Archive for January, 2008

wider adoption of footprinting tool needs support

mathis wackernagel cocreated ecological footprinting

One of my heroes, Mathis Wackernagel (co-creator of the Ecological Footprint) offers warm words for those who support further evolution of this vital tool (via global footprint network).

Says Wackernagel, "Ecological Footprinting was created to ensure that addressing a singular issue, like global warming, doesn't negatively impact entire ecosystems or shift pressures from one land type onto another."

The good news is, "Footprint" has become "an enormously popular term as we rush to stem global warming and find alternative energy sources that won't harm the climate."

"Global warming symptomizes the larger problem humanity is facing: ever-increasing global ecological overshoot", says Wackernagel.

Published by Ken on January 31st, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Ecological Footprint | Comment now »

whose plumes these are, yer shipper knows

shipping emissions in N Pacific

We know that boats and planes to Hawaii spew a plume, yet wot about those other boats?

You know, the ones racing across the north Pacific with containers full of goodies for American consumers...

Not surprisingly, there's a huge swath of plume up there, too.

Recent work by James Corbett plots the traffic, emissions and other environmental impacts of shipping (via ENN).

Corbett uses an empirical waterway network based on shipping routes revealed from observed historical ship locations.

Oh, and, research on applying this model to estimating the probability of the interaction between ships and whales is underway.

Published by Ken on January 31st, 2008 tagged CO2 Emissions, HI-specific, Transport | Comment now »

dude, where’d my preservation project go?

islands lowering in rising sea

And you tho't driving an SUV to a 'save the whales' protest was like missing the point...

Wot if all those well-intentioned efforts to preserve biologically rich landscapes are beside the point in an era of climate change?

According to Cornelia Dean, many scientists now believe that habitat conservation will be of limited long-term benefit if global warming makes those places inhospitable (via nytimes).

Wetlands will be overrun by sea level change, preserved grasslands will become forests, and endangered species will move elsewhere, says Dean.

“It’s a real dilemma,” says conservation biologist David S. Wilcove, in a classic understatement.

Published by Ken on January 29th, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Ecosystems Research | Comment now »

holy car! Israel goes for national e-vehicle strategy

project better place does ev in israel

Speaking of greener, sooner, cheaper...Israel just announced a major nationwide EV plan in partnership with Renault-Nissan.

Project Better Place will begin mass deployment of electric cars by 2011 in what must be the perfect first mass market (via gristmill).

Howsat? In Israel, 90% of car owners drive less than 50 miles per day, and all major urban centers are less than 90 miles apart.

So. electric vehicles would be the ideal means of transportation, covering most Israeli's transportation needs.

Wot's novel is the automakers' business model. You own the car, rent the battery, and recharge for a small fee.

Published by Ken on January 29th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Transport | 1 Comment »

ebikes can work for islanders: get yer mobility here

ez sport semirecumbent electric bike

Finally, my electric bike arrives today, and I'm like way psyched about a new era of cycling for these aging bones!

Can't get back up the narrow road climbing a mile from highway to home, das why...especially with laundry or groceries in tow.

Yet, that's no reason to use a car. So, I'm switching fuel and motor, and using 2 wheels to get back and forth to town.

Gotta further shrink our footprints, dontcha know, and this'll knock off more than half of my car miles.

You could, too. Why? Electric-assist cycling has come of age.

Published by Ken on January 28th, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint, Transport | Comment now »

Bushies one-up in Hawaii: on making islands first in renewables

HI energy alliance logo

Wot are we to make of the Bushies announcing a new energy partnership with our state...days before the major polluters gather here for climate talks (via starbulletin)?

Even if this is a ploy to make it look like the US is doing something, ya gotta love the implications for our islands' energy future.

I mean, wot's not to like about a joint state-federal initiative that will "position Hawaii as a model for others to follow as global economies shift away from the dependence on fossil fuels."

OK, so Gov. Linda Lingle touched on the "Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative" in her leg.-opening speech. Wot else?

Published by Ken on January 27th, 2008 tagged Energy, HI-specific | 3 Comments »

Hawaii singularity: on digital tools shaping island futures

jamai cascio on the metaverse

Jamais Cascio's 'Metaverse' riff makes me think of Kanu Hawaii. You know, the social movement now shaping Hawaii into "a model of island living for an increasingly island-like world".

Wot's the connection? Kanu's all about digital tools that offer us ways of "living more in line with our island values and better fulfilling our kuleana."

Says Cascio, "Our actions and lives have consequences. Even small choices matter."

Just so, the KANU founders, "decided to begin with what they knew they could change — their own lives."

Along the way, we might just become wot Cascio calls (echoing Jonas Salk) "good ancestors".

Published by Ken on January 27th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, HI-specific | Comment now »

on wot sustainability is NOT…a Hawaii example

access to ala wai yacht club is not about sustainability

Perhaps you agree that "adequate beach access is part of sustainability", as this op-ed piece from the co-chairmen of Surfrider Foundation's Oahu chapter proclaims (via starbulletin).

I couldn't disagree more, and not simply because this issue is fairly far down the sustainability do-list, but especially because it represents the sort of misappropriation of the "S" word that rankles many sustainability experts.

Simply by asserting issue X is about sustainability, some folks apparently believe they can add power to their peeves.

Just so, Scott Werny and Marvin Heskett insist that "one essential piece of the sustainability equation that we need to address is shoreline access."

Published by Ken on January 26th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Sustainability Science | Comment now »

ready or not: major polluters ain’t, Honolulu is

east-west center in honolulu

Next Wednesday and Thursday some of the world's major polluters may gather with the Bushies at the East-West Center in Honolulu for the second installment of the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change (MEM).

We know that the Aussie's new Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, is coming. Wong intends to "form common ground on curbing greenhouse gas emissions before the 2009 deadline" for a new international global warming treaty.

Oh, and, you're invited to join the community protest Tuesday evening and day-long teach-in on Wednesday across the street from the East-West Center.

Published by Ken on January 25th, 2008 tagged CO2 Emissions, Climate Change | Comment now »

Bello warning on warming: elites vs. greens in the south

walden bello

Walden Bello wonders whether greens can serve as a pivotal agent in the fight against global warming...in the global South (via life of the land).

For it is here in the developing world that, some say, the fight will be won or lost, and neither the situation nor the intentions of the global South are widely known...not least because the elites of many developing nations are aligned with global corporate interests.

First, Bello seeks "to counter the image that the Asian masses are inert elements that uncritically accept the environmentally damaging high-growth export-oriented models promoted by their governing elites."

Published by Ken on January 25th, 2008 tagged Climate Change | Comment now »

going for broke: on running in the KIUC board election

ken stokes running for kiuc board

Didn't help that KIUC renominated the three incumbents for another Board term, yet, heck, I'm runnin' anyway.

True, I've been considering this form of public service for some time. I actually sought nomination in last year's election, yet didn't make the cut...wot with strong candidates like Allan Smith and David Iha in the pack.

Still, our island's energy future is SO challenging, and I would be thrilled and honored to serve in this way.

I would hope to help make our electricity greener, sooner, cheaper...and 'twould be grand to join good buddy Carol Bain, who won election last year.

Published by Ken on January 25th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Energy | 1 Comment »

here we go again: second Kauai seminar, same as the first

sustainability seminar schedule on kauai

Thrilled is wot I am that so many Kauai leaders are committing to learn more about our island's sustainability challenges.

Now getting underway, this 12-week seminar is intended to cover the key tools and core issues that will shape our island future.

We’re gonna have some more fun getting much more clear about what sustainability means for our island.

Never mind that we’re all so busy. We’re gonna fit in this vital time and accelerate our own learning in this way.

Oh, and, for all you carbon-spewers paying attention…we’re gonna do most of our collaborative learning online.

We’ll be much more judicious about driving around the island to meet for some essential face-time.

Published by Ken on January 25th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Sustainability Science | Comment now »

RU a reversalist? on systems thinking about food futures

reversalist images

Stuart Staniford's marvelous post on "The Fallacy of Reversability" is generating some fascinating discussion (via oildrum).

Staniford wonders whether, "when you industrialize a society, is that a reversible process? Can you take it on a backward path to a deindustrialized society that looks in the important ways like the society you had before the industrialization?"

Staniford notes that both 'peak oil' and ‘relocalization’ pundits assume this could be a good thang.

Not so, says Staniford. "It appears to me that it is neither possible or desirable, but at a minimum, someone arguing for it should seriously address the question."

Published by Ken on January 24th, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Systems Thinking | 1 Comment »

on how 6 degrees is like the 100th monkey

6 degrees of warming and networking

Perhaps it's ironic that six degrees separate us from all of humanity, in the global networking sense, and pretty much doom all of humanity in the global warming sense.

Now that we know the realistic prospects for the latter, perhaps we oughta tap into the radical potential of the former.

Oh, and, jes' in case ya don't have a good feel for what a world six degrees warmer might look like, check out this new multimedia feature from National Geographic (via openthefuture).

"The difference between the world we know and something out of a disaster movie is only a matter of degrees."

Published by Ken on January 24th, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comment now »

how much acreage to grow our food? new math for Kauai

land for food on kauai

So, John Jevons says we could feed ourselves on 4,000 square feet per person. Multiply that times Kauai's 85,000 residents and visitors, and you get 7,800 acres.

So far so good, since Kauai's 356,000 acres includes 92,000 acres of cropland, roughly 20,000 of which is (now) fallow cane land.

Still, if we had to rely on the typical American land use for our diet (up to 30,000 sf per capita), that would sum to 58,650 acres. That's 64% of our Kauai cropland we'd need to grow our own food. Wouldn't it be better to grow our needs on 9% of the cropland, instead?

Published by Ken on January 23rd, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | 1 Comment »

who owes what for eco debt: big bills for rich nations

debt and life

Ecological footprinting is getting sufficiently sophisticated that we can now track precisely which nations are responsible for what portions of our ecological debts.

Thanks to a new study by Cal economists, we know that the damage caused to poor nations by the richest countries amounts to more than the entire third world debt. Yikes!

Richard Norgaard headed this study that found huge disparities in the ecological footprint inflicted by rich and poor countries on the rest of the world because of differences in consumption.

We got rich on the backs of poor countries, and “that is one reason they are poor, says Norgaard".

Published by Ken on January 23rd, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Ecological Footprint | Comment now »

seein’ REDD after Bali: who benefits from carbon credits?

CO2 from deforestation looms large

Stopping tropical deforestation could cut global emissions by 20%, so wot's wrong with dishin' carbon credits as an incentive?

Enough wrong that indigenous peoples nearly blocked agreement on efforts to 'reduce emissions due to deforestation and degradation' (REDD).

Turns out, wrangling over REDD was among the most intense struggles at the recent Bali bash, and details still have to be negotiated.

Perhaps that's a good thang, and according to David Turnbull, it is not obvious that indigenous peoples will lose.

The crucial point is that rainforest nations seek alignment of markets and sustainability so it's more beneficial NOT to destroy their lands.

Published by Ken on January 22nd, 2008 tagged Climate Change | Comment now »

checkin’ in with bugs that won’t check out

bugs evolving faster than drugs

That old line about folks who go to the hospital and then get sick is taking on new relevance as bacteria once tamed by antibiotics evolve rapidly into forms that practically no drug can treat.

Among the most alarming of these, says Sabin Russell, is MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bug that used to be confined to vulnerable hospital patients, but now is infecting otherwise healthy people in schools, gymnasiums and the home (via sf gate).

Russell reports that Dr. Jeff Brooks, director of the UCSF Medical Center Lab, is watching the evolution of these bacteria "with a mixture of fascination and dread."

Published by Ken on January 21st, 2008 tagged Island Vulnerabilities | Comment now »

make more food with less land: go biointensive

john jevons does biointensive

We know our American food footprint is monstrous, so this is a major focus of any community sustainability strategy.

Wot's the clue for walking lighter on the land? "Focus on growing soil, not crops," says John Jeavons (via worldchanging).

Jeavons is a organic/sustainable gardening guru and soil expert who's spent the last 30 years touting small-scale, sustainable, organic farming--a method of closed-loop crop production he has dubbed "biointensive farming."

Says Jeavons, "it takes about 15,000 to 30,000 square feet of land to feed one person the average U.S. diet. I've figured out how to get it down to 4,000 square feet."

Published by Ken on January 20th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Community Initiatives | Comment now »

have tookit, will transform: toward community sustainability

sus community toolkit

Here's a new community resource that's quite useful in focusing your own local sustainability efforts (via federal sustainability blog).

Wudja believe a toolkit for local governmnet called "Toward a Sustainable Community"?

Das right, and not surprisingly it's coming out of Wisconsin, thanks to their university extension service and a little help from 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

The idea is to provide descriptions of specific actions a local government can take to transform itself into a model of sustainable practices.

Included are practices that can result in cost savings and increased employment, as well as enhance environmental quality and community well-being.

Published by Ken on January 20th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Community Initiatives | Comment now »