Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Green Drinks, Go-Green, Sustainable September

By Paul K. Haeder

It was a semi-remarkable evening, Tuesday, July 15, 2009, in Spokane, in the East Sprague Buisness District. Around 50 people met at Bruce Gage’s Eco-Depot, a green construction business that makes its money putting in solar panels, green kitchen counters, green flooring and other cool low impact fixtures and products as part of the green building tool chest.

It was Gage’s first hosting of a Green Drinks event, a once-a-month get-together started in London and spreading to Portland, Seattle, and, heck, Spokane in the summer of 2008:

What began in 1989 in a pub in Northern London has now spread to over 488 cities in 49 countries -- and it's still growing! Greendrinks brings together a lively mix of people from all walks of life: academics, NGOs, local businesses and government agencies. The goal is to create an organic, self-organizing network where everyone is welcome. It's a great way to catch up with people you already know, as well as an opportunity to meet new people and make new connections.

These events are very simple and unstructured, but many people have found employment, made friends, developed new ideas, done deals and had their own share of "aha" moments. For more information on Greendrinks International, visit

This sort of social networking can work to the advantage of those already hooked into the green movement in an area, ramifying what the choir already knows. It might also work as a networking venue for those not familiar with the lay of the land sustainability wise.

In Spokane, we do have an interesting demographic. We have progressives and green folk, and they seem to come together in two to three distinct groups. The basic mindset of a Spokane resident is to not make waves or to not go into the big conversation about social justice and green justice. Eco Depot’s event did tie into a fund raising thing for a local crisis center. In that regard, the event was a bit different.

Part of the event at Eco Depot was to hail the latest Go Green Directory, (, a compilation of businesses, entities, events, services and the like that somehow ties into a green mindset of operational set. Food, Natural Health, Green Building, Home/Garden, Energy/Transportation/Recycling, Community/Environment, and Buy Local are the categories for this 2009-2010 Spokane guide. Some articles are featured, and plenty of ads splash the pages – 48 total.

The theme for this Directory is the Buy Local campaign. We’ve talked about the national Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, BALLE,, about localism, about Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy, and Woody Tasch’s Inquiries into the Nature Slow Money

This is a great time for any community to begin the larger discussion about how far out we need to be preparing for global warming. What surprises me all the time at these events in Spokane is how much more the people in the green movement need to read, and they need to take seriously the fourth voice of global warming. Really. I’ve talked about that Fourth Voice in previous blogs and will continue to do so in future blogs. David Suzuki is the fourth voice, but he comes at it with a bit more hope that sustainability will conquer all. Really, though, we need to be working at understanding key discussions about how those five positive feedback loops are really sinking an earth that should not be over 350 ppm CO2 equivalent.

At the Green Drinks I spoke with a young student, who is moving to Portland to go to Portland State U for a degree in environmental sciences and geology. She spent time at Eastern Washington University, and she was sort of ashamed that she wasn’t familiar with the Gaia Theory, Peter Ward’s work (of U of Washington) and James Hansen, director of NASA’s Climate Change center. Yes, these students are wondering what is going on with cuts to the sciences, EWU taking a huge hit there, 21 percent cut versus 3 percent for athletics. It’s these sorts of dilemmas that the Green Drinks folk many times shy away from. We have a crisis in education, and we need to be talking about it. Green and Fair Trade and Sustainable design won’t help a world of unemployed and uneducated folk. This news tidbit just below, from, needs to be major breaking news, and the 12 billion bucks proposed needs to be 60 billion dollars, and land grant schools need infusion of money in the hundreds of billions.

Obama Proposes $12B for Community Colleges

President Obama, meanwhile, has announced a new plan to increase funding for community colleges by $12 billion. If approved, the American Graduation Initiative would be the largest-ever federal investment in community colleges.

Many times the adults and college-educated folk have a hard time communicating ideas beyond a false hope that we will go green and that going green will stop or slow down global warming. It’s a bit Polly Annish. Few have hear of Elizabeth Kolbert’s three part piece in the New Yorker, “The Climate of Man.”

James Lovelock? -- -- Few have kept up with his work, The Vanishing Face of Gaia

Peter Ward? -- & ---

George Monbiot -- --

Mike Tidwell of Earth Beat radio?-- --

And so many others.

Below is a list of books we need to start having conversations about. It’s good we are coming up with green guides and changing our buying habits, to be sure. There is just the component of getting the dollars away from the major multi-national corporations that is satisfying. Committing purchases at locally-owned businesses is a good step, but it is fraught with pitfalls as well. Most states are run by small businesses, those with 4 to 10 employees, some bigger and smaller. In Washington State, that’s 42 percent of the workforce employed in businesses with 49 or fewer employees. According to many economic reports, and reported on in the Go Green Directory. These are good times to build up the local economies, but we need reality therapy about bigger planning issues tied to the global tipping points, earth’s warming, the great dying, etc. Let’s hope politicians and business owners can have those conversations. Maybe there is a fifth way toward meeting the warming planet. Maybe that way is yet undiscovered largely because we are working on small, localized issues.

We have to fight it out hard, and as we see, the U.S. Chambers of Commerce and other business groups are lambasting the current federal plan under Obama to have all employees covered for health insurance. It’s a matter of the US Chamber looking at the rich getting fewer taxes as some sort of stimulus to the economy, to employment. It’s the same old story – don’t tax the rich, but tax the lower and middle class disproportionately. These discussions rarely occur at Green Drinks Spokane.

House Dems’ Health Plan Includes Surtax on Wealthy

House Democrats have unveiled a long-awaited proposal on healthcare reform. Democrats say the plan would expand health insurance to 37 million people over the next decade, ensuring coverage for 97 percent of Americans by 2015. The uninsured would get insurance under an expanded Medicaid program or through federal subsidies to purchase mandatory coverage. The plan would be largely funded through a surtax on Americans earning over $350,000 a year. But the government would also pay for the plan by reducing spending on federal health programs such as Medicare, which covers the elderly and disabled. The plan has little support in the Senate, where Democratic leaders are expected to advance a different proposal without the House surtax. (Democracy Now)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful lobby with deep pockets, will tell a key Senate committee Thursday that its health care reform bill is “focused largely on ideological efforts that will not solve the real problems Americans are facing in health care. The Chamber is gravely concerned by the process and the product thus far,” Randal K. Johnson, a Chamber vice president, said in testimony prepared for the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “As badly as reform is needed, we cannot support reform just for the sake of reform.”


Let’s hope they become bigger points of discussion, as well as the summer reading list gathered below:

But before that, note that PacifiCAD and PacifiCAD blogspot will be active with Sustainable September, here in Spokane. More on that in coming blogs. For now, though, a link, after Sustainable September's blurb --

"What does community sustainability really mean - and why does it seem as if everyone is talking about it? Can our way of life in Spokane be truly sustainable?

Sustainable September is about strengthening Spokane for now and for future generations. And strong, sustainable communities have vibrant local economies, clean air and water, and a healthy quality of life for every citizen. Together with partners in the business, civic, and nonprofit communities, we are creating a series of events focused in the month of September that will increase awareness and share knowledge with the common goal of building resilience in Spokane and region-wide."

Reading, Thinking, Do we Have a Choice? Make Books Available –

Support Local Libraries and Books on Climate Change

Climate Change: The Point of No Return (by Mojib Latif)

While there is no doubt, scientifically speaking, that climate change is happening and mankind is having an increasing influence on the climate, naysayers still abound. Mojib Latif addresses the common arguments of the skeptics and drafts scenarios of what the future might hold if we don't dedicate ourselves to living sustainably. The book neither casts gloom nor plays the issue down, eschewing a polemical stance to provide an objective description and evaluation of the facts of climate disruption, its consequences, and its solutions.

Earth: The Sequel (by Fred Krupp, Miriam Horn)

The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming

The forecasts regarding climate disruption are grim, and time is running out for meaningful solutions to be implemented in time to have any effect. Fred Krupp, the longtime president of the eco-NGO Environmental Defense, says we can harness the great forces of capitalism to save the world from catastrophe. That seems like a bold proposition, given that it's the characteristics of corporate capitalism that are largely responsible for the looming problems in the first place. But in Earth: The Sequel , he explains his vision of how solving global warming can build the new industries, jobs, and fortunes of the 21st century.

Carbon Shift How the Twin Crises of Oil Depletion and Climate Change Will Define the Future (by Thomas Homer-Dixon)

The twin crises of climate change and peaking oil production are converging on us. Thomas Homer-Dixon argues that the two problems are really one: a carbon problem. We depend on carbon energy to fuel our complex economies and societies, and at the same time this very carbon is changing our atmosphere in a manner that threatens to overheat the planet. Both challenges require one innovative solution: clean, low-carbon energy. Carbon Shift brings together six world-class experts to explore the geology, politics, and science of the predicament we find ourselves in.

Heatstroke (by Anthony D. Barnosky)

Nature in an Age of Global Warming

In Heatstroke, renowned paleo-ecologist Anthony Barnosky shows how global warming is fundamentally changing the natural world and its creatures. Barnosky draws connections between what will happen in the coming centuries and what happened at the end of the last ice age, when mass extinctions swept the planet. The difference now is that climate change is faster and more dramatic than past changes, and for the first time humanity is driving it. No one knows exactly what nature will come to look like in this new age of global warming. But Heatstroke gives us a haunting portrait of what we stand to lose if we fail to act.

Forecast The Consequences of Climate Change, from the Amazon to the Arctic, from Darfur to Napa Valley (by Stephan Faris)

Italy has already experienced its first climate-change epidemic of a tropical disease, and malaria is gaining ground in Africa. The warming world will shift huge populations and potentially redraw political alliances around the globe. Increasing insurance rates are making the Gulf Coast and other gorgeous spots prohibitively expensive. Crops will fail in previously lush places and do better in some formerly barren zones, altering huge industries and remaking traditions. Water scarcity in India and Pakistan have the potential to inflame the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. Forecast is a powerful account of this most urgent issue and how it has altered and will alter our world.

Climate Wars (by Gwynne Dyer)

Dwindling resources; massive population shifts; natural disasters; spreading epidemics; drought; rising sea levels; plummeting agricultural yields; crashing economies; political extremism—these are some of the expected consequences of runaway climate change in the decades ahead, and any of them could tip the world towards conflict. Based on exhaustive research and interviews, Climate Wars presents a terrifying glimpse of the none-too-distant future, when climate change will force the world's powers into a desperate struggle for advantage and even survival.

The Long Thaw (by David Archer)

How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth's Climate

If you think that global warming merely means slightly hotter weather and a modest rise in sea levels, think again. The Long Thaw discusses how the human-driven planet-wide thaw has already begun and how our greenhouse gas habits may eventually cancel the next ice age and raise ocean levels by more than 150 feet. Archer shows how our fossil-fuel use is about to cause a climate storm that will last thousands of years—unless humans can find a way to cooperate as never before.

Cool Cuisine (by Laura Stec)

Taking the Bite out of Global Warming

Cool Cuisine is a smorgasbord of scientific fact and culinary art, where the reader learns new ways to look at the climate crisis. It presents the full cycle of how our agrochemical food system affects global warming and how global warming affects the food system. It inspires personal life changes with in-depth research; simple tips on how to cook a global-cooling cuisine, including easy recipes; and a host of other positive-solution ideas such as hosting a "read and eat" tasting party.

Coming Clean (by Michael Brune)

Breaking America's Addiction to Oil and Coal

Three quarters of Americans believe the US should be energy-independent and that the government should do more to help arrest climate change. Yet Congress and the White House take only tiny steps toward these goals, and large-scale investment in clean energy lags far behind the urgent demand. Michael Brune's vivid reports depict the economic, environmental, moral, and public-health costs of fossil-fuel dependence. Brune also describes the most promising developments in renewables, biofuels, and efficient design, and outlines an inspiring vision of the clean energy future within reach.

The Forgiving Air (by Richard C. J. Somerville)

Understanding Environmental Change (Second Edition, 2008)

The Forgiving Air is an authoritative handbook on global change. Written by a scientist for nonscientists, this primer humanizes the great environmental issues of our time—the hole in the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, acid rain, and air pollution—and explains everything in accessible prose. This fully updated and revised edition takes into account the latest developments in climate research and policy. Highlighting the interrelatedness of human activity and global change, Somerville stresses the importance of an educated public in a world where the role of science is increasingly critical.

Dire Predictions

Understanding Global Warming (by Michael E. Mann, Lee R. Kump)

Many have heard of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and know that it has been issuing the essential facts and figures on climate change for nearly two decades. But the hundreds of pages of compelling scientific evidence remain inscrutable to the general public, some of whom still question the validity of climate change. Dire Predictions presents the IPCC information in a more user-friendly way—with clear-cut graphic elements, striking images, and understandable analogies.

Thin Ice (by Mark Bowen)

Unlocking the Secrets of Climate in the World's Highest Mountains

Climatologist Lonnie Thompson has been risking his life on the highest, most remote mountain ice caps in search of clues to the history of climate change. Thompson collects ice cores that provide detailed information about climate history, reaching back 750,000 years. Scientist and expert climber Mark Bowen joined Thompson's crew on several expeditions, and in Thin Ice he takes the reader deep inside retreating glaciers to unravel the mysteries of climate—and the earth's probable future.

An Inconvenient Truth (by Al Gore)

The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It

This paperback companion to Al Gore's breatk-through movie of the same name provides an insightful look at the causes and effects of global warming. It also provides every day solutions we can use to slow the toll humans have upon this planet.

The Weather Makers (by Tim Flannery)

How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth

The Weather Makers is both an urgent warning and a call to arms, outlining the history of climate change, how it will unfold over the next century, and what we can do to prevent a cataclysmic future. Tim Flannery offers specific suggestions for action for both lawmakers and individuals, offering an action plan with steps each and every one of us can take right now to reduce deadly CO2 emissions by as much as 70%.

Field Notes from a Catastrophe (by Elizabeth Kolbert)

Man, Nature, and Climate Change

In this book, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tackles global warming from every aspect. She explains the science and the studies, unpacks the politics, draws frightening parallels to lost ancient civilizations, and presents the personal tales of those who are being affected most—the people who make their homes near the poles and, in an eerie foreshadowing, are watching their worlds disappear. Finally, she explores what, if anything, can be done to save our planet.

The Winds of Change (by Eugene Linden)

Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations

Climate nurtured the first civilizations and then repeatedly visited ruin on empires and peoples. Eugene Linden reveals a recurring pattern in which civilizations become prosperous and complacent during good weather, only to collapse when the climate changes—either through its direct effects, such as floods or drought, or from indirect consequences, such as disease, blight, and civil disorder. Linden also looks at the present to determine whether the killer is on the prowl again.

The Empty Tank (by Jeremy K. Leggett)

Oil, Gas, Hot Air, and the Coming Global Financial Catastrophe

The inhabitants on planet earth are about to be caught between the twin hammers of peak oil and global warming, with coming global turmoil being the result. Leggett outlines the corporate/government cover-up that masks the problem, details the true status of our oil reserves, and proposes a new Manhattan Project for energy that can save us.

Boiling Point How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis—And What We Can Do to Avert Disaster

In "Boiling Point," journalist Ross Gelbspan argues that, unchecked, climate change will swamp every other issue facing us today. Institutional denial and delay has now grown into a crime against humanity. Gelbspan points the finger at not only the fossil fuel industry but also at media and environmental activists, who have unwittingly worsened the crisis. (by Ross Gelbspan)

Global Warming: Personal Solutions for a Healthy Planet

This book breaks through the jargon, offering readers both a clear description of the global warming problem and a practical guide to solutions, from decreasing reliance on automobiles to increased recycling to political activism. It offers hope that each of us can be doing something to solve the problem and encourages us to act—not only for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren. (by Chris Spence)

The Discovery of Global Warming

How did we arrive at this important action point on global warming and what do we do about it? Weart explains the history of climate change investigations in detective-story format.
(by Spencer R. Weart)

You Can Prevent Global Warming (and Save Money!)

51 Easy Ways (by Jeffrey Langholz, Kelly Turner)

Learn the benefits of compact fluorescent bulbs, energy-efficient refrigerators, cheaper heating and cooling techniques, smarter shopping, and more—all designed to save you money and reduce global warming and other environmental problems.

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint (by Joanna Yarrow)

365 Simple Ways to Save Energy, Resources, and Money

This is the world citizen's guide to pushing back the advance of global warming. Whether the subject is recycling, dishwashing, combating vampire power, jet travel, or any of the 50 topic sections in How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, this colorful handbook offers 500 practical, easily achievable ideas that conserve energy, prevent pollution, and save money. Its surprising statistics and innovative graphics will inspire you to action and demonstrate that simple habits can lead to big results.

Climate Solutions: A Citizen's Guide

What Works, What Doesn't, and Why (by Peter Barnes)

Climate models are predicting global temperature rises of 3 to 7 degrees Farenheit. NASA's top climate scientist, James Hansen, puts the problem succinctly, warning that such a temperature increase will "produce a different planet." If Hansen is right—and most scientists think he is—then every year lost is a year closer to the precipice. Author and entrepreneur Peter Barnes, drawing on hundreds of "how do we do this right" discussions, lays out what needs to be done—and why the climate crisis must be solved now. Foreword by Bill McKibben.

Farewell, My Subaru An Epic Adventure in Local Living

Like many Americans, Doug Fine enjoys his creature comforts, but he also knows they keep him addicted to oil. So he wonders: Is it possible to keep his Netflix and his car, his Wi-Fi and his subwoofers, and still reduce his carbon footprint? Fine moves to a remote ranch in New Mexico, where he vows to grow his own food, use sunlight to power his world, and drive on used restaurant grease. Never mind that he’s never raised so much as a chicken or a bean, or that he has no mechanical or electrical skills. Fine's extraordinary undertaking makes one thing clear: It ain't easy being green. In fact, his journey uncovers a slew of surprising facts about alternative energy, organic and locally grown food, and climate change. (by Doug Fine)

Fight Global Warming Now

The Handbook for Taking Action in Your Community (by Bill McKibben)

Evidence of accelerating planetary warming and crisis continues to accumulate: Arctic melting; the warmest East Coast winter in recorded history; NASA's top climate scientist warning that we have only ten years to reverse climate change; the British government reporting that the financial impact of global warming will be greater than the Great Depression and both world wars—combined. Fight Global Warming Now describes how to launch online grassroots campaigns, generate persuasive political pressure, plan high-profile events that will draw media attention, and other effective actions. This essential book offers the blueprint for a mighty new movement against the most urgent challenge facing us today.

Ignition What You Can Do to Fight Global Warming and Spark a Movement

The evidence is irrefutable: global warming threatens our homes, health, and way of life. So why isn't America doing anything? Where is the national campaign to stop this catastrophe? Ignition brings together some of the world's finest thinkers and advocates to jump-start the ultimate green revolution. The authors have drawn on their direct experience in grassroots organizing, education, law, and social leadership to create an essential guide that answers the most important question we each face: "What can I do?" (Jonathan Isham, Sissel Waage - editors)

Heat How to Stop the Planet From Burning

George Monbiot offers an ambitious program to avoid climate catastrophe—by cutting CO2 emissions by 90% by 2030. He supports his proposals with a rigorous investigation into what works, what doesn't, cost factors, and hurdles. He wages war on bad ideas as energetically as he promotes good ones. Monbiot's sense of urgency is genuine: "We are the last generation that can make this happen, and this is the last possible moment at which we can make it happen." (by George Monbiot)

The Suicidal Planet How to Prevent Global Climate Catastrophe

Our lifestyles are pushing the planet its limits. Mayer Hillman explains the real issues: what role technology can play, how you and your community can make changes, and what governments must do now to protect our planet for future generations. Revised to include US global-warming facts and figures, The Suicidal Planet takes us out of the problem and into the solution of our international crisis. (by Mayer Hillman, Tina Fawcett, Sudhir Chella Rajan)

How to Live a Low-Carbon Life

The Individuals Guide to Stopping Climate Change (by Chris Goodall)

That climate change is happening is now all too clear. Many of us want to take action to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions. How to Live a Low-Carbon Life provides the first comprehensive, one-stop reference guide to calculating individual carbon emissions and it lays out clear plans for how individuals can reduce their emissions. Covering all aspects of modern life from transport to home heating to food sources and the vexing issue of vacations, the book provides easy-to-use tables for conducting a personal lifestyle carbon audit.

Safe Trip to Eden (by David Steinman)

10 Steps to Save Planet Earth from the Global Warming Meltdown

In Safe Trip to Eden, David Steinman explores the link between environmentalism, conservatism, patriotism, and national security. He reveals how our over-reliance on petroleum-based products and chemical pesticides have negatively impacted our health and national security; then he offers steps we can all take help solve the problem by making better choices, from the food to household products to cars.

Low Carbon Diet (by David Gershon)

A 30 Day Program to Lose 5000 Pounds

Looking for a fool-proof program to help you do your part to stop global warming? Go on a Low Carbon Diet! This "30 Day Program to Lose 5000 lbs" is a fun, accessible, easy to use guide that will show you, step-by-step, how to dramatically reduce your CO2 output in just a month's time.

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