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Archive for the ‘sustainable development’ Category

In the same cartoonish but highly effective format of Story of Stuff, this documentary can educate the masses on the hidden reality behind our water system and the crisis that we are facing. Enjoy!

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One day I want to be as composed and moderate as Post Carbon Institute Fellow Bill Rees who appears in the video below. I think there is enough justification to be emotionally explosive about the dramatic reality he describes, precisely because of how real it is. Bill is a source of inspiration not just in the scientific sense but also at the emotional level. Behind his refined and corteous professor demeanor lies a visible flame of outrage, passion and justice.

The message Bill provides is liquid gold, so concentrated and rich that it becomes precious. I feel I must not allow myself to run the risk of taking away anything you may get from his discussion by adding my own thoughts. If you read me enough you will realize I am on his page. Enjoy the potent flavor of truth.

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Everyday it is becoming a little bit easier to reduce your carbon footprint. Two significant factors in today’s personal contribution to environmental degradation and climate change are product ownership and vehicle emissions.

Very few of us particularly those living outside cities can avoid these two sources of pollution. If you live in the suburbs or outside an urban area, you are condemned to drive even if it is to go to the groceries. In addition 99% of us require burning fossil fuels to operate our vehicles. Society still resists our escape from such disturbing and in my opinion, shameful predicament.

So while corporations and governments maintain the travesty of fossil fuel extraction and burning, creative entrepreneurs continue to look for more sustainable transportation alternatives such as the business model illustrated here which reduces the two almost inescapable sources of Green House Gases (GHG) associated with owning a vehicle.

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In my previous post I emphasized the urgent shift for global society to go beyond the current debt and consumption based economy for it is literally toxifying the planet, devouring its resources and ultimately destabilizing the delicate planetary life-sustaining (eco) system or biosphere that allows us to have this conversation.

Unfortunately no amount of clean technologies or sustainable practices can create the critical mass of change required for such shift towards a realistic sustainable future. The reason being that these green efforts no matter how passionate they may be and despite the sustainability value or potential they may inherently hold, become subjected to the unstoppable wave of the global economy, and in the end the potential of such efforts is diluted in the massive effect of the economy which sweeps away any competing alternatives thus maintaining the status quo or in other words, keeping the current unsustainable relationship between humans and the planet.

Despite a small number of communities and individuals around the world that have bravely stood up against the system and isolated themselves from the mainstream economy practicing models such as bio-regionalism and transition movement, the rest of society is forced into a consumer role, trapped in the neoclassical economy treadmill which was designed by its banker founding fathers to create an ever-expanding gap between debt and value. Even if we have infinite resources, we could never complete paying the debt on which money is created. This is the level of dysfunctionality, lunacy and risk posed by a subject that is considered a science as legitimate as physics and therefore considered by society at large unquestionable.

The folks that developed the neoclassic economics that still runs the world were obviously self-absorbed, selfish and completely ignorant of the larger reality by which economy is a subset,  an ecosystem embedded and supported by the larger mother ecosystem on Earth which is Nature. The natural ecosystem infuses life into the economy by providing what any living system needs to exist: energy and resource materials. Economists completely omitted Nature from their economic ecosystem, reducing it to limitless resource and a waste dump to be used in the economic process of production and consumption. We can conclude the assumptions made by the so-called economic science are as bold, irrational and ideological as those in believes we guard against and rightly so label as fundamentalist.

It is therefore not difficult to understand how difficult it is for most efforts to make our human infrastructure greener when the larger economic system where it is to be implemented is increasingly unsustainable and out of control even by those who supposedly are controlling it.

The video includes in this post describes the concepts and basis of my arguments on this challenging internal correction we need to make before we even think of restoring sustainability in the world. It calls for a reform of economic theory called Ecological Economics, to develop a legitimate economy rooted in the ultimate reality of Nature ruled and constrained by the biophysical limits of the planet.

It is funny to realize how the famous phrase ‘It’s the Economy Stupid!’ coined by Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist James Carville takes a whole new meaning in the context of the pressing sustainability challenges we face today. Enjoy the video.

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Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth. Source: Post Carbon Institute.

Despite the current complacency provided by green business, cleantech and the mainstream blind faith in the capacity of technology to save us from all global challenges (economic, environmental and social), someone needs to wake us up to the gravity of the actual reality outside of our modern life ‘bubble’. The post Carbon Institute has done a marvelous job with their wake up call. This book  is a reality check and a guide to face it. Its message is for those willing to acknowledge the extreme urgency to fundamentally phase out our unsustainable growth based, consumption driven global economy that coupled with our exponential population growth keep us in a planetary collision course. We do not have time to embellish our suicidal debt based economy with green products and services. We are in desperate need of a much deeper change. We are running out of time for a fundamental shift that if we do not take seriously ‘pronto’, it will be forced upon us by the effects our human infrastructure’s failure modes. As engineers we should have already implemented a DFMEA for modern civilization…

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Dear fellow blogger,

After you watch the video above and feel persuaded by the speaker, Alex Epstein, please watch the next video below and let me know how what your thoughts and feelings are.

Thanks,

Ruben

And here is my position. I just sent my thoughts to Mr. Epstein and his oil lobby who has considerable power over our lives through the oil dependency we have reached, specially in North America. We have the human, financial and technical resources to transition away from oil. It’s not just green energy that will allow this transition but green chemistry. The technology is available today but it needs to be brought to economies of scale, and that requires to challenge and transform our industrial infrastructure which in turns requires new business/finance models. But all this will not be possible without a wake up call and a call to action. We are all to various degrees responsible for what ends up happening here and the world we leave for our children and descendants.

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I would greatly appreciate if you watched this debate from last week between Bill McKibben and Alex Epstein on this fascinating topic and give me your opinion and questions.

Thanks,

Ruben

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