Wednesday, September 30, 2009

PacifiCAD and Autodesk Tag-Team with Eastern Washington University for e2 Design, Transportation, Energy Series

By Paul K. Haeder

PacifiCAD is opening up its cache of e2 DVDs for planning, design and other students at Eastern Washington Uninversity's Riverpoint and Cheney campuses. e2 is Autodesk's contribution to the planning, engineering, and architecture fields, to just mention a few of the covered disciplines, and the Fall 2009 quarter students at EWU will not only have the opportunity to view these half-hour episodes, but discussions and Q & A sessions will follow so active learning and big idea making unfold. Additionally, PacifiCAD is opening the blog, this one, to anyone who wants to generate discussion on one or all the respective e2 episodes to be shown.
Part of the deal is PacifiCAD picks up the tab for a few bites of food at one or several of the events. Supporting local restaurants and regional food sourcing, PacifiCAD sees this as an important step to show students, both undergraduate and graduate, that as members of the community, PacifiCAD employees and CEO Ron Reed are willing to invest in their futures.

Also, as the series airs at both campuses, I'll lead off the discussion with a question or two and some quick points tied to sustainability and climate change that dovetail from each episode as I see fit. This will be on the blog, and time permitting, I will be at one campus to help facilitate. I'll report back on the effectiveness and enthusiasm shown after the series concludes in Dec. My active blogging on each episode's major and minor themes might springboard participants and others to open up a discussion board like discourse.

Here's the tentative series schedule at Riverpoint's Spokane Academic Center (SAC) Room 147 from 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM.

The Green Apple
Design Season 1

The Green Machine
Design Season 1

Coal & Nuclear: Problem or Solution?

Affordable Green Housing
Design Season 2

Portland: A Sense of Place

Architecture 2030
Design Season 2

State of Resolve

The Cheney campus e2 series shows will be posted soon.

The blog discussion will be posted soon as well.

Details will be posted.

Discussion of specific episdoes will also be posted.

What can be said now is that this series focuses on paradigm shift, innovation, and beyond-the-envelope thinking when it comes to considering urban-rural-natural environments; public space and communities' resolve to save it and build it; how private industry and governments work together to design, shape and implement alternative energy, net zero carbon building, LEED or beyond architecture, multi-modal transportation choices that may be considered part of any one movement or multiple movements in concert with each other: smart growth, living building, new urbanism, permaculture, retrofitting, post carbonizing, Natural Step/Second Nature and the like. The above schedule reflects a wide net of ideas that students at EWU would like to consider. We are still working out the final schedule, though, so email for clarification.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Middle Class Sprawl -- Houses, Cars, Food and Peak Oil and Climate Change

By Paul K. Haeder

How we consume -- we being the middle class -- has helped to shape the crisis we are now facing: peak oil, climate change and the housing bubble.

Andres Duany was just awarded the second place honors in a Planetizen
[ ] poll for the Top 100 Urban Thinkers. He's also one of the Founders of the Congress for New Urbanism, which touts this as its main thrust:

Making Connections a Priority
Through grids of streets, transportation choices, and the siting of buildings along sidewalks, New Urbanism brings destinations within reach and allows for frequent encounters between citizens, in sharp contrast to sprawl (right). A key measure of connectivity is how accessible communities are to people with a range of physical abilities and financial resources.

These are what planners and others have been talking about for years -- how we house ourselves, transport ourselves, entertain ourselves, feed ourselves. That is, how we use and abuse land. Is it the middle class that has to take the blame for this current triad of major tipping points? Read his address to The Residential Architects' Sixth Annual Reinvention Convention:

Here is Australian Frank Reale's take on urban sprawl and urbanization in his country. He's a mechanical and electrical engineer and environmental scientist who specialises in energy conservation. He has a special interest in sustainable cities.

"Some efforts have been made to curb the urban spread. Amid backlash, there have been cursory nods in the direction of medium-density housing. Last week, Melburnians heard of plans to turn the 128-hectare former Department of Defence site in Maribyrnong into a new suburb. Such a move would absorb population growth that would otherwise settle on Melbourne's fringes.

The move is a temporary solution — Melbourne's growth cannot be directed into unused pockets of land for long, because such land is limited. Victoria and, indeed, the whole of Australia must think creatively and radically about directing growth away from our burgeoning capital cities.
About half of Australia's population is contained in five state capitals. The result is an over-urbanisation that is inefficient and requires the building of ever-expanding infrastructure, including transport, sewerage, water and energy supply, telecommunications and waste disposal.
Smaller planned cities make more sense. Ideas that might generally be considered too difficult suddenly, in the context of a smaller urban centre, become feasible: storm water harvesting for household and industrial use, water recycling, conversion of sewage and garbage into fuel, and greenhouse market gardens and aquaculture using low-grade waste heat. Smaller cities are efficient. Roads, sewers, water supply pipes, electricity lines and telecommunication links can be shorter and economical. Energy that would otherwise go to waste can be used by homes and industry.

When coal or gas is burned in a power station to produce electricity, a large proportion of heat energy goes into the atmosphere. If commercial and residential buildings are located nearby, this wasted energy could be used for a variety of purposes, including industrial processes and heating. At present, power is produced in places far away from the main glut of population. With the population living and working close to an energy-producing plant, annual efficiency of energy use could be raised from 35 to 70 per cent."

Ahh, the history of sprawl is not bedded only in North America, and a compelling book on Sprawl debunks many preconcieved ideas about density and Europe and what Europeans may desire housing wise compared to North Americans:

Central urban densities are dropping because household sizes are smaller and affluent people occupy more space. Like Americans, Europeans have opted for decentralization. To a great extent, this dispersal is driven by a desire for home-ownership.

"Polls consistently confirm that most Europeans, like most Americans, and indeed most people worldwide, would prefer to live in single-family houses on their own piece of land rather than in apartment buildings," Robert Bruegmann writes, author of Sprawl: A Compact History. He's a professor of art history at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

So strong is this preference that certain European countries such as Ireland and the United Kingdom now have higher single-family house occupancy rates than the United States, while others, such as Holland, Belgium, and Norway, are comparable. Half of all French households now live in houses.


For a primer on the United States' progression from city to rural life, from dense to sprawl, read James Howard Kunstler's books, Geography of Nowhere & the other one, The Long Emergency. Here's a 12-year-old article in The Atlantic by Kuntster:

Both Duany and Kunstler see cities like living organisms. The hotel Duany spoke at in Seattle once was a sod house, then a wooden building, a much smaller brick building, and then the current larger composite and brick structure with parking garages underground. The fact is the parking lot and the current land use will change. Cities will change. It's just a fact of life. Both expect changes in the landscape quickly, due to all sorts of factors discussed here at PacifiCAD blog; and both see civic life fragmented by what has happened the past 50 years in land use and how we settle. These three colliding issues -- oil/energy; climate change; and economy -- tie into our fragmented social and civic life.


Human settlements are like living organisms. They must grow, and they will change. But we can decide on the nature of that growth -- on the quality and the character of it -- and where it ought to go. We don't have to scatter the building blocks of our civic life all over the countryside, destroying our towns and ruining farmland. We can put the shopping and the offices and the movie theaters and the library all within walking distance of one another. And we can live within walking distance of all these things. We can build our schools close to where the children live, and the school buildings don't have to look like fertilizer plants. We can insist that commercial buildings be more than one story high, and allow people to live in decent apartments over the stores. We can build Main Street and Elm Street and still park our cars. It is within our power to create places that are worthy of our affection.


If you look at the suburbs you will see that much of it [is] potential cities. That parking lot is real estate, and that real estate can be densified.

If sprawl truly is destructive, why is it allowed to continue? The beginning of an answer lies in sprawl's seductive simplicity, the fact that it consists of very few homogeneous components - five in all - which can be arranged in almost any way. It is appropriate to review these parts individually, since they always occur independently. While one component may be adjacent to another, the dominant characteristic of sprawl is that each component is strictly segregated from the others.

Housing subdivisions, also called clusters and pods. These places consist only of residences. They are sometimes called villages, towns, and neighborhoods by their developers, which is misleading, since those terms denote places which are not exclusively residential and which provide an experiential richness not available in a housing tract. Subdivisions can be identified as such by their contrived names, which tend toward the romantic —Pheasant Mill Crossing—and often pay tribute to the natural or historic resource they have displaced.

Shopping centers, also called strip centers, shopping malls, and big-box retail. These are places exclusively for shopping. They come in every size, from the Quick Mart on the corner to the Mall of America, but they are all places to which one is unlikely to walk. The conventional shopping center can be easily distinguished from its traditional main-street counterpart by its lack of housing or offices, its single-story height, and its parking lot between the building and the roadway.

Office parks and business parks. These are places only for work. Derived from the modernist architectural vision of the building standing free in the park, the contemporary office park is usually made of boxes in parking lots. Still imagined as a pastoral workplace isolated in nature, it has kept its idealistic name and also its quality of isolation, but in practice it is more likely to be surrounded by highways than by countryside.

Civic institutions. The fourth component of suburbia is public buildings: the town halls, churches, schools, and other places where people gather for communication and culture. In traditional neighborhoods, these buildings often serve as neighborhood focal points, but in suburbia they take an altered form: large and infrequent, generally unadorned owing to limited funding, surrounded by parking, and located nowhere in particular. The school pictured here shows what a dramatic evolution this building type has undergone in the past thirty years. A comparison between the size of the parking lot and the size of the building is revealing: this is a school to which no child will ever walk. Because pedestrian access is usually nonexistent, and because the dispersion of surrounding homes often makes school buses impractical, schools in the new suburbs are designed based on the assumption of massive automotive transportation.

Roadways. The fifth component of sprawl consists of the miles of pavement that are necessary to connect the other four disassociated components. Since each piece of suburbia serves only one type of activity, and since daily life involves a wide variety of activities, the residents of suburbia spend an unprecedented amount of time and money moving from one place to the next. Since most of this motion takes place in singly occupied automobiles, even a sparsely populated area can generate the traffic of a much larger traditional town.

The traffic load caused by the many disassociated pieces of suburbia is most clearly visible from above. As seen in this image of Palm Beach County, Florida, the amount of pavement (public infrastructure) per building (private structure) is extremely high, especially when compared to the efficiency of a section of an older city like Washington, D.C. The same economic relationship is at work underground, where low-density land-use patterns require greater lengths of pipe and conduit to distribute municipal services. This high ratio of public to private expenditure helps explain why suburban municipalities are finding that new growth fails to pay for itself at acceptable levels of taxation.
We'll look at land use and the changes that need to be made to transform our built and unbuilt envirnments in many future blogs. What's your take on sprawl? Here are some key documentaries: The Story of Sprawl

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pondering the future over an oyster and bottle of wine


Paul Haeder:
Before Its Time

There are any number of canaries in the global warming mineshaft — species, groups of people or entire cultures. Too many of them seem to be going the way of the dinosaurs. For brevity’s sake, let’s look at three surprising but emblematic canaries: grapes (wine), oysters (the ocean) and clear language (systems thinking).

First, the vino: There have been fossil grape vines found that are 60 million years old. What I like to think as the first historical evidence of discovering winemaking comes from a Persian fable about a depressed princess who was contemplating suicide but ended up buoyant with a change of heart after eating a bowl of “spoiled” grapes.

The march of civilization has seen the cultivation of grapes as one of the finer attributes and the conjoining of culture, science and art. It’s just been a few years now that Washington state grapes have garnered such a rep to the point that our state’s wine is second only to California’s. Currently, 32,000 acres are planted across more than 11 appellations or wine growing regions. There are some 650 wineries in business using our grapes.

I’ve spent time with Maryhill Winery’s Craig Leuthold, who keeps a home in Spokane with his wife Vicki but whose winery near Hood River just landed the Washington 2009 Winery of the Year award. Craig knows his wine, knows the necessity of going modern, and understands the pressures of weather, climate and the economy.

He employs modern technology to monitor soil, climate and the regional and global economics of wine.

Even with the computers checking microclimates and the grapes’ sugar ratios, Craig still believes in the terroir — the mix of soil, climate, vine location, grape care and all the age-old techniques to make the many varieties of wine. And he’s worried about the future of his craft.

Here’s how the grape is the canary: At the second annual Conference on Climate Change and Wine in Barcelona, viticulturists came together to discuss climate change and wine. Since grapes around the world are grown in ultra-narrow geographical regions and climatic niches, they’re at much greater risk from both climate variability and long-term climate change than more “broad acre” crops.

This lack of resiliency is the viticulturist’s bane. It’s already gotten so bad that Bordeaux wineries in France are absolutely paranoid about their famous grape disappearing completely.

Unfortunately, food production worldwide is being affected by climate change, and it’s one of the biggest topics of concern with various national and international organizations and governments concerned about food crops.

The next Tweetie Bird? The oyster. Here’s why: Almost half the carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere thus far by human activity has been absorbed by oceans. Oceans are now much more acidic than they have been for hundreds of millions of years. Acidity determines the ability of many species to make their skeletons and shells. Animal and plant life in the ocean make up a complex web. Sea stars, sea urchins, mussels, clams, oysters and corals are the first species to be impacted by ocean acidity.

When excess CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere and dissolves into seawater, it lowers the pH of the oceans. A byproduct of that process — carbonic acid — quickly converts to carbonate and bicarbonate ions, which are corrosive to the calcium carbonate shells of oysters and other marine species.
Overfishing and harvesting have always been key stressors on marine ecosystems. But various conditions in the ocean tied to climate change also have created a rampant bacterial outbreak — Vibrio tubiashii. This microbe doesn’t sicken people, but it kills shellfish in their larval stage, before they latch onto rocks to grow. The nation’s largest commercial oyster aqua farming area off of Oregon had to shut down last year because of the bacterium.

“We’re in a state of panic,” says Robin Downey, executive director of the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, based in Olympia. “There is no other word for it.”

Finally, language and framing are the next indicators of a world powerless to stop extinction events. We can’t even agree on what to call it: climate instability, climate change, global warming, climate disruption, anthropomorphic climate making or a conspiracy by socialist greenies to stop capitalism and the American way of life?

There are no two ways about it: Language today, in our amped-up, 24-hour cable TV, three-minute news cycle world, has been stripped, bastardized, co-opted, “memory holed” and “double-spoken” into a state of near extinction.

Double-speak that no one questions is what allows Corporation X to corner the wild salmon market — until it’s gone. Or when the America Petroleum Institute forces employees to launch fake protests against a federal climate bill. Or when Company X says it produces clean energy while a majority of its spark comes from the coal mined via mountaintop removal. Or when Procter and Gamble shills cold-water detergent as “green” when it’s the same old Tide. Then there’s G.E., Caterpillar and Alcoa joining environmental groups that back “sweeping cuts” in emissions even as they support industry trade groups lobbying against mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases.

Those advocating wind, solar power or electric autos are ascribing sustainability and smart growth as ways to solve climate change. Deep down, though, many know we need massive conservation of resources and restorative actions. The canary that’s choking is straight, honest language and connecting the dots.

And therein lies the supply of clean, healing air that will keep these canaries alive — holistic thinking and the real change only it can enable.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Steady State Economics in a Time of Renewable Energy Inertia and Media Hype of Going Toilet Paperless for a Year

By Paul K. Haeder

This is a potpourri of news today after a long weekend holding to the principles of thinking about how the world has changed the past decade since the USA was attacked on September 11, 2001. First, the idea of sustainability goes a long way when we look at the foundation of a steady state economy. It’s become clearer and clearer to many that a successful and creative economy does not have to be a growing economy. A steady state economy is defined largely by a stabilized human population and true controlled consumption, consumption that is practical and foundational to equity throughout the world. As steady state economists say: Such stability means that the amounts of resource throughput and waste disposal remain roughly constant.

"We must recognize the earth’s limited capacity to provide for us. We must recognize its fragility. We must no longer allow it to be ravaged. This ethic must motivate a great movement, convincing reluctant leaders and reluctant governments and reluctant peoples themselves to effect the needed changes."
Plea made in 1993 by over 1500 of the world’s top scientists, many Nobel Laureates

Here’s our current economic character, in a globalized mindset. Economic growth, two, three, what, ten percent in China or India two years ago, whatever the economic growth engine numbers are, they bring with them destruction and imbalance -- growth of other aspects, negatives, real deal breakers, in a world that puts economics above all other things in the sustainability picture – Equity, Environment, Education, Energy and then Economics.

Richard Heinberg has written about the Century of Declines, that is, the 21st century which will be marked by huge declines in cheap and easily gotten to energy, including coal. Peak resources – and expensive and peaking oil – will require us to accept a reversal of the capitalistic gains over the past 100 years. We need to begin these conversations.


Here’s what the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) has to say about exponential economic growth as a paradigm:

• jobless growth, where the economy grows, but does not expand opportunities for employment;
• ruthless growth, where the proceeds of economic growth mostly benefit the rich;
• voiceless growth, where economic growth is not accompanied by extension of democracy or empowerment;
• rootless growth, where economic growth squashes people’s cultural identity; and
futureless growth, where the present generation squanders resources needed by future generations.

For more on the Steady State Economy, follow these links:

Steady-State Economics by Herman Daly is a brilliant series of essays about why we need to transition to a steady state economy and how to do it.

Eight Areas of Concern
are hitting planners, policy makers, the people of the world hard:

New Challenges to the Montreal Protocol." Hayman, Gavin and S. Trent. Environmental Investigation Agency.

The Convention on Biodiversity
Convention Text. United Nations Environment Programme.

Smil, Vaclav. Energy at the Crossroads: Global Perspectives and Uncertainties. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Mc Quaig, L. It’s the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil, and the Fight for the Planet, Doubleday Canada, 2004.

Climate Change
“Climate of 1999 - Annual Review"National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Ecosystems and Human Well-being. Washington: Island Press, 2003.

Soil Fertility

Toxic Substances


These are the major sustainability issues unrelated to the equity and cultural questions raised in a world where three billion live on $3.50
[] a day and where 5 percent of the global population controls 80 percent of wealth. Or, look at it this way -- The World Institute for Development Economics Research at the UN University says that the poorer half of the world's population own barely 1% of global wealth.

[ ]

Steady State Economics is posited as one way to address those eight areas of concern and the issue of lack of equity and education and fair wages for more than 4 billion people on earth. Here is more from CASSE:

 A Sustainable Scale Perspective -- Thinking in terms of sustainable scale is essential to ensure economic activities do not destroy the life support services provided by critical ecosystems.
 Visions For A Sustainable Future -- Articulating possible visions for a sustainable future is an important activity that can be an inspiration for change.
 Understanding Human Happiness and Well Being -- Our current economic activities have false and dangerous assumptions about human happiness and well being. Clarifying our understanding is central to developing sustainable scale relevant policies.
 Supportive Public Policies -- There are a variety of public policy tools currently available to promote scale relevant solutions.
 Economics For Community -- Reformulating the role of economic activities in supporting human well being is essential to developing scale relevant policies.
 Sustainable Business Practices -- A variety of sustainable business practices are available and need to be developed to support the global transition to an ecologically sustainable future.
 Institutions for a Sustainable Future -- The many institutions that currently support policies and practices that allow economic activities to degrade critical ecosystem services need to be reformed, and new ones developed.
 Lifestyle Solutions -- Many attractive lifestyle solutions are available to promote both ecological sustainability and human well being

While the global scale of these problems are daunting, just dealing with simple energy legislation in California shows how hobbled we are as a culture and society in terms of moving forward. Baby steps, or course, are for infants and toddlers, not entire cultures and the world at large. Adult steps have to be taken to protect those unborn and young today that will have huge problems to solve because of the cheap fossil fuel era and the quickening of the peak Century.
Big steps turned into back steps -- The Senate in California actually passed a bill requiring a portion of the state’s electricity come from wind, solar and other renewable. And again, we now have a veto threat, evidence of inside pressure from lobbying groups, and the resulting inertia sure to come. This is not good news on any front; the assault on logic and scientific truths is appalling.

SAN FRANCISCO/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will veto a bill requiring the state to get a third of its electricity from solar, wind and other renewable sources, his staff said on Monday in a fight that shows the difficulties of addressing climate change fast.

Schwarzenegger, whose legacy is largely pinned on driving California's response to global warming, believes the bill passed in the last hours of the legislative session on Friday would make it more difficult to build solar plants in the state and to buy power from neighbors.

California's rank as the largest market for renewable power makes any decision important, and as the U.S. Congress struggles to put together a federal plan, the state's leadership and failures could shape a national plan.
"The industry and regulators are going to wind up spending the next few years wrangling about how to implement the bill as opposed to actually putting steel in the ground," said Public Utilities Commission Deputy Director Nancy Ryan on a call sponsored by the governor.

She said more flexibility was needed, while the bill's main sponsor said curbs on buying power from out of state would ensure jobs were kept in California and give needed weight to the 33 percent goal, which state agencies have already set.

"I'm still holding out hope that the governor will rethink that position" of a veto, State Senator Joe Simitian said in a conference call with reporters that overlapped with Ryan's.

Then the book and flick chronicling and shilling the ideas behind the guy and his wife and kid "going without" for a year-long period. Colin Beavan, AKA No Impact Man, and his wife, Michelle, took a pledge to reduce their so called ecological footprint. Yes, the concept is full of PT Barnum chutzpah, and the book and movie deal prove the ultimate modern motive -- our American pastime spending time in the echo chamber of superficiality, the warped sense of narrative from our the media, and many tens of millions plagued by inertia while trapped in TV-viewing haze while sitting in our living rooms. Here’s the lo down.

Beavan and his wife vowed to stick to this diet for a year:

• No driving, no flying, or even relying on mass transit. They got to where they needed to go on foot, bike or scooter.
• No more elevators, either; they took the stairs to reach their ninth-floor apartment (several exceptions to these rules were made: two train rides to visit upstate farms, and an occasional elevator ride when security measures or double-digit floors in a midtown New York high-rise required it).
• No buying new stuff, except for foods produced within 250 miles of Manhattan. So, no more takeout, out-of-season produce or coffee (although Michelle fought for, and won, a concession on the coffee front). And no meat, because livestock production is such a fossil-fuel-intensive process.
• No watching TV; the family eventually went off the grid entirely, playing cards by candlelight and otherwise amusing themselves without electricity.
• No washing machine or refrigerator. Abstaining from these two appliances proved especially challenging, as No Impact Man, the film documenting Beavan's endeavor, memorably shows

It’s good that Elizabeth Kolbert is weighing in on this media hype of the No Impact Man phenom. Yes, he’s just trying to make a buck, but he is a New York guy with New York agent and with the sort of goals necessary to sell yet more redundant and possibly irrelevant stuff on the going green spiel.

“No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $25), is one of dozens of books or flicks that are quaint at best. The reality is that many of us are struggling, and we are teachers, social workers, bus drivers, construction workers, blue and white collar folk in the service economy, in the knowledge economy, who just need to find ways to cut consumption of gasoline, electricity and food because prices are killing us. The people working on $3.50 a day? They are in a global economy now, and their efforts to normalized their basic living necessities have been hijacked by the industrialized nations’ land, resource and labor grabs.

So when Kolbert pokes fun at Walden Farm, or the other books centered “around some nouveau-Thoreauvian conceit,” she has to be listened to. Her work, “Field Notes on a Catastrophe”

[ ]

[ ]

and three part series, “The Climate of Man,”



get to the realities of global climate disruption and how serious this matter is – it’s not about getting guys and gals to go off the grid for a year, or go local, or dumpster diving for a book contract and 15-minutes of Warhol fame. Here are works she points out in her article: a month eating only food grown in an urban back yard, as in “Farm City” (2009); a year eating food produced on a gentleman’s farm, as in “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” (2007); or driving across the country on used cooking oil, as in “Greasy Rider” (2008); or giving up fossil fuels for goats, as in “Farewell, My Subaru” (2008).

We are a great nation because we do have a sense of humor and we have used the public space to air our disagreements, and our popular arts and culture have some underpinnings that make for working toward post carbon lives, or any serious topic for that matter, interesting, compelling. Maybe we are tribal, and we know tribes of ancient and still many today do relish in storytelling, grabbing at tragedy with a glimmer of sarcasm and comedy.

But we also seem to be amusing ourselves to death


with this constant glorification of TV-comedians reading and analyzing the news; the bizarre racist-sexist-stupid pundits on Fox, even PBS; reality show folk who garner more and more of the American psyche in those more degraded "great dramas" they expose themselves in and which we consume; then the reporting on these folk, including the celebrities of all form and manner; the constant thuggery and mean-spirited professional sports teams getting more money, getting tax-dollar supported stadiums; and maybe even these literati in the sustainability field who make a living off of writing about these things, and that includes Kolbert, but I'm not so quick to indict them yet.

This is not to say people like me who make a living teaching, writing, focusing on community development, and facilitating groups to start participating in their own neighborhoods and lives, can’t enjoy some of this media thing we live inside as the world burns – Derrick Jensen is a joy to read because his truths are beyond the white noise of today's popular media and press:


I recommend reading Kolbert’s take on No Impact Man, and below is an excerpt from that New Yorker piece. Are we playing this pop culture thing too much to really move forward on very serious issues? Do the media control too much of the framing? Is science scary, not understandable by average Joe and Jane? Let’s keep that dialogue going. Let’s look at the Genuine Progress Index and the Genuine Peace Index as viable alternatives to the GDP. Let’s consider a Steady State Economy and not lambaste the thinkers as being communist, or against prosperity.

Kolbert writes:

Vanessa Farquharson, an entertainment reporter for Canada’s National Post, is the author of “Sleeping Naked Is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $13.95). Farquharson opens her book with the proposition that it is better to take small steps on behalf of the planet than to do nothing at all. She transforms this sensible idea into a book-worthy stunt by resolving to make one “green” life-style change every day for a year (all the while posting her resolutions on her blog).

At twenty-eight, Farquharson is almost exactly the age that Thoreau was when he set off for Walden Pond. And she’s a lot like him, too, if he’d been the type who, as she writes of herself, enjoys blowing a “month’s savings on a bottle of pink Veuve Clicquot and pairing it with back-to-back reruns of ‘America’s Next Top Model.’ ”

Farquharson’s “green-ovations” range from the significant (“sell my car”) to the useful (“turn down my thermostat,” “fix things rather than replace them”) to the downright ditzy (“go to eco-friendly spas,” “shop at green malls,” “use a natural lubricant instead of K-Y”). The day after she resolves to “use no more toothpicks,” Farquharson is shown a house that’s for sale not far from her apartment in Toronto. It’s newly renovated, with three stories, and, in terms of Farquharson’s ecological footprint, represents an awful lot of toothpicks. She immediately buys it. (“I must have this house,” she writes.) Meanwhile, even though flying is pretty much the most carbon-intensive activity possible, Farquharson is constantly taking to the air. At one point, she flies to Banff for a writers’ workshop. At another, she flies to Portland, Oregon, to undertake, of all things, a sustainability-oriented bike trip. (During the trip, she sleeps with one of the trip’s leaders, and so a few weeks later he flies to Toronto to stay with her.) She flies to Tel Aviv to visit another guy she will eventually sleep with. Finally, she flies to New York, where she seeks out Beavan, because, as she puts it, there’s “no way” she is going to go all the way to Manhattan “without confronting my competi— . . . I mean, meeting my fellow green blogger.” They rendezvous, at Beavan’s suggestion, at the Grey Dog’s Coffee, on University Place, which, Farquharson sniffs, doesn’t seem “especially green in any way.” Naturally, the talk turns to shit.

Farquharson, who has, in her words, gone “off TP for number one,” but has been unable to persuade herself to “go all the way,” tries to press Beavan for the details of his excretory routine. How, exactly, does No Impact Man get by without toilet paper? He is not forthcoming, and she is suspicious.

“I wondered if Colin was perhaps being purposely coy,” she writes. “Maybe he planned to go into more depth about his bathroom proceedings when it came to writing his book and didn’t want to leak—pardon the pun—any of this information to me beforehand.”

Thoreau’s stunt was, qua stunt, a disappointment. Though “Walden” sold better than “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers,” it grossed its author only $96.60 in royalties. Thoreau tried to put together a lecture tour of the Midwest and Canada, but most of it had to be called off, owing to a lack of interest.

No Impact Man, by contrast, has already been a public-relations triumph. Before he had even finished his experiment, Beavan caught the attention of the Times. A reporter came to his apartment for dinner and wrote a long profile that ran on the front page of the House & Home section. This led to a flood of media requests. Beavan got calls from television stations as far away as Japan and Australia. He was interviewed by Diane Sawyer, Scott Simon, and Stephen Colbert. Meanwhile, a crew of documentary filmmakers followed No Impact Man and his wife around the city. (For maximum impact, their movie is being released simultaneously with the book.)

Reportedly, Beavan has sold the rights to his story to Hollywood.
No Impact Man’s appeal to the media is no mystery. His shtick deals with a serious subject but is easy to poke fun at. Colbert characterized it as “like ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ only completely implausible.” The Times called it, at best, “a scene from an old-fashioned situation comedy and, at worst, an ethically murky exercise in self-promotion.” (The headline was “THE YEAR WITHOUT TOILET PAPER.”)

In his book, Beavan reports that he was “devastated” by this treatment. “I feel that it has trivialized my work,” he writes of the Times piece. “It worries me that I’ve single-handedly managed to make a mockery of the entire environmental movement.”

There’s something a tad disingenuous here. Beavan is, after all, a man whose environmental activism began over lunch with his agent. And it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in electrical engineering to see through his claims to experimental rigor. Indeed, in its own candlelit way, his project is almost as incoherent as Farquharson’s. When No Impact Man shuts off the power at his apartment, you might think that his blog would have to go dark (and along with it his compulsive checking of his ratings on Technorati). But every day Beavan bikes to the Writers Room, on Broadway at Waverly Place, and plugs in his laptop. Meanwhile, Michelle scooters off to work at the offices of BusinessWeek, and Isabella spends the day at the (presumably electrified) apartment of a sitter.

So committed is Beavan to his claim of zero impact that he can’t—or won’t—see the deforestation for the trees. He worries a great deal about the environmental consequences of Michelle’s tampon use and the shrink-wrap around a block of cheese. But when it comes to his building’s heating system, which is apparently so wasteful that people are opening windows in the middle of winter, he just throws up his hands.

A more honest title for Beavan’s book would have been “Low Impact Man,” and a truly honest title would have been “Not Quite So High Impact Man.” Even during the year that Beavan spent drinking out of a Mason jar, more than two billion people were, quite inadvertently, living lives of lower impact than his. Most of them were struggling to get by in the slums of Delhi or Rio or scratching out a living in rural Africa or South America. A few were sleeping in cardboard boxes on the street not far from Beavan’s Fifth Avenue apartment.

What makes Beavan’s experiment noteworthy is that it is just that—a voluntary exercise conducted for a limited time only by a middle-class family. Beavan justifies writing about it on the ground that it will inspire others to examine their wasteful ways. On the last page, he observes:

Throughout this book I’ve tried to show how saving the world is up to me. I’ve tried hard not to lecture. Yes, it’s up to me. But after living for a year without toilet paper, I’ve earned the right to say one thing: It’s also up to you.

So, what are you going to do?

If wiping were the issue, this would be a reasonable place to end. But, sadly—or perhaps happily—it isn’t. The real work of “saving the world” goes way beyond the sorts of action that “No Impact Man” is all about.

What’s required is perhaps a sequel. In one chapter, Beavan could take the elevator to visit other families in his apartment building. He could talk to them about how they all need to work together to install a more efficient heating system. In another, he could ride the subway to Penn Station and then get on a train to Albany. Once there, he could lobby state lawmakers for better mass transit. In a third chapter, Beavan could devote his blog to pushing for a carbon tax. Here’s a possible title for the book: “Impact Man.”

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight Years Later, We Want Understanding, A Space in Our Minds for Reflection, and Public Discourse on 9/11/2001

We all have our narrative frames tied to the attacks on NYC, Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania. It's human nature to want answers, to wonder how history and our lives have changed so rapidly after that event, and why we as a nation have retreated from truth, inquiry, public discourse, smart thinking, caring, and abstracting truth from outrage and confusion.

So, may you all find some sense of direction and purpose today when you reflect on the killings, the wars, the misdirection, the heavy lifts we all have to make to move our world toward equity and peace. Will it happen in your time? Will you find it in your hearts and brains to understand why so many in the world have questions about this country's direction in two Middle Eastern countries? Why so many wonder why the G-8 wields so much power to shape the world?

I recommend reading the following commentary in Tomdispatch. I recommend looking at why pilots and architects and engineers are wondering what happened that day eight years ago. Truth is like justice -- it takes time and an open mind and even hand to apply it, to make sure it is real and lasting and forever tested to be so. I've included a few web links to groups asking for an investigation of 9/11, on many levels.

Rebecca Solnit is the author of "Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities," and her piece in Tomdispatch (you can find it on Alternet today as well) says what many believe were the resounding proofs of courage in the face of terror. Here's one great quote from her piece:

"Adam Mayblum, who walked down from the 87th floor of the north tower with some of his coworkers, wrote on the Internet immediately afterward:

'They failed in terrorizing us. We were calm. If you want to kill us, leave us alone because we will do it by ourselves. If you want to make us stronger, attack and we unite. This is the ultimate failure of terrorism against the United States.'"

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth About Us page opening:

"We call upon Congress for a truly independent investigation with subpoena power. We believe that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the World Trade Center buildings #1 (North Tower), #2 (South Tower), and #7 (the 47 story high-rise across Vesey St.) were destroyed not by jet impact and fires but by controlled demolition with explosives.

We believe that our website, our DVD '9/11: Blueprint for Truth,' and the other referenced material on our sites, contain the information necessary to demonstrate to all with an open mind that this is the case, and that such an investigation is warranted and overdue. We believe that the available relevant evidence invalidates the government’s official conspiracy theory.

All architects, engineers, and others with competence as writers and speakers, whether they choose to sign our petition or not, are encouraged to take an active role by reporting the results of our research on 9/11 by means of lectures, articles, and other modes of responsible public education."

Richard Gage, AIA, is a San Francisco Bay Area architect and a member of the American Institute of Architects. He is the founding member of AE911Truth. He has been a practicing architect for over 20 years and has worked on most types of building construction, including numerous fire-proofed steel-framed buildings. Most recently he worked on the construction documents for a $400M mixed-use urban project with 1.2 million square feet of retail, parking structure, and 320,000 square feet of mid-rise office space.
From Huffington Post: "Patrick Leahy has a point when he urges President Obama to open investigations about the Bush administration. However, he's not pointing at the issue that we need to start with. Namely, September 11th. What really happened? More than a few people know - and I am not alone in calling for those who know to start talking and fess up. Let's not let this go the way of the JFK assassination - and whether with subpoenas or on their own volition, I demand that Dick Cheney, George W. Bush - both of whom refused to testify under oath during the 9/11 Commission proceedings -- Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, Larry Wilkerson, George Tenet, Robert Mueller and the rest - as well as Bill Clinton and Al Gore (both of whom also refused to testify under oath) -- start talking, and in a public arena. And I'm calling on the Obama administration to open up a probe and unravel the web of deceit."

These questioners, these citizens looking for truth and healing, they are the reason why terrorism can't strike at the core of our values -- we believe in truth, citizen rule and the ability to agree to disagree without violence and the core Constitutional Rights being violated.

May you all find peace today in the last shadows of summer.

Paul K. Haeder

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Climate Change, Unequal Distribution of Wealth, Power, Labor, Resources, and the Empty Stomach

By Paul K. Haeder

A "state of public calamity" has been announced in Guatemala today -- to deal with food shortages throughout the Central American nation. The President of the country, Alvaro Colom blames climate change for the failure of bean and corn crops, caused by drought. We've seen droughts in Australia and African countries, and the immediate effect of lack of rain are huge cuts in the yields of staple crops.

In Guatemala that is 50 percent loss of these main crops, turning this into a regional crisis. The USA and Canada and other so-called industrialized nations play a part, as there is a collusion between corporations and the government there, because some of the best and fertile agricultural land is planted in export crops like coffee and sugar.

"There is food, what is lacking is the money for the affected people to buy food," President Colom said. "We are not going to wait until we've reached starvation levels to act." Colom's announcement allows Guatemala to buy emergency rations of food, and that estimate is from 400,000 to half a million families in need.

[for more articles on hunger, go to:

"Record hunger: one billion people are going hungry worldwide"

"Rich countries buy up agricultural land in poor countries"

The shock doctrine of the global economic slowdown-downturn has put pressure on the money many Guatemalans receive from relatives in the United States. The same is in El Salvador, and even though we have a national spasm of anti-immigrant rhetoric, little Guatemala and Little Salvador in Los Angeles allows Californians to get lawns cut, food picked, food served and manual labor done -- on the cheap.

When times are tough here, those working in the USA are struggling, so the money flow stops or decreases.

Notwithstanding that issue, UN economists say that this unequal distribution of wealth has led to this crisis. I've been there, reported on Guatemalan issues, and lived with poor families and been to the guarded estates of the oligarchy. The obsenity is malnutrition, eye disease, total abject poverty in the face of a few tooling around in Mercedes Benzes and flying to Paris for the weekend. These few rich have been propped up by guns, thuggery and big resource and land grabs.

The place is beautiful on many levels -- green forests, mountains, volcanoes, indian tribes. But there is ecological degradation due to resource plundering and climate change. People are struggling, as this latest malnutrition and crop failure story hits the airwaves.

Guatemala has some thriving coffee plantations, and some coffee traders and roasters have worked with local cooperatives to help villages deal with water delivery, education, roads, health clinics. But these have been Band Aid ways of covering over larger issues that ares effecting many in Central America and the world -- food shortages, and food prices increases.

Add to that the indentured servants that work vast land holdings by multi-millionaires who run the country. There is plenty of slavery in Guatemala, as Kevin Bales points out in his book and talks --

Bales is a leader in the abolition movement to end modern-day slavery and co-author of The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today. Bales estimates some 27 million people labor as slaves today—more than at anytime in history. Bales has also helped expose modern-day slavery in the United States, where he estimates between 14,000 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the country each year. He writes, “There has never been a single day in our America, from its discovery and birth right up to the moment you are reading this sentence, without slavery.”

So the international framework of the UN through its World Food Promgram (WFP) plans to distribute 20 tons of biscuits to the hardest-hit areas. Before this current food crisis, research has pointed to the fact that nearly 50 percent of children under five in Guatemala suffer from malnutrition.

Unfortunately, this blog will be looking at food, climate change, the politics of power, and the politics of who eats, who dies, and where the world community stands in all of this.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mad As Hell Docs and Peak Oil -- Two Frames in Spokane

By Paul K. Haeder

Sept. 9 -- I get to interview three doctors, on the Single Payer Health care caravan called Mad as Hell Doctors (,
setting off from Oregon onward east -- a journey that will culminate in Washington DC with dozens of other groups fighting to finally solve America's out of whack health care system; presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have tried to reform, fix, resusitate health care in the USA.

*also see Physicians for a National Health Program

These doctors have compelling stories about patients, the struggle to be treated, to get to primary health doctors; the reality is that 90 percent of our time in the health care system is in a clinic, not ER, and our medical system is broken, from overtaxed rural doctors, to huge deficits in the number of primary care docs around. Patients who need procedures but whose insurance companies reject them, or nickle and dime them, until the doctors become bogged down in administrative hell.

Yes, 18,000 Americans die every year from preventable diseases because they do not get to the doctor when they should. At $2.4 trillion dollars, and 18 % of the USA's GDP, health care costs are unsustainable. The average Joe or Jane spends about $7,900 per year on health care. And a recent study found that medical problems contributed to 62 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Health care costs, rotten delivery, lack of primary health care physicians, and the smart docs being forced to do unnecessary procedures in order to keep that billing up in order for the for-profit hospitals to get money, which in turn prompt the insurance companies hike premium against the citizen to pay for their exorbitant profits, these are just some of the reasons doctors, and more importantly the millions of folk in dozens of health care professions, are now speaking out. This fact is also one reason doctors are having a hard time stomaching the current private insurance system: William McGuire, former head of United Health, accumulated stock options worth $1.6 billion. Cigna CEO made more than $120 million in the last five years. CEO compensation for the top 7 health insurance companies now averages $14.2 million.

Now 50 million Americans (or more) have no health care; more than 25 million (or more) are under insured. These Mad as Hell Doctors are talking about a broken system, and more than 60 percent of internal medicine MD's are for a single payer system, and a heck of a higher percentage of nurses and health care professionals are too. The profits insurance companies have made in the past five years are up 170 percent. Medicare and the VA systems have about 3 percent overhead to run their systems. Private health care now is more than 5 times that amount for administrative costs.

These doctors are real patriotic citizens, and are finally getting out and actively lobbying for sane health care. They spoke in Spokane at the Foley Federal Building, and held a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. at Gonzaga U. Sept. 7, 2009. More than 250 people showed up, and an abbreviated version of the film put out by one of the docs on the panel and the clip of the movie "Network" got the crowd riled up. ""I'm mad as hell and I won't take it anymore," is part of that film's famous speech, and it really got the crowd going.

More importantly, these smart women and men, who have dedicated themselves to healing, want a health care system for all, and an end to people not getting help for preventative fixes, and they want no more people with insurance and those without having to face bankruptcy because of health issues.

Here's a clip of "Health, Money and Fear."

This is the basic credo of Mad As Hell Doctors, in support of a single payer system: "Let's restart the effort and take Health Care legislation off the table until the Spring session of Congress. In the meantime, let's use HR 676 as a starting point for a new health care conversation and empower MAHD physician-citizens to seek out the best minds from America's vast resource of inspired health care professionals. We will then assemble these individuals into a working team that does not include anyone from the private Health Insurance Industry, the Pharmaceutical Industry, or anyone currently holding public office. Their assignment will be to craft a thoughtful, actionable single payer health care model, uniquely tailored for America, that the entire country can comprehend.

MAHD will then present this model to you, to Congress, to the Senate and to the entire country for their consideration. In the true spirit of competition, let all comers do the same: craft a plan, present it alongside the other plans and submit it to the American people for their review and approval.

Health Care is too important to rush. As physicians who have sworn an oath of care, we feel that health justice is the next great, social movement in America that will restore dignity and security to this generation and to generations yet to be.

Mr. President, we can begin immediately. "

Then, after that interview on, Thin Air Radio, 92.3 FM, Low Power, I got to interview Peak Everything's Richard Heinberg, who will be in Spokane Sept. 17, at the WSU campus in town, to talk about his work on Post Carbon Cities.

Here's a piece from his organization discussing why the New York Times is just plain wrong to have editorials, full of mistakes, on denying Peak Oil -

Heinberg and I went toe-to-toe for an hour, looking at many issues tied to climate change and peak oil and the impending century of declines -- which the 21st Century is sure to be --

"The 20th century saw unprecedented growth in population, energy consumption and food production. As the population shifted from rural to urban, the impact of humans on the environment increased dramatically.

The 21st century ushered in an era of declines, in a number of crucial parameters:

  • Global oil, natural gas and coal extraction
    Yearly grain harvests
    Climate stability
    Economic growth
    Fresh water
    Minerals and ores, such as copper and platinum

  • To adapt to this profoundly different world, we must begin now to make radical changes to our attitudes, behaviors and expectations. "

These two topics, health care and earth care, while on the surface are not related, are indeed interlocking, and in a world of declines, of peaking oil, of energy peaking, coal, even all the minerals and power to move us to a green power structure, all of those declines tie into the decline in health care, the decline of our mental health, decline in our ability to frame and associate disparate ideas and counter-intuitive ways of looking at things.

We'll look at Heinberg more closely, in future blogs, and we'll parse some things in his latest book --

Blackout :

Coal fuels about fifty percent of US electricity production and provides a quarter of the country's total energy. China and India's ferocious economic growth is based on coal-generated electricity.

Coal currently looks like a solution to many of our fast-growing energy problems. However, while coal advocates are urging full steam ahead, increasing reliance on the dirtiest of all fossil fuels has crucial implications for climate science, energy policy, the world economy, and geopolitics.

Drawbacks to a coal-based energy strategy include: Scarcity--new studies prove that the peak of usable coal production may actually be less than two decades away. Cost--the quality of produced coal is declining, while the expense of transport is rising, leading to spiraling costs and potential shortages. Climate impacts--our ability to deal with the historic challenge of climate change may hinge on reducing our coal consumption in future years.

Blackout goes to the heart of the tough energy questions that will dominate every sphere of public policy throughout the first half of this century, and it is a must-read for planners, educators, and anyone concerned about energy consumption, peak oil, and climate change.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Van Jones Is the Hope for Millions Looking to Steer the Ship Around

posted by Paul K. Haeder

Well, this blog for PacifiCAD is suppose to look at sustainability, focus in on the leaders in the field, or how technologists and social scientists and the entrepreneurs and community organizers and legal minds and visionaries and common people can come together and effect change, at the neighborhood level. Van Jones -- a key leader of one of these movements, Van Jones of 'Green For All' -- was appointed to a top environmental and urban policy post in the Obama administration. He's now been ousted, resigning under the pressures of what some call a witch hunt or smear campaign.

Jones is a founder of an urban-based campaign focused on low-income young people, multinational and multicultural, that first developed as a response to police repression, gang killings and all-round "criminalization of youth."

This sector of the population Van Jones saw as excluded from living-wage work and other opportunities as a key cause of the violence and destruction.

Jones envisioned putting young people to work at low-to-medium skill levels retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency seemed like a no-brainer, so the demand for "Green Jobs, Not Jails" was raised.

The slogan has found a home here in Spokane, and it has spread across the country. Jones' acclaimed book, "The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems," outlines ingenious, interconnected programs aimed at resolving the savage inequalities of structural unemployment and the global dangers of climate change rooted in carbon-based energies systems.

See a talk with Carl Pope (director of Sierra Club) and Van Jones on Robert Greenwald's This Brave Nation

He was involved in a smear campaign, and his leadership for this country is vital -- he is a lawyer who comes from the place where green jobs and the post-carbon shift have to take place: urban centers, inner city areas, the big metropolises and the small ones too.

Watch Democracy Now for more on Van Jones stepping down:
"The Obama administration’s special adviser for environmental jobs, Van Jones, has resigned citing what he described as a 'vicious smear campaign' against him. For the past month, Fox News has run a series of reports on Jones’s alleged association with communists and his decision to sign a petition calling for a congressional probe of the 9/11 attacks. Jones is the founding president of Green for All and author of the book The Green Collar Economy."

Even Time Magazine is Looking at Food

posted by Paul K. Haeder
There are several Power Points out there in Internet land that illustrate the differences in diets, health predictors, ecological footprints, and cultural ties to food, family, gathering and sharing.

Hungry Planet photographer Peter Menzel with author and food stylist Faith D’Aluisio in Yazd, Iran

30 Families,

24 Countries,

600 Meals

One Extraordinary Book

In Hungry Planet, Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio present a photographic study of families from around the world, revealing what people eat during the course of one week. Each family's profile includes a detailed description of their weekly food purchases; photographs of the family at home, at market, and in their community; and a portrait of the entire family surrounded by a week's worth of groceries.

To assemble this remarkable comparison, Menzel and D'Aluisio traveled to twenty-four countries and visited thirty families from Bhutan and Bosnia to Mexico and Mongolia. Accompanied by an insightful foreword by Marion Nestle, and provocative essays from Alfred W. Crosby, Francine R. Kaufman, Corby Kummer, Charles C. Mann, Michael Pollan, and Carl Safina, the result of this journey is a 30-course documentary feast: captivating, infuriating, and altogether fascinating.

Ecuador: the Ayme family of Tingo
food expenditure for one week: 31.55 USD
family recipe: potato soup with cabbage

China: the Dong family of Beijing
food expenditure for one week: 1,233.76 yuan or 155.06 USD
favorite foods: fried shredded pork with sweet and sour sauce

Japan: the Ukita family of Kodaira City
food expenditure for one week: 37,699 yen or 317.25 USD
favorite foods: sashimi, fruit, cake, potato chips

Germany: the Melander family of Bargteheide
food expenditure for one week: 375.39 euros or 500.07 USD
favorite foods: fried potatoes with onions, bacon & herring, fried noodles with eggs & cheese, pizza, vanilla pudding
Kuwait: the al Haggan family of Kuwait City
food expenditure for one week: 63.63 dinar or 221.45 USD
family recipe: chicken biryani with basmati rice
Chad: the Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
food expenditure for one week: 685 cfa francs or 1.23 USD
favorite foods: soup with fresh sheep meat,29307,1645016,00.html,29307,1645016,00.html

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Two thousand scientists and experts from 150 countries begin a march toward climate change sanity

Breaking News – By Paul K. Haeder

So, the decision makers establish a way to begin to codify the production, availability, delivery and application of science-based climate prediction services. In Geneva, more than 2,000 climate scientists, sectorical experts and other established this Global Framework for Climate Services. World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3), 31 August to 4 September 2009, produced this declaration garnered from from more than 150 countries participating. This is big news -- - heads of State of Ethiopia, Monaco, Mozambique, Slovenia, Tajikistan, the Vice-Presidents of Comoros and the United Republic of Tanzania, the Premier of Niue, the Prime Ministers of Bangladesh, Cook Islands, the Vice-Premier of China, and more than 80 Ministers and other Senior Government Officials.

This conference got many things going related to climate change monitoring, planning, mitigation and collective organizing of resources -- a formalized system that ensures the availability of user-friendly products for all sectors to plan ahead in the face of changing climate conditions.

"The work to implement the Global Framework goes beyond WCC-3 and beyond climate negotiations in Copenhagen this December. Society will need information tools to adapt as the climate will continue to be variable and to change notwithstanding steps taken to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases."

"World Climate Conference-3 is a natural bridge for connecting science to the climate negotiations for Copenhagen," said Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, who spoke at the WCC-3 High-Level Segment opening after a visit to the polar ice rim north of the Norwegian island of Svalbard. "Scientific knowledge must be the basis for global climate policy, both for mitigation and adaptation to inevitable climate impacts. The Global Framework for Climate Services is an important step toward strengthening the application of climate science in local, regional, national and international decision-making."

"The Framework gives us an instrument to better adapt on actual climate change," said H.E. Moritz Leuenberger, Federal Councillor, Head of Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, and twofold former President of the Swiss Confederation. The Framework "builds a bridge between the science, climate experts and users around the world and within as many as possible users in several socio-economic sectors," said Leuenberger, who co-chaired the WCC-3 High-level Segment opening.

"Climate change and variability are global phenomena which affect us all in different forms," said H.E. Armando Emílio Guebuza, President of Mozambique and co-chair of the High-level Segment. "The hea twaves and the floods developed countries experience demonstrate that no single country is immune to these phenomena. More importantly, the very fact that climate change and variability interfere with the Millennium Development Goals should urge us all to act today because tomorrow may be too late."

"The Global Framework for Climate Services aims to enhance climate observations and monitoring, transform that information into sector-specific products and applications, and disseminate those products widely," said Alexander Bedritsky, WMO President and Chair of the WCC-3 Expert Segment.

The 1, 500 scientists and sector experts who participated in the WCC-3 Expert Segment (31 August-2 September) supported the development of the proposed Global Framework and called for a strengthening of five essential elements:

  • The Global Climate Observing System and all its components, encouraging exchange and access to climate data

Based on performance reports of all GCOS component systems, national reports on systematic observation for climate, expert advice and an open review by the community, the Report provides an assessment of progress since 2004 in maintaining, strengthening, or otherwise facilitating global observations of the climate system for the purposes of the UNFCCC. It is based on the 131 Actions called for in the 2004 "GCOS Implementation Plan" (GCOS-92).

Also see:

The Earth Observing System (EOS) is a coordinated series of polar-orbiting and low inclination satellites for long-term global observations of the land surface, biosphere, solid Earth, atmosphere, and oceans. EOS is a major component of the Earth Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. EOS enables an improved understanding of the Earth as an integrated system. The EOS Project Science Office (EOSPSO) is committed to bringing program information and resources to program scientists and the general public alike.

  • The World Climate Research Program, underpinned by adequate computing resources and increased interaction with other global climate research initiatives

  • Climate services information systems taking advantage of existing national and international arrangements

  • Climate user interface mechanisms focused on building linkages and integrating information between the providers and users of climate services;

  • Efficient and enduring capacity building through education, training and strengthened outreach and communication.
Within 12 months of the task force being set up it will prepare a report that will include next steps for developing and implementing the Framework. The WMO Secretary-General will then circulate the report to WMO Members for consideration at the WMO Congress in 2011 with a view toward the Framework's implementation.

Sept. 3rd’s keynote address was by Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Basically, Pachauri laid out the realities associated with a 2 degrees Celsius target – that is, containing global temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius. Just through thermal expansion, sea-level rise is inevitable and undoubtedly will threaten millions of people in coastal areas and large deltas locations. He pointed out that in order to achieve the 2 degrees Celsius target, 2015 has to be the point where global greenhouse gas emissions peak, with a global commitment and policies and infrastructure that will push GGHE’s into a sharp decline.

"Given that the inertia in the system will result in climate change and its impacts, even if we reduced our emissions to zero today, the global community has to address the need for adaptation measures, particularly in the most vulnerable regions of the world", Pachauri said. More blogs on this soon.

For a full WCC-3 programme and more details, visit the WCC-3 Website:

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