Archive for January, 2008
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 »
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.
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 »
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 »
Speaking of greener, sooner, cheaper...Israel just announced a major nationwide EV plan in partnership with Renault-Nissan.
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 »
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 »
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."
Published by Ken on January 27th, 2008 tagged Energy, HI-specific | 3 Comments »
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 »
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 »
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.
Published by Ken on January 25th, 2008 tagged CO2 Emissions, Climate Change | Comment now »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Now that we know the realistic prospects for the latter, perhaps we oughta tap into the radical potential of the former.
"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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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"?
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.