Archive for June, 2009

faster is better: on energy pathways to economic recovery

next 10 energy pathways

"The faster and farther California can improve energy efficiency, while accelerating deployment of renewable energy, the faster the state economy will grow and create jobs", says a new report on "Energy Pathways" by Berkeley economist, David Roland-Holst (via next10).

If you think this sounds like greener-sooner-cheaper, you'd be right. And if you think the alternative "portends ever greater reliance on out-of-state fuel sources, and therefore greater exposure to fuel price volatility", you'd also be right.

Just don't tell KIUC, which recently joined "Big Coal" lobbying in DC to bash climate change legislation on the pretext of keeping energy prices down*.

Published by Ken on June 19th, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Energy | Comments Off

indigi-new economy: Adamson on sustainability and hard times

rebecca adamson

"We will find abundance through hard times when we find each other", says First Nation’s Rebecca Adamson.

"Abundance comes not from stuff…An indigenous system is based on prosperity, creation, kinship, and a sense of enough-ness. It is designed for sharing."

Adamson's wisdom flows through a marvelous interview by Sarah Van Gelder in the "New Economy" issue of Yes!

"Fear makes scarcity self-fulfilling. The more fearful, the more you go out and buy. And pretty soon you run out of money and go into debt, and pretty soon the planet runs out of natural resources and places to put all the garbage."

Published by Ken on June 17th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Community Initiatives | Comments Off

exploring eco-Edmonton: host with the most for sustainability

edmonton ICLEI

Tomorrow will be this city's turn to shine the light on local initiatives for sustainability.

As host of ICLEI's triennial World Congress, Edmonton has packed the day with 14 "mobile workshops" that will take the local leaders from 57 countries out into the city and region of Edmonton (by foot, bus or bicycle) to explore sustainability in action.

In a break from traditional congress proceedings, these workshops will "connect leaders by providing a stimulating and contextual networking and socialising opportunity for participants to experience several of Edmonton’s sustainable development projects firsthand." Want inspiration? Checkout Edmonton’s many collaborating stakeholder groups’ inter-linked initiatives.

Published by Ken on June 15th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Community Initiatives | Comments Off

energy performance in the tropics: on ceiling fans and retrofits


Our little treehouse is blessed (not) with black asphalt shingles, and enjoys shading only until 1PM, plus there are no ceiling air vents, so we're big fans of big fans.

Venting the hot air which shouldn't have accumulated in the first place, is a huge energy drain for us...since we use 2 ceiling fans, 2 window fans, and 4 face fans during a large fraction of our day.

Fact is, fans are our #3 energy user, right behind our water heater and refrigerator.

So, I’ve been looking at fans from an energy efficiency and integrated retrofit perspective. Here’s what I’ve learned, so far…

Published by Ken on June 14th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Green Building | 1 Comment »

living building design for the tropics: Kansas it’s not

casa tropical

Notice the kewl trend toward "passive" homes and offices, yet also notice the virtually exclusive focus on buildings in the temperate zone.

Since 1/3 of humans live in the tropics, it bears noting that "passive" design for this climate is exactly the opposite of design for northern climes.

For one thing, "passive" in the north requires airtightness, whereas "open air" is elemental in the tropics as seen in this fabulous "Casa Tropical" design from Brazil (via archmag).

Most notably, this means tropical designs can use the wind to cool and freshen the interior air and vent the hot air.

Published by Ken on June 11th, 2009 tagged Green Building, Island Ecosystems | Comments Off

tiny card speaks volumes: on reinforcing the footprint message

tiny biz card

When I caught this idea at Ogilvy's "On Recession" site, I went straight into production, and Voila!

Using the "clean edge" business card stock from Avery, I designed a bite-sized layout that prints 4 per card.

Then, I simply fold and snap out the cards and cut each one into fourths.

Hai! Dozo! Yes! Please take it! Herewith, my new business card.

It seems to better fit my footprint reduction efforts, right alongside my tiny treehouse home and my trailered ebike transport.

I’ve tested it with friends in the Lihue Business Association, who seemed to get the message…after they stopped laughing!

Published by Ken on June 10th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Community Initiatives | Comments Off

on smearing people and mis-stating sustainability science

smear tactics

"Full-time global warming disinformers, like Swift boat smearer Marc Morano and Anthony Watts, have dedicated their lives to promoting disinformation and delay whose inevitable outcome — if a large fraction of people continue to be suckered by them — is unspeakable misery and/or violence to billions of people."

So says Joe Romm, after his climate change advocacy was labeled " murdering people" by a commenter on Watts' blog.

Romm fires back, noting that such statements from deniers and disinformers "are the equivalent of shouting ‘no fire’ on a burning planet. That is perhaps the most immoral thing any human being can do.”

Published by Ken on June 9th, 2009 tagged Climate Change | Comments Off

what’s (wrongly) on second: sustainability and the greater good


"Selfish maximizers" are headed for lonely coping with "the privations of a post-peak oil world", says Kurt Cobb, yet only "altruistic sacrificers" engaged in collective action can "forestall ecosystem collapse" (via oildrum).

Cobb highlights the fatal flaw in "negative freedom" that drives conservative's anti-government propaganda.

Go ahead and join those "huffing and puffing at the imaginary enemies of freedom", says Cobb, while "the real basis of your freedom, an intact and functioning nation and community, starts to degrade inexorably".

Where will “the wealthy backers of fossil fuel intensive industries” be then? “Decamped to their second homes in more habitable places”.

Published by Ken on June 8th, 2009 tagged Systems Thinking | Comments Off

what needs more explaining? on ignoring idiots


The amazing scientists at RealClimate are getting tired of climate deniers and delayers.

Wouldn't you, if you faced "the same nonsense, the same logical fallacies, the same confusions - all of which seem to be endlessly repeated."

Most of us are bystanders as the educated and the idiotic battle it out for headlines and soundbites.

The educated push on "because bystanders deserve to know where better information can be found", says Gavin Schmidt.

Meanwhile, the idiotic "keep floundering ahead with blind faith in their increasingly fallacious worldview."

Published by Ken on June 7th, 2009 tagged Climate Change | Comments Off

who’s on first? sustainability holds up in Hawaii blog world

ranking of HI blogs

One never knows how salient the sustainability challenge is to islanders, although I take some comfort in how well SusHI does in Hawaii's blogosphere.

As shown in this table, SusHI and RaisingIslands (good buddy JanT) hold their own amongst the other largely political blogs.

Two other Kauai blogs also made this top-10 list.

It's especially gratifying to see the average visitor stays on SusHI for 2.2 minutes. Only Joan Conrow (Kauai Eclectic) and Ian Lind do better on this count.

Our friends on SaveKauai (not shown) are slightly better on traffic, yet way back on PageRank, Authority, Links, and Time.

Published by Ken on June 6th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives | Comments Off

don’t build carbon storage, enhance it

natural fix

Energy firms are pushing billions for building carbon capture and storage (CCS) at power plants, yet there's a better and cheaper approach for reducing emissions: stopping deforestation, restoring marshes and peatlands, and practicing more sustainable agricultural techniques.

So says "The Natural Fix" from UNEP, looking at the role of ecosystems in climate mitigation (via treehugger).

UNEP's Achim Steiner notes this is a "tried and tested method" for storing carbon "that has been working for millennia", and unlike CCS, “delivers improved water supplies, soil stabilization and reduced biodiversity losses alongside new kinds of green jobs in natural resource management and conservation”.

Published by Ken on June 5th, 2009 tagged CO2 Emissions, Climate Change | Comments Off

thinking about thinking about Hawaii’s food system

fixes that fail

Some folks are attracted to “system dynamics” because its tools enable us to practice thinking about human support systems in new ways.

Lord knows we need new ways of thinking...perhaps more so regarding our food system than elsewhere.

Why? Hawaii is stuck at the end of the American 'food chain' (heh) and the systems we've inherited are not well-suited for sustainability in these tropical islands.

Worse, many otherwise thoughtful studies, such as RMI's "whole system" food map for Hawaii Island, focus on competing in the existing scheme, whereas we're better served using these tools to re-invent our Hawaii food system.

Published by Ken on June 3rd, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Food, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

keeping track: what happened to sustainable development?


Sheesh! Was it 17 years ago, already, that our eyes turned to Rio and the Earth Summit?

Don't know about you, but I haven't been closely tracking the progress of the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) that emerged from the Rio deliberations to ensure effective follow-up. Too bad, too!

Howzat? It seems the CSD has been marginalized at precisely the time we need these efforts most. After all, COP-15 in Copenhagen arises because we haven't done much since Rio...except conduct some important research and draft some strategic plans.

So says Adam Parsons in lamenting this state of affairs (via commondreams).

Published by Ken on June 1st, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comments Off