Koncept. For more designer models, look at LEDs from Herman Miller and Knoll. Vessel rechargeable accent lamps represent some of the interesting new things LEDs can do as well.
Light isn’t all about the bulbs, though. Having eco-friendly lamps and light fixtures is key to greening your lighting. When scouting for new gear, keep your eyes out for lamps made with natural, recycled, or reused materials. Lights made from recycled materials include metal, glass, or plastic, and natural materials can include felt, cloth or wood. Interesting lamps that use reclaimed materials include these made from traffic signal lenses, and these made from wine bottles. Also, don’t be shy about borrowing ideas for reuse in your own projects (see DIY).
Fluorescents last a long time, but when they’re dead, they have to be properly disposed of. CFLs, like all florescent bulbs, do contain a small amount of mercury, which means they definitely can’t be thrown in the trash. Every city has different services for recycling, so you’ll need to see what’s offered in your area. LEDs, to our knowledge, do not contain mercury, but the jury may still be out on how to best recycle them.
5. Wall warts
Power adaptors, or “wall warts” as they’re affectionately called, are those clunky things you find on many electrical cords, including those attached to lamps and some light fixtures. You’ll notice that they stay warm even when their device is turned off. This is because they in fact draw energy from the wall all the time. One way to green your lighting is to unplug their wall warts when not in use, attached lights to a power strip and turn off the whole switch when not in use, or get your hands on a “smart” power strip that knows when the devise is off.
By far, the best source of light we know is (yes, you guessed it) the sun, which gives off free, full-spectrum light all day. Make the most of daylight by keeping your blinds open (sounds obvious but you might be surprised). If you want to go a little farther, put in some skylights, or, of you are designing a home or doing a renovation, put as many windows on the south-facing side of the house as possible (or north-facing if you live in the southern hemisphere). To take it even further, sunlight can be “piped” inside via fiber optics and other light channeling technologies. [for more on light piping, check out: 1, 2, 3, 4]
7. Good habits
As efficient as your lighting equipment might be, it doesn’t make sense to have lights on when no one’s around. Turn out lights in rooms or parts of the house where no one is. Teach your family and friends about it too and it will become second nature. If you want to get a little more exact, follow these rules:
Standard incandescent: turn off even if you leave the room for just seconds. Compact fluorescent: turn off if you leave the room for 3 minutes. Standard fluorescent: turn off if you leave the room for 15 minutes.
We’re always encouraging people to take matters into their own hands. So much great eco-innovation comes when people create the things they can’t find elsewhere. Lighting is an especially accessible and rewarding thing to tackle. For some inspiration, check out the Cholesterol lamp made from cast-off plastic egg cartons, and the recycled Tube Light. Strawbale building pioneer Glen Hunter made some LED fixtures when he couldn’t find any he liked on the market. Eurolite, the company from which he bought the lighting components, liked his designs so much they decided to sell them.
9. Dimmers and motion sensors
Motion sensors can be a good way to keep lights turned off when they’re not needed, and dimmers can give you just the right amount of life, and timers can be set to turn things on and off when needed.
10. Get green power
A great way to green your lighting is to buy green power. More and more electric utilities are offering customers a green power option on their bill. Signing up for green power usually means paying a few more dollars a month to support energy in the grid that comes from renewable sources like wind, solar, or biogas. For some more info on how to get green juice, look here, and for the greenest grids in the States, look here. More info is also available in How to Green Your Electricity.
From hockey rinks schools, to Wal-Mart, to euro office buildings, natural lighting is being used to do better business, make people happier, and save energy and dollars. The presence of daylighting often shows increased worker satisfaction and productivity in offices, better test scores in schools, increased sales in retail settings, and, of course, lower energy bills.
Working with the sun
Planning your day around the planet’s great source of free, full-spectrum light is good for the brain and body, and will mean less burning of the midnight oil. Optimization theory takes advantage of the daylight cycle. It’s not just for energy savings and bringing more natural light in your life, but that’s definitely part of it.
1. According to a report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA), a global switch to efficient lighting systems would trim the world's electricity bill by nearly one-tenth. The carbon dioxide emissions saved by such a switch would, it concludes, dwarf cuts so far achieved by adopting wind and solar power. According to Paul Waide, a senior policy analyst with the IEA and one of the report's authors, "19% of global electricity generation is taken for lighting— that's more than is produced by hydro or nuclear stations, and about the same that's produced from natural gas."
2. Studies by the Heschong Mahone Group found that sales increased 40% in stores with good natural light.
3. Through the use of daylighting in design, builders can meet 25 to 33 percent of the necessary requirements to achieve a Silver LEED rating.
4. According to the federal Energy Star program: “If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars.”
Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are a big deal and we’ll be seeing them pop up in more and more places. Read more about what they are and how they work on Wikipedia’s excellent page.
A heliodon is a devise that allows architects, builders, and engineers to simulate the effects of sunlight on the lighting needs of building designs.