Category Archives: alternative energy

This Sweet Old World

I’ve been humming the tune of This Sweet Old World today, floating between grief and disbelief over the BP Spill.  This isn’t a scree about that mess, I don’t know what can really be said.  BP should promise flat out that it will do anything and everything possible to make this right, simply, clearly, no hedging.

This sweet old world….

S’anyway…

Yesterday I had a minor medical treatment that involved a small incision and some stitches.  No big. But I was somewhat dumbfounded when over the course of 25 minutes I saw the assistant put on, remove and toss in the garbage no less than six pairs of latex gloves.

No, really.  Six pairs.  Right in the plastic bag that held the growing mound of waste that would be collected up and thrown somewhere.  The ocean probably.

I mentioned my surprise to the assistant and he, without the slightest thought, said, “well, we have to use a new set of gloves each time we open a canister because the germs can spread so easily.”

Ok.  Picture this: my little treatment happening at that moment, hundreds and hundreds of times yesterday all around the world…cuz yeah, it wasn’t very exotic.  And then imagine more complex treatments, and full out surgeries. Imagine the amount of plastic bags full of latex and plastic wrappers emanating from those hospitals all around the world.

six pairs of latex gloves in 25 minutes

So I’ve been thinking about this. Rolling it around in my head, along with the beached whales this summer and their stomachs full of plastic, and the ease of plastic, and the mindlessness of plastic and then a talk by Bill McKibben gave on NPR the other day and his new book, Eaarth,  which argues for the end of growth.

How did I get there?  Because it is the magic thinking of an expanding universe of humanity that is at the root of most of our problems today…as McKibben says, we are now “too big to succeed.”

Consider: the growing universe of germs is due to an ever increasing population that is ever increasing its number of cure-all antibiotics that the invisible microbial world mutates to conquer again and again and again.

Consider: the more people we have, the more resources we use, in an obviously limited world.

Consider: the dwindling resources requires us to take ever more extreme actions to supply the ever increasing population of humans demanding ever more of everything, while believing there is no cause-and-effect–magic!.

There is a report today about the impact slowing down– reducing driving speeds– would have in a systemic way...proof positive that a small thing can make a big difference.  We could do this, but as a nation, the idea of slowing down is insulting, not to mention unenforced, and basically any questioning of our power to do what we want, when we want, and at the speed we want, is generally viewed as unpatriotic.  Our magic thinking has gone round the bend.

There are things we could do.  You and I both know there are things we could do differently, for the sake of this sweet old world.

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Days 360-365: MLwC hits the Year End Mark

 So, I thought in honor of the project that has changed the way I think about driving–this grew-up-in-Southern-California-you’ll -take-my-car-from-my-cold-dead-hands girl–I thought I’d review some of the high points along the way.

bianchi bike

First, recollection of the project’s goal as I’ve stated it on the blog:

MLwC stands for My Life w Car, a year long project to think differently about alternate transportation options and related issues…like, jeez, I never knew how angry driving made me until I stopped. Nowdays, I mix it up: bike, bus, ped, and yes, I still drive…though nowhere near as much as I used to. I may ditch my car at the end of the year–I like to think it’s possible. But I’m spending the year figuring that question out. For now, it’s enough that I’ve changed my habits in a big way.

For the big question, will I ditch my car? No, it became clear about midway that it made no sense to ditch a perfectly good, fully paid for car that works fine and is not sooo old that it’s a polluting disaster. Flexcar is good if you don’t have a car. But I’ve managed to completely change my transportation habits to include bike, bus, walking, ride sharing in my normal activities, and drastically reduce my car use period. Good enough.

sr520.jpg

And now for some of the high points along the year where I had some clear and habit changing insights. Here are the posts I would send the interested reader to:

Day 95: Walking! The subject of walking instead of driving brought up a lot of feelings for readers and myself. Walking takes longer, but the calm and enjoyment one gets from it really resonated with people. I started walking more and found I loved the parenthetical space it created–when you’re walking, you’re just walking. Looking around, hearing birds, being part of your town–and slowing things down a lot. Maybe some can’t imagine slowing things down and to them I just say: too bad, your loss. You should try it, you might like it.

Day 99: I really started to understand how things would change if I changed my habitual approach to transportation. Also, I found that discussing the project with others opened up a lot of questions and interest with my circle of friends. I didn’t expect the kind of interest the MLwC project engendered.

Day 116-118: In the process of removing habitual driving from my life, I became aware of the connection between driving and CONSUMING! You get in the car and you go…to get stuff. The two–the need for stuff and the trek to get the stuff–are so intertwined it takes a real effort to untangle them. This realization led me to discover the San Francisco Compact–a group that is dedicated to not buying anything for a year. Amazing.

seattle071.jpg

Day 160: Continuing on the issue of consuming, I truly get it! Moving quickly, hopping in the car, is the quickest route to impulse buying possible. Making things easy is truly making things a lot worse in the whole big picture. Fast food, fast cars, fast this and fast that–I’m just not sure we’ve got the right goals in mind. I know this perspective makes me a bad capitalist, but hey.

Day 191-194: I’m starting to really understand how things have changed from the 50’s to now. Unbridled populations growth as a machine for consuming and using every resource that’s not nailed down. No wait, we’ll use the ones that are nailed down, too.

station wagon promo pic

Days 213-214: Considerations about the older car, the urge to have something new, new, new! And plus, I just love the title of the post: The discreet charm of the older car.

Days 218-221: this is an important post, one of those posts where I really get an insight into my mind. Bill McKibbon hits the nail on the head when he points out that more has not made us happier, it’s just made us anxious for More. And that mirrors my experience with driving precisely. And my driving is inextricably linked to my consuming.

Day 233-237: The Puget Sound region rejects a proposal to build more roads! This is a watershed moment in more than one way!

urbanforest.jpg

Days 273-277: I took my car on a road trip, a rare experience. How rare? Well, I was completely unaware how expensive gas was, and I had a rude awakening that cars actually need oil now and then.

Days 241-243: One of my most favorite posts of all. This chronicles a trip I made to a day long meditation…and how crazy I made myself trying to get there on time in a traffic jam. I learned well the concept of “No Escape.” And I’ve thought of it often since this day. There a follow-up of this post here. This period was a real turning point in understanding the habit of driving, the real deep down problem of it.

Days 287-290: a plea to change your life and change the world. We can all make a difference. We must all make a difference.

Days 332-338: a video about the Story of Stuff. I just want to call this out because it’s excellent and Annie Leonard deserves traffic!

So this year comes to a close. I know not many folks will want to read all the stuff I’ve chronicled over the course of this year, but the upshot is: I’ve learned how to live differently. I’ve learned that I can learn to live differently.

The crowd roars

And because of this, my next target has already been selected: plastic bags and plastic containers. I’ll begin this project soon and have a killer kick-off post planned. Of course, the new post series title? MLwP.

Daily Stats: (Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri)
Car: 63 miles
Bike:5.0
Ped: 5.5 miles
Bus:

Days 332-338: MLwC and The Story of Stuff

When I started this year long project to examine and change my transportation habits, I had a sneaking suspicion that no matter what I did–ride a bike, take a bus, walk, drive my car–one fundamental thing had to change: driving less means using less. Driving is about Consuming, pure and simple, and what I’ve learned is that as I’ve driven less, I’ve consumed less in all kinds of ways. And using less is good. It’s  anathema to our culture, but it’s good…and I keep coming back to it, again and again.

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonardson

Writer, researcher and activist Annie Leonard has been spending the last 10 years thinking about and researching our material-based culture. She’s been talking about it too, but has not been able to gain traction…until she put together a truly brilliant 20 minute film that’s easy on the eyes and brain, but still packs a punch. She also changed the name of her focus from material usage to Stuff.

Watch The Story of Stuff–watch it now! it’s so right on, and encouraging too–we can change the way our obsolescent-dependent culture drives us crazy!

Take some time to watch her film, The Story of Stuff. What it’s about: like the title suggests, it’s the story of stuff. And she manages to take a systems approach to our whole way of life, our entire culture to explain just how stuff works…and how we participate in the creation, consumption, and disposal of stuff. It’s an untenable cycle of life, pure and simple.

And the only way out is: use less, consume less, need less. Do less, buy less, create less. Whatever happened to Less is More? We’ve completely lost touch with the concept–and now we are mindlessly buying, using, consuming, trashing more stuff than ever in the history of the world.

I suspect that once my year of transportation evaluation is over I may be turning my personal attention to this issue. And it is incredibly thorny–everything in me wants what it wants and wants it now. I’m as culpable as the next person, sometimes more, in terms of consuming–but I know, I KNOW, this cannot continue and the only thing I can do is change my own habits. I know I can systematically look at how I buy and consume and begin to deconstruct it, bit by bit–and begin to Stop Doing What I’m Doing.

And I also suspect that I will be zeroing in on one area of massive consumption that nearly epitomizes all that’s wrong with corporate supply-and-demand: processed food.

Now that I’ve said that, do watch this film and consider the role of Corporations in her explanation. And again, I point to John Edwards as the only candidate in the field who has strongly addressed dual issues regarding Corporations, the environment, and the cycle of greed that drives the growth of corporations.

Not endorsing, I’m just sayin’….

On my transportation front: I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t been able to post on a regular basis. On the other hand, I’m starting to think about weekly transportation caps–I haven’t gotten my route to Poulsbo figured out yet, ie, bus use. I’ve got too much to juggle right now and things haven’t calmed down. So I’m still successfully keeping my car usage down, but have also targeted a 75 mile a week cap. I’m well under that this week with 51 miles, so that’s all good. Is 75 miles a week too much? Does that seem reasonable? Any thoughts out there?

Daily Stats: (Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun)
Car: 51 miles
Bike: 7.0
Ped: 5
Bus: 2 miles

Days 267 & 268: MLwC and Good Carma

Pal Brian sent me a a link to a new site that’s getting some buzz. It’s Carma–Carbon Monitoring for Action, and it maps and rates carbon footprints of power plants and power companies by region and country, all over the world. It’s a deep site, with lots of drill down options so when you poke around, be sure to toy with the many options for viewing stats and facts.

Carma–Carbon Monitoring Map of the World

A world view shows Asia as producing the biggest carbon footprint in the world, in terms of power production, which isn’t surprising I guess when you consider the population density.

Closer to home, the midwest and east coast of the United States has the biggest carbon footprint. And even closer to home, the Seattle area has a tidy little zero for carbon footprint. However, if you dig even deeper into the stats, you’ll find very specific information on power plants within the zone. For example, if you look below, you’ll see that most of the plants in the Seattle area are green or at least yellow, but interestingly, our own University of Washington is red, meaning they have a significant carbon footprint:

Carma–Carbon Monitoring Map of the World

Another really great aspect of the site is its social network–it automatically picks up conversations and news stories through RSS and posts them on the site, but it also has engaged a LOT of conversation on the site itself, with everything from scholarly inquiry and feedback, to more pedestrian interest.

The site is very new and will undoubtedly be changing constantly as it has the resources to grow and evolve, in response to demands and questions. A cool thing about the project is its focus on actionable information. It’s a resource for change (nudge to the University of Washington Enviro-watchers…)

Daily Stats (Thu, Fri)
Car: 5.5
Bike: 0
Ped: 4
Bus: 15

Days 222-224: MLwC, Thomas Friedman and Vegetarian Cuisine

I’m not a huge fan of Thomas Friedman (by any stretch), but I do think he’s thoughtful and articulate so I read his articles when I have the chance. Last week he had an article entitled Lead, Follow or Move Aside which struck a true note regarding global climate change.

He’s basically bemoaning our current standing in the world with regard to effective action around climate change, a standing he lays squarely at the feet of our dear leader, GWB. To illustrate the possibilities available to us as a nation, he points to WalMart, the current poster child for evolving thought with regard to sustainable energy and practices:

The “Wal-Mart environmental moment” starts with the C.E.O. adopting a green branding strategy as a purely defensive, public relations, marketing move. Then an accident happens — someone in the shipping department takes it seriously and comes up with a new way to package the latest product and saves $100,000. This gets the attention of the C.E.O., who turns to his P.R. adviser and says, “Well, isn’t that interesting? Get me a sustainability expert. Let’s do this some more.”

The company then hires a sustainability officer, and he starts showing how green design, manufacturing and materials can save money in other areas. Then the really smart C.E.O.’s realize they have to become their own C.E.O. — chief energy officer — and they start demanding that energy efficiency become core to everything the company does, from how its employees travel to how its products are manufactured.

Given the same opportunity to wake up and smell the change-in-the-air apparently sails right by the Bush administration about every 15 minutes, the latest example being Bush’s speech before the UN on global climate change last week in which he said, sorry, profits first, future last.

Bush scratching his head confused

Friedman decries the very thing that is so upsetting about Bush’s entire reign:

Too bad. “It was America which put environmentalism on the world’s agenda in the 1970s and ’80s,” recalled Glenn Prickett, a senior vice president for Conservation International. “But since then, somehow, the wealthiest and most powerful country on the planet has gone to the back of the line.”

Leadership is about “follow me” not “after you.” Getting our national climate regulations in order is necessary, but it will not be sufficient to move China. We have to show them what Wal-Mart is showing its competitors — that green is not just right for the world, it is better, more profitable, more healthy, more innovative, more efficient, more successful. If Wal-Mart can lead, and California can lead, why can’t America?

The only thing we’re leading in anymore is hostility and thuggish foreign policy and I would really, really like to see this country do better, wouldn’t you?

And now for something completely different…I was making dinner last night, a medley of runner beans, broccoli, spinach, butter potatoes and brussel sprouts, sauteed in sweet coconut oil, a splash of chili oil and sesame oil, with carmalized sweet onions and garlic and thinking: why can’t restaurants make veggie meals like this? Why do they always have to come up with some dull combination of zucchini and broccoli, heavy on the zucchini, and call it their vegetarian offering, as if we have no taste for really good vegetables and as if we all eat zucchini at home. What’s with the zucchini, anyway? I really resent paying $15 for a dinner that includes zucchini as its main vegetable.

Here’s what I’d like: I’d like restaurants to recognize that vegetarians are as knowledgeable and well traveled in their vegetable preferences as meat eaters. So if you’re going to offer something for vegetarians, make it as exotic, creative, thoughtful, and worthwhile as your carnivore dishes, okay? Otherwise, just bring me a house salad.

In the International District in Seattle, you’ll find the Tamarind Tree, a restaurant with an outstanding vegetarian flair, as well as delights to please the carnies among us. What are your veggie-creative choices for dining out–we could start a revolution by raising the veggie bar at least as high as that steak bar is set at Morton’s.

 

Daily Stats: (Mon, Tue, Wed)
Car: 29 miles
Bike: 0
Ped: approx 3.5
Bus: 0

Day 166 & 167: MLwC and NoImpactMan Rules!

NoImpactMan rules. His latest post is purely political, less about personal action and more about our presidential candidates. This post is the first interview with the candidates that asks plain old questions about the environment and where they stand.

The first interview is with John Edwards. I was surprised by how clear Edwards’ answers are, if only because I never hear those answers in the press. I only hear about the stupid war, terrorism, in-fighting, his expensive hair-cuts. It’s refreshing indeed to learn some facts straight from the source:

  • Edwards calls for increasing fuel economy standards to 40 miles per gallon by 2016. That would single-handedly reduce oil demand by 4 million barrels per day. He would invest one billion dollars into making sure that we make the most fuel efficient cars on the planet here in the United States, with union workers. He would invest in new technologies like hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars, ultra-light materials, and hydrogen fuel cells.
  • He flat-out supports a national ban on the construction of all new coal-fired power plants that cannot capture their emissions.
  • And as for what kind of car he drives: “My family drives two cars—a Ford Escape Hybrid that gets a combined 30 miles per gallon, and, for times when we need to transport more people, a Chrysler Pacifica, that gets 19 miles per gallon combined.”

There’s a lot more in the article–go check it out, it’s encouraging. I kind of like Edwards; hope his perspective on the environment doesn’t doom him to oblivion. I look forward to future interviews with other candidates from whom I’ve heard little regarding the environment and global climate change.

Daily Stats: (Tue, Wed)
Car: 4.5 miles (2 tasks, 1 person)
Ped: 3.5 miles
Bike: 0
Bus: approx 14 miles

Days 161-165: MLwC and Hybrid SUVs

Whoa–lost a chunk of time there, it seems. We went over to Sandpoint, Idaho to visit our friends Diana, Shannon and the young man Henry over the weekend. It’s not an easy spot to get to, but it sure is pretty. We flew into Spokane and drove a rented car from there to Sandpoint.

They have an annual Music festival which this year featured Lyle Lovett and his Large Band (it’s not Big, it’s Large). They also have a number of races and outdoor events; my partner swam the Longbridge event (1 3/4 miles in 1 hour and 15 minutes), while our friend Di did the Olympic triathalon in 1 hour, 34 minutes–both beating their own estimates by quite a little bit. Yeeha!

While there, we got into a discussion about Hybrid SUVs. When the time comes, they’d like to get an SUV for traveling around the countryside of Idaho with their growing family; for their in-town commute, maybe they’ll stick with their smaller car. So, they wondered about the Hybrid SUVs on the market. I wasn’t much help; I follow it a little, but my schtick is really learning how to live with very little car-activity at all.

Just so happens that EcoChic has a very recent article on her blog about a test drive of the GM Yukon and Tahoe SUVs. Alas, the story isn’t altogether a pleasant read for those considering hybrid SUVs–she found the whole experience of driving such a large hunk of metal embarrassing and uncomfortable.

She was invited to test drive the car by GM itself and was accompanied by a spokesperson for the car company. That individual expounded on the fact that these cars are very much in demand by women, due to safety concerns. EcoChic counter-expounds that SUVs themselves mean almost certain death for regular car drivers involved in SUV/car accidents. So, safety for these consumers is a one-sided issue it would seem.

But she does note that in-city driving get 40% better gas mileage and highway driving gets 25%. That’s something, even if the benchmark for improvement starts at 14-15 mpg in-city driving.

She accurately bemoans our government’s failure to pass fuel economy standards, particularly the one in 1991 which would now be saving us a million gallons of gas a day. Who put the kibosh on the deal? Ford and GM, who else?

All in all, she said she would wait for the Chevy Volt–a car more to her liking.

Daily Stats (Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon)

Car: 5 miles (2 tasks, 1 person)
Bike: 8 miles
Ped: lots and lots and lots
Bus: 0
Air: approx 1300

Day 159: MLwC plus new scientific evidence

There is a bit of news out today re the debate over whether we are the Weather Makers, as Tim Flannery suggests (meaning human activity has so impacted the environment as to cause a catastrophic upheaval), or whether global climate change is all part of a natural cycle.

The article from Science Daily is a bit thick for non-scientists but the message is clear: physicist Pablo Verdes has created a model that includes all data on recorded and projected natural climate impacts such as volcanic activity and solar radiation–known issues with predictable patterns and outcomes–and project the impact, there is still a gaping whole in terms of explaining our current situation: rapidly rising temperatures, more frequent violent storms, melting ice caps, etc.

Following Sherlock Holmes dictum (I’m sure Dr. Verdes would not approve of a fictional character’s approval of his approach), that “when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Dr. Verdes has stretched the known causes as far as possible, making the whole natural cycle theory impossible, leaving the human factor as the only remaining explanation.

The gaping hole left in his model, Dr. Verdes concludes, is filled by our own activity. Bummer.

Daily stats: (Tue)
Car: 0
Bike: 8 miles
Ped: 0
Bus: 0

The Wind

The Wind

Speaking of trees and the wind, in the previous post…I happened upon this fantastic commercial for wind power. Fabulous!

Day 138: MLwC and who’s afraid of Big Green?

In my other life, I work with companies on issues that usually involve change. Sometimes the change is big, such as introducing wikis and blogs as alternatives to KBs and KM systems. While these alternatives are of significant interest and use to frontline tech help agents and online customers, they are not viewed in a welcoming light by IT or, often, by the owners of the existing KM infrastructure. Why? Because the new stuff means the end of the old stuff and the old stuff has a million built-in benefits that those teams would like to hang onto.

Why do I bring this up? Because the same problem can be seen in the case of our current administration and e-pluribus-unum (that would be us, you and me).

So, for example, you’ve got a post out today on postcarboncities that discusses the amount of money–good old money!–that can be saved by instituting changes that also, at the same time, all together now, reduce pollution and the collective carbon footprint. He’s pretty detailed and specific about changes that could be made. And he has some good examples of changes that have been made that not only make systems more efficient but also are good for the planet:

  • In 2005 the city of Stamford (CT) earned a Climate Champion Award at CA-CP’s New York City conference following the release of their emissions inventory. The award celebrated actions that reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent — curbing global warming and saving the city more than $1.1 million in annual energy costs.
  • In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed Local Law #86 of 2005, which sets green building standards for certain capital projects. The law affects approximately $12 billion in construction, including $5 billion in new schools, over the City’s 10-year capital plan. It requires most new and substantially renovated City buildings costing more than $2 million to be built according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standard or other equally stringent standard.
  • Keene (NH) is looking into hiring an Energy Service Company (ESCO) to retrofit city buildings using a performance contract in which the ESCO is paid solely through the resulting energy savings. Keene expects to save a minimum of $30,000 a year through the retrofits.
  • In 2006 the City of Pittsburgh (PA) was awarded $300,000 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to integrate biodiesel in its entire diesel fleet. The City’s plan, developed in partnership with Steel City Biofuels, will displace 30% of Pittsburgh’s petroleum diesel with locally-produced biodiesel .

The list could undoubtedly go on but here’s the thing: the people are now clearly leading the leaders and the leaders are not budging and will not budge because it is not in their interest to budge. Utilizing all these new systems and applications means less business for the old school, the boys in the back room, Big Oil, Big Industry and the like.

Protectionism runs deep. But here we are, the people leading the leaders, and we will continue to demand change because the change makes sense. And here’s the most important thing–it’s like some companies I know of that have thousands of active wiki internally but officially have none, yet–when we make changes in our own small circle of influence, that change ripples outward. It cannot help but be so. It is what Hawken’s is talking about when he talks about our global immune system. Interesting times, indeed.

Daily Stats for MLwC: (Monday)

Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: 3.5 miles
Bus: 0
other: 0

Day 136 & 137: MLwC, here’s a sign of change…

Saturday, we used my my car to go to the beach in the afternoon for a read and some people watching. We took the car because we have these beach-chairs-with-backpack-functionality that we love and were made for that very activity… and they’re a little bulky.

beach-chairs.jpg
Summer time and the livin is easy!

So we hopped in the car and I sort of unconsciously checked the gas. Half a tank, cool. In that moment, I realized I didn’t remember the last time I put gas in my car. It could be two months, it could even be more–I simply don’t recall. That, to me, is amazing. And a real sign of change in my habits. And I’m happy as a clam at how much money I’ve saved without realizing it! cool!

Speaking of Cool, NoImpactMan completely redefines cool on a regular basis and his recent addition of Ultra-cool drinking devices was a LOL moment–not that he isn’t totally serious–he is. But rather because his idea for water carrying devices just makes me giggle, it’s so…I don’t know…so what-they-would-have-done-50-years-ago and not given it another thought. We’ve come a long way, baby, or maybe not. Check it out here.

Also, it seems in the arena of personal action, we have a newish blogger, LaMarguerite whose blog name is a hoot: “My Inconvenient Truth: the Daily Sins of a Green Girl Wannabe.” What’s cool about this blog is how she chronicles this growing awareness around how we live and what the impact is. The post called “Why” is so interesting–it’s an earlier one where she wonders what I’m sure just about everyone wonders when starting to change how they live; in her case she sees a fractal in the way she forgets to bring her own bags to the store:

What happens when I choose the lazy way? What makes me go for “Plastic please”? My first thought is, why bother, such a small thing, it will not make a difference. The global warming problem is so huge. One little extra plastic bag, I can get away with it. Leave it up to the powers in charge, the heads of States, the big businesses, to come up with the big solutions.

I am very attached to my life as I have known it in America. Things I do not really want to give up: long hot showers, letting water running while I work at the kitchen sink, using the dryer to dry our clothes, the convenience of plastic bags, shopping for clothes whenever I feel like it, plane travel, printing indiscriminately on one side of the paper, our two daily papers, not having to unplug and restart my computer each time, paying my bills using snail mail, living in my big house, being a dilettante recycler. It all boils down to a short term personal balance sheet. What am I willing to give up in terms of personal comfort, in return for a relatively minuscule, and mostly unacknowledged, contribution to the larger pie?

The very fact that LaMaguerite is asking these questions makes my day. For the most part, we’re living unconsciously. Waking up, seeing the potential for change in the smallest choices is a huge step. All the product engineers, the marketing gurus and the bean counters have made this lifestyle of ours very easy–waaaay easier than doing otherwise. It’s waaay easier to just use the bag at the store than to remember to bring your own. But bringing your own is one small part of a larger frame of mind, and the larger frame of mind can maybe move mountains. You are my hero today, LaMarguerite!

Daily stats: Saturday and Sunday
Car: approx 7 miles (2 people, 2 tasks)
Bike: 0
Ped: approx 3 miles
Bus: 0
other: 0

Day 132: MLwC and the growing web of organizations

rooted_substrate.jpg

 Michael Spalding, one of the editors at WiserEarth commented on Hawken’s seminar noted here earlier. I thought his comment was worth highlighting as the wordsmithing captures the ideal and mission of WiserEarth so well:

That long list of grassroots organizations that scroll on and on, is actually a part of WiserEarth (www.wiserearth.org), an online tool to improve the quality of connections between anyone interested in social justice, environmental restoration or indigenous rights. If the unnamed movement is analogous to the immune system, as Paul suggests, then its success does not depend on the strength of any one organization or individual, but on the quality of the connections between them. WiserEarth was designed to all the community develop the connections that they need to better do their work.

We live in an age when “quality of connections” has a meaning its never had before, and WiserEarth is creating a space to leverage the potential of our connectedness.  Will this change how the world works? Early days, but I have no doubt whatsoever.

Thanks Michael!

Daily Stats (Monday)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Bus: 0
Ped: 0
Desk: about 15 hours worth.

Day 125: MLwC and what some people are doing….

People are truly amazing. I mean, forget the Supreme Court tax-abuse nonsense or its flippant response to endangered species...all of it a real downer, but then I turn my focus back to people who are doing small things to make a difference.

Some examples:

GreenBlog, where business people can find quick, easy and smart ways to aim their companies down a greener path.

The SF Compact, have I mentioned the compact? Yeah, thought so.

CompanyEarth, a blog that covers all kinds of green tips, tricks and news, from travel to politics.

The Green Patrol, in Montreal, is a group of about 80 students that cover the city in the summer months in search of “infractions”–opportunities to change habits: don’t let the car idle, turn out lights during the day, transportation options. They hand out “warning” tickets which are in reality tips for more environmentally conscious choices.

The GreenLifeStyle, in which a girl and her boyfriend journey to a more eco-friendly life.

worldchanging.com, works from a simple premise: that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future lie all around us. These folks cover it all and have input from lots of sources around the world.

NoImpactMan, a superhero, changing his life one day at a time.

Green Technology covers green investing, corporate green initiatives.

enn.com–all kinds of green news and homestyle tips for gardening, homecare, etc.

LiveGreenBlog, full of real, practical knowledge about how to live a greener life–from lawn to leisure and everything in between. This is a great resource.

So, you know, I can’t do much about the Supremes, or the War, or my dumb government–all of which threatened to get me down yesterday–but I chose instead to focus on what I and a lot of other people are doing that’s healthy and good for the planet.

Plant a butterfly or hummingbird attracting flower in your garden your wild garden today.

Daily stats (Tuesday)
Car: 5.2 miles (7 tasks)
Bike: 0
Ped: 2 miles
Bus: 0
Air: 0

Day 124: MLwC, the hundredth monkey and a global immune system

I’m into the second half of Hawken’s book in which he discusses the varied organizations that in hundredth-monkey ways are tackling the many issues of our day: poverty, corporate abuse, pollution, disease, and dozens of other concerns. Through the interconnectedness of the wired world today, these organizations can share best practices, learnings, energy, inspiration and sweat equity to move en masse towards a more equitable, safe, healthy future.

He suggests that these organizations can be seen as the antibody response of our planet to the threatening disease of pollution and environmental degradation. It’s really a cool idea, and it makes sense too: a growing number of us sense the threat we face, understand the very personal toll that pollution and diminishing resources are taking on us, and we are making choices that correspond to the way the body wards off infection and viruses. It’s the Gaia philosophy expanded out even further…and it makes sense to me. We are an organic part of an organic system–as much as we often like to think the real world really is composed of the shiny new products we create. I welcome the idea that a growing majority might be compelled to respond to the potential crisis we face in a naturally evolving fashion–albeit with urgency.

Some examples of the localized antibodies that are collecting at the margins of our global culture (Hawken’s names names in his book, a list that is too lengthy for me to go in to here but I suggest you watch the video for more, if you can’t get the book):

the list goes on and on, and includes very powerful, very well known billionaires , ex-presidents, and celebrities, as well. It is a coalition of every level–from the margins of our society, working like antibodies to fight the many threats to our environment. There are more of us all the time.

Daily Stats (Monday)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: 3 miles
Bus: 0
internet: all over the place

Ahnold.

Arnold talks like a president

got this vid from livegreen blog and thought: wow, sort of encouraging–to see a politician actually understand that the world expects and wants leadership from the US, not war. Leadership based on positive action.  I haven’t liked Arnold this much since the first Terminator movie.