Archive for February, 2009

time to act: on institutional collaboration for sustainability

think plan doSure, it's gratifying that SusHI saw its millionth visitor yesterday (a regular reader from Kailua who clicked-through to Susan Hockfield's "turn up the volume" video...Kewl!).

Still, the time for bloggin'/talkin' is passed.

IMHO, it's time to act on our sustainability challenges, and I'm shifting my focus to this end.

Working with a marvelous group of 4 institutional leaders on Kauai (who all happen to be women)*, I'm incubating a "Think & Do Tank" that can accelerate our island's transition to sustainability.

...Because we'll need everything these and other groups are doing or intend to do...and much more, to get'r done.

Published by Ken on February 11th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

on resolving food and energy sustainability challenges together

food and energy

Feeding ourselves turns out to be a much bigger deal than we may have thought, if only because it's not just about food.

We know that everything's connected, and we cannot talk about food without also talking about energy...and transport...and building...to name only the biggest 'elephants' in our ecological footprint.

Of course, it takes lots of energy to grow, process and distribute our food, and we wouldn't want to copy this wasteful food system as we reinvent our local food chain.

So, we gotta think about food and energy together...which is what makes Hawaii’s proposed Food & Energy Authority attractive.

Published by Ken on February 10th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Energy, Food | 1 Comment »

solving sustainability is not an American thing…it’s only human

glob des loc prod

How and why our preoccupation with nations persists is beyond me.

It's not as if there's 'our' banks and car companies versus 'their' companies in a globalized economic system. Nor can we 'protect' trade that crosses many borders even before a new product is born.

Just so, the emerging solutions are global, as sustainability practitioners, eco-designers, and green entrepreneurs ignore national boundaries in tackling our human challenges at scale, in time, for all.

Combined with the Internet's "ultimate in decentralization", this tendency to "design globally" is paradoxically propelling the transnational "produce locally" trend, says John Robb (via globalguerillas).

Published by Ken on February 9th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Community Initiatives | Comments Off

bedeviled by our brains: sustainability needs the neocortex

brainiac

America's reward-driven culture makes us sick in body and mind, says Peter Whybrow in this marvelous PopTech podcast.

Whybrow's neurobiological look at instinctual and social behaviors within a market economy is subtitled "When More Is Not Enough", so you know wot he's talkin' about...

Just so, John Naish says it’s not so much what’s on our minds, but which brain we use when we spend.

"Our culture over stimulates the wrong parts of the human brain – the primitive areas that are bewildered by modern life into feeling beset by famine and poverty, despite the abundant sufficiencies surrounding us" says Naish.

Published by Ken on February 6th, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

of paradigms and kings: sustainability requires new economics

paradigm change

The consumer was king in the old economic paradigm, which some called the "science of markets". "Keep 'em spending and all will be well!"…and all that.

Except, it turns out, there'll be no king come catastrophic climate change. Which is where BAU will take us.

Which means we're gonna need a new kind of economy. One that doesn't collapse if we stop growing.

“Sadly”, says Richard Heinberg, “neither free marketers nor state controllers have the answer. Humanity has reached physical limits to growth that spell ruin to all economic philosophies that fail to take such limits into account” (via ecologist).

Published by Ken on February 5th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

Superferry footprint findings: on inconvenient truthiness

cherry picking

Environment-Hawaii's Pat Tummins was kind enough to include SusHI in her commentary on the Superferry, and went on to feature Jeff Mikulina and Brad Parsons regarding this boat’s "extravagant carbon footprint".

Tummins didn't mention my preliminary finding that the ferry beats inter-island flying emissions by 5-to-1, perhaps because she didn't see it...since Parsons edited it out of his anti-ferry blog.

Parsons claims (via email) he left out my calculation of 'emissions per ton-mile' because "it would just confuse most readers."

Either way, it's far from clear that HSF is worse than airlines, as some folks want you to believe.

Published by Ken on February 5th, 2009 tagged Ecological Footprint, Transport | 4 Comments »

green is illegal: on rejecting Maui’s sustainable new town

haliimaile plan

Never mind that Haliimaile is featured at a "Green Community" exhibit in DC. It may not survive Maui's General Plan Update.

Turns out, Maui's Advisory Committee recommends NOT including most of Haliimaile's Master Plan area within growth boundary limits.

Developers ML&P/A&B say Haliimaile is "a model for sustainable development...an ambitious effort to answer questions of affordability and limited natural and community resources in the development of workforce housing."

Meanwhile, the National Building Museum picked Haliimaile as one of 6 communities globally that "demonstrates successful and innovative examples of sustainable planning, policies, design, and technology at scales large and small."

Published by Ken on February 4th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Green Building | 1 Comment »

criminal acts: on sustainability and culpability

criminal acts

Perpetuating our unsustainable behavior can hardly be blissful, when ignorance is no excuse for law-breaking.

And never mind that awareness is like a curse, where you cannot NOT see our stupidity.

It’s gotta be immoral to continue spewing carbon long after we know it does irreparable damage to the planet, and since business-as-usual will increase this risk, it must be considered unethical. Even geo-engineering to fix our mess has an ethical dimension (via 2020science).

Fact is, Catholics now recognize “polluting the earth” as a “deadly sin”. So, are we gonna start putting folks in jail for driving around in spew-mobiles?

Published by Ken on February 3rd, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Sustainability Science | Comments Off

expect different results? sustainability needs new approaches

kitchentable sus

I'm reserving judgment on Kauai's consultant engagement to help us draft a sustainability plan for energy and transport, if only because my buddies are prolly gonna get the gig.

Let's face it, our shelves are stacked with previous consultants' reports and "the frustration of inaction still needs to be overcome in our community engagement process", as Wendy Sarkissian puts it.

Far too often, the only action has been the production of a consultant report, and we'll need to persuade Kauaians that this will be different...or it’ll be imprudent for our best-and-brightest to plug-in.

Published by Ken on February 2nd, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, HI-specific | 1 Comment »