Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sustainability Announcements, Lawrence Chapter, 25/Nov/2009

by R. Buckminster Fuller, 1983

In "Grunch of Giants", Fuller's last book, he re-emphasized what he had so convincingly argued in his 1979 book, "Critical Path", that there is enough for everyone at a sustainable level, war is obsolete, and it doesn't need to be a question of "you or me". As others of that era were saying, thinkers like Amory Lovins, Lester Brown, Wes Jackson, and M. King Hubbert, Fuller stressed in both books that humanity has about 30 years to stop squandering our resources and know-how, and apply them for ecological sustainability AND a just level of sufficiency. After that, it will be too late.

A key quote from "Grunch of Giants", Chapter 1:
"In 1970 it could, for the first time, be engineeringly demonstrated that, applying the most advanced knowhow to the conservation and use of the world's resources, we can, within ten years of from-killingry-to-livingry reoriented world production, have all humanity enjoying a sustainably higher standard of living than any humans have ever heretofore experienced. It could further be demonstrated that we can do this while simultaneously phasing out all further Earthians' use of fossil fuels and atomic energy."

That's a power packed statement, which he follows by - "What makes so difficult the task of informing humanity of its newborn option to realize success for all, is the fact that all major religions and politics thrive only on the . . . premise of an eternal inadequacy of life-support inherent in the design of our planet Earth" - GRUNCH of Giants - Chapter I. Obviously, politicians and their corporatist handlers ignored Fuller and the others. So we find ourselves 26 years later in such a mess that the U.S. DoE Hirsh Report said we should have started 20 years ago with a crash program to reduce fossil fuels use before the peak hit (which it now has - see below).

And why? Fuller hits the nail on the head by describing the inherent greed of the GRUNCH of Giants. "Who runs GRUNCH? Nobody knows. It controls all the world's banks. Even the muted Swiss banks. It does what its lawyers tell it to. It maintains technical legality, and is prepared to prove it. . . GRUNCH didn't invent Universe. It didn't invent anything. . . It is preoccupied with absolute selfishness and its guaranteed gratifications."

Financial crisis anyone? No crisis for the banksters and oil companies! Is it any wonder that the millionaire U.S. Congress didn't hesitate to bail out big finance and insurance? Cash heist you say? And that greed and squandering is why there's the the global triple crisis of economic collapse, climate chaos, and peak oil inflation.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009, 12:00noon ¤ on Kansas City Community Radio
Listen at KKFI-FM 90.1, or on web-streaming at

On this week's EcoRadio KC, host Richard Mabion will interview Lisa Merton, the Producer/Director of "Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai". Wangari Maathai won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her years organizing The Green Belt Movement of environmental and social justice in Kenya. The film Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai tells how the simple act of planting trees had a ripple effect of empowering change. Maathai and other grassroots women were working successively against deforestation, poverty, ignorance, embedded economic interests, and political oppression, but they were met with violent opposition from the Daniel arap Moi dictatorship.

Stay tuned at 12:30 when the Bioneers radio series airs " They Don't Call Her Mother Earth for Nothing: Women Re-imagining the World". Transformational women leaders are restoring societal balance by showing us how to reconnect relationships between people and the natural world and between our masculine and feminine selves to bring about wholeness. Join Alice Walker, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Nina Simons, Sarah Crowell, Joanna Macy and Akaya Winwood to imagine a future where women, children, men and the planet can thrive."


The developing nations on the economic margins suffer disproportionately the effects of climate disruption, while the historically industrial nations have disproportionately generated the greenhouse gases. "75% of the historical carbon emissions have been produced by only 20% of the world’s population" - Naomi Klein. Along with polar ice-cap melt, Mongolian desertification, island nation inundation, and widespread forest disease and fire, Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the hardest hit with climate induced drought and desert growth.

By using a mix of permaculture methods combined with grassroots organizing such as from Wangari Maathai, a number of efforts are showing regenerative results. Adding trees to agricultural lands is the key, whether methodically planting them as in Kenya, or nurturing naturally sprouting ones as in Mali, Burkina Faso, or Niger. As a form of agro-forestry, trees interspersed with crops cool the soil and retain moisture, and provide shade for livestock. "Climate change is a subject I feel I have something to say about," said Yacouba Sawadogo who farms 50 acres of the Sahel.

Sawadogo revived a technique local farmers had used for centuries, digging zai--shallow pits--that concentrate scarce rainfall onto the roots of crops (swales in permaculture parlance). He also innovated by adding manure to the zai during the dry season. This combination not only increased crop yield, but native tree seeds sprouted from the manure as well.

"Twenty years ago, after the drought, our situation here was quite desperate, but now we live much better," explains one of the farmers. "Before, most families had only one granary each. Now they have three or four, though their land has not increased. We have more livestock as well. And all the farmers in this area are cultivating trees now." The article Regreening Africa: agro-forestry & permaculture was written by Mark Hertsgaard.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Just as Adbusters have promoted for 20 years through Buy Nothing Day, we need to consume less - for the sake of our eco life-support base, our fiscal solvency, our community health, and the hole in our soul that we try to fill with stuff. Adbusters advocate that on "Black Friday" 27 November, we stop buying for 24 hours, and shut off our lights, televisions and other nonessential appliances, park our cars, turn off our phones and log off of our computers for the day.

With record levels of consumer debt as one of the main causes of the economic crisis, Reverend Billy's "Church of Stop Shopping" will have greater significance this year. See below on 9 December for a screening of "What Would Jesus Buy?". And as Annie Leonard pointed out in "The Story of Stuff" our society's conspicuous consumption is literally devouring the planet beyond it's carrying capacity.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Just days after the International Energy Agency released their annual World Energy Outlook, scientists at Uppsala University issues a scathing assessment, saying some assumptions drastically underplay the scale of future oil shortages - World Oil Shortages Underplayed by the IEA. The Uppsala report "The Peak of the Oil Age", claims oil extraction is more likely to be 75m barrels a day by 2030 than the "unrealistic" 105m used by the IEA. They question how the IEA could expect oil to be extracted at a pace never previously seen, without any justification for this assumption. The Global Energy unit at Uppsala described the IEA's report as a "political document" developed for consuming countries with a vested interest in low prices.

Even more damning revelations came from within the EIA, when The Guardian UK ran a story of an IEA whistleblower who revealed how key IEA Oil Figures Were Distorted by US Pressure, deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying. According to the IEA source, "The IEA in 2005 was predicting oil supplies could rise as high as 120m barrels a day by 2030 although it was forced to reduce this gradually to 116m and then 105m last year. The 120m figure always was nonsense but even today's number is much higher than can be justified and the IEA knows this." A second senior IEA source said a key rule at the organization was that it was "imperative not to anger the Americans, but the fact is that there's not as much oil in the world as had been admitted. We have [already] entered the 'peak oil' zone. I think that the situation is really bad" he added.

Thursday, 3 DECEMBER 2009, 4:00pm
City Manager's Conference Rm., City Hall 4th Floor, 6th & Massachusetts St.

At the 29 October meeting, Task Force discussed the first draft of the "Peak Oil Transportation Strategies" section. A draft of the next section, "Peak Oil Water & Waste Strategies", will be presented and discussed at the 3 December meeting. Meetings are open to the public, and the public is encouraged to attend. And the Peak Oil Task Force web page has developed an extensive list of resources (click on "resources") including other cities' action plans such as San Francisco and Portland, videos, advocacy groups like Post Carbon Institute and Transition Boulder County, and key data and reports.

Tuesday-Friday, 7-18 December 2009
Copenhagen Denmark

The Kyoto Climate Protocol is due to expire in 2012, and nations are preparing to negotiate a new climate treaty in Copenhagen - UN Climate Change Conference - Copenhagen 2009. As unambitious as the Kyoto Protocol CO2 targets were, most nations haven't come close to meeting them - the United States is the only industrialized nation to not even ratify the treaty. Greenhouse gas levels have not dropped due to Kyoto, but rather have been steadily rising, with CO2 now at 390 parts/million in the atmosphere.

The planet is in a state of severe overshoot with greenhouse gases needing to be lowered quickly "if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted" as James Hansen said. For anyone who considers the science with an open mind, there is widespread consensus that a concerted global effort must be undertaken to lower greenhouse gas levels. And it's generally understood that Copenhagen is last plausible moment to heed the most basic and crucial of limits on atmospheric CO2. But most observers, and even delegates to Copenhagen, are not optimistic. So far the Unites States is coming empty-handed, but is considering a stop-gap short-term climate bill in Congress. And the U.N. officials seem resigned that December will need to be followed by another session in Spring 2010. The whole world is watching, but some are acting - SEE BELOW.

Tuesday-Friday, 7-18 December 2009
Copenhagen Denmark

Under the banner "Resist the false solutions of COP15 climate talks", Climate Justice Action will converge on Copenhagen with an agenda from below that champions global justice and local solutions. Some of the same organizers from the Battle of Seattle ten years ago, David and Rebecca Solnit, are involved, and are organizing climate justice actions across the U.S. on 30 November.

The Climate Justice message is a coherent narrative about climate disruption and it's cures, and spans virtually every issue on the planet. The problem isn't so much about industrial practices, but that climate chaos results from the underlying logic of capitalism - short term profit and perpetual economic growth. And Copenhagen activists won't just list grievances, but will advance solutions as their centerpiece. The goal is not to shut down the summit, but rather to transform it into discussions about an alternate agenda from below: leaving fossil fuels in the ground, climate debt payments from industrial countries to developing nations, decentralized energy, sustainable small farming, taxing financial transactions to fund the transition, etc.

The Climate Justice Action web site has a mobilization calendar, global action alerts, and lots of resources, blending the best features from Seattle 1999 and McKibbens's A good write up of it can be found by Naomi Klein at The Nation Magazine Copenhagen: Seattle Grows Up, Klein being a frequent critic on corporate globalization and author of "No Logo". And Klein also frames the climate issue most articulately in an interview on Democracy Now! - Naomi Klein: reframing climate treaty solutions and success.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009, 6:00pm
Waldo Library, 201 E 75th St., Kansas City MO

The Kansas City Transition Initiative is addressing climate disruption and peak oil inflation at the local level, a relocalization effort similar to hundreds of others around the globe. The Transition movement was begun by Rob Hopkins in Great Britain Transition Towns, and in the U.S. is coordinated by Transition US based in Sebastapol CA. They help local initiatives with resources and publications, and they have 22 trainers traveling to conduct local training sessions. For more info, or to get on the Kansas City e-mail list, call (816)767-8873, or contact them at

Wednesday, 9 December 2009, 5:30pm
Recycling and Resource Recovery Annex, 320 N.E. Industrial Lane, Lawrence KS

The October agenda will be available soon. The S.A.B. meets monthly to discuss any and all aspects of furthering sustainability policies and practices by the City of Lawrence government and private persons. The public is welcome. Minutes are finalized in about a month after each meeting

Wednesday, 9 December 2009, 4:00-6:00pm
Mid America Regional Council, Rivergate Center 2nd floor, 600 Broadway, KC MO

The Environmental Management Commission promotes environmental awareness and resource efficiency to the City's leader and staff, to assist the progress of Kansas City toward sustainability. Members of the general public are encouraged to attend and observe meetings and to join and participate in its efforts. More information and the EMC April 2009 minutes are available at

Wednesday, 9 December 2009, 7:00pm
Liberty Hall. 644 Mass St., Lawrence KS

Since 1996, the Reverend Billy has been using street theater to preach that consumerism is overwhelming our lives as The Shopocalypse. He warns that corporations want us to have fulfillment mediated only through their products. He admonishes us to "back away from the product", resist the temptation to drive to the big box stores, and instead support local economies and holidays filled with caring and sharing.

He travels with his choir from the Church of Stop Shopping to chain stores, shopping malls, and big boxes, exorcising cash registers and credit cards, and debunking the assumptions that our current possessions are lame, and that only shiny-new will provide us with power, pride and status. View a video of Reverend Billy on Democracy Now! talking about "What Would Jesus Buy?", and view the trailer of What Would Jesus Buy? at Films For Action.

Wednesday-Thursday, 9-10 December 2009, 8:30am-3:30pm
Wednesday at: Sedgwick Co. Extension, 7001 W. 21st St. N., Wichita KS
Thursday at: K-State Univ. Ag. Research Cntr, 1232 240th Ave, Hays KS

Experts in water supply, energy, agriculture, and biology will focus on the changing climate and it's affects on water quality, supply, and flooding, and food security. Topics will include: long term climate cycles, municipal climate mitigation, flooding, crop and livestock impacts, and carbon capture. This conference is sponsored by the Kansas Water Office and the Center for Agricultural Resources & the Environment. More info and registration at: Kansas Water Issues Forum 2009

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Scheduled to coincide with the UN Climate Change Conference - Copenhagen 2009 taking place from 7-18 December, the intent is for synchronized demonstrations around the world, in as many places as possible, to call on world leaders to take urgent action on climate change. They call for a just solution to climate disruption, in which the industrialized nations responsible for the lion's share of CO2 already in the atmosphere undertake the greatest measures to lower CO2 levels. This will be the third year for a Climate Day of Action, and info and national contacts can be found at Global Climate Campaign.

Sunday, 13 December 2009, 4:00pm
location TBA, Lawrence KS

S.A.N. advocates and organizes societal scale action to address sustainability issues, in our personal lives, and through public policy changes. We encourage everyone to "be the change you want to see" by becoming active in furthering local sustainability.

The S.A.N. meeting agenda will include:
  • Transition Kaw Valley presentations
  • Lawrence bicycle plans for 2010
  • Lawrence Peak Oil Plan, suggestions for input
  • plans for the S.A.N. annual meeting
  • fundraising for equipment and supplies; etc.
Please join us

The SUSTAINABILITY ACTION NETWORK, Inc. is a Kansas not-for-profit organization. DONATIONS ARE APPRECIATED, and checks can be mailed to P.O.Box 1064, Lawrence KS 66044. Our mission is to advocate and organize societal scale action to address sustainability issues. The triple crises of Energy-Ecology-Economy are building so rapidly that large scale action is needed immediately and methodically to overcome institutional barriers and advance public policy that preserves ecological sustainability. Our focus is to build a relocalized economy-ecology in concert with the Transition Town movement occurring in many other communities. To join the Sustainability Action Network please contact us at

Our current projects include:
1) Transition Kaw Valley - initiating transition to a relocalized post-carbon economy, and municipal level Peak Oil response planning.
2) Kaw Permaculture Collaborative - developing skills and resources for poly-cropping sustainable food production.
3) Energy Conservation & Renewables - advancing a green economy through decentralized technologies and regulations, for conservation and renewable energy.
4) Land Consortium - organizing interested stakeholders to acquire prime farmland in the urban fringe for land-based economic development and regional food security.
5) Water Rights and Watersheds - protecting the water commons, the source of all life, from privatization and contamination, and restoring our watersheds.
6) Electric & Human Powered Vehicles - promoting neighborhood electric vehicles and utility tricycles, including infrastructure and pro-active regulations.
7) Weekly Sustainability Announcements - informing and encouraging others to become active in the Sustainability Action Network, or other action driven groups.
8) Collaboration with sister organizations - such as: The Light Center eco-village; Kaw Valley Food System farm-based economic development; Citizens for Responsible Planning; Films for Action; Kansas River Valley Growers fighting for local water rights; national efforts by the Sustainable Energy Network; KC Metro groups like the Kansas City Food Circle and the All Species Project, etc.

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