Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Midway Project - Death of the Albatross


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Chris Jordan on The Midway Project


Uploaded on 31 Mar 2011

In this video by Riley Morton, photographer Chris Jordan discusses his Midway Project; a fine art photography series documenting the tragic phenomenon of the death of the local albatross population due to excessive intake of plastic from the Pacific Garbage Patch.

Produced by Riley Morton
Midway footage courtesy of Jan Vozenilek and Joe Schweers
Music by McKenzie Stubbert

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Necessary Guide For An Age Of Reason

With the beginnings of a state of chaos developing around the globe it is time for those of us with the vision to suggest an alternate and safer path of development to ensure a peaceful and sustainable future for our descendants.

The Georgia Guide Stones

We have in our future a number of developing situations that may well be drivers of conflict. There is climate change, which is a scientific theory which has consensus among 97 percent of climate scientists on the planet. They are in agreement that it is anthropogenic (or human induced) and unless mitigated will have a disastrous impact on the world as we know it.

We have, in the near-term, a worsening resource shortage, which includes fossil fuel, minerals, metals, and rich productive agricultural land.

All of the above mentioned situations will cause further knock on effects, climate change is predicted to cause changes in rainfall patterns, some regions getting heavier rains and others getting less. This will affect agricultural output and food security.

Warming of the atmosphere will and in fact is causing sea level rise which will eventually mean evacuation of islands and all the problems with the resettling of refugees.

By 2050 the global population will be in the region of nine billion. How are we going to be able to feed all of these people? More people means more homes, roads, parking lots, and all of this means less land for agriculture. Rising atmospheric temperatures will result in reduced food production as for every one degree that the temperature rises grain production falls by ten percent.

The War on Terror conducted by the United States without benefit of the Rule of Law is also a frightening and dangerous path to transverse.

We Therefore need A Guide To An Age Of Reason:

1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.

2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.

3. Unite humanity with a living new language.

4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.

5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.

6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.

7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.

8. Balance personal rights with social duties.

9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.

10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bermuda's Water Harvesting / Catchment

As countries around the world scramble to address the looming water crisis, Bermuda's unique roofs may have the answer to rainwater harvesting.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Why I’m Marking Passing 400 ppm By Getting Back On An Aeroplane

Why I’m Marking Passing 400 ppm By Getting Back On An Aeroplane

By Rob Hopkins

16 May, 2013
Transition Culture

In November 2006, I sat at the back of the Barn Cinema, Dartington, and watched ‘An Inconvenient Truth‘. It had such an impact on me that by the time it ended, I had decided that I couldn’t just leave the cinema without marking the event by making some kind of change in my life. I decided that evening not to fly again, and I haven’t flown since. I have played an active part in supporting the growth of an international movement in 40 countries since then, participating in countless workshops, and discussing Transition internationally through Skype and pre-recorded talks, most of which I begin with how much carbon I have saved by not travelling in person. However, I recently watched the film ‘Chasing Ice’, and it had, if anything, a more visceral impact than ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. My resolution at the end of watching it, re-enforced by the recent passing, for the first time, of 400 ppm of C02 in the atmosphere, was that it was time to get back on a plane, and I want to use this post to tell you why.

When I was born, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere was 325.36 ppm. I was 19 when it passed 350 ppm for the first time, the level which climate scientists such as James Hansen argueis the highest concentration possible if we are to “preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted” When, in 2004, the first seeds of Transition were sown when I sat with my students in a classroom at Kinsale Further Education College to watch The End of Suburbia, we were at 376.15 ppm. On the day this blog first began with its first post, we were at 378.29 ppm.

When I watched ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, it was 380.18 parts per million (ppm). On the day Transition Network was formally established we had reached 386.40 ppm. On the day I left Venice last September, following the Degrowth conference (which I had travelled to by train), seeing Venice from the sea as this extraordinary jewel just inches above sea level, concentrations had reached 391.06ppm. When I sat down to watch ‘Chasing Ice’ it was 395.55 ppm.

A couple of weeks ago we passed, for the first time, 400 ppm. It’s just a number, but it had a deep impact on me, a sobering line in the sand, a deeply troubling face. As Joe Romm at Climate Progress puts it:

Certainly as we hit 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human existence, with not even a plan to avoid 600 ppm, 800 ppm, and then 1000 — not even a national discussion or an outcry by the so-called intelligentsia – it is worth asking, why? Is there something inherent in homo “sapiens” that makes us oblivious to the obvious?

This means that current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are far higher than they have been for the last 4.5 millions years at least. The graph below shows how concentrations have fluctuated over the past 800,000 years. By way of context, 30,000 years ago, Cro-Magnon man was flourishing, hunting and gathering and painting cave walls. The Guardian have created a great infographic that tells the story of 400 ppm and what it means in a very understandable way. As Damien Carrington in The Guardian puts “the last time so much greenhouse gas was in the air was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today”.

In spite of all the efforts of the green movement, Transition initiatives, a slew of international conferences and meaningless agreements, the rise has continued inexorably. It shows little sign of slowing, the International Energy Agency warning last year that the world is on track for at least a 6 degree rise in temperatures by 2100. More


I have just been accepted by Al Gore's Climate Reality project for training a a presenter. I am therefore off to Istanbul on June 11th. See http://climaterealityproject.org/leadership-corps/ I have been trying for four years to get invited to the training, but finally succeeded this year. I will then have all the materials, videos, PPT's to present around the world. I am doing this for the same reason that Rob Hopkins speaks about in the above article. I refuse to give up, I refuse to give in to what looks inevitable. Editor


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rooftop Solar Owners vs Utilities – The Battle Begins

You don’t have to go too far into a document prepared by the US-based Edison Electric Institute (EEI) to realise what is at stake for centralised utilities from the threat of rooftop solar.

The EEI, a trade group that represents most investor owned utilities in the US, said solar PV and battery storage were two technologies (along with fuel cells and storage from electric vehicles) that could “directly threaten the centralised utility model” that has prevailed for a century or more.

How worried should they be? A lot, said the EEI. The ability of rooftop solar, battery storage and energy efficiency programs to reduce demand from the grid would likely translate into lower prices for wholesale power and reduced profits. Worse still, customers were just as likely to “leave the system entirely” if a more cost-competitive alternative is available.

“While tariff restructuring can be used to mitigate lost revenues, the longer-term threat of fully exiting from the grid (or customers solely using the electric grid for backup purposes) raises the potential for irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects.”

In the US, utilities are now seeking to protect their business models by pushing hard against net metering and seeking to influence the pace and manner of deployment of other technologies and new energy market concept that don’t fit the decades old model.

In Australia, much the same has been happening. RenewEconomy reported on the concerns of utilities in this article last month. Feed-in-tariffs have been wound back, as they were supposed to have been as technology costs fell, but now the pendulum is swinging the other way, and utilities – with the apparent complicity of state-based pricing regulators – are now trying to extract as much revenue from solar customers as they can.

It is a dangerous game. Leading electricity executives and market analysts suggest the rollout of rooftop solar is inevitable and “unstoppable” – unless, of course, by regulation and changing tariffs.

Little wonder then, that solar consumers and rooftop solar providers are starting to organise themselves to protect the interests of individual consumers, and the industry as a whole.

In Australia, a new solar campaign initative known as “Solar Citizens” is being launched this week to ensure the interests of solar owners are protected from changes to laws and policies by power companies and governments.

Solar Citizens sees its mandate as helping existing and would-be solar owners to advocate for their rights as energy investors and aims to push for panels on every Australian rooftop.

Solar Citizens Manager Dr Geoff Evans says 2.5 million Australians now live under a solar roof (one million homes have rooftop solar PV systems), and have invested about $8 billion. Some forecasts expect those numbers to triple by 2020.

“That’s an amazing show of support for solar,” Evans said. “But to date, when the interests of solar owners have come under threat, there has been no way for them to come together and protect their interests. With Solar Citizens that will change.”

One of Solar Citizens initial targets will be Queensland, there the local competition authority has canvassed a range of controversial tariff structures that appear to favour government owned utilities over consumers, as RenewEconomy highlighted in March in this article, and again two days later. In other states such as NSW, individual homeowners have to negotiate with retailers to get a price for the power that retailer then sells to their neighbours.

“There’s a real power imbalance in those negotiations” said Evans. “The situations in NSW and Queensland highlights the trend we have seen across the country,” said Dr Evans. “We will soon be working on campaigns with solar owners in every state to make sure all Australian solar owners are ensured a fair go.”

“Network operators and energy retailers don’t want to see Australian’s take back control of the grid. They are making it harder for Aussies to go solar in order to protect their profits.

The Solar Citizens campaign is emerging in Australia just as solar companies in the US are organising themselves to counter the same potential threats to their business.

Last week, Bloomberg reported, SolarCity, Sungevity, Sunrun and Verengo, which accounted for the majority of US rooftop solar installations (most of which are financed by leasing arrangements)) formed a lobbying group called the Alliance for Solar Choice to combat efforts by “monopoly utilities” to quash programs that support renewable energy in 43 states.

The alliance is seeking initially to preserve net metering policies that require utilities to purchase surplus electricity at retail rates from customers with rooftop solar systems, and says it is responding to “the coordinated utility attack on net metering throughout the country.” More



Thursday, May 9, 2013

D-G Invited to Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training

Nick Robson Director-General of the Cayman Institute has been invited to Istanbul to take part in former Vice-President Al Gore's Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training.

The Climate Reality Project, founded and chaired by former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, is dedicated to unleashing a global cultural movement demanding action on the climate crisis. Despite overwhelming international scientific consensus on climate change, the global community still lacks the resolve to implement meaningful solutions. The Climate Reality Project exists to forge an unwavering bedrock of impassioned support necessary for urgent action. With that foundation, together we will ignite the moral courage in our leaders to solve the climate crisis.

The Climate Reality Project employs cutting-edge communications and grassroots engagement tools to break the dam of inaction and raise the profile of the climate crisis to its proper state of urgency. With a global movement more than 2 million strong and a grassroots network of Climate Leaders trained by Chairman Al Gore, we stand up to denial, press for solutions, and spread the truth about climate change to empower our leaders to solve the climate crisis.

I want to change the world and stop climate change.

All around the world, members of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps trained by our Chairman and former Vice President Al Gore are standing up and making a difference on the climate crisis. They’re leading by example, speaking to their communities about how climate change affects their daily lives—and what we can do to solve it. They’re appearing in the media, activating social networks, and—most of all—inspiring people everywhere to join us in confronting the defining issue of our time. More




Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why Are We So Stupid ?

So it seems that global carbon dioxide levels will likely reach 400 parts per million within days.

And it didn’t even make the news here. This will be a level unprecedented in human history since our atmosphere has probably not contained so much C02 since the Pliocene Epoch which precedes any people by about 2 million years.

This forecast is based on data from the Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO) in Hawaii, a highly institution in such things.

How quickly we have changed things and how little action we are taking

Trying to get real action at a Federal level in the US seems to be about as plausible and sensible as trying to get some gun control.Seems we much prefer our own destruction.

So why are we so stupid ?

Why would we actually want to be the architect of our own demise. And take so many other species with us. Man is the only species that can do that.

Is it the same reason that gun control just simply does not take root in the US. That vested , strong, moneyed interests have got control of the political process and we are but mere puppets to their greed?

Or have we got some fundamental evolutionary flaw that means that we simply can’t see beyond the end of this month ?

Bad news guys- Governments are not going to fix this. In the case of the US Government it seems powerless despite the rhetoric. China actually seems to be pushing into a position of leadership.

But either way it comes down to each one of us. What is it that we love more than our kids, and grandkids? Is there anything ?

Well if not….you have no choice but to act. More



The Challenge of Climate Engineering

7th Kiel Institute Summer School on Economic Policy
Kiel, Germany, June 9 – June 15, 2013

1. Motivation

Climate change poses a major challenge to governments, industry and society. Since international negotiations on the control of greenhouse gas emissions have so far not led to an agreement that is able to avoid dangerous climate change, researchers, governments, and actors in civil society have started to consider, among other things, new options that could support the mitigation of climate change. Carbon capture and storage and climate engineering, including both carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM), are prominent options considered. Before testing or implementing any of these options, the economic, social, ethical and technical aspects as well as the associated risks need to be evaluated. The summer school aims to provide information on the current state of developments in the field of climate engineering covering a variety of disciplines.

The summer school addresses PhD students and researchers from various disciplines, as well as members of policy institutions. It comprises lectures by professors, presentations by participants, reading time, consultation sessions and social events. Participants are expected to actively engage in debates on the topics discussed in class and jointly prepare the panel discussion with policy makers at the final day of the summer school.

2. Organisers

The summer school is organised by the Kiel Institute in collaboration with partners from the Helmholtz-Centre for Ocean Research GEOMAR, the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel and the Excellence Cluster “Future Ocean”. Participants will be hosted in the guest house of the Kiel Institute (“Haus Weltclub”).

3. The Speakers

James R. Fleming (Colby College, Maine)Sebastian Harnisch (University of Heidelberg)Klaus Lackner (Earth Institute, Columbia University)Thomas Leisner (KIT, Karlsruhe)Andreas Oschlies (Geomar Kiel)Christopher Preston (University of Montana)Alexander Proelss (University of Trier)Wilfried Rickels (Kiel Institute)

4. Fees

The fee to attend the summer school amounts to 250 €. The fee covers full board at the guest house of the Kiel Institute. Participants have to arrange travel themselves. Nearest airports are Hamburg and Luebeck. The Luebeck airport is served by Ryanair, Hamburg is served by several airlines. Public transportation is available from both airports to the centre of Kiel.

In order to apply, please download the application form, fill it out and send it by the 30th of April 2013 to kissep@ifw-kiel.de together with your curriculum vitae.

application form (doc-file)

In case of questions please contact: kissep@ifw-kiel.de


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Permaculture Design Course for International Development & Social Entrepreneurship

June 24 – July 7, 2013

Convened by Quail Springs Permaculture and True Nature Design

Lead Instructors: Warren Brush with Quail Springs and True Nature Design and Joseph Lentunyoi of the Maasai people, Permaculture Research Institute of Kenya and Nyumbani Village

Guest Instructors include:
Jeremiah Kidd, Global Permaculture Designer and Educator
Cathe’ Fish , Founder of Practical Permaculture Research Institute
Lyn Hebenstreit, Co-Founder of Global Resource Alliance
Tara Blasco, Co-Founder of Global Resource Alliance
Loren Luyendyk, Co-Founder of Surfer’s Without Borders
Alissa Sears, Global Betterment Director at Christie Communications
Jeannette Acosta, Indigenous Permaculture Designer and Educator
Daniel Parra-Hensel, Permaculture Designer and Educator
Brenton Kelly, Principle Farm Educator for Quail Springs Permaculture
Tom Cole, Principle Agricultural Advisor with Save the Children

“My learning journey at Quail Springs helped to nurture my presence of mind to be a better and more active listener – a vital trait for the international development professional. The coursework was incredibly pertinent to my work in Uganda and without a doubt made me more aware, more compassionate, and more focused in my role as a project manager and human being.” - Grant Buhr, Project Focus, Quail Springs’ PDC graduate

Permaculture is an integrated design system that provides a framework for consciously designed landscapes that provide diversity, stability, and resilience for individuals and communities. Permaculture is in 160 countries with many thousands of grassroots projects on-the-ground.

This course will assist you and your organization with integrating into your projects:

  • Increased Food Security
  • Community-Based Development
  • Waste Cycling
  • Sustainability Education
  • Clean Water and Drought Proofing
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Sustainable Vocations & Enterprise

Topics include: Integrated Design, Composting, Water Harvesting, Compost Toilets, Waste Cycling, Earthworks, Rocket Stoves, Design Priorities, Ecological Building, Aquaculture, Bio-Sand Filtration, Broad Acre Applications, Food Forestry, Bio-Engineering, Resilient Food Production, Greywater Systems, Livestock Integration, Soil building, Watershed Restoration, Integrated Pest Mgmt, Biomimicry, Appropriate Technology, Peacemaking, Conflict Resolution, Community Organizing, Drought Proofing Landscapes, Rebuilding Springs, Refugee Camp Strategies

During this specialized course we will be offering the participants direct hands-on learning experiences that include:

  • Making a simple and effective solar cooker
  • Creating a thermophyllic compost system
  • Building a BioSand water filter
  • Building a water harvesting bio swale
  • Constructing an earthen rocket stove

This course is designed for people who work with non-government organizations or government agencies, community organizers working in international development and/or social entrepreneurship, as well as volunteers and students with dedicated interest in the subject matter.


View or Download COURSE BROCHURE here

Teaching Team

Our instruction team is comprised of a diverse mix of special guest instructors led by Warren Brush and Joseph Lentunyoi.

Warren Brush is a Permaculture designer and teacher as well as a mentor and storyteller. Warren is co-founder ofQuail Springs Permaculture, Regenerative Earth Farms, Sustainable Vocations, Wilderness Youth Project, and his Permaculture design company, True Nature Design. He works in Permaculture education and sustainable systems design in North America, Africa, Middle East, Europe, and Australia.

Joseph Lentunyoi is from the Maasai tribe, and is co-founder of the Permaculture Research Institute of Kenya, to which he brings extensive practical knowledge of sustainable farming as well as teaching experience. Joseph is the Sustainability Director for Nyumbani Village, where over 900 children live who have been orphaned by HIV related diseases, alongside teaching and designing with permaculture techniques extensively in East Africa.


Cost includes instruction, certification, catered meals, and camping accommodations.
Cost: $1,650 (a deposit of $300 reserves your space with the full balance due by June 10)
Early Bird: $1,450 for payment in full by April 15

Early Bird – $200 discount, course payment in full by April 15, 2013
PDC Refresher – $200 discount, participants with a previous 72-hr Permaculture Design Certification
Couples – $300 discount, applies to your joint total for couples registering, paying and traveling together
Check or Money Order – $25 discount, payment by check or money order

How to Register

  1. Fill out Online Pre-Registration – Click Here
  2. Receive confirmation, orientation, program and payment details to your email address
  3. Make payment to formally reserve your space

Contact with questions: Kolmi Majumdar – email info@quailsprings.org, phone 805-886-7239