Friday, December 16, 2005

Presentation of Student work: Garbage disposal

From our courses in image streaming we like to publish results of sustainable planet exercises form time to time. We are happy to present here a transcript from Rick.

Assignment: Visit a place where there is no garbage and report. Include reflections and further questions.

Chapter 1

I find myself in someone’s backyard. I’m looking at a big white wall that stretches out all the way from left to right. A kennel is located somewhere in the middle and a small dog is sleeping inside. This is a cartoon scene, with very bright colours. Grim death and two small children appear in the scene and approach the dog. Grim death appears to be intimidating, but he is nothing more then a skeleton wearing a long black cape. Suddenly one of the children, a girl grabs his cape and throws it away. Grim death is now a naked skeleton. An instant later his bones collapse to the ground. The dog wakes up and grabs one of his bones. The dog runs away. The girl looks angry and points towards the dog. Both children follow the animal.
A man and woman are walking hand in hand toward the kennel. They wear sweaters with “mom” and “dad” printed on it respectively. When the man sees the empty kennel he is surprised. He looks at a pole. The dog was lined to that pole, but somehow it escaped. The dog runs out of the garden and onto the street. I run after him to see what is happening.
The street is both wide and long. Across it I see big, beautiful houses. This is a suburb. To my left I can see a village in the distance. It’s only a small village, but for some reason a giant nuclear reactor is built in the middle of it. The village is cartoon like, but the suburb is realistic. The suburb is located on a high hill, while the village is located in a dale. A car is approaching from the village. It’s driven by a middle aged cartoon figure, wearing an expensive suit and big squarish glasses. The dog is sitting calmly on the street. The man in the car is scared to death when he sees the dog in front of him. He brakes very hard and stops just in time. The dog doesn’t move at all. It just sits there. The moment the car is stopped the dog sees a cat and runs after it. The cat looks neat and tidy, probably belonging to some rich woman from the suburb. The dog growls and chases the cat.

Analysis: At first this scene appeared to have nothing to do with the question at hand. A closer look reveals more. First of all; it is a cartoon scene. When my image stream uses cartoon images it usually is mocking something. Both the children and mom and dad could be just that; mom dad and their two children. An average Western family. Grim death is a different story however. He could definitely be a metaphor for some strange sort of behaviour. At first he appeared to be an intimidating figure, but since he was walking along two children that could hardly be the case. When his cape was removed he lost not only his appearance, but his body as well. In reality he was nothing more then a cheap sack of bones.
The cape appeared to have an important part in this scene, so I asked myself what it could mean. I found myself in an arena, where the same girl that removed Grimm’s cape is facing an angry bull, using Grimm’s cape as a Spanish bull fighter would his. I notice that although the outside of the cape is black the inside is red. The girl doesn’t look scared or frightened, but rather grumpy. With ease she fends of the bull using her red cape. The cape thus appears to be some sort of control mechanism. The girl uses the cape to her advantage. For further insight my image stream shows the girl shouting to the other kid, a boy. The boy has a rather silly appearance. When the girl shouts he starts crying and runs away. For a moment the girl looks sad, but then she regains her normal grumpy face.
After viewing the rodeo scene got some hints on what this image might mean, but I wasn’t sure what the bull was doing in it. When I asked myself what it could mean I viewed the bull in a static image. Slowly this bull changed into a bison. The bison stayed, but the surrounding changed into a pink world. The bull was skating on ice, while snow was falling from the sky. The bull wasn’t very good at skating and soon fell flat on it’s face.

The scene mocks the lifestyle of an average Western family. The children are playing with grim death, who represents something from our culture. Grim death make be a metaphor for our culture as a whole. The system is hollow though, as the only thing that holds it together is the cape. The cape is a metaphor for control and power. Whoever has the cape is in control. But according to my image stream possessing the cape of death is not a power worth pursuing. Mom and dad are on a different level though. They walk hand in hand in their backyard, but noticing little of what is around them. They don’t notice their children are playing with death, or that their dog has just escaped. The dog is outside influence. The dog is like a vulture, seizing it’s chance only when the prey is weak. The dog may be a metaphor for those who take advantage of other’s weaknesses. As this blog has proven many times our society is not sustainable in the long run. When part of our system collapses. People will take advantage of it, just like the dog took advantage of grim’s collapse.

Chapter two

In a large, green garden a man is working. He looks exactly the same as the man that was driving the car in chapter one, but they are not the same person. He is mowing the grass. The lawn looks neat and tidy, but cut grass is spread all over the ground. A sprinkler machine wets the soil. Somewhat further away a few children are playing. The same boy from chapter one is playing jump rope. Grim death and the girl are also in this scene. The girl seems to push grim death away. He is annoying her. Suddenly the camera changes into a frog’s perspective. I look up at the girl. Thunder strikes the sky for a second. Then everything returns to normal. The girl is intimidating and grumpy. Ones again grim death falls onto the ground in a pile of bones. It’s like I’m watching a complete rerun of what happened in the first scene, only now I am in a different locations. The characters are exactly the same though. The dog picks up one of grim’s bones again and runs away. This time a small sweeping wagon is driving down the street. Driving it is a big, bold, but relaxed looking guy wearing a red sweater, blue jeans and a cap. Again the dog runs onto the street and again he is nearly hit by a vehicle. The man stops just in time and the dog crosses the street. Until he sees the cat again. He growls and runs after it.

Analysis: This scene is mostly a rerun from chapter one. One things that interests me is the bull, because I am still not sure what it means. When I ask myself what the bull stands for, the animal appears before my eyes. He is sniffing into some garbage cans. Could the bull be something that disposes of garbage? Perhaps the bull is nature’s mechanism of disposing garbage. Scene one was in the backyard of an average western family. Scene two takes place in the rich suburbs. Again culture is hollow and collapses as people take advantage of a system and abuse it. Take apart the outer appearance of our system and it collapses. I believe that is what my IS, is trying to tell me here. On the other hand the cape may also mean that our current institutions for disposing of garbage are not very good or efficient. The outer appearance of the cape is all that holds it together.

Chapter three

I was the man who was driving the sweeping vehicle stepping out his machine and walking into a school. There is a long hallway. The floor shines from polishing, but the man takes a broom and starts mopping the floor. In the middle of the hallway is a closet full of lockers. Two girls/young women are walking down the hallway and to the lockers. One is wearing a white shirt and green skirt, while the other looks slightly older (a teacher perhaps?). She has black hair and wears a red vest and black skirt. They are talking to each other, but I cannot hear what they are saying. It’s nonsense and reminds me of the chattering of birds. The younger girls opens the locker to put away some schoolbooks. Strangely enough inside the locker is a golden statue of Buddha. As I look at the image it is enlarged and suddenly I find myself inside a Buddhist temple and looking up to a huge statue of Buddha. But before long the scene changes back again to the school The man is still cleaning while whistling a tune. He looks happy and satisfied. The girls walk out of the building.

Analysis: The man cleaning is satisfied; that is not the problem. As I ask myself what the problem then is I see the two women walking down the hallway again, but they are leaving black footprints behind. The hall is made dirty. I ask myself what the solution is. The golden Buddha statue appears in the schools hallway. People are walking up and down the hallway and everyone notices the big golden Buddha statue. The Buddha statue continues to grow and grow until it towers many kilometres high. The golden Buddha statue appears to be the key. Since the statue is growing and growing all the time the statue probably has something to do with awareness. This is also in line with the teaching of Buddha in which enlightenment was also a central theme. Buddha evokes for me a feeling of awareness and in this scene the awareness of people grows.

So if the golden Buddha statue is the solution; what exactly does the statue mean?

I view a house. A nice house, but nothing out of the ordinary. I am standing on a driveway, looking at a grey car which is being washed at the moment. A man with a hose in hand cleans the cars. Water and soap form small rivers on the driveway. This process reminds me of the man in the suburbs who has mowing his lawn. A sprinkler installation was wetting the soil. What do the two have in common?

I view a big yellow crane that is standing on our driveway. The machine is holding up a mortar mixing machine. But mortar is leaking from the machine onto the ground. The crane is something you use for construction. But the very process of construction leaves garbage. In the former chapter we saw behaviour having to do with consuming. Now we see the other side of the process; producing. The basics of economy tell us about a balance between producing and consuming. I believe something similar is going on here.

There’s more to this scene however. The trunk of the car is open and many people are putting garbage bags in it. The garbage bags clearly have green waste in them. I can see some twigs with leaves sticking out of the bags. The bags are put into the trunk of the car, although there is not enough space by far to put all the bags in.

Analysis: This scene shows some very interesting things. The car is a good produced. It is technology. Technology needs cleaning and undertaking. Otherwise it will break down eventually. The car is being washed, but water and soap flow into the soil. Then there is the crane. The crane is a metaphor for production. Production leaves waste. At least mass production leaves waste. And like mortar; if you leave it for too long the waste will become impossible to remove. Quantity of waste is also a problem. Though this image shows me a clear distinction between natural waste and waste produced by technology, if natural waste is produced in too great numbers it too can become a burden and harmful to the environment.

Chapter four

It has been some time now since I thought up the first three chapters. They contained fascinating information and I greatly enjoyed myself while conjuring them up, but at that point in time I simply could not figure out what the solution was. But a few days ago I came back to review the garbage problem and a new thought suddenly appeared to me. This is what I saw. There is an image of a house. It’s a quite normal house and there appears to be nothing special or particular about it. But then the image changes into a side view of the house. A two dimension view of the house where I can see the outline of all the rooms and what is in them. My attention is then caught by what is below the house. I see a tunnel; going down vertically in the ground, but after about five meters depth, it makes a 90 degree turn and moves on horizontally. This image then changes into an elevator going down. The elevator is held up by ropes and it makes a low, zooming noise as it moves downward. The ropes are thick and strong and they have to be because the elevator is heavy. A feeling creeps over me, cold and harsh. A wind blows through the air, though I cannot point at the direction from which it is coming. The elevator changes into a scene where I see garbage cans. Two big garbage cans; one green for natural waste and a grey/black one for everything else. These cans are standing outside of the house I was speaking about before. My feelings then tell me I should link the waste which are in these cans, to a different can, which is in the house. That is to say; the garbage that is now in the cans outside of the house should be moved to cans inside of the house. This garbage can then be put in the tunnel, where it is transported to somewhere else. As a system the tunnel works in much the same way as a sewer. I see a dark sewer with stinking water appear before my eyes. It is dark. The only light is coming from a lantern I am holding in my hand. This scene, which was realistic at first now changes into a painting. It is a beautiful painting, though dark. My feeling tells me a system much like a sewer is the answer to our problem.

Linking all the images I saw is not very difficult. I believe that in order to achieve a society with zero waste, we would need to set up a collective system of garbage disposal that works in much the same way as a sewer. Garbage would be collected, stored and then transported in a sewer like system of tunnels, which lead up to a central point where garbage can be collected. From this central point it is much easier to dispose of or recycle the waste. Because garbage is now collectively stored costs will go down as well, after the initial costs of setting up a sewer like system have been overcome. The garbage cannot be transported by water, as is done in a regular sewer of course, so we need to think of something else. I believe the wind I felt while seeing the elevator move might hold a clue. Perhaps we could think of creating some sort of vacuum that pulls garbage to the collective site for collection.


The above text concerns the outline of a system for garbage disposal. It is collective and therefore efficient and it may hold the clue to achieve a cleaner and more sustainable society. There is however another component and that was outlined by the first three chapters. I believe the Buddha statue says it best. In order to achieve a sustainable society we need to change people attitude. The Buddha statue evokes for me a feeling of balance and peace. For goodness and that which is right. Image streaming itself may hold a clue in changing peoples attitude towards society. It is much like Socrates said; that which is expressed by the learner is a hundred times more effective then what is lectured towards the learner. The first three chapter of this image stream showed me the attitude of this society and it wasn’t very good. If we wish to do something about this attitude we need people to think for themselves. Education is an excellent opportunity to stimulate people in this activity. So in conclusion I believe there are two components that make up the solution to the problem of garbage. The first is an actual system of collective garbage collection that works in much the same way as a sewer, though a system by which the garbage moves through this system would have to be developed. The second and perhaps the most important one concerns peoples attitude towards society itself. In order to achieve a truly sustainable society, it’s people would first need to come to the conclusion –by their own means- that their society needs to be sustainable. Education gives an excellent opportunity for this. What is expressed by the learned is much more important then what is lectured towards the learner.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Renewable energy brings consumers savings already today - if they belong to a wind power cooperative

Örjan Hedblom, Chairman of the Swedish lobby organisation for wind power saves 3000 kronor (about 300 Euros) on electricity every year thanks to wind power. This is because he has gone into wind power as an investor. Says Örjan ”I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it. The investment pays back after a few years, and you can get out and get your investment at any time.”

The Swedish state introduced a system of electricity certification of renewable energy production in 1993. This is how it works: producers of electricity get a certificate for every megawatt hour (1000 kilowatt hours) of electricity they produce. Then consumers buy the certificates from producers, or let the producers administer the certificates for them.

SVEF, Sweden’s wind power cooperative owns four wind turbines producing electricity for some 800 members. These members buy shares in the cooperative at 5 000 kronor (500 Euros) each. For each share, they buy 1000kWh of wind generated electricity. The rest of their consumption comes from traditional generation.

Ech year the government raises the percentage of renewable generation required in order to stimulate a market for these certificates, form 7.0 percent today up to 16 percent 2010.

For one kWh today members pay 0.525 kr compared with 0.722 which is the lowest non-renewably generated electricity available today. The highest is 1.033 kr. This means there are still savings to be made even including interest payments on any loans. Other wind power cooperatives show a 7-9% return on capital.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Swedish Systems ecologists, Folke Gunthe shows way to sustainable communities

Swedish Systems ecologists, Folke Gunthe, has developed a scenario to create sustainable communities re-populating the countryside. The idea consists of setting up self-sufficient communities of about 200 inhabitants, clustered together.

Key aspects of the model: local food systems, local recycling of especially phosphorus, urine separation, wetparks to clean water and community currencies.

Read the full interview with Folke by following the link above.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sweden’s oil commission “knows what needs to be done” to break dependency

The commission entrusted with the job of ensuring Sweden’s oil independency by 2020, has its main functional guidelines drawn up and members appointed.

The commission is to act in advisory capacity to assist the Prime Minister's office in identifying and prioritizing measures to reach the 2020 goal.

Says the commission’s General Secretary, Stefan Edman: ”the role of the commission is to coordinate and hasten, acting as a catalyst”
“No more investigations are needed; we know what needs to be done to break oil dependency.”

In the middle of next month they will be presented with an updated analysis of how long oil is expected to last and consequences for price. Climate issues will be taken into consideration as well.

Three main sectors they are to address include home heating, transport and industry.

A document is due to be released by the summer 2006.

Here is a list of the commission members:
Leif Johansson, Managing Director Volvo Trucks
Birgitta Johansson Hedberg, Managing Director the Swedish Farmers Supply and Crop Marketing Association
Lisa Sennerby Forsse, Professor, Formas
Christian Azar, Professor, Chalmers University of Engineering
Lotta Bångens, Chairman of the Energy Advice Association, Energirådgivarna
Lars Andersson, former chairman of the Utility Eskilstuna energi och miljö
Christer Segersten, Chairman of Södra Skogsägarna, a co-operative of over 35,000 private forest owners in southern Sweden.
Göran Johnsson, former chairman of the Swedish Metalworkers' Union

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Return to PORENA and start-up meeting at town hall

This section is the transcript of my second visualised visit to an area about to embark on sustainable development. Click on the link to go to the start.
Streamed by Max Wahlter transcribed 2005 - 11-23

The last visit was to a place starting to go through the PORENA process to become more sustainable. I was invited there by the PORENA manager, Aaron Heathcliffe. The Process started with an inventory of the basics of life support in the area.

My quest is to return to follow the process and understand the next stages.

I arrive at the departure hall and meet Aaron immediately. He guides me to a lift which opens onto a walkway over to an entrance into an area I have not been before.

We get onto a train heading for some …ville.

At our destination we go over to the town hall and meet a few people who are standing in front of a large display with various models of what appears to be a radial city. They are exploring the possibilities of re-planning their main centre on the lines of what has been learned at PORENA. They also display soil types on a topographical map. They have grouped these in a growing zone analysis. They are also displaying land use types: forest, roads, rivers, built up areas. etc

Another part of the display shows an analysis of input and outputs from the area: transport, waste produced etc. Physical analysis, city location, a map of soils map and food production, flows in and out – it all seems to be here.

Aaron starts to debrief them: “How did you complete the analysis? How did you enjoy working together..”

He seems to be drawing out of them that they can work together like this in future. He is asking them about how they felt about doing this work. It has actually got people from different areas of local government and industry working together.

Everything is now in the database and it can be flown through. Everyone is drinking tea and chatting.

Heathcliffe asks everyone to sit down. The data underlying the displays is all in the database. Some presentation in visual form has already been prepared. He goes over to the computer and starts to fly through the data from different angles. He checks the application of the radial city calculations. Shortfall or excess? He looks at the following:

1) What is grown in the area to identify shortfalls in terms of volume of food, number of fields supporting a number of people.

2) Clean water shortfall or excess.

3) Vehicles park size, status.

4) Oil and other fossil fuel use, plan for powerdown.

Heathcliffe asks further questions. The computer operator provides answers using the software. I hear the phrase “comp stat”. They go through number of cars, owners, roads driven, fuel consumptions, age of population, pop dynamics. All the data is there as a fantastic resource.

Next question from Heathcliffe: “What you think the next step would be?”

Someone from the audience raises their hand: “ I think we need to start to evaluate this data: Like what, in terms of the ability to provide a standard of living for the inhabitants here, are assets and what are liabilities.”

They agree to inventory assets and liabilities to make a value judgment. The software will present an overview of their analysis in the form of a “playing board”. In the middle, an overview map of the area. Along the top, stakeholders. Along the bottom, resource organizations. To the left, assets, to the right, concerns.

The discussion moves to assets – a good deal of land is available to grow food on - and the to concerns – a large vehicle park and a lot of transported goods.

One other concern is the lack of a centre, built on a radial pattern.

They then suggest all stakeholder organizations need to be identified. Resource organizations will be listed at the bottom.

Next is to put a value on the data using some scoring mechanism. Heathcliffe suggests they widen up their sphere of influence and open up the data to other groups. They could share the discussion on concerns and assets.

He will send a facilitator to do that.

Heathcliffe calls me over and tells me to let them get on with it themselves. They need to go through and evaluate data themselves.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Can we have SUSTAINABLE growth

We get into this debate every time. A population of people can grow in any given geographical area as long as the carrying capacity of that area (eg food producing) is not damaged. It is sustainable if this growth does not endanger carrying capacity for future generations.

Then you have economic growth. This is often translated as Gross national product and the sum of all services bought. If a population is growing, GNP could be increasing whilst GNP per capita is falling. Then you could have a situation where a few rich are gettng richer and the rest are getting poorer and you still have high economic growth.

If we could give each other services without involving the eco system we could probably have economic growth in a sustainable way. Like playing monopoly. the more we played, the more we would turn over in services (hotel charges, rent) the higher GNP per capita.

Unfortunately that is not the case. For every kg of stuff you buy 30 kg of waste and effluent are produced. All that oil burnt up for ever! THAT is not sustainable.

Monday, November 21, 2005

VERIFICATIONS, Computer simulations as public participation tool

This post follows up visualisation of a transformation process toward a sustainable community. Read the visualisation here or click on the link. LINK

Sense of urgency. No problem there, the Swedish Prime Minister announced Sweden will be oil independent by 2020. An American group, “Set America Free” is already calling for a new Manhattan project to get America off oil before the peak of production will cause economic destruction.

Map Software. This took a bit of surfing, but it seems this kind of software is quite common. You have a GIS - geographic information system LINK
Here you can have a database of information connected to positioning information and can display the information over the map, creating coured areas or symbols on the map.

Organizations: I found one US organization. The Local Government Commission (LGC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization that provides inspiration, technical assistance, and networking to local elected officials and other dedicated community leaders who are working to create healthy, walkable, and resource-efficient communities. LINK

It makes sense that by visualising information, like in a 3D fly though, you can more easily get people to understand complex relationships and concepts. LGC talks about Computer Simulation as a Public Participation Tool. One company that does this is Environmental Simulation Center.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Back to the beginning. Transcript.

Transcript of taped Image Stream: back to the beginning.
Streamed by Max Wahlter, transcribed 2005 11 17

This quest is to find out how the society now living sustainably in PORENA ever managed to develop from a technology – industrial growth community to where I found them on my last visits. Where did they start? (If you have not read about PORENA before visit this link)

If you would like to know we are publishing this read

I depart in a double-decker bus from the centre as usual. Arriving at the walled city of PORENA (if you are unfamiliar with it, the city is built in a circle with a rotating indoor walkway on the first floor.) I go up the stairs onto walkway and start to look around.
The manager I met last time, Aaron Heathcliffe, meets up with me and heads off towards the train station.
“Come on I’ve got your ticket,” he says.
He runs sprightly down the steps and onto the train, with me trailing after.
“Where are we going?” I ask slightly taken aback.
“Away from PORENA to a rural area.”
“Fine with me.”
As the train leaves I ask for a briefing.
“No, no you don’t need it - hang in there.”
I sink down into the soft and luxurious seats, and the train speeds off, reminding me of trains on the continent like Germany or Denmark.

We get off at some provincial station and walk over to what looks like a town hall. Many people are milling around, having tea and being welcomed and exchanging introductions. Aaron seems to know these people and introduces me as “someone who is learning the ropes”.

It feels like we are meeting representatives of something or other, like a city council.
I stand behind my host as he chats and mills around. I have a cup of tea - very nice-, and start to get into that amenable, open conference mode.

Tea time over, we pass though a reception area for the “Offices of Sustainable Development” and into a large meeting room. A podium dominates the room at the front, with lines of chairs facing it. At the rear they have arranged tables for group work.

“A big welcome, everybody, to Aaron Heathcliffe, city manager of PORENA,” the meeting chairman expresses heartily. Aaron talks about how is he going to help us, and share his experience, a knowledge transfer session seems promised. After a few Powerpoint slides he switches into demonstrating a 3D map application. You can see land use, water supply, population etc.

He points out that the place to start is with mapping out the status of conditions for creating a standard of living. This includes the amount of food grown in the area and ability to transport the food, taking it simply. He suggests a jurisdictional area is the easiest to start with, as they often have a lot of data related to an area in that form. Local authorities can cooperate with the community better, lines of communication are simpler.

“When PORENA did this exercise we looked at what it could be like if we simply removed all cars and jobs.”

He is showing how you can “fly through” the map and data in 3D: it shows, water, land etc the current conditions to be able to support a standard of living for the community. It is a simple approach: the amount of food grown in the area, the ability to transport that food, the distance from the city, number of people, the ability to take care of waste etc. Water supplies: what can be gravity driven, the number of inhabitants for the area’s ability to produce food, manufacturing ability and transport to the outside.

If you take cars away, all fossil fuel transport, and look at how things would work. With the right database this approach will work. Especially if you choose a jurisdictional area as official statistics are usually collected at that level.

He clicks us through the animations: “Stuff coming in, stuff coming out, security, food, waste, water, transport etc. In this exercise you identify the basic conditions for a standard of living and what is a possible for the areas and what isn’t. Wind power, local supply of oil, current trading patterns.”

Time for questions “Where did you start in the PORENA development”
“We started with the mapping process. It can be done by anyone, but it does have to be done for each region.”
“Is that your suggestion to us?”

“Absolutely.” Aaron looks serious: “And make sure the information is spread widely. In this way you will bring everyone with you.

For as many as possible to understand the situation is vital. As many as possible need to get a handle on what is happening in the area. For example, what is the lack of fuel situation? Or fuel price impacts. Maybe there are CO2 restrictions. People need to see what the assets of the area are and the concerns the community faces, This kind of investigation can be done by city officials.

“The local paper, what is their involvement,” I ask.
“The local paper is a good asset if you can get them on board. They can spread information.”
“And Corporations?” I try and sound matter of fact.
“Our experience shows that without the availability of cheap fossil fuel a corporation as an organizational unit does not make a lot of sense at all. Look for corporate ownership in PORENA and you’ll draw a blank. That kind of organizational form is not well recognized here, they do not see the point of it. They just do not have any corporations, only “come along” activities! (See earlier*)

Next item on the program is talking about next steps and where to go from here.

The officials need to set up a group to find the information and start walking people through it. Making sure everyone understands it and then drawing conclusions from the data.

Aaron will not return until that is completed:
“I’ll come back when you have done that. The process of collecting information is very important and it must be publicized so it is clear for everyone what the possibilities and consequences are. If you do this right it will create a sense of urgency. And this sense will move developments further”

So my guide has done his job. He hands over the software for them to complete the information.
He comes over to me and asks if he can do anything. I borrow his genius. (That is, use his eyes to see things the way he does.)

I experience him looking at everyone packing up and getting ready to go away – they have a lot of work in front of them. Seeing things the way they are is a good way to start change happening. Possibilities of becoming self supporting will show themselves. This includes the amount of food needed and in which aspects they can be self-supporting.

In terms of social change he sees the seeds are there but there is a way to go yet. I thank him for letting me borrow his genius and ask for a debriefing on the train. We leave the town hall and get into the Pullman train and grab a coffee.

I check with Aaron: “So this place has not yet gone through the process that PORENA went through, and they are just getting ready to kick of their transformation?
“Correct. They are using me to help them”
“So the local mapping is shared by everyone and they can “walk through” it in 3D in different ways so they can consider it from many different angles like population, what they are living on, what is possible and what isn’t. Likely changes are animated and nicely presented.

At this stage they may not be aware of how much information they lack, but as they complete the mapping their awareness will increase. So it is good place to start, they WILL get it.

I ask him about the political aspects of this: like who invited him to speak.
“In times of emergency all political parties come together. There is a state of emergency. And that is the best way to get change to happen, it is hard otherwise. Emergency and urgency.

We have to show the light at the end of the tunnel is a train! When people see that they can’t have a political disagreement about it. Maybe the disagreement is what to do about it but we will see how to handle that further on. The best thing is to have a broad coalition and sense of urgency.

They have a long journey to take.
“Any other advice?” I ask.
“You might want to think about what to look for as the basics of a sustainable standard of living. And you can look into what you can do with the maps of a juridical area - all the kinds of ways of illustrating it from different angles so it becomes clear.”
As the train stops and he asks; “Now you see where the facilitation teams come in?”
I nod my head, “I certainly do, they are quite a useful if wild bunch!”
It suddenly hits me we have not talked about a transport system.
“You never mentioned the transport system”
“No, getting the basics right is the first priority. They have to realize all this themselves.”

The insights are coming thick and fast, I do not want to part from Aaron so I ask:
“The software: can you show me the details of it?”
“Sure.” He invites me up to his office.
He pulls out a large sheet of paper, looking like a playing board from a board game.
In the middle, a map of the area. Around the outside are squares representing each aspect to be analysed. Inhabitants’ health, capability of the environment to produce services, social cohesiveness and organisational stability. Then, the management of the five stresses: nutrition, shelter, mechanical, social security, toxic burden. The software assists analysis from these aspects, both in terms of what is current and what is possible given reduction in energy intensity.

I take my leave.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Return to PORENA. Max is back!

You probably remember our colleague Max Wahlter, who took part in our visualizing sessions earlier.

Worried about losing his job, while his journal was downsizing Max had tried to find a new source of income, sustainable inventions.

He had come across the technique of Image Streaming, invented by Dr. Win Wenger. With Image Streaming you “see” the invention immediately, no “brain storming” needed. You then work backwards to verify your insight and work out what it was you actually saw.

The techniques worked fantastically well for Max, so much so he had been able to publish the transcripts of his imaging sessions as well as follow up notes as the book “Inventing for the Sustainable Planet”. Trouble was, he hadn’t really found one good commercial sustainable invention. Every visit he “made” to places with sustainable technology showed him technology already in use. What was different was the social organization of the community around him.

The community had abolished work, money and cars and that was just the start. Anyway, he got a lot of criticism for the book as well.

  • Reads like a manual.
  • You should not write in the first person, you should write in the third.
  • The whole thing is a lulu. Abolish work, live in harmony with nature, everyone wants to do that. The real challenge is how you convince people to let go of all their jobs and cars and stuff and start working with their hands more.

The last one had got Max thinking. Having nothing better to do he decided to take up the challenge:

We have received for publication a series of Image Streams addressing just that issue: how did it all happen in the beginning.

Watch this space.

Advanced visualisation methods to promote sustainable change

Suppose you could pull together a visualization session in your community: what could be done in our local area to become more sustainable? What possibilities do we have for re-localisation of food and manufacturing. Well, it might be more possible than many think. Apart from a lot of data being available on the local geographic situation, there are many tools and techniques around that help this visualization.

One of the major bodies involved in the area of simulation and mapping as a form of community development is the Local Government Commission. LGC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization that provides inspiration, technical assistance, and networking to local elected officials and other dedicated community leaders who are working to create healthy, walkable, and resource-efficient communities.

The site is packed with resources, I especially like their advocacy of public participation in community planning. Read more: here

For a quick look at what visualization tools can do check out the site of the ENVIRONMENTAL SIMULATION CENTER, LTD. Try their demo pages and fly through Manhattan or experience
real time simulation

Sunday, November 13, 2005

British Design Council Team launches home energy intensity reduction campaign

The British Design Council’s RED team project, called Future Currents, has recently completed its work to identify ways to save energy in the home. Their Future Currents website asks for feedback from Brits and gives both practical and policy suggestions. Energy use in the home in Britain is up by a staggering 70 percent just from the 1970s and Britain’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is spiralling upwards accordingly. Several of their suggestions look similar to POST CARBON INSTITUTE’S recommendations on re-localization. Visit the website at to make your opinions heard.

We reproduce an article about the RED TEAM here under fair use:

Do you know how much energy your house uses? Do you know what it costs you and how you could cut your bills? Do you even read your bills?

Most people answer ‘no’ to those questions. And it’s easy to see why. Let’s face it, when it’s not being mysterious, domestic energy is a bit of a snooze and with many of us paying obediently by Direct Debit, that’s just the way the utility companies like it. But with energy use rising fast and homes generating a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, things need to change.
The Design Council’s RED team has been looking into how design can help to make that change happen. A team of designers and policymakers has lived in a Lewisham flat to get a look at the subject from the householder’s point of view, a process aided by working with 16 London householders.

The result is a string of concepts aimed at getting householders more interested in the energy they’re using and putting them in control of the process. The ideas have now been launched online (use the link on the right to access them) in an effort to spark debate on energy use and what designers can do to turn it into an issue that doesn’t exit our minds the moment we close the meter cupboard or file a bill.

The ideas include new ways to make it easier for people to monitor their energy use, such as an energy statement tracking their energy use and comparing it to the national average, and a ‘home dashboard’ making it clear which appliances use most energy and revealing the cost of leaving them on ‘stand-by’.

Incentives for saving energy are also proposed. They include a Power Pension which turns credits for energy-saving home improvements into post-retirement cuts on bills, and an ‘energy rating’ for houses similar to that used for domestic appliances. And there are suggested schemes for getting householders together to cut the cost of energy saving measures, install wind turbines and trade energy. The project has used these ideas as the springboard for policy recommendations, with visitors to the website invited to vote for the ones they think are the best.

The project comes against a background of spiralling energy use – and so a growing contribution to global warming – by the UK. Total energy use has gone up by a third in 30 years and today we use 70 per cent more electricity per home than we did in 1970. In the 1920s, the RED team’s temporary home, a Victorian terrace, would have been wired for half a dozen central ceiling lights and a couple of sockets, while the average house now has 35 appliances, with multiple lights in every room.

The level of energy ‘leakage’ makes matters worse, explains project manager Nick Morton: ‘Tests at the flat showed that its single-glazed windows, uninsulated loft and redundant chimneys meant air in its rooms changed a staggering 40 times per hour. Had the air been water, the flat would have sunk in two minutes.’

Much energy policy is currently focused on helping to provide energy to people on low incomes. But almost all the 150million tonnes of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere from houses is coming from households which could easily pay to take action on energy use. That’s why the project’s ideas are targeted at people in the ‘able-to-pay’ sector.

‘Although the energy rating of fridges and the like is having an effect, we’re buying bigger fridges than we used to, so the positive impact of the rating is reduced,’ says Morton. ‘We’re trying to show that the key to reversing the rise in energy use is people’s behaviour. As consumers, we’ve got used to a system where we play a passive role, so our work starts by making energy tangible and visible, and tries to find ways to make people feel more motivated to take control of it. ’

The website part of RED - Future Currents, presents results so far. The ten week project has developed concepts for ways to help owner occupiers reduce their domestic energy consumption and C02 emissions.

To look at energy saving from a homeowner’s point of view. Our team of designers and policy makers lived in a draughty Victorian terrace in Lewisham. We worked with 12 householders across London to get insight and generate ideas, backed up with input from leading energy experts.

The proposals and policy recommendations are work in progress. We want them to provoke thought and open up discussion on the role a design-led approach could play in making energy saving desirable and user-friendly.

Visit the website at to make your opinions heard.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Join the Climate Change discussion

Although we can’t attend personally, we can still make a difference at the coming Climate Conference in Montreal Dec 1-3. IBM is hosting a massive on-line collaboration event bringing together hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. They’re calling it HABITAT JAM.

Just sign up on the JAM homepage. Or watch the video here.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Swedish Tenant Owner Cooperative starts oil break with geothemal heating

High oil prices, and the Prime Minister’s announced intention to break oil dependency make Sweden something of an interesting study in Post-Carbon transition. The Swedish Daily, DN, today reports on a tenant owner cooperative which is starting its break with oil by transferring to a renewable energy source of heat - from the ground underneath the building.

The tenant owners of the apartment building Tallen 12, in Solna, just outside Stockholm are fed up with rising oil prices - 140 percent over the last ten years. The cooperative hopes the move will save them five million kronor (about $417,000) over 15 years.

Heating costs have been worrying house owners for a long time. Now, apartment building owners like Tallen are waking up to the fact that today’s prices bring the break-even point for investments in renewable energy within easy reach.

Tenant cooperatives are a common form of apartment ownership in Sweden. When you buy an apartment you become a member of the cooperative with the tenancy rights for the apartment. These cooperatives are run by the tenants themselves, the apartment often being their main investment. Keeping all costs down is in the interest of all as low service charges increase the attractiveness and thereby the market value of the apartments. Costs are distributed among members through a monthly service charge.

In Tallen, heating oil takes up half the monthly charge. They had already looked in to one alternative, district heating. This however is predominately gas-fired and costs have risen astronomically over the last few years. And when you choose district heating you enter into dependence on a monopoly.

In 2002, the city of Stockholm sold 50 percent of its district heating system to the Finnish energy company, Fortum. Since then, prices have risen 40 percent and dissatisfaction is widespread.

The cooperative consumes 40 m3 of oil for its 30 apartments. Annual costs for oil are at today’s prices $30,000. The new system would cost a mere $10,500 per annum.

The cooperative owns the plot of land around the building, enough to accommodate the six boreholes needed. The holes will be drilled around the house and sloped under the building to avoid conflicts about “stealing heat” when neighbouring cooperatives start to use the system.

This is how the system works: heat energy is drawn from a drilled hole in the bedrock. The hole contains a collector pipe filled with liquid (70 percent water, 30 percent ethanol). The liquid is circulated via a heat pump and down the hole. The heat is then transferred into the water borne central heating and hot water system.

Some commentators point out that the heat pumps themselves are electricity driven, and in that way the cooperative is still dependent on the grid. But others argue the move is a good start: for every unit of electricity used, five units of equivalent heat can be extracted from the ground.

In any case, the story of Tallen is probably illustrative of how the break with oil could happen: as prices rise, building owners turn to renewable solutions as they become more and more financially viable. Here an energy farm owned by several tenant owner cooperatives would be viable, especially in conjunction with a local food system. And Tallen is also a good example of the kind of organisation that depends on voluntary work - the more tenants do for themselves, the lower their living costs – so they would do well to introduce a complementary currency like COGS ( for energy and food-related transactions.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Boycott a company today!

Dave Pollard has complied a list of companies and products to boycott. Either because of their environmental performance or their fair trade practices.

He also suggests a few to support.

Put your money where your attitudes are today!

Click on the title link or the link below.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Swedish Prime Minister to lead oil independency commission

Yesterday in conjunction with his speech at the annual Congress of the Social Democrat Party the Swedish Prime Minister, Göran Persson underlined the importance of breaking oil dependency before 2020 by announcing his intention to personally lead a commission to initiate activities towards this goal.

The purpose is to create a holistic view of regional policy, industrial and agricultural policy. The commission will initiate activities, coordinate and possibly run pilot projects.

Says Göran Persson” Our energy production shall not produce waste that needs storing for thousands of years or emissions that damage our climate.”

“We must transport ourselves and our goods in a way that does not damage nature,” he continues.

The Prime Minister emphasised the need for solidarity with the aged and coming generations and did not want a society that left people to their own devices when Hurricane Katrina swept over them. He also warned against the conservative view that problems can be solved by attacking those with the problems: “It is not the unemployed who are responsible for all the unemployment,” he said.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Market economy failings: warning signs appearing

Many agree with the efficacy of the basic market economy model (goods’ and service’s prices are set by sellers, and increase with demand and decrease with competition) in generating a living standard

However, many also see with dismay the downside of this way of organizing our daily lives: extraction and dumping of huge amounts of resources, high levels of fossil fuel use, greenhouse gas emissions etc.

Forgetting the luxury consumption side and concentrating on the must haves, we can see that market economy models in themselves is challenged to provide what people need when it is not in abundance. (see diagram)

The diagram below shows how the more expensive water is the only solution available to poor people in developing countries, as only the well-off have access to piped water. So it is the poor who have to pay more for this must have resource. To quote the World Bank (the source of the diagram) “On average, water from piped network operators (PNO) costs 1.5 times more than that from a formal utility, whereas, water from a point source (PS) costs, on average, up to 4.5 times the utility and, finally, water from the mobile distributors (MD) can costs up to 12 times more than the utility..”

In fact, since the 1800s there has been a rapid expansion in the number of poor people on the Earth, both in sheer numbers and percentage (read unable to purchase acceptable living standard)

A number of warning signs are appearing in Sweden: recent reports say the health of elderly people is getting worse, as is the general health of young people. Employment is at a standstill, and there is no hope in sight for job creation, rather an increase in outsourcing leading to an increase in GDP but decrease in employment.

For young people especially, both health and job prospects are at a low point.

Energy prices have also been in the debate. A group of tenant owner cooperatives and building owners, has been threatening the privately run utility, Fortum, with reprisals. After being privatized recently the company has raised prices for district heating, reaching an all time high of 25% above average.

What is particularly worrying is the impact of the end of cheap energy on this system. If it fails when GDP per capita is good, what will happen when GDP reduces as a result of the effects of spiraling energy costs? Will the average worker be turned into an energy slave, forced to pay more and more of their income on utilities and finding it harder to make ends meet just for the basics?

Working with social economy makes one aware of the need to focus on ways of producing the basics: food, energy, shelter and clothing. These can be produced independent of the market economy if necessary, by developing local, collaborative solutions of the kind supported by the COGS complementary currency.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Local food systems can be supported with complementary currency

Pathways to local food systems using a complimentary currency system like COGS.
Submitted by hipnot on Tue, 2005-10-18 08:34.
Robert Waldrop’s paper presented at the recent Community Solution conference offered ideas on how to set up local food systems. Based on his paper this article explores how to use our COGS currency or a similar complementary currency system to speed development of the community. As Robert says, this is not a cookie cutter recipe, take what you need and leave the rest!

fig 1 Local Food System
As you see from the diagram a group gets together to invest legal tender to buy what is needed to produce food. The group invests their voluntary time in the system too. What comes out is food, both as raw material but also preserves and even shared cooking rosters in community kitchens or restaurant duties.

COGS, or circle of gifts is a tally system where the voluntary work you do is given points, and when you receive the fruits of voluntary work, like take home a basket of vegetables, equivalent points are subtracted from your account.

Start small or we don’t start at all.
Robert suggests everyone star from their own situation. One simple start is to register as a COGS user on the clearing site and you can start giving and receiving COGS immediately. As members join you can configure the user group to include them and develop your information database.

fig 2 COGS Portal

COGS work in the voluntary, social economy world. One COG is the equivalent of one hour (with 100 points making up one hour), and we estimate that each person has 1020 give or take 20 per year available. So each hour a member of your group spends on developing Local Food Systems can be acknowledged with an hour to their account.

fig 3 Voluntary hours per year

Knowledge is power.
An information directory is one of the most important food structures, and Robert tells us how the Oklahoma Food Cooperative began initially as an internet directory. The COGS portal offers both database and cataloguing facilities. Furthermore, you can set the system up to reward members who contribute to the databases.

Knowledge shared gives points.
The COGS site rewards members for completing a poll, adding news, and posting downloads of useful information. So even before you have prepared the soil members start to see points accumulate.

Meals will come from basic ingredients
This system should produce high quality eating for less input of legal tender. It will also mean more food made from basic raw ingredients and should be healthier, and taste better. What you do not get is the convenience of manufactured foods.

Planning and organization will be needed
Because you will have the basic ingredients depending on harvest, you will have to plan your meals more. Instead of thinking “what shall we have tonight”, it will be “what is available right now?”
Frugal use of energy and resources will be rewarded.
All kitchen waste should be composted, and of course time spent on compost will be logged. If you replace electrical power with muscle power costs will come down as you ditch dishwashers, electric can openers, garbage compactors etc.

The main COGS accumulation method will probably be the time sheet. Each member records the time spent on the food system, and the administrator logsthis to their account at regular intervals. As time goes on your group will want to develop rules as to how much can be logged for what, the rules will be available on the clearing site.

Eating in season
Local food systems mean eating more with the seasons. Here again, knowledge is power and members can post down-loadable recipes for each season. For example you can set the rules so each download adds COGS to the recipe presenter and deducts them from the downloader.

fig 5 Database entry - recipe

Redeeming COGS put in
So far we have described how people input their time spent into timesheets. When harvest comes around it will be time to collect the food. This is easily done as members fetch the harvested food a certain number of COGS is debited from their account.

If someone sets up a kitchen or restaurant service you can do the same, and guests simply state their account number, rather like we state our room number in a hotel restaurant.

Maybe someone likes making preserves. They create a catalogue entry on the site and explain that e.g. the jam can be picked up in exchange for a voucher. The jam maker produces a voucher, which when downloaded debits the one account and credits the other.

fig 6 Voucher for jam
Vouchers can be used too for example for courses, where the trainer sets up a voucher to credit his or her account as they are downloaded, and debit the attendee.

If the group is small and everybody knows everyone else a simple list will probably suffice.

Sharing of all resources
As the group builds up resources, use of these could be subject to COGS points. For example, a common meeting room rented for a private party, or use of wine-making equipment.

And what about cultural events? After the festivities entertainers would be acknowledged with COGS, encouraging live entertainment.
As the Local Food System develops it benefits the living standard of all involved

Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.
If you cannot see the whole solution step back and pick up that you can understand and do that.
As you start to work with COGS and local food systems we hope you will see how reducing the legal tender input, and raising your voluntary hours can reduce food bills, get you better food and you will make a lot of friends along the way.

Robert Waldrops paper can be downloaded

COGS can be found at

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Can community currency help? We think so

We think so, which is why we are joining the COGS scheme.

Click on the link for explanations.

Monday, October 17, 2005

POWER DOWN to survive

Our team has just finished analysing the impacts of energy shortages on organisations in general. We believe all organisations should start to work out their energy intensity strategy. Failure to craft strategy in time may catch an organisation unawares before they have time to react.

As a start we offer up our white paper on POWERDOWN, with sixteen factors to consider.

  1. Oil pervades from raw material to product
  2. Demand will outstrip supply sooner or later.
  3. The issue is a liquid fuels one.
  4. No easy replacement is available.
  5. Moral challenges will overshadow technical issues.
  6. The main challenge is to maintain the carrying capacity of the Earth on less fuel.
  7. An economic slowdown – or worse – results from energy depletion
  8. Huge supply chains will power down.
  9. Beware of the trap of looking for a technical solution.
  10. Human muscle power and animal power will re-emerge as part of the economy.
  11. Powerdown strategies for cultural change are starting to emerge
  12. Culture change measures offer several benefits.
  13. Two other likely responses: Demand restriction and city re-planning.
  14. Less than a 20-year time frame for mitigation could seriously impact living standards.
  15. It is better to start mitigation early than late.
  16. The strategic question is how quickly your organization can respond effectively to fuel supply shortfalls

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Inventions process results in white paper

The methods used here as shown in earlier posts use the process
Quest>image stream>tapescript>blogged script (cleaned up)>story from the future>prototyping for commercial release.

We have taken to writing white papers as a way for engaging potential partners as a more "professional approach" to sustainable inventing.

An image stream quest to find communities fully engaged in developing towards sustainability turned up a collaboration process which we have written a white paper around. Click on the link to download the paper.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Full instructions for Sustainable Inventing

Don't just read about my inventions - go do your own!

The techniques I use are called "Beachead" invented by Win Wenger. I always tape my sessions and as often as not I just post a cleaned up version of the tapescript. The other methods of publishing are "articles from the future" or "white papers".

Don't be put off by the simplicity - or unusualness of the methods. If they work for me (judge for yourself from this blog) they will for you. Click on the link and let me know how you get on! I might even publish one here.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

This is why we need ingenuity: we are in an energy hole

Matt Simmons, financial advisor to the energy industry has released this presentation which spells out the urgency of the situation.

Energy production is at its maximum, exacerbated by hurricane Katrina. Demand is rising, and unless we start decreasing the energy intensity of the way we live the coming shortfall will not only impact economic growth, but cause extreme physical hardship.

Now is the time for all think tanks - ours included - to step up our efforts to find low energy solutions and maybe more importantly - new approaches to business and money.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

British Newspaper spells out grim prospects of Peak oil and calls for "war economy" response.

Says the New Statesman: Such is our dependence on oil, we face a shock that will dwarf any crisis of the past. It’s a good job the government hasn’t ruled out rations – only the effort of a war economy is likely to help.

It had to happen sometime. Credit to this British Newspaper, sticking out its neck in a special supplement spelling out the grim prospects peak oil will mean for everyone and calling for drastic action on the scale of a "war economy".

Especially interesting is the in-depth analysis of just Britain's situation, a tiny crowded island probably not able to grow enough food without fossil fuel driven agriculture and distribution.

Excellent reading - click on the link to download the whole supplement.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Swedish Government Plans for oil independence by 2020

Today 1 October, in an article in the debate section of the Swedish national daily, DN, Minister for Sustainable Development Mona Sahlin announces the government plan to break dependency on oil by 2020. This makes Sweden the first country to publicly announce its intention to break away from oil. The government intend for Sweden to be the first country to reach oil independence.

Mona Sahlin cites two reasons for this new political goal. One is the need to curb greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the effects of global warming. The other is the vulnerability nations face as disruptions to oil and petrol production upset economies throughout the world. Recent catastrophes have underlined this.

Mona Sahlin says an early break from oil dependency will give Sweden a competitive edge among other things as an exporter of technology in the renewable fuel and energy efficiency sector.

Sweden has already made some progress. The percentage of oil used in home heating and energy production is low by international standards. Since 1994 oil use has reduced by 15.2 TWh. Industrial consumption of oil has remained at the same levels for nearly a decade, despite production output increases of 70%.

Sweden offers already several political instruments to encourage users away from oil: investment subsides, energy consumption standards, loans with subsidized interest rates and information campaigns.

The new plan will contain several elements:
• Tax discounts for house owners to convert away from oil heating.
• An extended program of “Green Energy” certification of electricity. From 2002 levels the amount of renewable energy produced will increase by 15TWh.
• A government backed inquiry into the possibilities of increasing agricultural production of renewable energy sources.
• Directive to the state owned electricity production company Vattenfall to substantially increase investment in renewable energy.
• Strengthening of incentives to stimulate renewable fuels. For cars, free parking and exemption from congestion charges, carbon dioxide and energy tax exemptions on renewable fuels during a five year period. Tax exemptions also for company cars running on renewable fuels.
• Next year the government will propose an increase in investments into renewable energy. Research and development will lead to energy production from renewable resources and further increases in energy efficiency.
• Development of district heating will continue. Economic incentives will encourage use of bio-fuels and environmentally friendly heating.

Monday, September 26, 2005

If the world were 100 people

Artist Allyson Lucca asks: If we could turn the world population into a small community of 100 people... what would it look like?

And she illustrates it beautifully in sound and pictures. A reminder of what drives us who have a passion for sustainable development.

Click on the link to see the presentation.

Welsh authority shows how swaps lower energy intensity

As part of mobility week a Welsh Local authority offered car owners a full year's free use of public transport in return for them giving up their car for scrap.

Some 30 people took up the offer. What I see as significant is the initiative shows us the basis of a very powerful method.

People need a certain level of security. If swapping something gives more security whilst lowering energy intensity you have a winner.

Going further...
  • Free relocation and maybe free accomodation for a while to people with long commutes who move to their area of work.
  • Free housing for people who give up their cars.
  • Free housing for those who give up their jobs.
  • Free training and start-up help for those who give up industrial jobs to start local food production.
  • Free market place space for local farmer's markets in return for employing and or training newcomers to food production.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Read the white paper on PLANNED POWERDOWN

What do organizations need to know about the impact of liquid fuels on communities as oil prices hike and availability wanes…?

For officers in the public and private sector alike, this paper describes 16 main aspects of the coming energy situation. Organisations need to consider these 16 in order to begin to craft energy depletion management strategies.

Planned Powerdown describes a situation where, due to shortfall between supply and demand, the per capita energy intensity of a community is reduced whilst living standards are maintained at a democratically accepted level. More and more evidence is piling up that a liquid fuels shortage is coming. Public and private organizations will be debating the need for planned powerdown.

Liquid fuel scarcity changes the rules of business radically and brings sustainable development issues further into focus.

This paper is for officers in the public and private sector alike. Its purpose is to describe what we believe are the main aspects organizations need to consider in order for them to begin to craft energy depletion management strategies.

For each of the main points the paper provides further reading and analysis.

The white paper is produced by AVBP and downloadable from the website for free by clicking on the link.

Want to know how the planet's ecosystems are faring?

Look no further. To understand the state of the planet’s ecosystems, and how far they are threatened by collapse, and to what extent these threaten our well-being we refer you to The Millennium Assessment. It was launched by U.N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan in June 2001 and was completed in March 2005.

The work of hundreds of scientists from every corner of the globe, the research assesses the state of the Earth’s ecosystem from the point of view of its ability to provide us well-being.

The MA synthesizes information from the scientific literature, datasets, and scientific models, and includes knowledge held by the private sector, practitioners, local communities and indigenous peoples. All of the MA findings undergo rigorous peer review. More than 1,300 authors from 95 countries have been involved in four expert working groups preparing the global assessment, and hundreds more continue to undertake more than 20 sub-global assessments.

See the TV interview with Former BP CEO Percy discussing corporate reaction to climate, ecosystems report.

Read the high-level summary here

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Save trees with digital textbooks

Dear Porena,

My name is Jon Cheek. I am a recent college graduate concerned about the environmental impact of printing millions of college textbooks every year. Although I bought used textbooks whenever possible, I frequently had to buy new textbooks to keep up with new editions or to get supplemental software.

However, I recently joined a company called Zinio that provides digital textbooks to college students. These digital textbooks are exact replicas of the new printed version, but are offered to students at half the price. They also have many useful digital features such as the ability to search, take digital notes, and use multimedia embedded directly into the page. Most importantly, since they require no physical production, digital textbooks help save trees and eliminate waste.

Most of my friends who have tried Zinio digital textbooks have really liked them. If you think any of your readers might be interested in digital textbooks, I encourage you spread the word. If you’re curious to see what the textbooks look like, please have a look at our website: . Also, feel free to send us feedback at .

Best regards,

Jon Cheek

Jonathan Cheek
Zinio Systems, Inc.
139 Townsend Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94107
Tel. 415.494.2743

Sunday, September 11, 2005

How little soil area do we need to grow all the food and fiber we need to maintain well-being?

If you have followed earlier discussions you will have seen we believe that asking the right question is essential to begin inventing for the sustainable planet. The question above was asked 34 years ago by John Jeavons. Today he has, according to his own view, 98% of all he needs to know to answer this question.

He believes, as Peak oil comes and the population continues to rise, that we need to go from one in 500 knowing how to grow food to everyone knowing how to grow food.

Click on the link to see and hear a fantastic interview with John, produced by GLOBAL PUBLIC MEDIA.

Why not biomass? Shoma asks

Reader Shoma asks us what is being done about biomass in various countries, and is it not a solution to reducing Carbon Dioxide levels. (We reprint the article below, sorry we do not know the source apologies to owner, please contact us)

The sustainability challenge is a liquid fuels one, not electricity generation.
Liquid fuels are required for agriculture and transport of farm products.
That we have an exces of agicutlral land to grow biomass om is temporary. Mehcnaised agriculture gives higer yeilds. As liquid fuels decline we wil need the land for food.

Otherwise I see the arguments below holding well. A lot of district heating in Sweden is produced from pellets of biomass origin.

A tall, decorative plant that can be grown in Europe and the United States could provide a significant amount of energy without contributing to global warming, scientists report.

Field trials of the grass called Miscanthus in Illinois showed it could be very effective as an economically and environmentally sustainable energy crop.

Professor Steve Long and his colleagues at the University of Illinois obtained a yield of about 60 tonnes per hectare of the tall willowy grass last year.

"If about 8 percent of the land area (of the state) was given over to this grass, and assuming only half of those yields were obtained, we would obtain enough dry matter to generate the total electricity used by of the state if Illinois, which includes the city of Chicago," he told a science conference.

Professor Mike Jones, of Trinity College in Dublin, said planting the crop on 10 percent of the arable land in Ireland, could meet up to 30 percent of the country's electricity needs.

In the United States, scientists are looking at burning the crop in a 50-50 mix with coal to generate electricity. It would be suitable for use in some existing power plants, although others would require modification.

The scientists told the British Association for the Advancement of Science conference that the attractive, perennial plant which grows about 14 feet high and similar grasses could provide a means to significantly offset fossil fuel emissions.

"As the plant grows it is drawing carbon dioxide out of the air. When you burn it you put that carbon dioxide back, so the net effect on atmospheric CO2 is zero," Long explained.

"In terms of Kyoto it would be considered carbon neutral," Long said, referring to the 1997 protocol that demands cuts in greenhouse emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

The scientists used a sterile hybrid of the plant, which comes from high altitude areas in Japan and produces a silver, feather-like foliage, in the trials so it would not become invasive.

"Currently, in those trials that have been carried out, there appears to be no real problem with pests or diseases," according to Jones.

Long said biomass crops have not been taken seriously as a means for mitigating rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

"The point we want to make is that these new plants that we have been looking at really could make a major contribution and it doesn't require major technological breakthroughs to do that."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Get your KIDS to go to this is their future we are concerned about

Japan for sustainability has launched their Kids' "Create Your Future" Web site encouraging children worldwide to
  • get involved in environmental issues
  • think and act independently in response.

The site emphasizes taking a creative approach towards the realization of a more ecological future on our planet unrestrained by conventional ideas, and introduces innovative ways of thinking to support concrete methods for sustainable living.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Complementary Currency launched

You may recall PORENA abolished money as work for money in itself was driving counter- sustainability.

Taking a leaf from the book and from the Image Streams on Lets we are experimenting with what we call COGS. Circle of gifts.

A test bed at the moment, anyone can join and start using this currency via e-mail and the web. we hope to go live as soon as we iron out the bugs (with your help of course).

Click on the link to see XCOGS!

White paper on POWERDOWN

Sixteen things organizations need to know about the impact of liquid fuels on communities as oil prices hike and availability wanes…

Click on the link or title to download the white paper on POWERDOWN.

For officers in the public and private sector alike, this paper describes the 16 aspects of the coming energy situation that organisations need to consider in order to begin to craft energy depletion management strategies.

Here they are...

  1. Oil pervades from raw material to product
  2. Demand will outstrip supply sooner or later.
  3. The issue is a liquid fuels one.
  4. No easy replacement is available.
  5. Moral challenges will overshadow technical issues.
  6. The main challenge is to maintain the carrying capacity of the Earth on less fuel.
  7. An economic slowdown – or worse – results from energy depletion.
  8. Huge supply chains will power down.
  9. Beware of the trap of looking for a technical solution.
  10. Human muscle power and animal power will re-emerge as part of the economy.
  11. Powerdown strategies for cultural change are starting to emerge.
  12. Culture change measures offer several benefits.
  13. Two other likely responses: Demand restriction and city re-planning.
  14. Less than a 20-year time frame for mitigation could seriously impact living standards.
  15. It is better to start mitigation early than late.
  16. The strategic question is how quickly your organization can respond effectively to fuel supply shortfalls

Thursday, September 01, 2005

All praise to Essex County Council's WALKING STRATEGY

The Essex Walking Strategy (see link) aims to create an environment that encourages walking by considering the needs of pedestrians first.
  • promoting walking;
  • improving safety and security for pedestrians;
  • improving the quality of the walking environment;
  • introducing and maintaining walking as the primary mode of transport.

The Strategy contains objectives and targets for walking and identifies the strategies for achieving them.

All praise to Essex in understanding the fundamentals of sustainability having humans do what is natural for them: enjoying this wonderful Earth and walking around.

As we see the non-sustainability of the fueled continuous transport society as well as the couch potato/salary slave tied to computer lifestyle the simple solution of walking will come more and more to thefore.

We urge all planners , architects, forward thinkers and business people to bring walking more into focus!

We would like to see more development of hand carts and similar tools so for example:
To keep cars away from residential areas you park a long way from your house but you can still bring all luggage, shopping etc easily to your door with communal carts.

Monday, August 29, 2005

GAIA theory ... time to get to know what it is all about?

Professor James Lovelock is the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis, which suggests the Earth functions as a single organism which maintains the conditions necessary for its survival.

Many scientists have asked the question ”does the Earth have a thermostat?” Lovelock takes the idea one step further to suggest the Earth acts not as a mechanical system but as a living organism, and responds to threats to its existence by, in this case, creating extreme weather conditions.

Read more on the BBC’s excellent site “Planet Under Pressure” (Link).

Friday, August 26, 2005

Australia first to analyse fuel shortage impacts

Queensland Australia: Parliament member Andrew McNamara chairs the Back bench committee working on a report to recommend how Australia should address oil peaking.
Andrew McNamara began to look into the peak oil issue after reading Richard Heinberg’s book. He quickly realized that his constituent city, Hervey Bay, with poor rail and sea links is especially vulnerable to gasoline price hikes.

To my knowledge it is the first study of a region's vulnerability to energy shortages due to global oil peak.

Speaking in an interview for Global Public Media (Link) he explains how Australian oil production is already in serious decline, and how there is a lack of preparedness for cheap energy shortfalls starting with National policy and going all the way down to local planning.

IFTSP comment: anyone involved in planning should follow the progress of the report and consider a study in their own area. As cheap energy sources may stop within ten years, mitigation planning should already be ongoing.
There should also be a major review of the plans of all organizations to see how much they are based on the assumption that oil prices, for example, will remain in the $30-40 range, and to what extent they address the risk of energy shortfalls.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

No Waste Like Home...Starting tonight

Hats off to the BBC for bringing sustainability right into our living room with their program on reducing household waste and saving money.
BBC 2 8:30 pm Thursdays.

It's about time. Industry has been working on these issues a long time, just to see each household using more energy and producing more waste.

Program lead
and eco-expert Penney Poyzer visits one of Britain's most environmentally-unfriendly and wasteful households each week, changing their ways and shocking people by uncovering wastefullness and then giving them the eco-know how to save money and become less of an environmentatl hazard.

Great invention. Keep 'em coming!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Fuel efficiency actually declines in US vehicle park

Carmakers are doing little towards increasing fuel efficiency.

One downside is the energy security issue. Consuming 25% of the world's oil and having a megre few month's supply left in its land, the US is dependant on oil from countries that could one day for some reason decide to stop supply.

An EPA report leaked to the New York Times shows that loopholes in American fuel economy regulations have allowed automakers to produce cars and trucks that are significantly less fuel-efficient, on average, than they were in the late 1980's.

click here for full article

Click on heading or link to see graphic

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Finding the cure for addiction part three

Tapescript Journey to the cure for addiction #3
See earlier scripts


Looking for a cure for addiction to short term hits of happiness. An addiction-fostering environment means that there is no “natural” way for you to handle the addiction once you have started to exhibit additive behaviour. You simply have to consciously bring yourself out of it.

In this series of Imagestreams I am in a program of treatments.

In the departure hall the leaves of the rubber plant appear behind my bench in the waiting area.

I go to the grey lift, the nurse catches me up. “Wait for me”

Getting in the lift I press “3” I don’t know why.

As the lift ascends I check her uniform out – fairly standard.

“You are nearly finished with the sessions,” she says.

The lift opens and she takes me to my room where I get changed. I walk past the swimming pool and enter the room where the others were before. We wait for the leader. She takes her leave.

In the corner stands the Alpha wave sculpture, filled with water to a certain point. I wonder what you strike it with. Metal?

I pick up a metal hammer and give it the lightest tap - and get a chunky sound.

The guy enters saying he’ll show us the sculpture later and asks us to sit in the ring.

“Have you been practicing finding a quiet time? The quietness is your anchor in the story of this modern life,” he says.

Adrenaline exhaustion is what I have probably; I am living close to burning myself out.

He asks: “What shall we do now do you think?”

“We need to consciously work out how to get ourselves back- how we can pull ourselves away from the addiction side of the line,” I venture.

“Yes!” He says. “Now you know what best practice is, and you know what worst practice is as you are doing it so you need to draw the line between them.”

Everyone is in a ring around the circle on the floor.
"When-then" is the formula?

He explains: “When that happens then I do this…that is drawing the line. That is the line you need to focus on to bring you back.”

We break up into groups I go into the handling personal living space group, which is my chosen problem area.

When I pick something up and don’t have a place to put it what do I do then?

I put it in a place …the place for things with no place.

Then they will pile up.

When they Pile up THEN I will organize a place for them.

The others have a go.

“WHEN my house looks dirty THEN I will immediately decide a time when I will do the cleaning."
“When I see something lying around THEN I will go and put it back immediately.”

(“I’ll be at it all day,” I object in my thoughts but then realize if I did this regularly I would not be at it all day)

“Is it this easy?” I ask.

“Yes, if the situation is draining your energy.”


“How long do you do it for?”

“All the time till it becomes automatic.”

Then you do it for the other areas as well.

You start with what is your situation..

A workbook is good, to have everything available and to draw the sections out and your priorities.

In the zone you will feel what you want to do and naturally get back.

The thing in the corner does not work - it is probably just a joke I think.

“If you run your finger round the rim you will get a sound. It is meant to stimulate alpha waves.” The leader says.

I think I understand, I must fill my form in for the when then bottom line. What it is and how it makes you feel. For each area, describe the situation - how bad does it make you feel, how do you want to fell. What is best practice and what is your strategy application of best practice. And then what are you going to do to keep yourself in the zone. And then everything will happen naturally. Your deeper desires will come to you and you will get the chance to adjust more naturally. With quiet time you will attune yourself more to yourself.

Look at your file everyday to keep yourself on track everyday.

To keep inspired to keep on track put a letter to yourself in the front of the file.

Follow up this treatment to write

Why you care what your situation was

* How you were feeling
* What you found out
* What you decided to do about it, what you hope for so you can go back and see where you came from and see your own progress.
* What you decided
* Your request to yourself to help keep you on track.

The final part is the planning. Then there are other treatments you can do to help with relaxation, the physical side, the physical regime of exercise to help you.

You can go now on your way and good luck.

I ask the nurse if that is it, what I do next. She thinks I should do the treatment. Construct the workbook for myself and go through it. Then maybe use that to work out what is best for what I should do.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Willits Community heads towards Localization

Very few communities, to our knowledge, have come so far as the city of Willits in California, USA. Starting from viewings of THE END OF SUBURBIA there are some 65 volunteers working to create a thriving, vibrant community with local energy and food production, sustainable water management and local manufacture.

Click the link to hear Jason Bradford, founder of the Willits Economic Localization (WELL), speaking with Global Public Media’s David Room about climate change, oil peak, and how Willits is preparing for an energy-constrained future. He discusses how WELL got started, the efforts of the group, and their progress.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Chevron kicks off oil depletion cooperation

Chevron is pointing out that oil is running out and that until we find replacement sources of energy (admitting they are not in place just yet) we need to work together to make best use of the oil we have. Click on the title or graphic to see more.

Great move by Chevron we think. If you know you are not going to be able to supply customers the best thing to do is to engage them in creative problem solving!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

WHAT WILL WE EAT AS THE OIL RUNS OUT? Conference in Ireland addresses the problem!

The Foundations for the Economics of Sustainability, Feasta, held a major international conference on June 23rd, 24th & 25th, 2005, at the Faculty of Agri-Food and the Environment, University College Dublin, Ireland.

Feasta aims to identify the characteristics (economic, cultural and environmental) of a truly sustainable society, articulate how the necessary transition can be effected and promote the implementation of the measures required for this purpose.

Click on the link to learn more.
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