Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The web of life

When we see a network of relationship among leaves, twigs, branches, and a trunk, we call it a tree. When we draw a picture of a three, most of us will not draw the roots. Yet the roots of a tree are often as expansive as the parts we see. In a forest, the roots of all trees are interconnected and form a dense underground network in which there are no precise boundaries between individual trees.

-The web of life, Fritzof Capra

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Delicious healthy "fishfarm"

As the ecologist (me) says; nature does it best herself



Dan Barber at TED click to see it in their homepage


(tip thanks to my dear friend, technology-will-save-the-world-Jimmy, who proved himself wrong in this case)

What is an ecocity?

A sustainable city and the ecocity sounds like something quite similar, but the ecocity concept takes everything one step longer. Without putting too much expensive technology behind, or care too much what materials the buildings are made from, we can reduce a lot of our problems in the city just if we just build better. And with that, increase human health.

 First; cities should be compact and therefore have closeness to everyday's needs in a walking distance. Compare a) with c) above.


Five block (left) vs one block (right). Remove the cars, and left is 2½ block, if  activites which do not requiers sun-light could go under the other it can be halved again. (Register, 1987).


Second; an ecocity needs open spaces so it's not too compact. Open spaces can also be built ontop of buidings or as terraces. Thinking in 3-dimentional is the keyword here, where our compact living today is mostly 2-dimentional. The ecocity takes advantages of the natural sun light so the houses points in the "right" direction, with big windows, terraces and places to be, not in shade by a house, but maybe a tree.















Third; make it alive. An ecocity is an ecological healthy city. "If ecological buildings are not about the relationship to the rest of the community, what is it about?" (Register, 2006) That means other people, activites and nature. If plants and especially higher life can live here, it is also good for people. Open creeks give more space for native species, more diversity and more "life" in itself.
























Forthly; consider the other steps and the ecocity can now look like how ever. Do you want to live in a mountain, a futuristic building like Soleri's Arcosanti house or in the colorful Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna? It should look beautiful and should be functional in the same time.
























And fifthly; The city is for the people; "there needs to be equity; fairness among the people, the full opportunity for citizens to choose, create and live out their own special epressions of potential. The city is an instrument for human purpose- without this equity it fails in its human purpose whether it impacts negatively or positively to nature" - Richard Register, Ecocity Berkeley p 13.



See some real examples from Europe! Check my Journeys in the top of the blog. See also a newer post about what an ecocity should contain, What is an ecocity? #2

All drawings, except Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti, are from Richard Register's two books and their homepage. I got the book "Ecocities- rebuilding cities in balance with nature" in the second year of Human Ecology two years ago, at that time I was in the end of my Master's in Ecology and fell in love with the ideas directly. The previous book Ecocity Berkeley. Building cities for a healthy future is also worth to see, I got it as a gift from Richard himself.

*Note; I have no permission to display these pictures or drawings in this post, but they are so very important and deserve to spread, I take the responsibility to admit that I am a theif, but a good-hearted one! And if Richard sees this, I guess he remember me, the crazy, blond Swede and smiles a bit, right?

Monday, March 29, 2010

A whole new world view

the whole is different from the sum if the parts, because the whole have emergent properties. behaviors occur when parts interacts, which are not found in the parts themselves.

rather than focus on parts or the whole, the focus lays on the interaction between the different parts in a system, which give the system its properties

read the little comic book how to solve climate change and other complex issues, using an emergent world view.

The rebels on complexity- In the Battle for a Better World View

Drawings in this post; Janusz Kapusta or just "J". Found on the web

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Drinkable water everywhere



If this technology is that good, can we please use it in our sewage treatment so the ocean can be without hormones or medicine? Or is it not that small, the filter?

H2Oil documentary

About the oil sands in Alberta

The trailer; animated..



or real one



See homepage at H2Oil

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What's wrong with the human society?

In a system with perfect conditions, input an output are the same, resources recycles and everything continues as it always did. And it doesn't mean that there is no production here, rain forests and coral reefs are systems that are also high producing.

In the human society, as if we see it to the whole globe, takes resources from one place and put them to another, with a result too much in some places, too less in other. The trading system that we invented is not working so well. In top of this we have invisible emissions and transportation which demands other kind of resources. The picture of it is overwhelming and can be summarized in five important points about what is wrong with the society;
  • we don't see the connection between high consumption and poor conditions (developed-development dilemma)
  • we don't see the how much energy/land our habits consume (especially the food)
  • stress-related diseases are increasing
  • it seems as violence among youth increases
  • invisible emissions are more visible than it seems
Instead of looking at the source, we use our human intelligences to create other things that are important for us; who can make most money is less time, who have the largest TV, house, car etc, we invent codes for dresses, attitudes, behaviors. Shortly; we invent groups that involve everyone, because if you fall out you are weird. Groups were everyone knows the roles, were everyone should be special (talent and with their own style) but everyone know how it should be, i.e you can not be that special if the other didn't know that was the way to be.

How did we come here? And how can we focus on what is good for people, the human society, that means the whole world?

Solution; insight in every level
Tools; local produced goods, locally discussed
How; build better places where people can meet and feel welcome to join. That means; without creating groups; places were we can be humans and not out of our minds and think about "how we should be".

Because we are humans, we react and make the picture of who we selves are with the interaction with our surroundings, so make them wonderful, joyful and easy to live in!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The disadvantages of lectures

The human ecology history line is tightly linked to how we communicate the environment or should we say our surroundings and what we care for? Here is some tips about why ordinary lectures are not the best way to talk about complex questions, like whith those we now stand for, when everyone need to understand and really do something else.
  • Real knowledge is assumed to belong to the lecture, as communication is one-way with no participation, feedback or reinforcement from the audience
  • It is assumed that there is a knowledge gap between the lecturer and the listeners. It is assumed that the trainees' heads are empty vessels which need to be filled with facts
  • As trainees are passive recipients of information they soon become bored or restless
  • The lecture method emphasises the transfer of information and facts, but the strength of the message depends upon much more than the facts themselves
  • Attention spans are limited, especially if the lecture is delivered in a montonous voice. The average person immediatly forgets 50% of what he/she has heard
  • Too often the lecture is a 'canned' talk, prepared only once and repeated often
  • The lecturer has no way of knowing how well the trainees are understanding or believing the messages if there is no focused feedback during or after the lecture
Source: Ray Ison, 1990 in A trainer's guide for participatory learning and action, 1995 IIED

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cradle to cradle

Don't stop with consumtion, change material and make it to food.

Book came 2002, I borrowed it once at the library, but forgot to read it.

Here an inspiring documentary on the Cradle to Cradle design concept of the chemist Michael Braungart and the architect William McDonough. Winner of the Silver Dragon at the Beijing International Science Film Festival 2006


Homepage here

Anyone who knows what happen to this? It is some years ago now..

Domes of high CO2 levels form over cities

Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford, has been vocal about the need for a complete clean-energy transformation. This week, with the political world consumed by health care, his work offers a reminder that carbon pollution is a serious health problem. It makes traditional air pollution—such as particulates and ozone—more harmful, so it poses particular threats to the places with the worst air pollution—cities.

Copied from the article at grist.org

Monday, March 22, 2010

An ecocity house

The first Bovieran is ready in Partille, outside Göteborg.
Houses are low-energy, and the winter-garden house with connection to every apartment is the center of the concept. Here is the place to have a joyful environment close to where you live!

Page in Swedish with a lot of pictures and a movie

click here to see Bovieran

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A closer look at Arnsteins ladder

We don't like the word "manipulated", and not often we feel like we are. But the closest example is in the house where you live. Room position, sunlight, what kind of appliances. I guess that someone else made the decision to you, which you adapt to. Or outside the house; were is the path for pedestrians, the busstop etc. Is it good? Maybe you would like to have a bridge over the road to walk on, or some benches at your favorite spot. People that live into it, should know it better than some outsider? If you are not "homeblind", then it can be good with consultation.

For example when citizens were asked about what they do other than work and being home, the answer is "walking", if we put all people who have a dog into this, it's even more clear; we want to be outside. Green spots are as worthful as buildings.

People who live there should have a say, right?
How to be a more "powerful citizen"?

When Ulrich Nitsch talkes about environmental problems and what to do to make an improvement, he divide the problems into two groups; if they are simple, visible, specific, immediate, cheap, can be applied by individuals and have individual benefit it is good to use mass media, data bases or providing facts. But if they are complex, hidden, diffuse, distant, slow-emerging, when the effect are delayed, costly, difficult, long-term, and have collective benefit they should be solved by consultaion, by education or in a process with a facilitatior in a collaborate decision making.

He also means that environmental problems faced by society are now becoming ever more complex. Working with environmental communication demands increasing competence in personal communication in form of consultation, education and process facilitation.

That is also, because how we see the world (i.e have our surroundings) so should we live. We can't take the bus if there is no busline, we can't recycle if it's to complex or we don't understand the diversity of species in a rainforest if we can't even see the diversity of species in our own park/forest/garden/or should we say our surroundings..

In picture, Arnsteins ladder, steps from manipulation to citizen control.
Two nice examples when the citizens build their own neighbourhood (meaning taking the decisions) were in Tübingen and in Freiburg. If Älvstranden in Göteborg is a good example is to see.

"Biocity"

Curitiba is a great example of how a city transformed to a "better place to live" in ecological terms. Good for nature, good for the people. Here is a film from Curitiba and the importance of nature.

(don't mind the music, just live with it- yes it a bit anoying. just look at the film. now.)



You can also see another good film about Curitiba's work in the film list, found here.

15 Green Cities

a list from 2007 at the website grist; 15 green cities

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Reports on CO2 & methane

Great climate change site can be found here, last post about climate change 4th of mars; Melting Permafrost; Increased Content of Methane= Climate Change Out of Control.
A following discussion with great comments, so far 175 of them. Here is one;
"The Grand Climate Experiment we are running right now could actually end up a scorched mess. The Experiment:
Before you start the experiment, arrange to have vast quanitities of CO2 and CH4 sequestered in such a way that a sudden temperature rise will start a fast feedback that will release the CO2 and CH4. Also, wait until the sun has increased in brightness to unprecedented levels as it moves along the main sequence. The increased solar radiation will help the reastion. Ready?
First, scour the globe looking for all the reduced carbon that has been stored over the past billions of years. Dig it up, pump it up, strip mine it, whatever, but get as much as possible back into the atmosphere as CO2 in a geological instant,
Two, make a lot of trash and bury it in landfills to create a reliable steady source of methane,
Three, arrange for 1.3 billion cattle for more methane,
Four, cut down or burn most of the world’s forests to release the stored carbon as CO2 into the atmosphere,
Five, make sure that when your are burning fossil fuels or biomass to make CO2, you also release a good amount of NO2 and black carbon,
Six, make as much fertilizer as possible and apply it in such a way that a lot ends up as NO2 gas,
Seven, build a lot of roads and buildings that have a low albedo–this traps more incoming solar radiation,
Eight, release a gaggle of long lived industrial chemicals into the atmosphere that among other things do a really good job at absorbing IR. Be creative,
Nine, fill the atmosphere with contrails and SO4. This will slow a lot of the early warming process enough so that humans won’t get too alarmed and cancel the experiment,
Ten, retreat to the nearest safe planet."
Some more to read from the comments about increased methane;
Methane-driven oceanic eruptions and mass extinctions
GLOBAL WARMING : THE SIGNIFICANCE OF METHANE
and Climate, Fires and Birds: How is the Tundra Changing?
---
Here a film about the topic; A REALLY Inconvenient Truth: Dan Miller,


see it at FORA.tv

Peak of society

In Borås, at the outside busstation in the sun. This small city makes me wonder if

the peak of the society is in the moment a product is sold?

or is that when resources are blended into a device that is difficult to break apart again?

What is it we want to do in this society?!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Dust shapes more dust

A man who I lived with, once told me that I was the messiest person walked in a pair of shoes (I certainly had some things to call him too). That was away too much exaggerated, even if I know that I am not a very well-organised person. I'm of the belief that if there is a good solution, it will self-organize.

When I clean my own and my grandma's house, I see that some things creates itself in the other direction, in a self-disorganizing way. I start to think about the term entropy; the un-organizing term which is realated to second law of thermodynamic and means that everything wants to be in chaos, which is the lazy state of materia. To prevent chaos, we need a lot of energy. But with the dust, it seems as it is not only in disorder it is also creating more. It seems as dust evolving itself if you just leave it to its self. Dust shapes more dust.

On the other hand, another boy called me a cleaning freak, I think that was a more exaggerated thought, but to compare these two views is fun, look at this; the first one was living with me and the other was my tenant, telling me this when he left the apartment. The behavior about the cleaning is very interesting in a common ground view; where one of them was in it and cared about it, one was out and didn't care. Argumentation who should do it, and how (well) is normal!

A post about cleaning, what is this?

Dust is like bad thoughts, nonsense or disharmony in a group. But also something which is always present. If we leave it, it would create a pale that is just growing. We need to do a big cleaning ones in a while and if we do this cleaning very well, we save time, because dust evolve more dust. Dust creates small shapes that new dust can fit into. Layers of it.

Is it just bad? We might found things if we clean well, if it was a very long time we might get confused over our own behavior (what the hell is a leaf doing under the shower deck), suprised over our own talent long time ago (oh, this book full with notes..!)or more familiar with the house and its boundaries (loose walls and where to be careful) and of course get an overview of all details (buttons can be in the same box as the needle and thread).

If we know we got company, or a visit, -we clean a lot. (This is not just me, this is a human fact!). Organize, see it from the outside.

In an organisation or other institution this is interesting. When cleaning up the dust in the group, we need to go deep into it. This is because dust shapes dust, and it can be dust like gossip talk, no strategic plans or disharmony between the members, which can lead to unproductive work in the group.

Many insitutions are changing their logo, name, standards. Some do this more often than nessesary, which can be confusing for costumers, -"again?!". Like a new-cleaned house (where did I lay that small piece of important paper?!). But the big cleaning is nessesary, and with well developed rules, goals and plans to keep the house organised and to not let the dust shape more dust, is to prevent the house (or yourself) from the need to be cleaned too soon again. Or in the organisation; out of bad thoughts and nonsense and instead focus on the important things.

Only bad with dust- or is the hard part the confusing when clean up? Anyhow, when its done, you can face the reality and have everything clear as we want to show it to our visitors.

Make it well. Don't just scratch on the surface, because it is more underneath. And if you leave that- you have to clean soon again.

Creations of groups and exclusion of others

Sometimes I think that the creation of groups is a false need. Standards, papers, discussion- yes we want the same thing. But why is it like this all the time, that we need so much information before we do something? If we want to change the politics, we create a group and discuss it, and in the same time we show that we have boarders to others. In politics for instance it can be a little bit silly when all parties certainly wants to have a good school, safe traffic, healthy citizens. But instead of working about it, they have to discuss where to take the money.

We are stuck in our way of making things. When we create groups, we also exclude other people. And show that something is wrong, which can make other groups "upset", like military forces, police or just--other groups.

Instead of working with what we want to do, we use our time to spread information and discuss the problem. MOST TIME WE TALK TO PEOPLE THAT ALREADY THINKS LIKE OUR SELVES.

I can see that the strict business people have another tactic, they sell their ideas, they do something about it. They learn new methods to make others to like their products.

I have this crazy thought sometime in my head; that there are only two groups of people. A caring but a little bit messy one and the business, strict one. Over and over again this thought comes to my mind, sometimes when I try to work (messy one) and often when I run (strict one). Can we make it so easy and look at just the extremes and see why some people make it and some don't. Make it in what? Success with what you want to do, but also everything else to life; keeping friends, keeping money for example.

Can it be that the caring, a little messy one also wants to make it a little bit more, "if only..", and the business, strict one does it and, did it. Which one is more happy? Which one have more time to do other things? And can it be that we are both of them, as I said in the beginning, I can be very messy when I write but very strict when I run, and no problems to keep money (just to get them!).

I also always go with the question, how to make the not interested people interested? We as humans, can not care about everythings. But some people mean that like environmental issues, everyone SHOULD BE interested in because it is everybodys concern. But that is the same reason for joining the group "assossiation for ufo research" or "our city need more balett classes for small kids". We can not put them in our group by force, or yell loudest as; you will die from climate change, or have you seen the big plastic island on the ocean?!!!

Can we use both ways of thinking? Messy, dreaming one and strict, in reality one? Open up groups, work interdisciplinary and see what we really wants? A lot of groups works in the same area, but never goes longer than to talk in their own small group.

What if we know how to put this small group to work together with a solution. And also to not forget the people outside the group??!

Just a perfect picture for the text. In a festival we had a friendly meeting on the street, festival in Leipzig, 2006. Me on right, some curious citizens and Alexander from "my group" to the left

Thursday, March 04, 2010

New York, car free plaza

Greenlight for Midtown Project



Green Light for Midtown, the pilot project implemented by the New York City Department of Transportation in 2009, addresses a problem and opportunity that was hidden in plain sight, that of Broadway’s disruptive and dramatic diagonal path across the midtown grid. The project seeks to simultaneously improve mobility and safety and provide additional benefits in the Midtown core. It covered Broadway from Columbus Circle to 42nd Street and from 35th Street to 26th Street. From the evaluation, January 2010


Read more here in New Yorks Times 12 th of February

and New York City Department for transportation, DOT

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Main point

-everyone should have their say-
-everyone is important-

This is when, rather to give people a masterplan to follow, people create their plans to follow by themselves. This is when, rather than two-five people always takes the decision in the group, everyone in the group talks.

This is when we don't reley on other to fix the problem for us, this can only happen when everyone is important. This is when opinions are there for a reason and same important as the main point to discuss.

When we listen, discuss and feel secured.

This is when people can work together with a purpose.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Communicate better

This might be in the previous post or it should have its own, because the clip from Communicate 2007 with Solitaire Townsend when she present how to communicate the climate change better is relevant to all environmental work, and one of the most important step in the right direction.

Here you can find some more films worth seeing

we already know that

We already know the problem.
We already have the solution.
We even have the organization/institution for it.
We do work for it.

it is just the scale on it that is not good, its too less, too small.

  It is interesting how we work with important question. Often we want people to get to know the problem, care about it or scare them a little. Best example is from the climate change campaign.

   I got the question from a "new born" activist for climate change; -how do you think our group should continue the work with climate change? I asked him how they worked until now. He said "mostly with campaigns, information about CO2 increase. You know, this was how I got interested. I wasn't interested in environment before, now I want everyone to know".
    it was under the lunch in a summit from Swedish Nature Conservation Society, a weekend for gathering and conferences for different themes with locations in Stockholm. I was surprised that they didn't discuss the future work in their gathering with 70 people, but maybe next day.
    It was loud to talk so I just gave him my thought, "start with yourself, what do you do? How easy is it? Discuss with your friends, family, but don't scare people. Most likely they know the debate from the newspaper and they might wonder what to do. If they don't want to know the fact about it- don't pressure. Everyone does not want to know all about the global problems. Give them some real examples of how they can "change", easy things. If you can't do that, you need to work in another way. Maybe it's something else missing. Ask them about it, the people that you want to "know more about climate change"- why is it so hard to not use the car, not buy meat to dinner or what ever your solutions for climate change are. Ask them. You might have the answer there. Then you can work with the solutions. I guess it will be to work with bigger things than try to make people change light bulbs."
    And I continued to formulate an answer in my head. "Maybe you will find out that it is not easy to be environmentally friendly , maybe you will find out that we have to change a lot in the society to make it more easy for people to do right".

    What we need to do in the environmental arena, is to work in a more efficient way. Environmental problems, global problems and every other problem that is a result of our way of living is not only a fact, it is a face that we need to work effectively with, all of us. It is not up to some environmentalist to do it, or some "green" companies.

   A greater knowledge about how to present our selves, our plans, projects and ideas so they really goes to action, is what we need. And we need the knowledge how to empower the people in the process, without being a totally wierd hippie project. This is a concern for every human being, because it is about our future as humanity.

    Because everything is connected, we don't need the reasons to go and do it. Just do it. Get together, talk- take action, build and live in the same time.

    We need more action, not more campaign, books, plans or presentation of projects. We need to bound together. Share. And with that DO a lot more.

The tragedy of suburbia

In James Howard Kunstler's view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about. Reengineering our cities will involve more radical change than we are prepared for, Kunstler believes, but our hand will be forced by earth crises stemming from our national lifestyle. "Life in the mid-21st century," Kunstler says, "is going to be about living locally."



James Howard Kunstler: The tragedy of suburbia

Monday, March 01, 2010

The more soy and cattle meat, the less rainforest

Press Release 2010-03-01 (translated)

Swedish soy and meat imports from Brazil with large risks. In a new report Swedwatch examines Swedish meat and soya imports corporate responsibilities in an industry that contributes to the deforestation of rainforest in the Amazon, a form of slavery and displaced indigenous people.

The report, which is made in collaboration with Latinamerikagrupperna and Friends of the Earth, shows that Swedish companies have been linked to meat and soya suppliers who contributed to the deforestation of rainforests. Svenska Foder, which provides the Swedish farms with soybean-based animal feed, has no environmental or ethical policy and set likewise no requirement for suppliers. Beef importer Annerstedt Flodin AB performs no checks for suppliers and believe that they are too small to interfere in that one of their suppliers dealing with farms that harvest rain forest illegally.

- In Brazil's rainforest is the soybean crop and livestock the main causes of deforestation. It is therefore necessary to set high ethical standards in the Swedish importers, "says Ellie Cijvat, Chairman of Friends of the Earth.

Brazil is today the world's largest meat exporter and second largest soybean producer. Global demand has created a high pressure on the previously undisturbed natural areas. Every year Sweden imported 385 000 tonnes of soya products and 10 000 tonnes of beef from Brazil.

The audit revealed major differences between the companies regarding their ethics and sustainability work. Soybean Importers Denofa and Lantmännen, and meat importers North Trade and Annerstedt Flodin have some form of environmental and social demands on their suppliers. Svenska Foder places no demands at all and Annerstedt Flodins demands are not public.

- Meat and soybean production in the Amazon has implications both for local people, animals and nature, but also for the Global climate. It is imperative that companies have sound ethical policies, that they carry out independent checks on their suppliers and the results then published. None of them live up to these standards today, said Francisco Contreras, Chairman of the Latinamerikagrupperna.

The last years, with increased focus on soy and beef production in Brazil, has led to a series of initiatives to make production more sustainable. The report shows that the Swedish companies made progress, but much work remains to minimize the social and environmental risks.

The report is available for download on http://www.swedwatch.org/
See full english summary here

Contact:
Francisco Contreras, Chairman of Latinamerikagrupperna.
Ellie Cijvat, Chairman of Friends of the Earth.
Viveka Risberg, Office Manager Swedwatch.

MIRAGE: A Short Film about Arcosanti

Mirage from Edan Cohen on Vimeo .