Crisis, what crisis?

Crisis, what crisis?

chester chroncalI have already written to the editor of this paper to make the point that publishing climate change denial letters such as this one on 6 Oct both demeans and trivialises the whole paper. I would however also like to address the letter writer directly and more forcefully.

Christopher Calder tells us we have been fooled by ‘science’ have we? By science I guess you mean those nasty people at NASA, you know who gave us the moon landings, the space shuttle, satellites and digital telecommunications.

Or did you mean the Met office, who we rely on every day for weather forecasts, storm warnings and the like.

Or NOAA in the USA, when they give hurricane warning do we ignore it, thinking it is another of their made up pranks?

60 Nobel laureate scientists published a joint open letter only a couple of weeks ago saying how urgent it is that we pay full attention to the science – and it is not the first time either! Are you saying they all made this up, really?

The Oil industry has been caught over and over pumping millions of dollars into climate science disinformation, bad science and denial, do you not think if there was even the merest chink in the robustness of the science they would have exposed it and filled our media with it?

pope-768x401The Climate denial game is so over, even Exxon’s Mobil’s own scientific department concluded that unchecked co2 emissions represented a clear and present danger back in the 80’s; but when even the Pope steps forward and puts the full force of his office behind the ‘moral imperative to act on climate’ then you make a fool of yourself to pretend otherwise.

‘Science’ you say, I am particularly annoyed how you chose to put the word in commas, you and your so-called science! Science, my friend means observation, simple as that. Everyone with a thermometer can measure the temperature outside and make comparisons and the evidence of temperatures past is written in every geological record and every tree ring. Anyone with a ruler can measure sea-level changes. This is evidence that can’t be falsified, evidence that every serious scientist around the world concurs with when they do their own research.

de grasse tysonThere is no dissent about climate change within the scientific community, other than just how bad and how urgent is it? Trump, a climate denier blames it all on the Chinese, why the Chinese I don’t know and how they falsified everyone’s scientific data around the world, that bit he failed to explain. The US army’s own scientific research teams concur with the climate scientists, it is indeed a real and present danger; are they colluding with the Chinese too?

Honestly, there really is nowhere left to stand to hold onto the position of denial and appear credible. Are you really prepared to put the whole gamut of evidence against your own untested word?

You site no sources to support your views, yet the weight of world opinion is against you.

I am sorry to have to be so strong in my words but you are a scoundrel sir!

A scoundrel for daring to make such a false point and doing it so weakly and so incorrectly, you insult our intelligence. Around the world millions of people are already affected by climate change, ecosystems are collapsing, oceans are acidifying and there is no other explanation for what is happening to us. The scientists are not just certain that it is happening they are also certain that we are causing it, and to my ears anyway that is the good news. What would be truly terrifying would be to hear that it was a natural phenomenon that we can nothing about, the fact that we are causing it also means we can solve it.

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Global average temperatures ar rising, hard to falsify!

Facing up to this is a huge challenge as we have built an economic infrastructure that runs almost entirely on coal, gas and oil. If that wasn’t bad enough, our economy also requires growth, year on year just to stand still, just to pay off the interest on the money we have already borrowed. We are sort of locked in to our own destruction as we have already raised money against oil and coal that hasn’t even been burned yet.

Although 195 governments, almost the entire world signed the Paris Climate Agreement, binding us to work to stay under 2 degrees of change it also not unsurprising that they are unable to enact policies that take us in that direction. After all until now our whole economy has been rooted in burning resources at an ever faster rate to produce goods with ever shorter shelf lives.

regenerativeEconomic growth is not going to save us, only an evolution in human thinking, an evolution in our collective economic behaviour will do that.

Atmospheric CO2, the main culprit in the problem currently stands at 400ppm. It used to 285ppm before we started on the industrial age, and the planet will carry on warming until we get it back down to 350ppm (this is the view of NASA), that means getting our global emissions down to zero as soon as we possibly can whilst developing ways of farming, land management, building, energy and more that actually lock CO2 up and stop it returning to the atmosphere. Plants do this all the time, so building out of natural materials achieves this goal, imagine building houses from wood, straw, hemp, clay/ lime, coupled with a re-localised organic food production system, powered with a renewable energy grid running super-efficient, low energy appliances and homes, that is the kind of thing we need to put in place and fast. Building such an infrastructure is where the jobs will come from for the emerging generation, the generation who are growing into an already climate-changed world and whilst we are doing that we will be building a new kind of economy that enhances the environment and locks up carbon, making climate more stable once again over the longer term.

There is already a global movement in permaculture design, in community supported farms and climate change adaption and mitigation, so instead of burying your head in the sand and expecting us to believe these absurd statements of denial I invite you and everyone to join the solution, the transition. Let us all help each other find the pathways from the destructive and now obsolete carbon extraction economy and create a new exciting and forward- thinking carbon-sequestration economy. I call that permaculture, you can call it what you want but it is the only future possible for humanity and anything that distracts us from that aim is wasted time.

leo2Science is sceptical; every published data set is tested by other scientists to ensure accuracy, which is how the peer review process works, you make yor reputation by proving other people wrong. If you reject climate science then you reject science, it is all inter-connected, so the smart-phone in your pocket or the jet plane that takes you on holiday, it is all the same science, you don’t get to pick and mix what you ‘believe’. If you want to know more about climate science, talk to the scientists, here is a plain English site that explores every commonly held mis-understanding and explains with evidence what is the best understanding by those who study it. www.skepticalscience.com

Find out about permaculture design and how we can work with natural systems to repair the biosphere and lessen the effects of climate change.

Chester Cathedral are teaming with local permaculture trainers Sector39 to offer a course for community leaders and innovators for change at the Chapter house from Mid-November, over the course of 12 evening plus 1 weekend.

Join 350.org the global climate action movement to find out how you can join in the response to the biggest challenge humanity has yet had to face.

Economic illiteracy

Economic illiteracy

It’s the economy stupid!

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Change works on a feedback loop, fixing the economy comes with the requirement to channel resources towards more desirable outcomes. As players in an interconnected global market each of us has considerable power, our collective decisions shape the future. Spending and investment matters!

Our monetary system is driving us over the edge but how can we reform it?

Our obsession with GDP growth shows nothing less than we don’t understand  economics. The word Oikos, meaning hearth and home in ancient Greek also represents the basic building block of civilization. Oikos forms the root of both the concepts of ecology and economy and the decisions we make at the hearth side shape the world around us with far-reaching consequences.

The solar economy is a steady state, a constant we cannot change but can only plan in relation to. It is only through continued and expanding exploitation of firstly ancient woodlands, then trapped carbon deposits in the form of coal, gas and oil that we have been able to live beyond our means. Our shopping mall lifestyles aren’t going to run on a solar economy and expanding consumption puts us on a certain crash course with the environment. Ecological problems require economic solutions, and economic theories must obey the laws of ecology.

The transformation that is required of us to transcend the ecological crisis is an economic one. We have to find a way to a value-driven, steady-state economy, leaving the biocidal, growth-driven monster far behind us.  Steve Jones

Here in conversation with Max and Stacy is the amazing Dimitry Orlov       in the Keiser report’s summer solutions series discussing the possibilities for a human scale society. The vision of a vibrant, highly connected and  re-localised economy he outlines resonates with the permaculture vision.

This post forms part of a theme we are currently working on, to incorporate an economic framework into permaculture design teaching. What we might want to see as a restorative economy, an economy with teh ojectives of restoring community and natural systems to abndance.

This idea is beautifully imagined in the graphic i spotted on the net. Sustainability is only a mid point between on going desstruction and inravelling, and some thing that uilds positively in the other direction.

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Permaculture takes us beyond sustainaility to regeneration.

Getting involved in permaculture

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I am not used to quoting the Pope but on this matter he is correct, the climate crises demands our attention

Permaculture is something you do, so much more than something you talk about; it is an active process. Much of the ‘doing’ may involve thinking and planning but that is still active and in turn can bring about long term change. I believe permaculture is the most powerful tool we have in formulating our response to the challenges of the day.

The global response to the rapidly unfolding climate crisis requires a co-ordinated effort, we are all going to have to pull in the same direction to bring about the changes required in the increasingly limited time remaining. Permaculture design is that frame-work of understanding, a broad embrace of peraculture could be of use to evolve our collective thinking into a set of beahaviours that can have net positive impact on the biosphere. The rates of damage and depletion are such that we are required to repair and regenerate the natural world to enable us to avoid the worst excesses of the climate de-stabalistion bought about by the concined effects of agriculture, deforestation and carbon based fuel burning.

permaculture_introductionThere are tons of permaculture resurces freely available on the Internet, but still the best way to ignite your own interest in the subject is to take part in some kind of course, activity or open weekend; see it for yourself!

We are offering such a weekend this August in the Welsh mountian village of Llanrhaeadr at a hosing co-operative and craft shop, within that community. We will have a practical look at how nature works and what we might be able to learn from that in ways we can apply it to our own lives. Permaculture is psotive, informative and fun and by invovling yoruself you will meet likeminded people whilst having the chance to expore this amazing area and its community.

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If that really intrests you then you might also consider undertaking the full 2 week PDC, an immersion in permaculture design over the course of 2 weeks, whilst covering the internationally recogised curriculum.

These can literally be life changing experiences and less dramatically they do offer a chance to put things into perspective and to allow yourself to focus on your own personal priorities for once. Permaculture teaches us that change is inevitable and that design and evolution present useful strategies and models of how to deal with change and turn it to an advantage.

Education for change

The changes we face are essentially inevitable, as cheap sources of energy expire and climate change accelerates we are all faced, with an increasing urgency with the need for meaningful collective action.

The age of carbon is over and a transition to a greener economy is inevitable, says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, adviser to the German government and Pope Francis

To get out of the mess we have created we are required to think differently, which asks the question of how this might actually come about? How are we going to come up with a broad coalition of understanding let alone responses?

Starting with Climate Change, none has framed the problem better than Naomi Klein in her book This Changes Everything, soon to be released as a film as well. Our collective addiction to fossil fuels underpins the crisis of our times, as we are not only destroying the atmosphere but fuelling resource wars at the same time. Here is one of the sanest, clearest and best informed voices on the subject. Climate Change is not per se the problem we face, it is actually the symptom of a much bigger problem one of social justice and with that comes not only a much bigger challenge, but the opportunity of a much bigger reward, a transformation of society at large.

The next item is short and is the trailer to the This Changes Everything documentary/ movie. I sincerely hope that the film has the desired impact as we are in dire need of cleared focussed reasoning when there are so many conflicting voices out there. Climate Change really does change everything and once we have fully taken that on board we collectively need to realise that carbon reduction and sequestration is set to become the key driver for all our future activities. It calls into question our whole economic model, the very idea of a growth led economy as well as our dependence on extractive processes to source the energy and materials we need.

This is very short and on a different tack than those above. This is a new children’s book, penned by Professor Chris Rhodes, someone acutely aware of peak oil, climate change and the challenges of the 21st century and wanted to created a narrative for children infused with co-operative values and sensibilities. Baring in mind the next generation is going to be challenged in all sorts of ways as yet un-anticipated by the changing world, their abilities to work together to solve problems are likely to be paramount. Personally, the whole idea of Hippy the Happy Hippo begs the question of are we preparing the next generation  for what is coming, or for what has passed by already?

At heart of what we must reform is our very notion of how we make decisions, how we allocate resources and by that I mean our whole economic paradigm. Can capitalism be reformed? Well here are two people who think it can and must be a big part of the answer. Ha Joon Chang, economists and academic and Yanis Veroufakis, former Greek finance minister, academic are a couple  a clear and insightful voice on the troubles of capital, the Euro zone and wider.

No matter how we reform and dissect our economic theory one thing that is also certain, the only system that is going to work for us in the longer term is one that values the natural world and accepts that we are merely part of it and there is no benefit to be had from its continual erosion an ultimate destruction..

Permaculture is the answer! Of course there is no simple answer, permaculture is a process, a design template and an ethical framework that steers us towards long term sustainable practices. We won’t get there in an instant and getting there will be an on-going, gradual and open ended process.

This 2 videos below give an insight into permaculture practice in two very different examples and locations. Among other things this demonstrates permaculture’s  adaptability and the many possibilities it presents for economic and ecological renewal. Fixing the climate thing comes packaged with re-energised communities,  actively engaged in developing a mutually beneficial and ecologically concious relationship with a living biosphere.

Unleashing Creativity

Climate Change really does change everything. It will usher in a much more decentralised, multi-polar world. A low carbon economy is also a low energy economy and our ability to travel freely and eat out of season will be significantly curtailed. Much of the infrastructure we have built will not be fit for purpose and will have to be re-imagined and re-engineered. Community led and localised strategies for resource cycling, energy, food and more will become significant parts of the new economy as we will fuse high technology and materials science with the age old technologies of mud, sticks and straw, hemp, lime and clay.

I see a high tech./ low tech. future, one full of invention and re-invention and for that to be possible we need to unleash our collective creative power and nowhere more importantly should this be happening than in our schools and colleges right now.

I believe permaculture is ready to take on this challenge, to provide a frame work for re-invention and for consensus building across the continents and across the generations, creating the possibility for us to achieve the collective goal of a truly sustainable and abundant society. Steve Jones

With this is mind Sector39 are working with local partners to develop a A level in Permaculture and to work with fellow educators to find ways to bring its core ideas into schools and to allow the creative unleashing to begin.

And finally.. this short talk lays down the ultimate challenge for any budding designers out there..

Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that’s only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000).

Chris Hedges on Vice, the leading voice of dissent speaks out

“There is no way in the American political system to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. It is up to us to revolt – we have a moral imperative to stand up, if not for us then for those who come after us. If we remain passive then we are accepting the death sentence that is being handed to us by corporate forces”. Chris Hedges

Pulitzer prize winning journalist Hedges spent 20 years in war zones reporting for the New York Times, an institution he has since turned his back on. He is a leading voice of dissent who is convinced the only route to political change is by mass public disobedience. This excellent short interview is a good taster of his essential work reporting from the front line of change.

IPCUK: Geoff Lawton Keynote speech, permaculture represents an evolution in our thinking

Star turn Geoff Lawton lays out a permaculture manifesto and makes that the challenge that with permaculture we readily address the problems of energy, climate and food security. He held the audience captive with every word and speaks with authority and humility on a such an enormous subject. Sound quality not excellent, bit of crowd noise and rustling at the start but it settles down and is well worth a listen. (jump to to 2.10 to skip intro). The Permaculture association have captured this properly but I am impatient to share!

The solution is very obvious, with permaculture design we can not only impede our current negative effect on the planet, we can reverse it, into a positive one.   Geoff Lawton

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The Creation of Money, the future for economics and are we heading for another huge crash?

So, a common theme that links all of the posts and discussions on this blog is that our economic system is failing us. Climate change and all that goes with it, including the political inability to respond to it can be argued to be the most extreme example of market failure. Politicians wax lyrically about the power of the free market, when we couldn’t be further from that in reality. Fossil fuel is heavily subsidised, as is industrial agriculture and first world countries block the export of finished or processed goods from the majority world. Whilst investment capital is free to move around the world at the touch of a computer button first world governments work ever harder to restrict the corresponding movement of people. Again this point has risen in the fallout of the COP Lima summit that has just finished with another toothless and none binding agreement.

Speaker after speaker at the Global Forum on the Social Economy in Seoul – including the UN and the OECD, not traditionally seen as radicals – told us that our current economic system no longer works. In every country in the world, inequality is increasing, environmental damage is picking up speed, social problems multiply. Here in east London, the combination of a return to ‘business as usual’ following the crash of 2008 with a severe austerity programme from government has increased inequality and multiplied the challenges faced by the poorest communities. – See more at: http://locality.org.uk/blog/learning-local-economic-model/#sthash.47mCfgV5.dpuf

Its time to explore the world of economics and to formulate our own ideas and responses to the challenges thrown up by this reality

Economics lesson: Here is a series of videos and thoughts on the subject of the financial crisis. No single one tells the whole story and together make powerful watching. And of course, this is not over.. the massive reflation of the global economy has only gone to create even bigger asset bubbles and seems to have set up up for another crash, on  a much great scale. Maybe crash is to stronger term, but it seems highly likely to me that we are certainly heading for a significant economic contraction, on the scale of Japan in the 80’s where asset prices prices contracted by 70% and have pretty much remained at those levels for getting on for 30 years. So we here we go this is a roller coaster ride and takes us past Max Keiser, the ex Wall street broker turned financial journalist who accuses Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, the lead culprits in a global  fraud of epic proportions, leading up to Dimity Orlov who offers fascinating insights into the notion of collapse.

The award winning documentary ‘Inside Job’ [2011 | US] by Charles Ferguson and narrated by Mat Damon is the most insightful and illuminating amongst a number of such attempts that deal with the global financial crisis, which is wrecking lives and economies across the world to this day. This documentary The Biggest Bank Heist ever contains clips and  extended interviews from the film, with even more expose on the nefarious dealings that led up to the financial crisis. A good starting point to think these issues through.

The roots of the economic crisis. Here is a BBC documentary that sets out the core economic problem we are facing.. an unpayable mountain of debt. Globalisation has not been a success. The lack of sustainability of the economy mirrors the lack of ecological sustainability of the way behave. Economic turmoil, or a state of near permanent crisis could easily be our best possible future.Part 2 is very glib abd light on solutions and should be much angrier.. we were sold a lie in terms of the Monetarist policies of the 80’s, they created a false consumer boom that lets be honest,a great many of use could see at the time was ultimately leading nowhere. Perhaps the failure of the programme to really grasp the importance of that is its undoing.. still it is an informed overview the sets the scene for much deeper debate we should all be participating in about the future of economic goals in the light of this flawed system, the failure of globalisation, consumerism and the climate change and ecological crisis it has also caused.

Here is part two of the BBC docu…. exploring solutions.. of which there are tellingly precious few… notably the RBS manager who still wants to defend bonus wages bonanza in the city.  A key point is the lack of opportunity for the next gener\tion and our failure to invest in education.

If you want another version of this, from perhaps a more alarmist perspective here is the Money Week Magazine advertorial, explaining the approaching debt crisis… alarmist in that they are a magazine trying to sell their ideas.. but they are not wrong in their core analysis of the numbers. They don’t offer up a solution though, just an investment strategy to those who already have money.. which again a is big part of the problem. the current system always favours those who already have money and only exacerbates the differences between those who have capital and those that don’t.

And here is the 2012 documentary..Overdose, the next financial Crisis. We haven’t fixed the problem, but have set ourselves for a bigger crash.

I have to say it is really interesting to see that the house of commons has finally had a debate about the creation of money. The current economic system allows banks to create money at will by giving out new loans. This is still something that the vast majority of people fail to understand. 90% or more of money is created at the stroke of a pen, or rather touch of a key. So here in the first video of this series is Tory MP Steve Baker being interviewed on RT, as the proposer of the bill. This is doubly interesting to see a recently schooled insider who is prepared to blow the whistle on the financial malpractice that is at the heart of our economy as he can clearly see how absurd and unfair the system actually is.

Obviously this deregulation of the banking system is what has set the seeds of this problem so this debate in attempt to start to think our way out of this problem. Taking control out of the hands of the banks – these most undemocratic of institutions has to be a key start point in a joined up responses to solving our economic problems.

Here is Steven Baker at the debate making his proposal

The response from Michael Meacher is also really worth watching and is really informative. I am including the parliamentary debate on this to illustrate that these ideas are not fringe ideas, but are even being discussed at the heart of the system.

Anyone with a developing interest in economics and the  fraud and mismanagement at the heart of the financial markets needs to follow Max Keiser and his RT show The Keiser Report. Max and partner Stacy Herbert host one of the liveliest and most informative chat shows out there.. they analyse  the financial news, expose the hypocrisy and lies at the heart of the system as well as bringing on leading luminaries to explore their points of view. I have listed two recent episodes that highlight what they are all about, but really it is hard to just jump into their dialogue and get all of what they are saying, it is well worth being a regular subscriber, I never miss an episode!

Max is a former Wall Street trader turned financial journalist and his inside perspective, phenomenal contacts and experience open up a world that was previously hidden from people on the outside.  He is a harsh critic of the current system and a proponent of crypto currencies, crowd funding and all sorts of new, more democratic and powerful economic tools that are becoming increasingly at our disposal.

We talk about mass civil action being required to bring about the degree of change required and economic systems are actually that.. the sum total of of how we all interact with each other, yet the system is skewed to favour the owners of capital, regardless of the consequences of that fact.  A better understanding of how economics and money work has to be at the heart of a powerful and unified global response to the issued raised through this blog post and the rest of the Sector39 blog.

Finally: I know this is a marathon but I think that understanding all of this is essential to realising how it is that all the possible low carbon, energy efficient renewable technologies out there are not getting invested in as they should be. How politicians cannot allow climate change legislation to  pass when it comes to it because the economic forces that surround them wont allow them to. I think we all have to realise that regulation in all is form will never be effective in bringing about seismic change, it jsut manages us into collapse and catastrophe. Change only comes about when every one starts to behave differently. As soon as we act differently, collectively disengage from the current paradigm in whatever ways that we can, we will increasingly send out a massive economic signal that really does have the power to transform teh world. We need to drag the politicians and their corporate sponsors kicking and screaming in the direction we as spopulation require, and not expect the market to lead us to a fair an  susainable world, especially not as currently configured.

Orlov on Economics is really insightful into the nature of what we almost completely take for granted here in the West. This is really worth watching,  it is slow paced, but consequently gives you time to digest the real meaning and wider consequences of what he is saying. The importance of local economy as the only sustainable system is spelled out with great clarity. Really interesting what he has to say about gifts, largesse and charity.

Short Circuit

On rebuilding local economies i stil this is the best book out there.. Richard Douthwaite’s Short Circuit. It is free to read on line and is a great resource as well as a good read. Between what Orlov talks about and this book i think we are looking at whole different kind of approach to how we proceed.

Merry Christmas and Solstice every one, here’s to an abundant New Year!

 

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