Archive for October, 2008

into the light of a dark black night: a sustainability anthem

blackbird flying

Awakened this morning with the ‘Blackbird’ song playing through my thoughts.

Like Paul McCartney's 'Blackbird', we must now "learn to fly with broken wings" and "learn to see with sunken eyes".

"All our lives", we were "only waiting for this moment to arise."

McCartney was writing this "purposely symbolic" anthem for the civil rights movement, after Little Rock's forced desegregation...and we can also use it for the sustainability movement.

In an unsustainable world, we are all 'black' 'birds'…only "waiting for this moment to be free". Sure, it's a "dark black night". "Step into the light", as McCartney exhorted then. "Black bird, fly!"

Published by Ken on October 30th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives | Comments Off

SEHIs got game: on superstructing for sustainability

superstruct game

Sheesh, this is hard work: staying on top of the cascading threats and burgeoning science while keeping an optimistic outlook and a laser focus on the transition do-list.

My editor wife says "wait 'til catastrophe strikes...then, folks will wake up", yet I see catastrophes daily rearing, globally.

My electric utility says "wait 'til it's more clear what we should do", yet what's necessary and urgent has been clear for some time now.

My favorite bloggers are shifting to a more transformative stance-- as in "don't try to make this civilization sustainable...create a new one", yet most of my neighbors are zoned-out on TV.

Published by Ken on October 29th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

be very unafraid: sustainability means embracing uncertainty


Many humans confuse fear with uncertainty. It's an indirect relationship, actually, in the sense that what we fear is uncertainty.

By stepping out of the delusion of certainty that has encapsulated so much of human life today, we can embrace the reality of uncertainty without fear. Since certainty is not an option, there should be no problem.

Human hubris in believing we could understand and control our world has created the illusion that we're 'on top of it'. We're not, nor can we be. We can only be a part. And part of our solution is to change the dream (via paulchefurka).

Published by Ken on October 28th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Systems Thinking | 1 Comment »

framework for sustainability thinking: 12 stops in a matrix

knowledge matrix

Listening to Julian Darley* dish sustainability solutions, I couldn't help thinking that our greatest need at the moment is 'knowledge management'.

That is, creating a framework for storing what we're learning, based on a new mental map of what we need to know. And then growing a network for sharing and building this knowledge on the fly.

Darley goes on at such length and each item is so compelling that I begin to lose track of where we are and end up with a laundry list...which is not what we need. We need something like a three-dimensional matrix to depict all the interconnected elements.

Published by Ken on October 26th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Sustainability Science | Comments Off

wot’s wrong with this picture? why we need new mental maps

mental map

Alan Greenspan was “shocked” because his mental model of market self-regulation prevented him from seeing the emerging patterns of risk. He could not see the monster because his mental map had filtered out the possibility that it existed.

Greenspans' successors are likewise shocked that their fixes are failing. Yet, using their old mental maps, they're simply "firing at the last known position of the monster", says Art Hutchinson (via cartegic).

The only folks who are not shocked are those who have constructed a new mental map that enables them to see what's actually big the monster is and where it's moving.

Published by Ken on October 24th, 2008 tagged Systems Thinking | Comments Off

poverty persists, inequality deepens: how smart is that?

share the money

Neocons and 'free marketeers' insist that America's high growth economy with increasingly concentrated wealth is the highest and best use of our assets, and that poverty happens and some folks lose. So it goes.

And, never mind that US poverty levels are still inching up, while inequality is much greater than other countries...and rising sharply.

Over the last 10 years, the real income of the top 20% rose more than twice as fast as middle income Americans, while incomes in the bottom 20% actually declined.

Published by Ken on October 21st, 2008 tagged Systems Thinking | Comments Off

shipping water to Kauai: an import strategy that’s all wet

american water footprint

Kauaians consume 4.4 billion gallons of Kauai water annually, and import another 2.2 billion gallons of 'virtual water' in the goods and services we use.

That's the quick assessment based on a new water footprinting tool just out from Water Footprint Network that provides a quick estimate of individual water footprints based on average consumption patterns in your country (via WBCSD).

The average American has a 'virtual water' footprint of about 50,000 gallons per person.

So, we're actually using a lot more water than we thought…about half again as much water as the 100,000 gallons per person we use on island.

Published by Ken on October 21st, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Food | Comments Off

Las Vegas spotlight: leading with sustainability strategy

las vegas water

Surging concern for sustainability is prompting many cities to adopt strategies for conserving energy and encouraging 'green' business...and Las Vegas recently joined this list.

The Las Vegas City Council voted in early September to invest in long-term strategies for reducing its reliance on foreign oil and non-renewable energy.

Wudja believe this "city of excess" is already a leader in protecting the environment and sustainability?

Yup, both the City and UNLV , plus a plethora of green building and conservation groups have significant sustainability initiatives well underway.

Heck, Vegas just hosted the National Clean Energy Summit. and the WaterSmart Innovations conference.

Published by Ken on October 20th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives | Comments Off

bottom-up potential in Kauai energy transition

community energy potential

One caller during my Friday talk show for Malama Kauai said she was glad I didn't win election to the KIUC board. Fancy that!

It would have been a wasted effort, she suggested, and Kauai was moving toward green energy on its own. Fascinating!

I told her my line about "if you can't join 'em, beat 'em", and agreed there was lots of initiative among Kauaian households, businesses and community groups focused on renewable energy.

Question is: how can Kauaians move forward together with a unified sense of mission? We know this island faces an urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels.

Published by Ken on October 20th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Energy, HI-specific | Comments Off

air, ground and see attack: more sustainability conversation


So, I'll be on air this Noon hosting the Friday talk show on KKCR normally honcho'd by Keone Kealoha and Andrea Brower of Malama Kauai.

They're at the Bioneers conference in San Rafael, and will be calling in to report on the opening days' plenary roster of inspiring speakers. That's the air attack bit.

On the ground, I'm down for the consultants' briefing on the County's "energy sustainability plan" RFP, and hope to be part of a team to get this contract. Nothing is more important than Kauai anticipating 'peak oil' and forging contingency plans for supply disruptions.

Published by Ken on October 17th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, HI-specific | 1 Comment »

on financial collapse and peak oil: one follows the other

peak dollars

Gail the Actuary made Hawaii headlines by questioning our sustainability some months back, and now she's dishing an "I told you so" on the non-coincidence of peak oil and financial collapse (via oildrum).

Says Gail, "it is not a coincidence that just as we are hitting peak oil, world monetary systems seem to be edging toward collapse. Monetary systems are debt based, and depend on growth to continue. Resources are finite, and we are reaching limitations on them."

So, Gail wonders what happens if we don't find technological solutions. "Many of us have predicted that monetary systems may collapse”, says Gail…

Published by Ken on October 14th, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

growers shall lead us: toward Hawaiian sustainability

HI fruit

Dirt farmers at either end of the islands chimed in to help turn up the volume in our Hawaii conversation about sustainability.

Kauai's Roy Oyama figured prominently in a recent sustainable ag conference, and Hawaii Island's Richard Ha posted yesterday on "growing locally" (via starbulletin).

Never mind that Ha was pushing approval of a new telescope deal for Mauna Kea. He's "a tomato farmer...who knows how to grow enough food to feed a lot of people."

And never mind that ya gotta drive out to Oyama's roadside stand for his freshly picked fruits and vegetables. He has little left to ship to Oahu.

Published by Ken on October 13th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Food | Comments Off

getting down with Nexgen: grandots playing for time


What if we don't fix our mess, and my grandots inherited world is even more not safe, not fair, and not smart than it already is? Couldn't help gnawin' on it while I rolled on the floor with we roll through Cascadia.

Earlier yesterday, I got to chat with the Workforce Development Dean at Clover Park Technical College about sustainability education and prospects for green jobs...despite the global financial meltdown. "We're gonna do this, either way, right?", I inquired. I was assured the money was gonna flow.

Meanwhile, I'm adapting my "oops stories" for three year-old audiences...

Published by Ken on October 11th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Community Initiatives | Comments Off

economists focus on global sustainability crisis

sustainable economy

Not often do I get to acknowledge fellow economists from other countries, nor is it surprising to find many leading economists at the World Conservation Congress now underway in Barcelona.

What resonates from these great minds is a focus on sustainability...regardless of the economic crisis.

Virtually to a person, these economists argue that the financial meltdown presents an opportunity for a new economic model that would end short-sighted search for high returns, writes Julio Godoy (via commondreams).

"New regulation of international financial transactions opens a window of opportunity to rethink neoliberalism in the developing world," says Mexican economist Alejandro Nadal.

Published by Ken on October 8th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Systems Thinking | 1 Comment »

back to Cascadia: networking with sustainability groups

cascadia southern

There's something vibrant and hopeful emanating from the sustainability network in the Pacific Northwest-- otherwise known as Cascadia.

Seems a worthy destination for a visitor from the tropics (moi), even if it were not also home to my second son and fourth grandot.

So, Susan and I will spew some carbon on the 'red eye' tomorrow night and delight in fellowship of all kinds for three days each in Portland and Seattle.

With a little scheduling luck, I'll get to meet with heroes like Alex Steffen at Worldchanging, Alan Durning at Sightline, Martin Tull at Formos (formerly at NWEI), and Astrid Scholz at Ecotrust.

Published by Ken on October 7th, 2008 tagged Best Practices | Comments Off

Hawaii gardens to go: sustainability one yard at a time

gardens to go

Jay Ogden believes organic gardening should be easy so we can all grow low-cost good food in our own backyard, and he wants to teach the world to grow their own food, starting with Hawaii schools.

Ogden, who previously studied at the Permaculture Institute of Austrailia, just launched Ogden Agri-Services Corporation which features "Gardens-To-Go".

This is "a fast and easy way to garden at home without the hassels", says Ogden. "It's as easy as watching grass grow."

Ogden is promoting this service through the schools who can use the gardens to teach the benefits of organic gardening to the next generation and then distribute the garden kits as a fund-raiser to the local communities.

Published by Ken on October 7th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Food | 1 Comment »

running on empty: how’s sleep-walking working for you?

running on empty

What a relief to see our Kauai oil barge pulling into the harbor yesterday! Matt Simmons got me back to worrying about this as I watched him address the recent ASPO conference in Sacramento (via youtube).

You thought the meltdown of our financial markets was fast?  Our "energy cushion" could disappear in a heartbeat, says Simmons.

So, we're gonna need a transition strategy sooner than we think. "The world is sleep-walking through these energy events", says Simmons.

Why? Simmons says we're being lied to about energy risk. "This is the most serious global risk of the 21st century. This is risk-squared!"

Published by Ken on October 6th, 2008 tagged Energy, HI-specific | Comments Off

the fourth R: new tool for sustainability assurance

blindspot logo

Actually, it's not an R, it's a in ‘precycling’, yet it ranks right up there with reduce, reuse and recycle.

Precycling is about accounting for the post-use phase of products before they're made.

James Greyson's been pushing us to acknowledge upfront what a product will likely to contribute to waste and resources depletion. What could be simpler than that? (via blindspot)

See, precycling places a premium on 'prewasted' products, and competitive firms will shift their design strategy to avoid paying these premiums. Let these "market signals prompt producers to prepare for current resources to become future resources", as in precycling, says Greyson.

Published by Ken on October 6th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

don’t peak! on sex and the Simmons soothsayers

oily cassandra

Having trouble focusing on peak oil? Don't watch this video, and if you do, don't turn the volume down (via treehugger).

This is "education by any means necessary", says Oily Cassandra. She's hot...about our complacency. And, yes, she uses her body to get your attention.

"What we see around us is a system that is burning up all we have left", says Cassandra

Just so, Matt Simmons, with his dire warnings that gasoline reserves are so low in the US that if everyone topped up their tank we would see “a run on the bank”. We gotta “beat a fast retreat.”

Published by Ken on October 3rd, 2008 tagged Energy, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

Mo bettah: Hawaii’s energy guy on bold actions needed now

maurice kaya

Not surprisingly, my hero Maurice "Mo" Kaya was the star at Kauai's renewable energy conference last month (via KEDB).

Hawaii's former state energy coordinator is calling out a warning: "the crisis is here! Continued oil dependence weakens Hawaii’s economy, and it ain’t getting any better!"

“A sense of urgency is needed”, and "traditional sources of leadership have failed us in this challenge", says Kaya.

Kaya's starting to sound like a 'transition town' kinda guy! Echoing the "lead or get out of the way" anthem from Bali, Kaya says "The status quo carries too much risk".  I second that emotion!

Published by Ken on October 3rd, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, HI-specific | Comments Off